Five on Friday - April 7, 2006
1. Does Ultima Online advertise?
Darkscribe: Yes, we do quite a bit of online advertising. I can’t get into specific dollar amounts, but I can say that for the release of Mondain’s Legacy and earlier in 2005 with the release of the UO:GOLD demo download program, we spent quite a lot of money on Gamespot, IGN, various MMORPG dedicated sites, and community sites like Stratics. With targeted online advertising, we are able to choose our audience with great specificity. We know we hit people interested in MMORPGs and RPGs, while not wasting impressions on people who wouldn’t really care about UO. We will be advertising again in the next fiscal quarter, starting in July. What will we be advertising?
As far as print advertising, the audience for the big PC gamer magazines tends to be very high-end oriented favoring new games that make even the latest video cards smoke. However, that doesn’t mean print mags are out of the plan for this year, but they are not where a big portion of our marketing dollars will be going.
2. Are in-game item sales going to be a part of Ultima Online going forward?
Darkscribe: Yes. From time to time we are going to sell commemorative, decorative or interestingly useful items. However, in almost all cases, those items will also be available some other way. For instance, we are adding several formerly on-sale items to the buddy referral system. Some special items will also be included in special boxed products. These offerings might not appeal to everyone, but there are many players who enjoy collecting rarities, decorating their houses and using items with interesting new functionality. They don’t take too long to build, can mostly be built by outside contractors, and make some players quite happy, so we’re going to keep doing it. In fact, because these have been a success, we’re working on some more interesting offerings that should be available sometime this summer.
What I really want fans to understand is that when we enhance one part of UO, it’s not taking away from the parts of UO you like. We are working extremely hard to get the right PvP changes done. We’re working on a year-long fiction cycle that will be centered around large in-game events, along with mysteries, puzzles, and other surprises. We are hunting down and killing significant bugs as quickly as possible. We are working on a solution that will put a huge dent in scripting operations. We are trying to improve several key areas of UO, so when you see something like the Spring Décor Items go on sale, don’t take that to mean UO is becoming Martha Stewart’s Fantasy House Homebuilder. It just means that there are a lot of people in UO who like housing and might want some unique new décor items.
UO is a world of choice. You get to choose how you want to play. We dev team members are trying to make all the choices more fun. Capice?
3. Are you ever going to add Tokuno dyes back into the game?
MrTact: Not per se; we intend for those colors to stay rare. I would love to add metal dyes in a variety of additional (common) colors as an alchemy craftable, though. It’s just a question of finding the time to get it into a publish!
4. The risk/reward balance for Doom seems to be a bit too hard now. Are there plans to change it?
MrTact: Yeah, the Dark Fathers in particular are a little brutal right this moment. What I’d really like is to make them tough by giving them better AI, so you have to strategize to beat them, instead of them being tough by having ridiculous hit points and one-shotting you. I hoped to tweak the DF a little in pub 40, but it’s iffy at this point. It’s high on the UO Live priority list, though.
5. What happens when I submit a bug using the bug form on uo.com?
Ando: When a player submits a bug to the Quality Assurance (QA) team using through the bug submission form (http://www.uo.com/mailBug.html), an email gets sent to our UO Bugs inbox. Then each day one of our testers, such as Serado or Mesanna, goes through the list and pull reports that appear to be new issues. We cross-reference these with bugs we already have entered in our tracking database to check for duplicates, and test anything that appears to be new. We pay particularly close attention to player reports while a new publish is being tested on Test Center, or just after the release of a new publish to production shards, and treat these issues has high priority. Once we do find a new bug that we are able to reproduce, we enter it into our bug tracking database, and if it’s critical enough, we bring it to the rest of the Dev team’s attention.
Sometimes players tell us they are concerned that we did not receive their report because we do not respond to them, so they send it again. This is not necessary though, generally because we’re so busy testing new features in addition to bug reports from players, we don’t have time to respond to each report we receive. We typically only have time to respond to players who tell us about an important bug we don’t know about, but don’t provide us with enough details to reproduce it.