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




Anonymous said...

great post Tomas! i went to the Japanese shards for the slime event (super fun) and i have been so awed and impressed by everything you have discussed. the backpack art is breathtaking and many times so detailed and creative i just stare for a while. i have some screenshots if you ever need any. your pic of the line of people cracked me up - i have no idea what they're doing either! but i was equally as impressed with how polite and selfless so many Japanese players were during the slime event - stands set up outside the dungeons for rezzing, healing, food piles, bandie piles, etc.

Sarsmi said...

I love visiting asian shards for inspiration, they have fabulous deco and put such effort and detail into their homes that it is truly mindblowing.

mintsymay said...

good post. i checked out the japanese shards just because of this.