[MUD-Dev] Re: UO: Second Age

Koster Koster
Fri Oct 23 18:30:56 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Adam Wiggins [mailto:adam at angel.com]
> Sent: Friday, October 23, 1998 5:39 PM
> To: 'mud-dev at kanga.nu'
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: OT, kinda, but yay :)
> 
> 
> > I am holding UO: The Second Age in my hands... :) The new retail
> > edition. Always nice to make it to the end of a product cycle!
> 
> So fill us in.  What's different?  What changes did you make 
> after having
> field tested the original so thoroughly?

Er, hurm.

OK, the areas which seemed to need addressing in UO after one year were
numerous, of course. However, many of them were or wil be addressed as
part of the standard upgrade and patch cycle. So that means that many
issues relating to game balance, bugs, exploits, etc, aren't part of the
second edition. You won't see measures against playerkilling in Second
Age specifically, nor solutions for the excess of player houses, the
popularity of certain skill combinations, etc. Such things get applied
to the servers regardless of edition.

That said, we identified a couple of areas to tackle:

Existing customers needed new challenges.
What we did: new monsters that were noticeably tougher, new lands and
dungeons, some new AI on the new monsters.

The communications infrastructure in the original was almost
non-existent. No global chat whatsoever, not even a group-tell
capability.
What we did: we added a very IRC-like chat system that supports private
messaging, conference creation, passwording, and moderation. We put it
in a separate server altogether, required unique ids for it (we do not
require unique names in UO), added ease-of-use things like commands
menus, etc. Once we found that this window covered too much of the
existing UO screen, we added the "Big Window" which allowed interface
windows to be dragged off the view area.

3) UO is possibly more popular in a per capita sense overseas than it is
in the US. Better support for players in Japan in particular seemed
desirable (UO went to #1 PC software--not #1 game--in Japan on its
original release), as well as Europe.
What we did: 
1) we added support for typing in Unicode, including the ability to type
in the full Kanji character set using standard Windows Kanji controls.
While we were at it we added more fonts for talking. 
2) We integrated automatic translation software, as described in my
other email.
3) We added pop-up translation for interface elements, and left this on
the client side so that players could localize to more languages
themselves.
4) We localized the pop-up help described below.
5) We localized the options menu (see below).

Even though UO uses very simple click-and-point for just about
everything, it's still not accessible enough for the average gamer.
There was no support for in-game help, no tutorial, and it was fairly
daunting.
1) we moved all the options for the game from a config text file into a
localizable options menu.
2) we added pop-up help triggered by mouse hover. The help is pulled
from localized Unicode text files on the server.
3) We created a standalone tutorial that has a "newbie wisp" that
follows you around giving advice. The standalone tutorial uses,
essentially, a mini-server and client integrated into one, and thus has
most of the elements of the full game, including all skills, spells,
creature behaviors, etc, except presented on a subsection of the map.

The original landscape did not make as good use of the engine as it
could have.
What we did: Basically, I touched every screen of the map that the
designers working for me did to maximise the use of the 3d terrain in
the game. Emphasis was placed on making use of previously underutilized
art sets such as jungle, swamp, arctic, and mountainous regions; and
architecture, such as circular buildings and huts on stilts. Land space
was utlized more effectively to give an illusion of more playable space
with less actual area.

The original landscape was growing crowded, given the popularity of
player housing.
What we did: we laid out the map in such a way that small clearings
connected by narrowish pathways encourage clustering of buildings in
small groups, rather than the urban sprawl that has developed over much
of Britannia (for an example of how the urban sprawl happens, check
http://steroid.cchem.berkeley.edu/~fields/main.htm and follow the link
for the map).

Players didn't group enough, and were very self-sufficient.
What we did: we placed only two villages in the new lands. We supplied
exactly two places to resurrect, but gave the ability to player healers.
We made the creatures much tougher. We made the creatures more
susceptible to certain previously underutilized player types (such as
bards), and gave them abilities such as radiating cold causing area
damage that require group tactics to fight effectively. We disabled the
ability to teleport between the original map and the new map, requiring
travel. We purposely made the new lands' geography intentionally
misleading and easy to get turned around in without it being mazelike,
and we use different sextant coordinates than on the mainland. The
mapmaking skill is disabled in the new lands.

> I would say that this is extremely on topic, given the heavy use of UO
for
> example material.  (Assuming that's so, you'll probably want to change
the
> subject header!)
> 
> Adam W.

Well, dunno how useful the above is to people. Probably of more interest
would be the exact mechanics behind getting some of the above done, and
not the actual actions taken.

So when you sending me a free copy of Revenant? ;)

-Raph




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