Interview with Richard & Starr About Ultima Online

Discussion in 'The Kingdoms of Old' started by Ultima Codex, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. Ultima Codex

    Ultima Codex Avatar

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    Edmonton, AB, Canada
    I was fortunate to be able to chat with Richard Garriott and Starr Long about the early history of Ultima Online, beginning with its inception as Multima.

    I even managed to ask a question that Starr, in 17+ years of talking about the game, hadn't been asked before, which was a pretty neat thing.

    It's an audio interview; listen to it here.
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  2. Poor game design

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    This was a fantastic interview.

    Highlights that really interested me:
    1. Purposeful Elves vs. Undead interaction. I'm totally in agreement that a fully functional ecology has been tried and failed for understandable reasons, so this is not something I'm lobbying for.

    However, I felt like Richard's explanation of this in Shroud of the Avatar is good in spirit, but horrible in current implementation. Currently, I never get the feeling that the interaction between Mobs is meaningful. I only see the interaction as "those two spawns are too close to each other and bears sometimes kill cultists" or whatever. I like the concept, but the execution is poor. Very poor. There's nothing that suspends my disbelief here, and I'm not being an elitist about it. I'm simply explaining that I objectively have seen no bridge between the narrative of say the Elves and the Undead. There's a lack of believable persistence in all the scenes that tends to make me feel more like I'm on a "it's a small world ride" where all the NPC's do whatever it is they do and if you stare at them long enough there might be some very small variance to that. It's a bit worrisome that Richard isn't picking up on that himself. I would be surprised if I'm not the only one that feels this way - but I'm only speaking for myself here.

    2. Driving narratives through game events. Yes, this is awesome and I hope we do a lot of that in SOTA. One thing that I'm personally very high on is the ability for players to influence the narrative. For example, I'd love to see the three paths (maybe four) or Love, Courage, and Truth culminating into a MACRO event that forges the paths of Episode II. For example, what if 60% of all the players end up making a particular set of choices and that "changes" the way that Episode II begins? I find that to be a really compelling way to allow the players some kind of collective influence on the world.

    Another thing I'm also in support of a MICRO influence on the world based on individual contributions to the game by individual players, primarily how they might impact the story and become a part of the overall canon of the game. I know there are plenty of people on the forums that say they don't want this, but I would argue that if Lord British and Darkstarr and Lum can do it, why can't other players do it? I personally find the exclusion of this type of opportunity by our community to be an attempt to ignore exceptional roleplaying so that everyone in the game is equally "marginalized". I don't know why that would serve our game well. I would think that we would want to provide incentives for people to roleplay well.

    3. The bow animation, slurp slurp. Adultima! That was first and the most successful business in the game for the first month. Amazing. :)

    I'm really curious if our goal's in Shroud of the Avatar multiplayer (and selective multiplayer) are removing any type of player to player interactions that don't involve chat. I support that PVP is 100% consensual. I'm supportive of allowing players to be in single player online mode or friends mode. But Starr's favorite anecdotes (including bank robbers) seem virtually impossible to occur in SOTA because we've coded away so much of the multiplayer mode to exclude every part of the game we might find offensive or upsetting. I feel like because there is a single player online mode and a friends mode, that mutliplayer mode should be LESS draconian and we should error on the side of "if you're in multiplayer then the expectation should be that you accept the concept that not all players will do what you like, and not all players will observe your same standards of offensiveness". I would hope that's the way Portalarium looks at multiplayer conceptually. That we're not going to code away the ability to steal kills from other people, for example. That we're not going to make global chat channels. That we're not going to create a multiplayer world where there's no way to impact other players in a meaningful way.

    Again, great interview. Thanks for posting this!
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