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