As I mentioned on another thread, I wanted to go all out for episode 100 of RPGBacktrack. We're going to be talking about a really great series for our main event, we'll have a new intro song, I'll name my number 1 RPG of all time, and more. One of the special things I want to do it dig into an old game for this special show, because we don't only cover the best RPGs of the past (which we will be doing pertty well) but also some of the more obscure. So, I'm digging into a game I know very few people would play today. A game that's not only old, but very deep and very, very unapproachable. I can only be talking about UO! :)
Summary: UO Online is the longest running MMO...but it's not only that...it's one of the deepest. It has a huge skill system, player housing, and an economy that is very, very player driven. It's got a crafting system with dependencies on dependencies. In a world of streamlining MMOs (See WoW), UO stands as a bastion of complexity. While its no longer the popular choice, its still getting updated on a regular basis...and outside of WoW, it's one of the few MMO's still charging a monthly fee. What is it about this world of UO that keeps a strong enough crowd paying to make it worth the time and effort for Bioware/Mythic to not just keep the servers running, but actually adding content to is nearly 16 years after release? I being a multi-month journey to find out for myself.
Day 1: With my wife's help, I made my first character. It's interesting...there are 50 some skills to choose from and really no restrictions. Not knowing anything about the game, though, some clearly look more useful than others. Begging? LOL. Eventually any skill can be raised to 100 pts through practice, or 120 with a special item. No character can have more than 700 pts total. So, it becomes pretty apparent that if one wants to engage in making stuff, gathering stuff AND killing stuff, one is going to need alts...and lots of them!
The tutorial area takes less than 20 minutes to get through. I'm using the enhanced client, which gives me prettier 2.5D graphics than the original client from 15+ years ago (which many ppl still use). There's no short cuts here. To pick up a sort, you have to talk over to it first...your character won't auto walk and then pick it up. If you want to equip a new shield, you have to unequip the old one first...the game won't do that for ya either.
After dispatching some skeletons, I'm unceremoniously thrust into New Haven with 1,000 gold and some very basic gear from the tutorial. 1,000 gold sounds like a lot, but my wife informs me that's like a $1 bill here.
There are trainers that can raise skills up to 40%. It's relatively cheap and super fast. From what I understand, the next 60% takes a LOT longer. Again, there are no shortcuts...to pay the guy, I have to open my inventory, click on my gold, type in the amount and move it over to him.
With basic training complete in swordsmanship, tactics, bushido and something else I can't remember, I go out to slaughter creatures, wanting to give the combat more of a try. There are no level indicators on the monsters outside of town. The only way to tell if I'm stronger than something is good ol' trial and error. Thankfully, there are no dragons right outside of newbie town. I kill some goats. With some help from a friend, I find out that I can skin the goat (open inventory, click on knife, click on monster corpse, pick up leather chunks, put in my inventory, click on scissors, click on leather chunks...they become leather strips). The monsters also have some gold. I work my way slowly up to 2,000gp
I go back in town with all this leather looking for place to sell it. The vendors here are MUCH pickier than WoW or other games. They only buy those things they generally sell. So the weapon master doesn't want my leather or the shield I found. How rude!!! It's clear that the game is super deep, with systems within systems. I
A guild leader, who is also the governor of this town, stands on the pier near the water. Certainly, the way to learn how this archaic, deep and very complicated way is to join a guild, right? I even saw a survey on the UO Stratics website saying that 70% of current UO players would love to see new players over things like new content and upgrades to the client. Certainly this man will welcome me to his posse with open arms!!
Not so much.
I'm basically told that I need to hunt with them over a period of time so they can get to know me....whatever that means. Unfortunately, I have no clue what I'm doing, so I don't feel like hunting with these experts is a great use of my time. I'm nearly encumbered to the point of not being able to move and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with all this leet lewt I got from killing goats, pigs and the occasional bear.
It's late...tomorrow is another day.... I have no doubt that I've only take the first step in a cross country trip. I better have good shoes on.