Ultima online is a massive multiplayer fantasy 'role playing' game. It provides a series of shards (servers) that play host to independant consensual playing arenas. Each shard is similar in the sense that the basic map is the same, the cities are in the same place and the underlying game system is identical. The game has undergone some changes to the system, but these have been evolutionary for the most part and have improved the game. To start with there were 'honor' levels, the more bad things you killed, the higher your honor level. The levels ranged from Great Lord to Dread lord. Dread lords were the scary low ping b*******s who just went around killing other players for sport. An easy way to increase your skills (for americans initially and now for us brits) was unattended macro'ing where you would set up a repeated series of actions and then leave your machine connected and your character working away while you watched TV. This was seen as a BAD THING by the powers that be and they banned some people for it (I don't think they ever banned someone for killing another player, regardless of how malicious they were about it). Each shard is unique due to the impact of player communities and activities. I played on 2 shards during the times I played. The first was Catskills physically located in the United states. My connection to the shard was poor to average at the best of times. I think I made 3 characters during that time. The first was a warrior (Called Pro Zak), I ran round trying to avoid being killed by other players. After achieving a certain level of skill, I accidentally became branded neutral (I had done one too many 'wrong things' and became fair game for the 'good' players to kill and loot). The second was a bald gentleman named Cor Don Blue who wandered around and got involved in some of the player communities and events. I met and communicated with a coup
le of people on catskills and that was nice, we formed a guild and were wiped out en mass on our first joint dungeon crawl. I bought a house and placed it in a good spot and that was that. I stopped playing. Sociology: There are 4 PTs (Player Types). : Socialiser, Powergamer, explorer, hunter. Socialisers play for the chatroom feature and the ability to cooperate with other like minded individuals towards a common goal. They're frequently role players. Powergamers want the highest stats, the biggest house, the most gold, the rarest items. Explorers want to sail round the world and see all there is to see, if possible finding new hidden bits BECAUSE IT'S THERE! Hunters want to kill stuff, monsters are sometimes hard to kill but the hardest target of all is another player. The players themselves showed a pretty good cross section of internet users at the time. A fair number of nice genuine role players with a desire to interact. At about 3:30pm US central standard time the servers would suddenly fill with a bunch of abusive sociopaths for a couple of hours and then it would go quiet again at about midnight. The problems in UO are much like the problems in the real world: There isn't enough land suitable for building houses on, so new people don't have much chance of getting a good spot unless they pay the current owner a lot of virtual (and sometimes REAL) money for it. The economy is a little strange. Items spawn on the game run vendors at set times, the more items spawning the lower the price (between set limits). If one person buys 1 of those items from the stack, the whole stack goes up in price. There were 'shopping trips' for the big mages to buy ALL the spell ingredients as soon as they spawned. I did it myself. It's cheaper to jump round all the magic shops and buy all the ingredients at once than to buy them a little at a time at a much higher price. This means th
at starting players are scuppered because they can only afford a few of each reagent / ingredient and at lower skill levels your spells will fizzle more often which burns the reagents for no gain. The Japanese shards were apparently a bit of a laugh. To start with there were 2 main factions, the native Japanese and the Gaiijin (foreigners). The Japanese were courteous, helpful and generally pleasant within their group but fairly hostile to the yanks + Gaiijin. (It's possible to bow and salute to other players with your character, the Japanese loved that) After a month or three there were quite a few guilds formed and then all hell broke loose as the mild mannered Japs turned into fierce lunatic guildmembers all trying to put their guild at the top of the killboards. I think that only a few hardcore loony yank guilds still exist on the Japanese servers and they only go there to 'hone their skills' in team play battles. The main draw of the game is to be part of a world that actually makes the news. It's one thing to hear about someone doing heroic stuff on the news in the real world and quite another to actually either be there or even report the news yourself however virtual the world may be. My grandmaster smith (unimaginatively called Worker) produced Plate suits and katanas. I sold a few hundred sets of the stuff and used to be amazed when I saw other players wearing it. (a katana made by Worker as a description). Now I've not played for a couple of years. There are 4 reasons for this: 1. I realised that after a days work, I was coming home to do a days virtual work for virtual pay. 2. While it's nice to meet people, the actual chat room style of socialising doesn't appeal to me. It's one thing to talk face to face but quite a different thing to type to some virtual avatar of someone half way round the world. 3. The economic model and the justice system are appalling. Raw mat
erials appear in the world at very high prices or players go and get them. (click, click, click, click, move, click, click, click... repeat until bored). Someone comes along and ruins your (the player's) day by killing them and the horse you rode in on, steals all of your hard earned crap and then wanders off to sell it. Is this a punishable offense? Nope. If your miner is also a blackbelt combat mage in full regalia you have some time to kill the offender. If you are unwary or unlucky, your blackbelt combat mage will get killed and you'll lose all the regalia and the time it takes to get resurrected and return. 4. There's no such thing as an honest UO player. If you are killed, it's likely that it was done by someone who has studied the reputation system to the extent that if you ever need a lawyer in UO to prove black was white, this would be your man. If only he hadn't killed you and taken everything you were carrying, somehow managed to do it in the middle of a crowded street in full sight of the city guard and for some reason, you're the one who loses reputation because of it. Now I know where microsoft recruit their legal representatives........ If you are unfortuante enough to die, most of the passing strangers won't help until your corpse decays and then they help themselves to anything your assailant didn't take. Picture a man falling down dead on Oxford street on a busy saturday afternoon and the passers by wait for the police to come, tag the body as dead and then every single person in the crowd strips what they can from the body. Clothes, wallet, shoes, jewelry down to the underwear (only because you can't remove underwear in UO) and then wanders off to put it in their bank.... It's like watching vultures. What's worse than that is finding yourself doing just the same thing. Ultima online turns you into a sociopathic american teenager. Don't do it kids.
Orc's, Dragon's & Skeletons... ...Oh MY!!! What Is Ultima Online? UO is a role playing game that you play online. It is one of a host of ‘MMPORPG’s’. (see below) that are currently available such as 'Everquest', 'The Realm' & 'Asheron's Call'. Ultima Online offers the player the possibility to be part of a ‘Virtual World’ and to create their own unique character & identity within that world. Unlike the role playing games that you play offline such as Final Fantasy, Baldurs Gate & Icewind Dale on Ultima Online they continue to exist & evolve even when you are not playing, this is called a ‘Persistent World’. MMPORPG’s – What is that? This stands for ‘Mass Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games’ and what it means is that firstly and most obviously it’s a ‘Role Playing game’ secondly the game can ONLY be played online. What makes this type of role playing game unique is that it supports multiple players. This means that there are literally thousands of people just like you playing and existing in the game at the same time as you. This means that you can interact with them, whether that be talking, going on quests together or bashing each other with a sword (whatever takes your fancy)!! Also these other players/people can play the game from literally anywhere in the world. VIRTUAL WORLD Ultima Online is a ‘Virtual World’. This world exists regardless of whether you are playing in it or not. Even when you are not playing it evolves, changes and develops. The world has a name and its called ‘Britannia’. In this world there are cities, shops, houses, boats, rivers, forests and oceans. The world also has a number of NPC’s these are characters that exist within the game but are not controlled by other players i.e. ‘Non Player Characters’. Oh yes, and of cour
se there’s monsters. Skeletons, orcs, dragons to name just a few. There’s also nice animals like rabbits cats, pigs and horses. Incidentally, yes you can ride the horses & if you fancy a pet cat you can have one of them too!! PLAYABILITY Playing the game is easy. Once you’ve loaded it up and logged on you are directed to a screen where you get to ‘Create A Character’. You can choose a profession such as magery, fighter, bard, healer etc. or even such things as a blacksmith, fisherman, tailor, animal tamer etc. The list is very long with over 40 skills to choose from. You can choose 3 skills to have some experience in before you start the game. However it is easy to develop skills in the game, which you do purely by practising them. There is no need to gain experience points and wait to go up levels to buy skill points like other games. If you want to fight with a sword you just go and find a nice, cute, very easy to kill animal and bash it with a sword & your level will increase the more you practise. Its as simple as that. For those of you wondering ‘WILL I DIE A LOT’, well the answer is no not really. You start out in the game with a protected status, which means you are ‘Young’ what this means is that other characters and monsters cannot attack you unless you attack them first. You are young until your experience reaches a certain level or if you decide you no longer want to remain young. If however you do something really stupid, like try to kill a dragon with a dagger and no skill level, your going to die. HOWEVER, even if you die the game does not end. You become a ghost and remain a ghost until you find a healer or mage to resurrect you & there’s plenty of them around believe me!! You never truly die, in the sense that your character never stops existing unless YOU delete it. TUTORIAL & HAVEN There is a good support network & guidance for new players. When
you first start out you are given the opportunity to take the tutorial, which to be honest I think is totally necessary to give you a grasp of how to operate, move, pick up items, open doors all that boring stuff you have to know & learn. Once the tutorial ends you can go to a town called ‘Haven’. This is a town where ONLY new players can visit. The idea of Haven is to provide the new player a safe place to practise skills and meet new players. Within Haven you will find ‘Companions’ these are experienced players who have volunteered to be guides and advisors to new players and are there purely to be of help to you. You can call one by clicking on the help menu or you will probably see a couple wandering around. You get to stay in Haven either until your skills reach a level that ends your ‘Young’ status or when you decide to leave. THE GAME I could go on and on explaining a multitude of features within the game and to be honest, if you plan on playing this game I suggest you: READ THE GUIDE THAT CAME WITH THE GAME BEFORE YOU START Visit the Ultima Online website. OTHER USEFUL INFO Some basic advice if you intend to play the game. Firstly there are lots of different servers that you can play the game on. Servers are based around the world and are called ‘Shards’. For optimum connection players in the UK should select ‘EUROPA’ as their ‘Shard’ Also ‘EUROPA’ is the shard that the majority of UK residents play on. (You can play on any shard, and have up to 5 characters on each and every shard). Stay in Haven for as long as possible and build up your money and skills as much as possible before you leave. You can remain in Haven even after you lose your ‘Young’ status, just don’t leave. Once you actually leave you cannot return. (You can log in and out of the game ok and still return to
Haven if that is the place you logged out from). When you leave Haven, I recommend ‘Britain’ as a starting city as it is very big (the largest) with lots of other people around to ask advice from. HOW MUCH WILL ALL THIS COST ME? The game retails for about £24.99 and is now called ‘Ultima Online – Third Dawn’ This is an updated version of the game in 3D but if you prefer or you do not have the memory/video card capacity you can play the 2D version that also comes with this version . (I have both versions but still favour the old 2D). There are ongoing costs with the game. You will pay a monthly subscription of approx. £7.00 per month, which you really need to be able to provide a credit card to pay for. If you decide you don’t want to play for a few months you can stop the payments and when you want to start playing again you start paying again, your characters will not get deleted if you stop paying for a few months. There is also the cost of being online the whole time you are playing the game. If you are lucky enough to have NTLWorld as your ISP this won’t be a problem or if you subscribe to unlimited access you won’t have a huge nasty phone bill. Otherwise, each minute you play costs you the usual connection fee rate. WORD OF WARNING – If you decide to play this game do not underestimate how addictive it can become!!! I was paying by the minute for Internet access when I first played the game and my phone bill was in the region of £150 per month!!! I know, its sad, I was addicted. I hope you found the above guide useful. I love the game and I am still playing it a year on. It is forever changing and there’s always something new to do. If you do venture into ‘Britannia’ and you do play on the ‘Europa’ shard watch out for a red long haired girl with ponytails and a sexy plate armour basque going by the name of ‘C
haris’. Fare Thee Well!!