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Making a success of Outlands

#1
It's high time we had a successful, long-term replacement to the best UO era.  IPY and UOSA both succeeded in different ways, but when's the last time we saw a well populated, well managed t2a shard?

There's a few key things that this requires, most of which comes from the people that operate it, but as players we have a certain responsibility too. 

Players:

With very few exceptions, we're in our 30's and 40's.  If we're here in 2017, we're obviously very attached to this game. What we need to remember is that anyone taking on the responsibility of running a shard is basically putting themselves in for a world of pain. I've done it - it's not fun at all. Waking up every day to 50+ PM's in IRC/Discord, most of which are complaining or giving you shit. There is no doubt it's a second job, and often as demanding as your actual 'real' job. So let's consider that and try to make things as easy as we can on Owen and Luthius.

The same goes for disputes with other players in discord/forums - it's a massive turn off to people, especially the people UO shards struggle to attract these days - role players, monster bashers, etc. We just need to moderate ourselves if we want it to succeed.

The shard rule-set, etc:

I'm personally at a point where custom content is very welcome. I'm not at all interested in 'era accuracy' anymore. Previous attempts have shown it's very overrated.  Beyond having a mostly t2a based PvP system and the 'old UO' feel, I'm not wedded to any particular ideas or era. The custom map is a massive draw to me. The old map is too big, too ugly, and boring. I think the map Owen has built has to be used as a major way of attracting players, as should any custom content Luthius is working on.

My main concern with t2a is lack of end game content. My suggestion to fix this has been a skill cap of 80 before power scrolls, with a +15 scroll (for example) taking you to 95, with a cap of 100 per skill.  I'm told by Owen that Luthius has superior ideas to that - but regardless, the hardest thing to do in this era is to keep people involved once they've 7x'd their character, placed a house, etc. That's the main thing for the owners to address.


The admins:

My advice is not to get too engaged in the day to day BS. Don't worry about having to get involved in disputes between players - let them handle it, or appoint people to handle it. As soon as you get dragged into that, your energy is being wasted. You need to be free to work on the server. If that leads to players feeling you're aloof - never mind. People have been spoiled by free shards, having direct access to the developers. There was nothing of the sort on OSI and we managed.

The other thing is just preparing yourself for the long haul. The problem you now face in attracting players is the amount of previous shards that have failed. I've got a network of maybe 50 ex players. I will struggle to get a single one of them to play again, because they're fed up of seeing shard after shard fail, and their character/house/work down the drain. 

Have a donation shop - make some money out of the shard if you can. It'll make you feel less depressed when you come home from your real job to a ton of abuse from your hobby.
 
#2
clx said:
My main concern with t2a is lack of end game content. My suggestion to fix this has been a skill cap of 80 before power scrolls, with a +15 scroll (for example) taking you to 95, with a cap of 100 per skill.
I disagree with making skill gain difficult. Ain't nobody got time for that. Most players have 7x'd a hundred times by now and building skill is the least fun part about the game. The most successful of the player run shards have had regular/easy skill gain. Nobody wants to play for 6 months to get GM Magery.

I think daily events are a must to keep people active, maybe have one for blue players that PK's aren't able to attend, and one for everyone, etc. AC did that well with the LoH spawns every 8 hours. UOT2A's capture the flag and duel type events for trophies were fun (random teams so large guilds can't coordinate and dominate all the time). I liked AC's town scroll mechanic as well, where you could spawn big monsters for groups out in the middle of nowhere, so it was less likely to get raided by PK's.

Things that anybody can do without a huge group, or having to go to the Balron room or whatever, where you're just gonna get PK'd as a solo player/small group. Make it a little harder for PK's rather than just hiding/ghosting in hot spots and sneak ganking.
 

Owyn

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Baphomet said:
I disagree with making skill gain difficult. Ain't nobody got time for that. Most players have 7x'd a hundred times by now and building skill is the least fun part about the game. The most successful of the player run shards have had regular/easy skill gain. Nobody wants to play for 6 months to get GM Magery.
We don't have any intentions of making skillgain painful. We're putting a tremendous amount of effort into endgame content to keep you playing well beyond being 100 in all of your skills. We understand that after 20 years of Ultima Online, you're not necessarily interested in the grind to 100. We want you to feel some sense of accomplishment, but don't want that to be a turn off, either.
 
#4
I agree about (reasonably) fast skill gain - just because I've seen how much of a turn-off it is on past shards. That was just a quick suggestion on player retention past the first 2-3 months, when t2a shards tend to die off.
 

Kilgu

Legendary
#5
clx said:
What we need to remember is that anyone taking on the responsibility of running a shard is basically putting themselves in for a world of pain. I've done it - it's not fun at all. Waking up every day to 50+ PM's in IRC/Discord, most of which are complaining or giving you shit.
This has not been said enough. ALWAYS give thanks to the people hosting and developing the shard for you FOR FREE! Nothing ruins a server quicker than the lead dev saying fuck it because the vocal majority are toxic as shit.
 
#6
Kilgu said:
clx said:
What we need to remember is that anyone taking on the responsibility of running a shard is basically putting themselves in for a world of pain. I've done it - it's not fun at all. Waking up every day to 50+ PM's in IRC/Discord, most of which are complaining or giving you shit.
This has not been said enough. ALWAYS give thanks to the people hosting and developing the shard for you FOR FREE! Nothing ruins a server quicker than the lead dev saying fuck it because the vocal majority are toxic as shit.
Exactly what donations are for, which is fine. Shards get carried away with it though.
 
#7
clx said:
My main concern with t2a is lack of end game content. My suggestion to fix this has been a skill cap of 80 before power scrolls, with a +15 scroll (for example) taking you to 95, with a cap of 100 per skill.  I'm told by Owen that Luthius has superior ideas to that - but regardless, the hardest thing to do in this era is to keep people involved once they've 7x'd their character, placed a house, etc. That's the main thing for the owners to address.
i want to pick up on this real quick.
back when i started in 2012 with 2 friends (uo vets), one of them was a pvm only guy. i believe he had 2 goals. get a sandstone with patio and raise one main pvm char, one swords mage and one bard.

once he finished his main char and had his sandstone he quit right after.
i believe the thought went something like "ok i have completed a char and got what i wanted and the game is beaten, i could now finish my other 2 chars but i just learnt from completing my main that the satisfaction of 7xgm only lasts for like 5mins sooo i guess its not worth continuing, too much investment".

i kind of understand this and i think theres a lot of other players that just outright quit when the main progression, "the story" so to speak is over.

theres another element, players will feel the most attached to their main char, at least i did, because you can relate best, you have the most memories with him.
you think back all the way to the very beginning of the shard as you went trough the whole struggle.


now to the point:

ive always felt the 700 skill cap was weird in uo.
dont get me wrong, i want there to be that 700 limit for combat skills but ive always asked myself why i need to raise 5 different toons just to have all the skills i need.
did EA make money per character? per account?
IF the skill cap only applied to 7 skills that affect combat, wether it be harmful or beneficial the game would not come to such a tremendous halt when players reached 7xGM.
it would also open up so many doors for roleplayers, thinking about this type of character: http://forums.uooutlands.com/showthread.php?tid=156&pid=761#pid761

im not against multi clienting but i believe the game would be a bit more involving (and the journey longer) if you could for example kill a dragon, gather his leather and just craft something, anywhere, anytime.
i personally wouldnt care a bit if that swords mage guy had itemid and gm blacksmithing on his char.. doesnt change the game for me.

youd have a statue/spell/ritual/whatever where you select your 7 active combat skills (skills that affect pvm and pvp). you could lower and raise the skills youve already learnt but only raise again to the max that you reached so far.
can only change skills once a day or similar.

pros:

-people could keep playing and start to try new combat templates without starting from scratch, i dont even know if i can be bothered to GM resist one more time after the 4 shards ive played lol.

-huge roleplay possibilities

-no sudden stop when 7xGM, macro itemid overnight and you still got something to improve on your char.


cons:

-your average miner may actually fight back now.. a big blow to 50/50 skill throwaway pks :p

-from an admin perspective: perhaps the town looks more empty? because the blacksmith guy is currently pvping somewhere and not standing on the crafting bonus square all day.. i dunno.


anyway.. it was just a thought and something i would personally try if i was billionare gamedev and were to throw UO2 on xbox arcade and PSN.
perhaps i forgot something on how this would affect the whole gameworld or something..

EDIT: someone on discord told me about aspect gear and that it gives players something to progress with after 7xGM. i didnt know about this but it seems like an exiting system for pvm/crafters. heres the info: http://forums.uooutlands.com/showthread.php?tid=43
 
#8
I think starting off, one thing that has been done correctly and great here thats noticeable above some other shards is communication. Owen and Luth do a great job of communicating updates and changes that are coming down the pipe, I think that always helps with the player base to know that things are being actively looked at / worked on.

To help with the above and to help deal with the mass of toxic problems that can arise, I think its good to have a few helping hands about. Maybe select a couple of discord mods and counselors for in game pages. It always sucks when you go to page in and you see the message that no admins are online at this time or its hours before you receive any reply. Again might not can be fixed by the low level cns, but at least you know your page has been heard and someones looking into it, same for discord mods to help control / correct those in discord so the admins can focus. This community seems to have plenty of knowledgeable and mature people that can help with this.

Marketing. I think this will be easy, I mean by word of mouth alone look at how full the discord channel is.

Keep growing, where its the end game content, daily ctf's , those might not be needed right out the gate since being a custom world there will be plenty of great things to explore and will keep people involved fora while.

I like the above ideas / I dont mind a little bit harder skill gain so that everyone doesnt have a 7x gm in 2 days, and it does allow for some gains still, but I'm rambling now, so if I think of more I'll update. :D. So far its been great and even in just beta been fun to learn play!
 
#9
I think advertising the shard and making it known to people, especially in other countries that have an Ultima following, is important. I think that a large playerbase is the one thing that could make the difference between someone trying UO again or even for the first time. I remember on Hybrid there seemed to be a healthy population of Asian players who didn't speak English, and I wonder if Ultima fans from around the globe have heard of Outlands--. Perhaps targeting foreign gaming forums and chatrooms could help spread the word.

I will admit I don't know anything about Google listings and key words, but when I type Ultima online free shard into the search engine, outlands isn't anywhere near the top. I did find some discussion on Reddit though, which is good.
 
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#11
I think if most new players could get past the graphics they would see the depth UO really has to offer. The sandbox nature of the game is unparalleled for an MMO. Blows my mind people just look at a screenshot and refuse to try it based on the admittedly outdated style.

Maybe posting on retro gaming sites? 20+ years is retro right?
 
#12
Pixel/Retro graphics are becoming very popular especially in indie development circles. UO graphics are way ahead of simple 8bit sprites. I think the issue is that we all remember what it's like to play with 1000+ people while new players rarely see more than 50 active people and it's usually us old salts. Its on us to show them the full potential of a true sandbox game.

Also show them house deco. I have not seen any housing system ever come close to the freedom that UO offered in terms of decoration and utility, and I've played pretty much every MMO that's come out in the last 20 years.
 
#13
I think the biggest thing we can do to draw more players is target foreign gaming forums and chatrooms

To be honest, I don't even know how to do this.
 
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#19
Apparently, UOO has necromancy and I didn't know it?

One thing I do not understand here is direct access to staff members. It is odd that I can PM a developer and bother them about something. No other game company that I have ever played their games has allowed that. A lot of the random staff bashing wouldn't be so intense if there wasn't a discord for admins to respond in, which leads to biased screenshot cropping.

I know I might be the minority here, but access to staff should be a privilege that is gained through thought out post and earned by giving well-timed feedback.

Sure discord is great when the server crashes or there is a major bug discovered, but the majority of the time it is a terrible distraction with lots of bitching and moaning from people who just can't handle some small things not working their way. So many 30-year-old babies.

I would personally be much happier if we had staff focused on developing maps/content/bugfixes without worrying about a few minor vocal people whining about something. I mean if you look at the numbers, we have something like 1400-1500 avg players the last time it was broadcasted? Out of those 1400-1500 players maybe 10 constantly whine and bitch on discord. They never take the time to make any kind of considerate post or well-thought-out discussion post on the forums, yet I imagine staff spends considerable time reading and debating with these morons.

I remember one day Luth saying I will get back to you all later in discord because he said he had 160+ PMs. Why is our main developer reading so many PMs? The best advice I can offer is that we need someone else who is the PR person instead of Owyn and Luth. Let these two people build our world and sit back and enjoy it. Staff needs to enjoy what they do, not become personal whine punching bags!

Use discord as an announcement and alert system, and use the forums for thought out discussions. If people are too lazy to come to post an idea here, then it didn't have enough merit to worry about anyways.
 
#20
Well said Yu... In addition, I think the expectations players put on the developers of this world are far too high, and unrealistic, and I'm not talking in quality of the game play or the world in which we play, because those expectations are allowed of anyone playing a game, but with the casual access we have with dev's, talking both in a public forum, and directly, not everything said is always going to come true, or true instantly, and it shouldn't be expected too.

They are trying their best to give us insights into the future, but the future isn't set in stone, and it changes depending on how the shard is progressing. For example, if they say today that a new ruleset is going to roll out soon, don't expect soon to be this afternoon, tomorrow, or a week from now, it'll come when it comes, the path of development sometimes takes a turn, and needs to be tweaked to get back on path.. Maybe another item has popped up with a higher priority that take away from the original path, or god forbid our devs have an actual life they want to indulge in occasionally.

In the end if you didn't see or hear it in an announcement, take anything said/promised with a grain of sand.. Enjoy what we already have out there, you'll be better for it.. And if in the end you decide the ruleset has changed to a game you don't want to play any longer, have some grace and move on with some class.. I remember back near the start of the server when a player had a 900k house deed stolen, they came into discord, said congrats to the thief, said goodbye, and never heard from again. And while the ruleset changed, because the devs didn't want that the be a legacy piece of their world, tons of effort ruined by singular acts, that person never looked back, never whined, moaned or complained, had a lot of class.