Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Barton > Chuck Norris!

Before the Chuck Norris plague spread across the insipid lands of Azeroth, Sosaria (Atlantic) had his own champion: Barton. I would like to report that the legend of Barton endures,

(picture shamelessly stolen from Stuffa's post on Atlantic boards)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Meeting up with EM Kanmare of Atlantic

So, I was fortunate enough to run into EM Kanmare of Atlantic. I have been checking the counselor's guild hall in Britain (behind the Mage shop) ever since I heard the news about them this past Friday.

It was bit early in the day for Atlantic but Lady Aalia was online. I quickly informed her and she decided to do an impromptu interview. You can read more about it here. I must say that Kanmare does have an interesting sense of humor and I am looking forward to the events by her.

The summary is that:
1) Atlantic has two lead event moderators.
2) The events will start next year.
3) For now, the EM's are doing a meet and greet. Getting to know the audience!
4) For all you PvPers out there, she does like to do at least some events in Fel with a PvP context to it.

I would fully encourage everyone to get involved in their shard's event program. It can be a lot of fun and is one of those things that makes Ultima Online different than other games (in a good way).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ultima Online in the Land Of The Rising Sun II - Hokuto Christmas Market '08

So, I was lucky to stumble into a Christmas market. I have been to quite a few normal Japanese shard markets in the past but never to a special holiday one before! As always it amazes me how much the players participate in these markets. They are the ones who are gating to it, running shops, organizing games, doing a lot of the decoration and most importantly, being civil.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Trickle-down economics: Scrapper's to Taint

If you recall, a while ago I had made a post about my disappointment at the change that allowed spellbooks to be disarmed and my belief that it will adversely impact the market for Scrapper's Compendium. Since then we have had the facet driven trammel invasions which drop the rather powerful spell books with mods like sdi 30% lrc 10% mr 3. The aforementioned change coupled with the new drop has adversely impacted the market for Scrappers. This in turn has hit the market for taint; When I wrote my original post you had to pay 90-110K gold for one taint. Today, you can find Luna vendors stacked with taint at 70k per and you can find it for as low as 60k per at bank - This is a significant change when you adjust for the general inflation.

Scrappers were the driving force behind the demand for taint and now that has been largely removed from the game - My scrappers vendor has not sold a single book even though I have significantly dropped their prices. So, I have stopped buying taint which means my usual suppliers from guilds like RK have to find a new buyer and probably drop their prices. Taint is the bread and butter for people who do ML boss spawns as it had a decent drop rate and good value. However, the destruction of the scrappers market has started a chain reaction which will impact people who depend on ML spawns to make money.

I hope that in the future we will get more changes that encourage the ingredient based crafting like scrappers instead of the BOD route. The recent gardening change where hunters are required to collect ingredients for gardeners is a step in the right direction and we need more of it in all domains of the game. I think that the ML ingredients need some loving - some newer craftables based on these ingredients would be rather nice.

On a site note, I wonder if this will have an impact on the value of crimsons. If the reward for doing ML spawns is going down then, in short term, less people will be doing them which could mean fewer crimsons on the market. Hard to say because there are a lot of other factors involved and I hear you can get cinctures from the invasion too.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thoughts on the upcoming EM program

I stumbled across this gem of a post while browsing through a thread on U.Hall where people were talking about what they would like to see coming from the new EM program

Events that have content and aren't just a race to kill stuff and get items. Examples of this can be seen on most of the Asian shards. They have awesome locations made by the EMs here, there, and everywhere. The locations are weaved into the events and then left up as a new part of the history of that shard. I have seen awesome docks with ponds and picnic areas, beautiful gardens with seating and paths to roam, and my favorite was a huge maze area with monster statues not in game locked down in strategic locations. I was told the last was some huge game that players were involved in and the huge multiscreen playing board was left there as a part of history. Most of these areas have gates to them from main towns and have markers and information about the event. On one shard, I even found shops that had been named as superior shops, given huge standards and benches outside of their houses and then a runebook library was erected at an event site with runes to the shops locked there by the EM. I thought that was very cool.

This kind of advancement of the history of the shard and interaction with its people is what I am looking for in an EM. Items are nice, but they are boring for 99% of the participants without more depth then kill this and hope you are one of the few lucky ones... O.K. the event is done, now leave...

Even if I didn't get one of the items, I would figure it time well spent if some killer new location or decoration of an existing location came from the events. Heck a few nice benches around WBB and a plant or two would make me smile forever more when I recalled in to do my banking.

Hunter Moon [HOT] Atlantic

This post by Hunter Moon captures what I have always felt EM events should be about. They should not merely be a shard version of a global event! Global events are great but they are IMPERSONAL. EM events have to be personal and enrich the history of the shard. Japanese seers/ems/whatever have done a fantastic job at this and it really shows in the pride their players take in their respective shards. I suspect this is due to the longevity of their program which gives their guys a real chance to get in sync with the pulse of the shard. The real challenge for an EM is not just to create a good time from their event but to do it in a way that inspires players for months and years after the said event.

Whoever we get as an EM on Atlantic, I urge that person to make a real effort to get a grip on the long and rich history of the shard. No only we have a large role player community, but we also have a rich history concerning everything from merchant malls to guilds to PvP and everything in between. Inspire the citizens of Atlantic to once again interact with each other and rebuild their communities!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hokuto's Tree Growing Project

Stumbled into this today. Not really sure how it works - I am guessing it works something like a community reward thing and you have to donate things. If anyone knows more feel free to PM me :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Event Moderators Strike Back!

Latest announcement is that EM program is making a return. I am very excited about this.

Is it just me or last few months have seen a slew of very exciting changes regarding UO?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Myth: Carebears ruined Ultima Online

It is a notion fairly common amongst the PvP community; one dark day filled with ill-omens all the care-bears banded together and used their heart power to create the lands known as Trammel. That day marks the beginning of the decline of Ultima Online for many players - and I am inclined to agree with that to some degree.

However, after reading some of the whines on Uhall regarding the faction changes from some of the "PvPers", I am more inclined to think that PvP in Ultima Online, and thereby the fate of Felucca, has become what it has because of them, rather than the care bears.

One of the funniest (worst) ideas I have read so far goes along the lines of making faction players not able to attack non-faction players. Huh? Really? So some of these so-called Feluccans want to destroy the most fundamental part of Felucca -can attack anyone you want anywhere- and create a mini-Trammel for themselves IN FELUCCA! Am I missing something here?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pub 56 - Three Thumbs up!!

I was shockingly pleased to see the depth of the content in pub 56. Obviously, I don't know how well it will work in the end but right now it seems very promising. We literally have a brand new system that can rival champion spawns being implemented into the game. We have had some forgettable expansions (SE) with less quality content than this patch.

I think that one of the keys to the success of this system is how well they control the value of SILVER. If it retains a decent value then people will keep participating in the invasions on Trammel facet too. They can expand on it and have invasion monsters drop more resources that can be used to craft more faction related consumables to keep the circle going.

Here's hoping to a successful pub 56! Cheers!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nails/Of The Rings collection duped?

I had refrained from speculating on this till now but it seems increasingly likely that the entire collection formerly owned by Nails Warstein has been duped. Lot of unique items belonging to that collection (new owner: Of The Rings @ Great Lakes) are surfacing in multiple copies. If true, then it is a huge blow considering this collection is the largest of its type in Ultima Online.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Annoying ICQ spammers

I would just like to tell my "friend" Dragkris to STOP SPAMMING ME WITH YOUR WORTHLESS TRASH - hmm maybe I should stop being lazy and put him on ignore. Now there is an idea!

[09:40] Dragkiris: 50 Val Runic Hammers 300m 25 Val Runic Hammers 200m & 25 Heartwood Fletching Kits 150m & 50 Verite Runic Hammers 225m & 40 Xfer Tokens 200m & Event Items Prices Vary From Shrouds To LT Sash!! Thanks Alot!!

[Added later]

A funny continuation of this story that I stumbled into at stratics. Apparently it is a scam? I really liked it when the guy wrote,
"I am only sending people to him. I did not personally endorse him"


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Seer Fair '08

Last week I made a post about the on going seer fair on Izumo. Actually my rather nosy guildmate Athelas informed me of the Izumo fair.. This weekend the fair seems to have moved on to Hokuto and I was lucky enough to catch it. Here are some of the Hokuto pictures,

I took a gate from Luna...

There are three colors -
two in the tubs and one in the bascinet.

I guess the companions
on Hokuto like Blue!

Taking the other gates randomly
to see what else is going on.

No idea what this is

I decide to ask a friendly looking chap
(after a few bows, ofcourse)


Oh look a stage.
Actually a companion popped up on-stage a split second afterwards but I was too startled to take a screenshot.

Thats it! I think I have the shots from Izumo fair on my work computer. Will upload them if I find them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bye bye Scrappers?

This post is about something that most people probably don't care of. Recent patch saw spell books being made disarmable. The change was effectively meant to make scrappers' useless in PvP (as disarm is not an issue in PvM). Why useless? Because scrappers mostly gives mods that a PvP'er would need to be sure that they can depend on 100% of the time. As a mage you can't afford to have downtime on Faster Casting or LRC mod when fighting another player!! By making them disarmable no one will use them again in PvP.

Now, I have not done any PvP in a really really realllly long time but I have not heard anything about an overpowering wrestling mage template. So, I was quite surprised to hear about this change. I am guessing the triple skill mod books might have been the issue.

This does not particularly affect me except for the part where I loved crafting the damn books. It was the last high-end crafting venue left in Ultima Online for me as I refuse to burn (duped/scripted) runics. However, scrappers were never a big money maker even before this change and now it will be that much harder to sell the books that I craft. Maybe I will go back to my early crafting roots and start up a potions business :)

I suppose I will just wait and see what SA brings in means of crafting to be able to jump back into it. Speaking of which, I am super excited about the slew of announcements they made regarding SA in the past town hall meeting! It is nice to hear solid plans regarding the future of the franchise.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The word "Broker"

Apologies for not writing much lately! Real life has been kicking my behind.

Last night, while I was stocking my vendors, a person came up to me and asked me if I am a broker. I HATE the word broker - it has become synonymous to people who use Ultima Online (and other games) as their jobs and in 9 out of 10 cases do it by cheating. Fortunately, I have a very bright career ahead of me and have no need or desire to pursue the brokering business. So, for the record, I am not this new brand of broker.

However, I do pursue strictly in-game brokering to facilitate large trades. So if you ever need help in this matter just shoot me an icq at 43848609. I usually don't charge unless it is going to take some time management. Tips (in gold) are always welcome!

Ya, so this was just a lousy post to let people know that I am not dead.

BTW, I am going to be conducting an interview of Lady Sakkarah and am currently taking questions!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A word on recent banning.

So, Mythic GM team has finally gone big time against the cheaters. As most of you probably have heard by now that this past Friday (August 1st) they banned (yet to be) undisclosed number of accounts for duping or being in possession of duped items.

I have to applaud this but at the same time I worry about how useful these actions really were. A lot can be said about this matter and believe me, I do have a lot to say. However, I will only ask one question at this time:

Why are there so many people who were banned on only one of their multiple accounts? Copying and pasting someone else's post from U.Hall:

If you folks at EA Mythic just banned a lot of accounts for duping, WHY have you NOT banned ALL of their accounts? There are a number of people on this board complaining about being banned, but still have other accounts to log in with -- and at least two have said they have the same CC info across accounts.

This makes little sense to me too. Maybe someone else can point out a logical reason for this? (One theory is that they are not done with the bans but I am not sure why they would take a staggered approach). To me it is beginning to seem like a case of people in charge of this at Mythic seriously losing the plot. I question how effective they were at taking action against professional cheaters if they missed accounts of "casual cheaters." The fact is that I have seen two known fencers/dupers restocking their vendors on Sunday with more dupes. Then there is this lovely thread on U.Hall where someone is stocking hundreds of barbed kits as recently as yesterday.

Maybe I am completely wrong about this. I HOPE I am completely wrong about this. However, with the kind of communication coming from Mythic can you blame me or other players? The last time there was a major banning, Wilki (the then community coordinator) was right there with us giving us all sorts of information (number of accounts banned, amount of gold deleted, etc.) - It was a major success against cheaters and also in terms of marketing as the news made it to major tech and gaming blogs. Compare it to this time when players were left with over 2 days before they were even told anything. I am not trying to blame any one person as there is no way for me to know what really went on behind the scenes but from a player's perspective the coordination is seriously lacking this time around and somewhere along the lines the ball was dropped.

Will Jeremy/Mythic communicate about this matter to the rest of us who are left scratching our heads?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ultima Online in the Land Of The Rising Sun - Part 1

As a merchant in Ultima Online, I have had the opportunity to travel to the land of the rising sun quite often. On every single one of those visits, I have ran into examples of the best UO has to offer. Something about the Japanese culture and Ultima Online creates true magic. The community of players is still thriving there and I feel lucky to have witnessed it. The same type of culture was present in the North American shards too in the early years but somewhere along the road we lost it.

When I read about Draconi and other developers visiting Japan, I was inspired to make this post. I truly hope that they had a chance to see the unique flavor Japanese players bring to Ultima Online and figure out a way to replicate it elsewhere. Here I will try to pen some of the things that make Japanese shards unique:

1) Everyone is on foot: People tend to get off their rides and talk to you on the foot. I am not sure why but this simple act somehow makes conversations lot more personal and friendly.

2) Respect for fellow players: You would be hard-pressed to run into the kiddie behavior that is so rampant on North American shards nowadays. If you set up a nice table with books and chairs in a corner of the bank doing whatever that you need to do, you will not have to deal with people who will pick up everything and trash it. When you are done dealing with a stranger, they will bow to you. You are also far more likely to run into random acts of kindness.

3) Art everywhere: Vendor backpack art is everywhere. I have seen some amazing backpack art done by players on Japanese shards. It is a pity that I do not have any screenshots. When I tried to replicate this on Atlantic, it was bought up by people within a day every time. Eventually I just gave up on it. However, the love of art does not simply stop at backpacks. You also run into the most amazing lockdown art in houses. I have seen everything from a giant car, to robots, to a crane drinking from an open faucet (all done by using other items and locking them down strategically to make one piece). A much higher percentage of people take pride in their houses than in North American shards.

4) Player events: It is true that Japanese servers have seers/gm's that facilitate events but nothing is a success without the involvement of players. I have seen giant markets (screenshots to follow) teeming with player stands. It is like going to a carnival in real life with exciting things happening at every corner, ranging from poetry recitals, to karaoke, to dance/fashion competitions, to auctions. BTW, bagball is huge on Japanese shards and you can still run into a good game of bagball.

Japan and UO are truly a fine match and I curse myself for not being able to speak the language. I will try to write about what are the main issues faced on these shards from my perspective next time.


The following pictures are from a shard festival. Such festivals are fairly common on Japanese servers. This one was almost done when I got there so slightly deserted. Notice how many of the tables, books, and other decorations set up by players have not been vandalized.

No idea what they are doing standing in that line
but I have seen it often. Never had the guts to ask whats going on :P



Friday, July 25, 2008

GM inaction against dupers is mind-blowing!

It has been months, if not longer, since people have been blatantly duping. I know many people have sent quite a few emails to Jeremy with very useful information. It should be possible for the GM's to isolate the people who are responsible for duping/fencing and take action against them by now.

Most of us were probably expecting this to happen before character transfers were opened up again. However, as far as I know, nothing has happened. I am struggling to rationalize this. Maybe they are trying to get to the "big" guys? But going by the past precedents, I doubt that to be the case.

A good friend of mine, named SuzyQ, has been so frustrated with the entire thing that he simply refuses to log in anymore. I suspect this to be the case with few others.

I am guessing they have some constraints that I cannot comprehend being not in their shoes. Yet, it is so hard to not get frustrated. I think the best way for me to avoid frustration is to set a personal deadline (not to be confused with an ultimatum). So, here it is: I will simply quit logging into the game if there is no action forthcoming in the next 14 days. No temper tantrums, no long whiney posts, and definitely no good-byes.

Two more weeks of watching cheaters destroy the game I enjoyed playing for so many years is all I can take. I can fully appreciate the various obstacles EA has to pass through to deal with the ever-adopting cheaters and how hard it probably is to balance resources. But, I personally as just another normal player cannot take more than two additional weeks.

And no, you may not have my stuff!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A refreshing U.Hall post

Every now and then I run into a gem of a post on U.Hall - Unfortunately they usually get very little attention as people tend to like posts that allow them to simply react instead of thinking and then reacting. Here is one such post that really highlights the direction that Ultima Online should be charting (in my opinion),

UO is Community: Three Ways to make UO a better game

by Masuo Kenji (Writer of Mythbusting Siege and Former Siege Reporter)

From my amount of online game-hopping (I am now back in UO for the long haul now), observations of online game community interaction, development and design, I am listing some steps here that Mythic can use to improve and promote UO. This isn't a list about improving certain features of the game, it's more of a general series of guidelines that the development team and community representatives of Mythic can use. I originally made this to be a lengthy article, but I decided to trim it down to three major points.

Feel free to add constructive feedback to this thread. Please, no "They'll never listen" posts. I am sure Mythic reads these posts more than you think.

Three ways to make UO a better game:

1) Mythic must realize (I am sure they do to a certain extent) that UO is a niche game, that attracts a certain audience and market (ex. Sandbox gameplay fans, older age groups, etc). In order to gain new players, they must really work to make it the best game in its niche.

They should sit down and make a list what makes UO unique from other games (ex. Skill systems, sandbox gameplay, depth, community and interaction between players), and work on making those unique features even more refined, defined, and better. (This is the way popular niche games like EVE-Online have improved and increased in subscribers over the years.)

Instead of making UO play "catch up" to other games, UO needs to stand out from the pack by re-defining, improving, and promoting its best core features. It's sometimes good to look at other games and take what's good from them, but remember that this game is an Ultima game, and it needs to show the world what an Ultima game is all about.

2) Remember that UO is a community game. Even the minor actions of a player can affect the greater whole. Sometimes I noticed EA Japan advertised the interaction between players in UO, about the power of the community of the game. There were official EA Japan UO sites that promoted the game by showing interviews with members of shard communities, and the real people behind them. I don't see this advertised enough on the western side, for some reason. Sure, you'll see some of this stuff on UO Stratics, but they need to put this kind of stuff on the front page of UO Herald. Currently, what's only advertised are a few blurbs about gameplay features and the KR client. Show the world that your game is unique and diverse, show the great things about this game that players can do that they can't do in other games.

What's a fairly easy way to get more recognition about your game? Officially film the UO town halls, edit them, and post them on the UO website (or YouTube). Don't rely on just UO players to do so. It'll make UO players enjoy seeing their shard celebrities making public appearances and asking questions, and show to the world that Mythic cares about their players, unlike other games.

That brings us to #3.

3) Customer service and interacting with your game's community. Staff at all levels should take a more active involvement in the community of the game. In the past, devs and representatives alike would appear fairly frequently in game, talking directly to the players and adding a personal touch to their customer service. Today, there is this "forbidden city" element where we send off questions to the palace, and we get a few answers back.

I know that Staff-Player interaction has decreased over the years, due to the cutback of Seers and Counselors, EMs, and GMs turning into game answering machines instead of interactive members of their shard communities.

If UO wants to stand out from other online games, the interaction between Mythic and UO players must be more open. I understand, that the dev team and community representatives are very busy, they work hard at their job, they want the best for this game, and that they do listen.

The problem, is that the players do not recognize that they are listening. They don't understand that they're working hard on the game. This must be remedied.

The reason why UHall folk are a bit testy, is because they feel alienated.

Even if you can't provide any information, say something like, "I don't have a response at this time, but I'll get back to you soon on this."

I see this sometimes, but not often enough.

Remember to interact with your community. You also don't need to be an answering machine. Talk with them about other things. Heck, make a post about that Tuna melt you had for lunch, what you like about UO, talk about the work that went behind something cool you put into the game, or something silly you saw on the Internet. You don't need to wait for someone to interview you. Show us that you are a person just like the rest of us!

It was refreshing to read the fairly recent post from Robert Mull. Even though it didn't answer questions that we'd frequently ask about the game, it was funny and amusing, and answered our internal questions about some of the people behind the game. It shows that they are human beings like us, and that they have passion for the game.

UO is COMMUNITY. Remember that, and use that to your advantage.


I particularly like his thoughts on sandbox play style. I think this is what has been missing for some time now from all the recent expansions and patches. We need more systems that allow us to create things ourselves. Not simply linear systems, although they have their place.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Story

The Begginings

I first stumbled into Ultima Online in my freshman dorms when one of my floor-mates was beta-testing the game. I remember being intrigued by how his avatar would walk around talking with other real people. Over the next few months I watched few of my other friends play the game as a thief, tamer, smith, etc. It would be not for another couple of years before I actually plunged into it myself. The name of my first character was Calliane and my friend who started with me was Warbringer. Over the next few months Calliane and Warbringer became mages. No, not grandmaster mages - that would take much longer.

Early merchant

Eventually a time came when I needed to make gold. Like everyone else I started a Reg vendor. I would go to all the mage shops in the land when they were refreshed and try to buy as many regs as possible. Luckily for me, I was able to get a vendor at one of the best spots in the game then: A small house right outside of Skara Brae bank. I soon expanded into reselling silver weapons by scouring the lands looking for cheap vendors; the outskirts of Occlo were a gold mine. Business was going good. I had close to five million gold when 100K was considered enough to retire on. I decided to invest my wealth into the early rares competing with people like Xanthar and Gawin. That is when I ran into a lousy person who exploited my naivety to hack me. That was quite an experience watching your mouse pointer move around by itself. I was not so bothered though. Maybe because I had no idea that my gold was worth enough to buy me a car.

But I was also not about to start up again and I decided to quit UO at this point. It was very unfortunate as I missed out on the best of the factions and seers. When I came back again, AoS was in full swing and UO was bombarded with complicated item properties. I was using a friends account which had a red named Street Fighter and a blue named Angel Athena - those would end up becoming my main characters over the next few years. It took me few months to figure out how things worked. I decided to reopen my business and again lady luck was smiling on me. I found a cheap doom (thief) artifacts vendor behind minoc stables. The owner would stock them once a week and I would be waiting with all my gold in the bank. After doing this for few months with my friend Porter, I decided to give PvP a chance. I had only recently gotten a very nice connection and figured it was time to experience this part of UO. What happened next probably redefined how I would play Ultima Online forever.

Becoming a PvPer

I joined up with a small guild named KoL. What can I say but that we sucked. We would go do champion spawns and almost always get crashed by HOT or PvP. But we did not give up and we got some spawns done which got us the much needed scrolls. Our GM was a stubborn bastard and was not the kind to suck up to bigger guilds. This taught us to be defiant, a very important quality in PvP. Eventually we merged with a like-minded guild named Skulls [-S-] and now we were a bigger group of mostly sucky players with couple of quality players on the top. Again we did not give up and now we had the numbers at least. This is when I met the one person who probably touched me the most in Ultima Online: Columbus, GM of [-S-]. What can I say but that some people are born leaders. I fought side by side with him over the next couple of years through thick and thin. We went from the largest guild to less than a dozen players back up to largest guild and so on. We spawned and crashed literally hundreds of champion and harrower spawns. I evolved from a useless meat-shield into someone who would crash a 10 person spawn by himself and manage to kill half the people + get scrolls. It was the most fun I ever had. But all good things must come to an end.

Becoming a rare collector

Columbus was called to serve in Afghanistan which led to disbandment of the guild. Still there was hope that once he comes back things would go back to the way they were. I even came back to UO on a new character named Tomas Bryce to prepare the foundations of the big comeback. That is when tragedy struck; Columbus was killed when his helicopter fell in the ravines in a far away land. I have experienced death before but this one hurt the most. I was faced with a choice: to quit UO for good or to continue playing. It was too hard to let go of UO in the face of what had just happened so I joined up with Wynn of [Mall]. I became a merchant PvPer. It was fun for while but pvp'ing alone got old after some time and I could not really picture myself joining any other guild. There would be no attempt to replace what I had lost.

This is when I experienced the world of rares again via Wynn. Lot of new rares had came into existence since the pre-trammel days. I became a full-fledged xshard trader of PvP items to support my rather expensive hobby of buying rares. Eventually Wynn quit and I was alone again. The vendor scene outside Occlo vanished years ago, all of my friends are long gone, and I am well past my teenage years; seems like there is very little left but ghosts of the past still connecting me with Sosaria.

But there are still more rares left to collect. That is if they are not all duped already.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Case Against Treyster

Couple of weeks ago, Nails Warstein approached me saying Treyster (Alec Moontree) was offering to dupe the entire collection owned by Oldsmobile which is for sale on Stratics. This did not come as much of a surprise to me as Treyster had been caught working with dupers in the past. For example, during the vine cord drama (more details about this further down - including the apology Treyster wrote) but it was still very disappointing as I had been convinced that he had changed and learned his lesson with the vc deletions.

So, I asked Nails for his icq logs but instead he proposed to give me his icq details so that I can log in myself and talk with Treyster pretending to be Nails. What happened next was quite revealing and I am going to post most of the conversation here (part of the end of the conversation is not posted as it implicates another person and I need to look into it further.)

Following is the log - Remember Nails Warstein in this conversation is actually me using his icq with his permission. I pretended that Nails and Oldsmobile (doug) were interested in his offer to dupe Oldsmobile's collection to get more details:

  1. [04:36] Nails Warstein: So, how will it work for doug
  2. [04:36] Treyster: Once I figure out if it still works or not, he can just bag it all up, wait 3-5 days and ill give him either double or triple back hehe
  3. [04:37] Nails Warstein: How many do you keep? How many does the guy keep? Who gets to sell first?
  4. [04:38] Treyster: I'll keep one of each, guy keeps one of each, and doug should get 2-3 of each back...more than likely 2 back, ill have to ask.

  5. and its dougs stuff so he gets to sell first
  6. [04:39] Treyster: and he'll sell us the stuff for insanely cheap afterwards so its np
  7. [04:39] Nails Warstein: What if it all ends up on dupe list on rare forums?
  8. [04:39] Nails Warstein: I am afraid doug doesnt get much out of it
  9. [04:40] Treyster: Tomas isnt guna be updating that....hes a fat lazy faggot, pardon my lan but i just dont like him cuz he doesnt like me and i cant even view stratics now thx to him (too bad rest was not as amusing)
  10. [04:40] Treyster: none of us do really....he'd be getting more than i ususaly do tbh
  11. [04:41] Treyster: we get our item + 1-2 back....he'll be getting his items + 2-3 back hopefully
  12. [04:41] Nails Warstein: Is it safe? what about EA?
  13. [04:41] Treyster: and after hes given us the free ones we'll have to pay for the items after that, but they'll be insanely cheap....like $10 for most robes n such
  14. [04:41] Treyster: hell no its not safe lol....this is duping bro, the most illegal thing you can do in this game hehe (good to know that he is fully aware of his actions. No temporary insanity plea for him.)
  15. [04:42] Nails Warstein: Will this guy give items back
  16. [04:42] Treyster: but we've been doing it for months now with np.....can never tell when EA will do the ban hammer tho =/
  17. [04:42] Treyster: ive yet to have a problem....guy is really nice, not greedy by any means at all
  18. [04:43] Treyster: he gave me like 3b in runics and tokens for free lol just to show that he was trustworthy =/
  19. [04:43] Nails Warstein: is there any precautions doug and/or I can take while doing this?
  20. [04:43] Nails Warstein: wow 3B in runics?
  21. [04:44] Treyster: not really, no....I mean ive given him some pretty valuble stuff with np....but yea its very risky ya know I mean you could give him the items then tom EA decide to ban dupers and lose it all =/
  22. [04:45] Treyster: it does have its risks.....but the benifits out weigh them IMO hehe
While Treyster, as he states on line 17, was busy duping for months he was also busy trying to convince me that he does not indulge in fencing anymore. He wanted me to let him be part of the Rare Council and he even wrote this "apology." This apology came after me and Ryna confronted him over icq about the dozens of vine cords he was selling:

Treyster: I would like to take the time to Sincerely appologize to everyone of the rares community. Some of you may or may not knowthat recently I participated in the so called fencing of certain event items. It was a horrible decicion on my part and we all make mistakes, I learned my leason in a very hard way. Vine Cords sandles were deleted and I lost a many pair, it was a huge blow to my bank account and a slap back to reality to me. Since the deletion of the VC's I have yet to partake in any "Illegal" activity in the wonderful game of UO. From this "Fencing" of rares ive made quite a few enemies, got banned from stratics, and lost several very good friends. This "Mistake" I made has cost me alot and I have more than learned my leason, it was a very very harsh leason to be learned but what can we do from mistakes we make? Learn from them and move on. I do not expect everyone to forgive me for the things I've done I can only hope that you will all find it in your hearts to do so, I'm still the nice guy you've all known for years, and I'm still the honest and trustworthy Dealer and Collector, nothing has changed in that aspect. I made a huge mistake and I've learned from it and moved on, I belive that I have been Punished enough. I'm honestly and Truely sorry for what I've done, and im now actively trying to help the rares community in any way that I can.

I hope you will all forgive me for what ive done, Again I'm truely sorry to you all.

And in conclusion, just so you all know, Any "Shady" item that I sold months ago was very well known by the buyer to be "Shady". They all knew that the items they were buying were dupes, and they all knew the risks before buying. very very few ppl ever cared, and I only had 2 ppl complain when VC's were removed, They were not reimbursed because all trading in UO is buyer beware and they were all well aware of what they were buying.

From this appology I do not wish to be Flamed as I can not defend my self. I am currently not allowed to post on this great site. If anyone has anything to say to or about me at all please feel free to contact me at 121951026. I see lots of ppl talking behind my back, that is probably the most childish thing anyone could do, if you have something to say please say it to my face (virtual face hehe) I will not be offended.

Thank you all for your time and again I really am truely sorry.

In Summary,

Few of us strongly suspected Treyster for quite some time already when Nails contacted me out of the blue. I knew he (Treyster) was still fencing but I did not realize the extent of it till I had this chat with him.

If there is anything I can take away from this situation then it is that Treyster is a liar and anything he says can never be trusted. He is the type of a person who thinks that he can talk anyone into believing his bullshit. I am sure he will put a spin on this "Tomas hates me and is out to get me," "I was just lying to Nails," etc.

However, only you can decide for yourself. If you choose to believe that I am lying then more power to you. I really cannot be bothered about it. If I could muster up even the slightest hope that Treyster could change for the better, I would have done things differently. Alas, I know what Treyster is and I have shared that information with everyone else at the risk of my own account and facing fancied-up attacks on my integrity. Now, my work is done on this matter! You can do whatever the hell you want with this information (except post about it on stratics :P). I am not here to win a popularity contest and in the future, if an opportunity presents itself, I will not hesitate to expose others even if it shakes up someone's resolve to live in denial. I will be the first one to admit to having made mistakes in the past partly because I was not willing to admit to the existence of dupers or duping. This is the single biggest reason why non-collectors often dislike rare collectors; We are so often willing to ignore the ugly.

One final thing though: Please do think with your head. Just because someone with a lot of rares and/or high post count (or moderator status) says something does not make it true. You are your best friend and you have to think for yourself. Only way to look past all the bullshit.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Count-down to Treyster hacking me!

Since our friend Treyster is busy trying to hack me one of the things he has been doing is icq'ing people to help him find an e-assassin! As such, I have been getting ICQ's from random people forwarding me his msgs to them. Like this one:

[16:13] Treyster: I know you know alot of ppl....ppl who can probably Hack.....Im paying Top dollar to have Tomas Bryce hacked, his accounts deleted, his Blog site deleted and his computer Killed

In light of this rather moving quest that he is on, I figured I should start an official count-down! I give him one year to hack me. Well, more like: 1 year to find someone to hack me because he is incapable of doing anything himself besides lying through his teeth to people who trust(ed) him and pulling simple scams in an online game to pay for his bread and butter.

Alright so July 4th, 2009 is the grand deadline! I will put up a count-down as soon as I write a script for it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

(Small update on duping)

I would like to quickly share this information with everyone without going into details. Treyster aka Alec Moontree is a duper. He does not dupe items himself but he has been instrumental in supplying rares to dupers. He has been exploiting his connections in the rare community to not only sell duped items but to also acquire new items to be duped.

I realize that I am not providing great amount of details (at this time) and that this might be hard for some of you to believe but it is 100% supported by evidence. I will present the evidence here once I get the go ahead from the people who helped me acquire it.

Some of you might have already been aware of this but there are still quite a few people who trust him. Please spread the word.

Treyster's icq to me:
[01:15] Treyster: ill be putting all my money and effort into having your shit hacked now....you know I can have it done, and I will now....
[01:32] Treyster: give me that atleast.....you have alot of ppl wondering......why are you singling ME out....from all the ppl you could have?
[01:33] Treyster: Parkay, Kyros, hollywood shono (soulweaver), tox.....tons and tons of other ppl.....but you choose me? (thanks for giving more names trey)
[02:34] Treyster: what are you trying to accomplish by doing this any ways? I mean you really think its guna stop ppl from buying from me?
[02:35] Treyster: Look at DVI's past Polls 90% of the ppl dont give a shit lol
(Note: I have only posted the most interesting ICQ msgs as I get them. In all fairness, there are indeed quite a few msgs where he denies the charge.)

Treyster has his vendors at Genesis Mall on Atlantic Luna.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What's in a name?

When EA took over Mythic Entertainment in 2006 the control of its MMORPG titles pretty much went to the guys in charge of Mythic. The significant part for us, the Ultima Online subscribers, was that Mythic bosses were in charge of Ultima Online. This was deemed as not necessarily a bad thing - after all, UO was in need of fresh blood at its upper echelons. Couple of years later, the jury is still out whether or not Ultima Online benefited from this acquisition.

I believe that, overall, it has been a negative impact on Ultima Online. My feelings are based on littles cues that many might consider as insignificant. One of my biggest pet peeves has been the change in avatar names that Ultima Online developer and customer service members use on Stratics. Soon after the acquisition, I believe Mark Jacobs or one of the Mythic big shots was quoted saying that they believe the developers should use their real name when communicating with the subscribers instead of hiding behind fantasy based avatars (I cannot find the original quote thanks to the annoying stratics crash). This means that almost all the new Ultima Online developers and GM's that have been hired since Mythic guys took over have posted under their real names (eg. Jeremy EAMythic, Robert EaMythic, etc). However, this goes directly against a decade old norm at Ultima Online of developers using a fantasy based avatar when communicating with subscribers (Lord British, Sunsword, TheGrimmOmen, Wilki, Cathat, etc.)

If you look at this issue independently of everything else, it is not a big deal. However, if you consider this as just an example of the type of behind-the-scene changes that are and were probably made without any to little regard to the existing Ultima Online culture, it is not very positive.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another true rare loses its rarity

A nest with eggs is supposed to be part of the new spring turn in rewards with pub 53. Bit sad about it because it is one of the items that has been on my list of rares to collect. However, I do not want one this way.

Rares are getting increasingly threatened as the live team gives out new rewards due to their tendency towards using existing art. That coupled with the fact that there are lot of rare items which are fairly obscure makes it likely that more rares will see the same fate even if developers try to avoid it.

I hope that the nest at least has a different name when it is finally released.

Added later: An update on this. Lady Sakkarah posted the following on the rare forums:

Actually, that picture is slightly inaccurate. There is no potted cactus. The egg nest is a different hue and the fire pit is the square one, not the round one displayed here.

The beehive is animated

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A New Hope

Today, in a surprise announcement, we were informed that Lady Sakkarah from my home shard of Atlantic has joined the developer team. This is by far one of the best news I have heard in a long time. I have had many chances to talk with her in the past and I cannot think of a more capable candidate. Here are the reasons why any Ultima Online fan should be happy to see her joining the dev team,

1) Lady Sakkarah was the guild mistress of one of Atlantic's largest and leading PvP guilds DEI for many a number of years. As such, she has hands-on knowledge about not only PvP but also managing large guilds and all that goes along with it.

2) She was famous on Atlantic for creating some of the best player-run events. She has impeccable knowledge of the lay of the land and its history - which she often used to enhance her events. She also shares my feeling that we need more tools to facilitate player-run events. If there was ever any chance of a developer gunning for this concept, this would be it!

3) As EM Sameerah of Baja, she created some of the most fun and exciting events, with many yummy rewards (spider web, Christmas trees, LT sash) to boot. So, we can only expect the quality of the events to improve in the future. Furthermore, she is well-versed in the effects of duping and sensibilities of the rare community. I remember her being very upset when the news of LS sash duping first broke out. All serious rare collectors will consider this as a promising sign.

Lady Sakkarah is a well-rounded Ultima Online veteran with experience in all the major domains of the game. The developer team is going to be better off with her as part of it - Join me in wishing her best of the luck at a very tough job.

On a side note: A little over a year ago Lady Sakkarah was kind enough to write a book about her experience with organizing an event in Baja during her time as EM. That book is locked down and accessible at my house - [Treasure Trove] Atlantic - for anyone interested in reading it. I also happen to have a Sakkarah rose given by her to me, also locked down next to the book :)

The Council of Rare - Why is it needed?

A few weeks ago I made a post in the rare collectors forum regarding forming a rare collector's community - A Council of Rare Collectors. Unfortunately, stratics has been at a hiatus so I cannot link at this moment.

One of the key ingredients that I had decided upon very early on was to have an in-game component to the entire concept. This means it would be.. no, has to be... more than a forum based community. As such, linking it to the Rare Collector's Festival was a no-brainer.

So far the response I have received has been largely positive. However, a few of the larger rare collectors have not shown much interest in it. I am hoping that this changes because, as I will explain later in this post, it is very much in their self-interest to see this succeed. I am very happy to note that Manticore, one of the largest and oldest collector, has been very positive about it. I should also note that many of the new collectors have expressed their interest. I was planning on posting a list of all the people who have signed up but that information is also tied up with stratics :P

Taxation without Representation is Tyranny - We have reached a point where people who are interested in collecting must band together to represent themselves. Rare community is facing an unprecedented backlash due to the association of duping with rare items. Under these circumstances, if developers take steps that do great harm to this part of Ultima Online then their will be very few that will think twice about it. It is in our best interest to show that collectors and people interested in collecting are assets to the game. I also strongly believe that collectors are not an insignificant part of the community. Instead that a significant number of people are interested in it and even more appreciate the fact that their are things like museums which display the history of the game. It is one of the core parts of Ultima that separates it from everything else on the market.

So keeping this in mind, we move forward on this idea. Some of the obstacles that I am facing right now is regards to the formation of the High Council. Initially, the plan was to have an election during the rare festival but I realized an important thing: Very few rare collectors really know each other, especially in the game. An election held under such an environment will be like a sham democracy organized by a dictator. Maybe this is what is needed to get things out of the door, maybe not. For now, my goal is to have a breakthrough ingame meeting during the upcoming Rares Festival, involving everyone who has expressed an interest in joining It is there and then that the Rare Council will be declared functional. We will worry about the finer details regarding elections only after everyone has had a chance to see and greet each other.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Know your dupe fencer

People who tend to sell duped items use various arguments to rationalize their actions and also to allay the fears of potential buyers regarding their goods. The surprising thing is how easy it is to buy into this line of thinking. I have seen many people, who should know better, fall for it. Here I would like to point out some of these arguments,

1) "Everything is duped. Hence, there is no reason to talk about dupes."

This is my all-time favorite one. It is quite a brilliant argument whose sole purpose is to act as a red herring. Lets break it down! The first part of the sentence: "Everything is duped," is in fact a huge (and wrongful) assumption which relies on the cynicism of the target audience to pass it as a fact.

The truth is that a large percentage of event items have never been duped. The reason you never see them for sale is... well... because they are rare! Rare items are not meant to be for sale every other week. Most people hang on to them for months, if not years, effectively taking them out of the market. Something popping up for sale too often is usually the first sign that all might not be well.

The second part of the sentence: "Hence, there is no reason to talk about dupes," supplies the motivation for the preceding lie. The biggest concern a duper has is that everyone will find out that the item he is pawning off as a rare is not really all that rare after all. This will always lower the value of the item in question, even PvP rares (although they tend to not fall as fast). As such, they are not proponents of having information available to everyone. By making everyone think that "everything is duped" and calling on to the ever present cynical part in all of us.. "whats the point" ... they effectively discourage candid discussions about duping and making information about duped items easily available.

So to make the record clear: No, everything is not duped and there are plenty of reasons to talk about duped items.

2) "There is no way to prove xyz is duped."

This is often used for items for which we do not have clear information regarding its initial count or which were given in large enough count making it very hard to get current inventory. However, I reject the notion that you need to prove beyond doubt that an item has been duped. This goes back to what I touched earlier: information control. If veteran collectors are staying away from certain items because they believe them to have been duped then I have no problem letting this knowledge be available to the general audience! For certain, you do not want to be paranoid and wrongfully label an item as duped but the fact of the matter is that most of the experienced collectors tend to know what they are talking about. They are not known for their knee-jerk reactions and if a consensus is reached then it is an extremely high chance that they are correct. So, it is an acceptable risk of being wrong on a rare occasion if it means you can prevent scores of people from wasting their gold. The former situation can be fixed, latter cannot be.

So to make the record clear: Yes, it might be impossible to prove beyond any doubt that a certain item is duped. However, it is not impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt.

3) "This is a video game. People should stop talking about morals and just play the game."

This is another one of my favorite one. The goal again is to discourage people from spreading information about duped items. The idea is to create an image of this cool person who is above petty pixel arguments and ask others to be like him. Why talk about pixel dupes when you could just buy them and enjoy the game? What you should always keep in mind is that, unlike most of you, this person relies on pixel scamming to earn their living. There is nothing cool about it.

So to make the record clear: Yes, it is a video game. We do not need to be the best by buying your illegal items. It is just a video game.

4) "Everyone owns dupes. Everyone sells dupes."

This is usually their last resort argument. When everything else fails, why not create a straw-man? It is better known as an ad hominem argument, because it focuses on the opposite person and not their positions. The goal of this argument, much like the others, is to discourage people from spreading information. It is pointless, everyone does it! You should too!!

Yes, I think a lot of people have owned duped items and also, often knowingly, sold them. However, I think there is a big difference between introducing duped items in the economy and one time trading of an item that is already part of the market, especially when you make sure the buyer is well-aware of its status. And guess what? EA Games, the final word on all things UO, agrees with me. They have made a clear distinction in the past between normal players and being a front for illegal items.

So to make the record clear: Everyone might have sold a duped item here and there. But not everyone makes it their business to mislead people into spending their gold or real life money into buying things that are obtained illegally.

Next time you see your favorite duped items fencer make any of the above arguments, take a deep breath and crack a smile. You can see right through it :)

Welcome to my Ultima Online blog

The purpose of this blog is for me to speak my mind regarding Ultima Online, without getting dragged down into arguments and be lost in the crowd.