Second Life has a functional economy, but no NPC ecosystem. The economy is driven by land ownership and fashion. Second Life has landlords, who pay money to Linden Labs for land and get a bulk discount, then rent it out. They have most of the problems of real landlords - collecting rent, handling evictions, dealing with tenant complaints and tenant disputes. Most of the administration of Second Life is handled by landlords. The biggest operations make US$ 6-7 figures this way.
Fashion is a big deal in Second Life. There are designers with followings. Fashion shows. Women are in the majority. This is entirely player based - players are buying from other players. LL takes a cut when converting from Linden dollars to US dollars, but it's under 10%.
Objects in SL have privileges, but not quite like files. The privileges are Copy, Mod, and Transfer. This is key to making the economy work. Owning an item with Copy privilege lets you make more copies, but you can't give them other people. With Transfer privilege alone, you can give or sell the item to others, but can't make more copies. Items like furniture and vehicles are usually Copy, no Transfer, so you can buy one chair and set up a room, but not set up a car dealership. Clothing is usually Transfer, no Copy, so only the owning avatar can wear it, but you can sell it at a rummage sale. Anything which is both Copy and Transfer can be duplicated and sold. All this is server side, so it's hard to break the protection.
SL now has a NPC system, "animesh", but, as is typical for Linden Labs, they just implemented it and gave out a few demo objects. Everything else is up to the users.
SL runs about 40,000 concurrent users, which would place it at about #12 on Steam if it were on there, around where GTA V is on Steam.
This isn't a problem with these games. It's intentional. Everyone knows how to mitigate it, you introduce a factor of significant loss aversion into attacking or being attacked, e.g. what EVE Online has where you might lose significant resources as a result.
Players by an large don't like that, and just want to join multiplayer and shoot and be shot.
The general public multiplayer mode in games like RDR or GTAV is always utter chaos like that, but you can just join private groups where it isn't like that.
I think that's the best of both worlds, you can still die (e.g. accidentally) and respawn quickly, and if you're being a dick the moderator of that session can kick you.
It made pretty much all resources scarcer and plants and animals harder to grow (biomdepenedent). Then mods allowed users to reinforce blocks meaning it would take repeated breaks for them to actually disappear. (cooked stone meant 25, iron 255 I think and diamond 1255 or similar). Reinforced doors and similar also had permissions associated with them.
Kill other users with a pearl in your hand would trap the player in the end till the pearl de-spawned, you released them, or logged out with it in your inventory. On top of that there were a few other mods, but in my mind it did a remarkably good job of keeping a server with anarchist rules from imploding. I think a lot of it was that Minecraft is a game you can do something other than kill people in.
So in your case and mine it seems the solution was giving serious players tools to defend themselves that were resource or time intensive to defeat, so the griefer wouldn't be bothered.
My first big bit of software development was a mod that ended up getting used on the server and that's still updated by some of the copycat servers that got created after.
I think the fact that people have such a grind to get anywhere, and there is so much to do other than grief. Perhaps people sympathize because they are trying to do the same thing. Even though you get rewarded for it, most people don't try and ruin your missions.
It's possible I get matchmade into more polite servers because I never cause trouble. I don't know if they keep track of that. They definitely track it during each individual session.
There are some excellent game theoretic problems in there, the ecology is just one of them. One of the more interesting experiments in the StarWars universe game was the market economics of things like furs.
What I noticed during my years of WoW playing was that the market functioned very much like the 'in app purchase' market of more casual games. For example you could sell magic reagents which an enchanter could use to level up their skill, this was a quick way for someone to exchange gold for skill points. It created an economic stream for players who could "farm" the correct materials to disenchant to get the most in demand reagents (as I recall Greater Eternal Essence was a big seller).
Success in an MMO is in part a balance of these opportunities where a character can trade time for value.
In the Ultima online case the skins were just worth essentially vendor cash, but without that market force in the middle, the economy tanked. Now if vendors paid less and less for hides as the rate of hides redeemed for cash increased, it would provide a natural limiter on the value of that activity.
A truly successful MMO would provide a way for the MMO owner to tax the activity of the players in a way that generated actual cash for them to pay for servers and developers. Then the game becomes self sustaining.
Which is what Second Life does. Land payments support Linden Labs.
There is a new generation of virtual worlds - VRchat, Sansar, Sinespace, and High Fidelity. The last three have numbers of concurrent users well below 100. VRchat had around 10,000 at peak, and is now down to around 5,000. There's also Facebook Spaces, which is a VR interface to Facebook that didn't catch on, and Decentraland, which was an excuse for an initial coin offering and whose blog is down. Those are all holdovers from the VR boom that didn't happen.
The next new technology is Spatial OS, a back-end game engine for really big MMOs and virtual worlds. A few games are just starting to use this. The company behind it is valued at $500M, which means they have to charge so much to use it that big game developers are staying away. You have to run it on Google servers, and they don't publicly disclose the price schedule. It's generally said to be high, though.
I don't think players were killing the animals for the skins, I think they just indiscriminately mowed over everything for skill gain or just to kill stuff.
In 2018? And here I thought SL died a decade ago...
I ended up finding a job at AWS through second life. Not a bad outcome.
Although, I must admit, the distinction is much less clear now than it was, say, 10 years ago.
It is a similar amount of effort to what goes into making the equivalent object in a 3D game, and if you have the skills and the time, sure, clone other people's stuff, or make your own riffs on them!
Also, scripting is entirely server side, so that's not copyable.
I was totally obsessed with UO from the moment I logged in for the first time and created my character, a crafter who was primarily a miner/blacksmith.
That’s the thing about UO... nobody was the hero, everyone was just trying to survive and thrive in their own way; whether that meant crawling the dungeons as a warrior, bard, tamed, or caster; terrorizing those same dungeons as a player-killer out to strip the dungeon crawlers of all their loot and gear; or, spending your days baking bread or running your own player shopping mall, your only limitation was your effort and imagination. The idea that you could stake out your own small part of this vibrant world, right down to building a house in the limited land space available; or making your name as an accomplished crafter who people sought out for their superior crafted equipment, it was so fascinating to me.
This game was hugely important to me and who I became because of it, and it makes me so happy that stories about UO pop up every few years as a reminder of that.
Ultima Online in its early iterations was truly a magical game and helped to define a lot of the core design patterns of MMORPGs. The lead designer of UO, Raph Koster, has a lot of great insight when it comes to game design. I recommend his 2014 GDC talk, "Practical Creativity" , even to developers who are not interested in game development.
This is absolute magic to me. Wow. It sounds like an absolute dream. It is my opinion that the possibilities of a shared, persistent, virtual world were never fully realised. The description you make: of a fantasy world, persistent, vast, "real" (as in, internally consistent and fair), a world you can live in... modern MMOs offer absolutely none of that. It's a shame.
It speaks volumes that probably the best realisations of the MMO were... Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, maybe Everquest? Maybe even some primitive MUDs and, oddly enough, a couple Minecraft servers. Instead we're stuck with WoW (and its clones), which was an excellent game in its own right, but it wasn't a true MMO in the sense above described.
because most companies didn't realize what they were copying when they copied WoW.
True MMO - aka, a sandbox game. See this very indepth critique, if you want more about this topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvK8fua6O64
Asia (KR/JP) had already huge mmo games before WoW
All of the buzz surrounding it prior to launch was about being able to play as characters from the Warcraft universe, not that it was a polished MMO.
The IP got people to sign up, the polish made them stick around.
Incidentally, are you aware of the LitRPG genre in fantasy? It's pretty much that, in literary form.
(Or, as I used it for, replacing the tree art assets to be smaller, making it easier to see through the 2D isometric trees.)
My favorite tidbit about UO is around the technical term 'shard'. It comes from lore from Ultima I, where the wizard fractures the gem that contains the world into shards, and each shard contains a copy of the world. Ultima Online needed a word to describe multiple servers, they picked a term from the lore.. and now 20 years onward, we talk about database sharding.
I also remember (fondly) going through RunUO with .NET Reflector to pick up tips and tricks. :)
It's object-oriented except when it's not. It's modular except where it isn't. It "optimizes" for $number_of_cores_on_your_box but doesn't actually use them for anything but world saves. Almost none of it is commented or documented (doxygen doesn't count as documentation).
I think runuo excelled not because it was significantly better but because it was less shitty than POL and Sphere that came before it.
I think the killer feature of RunUO was that it compiled the C# “script” files and linked them at runtime, eliminating the need to attach a scripting language that provides some limited API. It led to some extremely messy code, but it allowed you to achieve anything you wanted with minimum fuss, using the base .NET APIs that were well-documented. And the community was huge and active by UO emu standards.
It doesn’t fall over with 5000+ clients connected to a single server, which is pretty astounding considering it’s TCP based and players tended to clump up pretty majorly during in-game events and such.
Outlands has a breathtaking number of additional systems and enhancements that I’m sure are exposing weak points in the architecture (timers, pathfinding, and distance checking stuff especially).
Amazing shard btw, I logged some hours the week of launch before I got busy over the holidays.
It’s been a long time since I was involved in the RunUO community, but as I recall, one of the biggest limiting factors on scalability was activated NPC/AI. Range queries and movement were the two big pieces, so I’m sure your improvements would have a big impact there.
We ran load tests on Hybrid with over 10k clients (not just idle, mind you, but moving and talking and whatever else we were able to throw in to the load generators), and the server was able to keep up just fine. That was on mid-2000 era hardware too, but then again, RunUO wasn’t built to really take full advantage of multiple cores.
There are a lot of things I’d do differently if I had the opportunity to go back and redesign it from the ground up, but the simple single-threaded concurrency model is not something I’d want to change without great care. For all the scalability problems RunUO had, I think the concurrency model contributed significantly to its approachability, and I’d be very cautious of making any changes which would complect game logic with concurrency control.
I’ve heard quite a few stories (and now I’m hearing a few more) of folks whose path into software development started by tinkering around with RunUO. In fact, a few of my closest friends (and some now colleagues) took that same path. I am filled with a weird mix of pride and abject humility whenever I have the opportunity to see how the project has touched people all over the world, often in ways I could never have anticipated.
Please do share your changes back. I’d love to take a look at them, even after so many years.
I'd also like to move away from timers for mobiles and simply call a function on a subset of them (sector by sector) each tick. This is advantageous because it groups all of the processing for a set of nearby mobiles in game space together in time, so it should greatly improve the CPU cache hit rate during the map searches. That would also require moving RunUO to a constant tick rate, which I also have patches for.
If anything, my changes have made RunUO more single threaded (and eliminated some locks in doing so). This has proven to be faster than some of the previously highly parallel code because the contention was so bad. That's not to say that it couldn't be done in a way that did scale well, but I agree with you that it would put the code out of reach of hobbyists entirely. I think the code today strikes the right balance of approachability and performance. Thanks for all of your effort on this project!
Never translated to working in software (couldn't afford college lol), but it did leave me with a hobbie I still do today, and love.
Best part is I didn’t even realise I was programming. In my mind I was just making the game do what I wanted.
There were other cool ideas beyond the ecology that got the axe pretty quickly. For instance originally NPC shopkeepers kept hours so you had to show up when they were around. Player didn't like this as it was inconvenient so they made them permanently stationed.
Similarly there was a live economy, shopkeepers would only buy things that they needed/wanted, and prices were tied to supply/demand. However players demanded the ability to dump all of their junk to shopkeepers as a way to generate money. A common pattern was that players would have mountains of skullcaps due to building their tailoring skill, but were then upset when no shop would buy 3000 skullcaps from them.
Ultimately it became clear that more would be players preferred "a CRPG where other people happen to be playing" than "a virtual world", so be it.
That's not really a problem with the shopkeepers. It's a gross mismatch in how difficult they made it to progress in skill versus the artificial aggregate demand for those products. If your game design requires that your players craft 3,000 of something, it's probably a good idea to think about what they're going to do with 3,000 of that especially if your players are going to expect to make a profit or if they have limited inventory.
That is, you had a fixed chance to craft anything based on your skill, each attempt made the same exact progress towards improving your skill, and skullcaps used up the least amount of cloth. I think some items may have been gated based on your skill, in that you couldn't attempt them until you passed a certain skill level, but that was it. With Tailoring, regardless of whether you suceeded or failed, an attempt would use up however much cloth it took to make the item you were trying to make, so if the item costs less cloth to make, you could make more skill checks on the same bolt of cloth (IIRC, a skullcap cost 2 yards to make, and a bolt was 50 yards).
Tinkering was even worse. I remember with Tinkering, you'd double click your tinker tools, then select your pile of ingots. At that point, it would check your skill, and if you failed your check, it would say "Tinkering failed" and maybe use up an ingot or two (my memory is hazy on whether or not anything was consumed). If you succeeded, it would bring up the menu where you could pick any tinkerable item in the game, and if you got to the menu, you could make anything you picked as long as you had the requisite raw materials.
IIRC, Blacksmithing was the only craft skill that was difficulty-based from the start.
People really exploited this during character creation when making blacksmiths. You could create your character with up to 100 total points in up to three skills, with a maximum of 50 points in any one skill. The optimal starting layout for a smith was 50 Blacksmithing, 49 Mining, 1 Tinkering. You'd want the some Tinkering because your mining and blacksmithing equipment would often wear out and the replacements were all tinkerable. If you put in any Tinkering at all, you'd start with a free set of tinker tools, and since the skill wasn't difficulty-based, if you needed to replace your shovel or tongs, you'd just repeatedly attempt tinkering on your ingots until you finally succeeded your skill check, no matter how many tries it took, and once you made it to the menu (this leads me to think that failing didn't use up any ingots, but I could be wrong, and my memory on this is hazy), you could make your new shovel or tongs.
They eventually made all the craft skills difficulty-based, but it took several years to implement.
I just wish they'd have solved them via fixing these sorts of root causes instead of just dumbing down the virtual world.
Stories like these are tremendously valuable to entrepreneurs. MMORPG ecosystems are some of the most complex pieces of software ever made with ravenous (and lucrative) userbases if you handle it properly. There are plenty of stories of innovative success and massive incompetence to learn from.
Otherwise they’re really just worthless sludge you get as a side-effect from normal play, and suddenly the dump for them vanished (the always accepting, infinite cash merchants).., and you’ve just got a massive pile of shit to deal with
I don't think I would frame it that way; more like it reverted the genre back to the Diku mold. See
I'm absolutely stealing this. It summarises how I feel about modern MMOs vs the endless possibilities of a shared, persistent, virtual world that I think were never truly realised. (see my other post)
All items could be destroyed to create runes, that can be applied to another item to improve it. Let's say that a skull giving +10 force would give a few runes to add +1 and +3, the later being more valuable.
Everything was recyclable and there was a complete economy about recycling to provide for the one hundred different characteristics.
To me it looks like their ecological model failed because it was deeply flawed.
Real ecologies aren't really closed systems. There's generally constant energy coming in from the sun, and that energy is the limiting factor. Humans, at a simple level, build wealth by preserving the products of this energy.
But in original UO, a player having 10000 shirts would cause the amount of wool produced in the world to decline. That doesn't make any sense so it's not surprising that it didn't work.
You have a good point that the natural world renews itself from incoming energy, but that doesn't save it when it's destroyed at a faster rate than it can renew.
Neither was theirs — things spawned! It was just overexploited, much like our own ecosystem.
>Humans, at a simple level, build wealth by preserving the products of this energy.
A rose-colored summary.
We also frequently engage in futile activities that seem profitable, but in fact destroy wealth by failing to appropriately manage the biogeophysical life-support system of Spaceship Earth. See our current ecological collapse - climate change, soil erosion, wilderness destruction, higher rates of species extinction, aquifer pollution/depletion, overfishing, ocean acidification, ocean plastics, etc.
What is ecologically optimal should also be what's economically optimal, because ultimately they're part of the same overall system. The imaginary economy/ecology divide (like the imaginary human/environment divide) is itself a source of inefficiency, because it incentivizes ignoring problems by pretending to push them "outside the system."
If we can't make economy and ecology align our species is SOL & JWF — shit out of luck and jolly well fucked.
In my opinion, this is the biggest and most intractable of the possible Fermi Great Filters. Not destroying ourselves with nuclear weapons or nano-goo, but restraining our own species from self-annihilating global ecocide via perverse economic incentives (aka "Capitalism, the Bad Parts™").
The free market is an incredibly powerful decentralized decision-making tool, but it should be used to enhance humanity's long-term survival rather than undermine it.
I sometimes wonder if it's possible at all for any species that evolved to compete for resources to survive the stage where humans are now.
1. Ultima Online wasn't even in development for three years total. An early prototype was February to September 1995, done by Rick Delashmit. Starting late August and early September 1995, the core team showed up. We showed the game at E3 in spring of 1996 in alpha form. We showed it in beta form at E3 in the spring of 1997. And we launched on Sept 26th, 1997. The ecology was in the alpha test, and was removed during the beta after being rewritten by an engineer who didn't really like or understand it.
2. "Not many players know about" this is false. The strategy guide published simultaneously with the game even lists all the resource values for how much meat, hide, feathers, whatever, each creature represented. All of those statistics remained in the game and still are there to this day twenty years later. What was disabled was the AI. The values are still used by crafting, harvesting, and lots of other systems in the game.
3. Said AI is exhaustively documented on my website here: https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/03/uos-resource-system/ (first article, there is a sidebar with links to the follow-ons) and also collected in my recent book POSTMORTEMS, which has a huge pile of historical info on Ultima Online as well as Star Wars Galaxies and other games I've worked on.
4. The reason the AI was disabled had nothing to do with why the ecology collapsed. The AI was disabled because of the cost of doing radial searches followed by pathfinding. "The way players fit into this equation was that the they would embark on quests to kill the carnivorous animals and the pelts that they gained from those quests would be worth more than those gained from the herbivores" doesn't make any sense. :)
5. The ecology collapsed for a different reason: we had a closed economy loop at first, where everything was spawned from a fixed resource pool. It fell victim to player hoarding: when players killed sheep, they then made zillions of shirts from the wool to grind crafting advancement. Then they hoarded them or sold them very slowly. The result was the central bank ran out of wool, and then couldn't spawn more sheep. This is documented in one of the earliest detailed analyses of MMO economies, Zach Simpson's "In-Game Economics of Ultima Online," a very influential piece which led to the widespread use of the term "faucet-drain economy" in online game design. See https://web.archive.org/web/20020730225856/https://www.mine-...
6. "This problem is also what spawned multiple instances of servers (or as they called them, “shards”) that people know and recognize from most MMOs today." This is not why we ended up with shards, either. UO was originally designed for a concurrency around 250, much like Meridian 59 and other MUD heirs of the day. Its original lifetime forecast was only 30000 or so units, but we knew from early on we'd need multiple servers, even at that population count. Meridian 59 launched with a whole bunch of them, for example. After we got 50000 tester sign-ups, we were asked to hugely increase server size, which led to Rick inventing a server boundary mirroring technology we called "multiserver," which allowed the map load to be shared across clusters of machines. The entire game was then rearchitected for that in between 1996 and 1997. The term shards came from the fiction of earlier Ultimas, see https://www.raphkoster.com/2009/01/08/database-sharding-came...
7. "At the time when 3D graphics cards were new" -- they were nonexistent when we started.
8. The source for the article is a more accurate video at Ars Technica, which has war stories from Richard Garriott. But Richard's memory is, alas, faulty on some of these finer details.
9. There are some great Quora answers on the tech stack for the game and whatnot which have been on HN before, but if you're interested, you may want to check them out.
I will say, it's awesome and flattering and super cool that so many people still harbor so much affection and so many memories from this game. I was around 25 when I was leading design on it, and the early days when we were doing the impossible are still some of the fondest memories of my career. For lots more war stories, do check out either the book, my site, or this postmortem presented at GDC for the game's 20th anniversary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnnsDi7Sxq0
UO remains the only MMORPG that I have ever played that felt like a truly immersive virtual world. It ruined all MMO's that came after it for me. I played the WoW beta for about two weeks before the grind became apparent and I lost interest. Who the hell cares about only completing pre-made quests? In ultima, you defined your own adventure, and if you succeeded in it your fame could actually be known among players on your shard and not just a mechanic of the game's code. To me, this sets the benchmark to what an MMO is supposed to be.
There's also a slightly darker/mischievous part to my experience with UO: Macroing (the act of automating your character via third party programs) really introduced me to the world of programming. At first it was using point and click step-by-step UI recording software, but after a few years I had a fully fledged ore mining bot that could even do things like respond to a red name appearing on the screen by recalling to a safe house programmed in an actual turing complete language. Although I'm sure that had to be a pretty big pain point for you, I'm not sure I'd have a career as a software engineer if that hadn't happen.
1. How much of an influence were past Ultima games on UO? The game engine itself resembles Ultima VIII, was any of the code from that game reused?
2. Whatever happened to Ultima Online 2?
1a. The prototype was actually based on U6's rendering engine, not U8.
2. Far too long a story. UO2 was a bit of a mess technologically, IMHO. EA disliked Origin in general. UO continued to do well and the question of why have a sequel came up. And more. But I left OSI before it was killed so can't say for sure.
A great source for more information on the design of UO (including some bits on the ecology system if you dig deep enough) is Raph Koster's blog: https://www.raphkoster.com/tag/ultima-online/
My headline would be ‘Ultima Online developers created unsuccessful virtual ecological system’. I’d think they could have fixed this by increasing any penalty and reducing any gains had by killing “friendly” animals, but the article doesn’t go into detail about what they changed before removing it. If the only penalty for obtaining resources from the ‘wrong’ animal is that your character is immoral in a fictional world, I could see why they’d have these results.
The article also makes it sound like, or even states, that the problem was overpopulation on the servers.
It was some of the most fun I've had in a game ever.
The servers really had different cultures. I really loved Siege Perilous while it was doing the Color Wars. The map was 4 castles with 4 different teams, you'd spawn inside your team castle surrounded by chests full of GM weapons/armor that made you immediately become a GM of that item (say Grandmaster Halbredier) then run out and fight the other teams. It was almost like a Battlefield game. Then they changed it to some boring mode for beta testing.
I was 11-12 when I got into UO in 1996. I could talk about it all day. I miss it.
The 2nd Age I think is when I quit. Whenever they added riding cockroaches and neon colors and all that other stuff.
The two groups had a bit of a rivalry on the then main message board, Crossroads of Britannia. LS called the Catskills group "Care Bears" and they called us "The Biker Gang". To my knowledge that was the first usage of care bears in that manner, but I'm sure it predates us. I remember one time when they all came over to our server with "care bear" characters and "invaded" the main player run tavern, Silk's Tavern.
My roommate at the time was a prominent RPing PK on Catskills, I was a prominent RPing anti-PK on LS. Folks from both groups made road trips for a house party/gathering at Catskills
own Elawyn of Yew's RL house.
On the LS side it often was the case that both sides of the RPing PvP world would concoct RP reasons to band together to combat general asshattery regardless of if they were red/blue.
Siege Perilous & T2A was right around the time I was getting out of the game. I was still playing, but much less as college was over and real job had begun. Combined with the game rapidly becoming less fun for me and I just found myself playing less and less
Unfortunately most of the music doesn't load any longer. I always loved the Ultima soundtracks.
edit2: This sounds terrible not as a midi
They were so ahead of their time with pretty much everything. Abyss was cool and all, but do you remember Santa's Slay?
The initial pre-facet gameplay basically split between the protected town space and free-for-all wilderness. As soon as one wondered outside town guard area, anything could happen - you could attack anyone and anyone could attack you, costing you all you carried. Or nothing could happen. That was the genius of the game play - just like in the real world, once you went out into the wild, it was you against all.
In this vacuum of law, guilds emerged that controlled and protected parts of the wilderness. You joined one of them and helped build society from scratch. Patrols were organized, crime was fought. Turf was defended. Crafters were protected.
A pseudo medieval society emerged with their own casts and hierarchies. All shards were different.
At the time, I played Pacific shard for the MOD guild. Then the rule change came that ended all of this - they split pvp and non-pvp realms. This is when the wipeout happened.
Without the pvp players, the non-pvp realm became overrun. You could sit and wait in the most dangerous dungeon for hours to get a chance to slay a dragon. Previously, this was prevented by pvp players attacking the dragon hunters, now people could just kemp out in the most valuable armor and carrying most valuable weapons. Things you wouldn’t think of using before for fear of losing them to another player were now fair game.
Many of the veteran players retereated to the Seige Perilous shard with extremely punitive rules and hard game play, but many left. Siege lasted for 3-4 years for me before I finally gave up.
In the end, the lawless, ruleless gameplay that required society to emerge was such an amazing experience that I’ll be forever thankful to the devs for allowing us to experience it. Such things help one understand and believe in humanity, despite all our flaws and the few bad apples that emerge.
UO has a complex reputation and title system to help with this. Murders actually counted and had a price in game play.
Getting an inside look at game development is always fascinating. I wish more developers would talk about their experiences. You can usually take away incredibly valuable lessons from videos like these. For example, from this Ultima Online thing you'd learn about the importance of user-testing.
One Halloween I logged into UO, and my character had been transformed into a deer, as some kind of a sick joke! All my inventory was gone, and all I could do was deer stuff.
Then some bastard came along and TAMED ME. That totally sucked! I had to follow him around obediently all day. I guess I'm lucky he didn't skin me and make me into leather armor.
It was far more dangerous to go get high value ore outside of the cities than it was to get low value ore. To get Valorite I had to actually pay people to guard me or kill monsters for me. Usually I'd give them discounts on armor or just free armor for doing so.
We all had that "walk out of the city and get mowed down" experience. It taught us to run through the woods and constantly hide and be ready to bolt. If you saw a dead body you knew to turn around and run.
Every city has different routes and the forks outside of most major cities were the dangerous parts. You had to go around them and dodge the animals that might be in the woods.
The model economy (related to Muds) in Imaginary Realties by Dan Hastings, preserved by Richard Bartle : http://mud.co.uk/dvw/themodeleconomy.html
The basics of these economies is that there is a faucet of some resource and a drain drain on that resource (it goes somewhere and is ultimately destroyed... some how). The economics aspect has a very hard problem with balancing those faucets and drains.
Speaking of killing everything in UO, in what would be considered the "T2A" era of this game (I'm estimating something like 1998-1999), I remember manipulating the line-of-sight bug that let you attack NPCs inside town in such a way that the town guards wouldn't come (There were many "criminal acts" you could commit, like attacking or stealing from a player, and if you did them in town the guards would instantly kill you).
I would town kill NPCs to get colors of cloth that were not achievable using the dye tubs available to you. They would spawn with colors that were less garish than the ones you would end up with if you dyed them. I would chop their clothes up, sort them by colors, and use the raw cloth to create clothes on my tailor. It was a great money maker, because killing NPCs was quick and easy, and in the end it's just clothing items, but the product was not available anywhere else. If someone killed you in the process, you were naked except for a weapon anyway, and people generally did not understand what I wanted with the cloth in the first place so it didn't get looted.
From the housing system to the criminal system, UO was just the best MMO. You could do anything, but you had to suffer the consequences. I love the totally free-market economy it gives rise to. I feel like MMORPGs got a lot softer and less "libertarian" (if I can use that word without all the political baggage), for better or worse. Probably for better, because WoW was popular in a way that UO never would be.
I always heard Anarchy Online was great, but I never got around to playing it.
Edit: Asheron’s Call and Dark age of Camelot.
Oh gosh. Kids these days have no clue! Or maybe they do.
This is a much watch if MMOs fascinate you. They're very transparent. Absolutely great video.
edit: Oh my god they bring up FlyGuys prostitution ring..
Also there was a massive subculture of collectors who grabbed the rare items not locked down after a server reboot. The game shipped with a lot of bugs that they fixed by adding tiles after the fact and some weren’t locked down so people grabbed them up. My speciality was fruit bowls :P
Once we broke into a GMs house and stole an all red sword.
Also using circle of transparency to mark a rune inside a house.
Teleporting demons and dragons into peoples towers. Gosh the fun never ended.
I wonder if social pressures could somehow be codified into a game. If someone goes around killing all the players then maybe none of the vendors will want to do business with that person or something? Though I'm sure there are ways players could still explain that and I'm sure people who have spent a lot more time thinking about MMOs than me could explain why that wouldn't work
Not to mention, new players were probably practicing combat. It's not like anyone would normally have concern for killing virtual goats and rabbits.
Regardless, given what we're seeing in real life I'm not so sure the appeal is limited to video game activity.
I'd like to add, there's a current advert for an Xbox game, the backing track is the Beach Boys "Wouldn't it Be Nice." In any case shooting galore...as a Xmas gift? We're on the cusp of legit virtual reality and our goto is still kill kill kill?
This is why we can't have nice things.
The fact that we've managed to relegate this behavior to the virtual world, rather than the real one, seems to be a good thing to me.
Did you mean to qualify this? You meant at some particular point in time?
So from what I recollect as a player the killing was economically motivated rather than motivated by ultraviolence. Not sure if that's any better...
With a few minor exceptions (there was a tame skill you could learn) killing animals was the only way to interact with them.
Players looking to be entertained are obviously going to try killing everything.
For instance, take a very early RPG, Miracle Warriors. We played this for weeks before we understood that you weren’t supposed to kill certain creatures, and that it lowered your reputation score. Even after we understood that, it’s not like we were really trying to role-play ethically – we were just trying to gather experience and money. Or what if your character is evil? It’s just a character. Eventually, there were parts of the game that you couldn’t access unless you had a high positive reputation.
Can you elaborate on why the creature learning was bad UX? Did people get irritated when the wolves were killing their rabbits?
The energy vortex sprite was a different Easter Egg iirc. And sometimes, you could get energy vortices that were llama-shaped...
The skill was probably Animal Lore.
Best MMO ever! Thanks for giving insight into it.
* no opt-in required PVP with full looting
* the bugs / exploits
I had a very high bounty. :D
The chance that you could actually lose months worth of work always made the game heart pounding exciting when you were running for your life.
* mage/carpenter could build tables, stack them, teleport to the top, and jump through people’s roofs to loot houses
* stealing weapons and armor off people and killing them with it
* mouse tip hover + overloaded treasure chest trap
* dying bags in a trading window
I LOVED this game.
Edit: what awesome bugs, exploits, and rares do you remember?
There were plenty of people in the first two camps who were into PVP, that wasn't a problem for most folks. It was the constant griefing, dealing with bug exploiting goons, being teabagged by people named things like AzZBlaSTA which really wore people down.
I ran with a very PVP oriented crowd. My experience was that 100% of them who describe the game in the specific ways the GP did were what caused the average player to throw up their hands and look for a much more controlled world. It's not that these were bad people per se, they were just playing a very different game than the rest of us and the two sides were never really going to get along.
Buggy games? Yes the do.
Games with real risk? It requires an aggressive player to make that risk real otherwise there is no point to making a game with risk if everyone is just smithing horse shoes for each other.
I’d argue that games like UO don’t exist anymore because most people don’t want to play a game where you can lose everything.
It was a really shitty thing to do, and I felt terrible and ended up giving him it back a few hours later.
While I defer to your expertise, I have to say I find it a bit difficult to believe. Being in an online game just changes the form of interaction between people, not the fact that they're interacting. (We couldn't, for example, say "Oh, X is a jerk over the telephone but s/he's not like that in person at all".) These players know full well that there was another human being at the other end of their misbehavior.
Whatever the online analogue of "in vino, veritas" might be, I would be willing to bet that it's true and that these players are actually revealing a significant aspect of their true nature.
They just saw UO as a different kind of game as other folks did, something more akin to Quake where it was no holds barred PvP. There were multiple folks I knew who couldn't understand that someone wouldn't view the game that way.
One of the games that I've played over the years that specifically embraces this is Kingdom of Loathing.
It doesn't mean you grow up to be a bad person, though.