Ultima Online’s 99th update preps free-to-play conversion, adds new official forums
Before the free-to-play conversion for Ultima Online launches this spring, Broadsword is hard at work updating the early game experience for the newbies and returnees they hope will flock to the 20-year-old isometric sandbox. Some of that work launches on the test server today in the form of publish 99.
For starters, a brand-new newbie-oriented area has been added to Britain in Trammel in a spot that I think is currently the artist’s guild or possibly that weird open space near the archways and steps (the patch hasn’t landed on TC1 as I type this). “This open space makes for the perfect meeting place and offers nearby access to essential city services such as a pub, stable master, and crafting stations,” says Broadsword.
Meanwhile, the studio has overhauled the town crier system; now, players will be able to access the town criers for actual shard information, new player quests, wiki entries, messages from elected player governors, and events from large guilds.
It’s a big day for forumgoers too, as Broadsword is launching brand-new official forums for the game (although they almost immediately capsized under the rush of players trying to log in earlier today, wheee). Vets will recall that UO boasted multiple attempts at official forums under EA over the years, none of which lasted into the current era. Ultima Online Stratics, run and crowdfunded by players, has served as the closest thing to central forums the game has had for the last several years.