Ultimate Online

Here’s my biggest beef with today’s MMOs:
I’m still not able to do half the stuff I did years and years ago in Ultima Online.

& the biggest culprit for this gameplay ineptitude on the part of developers, appears to be none other than my old enemy; 3d graphics. Another genre successfully killed! Cheers Sony, you w**kers.

Now don’t get me wrong, UO had some enormous flaws. But at least my character had no godd@mn LEVELS. I could easily group with anyone I wanted. I could customise my characters look a huge amount. Players could own real pieces of in-game permanence, such as houses and eventually whole towns…

The best things in UO experience were our guild meets, where they had EVERYTHING customised in guild colours – flags, carpets.. food & drink for all… it was just hilarious. I was a mere ‘follower/lackey/noob’ in terms of the overall guild. But it was still fun to be there and be part of something bigger and be able to do my bit even though I couldn’t play much. Monster bashing, collecting shiney things, and skill grinding was much more fun with a bigger purpose to it. But on their own, they still don’t do much for me.

Looking forward to how I’d like to see MMOs develop, well it’s a lot about adding actual skill and depth to the gameplay. And also, a system so that as you (or your ‘faction’) get better, it actually gets harder. Yep I’m back to handicapping again. But I feel this is a key idea that is missing from so many games.

I have a bunch of ideas about MMO handicapping. The main one would be on a realm v realm level – like Horde vs Alliance in WoW. But actually allow one side to ‘win’ and take towns/land/NPCs etc. whatever the game ‘resources’ are. But the side with less resources (or even less actual players!) then gets handicapped more & more to help them out… so it would probably impossible for one side to ever ‘win’ the whole world… if the balance was right it could be really dynamic. Perhaps random server events could swing it about too. Expand this to many multiple realms rather than just two, strictly only allow 1 game character per real player who can only be on one realm’s ‘side’.. balance sides by numbers of players / levels / time those players actually play as much as possible – a new player starting would automatically be put in the ‘weakest’ realm for example to help them…

Its kind of like forcing a ‘guild’ structure on players, but making it an in-built part of the game so it can actually influence the game world in real terms (but not too much as to destroy the world), and you can’t ‘win’ just by being the biggest guild either. Perhaps at some point you could allow a whole faction to really get beaten – and have to ‘respawn’ somehow.

There are lots of flaws here (like somehow allowing you to team up with your friends), but at least this starts to make something of a real =game= of the world aspect. Which is exactly what I want from an MMORPG. Also the ‘combat’ however it may be done (economic or whatever) would have to be, above all, FUN and skill based or strategic. Not just silly point&click-fests or just based on how many monsters you’ve bashed or how much time you’d spent ‘mining’ or ‘crafting’. Maybe everytime you ‘fight’ another player, you actually have a strategic turn-based map battle with them – like a mini game of Civ 4 ;).. or the battle system in HOMMV, or the older Final Fantasy games (6 and earlier!).. or you have to play a few rounds of a highly skilled game like Street Fighter 2 – and whoever comes out on top wins the battle. Perhaps for trade routes you’d have some kind of stealth based missions where you could win lots of money for your faction by managing to get a trade based character right across to an enemy city – but this would need teamwork or cunning to do…

This is very much a brain dump of ideas for now & I know this doesn’t sound much like a traditional MMO at all, or even necessarily still be seen as a computer ‘rpg’, but I do think this is what would suit me in gameplay terms.

Then again, perhaps oddly, I am a huge fan of actual roleplaying too.

2 thoughts on “Ultimate Online

  1. Some great reads about MMOs and why level systems suck so badly. This kind of stuff is just a ‘given’ to me, that I haven’t ever gone back to explain it:




    I particularly like the phrase “The fact that so many variables are required speaks to the poverty of the basic combat model to serve as an entertaining game in its own right.
    If you think I am saying that typical RPG combat sucks as a game, you’re right” as this is my biggest problem with every combat-based MMO. Which is all of them.


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