Saturday, October 27, 2012

New historical society banners? Something new. :-)

This may not be a news breaking topic, but it only recently came to my attention while taking a long detour. A classic full tower stands next to the arch teleporter to Buccaneer’s Den, Tram-Atlantic. I always encourage newer players to explore our lands, see what the landscape has to offer, and also explore interesting houses you may come across... when they are public. This tower was in place long before custom houses and had some nice old rares within. When I was new, this was quite thrilling. The owner had taken some time and effort to decorate... but what stood out most was the fact it had a missing door on one of the levels. It was the one and only house I saw like it. For whatever reason, the owner (old or new, I don’t know) changed the house to be private. A real shame, but there is a light skeleton spawn outside. And when I passed, the other day... I saw an off color banner, standing in the grass, I had never seen before. Had to investigate! :-) Pixies.

Awhile ago, long before our big “Town Banner” program, I had noticed these small 2-part banners on Asian shards that said “Shop and Town Award Winner”. These are normal wood with a banner of red and yellow. This was a long time ago, before our custom town banners. They are the same, only dyed green for the new banners that read “This house is part of the UO Historical Society”, followed by a date. These are placed next to houses placed 10 years or more, and the program was started up awhile ago. Not horribly long ago, but it was news to me! You can file for these banners by form and taking a screen-capture photo of your house information menu.

So... with the Red & Purple Mini Mall actually passing it's 11th anniversary this past September... it's really hard for me to believe, but the main current mall building was placed April of 2003. We have just under 6 months to wait! 10 years old. Wow! Where will the banner be placed? :-) This is actually our 3rd house for the mall, the final house.

If you’ve visited the town, the main mall building is in the center of the 2nd row of houses. It's a little tight. The other buildings are a lot newer then the mall building. In actuality... the next oldest building is the “Yew Gate Mall”, Kraken’s old place. The next oldest is the “First Church of Candy”. I will only file for the 1 banner for the town proper. I’m very thankful the modern town banner program was established to help recognize player-run towns. This new program also shines light on each and every shard’s personal history and easily, you could say, ‘this is about time’ as well. *Thumbs up!* to the staff! My only feedback is that a ‘requirement’ should be keeping the house open, to whatever degree. We do need private areas sometimes. hehe

Kraken’s Yew Gate Mall will hopefully see it's own history banner... but the area is so tight, I really have no clue what can be done. The official memorial for Kraken is located next to the Red & Purple Garden Center due to the fact it was a mostly clear and peaceful area that could never see house placement AND it's placement will never interfere with anything else. Still, I guess we will wait and see.

I also don’t know if there will ever be an official listing of these houses per every shard, but that may be an idea. In my limited 3 hour search for just these bannered houses, I only found 1 other. Some houses I know personally are older then when I started playing! This being from the need of a bigger personal house for what seamed like ages and no one selling, back in that part of UO history I call “the great house shortage”, after houses age were locked up after 9/11. Some of these houses have never shown change in all these years. It's amazing... but it happens. :-)


Also... I would also like to announce that we are now connected to Ultima Online Forums, ( I’ve personally found this to be a far more friendly community environment for Ultima Online. Please check it out. Join, if you wish. Our flag officially will fly with this boards site and not “the other”. ;-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A little story about the R&PMM on it's 11th anniversary!

As I’m sure everyone knows, September 2012 is when Ultima Online has it's 15th year anniversary.  For all of those players that were not around for the beta or started playing all those many years ago, there was a world before “online”.  I’ve told my own story many of time and looking back all those years ago, it's still amazing to me to talk about growing up in a world without half of the innovations we have today.  Even if some existed, many didn’t have them in their homes yet... like microwave ovens.  I started off with a Commodore-64.  Many of my games were far from formal box sets found in computer stores.  Little things for fun, when you couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night.  Simple, far from beautiful graphics.  And then my very first box set came... Ultima 4.

This was a game, if I remember correctly, that was more in black and white.  Still, it was an adventure game.  Magic, fighting, monsters, exploration, dungeons, puzzles to be solved.  Countless hours spent in a computer generated world and I can't thank those creative minds enough.  Even though this was the 4th of a long history of Ultima, I followed from 4 to 5, to 6, to Ultima 7... that still remains to be my favorite.  This was a world of you and a long collection of Non-Player-Characters.  Not “online”.  What was online?  Ultima was about “virtue”... I was quite taken aback when, years later, an online Ultima came out and this world was ruled by criminals.  Murderers with the fastest computers... what was the same staff thinking?  That’s why I stayed away.  I’m quite sure, as a life-long Ultima fan, I was far from alone.

So, after Tram came to be... I started playing.  I chose Atlantic, highly populated and sometimes difficult for a new player to get their feet firmly planted in this game world.  A big problem being a housing shortage.  It took cleverness and the use of vendors... and renting a space in a mall, with vendors owned by many different people.  People still ask me how I made the Red & Purple Mini Mall?  It was all about ammunition!  Arrows and bolts.  This fueled my efforts with mages and fighters.  As my vendors flourished, rather then blow every single coin, I worked hard to add more vendors to my small collection.  Before long, I had a room in a castle full of smart dressed Red & Purple vendors.  It was not long after that the staff locked up housing after 9/11.  A small marble shop was now 5 million gold.  Hard to believe... and now you can't even give one away.  :-)

Still... how did we go from a small marble shop to a large mall that eventually became a town?  A new question and one worthy of our own origin story.  To answer THIS... I went from ammo to a rather odd specialty item, “Savage Kin Paint”.  This was still in a world without suits that let you cast spells with out regs... and I hadn’t a pet that could stand up to savages.  It may not be commonly know, but savages will destroy any pet that started off evil.  To say, like dragons, mares and the like.  Unicorns... and our giant dogs, good.  The dogs actually do best because they are so powerful.  The savages spawn little “apple like” berries, blue in color.  Making bags of regs ready, I would camp the spawn for hours, collecting berries in the same bag... dropping the bag off as I picked up the next regs bag.  Hundreds upon hundreds of berries.  Then, with help of my Cook, turned the berries into paint.  The paint would sell for 5k per unit, back then.  It's more now.  This paint turns your character white... but has other more magical properties.

In collecting the, then new, Power Scrolls, that help you boost various skills, one of the spawns will turn your character into a rat man.  Needless to say, you loose your mount, become slow, and it makes the hunt even more challenging.  The paint... prevents this!  So, being this was a specialty, even from a collection of vendors selling just about everything, it was the hottest seller.  All those hours upon hours, the paint would fly off the vendor.  Even at 5k per unit, so much paint sold it easily paid for the current mall building.  It's true the mall and my own house have a large collection of rares and oddities collected over the years and money has been made doing so much more then paint, but the Savage Kin Paint is what made the big Red & Purple Mini Mall.

Like I tell everyone... find what sells, stock it and sell even more.  You win.  Shoppers win.  Our community wins.  What's better then that?

So that’s a little story of success and advice.  No matter your limitations and effort, you can get someplace in a community that spans the world as we play in a world without boarders and unlimited possibilities.  Unfortunately the pay doesn’t exist in real USD... but return is still unlimited.

11th anniversary to the Red & Purple... And happy 15th UO!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beware of Criminals & Slumping in-game Support.

Sunday, it's been officially 12 years of play for me!

I started not long after Tram came to be.  A long time fan of Ultima, I had no interest in this online version that gave us a world of virtue ruled by murderers and criminals.  Those criminals were more about tricks, not about scams.  I don’t know what ‘the creator’ was thinking, but I wasn’t playing that game.  I waited.  Then soon enough, I loved the online world and making friends and playing with people all over the world.  It wasn’t so easy at first... with a weak computer, but I still had fun and collecting gold was a big challenge, far from today.

It wasn’t long before I was dealing with the real criminal element inside the UO world.  The cyber bullies.  The scammers, hackers, thieves, and general jerks that turn a good thing sour for so many.  We had wonderful in-game support then, but it was still up to the player to keep clear of the criminals.  People trying to sell houses that they didn’t own... that was a big thing.  Some actually played into the part while scamming... some acted like they were the true owner.  Many people lost a fortune this way.  The same thing could be said about sudden rare artifacts.  When stone furniture was new, some jerk tried selling me an extremely “rare” stone chair that was crafted only seconds before.  It never seamed to end.  My first house, a small marble shop, on Atlantic... 1.2 million and that took a lot of effort to buy.  You couldn’t find free houses!  Now you can't give a small marble shop away, but it was a different world.

As I started welcoming newer players into our game world and starting the seeds that would become the Red & Purple, I would warn others of these dangers other players would bring into tram.  I even acted as a housing broker to make sure houses were safe to buy, more acting like a real life housing agent.  I saw a lot!  I saved a lot of people a lot of heartache.  In those days... months saving up for a small house?  People would end up quitting over a single foolish moment.  I would also warn the young ones to stay away from a path of being foolish.  I would say “You never know who your ripping off... maybe a staffer... maybe a game master.”  One time, I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair when a young friend reported “I should have listened to you.” then told me how he stole from the wrong player that turned out to be a Game-Master.

The biggest warning I said then... I’ll say again now:  A huge warning that you are dealing with an in-game criminal is in how ‘aggressive’ they are.  The “rules of conduct” are a little on the obnoxious side, if you ever actually tried to read them before checking that you agree.  Some of the rules are extremely clear.  You will see the aggressive criminals using disposable new accounts because they know they risk being banned every time they are out breaking the rules.  These people think it's “their right” to break the RoC.  Using illegal 3rd party scripts, running their scams, doing whatever they shouldn’t be doing.  That aggressiveness should be your warning!  Do not do business with them.  The many staff teams we’ve had have worked a lifetime to plug every hole these criminals fine... and yet it never stops.

I never understood cyber-bullies.  These cowards that hide behind a keyboard, say and do things they would never get away with doing in real life.  The staff is not saintly, sometimes a bad seed will show itself.  I had a bad run in with a player who turned out to be a Game-Master as well, but this one attacked and harassed me.  Abusing his GM powers, I was able to get his boss interested.  This personal attack wasn’t unique.  Others have been corrupt.  Extremely bad attitude problems when coming into contact with players.  Fabricating very unique items to sell.  There was even a time where a group of “staff favorites” had access to an area the rest of us didn’t.  Many got into trouble.  Corruption is alive and well.  Being stabbed in the back by people who are here for us... it happens.  Even today.

Reporting criminals today?  It's sure not like the old days.  Nameless cookie-cutter game-master responses claiming they are “investigating” the issue.  It's bull to the 25th power!  We can only do so much to help support our fellow players, our friends, and our community... without staff help.  So far, Mystic, only seems to have 1 staffer who cares.  It's a real shame.  Even though EA doesn’t want to put UO in the retail market where people can see it, they don’t want to hear complaints, they also don’t seam to care our ranks are ever shrinking.  Atlantic is still highly populated.  It's just so amazing that the in-game support doesn’t respond... time after time after time... after time, to the same issues.

I would personally like to thank the only helpful staffer I’ve seen in the last couple years, Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong... who did a wonderful job on our town banner.  And I would also like to give the thumbs down to our game-master staff.  You guys need to improve if we are going to see a 16th anniversary!  15 is just around the bend.  :-)  And rock on to everyone in our community that pays and plays.  We are the true heart of Ultima.  They need to remember that.  hehe

* Also... Check out the area that used to be the old Blackthron's Castle, north Brit.  A NEW design is in its place.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Old Gargoyle City GONE! Along with Blackthorn’s castle in Brit?

I didn’t do it!  :-)  The staff missed destroying Luna yet again and I can't believe it!  :-)  Why these 2 wonderful old historical landmarks?  Is it for the good, for the worst, or what?

Part of the last publish, old Gargoyle city in Ilshenar was turned into a wasteland as part of the extremely long storyline currently running.  There is no way to re-enter the city.  No way to reach the banks or other NPC shops.  The question right now is if the city will ever come back.  It's almost like the staff has it in for old historical landmarks.  Is it gone forever?

Forgive me for saying so, however Ilshenar is a fairly useless place with vast amount of land with nothing worth bothering with.  No housing.  No ability to recall into any part of the land.  No real cities.  Paragons.  However, for those of us who like to explore, this same land is full of little hidden treasures.  Special spawn.  Special hunting areas.  When called for, new dungeons are added.  It's a real shame that so many professional bank-sitters will never know these lands because they are too frightened to leave the safety of the bank.  Never the less, what the land has... should NOT be destroyed.

Old Gargoyle City is/was located near the Honor Moongate, west of the old Black castle that was also destroyed a few months ago.  The story behind that destruction was this storyline that will run most of 2012.  Just recently, in the old gargoyle city, was an easy passage to Exodus dungeon.  Also, a very recent quest to search the sands for Juka and Mere artifact fragments.  That quest and NPC still exist next to the entrance, however you can not pass the pillars at the gate.  The dungeon can still be reached by the original entrance to the south.

Then that brings us to Blackthorns castle in Brit.  Why?  First the bridge was partly destroyed, however old runes and boats could cross the moat.  The island appeared to be on fire, however there was no added spawn or anything really out of place.  Then suddenly, the entire bridge was removed and upon being asked... I took a rowboat to the island as all my runes were blocked.  The only thing left of the castle is a few bits of d├ęcor.  One of the most interesting city buildings in all of UO gone without any reason.  I’m sure something will happen... someday, but it still angers me a little seeing this was one the few truly nice pieces of architecture in the old cities.

Not to bust the staff’s chops too much, with these 3 large pieces of the game vandalized... I can only remember how long it took them to rebuild Maginica.  Even then, after all the waiting and hype, it never quite lived up to the possibilities.  We joke and carry on about the totally corrupt city of Luna needing to see hardships, but there is no shortage of areas of the game where NEW cities, NEW buildings, and NEW possibilities can be designed.  Look at the docks from the High Seas addition.  Out in the middle of the seas, without destroying one tree.

* Also please note that the destruction of old gargoyle city will be part of an upcoming quest in another month.  A somewhat complex cure will be needed to help those survivors who are infected with a sickness thanks to the Nexus.

Also, speaking about changes in the landscape...

My last post including a mentioned the staff built teleporter hub coming soon to Atlantic.  Well?  No sooner then I posted that little news snippet, Mesanna started building that very article.  It's been a few weeks since she started, however it's still not complete as of yet.

If you go to the south gate on laggy ole Luna, just outside, you will see an odd red colored walkway heading east off the dirt road.  This is the new teleporter hub.  I really have no idea what the final design of this hub will be, but clearly you will see several tables along the wall that have a sign and statue per each table.  The signs will tell you what “official town” you will find at the other end of the teleporter and the statue is the “port key”.  Like the town banner of the “Red & Purple Pixies of the Yew Woods”, you will be teleported directly to these banners, not so much to the houses like a house rune would.  Please also note that these are 1-way teleporters.  There is no device to return you, so if you can't recall... you’ll have a problem.  Red statues are for locations in Fel, White/Marble are locations in Malas, and Artic-Blue are locations in Tram.  Remember, this location is not complete as of yet, so it doesn’t have all towns included.  Hopefully will be soon enough.

This hub, very unlike Goodmans or other hubs, is about the official “towns” of Atlantic.  These towns can serve the community, as our town does, with houses all or mostly open to the public OR can be more about a guild, being restricted to it's own members.  Some towns are more like “ghost-towns”, once had some kind of a theme or common ownership and since have broken up.  You will find these towns as well at the new hub.  With those ghost-towns as well as the guild towns... you may find locked doors, spawn, and in cases of Fel locations... murderer Reds.  So be warned.  Otherwise this is a great opportunity to see some of Atlantic you wont otherwise see in your common travels.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Did YOU know that Goodman’s has a Teleporter Hub? Once more... we may be closer to having a public hub for recognized towns around Atlantic.

When the official town banner system started, the idea was to recognize groups and organizations that served the community. Just like with real towns that could start as a small collection of houses in a localized area, we often find game houses centrally localized to serve as shopping communities as well as guild settlements. These unofficial towns have been around since the early days of UO without any flags, monuments, or markers of any kind. Many of those old towns are long gone. Today, we have Mesanna who has done a lot of wonderful work all over the game to help those townships be recognized.

This program was well received and has resulted in many really wonderfully designed banners all over the lands. The requirements demanded that the town have a history, the town serve the community, and that the town have no less then 3 buildings. Not all towns actually fit inside these simple 3 rules, but as life in UO never changes? You never know.

Submitting a request for the Red & Purple town banner was not easy by any means. Everyone submitting must design and break down their idea and wait for approval. If you are lucky, you are able to meet Mesanna when she builds the town banner. In our case, the end result far exceeded expectations and is a surprising pleasant sight for visitors. As she gained experience building them, I’m actually kind of happy we had to wait so long as ours could be one of her finer works. The location of our banner is just east of the Church of Candy.

There was also talk of a public teleporter outpost just outside the walls of Luna. On other shards, this has been found just outside the SOUTH gate, and to the east. For Atlantic, being one of the higher populated shards... the question has been floating around for some time; “Where’s ours?” In communicating with Mesanna last week, she indicated this hub will be worked on soon! Maybe, maybe not... but this is the staffer who seems to be the most on our side of them all. :-) By the way, these would go to towns only.

Still... did you know that Goodman’s has been helping with transportation to our community establishments? Right next to the extremely well traveled main Library, just to the west... is the Teleporter Hub. Two full levels of vet-reward ‘never-charge’ House-to-House teleporters. Not so much restricted to towns only. These can go to single establishments all over Atlantic. Malls, guild halls, libraries, rares museums... check them out for yourself! New pads are added from time to time and you may be able to share a pad with this collection. All you have to do is communicate with Andrasta, keeper of Goodmans. She will have more information. Goodman’s has always been a strong supporter of the Atlantic community.

Also in the R&P news:

The main Red & Purple Mini Mall building has seen over 92.5k visitors (so far) since being purchased. I actually took up the old house and put down the current so this count started from zero. We passed our 10 year anniversary last fall, the R&P being in it's 3rd official home. So many of the old “stand alone” malls have gone as we swore NEVER to leave Tram, we may be the oldest and most well known of the malls left.

Now we have a new question. “Should we try and do some kind of special event for the 100k visitor mark?”

I would really love to know how rare 100k visitors is for ANY mall outside of any game city/guarded zone. That includes all shards, not just ours. With formal towns, many people never step onto the house building and that’s how the visitor count gets ticked. Even though a million people could have passed your house, if they don’t step on the house, you’ll never know the true visitor count. The Red & Purple Mini Mall has always been away from cities and less the first house that was next to a road, always away from main traveling lanes. The current building has been a labor of rune dropping, gates, and house-to-house teleporters.

The possibility of this mile-stone maybe coming more to the end of the year or even early next year, so it's nothing to really worry about. However, I would love to hear any ideas anyone may have. I’m working on a rather ambitious suggestion as this rather rare event may warrant a little “special” consideration. I will not say more. :-) Just the same, me doing any event alone is totally out of the question. This has to be special! I don’t see doing anything for the 11th year anniversary... or much after this 100k mark. We will keep climbing, but this one will be the most special. Golden, if you will.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Difficulty in “Account Management” is now resulting in a mass of houses falling under IDOC.

Currently, houses are falling all over the UO world. Why? A few months ago, in the fall, EA changed the way we manage our accounts. Accounts set to automatically renew were reset to not. The new system is confusing and hard to understand, mostly because of poor design of the new site. They also don’t tell you when you enter you account name, you also have to include “_uo” so the system makes the connection. The better part of the new system is that you can manage all your accounts under one page rather then log in and out several times. Quite frankly, in my 11 years, I’ve never had problems with the old system. Helping friends fix things or trading accounts... very simple, very easy. This new system? Some things are just better left alone.

Sometime after the new system was set in place, the accounts that fell out of automatic renewal still had their houses attached to the accounts even if the users were not logging in. The house ageing system was frozen, however I’m not sure if anyone really knew about it at the time. Some players I know of still have interest in playing UO, keeping their accounts and houses active... yet they are away on long-lasting work or away from home serving in the military. Without even a mass E-Mail sent by EA, they would have no clue of these issues. Very bad customer relations! Plus, even when this issue popped up for us very active players, calling the support line didn’t help fix things at all. It took hours and/or help by other friends who had figured it out. So, suddenly, as the holidays came, it was announced house decay would be turned back on.

Could this whole ordeal cost our strained player community valuable membership? The IDOC looters making out like bandits are a very small minority. Less active players may never want to pick up the peaces and return to the game. EA sees no need to advertise UO at any retail shops in the USA. How does our community attract new players? The number one way is word of mouth by us, the players. Otherwise, UO gets a “shout out” by small articles that very few people actually see who aren't already very much into gaming. The wondering shopper looking over the games on the retail shelf never sees UO, plus now... the trend leaning to game cards, EA does have a Game Card... void of any image of UO. The cost of a game card is nothing vs. putting a game box together, yet a simple plastic card costs nearly nothing and could show new players the way into a world that so many of us have enjoyed for years.

In closing... for those still quite actively playing, if you play on a fuller shard, bigger new houses await! As usual, if anyone needs vendor space... PM me. The good ole Red & Purple isn't going anyplace.