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.