and thenYes, I'm the person who is responsible for bringing you Trammel and the dilution the original UO.
And I regret some (but not all) of the outcome. My charter as the VP of Online at Origin Systems (and Executive Producer of UO), was to grow the game. The unforgiving play environment that made UO so intense was clearly driving away between 70+% of all the new players that tried the game within 60 days. The changes we came up with to address this problem were a compromise, mostly driven by fiscal, technological and time reasons.
The good: After the change which broke the game space into PvP and PvE worlds, the player base and income nearly doubled (we went from 125k to 245k subs). So from a fiscal responsibility standpoint it was a totally winning move.
The bad: Without the "sheep to shear" the hard core PvP'ers were disenfranchised. They didn't like preying on each other (hard targets versus soft targets), and they became a smaller minority in the overall game. The real bad though was that the intensity and "realness" of the game for all players was diminished. This was the major unintended consequence.
Part of the context during that time was that UO2 was under development, and the plan that was being pushed on us was to shut down UO when UO2 launched (even though it was a completely different game). In fact, my second week at Origin I was asked for a shutdown plan for the game. (My answer: if you are serious I'm quitting today, because some of the players are going to kill (IRL) the people responsible for such a decision. They really didn't understand the emotional attachment UO players had for the game). This continued to be something talked about though continuously, but less after we grew the game. Remember that EA at that time was a packaged game company and they culturally only understood launching new products, not running live ones. Our Live team needed to keep UO vibrant and growing to offset those forces, so we were continuously scrambling for how to do that. I'm proud that UO survives to this day based partially on the momentum the team (and our loyal customers) created.
I also learned from my UO experience that it's really hard to change a brand. Inherent in the UO brand was the fact it was a gritty, hard core world of danger. We were not successful in bringing back the (literally)100's of thousands of players who had quit due to the unbridled PvP in the world (~5% of former customers came back to try the new UO, but very few of them stayed). We discovered that people didn't just quit UO, they divorced it in a very emotional way. But we did keep more of the new players that came in by a large margin, significantly more than than the PvP players we lost.
If I had the chance to do it again, (and we had different fiscal and time constraints), we would have done something more like keeping the current current worlds with the original ruleset (like we later did with the Seige Perilous shard, which was too late in my view), and make new shards with a more PvE ruleset.
One of the benefits of experience is the mistakes you've made along the way, and the pattern matching to avoid old mistakes. Of course this means that you get to make new and even more spectacular (but different) mistakes in the present!
I hope this gives you more insight into what happened the UO that you (and I) loved.
P.S. Please do remain skeptical, we don't expect anything on faith, but wait until we unveil our entire vision before passing final judgement!
In reference to the Countdown:The shear intensity of UO (along with it being the first MMO for many people, and there is nothing like a first love of course) forged those human bonds in an extremely hot fire. My friend Jonathan Baron used to remind me even before I worked on UO that the human heart doesn't know the difference between virtual and real. Very strong human bonds are often created under adversity and stress, and that was the essence of the UO experience for many.
We actually did data mining which showed us that while the hardest core PvP'ers were sticky to the game they were a minority (very vocal, and very impactful to the game environment, but definitely a minority) to begin with, along with the merchants who were often not as engaged in PvP (more acting as arms merchants in a continuous war), with the majority of sticky players being almost exclusively PvE (i.e. only did PvP in defense or rarely). The problem was our conversion percentage of PvE players to long term subscribers was very low. Once Trammel came in the PvE players started converting to long term subscription at much higher rates (and there were way more of them). Anyone who made it 90 days was likely to last more than a year and often two years. Housing was the highest correlation with retention of course for all types of players.
I do believe there were better options that we could have pursued and I like your difficulty level analogy a lot. We did crank the intensity down low enough that an essential part of the soul of UO was lost, and I was sad about that even then. Hopefully we'll recapture some of that spirit in what we're working on now and it will resonate with a subset of MMO players who will find a home with what we offer.
By the time the countdown hits zero, we'll have presented you the full vision for Crowfall. You'll either love it, or hate it. We're hoping love! (please love?)
To set the expectation though, beta will NOT be going live at this time. We're a while away from this milestone - but we can't wait to get there!
They were also two attempts at salvaging a game that was dying.those two events are like the 9/11 of the MMO world.
Are you saying the UO change was a fail? Because it pretty obviously wasn't. Many more people enjoyed the game than after. The game was dead without the change, due to the finicky nature of the majority PVPers, that he even talked about (they want "sheep" to prey upon, not real fights).Thats like saying 9/11 happened cause of global warming and fuel consumption. And they decided to make the airlines globally take a break for like a week.
BS is BS no matter if you try to paint it pink. Sure hindsight is 20 20 but man up and accept your fails or be doomed to fail again.
No, he agrees with them, and so do I (technically) as it expanded the lifespan of the title, with that said I personally disliked them because it changed the entire dynamic with an emphasis on the aspects of the game I personally enjoyed most. Sure, it "saved" the game, but it was never the same. The NGE, however, is another story entirely.Are you saying the UO change was a fail? Because it pretty obviously wasn't. Many more people enjoyed the game than after. The game was dead without the change, due to the finicky nature of the majority PVPers, that he even talked about (they want "sheep" to prey upon, not real fights).
NGE, if he's responsible for that, then yeah, that was a huge disaster. But SWG was doomed before NGE anyways. But unlike UO, who had a hail mary that worked, NGE just made it worse.
Thus the conclusion: "changing a game mid-way is really hard".No, he agrees with them, and so do I (technically) as it expanded the lifespan of the title, with that said I personally disliked them because it changed the entire dynamic with an emphasis on the aspects of the game I personally enjoyed most. Sure, it "saved" the game, but it was never the same. The NGE, however, is another story entirely.