Back in 2014, Ultima Online revived its classic “counselor” program as a new “advisor” program — essentially, it roped in community-minded, expert players to serve as official guides for new players and intermediaries between the support team and the playerbase, sporting very light GM powers (like being able to help people get unstuck). But in the game’s latest newsletter, Broadsword says it’s suspending that program – at least temporarily.
“I am looking into revising how the Advisor program operates and I am also looking for dedicated people that want to help others, so when we publish Endless Journey we can also restart the Advisor program,” Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong told players today. “This is not meant to be anything negative to the current Advisors and most of them will return if they would like to.”
Endless Journey, of course, is the upcoming free-to-play conversion for the game slated for publish 99 next spring. And one of the game systems due for revamp is the in-game town crier system.
You don’t need to be a brand-new and modern MMORPG to suffer major cheating scandals, something the nearly 20-year-old Ultima Online has reminded us this week.
In its most recent newsletter, UO studio Broadsword explains that an Event Moderator — one of the studio contractors paid to run live events for the game’s production shards — was caught cheating, generating what appears to have been large amounts of rare-dyed cloth and an unknown quantities of unique items, which were then circulated into the already beleaguered player economy. In UO, the so-called “rares market” involves the sale and display and items that exist only in tiny batches thanks to these types of customized events, and a large part of the game (and its bloated gold economy) revolves around trading legitimate rares. It goes without saying that mass-creating those types of items for personal gain is the worst offense for a studio contractor.
“The Event Moderator program has been going strong nearly 8 years now, and we have all worked hard to ensure its success,” Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong told players in the newsletter. “Please know that this situation has not been taken lightly, nor is this behavior tolerated.”
Ultima Online’s latest newsletter teases publish 94, on the way this fall in the game, which ought to turn 19 years old the same season.
Broadsword says the patch will celebrate Halloween in a big way with news quests, updates to the trick-or-treating system, and the re-implementation of the beloved Treasures of Doom event, which will take place not in the dungeon Doom but in a brand-new dungeon in Eodon called The Kotl City. A new round of veteran rewards for the anniversary is likewise planned.
The studio also says it’s still hard at work fixing bugs and crashes related to UO’s cash shop, which was recently pulled from the website to an in-game interface. “Items will be rotated in and out of the store so please keep an eye on the featured section of the Ultima Store for the latest additions,” writes Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong.
It’s May, so that means it’s time to start planning for Halloween, right? Well, maybe if you’re Ultima Online. In the game’s latest newsletter, Broadsword says that it’s already looking past publish 93 to 94, which will bring back traditional Halloween events and conclude some of the storylines begun with last year’s Time of Legends expansion.
In the nearer future, however, the studio is pushing publish 93 to the test server and some of the smaller production shards for feedback. This patch includes the Myrmidex invasion quest, complete with new alchemy craftables and rewards; the newsletter also teases more distant content in the works, like website vendor search, a pet revamp, and an update for the oldish High Seas pirate content.
If you were waiting to try Ultima Online when it launches on Steam as devs have been promising for over a year now since it was greenlit there, prepare to keep on waiting. Broadsword Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong helms a new Ultima Online newsletter this week that says her studio is simply waiting on EA to give the go-ahead.
“UO cannot go onto Steam unless EA gives its final approval,” she writes. “We do not have an answer as to when UO will be going to steam.”
Armstrong says that publish 93 is planned for May and that in June, it will begin selling a new conversion currency called Sovereigns in the Origin store (which already dispenses a few dozen cash shop bundles and items for the game). That move has prompted some players to worry that the game might be going free-to-play, but Broadsword has soundly rejected those rumors. “UO is not going FTP,” Armstrong told players on Stratics just over a month ago, “and if and when it does, we will talk to you guys about it when and if we ever start the planning for it.”
Ultima Online latest newsletter, part of a new initiative to insert itself into your inbox, reveals the Broadsword team is hard at work on new content on a new publish that will land in early March and include “new quest content, bug fixes, and new art.”
Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong says that the spring update will continue the exploration of the Valley of Eodon, the lands introduced by last fall’s Time of Legends expansion.
“Many adventurers have visited the Valley, seeking to profit from its bountiful resources. The indigenous peoples of Eodon have not taken kindly to the Britannian invasion, yet a larger and more sinister threat is on the horizon. This spring join us as we further encounter with the Tribes of Eodon and we find out the answer to an important question, what will it take to gain their trust?”
She further answers questions from players about stacking bugs, loot nerfs, per resurrection, and glassblowing tweaks. Because of course Ultima Online has glassblowing. It has everything.
Today we’re hanging out with Broadsword Online Games, the indie studio that emerged from the implosion of Mythic Entertainment a while back. Broadsword is now steward of the Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot franchises and is actively developing both of these veteran MMORPG titles.
We’ve got three members of Broadsword with us today: President Rob Denton, UO Producer Bonnie Armstrong, and DAoC Producer John Thornhill. Check out what they have to say about expansions, developing for classic MMOs in a modern era, and the future of Broadsword.
Ultima Online producer Bonnie Armstrong has put out a call for player focus testers. Broadsword is searching for somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 people for a first look at UO’s new Time of Legends expansion, after which the devs will expect “constructive feedback.”
You’ll need an active UO account, and you’ll also need to fill out a playstyle survey and sign a non-disclosure agreement. Further details on the signup process are located on the official UO website.
In preparation for the expansion, Broadsword is also beginning a series in-game live events. A new story to kick off the first such event has been published today. And you thought truly dynamic events were dead!