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June 01

Ye Minor Fixes Patch – 14th June 01 – nocturne
Latest Game Update :: NPC Shopkeeper Price Changes / Real Estate Broker Changes and Changes to Orc Bombers, An Issue f Lag, and House Deed Resale on Siege Perilous
We have published an update to all shards to be active following their next scheduled maintenance period. This publish addresses NPC shopkeeper inventory pricing issues and the way house deeds will be bought from and sold to vendors. These changes include:
  • NPC real estate brokers will now buy house deeds back at 20% below the base price of the deed, or the original price paid when the deed was purchased from a vendor (whichever is lower).
  • NPC shopkeepers will no longer inflate the prices of their inventory when their stock begins to run low, and prices of items will be consistent on all shopkeepers.
  • Addressed a lag issue related to faction lists.
  • House deed prices when reselling to real estate agents raised to the correct level on Siege Perilous.
  • Orc bombers will now deal damage to players wearing armor.

Looting Rights Fixes – 20th June 01 – nocturne
Latest Game Update :: Looting Rights Fixes
The following issues with looting rights have been modified:
  • Getting the last hit on a monster will no longer be a determining factor for looting rights.
  • Players will no longer get credit for damage done to a creature beyond the amount of hit points remaining when calculating looting rights. For example, if a creature has 5 hit points and a player casts a spell on it that does 40 hit points of damage, the player will now get credit for doing 5 points as opposed to the potential damage amount of 40 points.
This was coded by Adrick and Calandryll.
Changes added to Changes to Orc Bombers, An Issue f Lag, and House Deed Resale on Siege Perilous
  • You can no longer provoke orcs onto a player wearing a mask of orcish kin.
  • Stealing from an orc while wearing the mask of orcish kin will now cause the mask to explode.
Unlisted Changes –
  • Bolas.


Today in Origin – 01st June 01 – nocturne
Lum is reporting that Stratics is reporting that Tom “Evocare” Chilton is replacing Paul “Sage” Sage as 1337 Designer ((For those not with us, Sage has left Origin for a new Destination)). Bryan “Tajima” Walker is now the sole Producer ((he and Kirk “Runesabre” Black used to share the position. Runesabre is at Destination too.)). Rick “Stellerex” Hall is still Senior Producer. Finally, David Swofford, (ex-) Manager of Public Relations for OSI, has also moved on to Destination.

More information, if you really care about the minds behind your game, can be found in this thread. In the fine tradition of cut-and-paste updating, I’ll quote the juicy bits –
Tajima –
Just to clarify, I’m currently working as Producer on two specific initiatives. Stellerex has resumed his role as the Live Team Producer.
Evocare –
I’ll do my best to give you some quick background information. =]

Since having worked for Origin as a designer, I’ve worked on a fairly large number of systems. Among these are: leading the design and implementation of the Faction System, addition of new content (such as the glacial staff, dungeon re-regioning, and monster design for third dawn), and more bugfixes then you can shake a dirty stick at (dirty sticks can generally be shaken at more things then clean sticks).

In addition, I worked as one of the senior systems designers on UO-2 with the responsibility of refining and enhancing the combat and magic system designs. I believe one of the interesting things you’ll find about me is that I have the privilege of being the first UO lead designer to have logged several thousand of hours of play time in UO, bringing to the position the perspective of both a veteran player and a developer. I can say without the slightest hesitation that I understand the frustrations that players often experience and as a result I certainly hope I won’t let the players down. ;]
Evocare –
Well, there really are quite a few more people then you mentioned below. Among designers and programmers there are…

Designers:
Vex
Adrick
Oaks
Ignatz
Gromm
Augur
Designer X (undecided nickname)
Hanse
Calandryll
Evocare

Programmers:
Ironbyghte
Stormwind
Prophet
FierYiCe
Greyburn
Indy
Bulldoz
Jalek
Alai

Really, that only scratches the surface since there are also artists, an ever-growing QA staff of around 20, community reps like the beloved Melantus and the merry Cynthe, and countless other people that play absolutely crucial roles in keeping everything running smoothly on all levels. =]
Adrick –
I am currently working on the faction system, guild system and player/player interactions. I have asked and been given the combat system. This does not mean I exclusively do all the changes to these systems – it means that I will be the primary person working on the system. When we make changes – we run them by the entire team. PvP is part of the combat system.

Right now I have a full plate with bug fixes for the faction and guild systems and I am also working on other system bug fixes as well.
Calandryll on Looting Rights changes –
It’s based on first hit, damage done, and hits scored. Then the top 30% get looting rights.
The monster healing up does not reset the points. So if you do 50 points to a monster and it heals up, you still get credit for those 50 points and all the hits you had.
Adrick on Faction War Horse changes
Faction Warhorses 5/31/01 at 11:16 pm

I’ve seen lots of concerns and questions about faction war horses. First, there is an issue with stamina in general that the team is aware of. I know alot of you have pointed out that the stamina issues have nerfed war horses. That issue aside here are some of the planned changes for faction war horses.

1 – They will not be as deadly as an offensive weapon – their damage will be toned down but will still be better than a horse in dealing damage. They will remain as strong (hps) and as agile (stamina).
2 – They will require you to be either the faction commander or of rank 2 or higher to ride.
3 – They will not be transferable to blue players or faction enemies, nor can blues or enemies be friended to them.
4 – For legacy war horses if there is a blue owner or friend – when they issue the horse a command it will disobey and go wild. Owners who are in the same faction as well as friends who are in the same faction will still be able to order it.
5 – Enemies and blue players will not be able to tame faction war horses that go wild – only faction allies will.

These are the planned changes for war horses as part of the faction fixes we are working on. As more develops with the stamina issue I will keep everyone posted.

Lineage $$$ – 01st June 01 – nocturne
The Korea Herald has an article about Lineage, along with some positively scandalous numbers.
NCsoft earned 24.2 billion won in net profit on 58.2 billion won in revenue in 2000.
At the May 31st Exchange Rate of 1,000 Won = 0.78 USD, that’s US$18,894,439.97 in net profit. At least I think so, I’m not exactly sure how big a billion actually is. Note that Asian currencies have been fluctuating for a few years now, so the numbers just give you a rough idea of how big NCsoft is. I’m not sure how they compare with EQ, but EA.com is bleeding money, though UO is profitable. Then again, I’m also not sure if NCsoft is generating revenue from anything other than Lineage. ehrm, not exactly a financial type, here.

Peachy! – 02nd June 01 – nocturne
FYI :: Customer Support Advisors –
EA has arranged with a small group of international customer support representatives to aid in handling game-related customer support, as well as other tasks, for EA.com. As of Friday, June 1st, they will be spending some time addressing Ultima Online customer concerns on the Chesapeake and Atlantic shards from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am EDT as advisors, appearing in peach-colored robes. Please keep in mind that Advisors will only address game play issues. This is an experimental program, and we will post updates when and if the program is to be expanded.
What does this mean for you, faithful customer? It means paid counselors, which means ((the potential for)) better service. And, since they are using a third-party provider, well, hopefully these chaps know what they’re doing.
FYI :: Client Patch –
We will be releasing a client patch on Friday, June 1st at approximately 11:45 am CDT. This patch contains an encryption change and various bug fixes. The current versions should now be 3.0.2b (2D client) and 3.0.2a Build 64 (3D client).
FYI :: Account Access Transfer Program –
In the interest of providing our customers with a safe procedural way in which to transfer UO account access from one individual to another, we would like to remind you of our Origin Account Access Transfer Program. This program allows you to carry out the transfer process officially through the OSI Billing Department, ensuring that in case of any dispute, we can verify the correct owner of a specific UO account. By simply arranging for signatures from both parties involved, completing a confirmation phone call with an OSI representative, and arranging a small transfer fee, your access transfer will be secure and final. Additional details on the Account Access Transfer Program, and the appropriate form, can be found here.
Krum updates us on some upcoming fixes in this thread. Oaks takes his turn on the Dev Team Comments thing.

Peachy :: The Update – 02nd June 01 – nocturne
Do you like scandals ? We like scandals. Read this post from Lum the Mad. Done? Okay, now read on.
Melantus replies in the forums. I’ll give you the entire quote if you don’t want to wade through the thread –
I’d like to Answer this, and it’s probably going to be a long post.

I’ve began to notice something rather disturbing within online gaming, something that I suppose was always there under the surface anyway. Ever since Localization, I’ve become increasingly aware of attitudes and mindsets that are at times prejudice or at least a concealed intolerance for those living in other countries or different nationalities. I knew it was there before, it’s always been there ever since Mankind: The Early Years. But this has me really thinking and also worrying. Massively Multiplayer online games are global. They pretty much went global/international very soon after coming into existence. However, how much have we adjusted to meeting (in real time) those that are culturally and geographically different? Even within the U.S., those of different cultures don’t often mingle or immerse themselves into the wonders and gifts another culture could share. We might have a friend or friendly co-worker from another country, but we might meet them on a “common ground” level. We separate ourselves, and thus when we meet away from the “common ground” it can sometimes be like two strangers in an alley passing each other.

During my Gamemaster days, I would see such intolerance within UO. Shocking and rather embarrassing how some can behave in racial or ethnic situations. When Localization was first announced, feelings amongst the populace surfaced into the open once again. Localization was deemed as anti-American, racist, favoring other countries, every other phrase that could assist in building up those barriers. Despite any logic of the change, I heard more then once “they are favoring –them-, not –us-.” And now we have announced an Advisor project.

As I said on the UO Boards, where the Advisor project is located should make zero difference as long as the quality is there. That is what we intend to keep an eye on, and either change/improve or just remove the idea totally. So when someone says “I have a vison of Apu from The Simpsons saying I cannot help thee with that”, I want to ask why? Why an image of someone from another country that is less then flattering? Why does the notion instantly come to some minds that they would be extremely underqualified, extremely poor, and perhaps not even capable of the same intelligence level that they have? The fact that the terms “third world country” and “sub-minimum wage labor” are used paint the image of dirty shacks made out of car parts and scrap metal, dirt floors, sweating people under the control of the Oar Captain from Ben Hur. How do you know they aren’t wearing ties, in a big office building? There aren’t many T1 lines running to scrap metal shacks. Obviously the concern of customer service quality is valid, and something I already addressed. It’s our concern as well. However how much of all this hoopla about this issue is the continuation of the stuff I wrote about near the top? It reminds me of when I was talking to someone online, about the tallest building in the world. He was rather upset about hearing that it was in Kaula Lampor, Malaysia (I think I spelled it right but probably didn’t.). A few of the comments were similar to ones I have heard about this Advisor issue, although reworded a bit to fit the topic. Yes, he had a hard time believing that other countries were actually developed with the same technology found in the U.S. But you see, it was easier for him to “think down” toward those distant and whom he had never visited or met.

I have a feeling this topic will appear more and more in regards to online gaming, and I will definitely be spending some mental energy thinking about it. Because I like to try and stay aware of what’s going on with online gaming, good or bad. Certainly I’m not calling everyone a racist, or trying to make this issue racial. I do think however that there are certain misconceptions that we all have about our global neighbors. Differences culturally, sure there are. But look at how the one word “international” has become nearly equated to slave labor. Why is that?

The facts are: we are looking at changes to customer service that we feel will be helpful. If the changes aren’t helping, we can go from there and make other changes or whatever else might be needed. We know quality must remain important.

Before completely establishing your opinions on something that isn’t even in effect yet, try to ask yourself just how much of the discussion you are participating in is perhaps inaccurate or even unfair. Another friend once said to me “Rumors and propaganda, to take them to heart is letting someone else do your thinking for you.” I personally prefer going by facts, and not by the opinions of other’s comments. You can be assured that I and everyone else working on UO are working hard for the players. We want to continue working hard for you, too. If that means you have concerns about something like this subject, then certainly those concerns will be passed along.
Savant, Producer of Fallen Age had this to say –
Having volunteers is no longer an option. (They keep filing lawsuits)

Having full in-house CS staff costs more than bandwidth and hardware combined.

The thought of paying more than 10 dollars a month makes you see red.

Am I the only one who sees a rock on one side, and a hard place on the other?

My suggestion would be to just diverge servers. Those who wish to keep playing for 10 dollars a month will be on a support-less server, and those who wish around the clock CS pay additional fees.

Any other suggestions?
Here’s my take, since I know you’re just dying to know what I think –
It’s almost amusing how the “community”, as it were, ganks EA every chance it gets. I don’t even like EA, but I don’t like gankfests more. SO.

1. “EA is exploiting the Indians.”
Sorry, EA is just following the bigger corps, a lot of which have outsourced customer service and technical development to India. Yes, because it’s cheaper. I could hunt down a list of companies and websites for you if you really really want, but I can think of several better things to do than broaden your view of the world.

2. “The jobs (if there are to be jobs at all, since we like volunteers), should belong to Americans.”
Sorry, but EA is a corp. Deal. And it is exactly because of what made America great in the first place that EA exists – a capitalistic society. EA is, in effect, the American Dream in action.

3. “Since it’s not Made-in-the-USA, it will suck.”
Sorry, I’m not sure about Customer Service, but technologically speaking, India (Hotmail.com, if I remember correcly) and Isreal (ICQ) have at least as good techs as Silicon Valley. They just lack the business and marketing folks (the same guys making this decision for EA). CS-wise, as I said above, a lot of corps have been outsourcing to India, you just don’t know it.

Personally, as I said in Sept last year when the Counselors Sued, I think it’s a good idea. I know I’ll feel better if customer service were paid, however little, because they are doing it for the money. They are not doing it for the spiffy robes or some dream of “power” within the game. Yes, a lot of the volunteers were doing it because they gave a shit, but at least some were doing it for less noble reasons. At least now you can be certain of exactly why they’re doing it.

Now, nobody seems to be focused on the crux of the matter, “Is Customer Service going to improve?”, and it’s really too early to tell, but I think this is a step in the right direction.

Offline PK – 02nd June 01 – nocturne
In Korea, when you dupe, it makes the papers. And that’s not all, only Time will tell
Actual violence has become so commonplace among computer-game players that concerned authorities even have a term for it that borrows from the game: “off-line PK”.
Ready for more Seoul music?

Impt Qns Answered – 03rd June 01 – nocturne
Krum, who may be working on an identifier for the levels of Treasure Maps, had this reply to the very important question, “Does the Ultima Messenger actually work?” –
No it doesn’t work, and there are no plans to make it work.
And there you have it! All the stress put to rest, only from noctalis.com.
Cynthe misquotes me, as they go on about the Sweat Shop Smurfs.

Orc Stuf – 04th June 01 – nocturne
FYI :: Cities under attack? –
Reports are pouring in that the orcs have been spotted closer to the cities than ever before. Residents on the outskirts of the cities have said that it appears we’re in for an attack within the next couple days.

Guards have been called from all over Britannia to protect the larger cities, which we hope will prevent the orcs from attempting to attack these areas.

This will be a dark time for citizens of the smaller towns, and we can only hope that by banding together, these attacks can be weathered until the true source of this uprising can be found.

Some guards will remain in the smaller towns to see that anarchy does not erupt, and that citizens will be protected from other citizens. Stealing from and attacking other players in town unlawfully will still bring the ire of the town guards. However, these remaining guards will be too sparse to defend the town against orc attacks.

NOTE: These updates are related to the continuing scenario occuring in Ultima Online. For more information, read the associated fiction located at http://town.uo.com/bnn/article_430.html. The items associated with the scenario will continue to be available in game after the scenario is complete.

To discuss these scenarios and happening around Britannia, please participate in the Roleplaying, Events, and Scenarios forum at the UO Boards, at http://boards.uo.com/cgi-bin/postlist.pl?Cat=&Board=role.
The Mask of Orcish Kin comes in both facings. I’m still looking for a damn helm. Yes, it’s been days. Goes to show how rare the damn thing is.
Adrick has made a long list of upcoming Faction fixes which you can find in this thread.

Another One Rides the Bus – 04th June 01 – nocturne
Susan “Leilo” Kath, (ex) Manager of Community Relations, has left EA/OSI for Destination Games. No replacement has been named as yet. In the meantime, Community Relations is ably handled by Melantus and Cynthe.

MetaNews – 05th June 01 – nocturne
Jalek, dev team comments. Adrick, tram faction players. k thnx bye
My thoughts on the Orcs, thus far
Okay, briefly reading the stories, and without reading the boards, this is what I think. I’m sure you’ll tell me everything that I’ve figured wrong.

The mask implies that some “Orc mages” aren’t Orcs. They merely seek to coexist with orcs – spying perhaps? – and the fact that they are all mages implies a magical source. Trolls? Rats? Lizards? Or Humans?

Something is decimating the Orcs, which prompts the Orcs to conscript their young and send out scouts. The Orc Helms were created by the magi to give the Lords greater power ((and damn, those things are rare, it’s been a week and I still don’t have one)), which highlights the desperation the Orcs feel, since the magi and the Lords have never been known to cooperate – having always maintained a seperate priest and fighter caste.

Which brings us to the attacks – ie. “MAKE IT STOP”. Except we’re not the ones behind it…

– Great job, Cal, Gromm, Angur

Raising the Bar – 06th June 01 – nocturne
In Development :: Player Owned Bartenders
Tavern [140901] [Barkeeps] Players will now be able to purchase and own a barkeep, that can be placed in the player’s house. The barkeeps will serve as a method for players to support and announce their own events and quests, as well as give out scenario hints like town cryers.
Krum –
Some players have been requesting some more detail on the potentially unpopular meditation bug fix that will be going into production within the next few weeks.

Any damage a mage receives while meditating should break the meditation. Now it doesn’t, which is a bug. Soon it will. This includes spell damage.

The fix for that problem will be live worldwide Thursday.
Updated the Scenario section with news of the Helm ((though still without pics)), and the new Orc-type, the Orc Chopper.

Cannons ? – 07th June 01 – nocturne
More Scenario fiction – Unrelenting Tide.
You know what I think? The orcs aren’t the real problem… more like a symptom of something bigger.
This thread gives us a few hints at the ((still undergoing QA)) Ilshenar funky title system. Evocare, who is truly 1337, talks briefly about PvP. Adrick corrects himself.

LB Wired – 07th June 01 – nocturne
A new interview from Wired News Radio, bringing us Lords British and Blackthorn. The interview is about Destination Games, Lineage and, get this, Majestic. The 18:05 min interview .mp3 is 3.2Mb.

Flooring is Back! TMap Changes! – 08th June 01 – nocturne
You know, if they keep on using the Boards instead of In Concept to sound opinions, why keep In Concept around at all? We find out more about upcoming Patches from Dev postings than we do reading the Official Site. What’s up with that?
Rug Merchant Shop Inventory Floor Tiles, last seen, oh, four months ago, may actually make it in game! *pauses for the shock to pass* Vex gives us da master plan
Howdy! Here is an update on the plan for floor tiles.

As y’all recall, we did have them on Test Center at one point. They were working fairly well, but there were some strange and hard to resolve bugs with them. That, combined with an extreme need to focus on more important things, required us to shelf them for a time.

The biggest issue with the floor tiles has always been that they are surfaces, meaning players and creatures can walk on them. When we make them dynamic objects able to be moved around by players, it opens up a huge can of worms with regards to exploitation. Imagine being able to build a bridge over water, or a staircase up the side of a mountain.

Much of the implementation of Floor Tiles was designed to make it impossible to place them anywhere except on the floor of a house. But that turned out to be a much more difficult proposition than originally imagined. The UO server just wasn’t designed to be able to place such limitations on objects. Making the server capable of that is nontrivial. We tried to get around it by writing a bunch of code specific to the floor tiles, but that turned out to be a nonoptimal solution as well.

So, we’ve gone back to the drawing board, and come up with what we feel is a far better system. Here are the basics of it:

1 – Floor Tiles Will Be Craftable. Tailors will create carpets. Tinkers will create stone tiles, and Carpenters will create wooden floors. In order for this feature to function as a gold sink, players will be required to purchase expensive components to use to craft the items. Because of this, the ability to craft floor tiles will not be based on a skill check. Instead, it will just require certain minimum skill levels and have a 100% success rate at or above the required skill.

2 – When crafted, floor tiles won’t exist as movable objects. Instead, they will exist virtually in a special container with its own interface. To place a floor tile, the player will double-click the container and get a menu of the tiles in it. The player selects one, and the tile drops to the floor at the player’s feet. It will not highlight – it will behave more like a static object rather than a dynamic one. Floor tiles will not need to be locked down (in fact, they may refuse to be locked down). The floor tile container will include detailed instructions. Once placed, a floor tile can be retrieved back into its original container within 1/2 hour. Pieces that have different facings will be able to be rotated, so it won’t be necessary to get one of each corner piece of a fringed rug. You’ll just need 4 corner pieces. Once a floor tile has been in place for 1/2 hour, it becomes permanent. The container will also have features to make it easy to see its contents in a secure trade window or on a vendor.

3 – Floor Tiles Will Have Special Decay Rules. The idea here is to experiment somewhat with the concept of a recurring gold sink and a continuing market for player crafters. The basic idea is that carpets will decay after 30 real-life days, but will be the cheapest to create. Wood tiles will decay in 60 real-life days, and be more expensive than carpets to create. Stone floor tiles will decay in 90 real days, but be the most expensive to create. The hope is that players will feel it is worth the gold to replace their custom flooring every so often, creating a continuous demand for new floor tiles. This means that the market for this player-crafted item should never dry up, and since the components are fairly pricey it should act as a continuous small drain by which gold coin can leave the game’s economy.

I am interested in any feedback y’all may have, good or bad.
Classes :: The Treasure Hunter Ignatz proposes changes to Treasure Maps in this thread
Treasure Hunters and Cartographers, I am looking for feedback on the following possible changes to treasure maps:
  • Identifying a Map’s Level
    • When a cartographer decodes a treasure map, the treasure map’s level will be added to the map’s identifying text. For example: “a level 2 treasure map for somewhere in Felucca.”
  • Treasure map ownership
    • The player who decodes a treasure map will no longer be the automatic owner of the map and treasure. Ownership of a map’s treasure will be given to the person who actually digs up the treasure chest.
    • Only a player with the treasure map in her/his backpack will be able to dig up the treasure chest.
    • Note: A decoded treasure map in a player’s backpack will be protected from pickpockets.
  • What will this mean? Mostly:
    • Players will know the level of a decoded treasure map.
    • Cartographers will be able to sell decoded treasure maps (on vendors, etc.).
    • Cartography will remain a viable treasure hunting skill (decode your own maps), but treasure hunting will also be possible without it (purchase maps that are already decoded).
    • The level of an undecoded treasure map will remain unknown.
Thanks for your thoughts on this.
Alai says Sea Horses are “soonish”. Great, now all I need is to get 3D to, yaknow, actually work. Adrick is still going on about Faction fixes and Tram and warhorses and stuff. Finally, to end this update…
Prophet –
Hi folks,

Currently veteran rewards is scheduled to be released with the next publish. We will still be testing and tweaking the system until then but we are getting to be pretty happy with it. During testing over the last week we found a few small issues with the rewards themselves and have fixed them. The back end service appears to be solid. I would just like to say that we are looking forward to deploying them just as much as your looking forward to receiving them!

Upcoming Changes Updates – 09th June 01 – nocturne
Classes :: The Treasure Hunter Ignatz updates to Version 2 of the proposed Treasure Map changes in this thread
Excellent feedback! Here are some changes based on your ideas and concerns.
  • Identifying a Map’s Level
    • A treasure map’s level will be identified when found based on the following adjectives:
      • (undecoded)
      • Level 1 – a tattered, crudely drawn treasure map: Felucca
      • Level 2 – a tattered, expertly drawn treasure map: Felucca
      • Level 3 – a tattered, adeptly drawn treasure map: Felucca
      • Level 4 – a tattered, masterfully drawn treasure map: Felucca
      • Level 5 – a tattered, flawlessly drawn treasure map: Felucca
      • (decoded would be the same without “tattered” and start with “an” where necessary)
  • Treasure map ownership
    • The player who decodes a treasure map will no longer be the automatic owner of the map and treasure. Ownership of a map’s treasure will be given to the person who actually digs up the treasure chest.
    • Any player holding the treasure map will be able to dig up the chest.
    • Note: A decoded treasure map in a player’s backpack will be safe from pickpockets.
  • So:
    • Players will know the level of a treasure map.
    • Cartographers will be able to sell decoded treasure maps (on vendors, etc.).
    • Cartography will remain a viable treasure hunting skill (decode your own maps), but treasure hunting will be possible without it (purchase maps that are already decoded).
What do you think?
Some more quotes follow, all drawn from the same thread –
Ignatz –
I am definitely listening to the concerns voiced about the effect this could have on treasure hunters, as well as the opinions that are in favor of the ownership change.

I’ll have to think about this aspect of treasure hunting a bit more. I like the idea of cartographers being able to sell decoded treasure maps, but I don’t want to ignore the possible side effects that could have on treasure hunters.

Side note: the level labelling can be done whether or not the ownership change goes forward. They are not dependent upon one another.
Ignatz –
The primary reason I proposed the change of ownership to the digger rather than to the decoded was because of players who have never been able to go on a treasure hunt and don’t have the time to create a full treasure hunter character, or for guilds and player events that would like to more easily make use of treasure maps. (Plus I thought being able to sell decoded maps on vendors might be a useful thing for cartographers.)

At the same time, though, I definitely do not want to undermine the Treasure Hunter profession. I’ve always been a fan of treasure huntering so my goals here are to expand and improve. (Btw, yes, there are other issues surrounding treasure hunting, but this is the one on the burner right now.)

So I’ll propose a potential compromise:
Treasure maps of Level 1, 2, or 3 can be decoded by a cartographer and then dug up by anyone with the digger being owner the treasure chest they’ve dug up.
Treasure maps of Level 4 and 5 are owned by and have to be dug up by the character who decoded the map.

Thoughts?
Ignatz –
Grandfathering in maps that have already been decoded should be possible.
And to answer the question, “shouldn’t a flawlessly drawn map be easier to decode than a crudely drawn one?”
Ignatz –
Think of it as having to do restoration based on age and damage done to the map.

It’ll be more difficult to restore an artistically rendered map than to restore a more crudely sketched one.
More on Barkeeps
Gromm –
It’s not going to sell all kinds of food. Actually I took the food list from the NPC Innkeeper, removed all non-food items like torches and backpacks and put that into the barkeep. Well, ok, I added pizza. :P
Gromm –
This is great, a lot of these title suggestions have made me slap my forehead and go, “Oh, OF COURSE!!!” So keep them coming, the list has not yet been finalized.

As for the issue of having barkeeps in private houses, that probably won’t happen. We want the barkeep to bring people together, to create your own points of interest for the world to see. A place to take a break from all your worries, wouldn’t that help alot? Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.
And on Floor Tiles and stuff –
Vex –
Unfortunately, I’ll be limited to just the floor tiles redesign and reimplementation for the immediate future. House decoration is an important aspect of the game and we do want to add more options, eventually. But for now all I can say is that we’ll keep ideas like the bearskin rugs, etc. in mind for a time down the road.
Vex –
We (the design team) actually disagree with the idea of taxing houses, on the principle that it would be taking something away from the game without giving anything back. It’s not good to “nerf”; it’s much better to modify and enhance. So, it’s not likely that we’ll nerf housing by implementing property taxes, but we are not averse to attaching ongoing maintenance to new optional enhancements like custom flooring.
Vex –
Considering the huge variety of floor tiles available (240 or so), and the fact that many people will likely prefer to construct floors piecemeal (in order to make mosaics and oddly shaped rugs), I think it would be in the crafter’s best interest to make the sale before actually creating the flooring.

I will make sure to include a way in the interface to view samples of all floor tiles in a menu and unambiguously identify each of them. This will make it much easier for the buyer and the seller to communicate. I expect some crafters may try to sell pre-made floor packages on their vendors, but for something like this the personal one-on-one touch seems to be a necessity.

Obviously, I will also make certain that the Factions price adjustment feature won’t affect the price of the components. I’d also like to make the price of the flooring components absolutely fixed and unaffected by the normal price adjustments that NPC shopkeepers apply as their stock diminishes. This way, buyers will know exactly what it costs a crafter to create flooring. Then, it’s up to the crafter to make a sale and a profit on a level playing field.
Vex –
Regarding cost, the idea is that the components will be less expensive than the previous in-testing prices for the tiles. I think a good initial target price might be 1,000 gp per month per tile, for the components. This means that a 5x5 reflooring of a small house would cost 25K per real month to maintain. 25K isn’t a lot of money at all, these days. It will be interesting to see what prices crafters would charge. The floor tiles are supposed to be big-ticket status symbols. Cool decorations that take a little extra effort to maintain. I don’t think that price is too expensive or too cheap, especially considering the floor tiles wouldn’t take lockdown slots.

The idea of making them repairable is an interesting one, worthy of exploration. I personally enjoy redecorating my own villa every so often; it gets boring with the same look every day for months on end. If this idea were implemented, I would want crafters to do the repair rather than the owner; otherwise the whole idea of continuous demand for the crafter’s services is shot. Unfortunately, there is currently no good way to securely trade for services. Considering the number of blacksmith repair scam calls our GMs get, I would be extremely hesitant to add another crafter-performed service to the game. It’s much better right now to deal strictly with goods.

Regarding having to move other items to lay carpet, the idea was that the tile would move to the floor at the player’s feet, requiring only that the player be able to stand in the spot where the floor tile is to go. It is probably a better idea to just use the targeting cursor.

It may be possible to allow the floor tiles to be floated using the decoration tool – some of them would make good shelves, for instance. The big thing is making sure they only exist inside houses.
Vex –
I think we’ll just scrap the decay idea. I didn’t think there would be that much resistance to the need to periodically redecorate. :) Repair kits would add an unnecessarily level of complexity to the whole thing as well, and the interface wouldn’t be easy to deal with.

How does this sound: The investment to the crafter will be a bit more expensive – between 5 and 10K per tile – but after the initial 1/2 hour placement window, the tiles behave just like other house add-ons. They must be chopped to be removed, destroying them. If the house decays, they are deleted. They still won’t take up a lockdown slot.

The tiles will be able to be manipulated by the interior decorator’s tool during the initial placement window, but after that they become permanent unmovable fixtures of the house.
Oh, and if you read my bitch in the Forum –
Evocare –
A fix for remaining hidden while looting is already in testing for next publish, and we’ll be looking into the report of not being able to call guards on a looter.

IGN RPGvault Interview – 09th June 01 – nocturne
IGN RPGvault has posted a two-page interview with LB.
NCsoft has executed on the business plan that Destination Games is proposing. They created one great game, gone public, and now have a company that makes $80 million in revenue, and $40 million in profit. By comparison, that is already – on one product alone – about half as much profit as EA makes by shipping 100-plus products a year.

No Rest for the Wicked – 10th June 01 – nocturne
FYI :: Real Estate Agents currently disabled –
The Real Estate Agents haven been disabled on all shards to resolve an ongoing issue. We will update you with more information on when they will be reactivated.
Can you say “exploit” ? Sure you can.
Classes :: The Treasure Hunter Ignatz rejects the proposed Treasure Map changes –
I want to thank everyone who added their thoughts to this discussion. You’ve all helped out a lot and contributed a lot of very good and interesting ideas.

For now, I’m only going to go forward with the level labeling:
  • (undecoded)
    • Level 1 – a tattered, crudely drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 2 – a tattered, expertly drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 3 – a tattered, adeptly drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 4 – a tattered, masterfully drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 5 – a tattered, flawlessly drawn treasure map: Felucca
  • (decoded)
    • Level 1 – a crudely drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 2 – an expertly drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 3 – an adeptly drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 4 – a masterfully drawn treasure map: Felucca
    • Level 5 – a flawlessly drawn treasure map: Felucca
Btw, the quality of the map is not (in my opinion) what makes decoding it more or less difficult. The difficulty comes from how well the map’s creator was able to hide (or encode) the information that lead’s to his/her buried treasure. After all, most people will not want some stranger digging up their loot.

A level one map is basically one that is drawn simply for information so that the person who buried the treasure can find it again. They aren’t really concerned with hiding that information or security issues. For example, a bandit on the run from those he robbed. After quickly burying the chest, he rapidly draws out a map of the location, clearly marking where the chest is, so that he can find the buried chest in the future. Unfortunately, he failed to notice the troll that then clomped him on the head and took his map.

A level five map, on the other hand, is more like the map from The Hobbit. The one on which Elrond finds the hidden moon letters that reveal the location of the secret door into the mountain. That’s a level five map.

Map ownership will remain unchanged from the way it now works. There have been many good suggestions in this thread: requiring some amount of cartography to dig up a chest whether the character decoded the map or not; allowing GM cartographers to use any decoded map and dig up the treasure; letting level 1 and 2 maps be transferable; and so on. And I’m storing these away for reference.

I’m not forgetting those who were in favor of transferable treasure maps or in favor of more easily accessible treasure hunting, but it has become obvious that those ideas need to be given more thought and need to undergo more research before any changes along those lines are made.

I still want to find ways to bring the kind of excitement that treasure hunting holds to more citizens of Britannia, which a big part of why I proposed this change in the first place. In the end, though, I do not feel that this particular proposal was the right fit. I’ll continue looking for that, and I’m always interested in your ideas.

Thanks!

mmm – 11th June 01 – nocturne
Some amusing quotes today, just for a change, non ?
Krum –
Unfortunately, monsters are programmed to kill you. They couldn’t care less that you were recently resurrected.
Alai –
Get some sleep. UO will still be around when you wake up.
Hanse, suggesting a “Top 10 Signs you have been playing UO too long” –
Whenever someone opens a door, you shut it before they walk through… :P
Prophet, replying to “only problem with canadian programmers is the Y2eh bug” –
What are you talking about eh? That ain’t not bug eh.
Gromm, replying to a post telling how to look through the UO art files –
Peeking at your presents! For shame! :)
Okay, they’re not that funny, but at least it’s better than more Dev Team Comments ((this time from Stellerex, talking about springs. And stuff.)).

Exploit fixed, Real Estate Agents nerfed – 12th June 01 – nocturne
FYI :: Publish Update –
We have published an update to all shards to be active following their next scheduled maintenance period. This publish addresses NPC shopkeeper inventory pricing issues and the way house deeds will be bought from and sold to vendors. These changes include:
  • NPC real estate brokers will now buy house deeds back at 20% below the base price of the deed, or the original price paid when the deed was purchased from a vendor (whichever is lower).
  • NPC shopkeepers will no longer inflate the prices of their inventory when their stock begins to run low, and prices of items will be consistent on all shopkeepers.
These changes will be added to Latest Game Updates once the publish is active on all shards.

Incoming! – 13th June 01 – nocturne
an orc bomber Quick update – Orc bombers. It’s 6AM over here. More after I get some sleep.
  • Orc bombers carry 100 gold. Their backpack contains another 100 gold, 10 Ash, 10 Pearl, 10 Mandrake ((reagents for the Explosion spell)), and a purple potion.
  • They do not carry any special items, though some of them carry a pestle & mortar or iron ingots.
  • Orc bombers cannot be provoked.
Calandryll –
The bombers don’t have any specific code to attack, damage, or hinder tamers. I’ve read the reports and we have investigated them, however, the bombers do not have any scripts attached to them that go after pets or tamers.

an orc bomber an orc bomber
FYI :: Publish Update –
We have published an update to all shards to be active following their next scheduled maintenance period. This publish contains the following changes:
  • Addressed a lag issue related to faction lists.
  • House deed prices when reselling to real estate agents raised to the correct level on Siege Perilous.
  • Orc bombers will now deal damage to players wearing armor.
These changes will be added to Latest Game Updates once the publish is active on all shards.
FYI :: Client Patch Update –
This patch will contain new and updated scenario-related files. The current versions should now be 3.0.2d (2D client) and 3.0.2e Build 65 (3D client).
The “updated scenario-related files” contain some text for two new items, “savage kin paint” and “bolas”, both require crafters, and both are not in the game yet. More spoilers are in this post.
More from Gromm on Barkeeps in this post
Gromm –
Here it is, the final list of titles! Big big thanks to all of you who made suggestions, some of you will see yours in the list. We actually never planned on the list getting so big, but what the heck. Unfortunately I had to take “Coach” and “Norm” out to make room. Now remember, if the title you were really hoping for isn’t on the list you can always use the “No title” option!

And now the list…
  1. alchemist
  2. animal tamer
  3. apothecary
  4. artist
  5. baker
  6. bard
  7. barkeep
  8. beggar
  9. blacksmith
  10. bounty hunter
  11. brigand
  12. butler
  13. carpenter
  14. chef
  15. commander
  16. curator
  17. drunkard
  18. farmer
  19. fisherman
  20. gambler
  21. gypsy
  22. herald
  23. herbalist
  24. hermit
  25. innkeeper
  26. jailor
  27. jester
  28. librarian
  29. mage
  30. mercenary
  31. merchant
  32. messenger
  33. miner
  34. monk
  35. noble
  36. paladin
  37. peasant
  38. pirate
  39. prisoner
  40. prophet
  41. ranger
  42. sage
  43. sailor
  44. scholar
  45. scribe
  46. sentry
  47. servant
  48. shepherd
  49. soothsayer
  50. stoic
  51. storyteller
  52. tailor
  53. thief
  54. tinker
  55. town crier
  56. treasure hunter
  57. waiter
  58. warrior
  59. watchman
  60. No Title
Enjoy kids!
Gromm –
The only thing this NPC can sell is food and drink. And he will only do it with these titles :
  • Baker
  • Barkeep
  • Chef
  • Innkeeper
  • Waiter
Otherwise he will not sell anything. We briefly considered making him sell other things based on title but this puppy is purely meant to be an RP enhancement, not an in game advantage. If we made him sell adventuring supplies that would make him more than an RP tool, it would make him an actual gameplay advantage for house owners and that was never our intent.
Evocare is looking for input on a new way to calculate HP.
The current formula: Maximum Hit Points = Strength
The “new” formula: Max Hit Points = (Strength/2) + 50
Find out more, and say what you want to say, through that link.
And we finish off with some soundbytes –
Evocare, replying to “Is there any thought of removing the need to equip the spell book while casting?” –
Yes. It’s being considered.
FierY iCe, replying to “How fast does new Heroes Title decay?” –
I can’t really go into specifics too much, but killing more difficult creatures will allow you to keep your title longer. The more you kill, the longer it will stay…
Gromm –
The massive changes you talk about to taming are out of the scope of the content team. We’re probably not going to be the ones you see ever taking a game system and reworking it, that’s going to fall to the main dev team.

What we are doing is introducing things into this scenario that will deal with problems as they come. Can we make these changes overnight? No, and if we tried QA would beat us with sticks. Are we listening and making changes as we go? Darn tootin, and it’s greatly based on what we see on the boards. Are changes coming soon? Heck yes they are. Soon, friend, soon.

As we’re already stated, tamers are eventually going to have to think twice about bring a favorite pet to a scenario hot spot. When this change comes, we have a feeling you’ll see it. *grin*
Calandryll –
There is no quest engine.
Calandryll –
There are 29 towns in UO (Britannia and T2A, not including Haven) and only 8 are under attack (less then 1/3) leaving 21 safe towns. There are plenty of places to go to avoid the attacks… but yes, going to one that is being attack is dangerous… as it should be.
Calandryll, replying to “If I participate, the outcome will be A. If I don’t participate the outcome will be A.” –
That’s not true. :)

Ye Minor Fixes Patch – 14th June 01 – nocturne
Patch June 01 1/2 – Changes to how NPC’s price items they sell, as well as changes to how Real Estate Brokers buy back house deeds, plus 3 Changes to Orc Bombers, a Problem That Caused Lag, and House Deed Resale on Siege Perilous.

Bola Bola Bola – 14th June 01 – nocturne
More Scenario fiction – Takeout, written by Cynthe and Gromm, a pair of sick sick souls.
Evocare’s Hit Point Calculation Change Proposal, found in this thread has been posted to In Concept here.
Melantus –
Someone asked me what a “bola” was. Just as an FYI, a bola is a weapon more recently used in I believe Spain and Mexico a couple of hundred years ago or perhaps farther back. I wouldn’t be suprised if central or south American, or African tribes or groups used it. It is a rather old weapon that was used often. It is 2, 3 or 4 weights (that could fit in the palm of your hand), connected via some sort of string. The ones I have seen are connected in a plus-sign shape pattern between the weights. When thrown right, it spins as it moves toward the target. When it hits the target (neck or legs) the weights cause the string to wrap around the victim’s neck or legs, due to the forward motion. It happens very fast and could trip something that was running.

Melantus Has Left the Building – 15th June 01 – nocturne
Announcement
I wanted to talk with the players for a bit, to let you know some information about a change here. I will be leaving my position as Community Coordinator here at Origin/EA to pursue opportunities elsewhere. I have enjoyed my time with Origin/EA, and the UO team has been like a family to me. A lot of really talented people work here, with the full intent of working hard to make UO even better for you – the player.

Before the rumors start spreading about why I am leaving, let me just clear up a few things. I like working with this UO Live team, and I like my job. I have another opportunity, and that’s it. In no way should this be taken as a “sign of impending doom”, or anything else of the sort. Stellerex’s comments about the UO team being larger than ever before are definitely true, and there’s more momentum here now than there has been since I can remember. UO will continue to grow and improve, and there are some really good ideas being considered here. Calandryll’s Event Design team is moving in full force and has only just begun to really shine. More great things are coming from them in the future. Evocare is heading up the Design group, and is a very capable Lead Designer. Prophet is showing his talent and abilities in his Lead Programming position. Cynthe has been working to see that communication with the players remains a vital part of the service, and is stepping up as Community Manager.

This is a good time for UO, because the future is bright. In this industry, people change jobs a lot. You have seen it this past year quite a bit. remember that the online MMORPG business is growing as well, and is bound to have growing pains along the way. The bottom line is: Does the team that supports your game, have a passion for what they do and are they committed to the product? Do they take player feedback, and make changes based on that feedback? I believe the UO team is does just that. It’s a good group, and it wasn’t an easy choice to make. Ultima Online – and this industry – will continue to grow, and the lessons I have learned here will always be with me. I will continue to be here for a couple of weeks to help transition this position.

Melantus
Online Community Coordinator
Ultima Online
Melantus@uo.com
Cynthe responds in OCR Comments, offering you her old job as Web Editor and Mel’s old job as Community Coordinator. Calandryll’s comments are in this post.
FYI :: Announcing Test Formosa –
To improve service for our Formosa players, we have secured new hosting and new hardware for the Formosa shard. A new server was brought external on the new hardware on the evening of June 14th (CDT), and has been designated as a Test Formosa shard. Once the transfer to the new hosting service has been completed and it has been determined that the new test shard is operating optimally, the Test Formosa shard will be wiped, and the data from the current Formosa shard will be transferred to the new hardware. We are targeting to complete the move of the Formosa shard early next week, and we will update as to the final schedule once it has been determined.
FYI :: Japanese Shards and House Decay –
As a result of the instabilities experienced on the Japanese shards, we have temporarily turned off the decay rate of houses to prevent players from losing homes until we have resolved the issue. We are working to resolve this as soon as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.
Calandryll speaks on why the non-grunt orcs don’t take extra damage from a virtue weapon of Orc Slaying –
That’s actually an oversight on our part (much as I hate to admit it) and I’m not sure when we’ll be able to correct it. I need to look at that code again.
Normally I don’t dispell rumors about the scenario, but in this case, since it’s essentially a bug, I felt I should. Didn’t want people to make guesses based on that.
Based on the stories, I still think some of the Orcs aren’t Orcs at all. Oh, and, ehrm, heh

No News Day – 16th June 01 – nocturne
Vote for Us! No news is good news! Go post in our UO Forum, just so I know that people still come to this site. And check out our other sites while you’re at it. Oh, and vote for us, dammit.

Blackthorn on GameSpot – 17th June 01 – nocturne
Starr “do you think EA will mind if I’m still Blackthorn ?” Long writes a page in this feature for GameSpot, “What Makes an Online Game Successful?”.
Fun: This seems incredibly obvious, but it is sometimes very hard to achieve. Basically, I think of this as minimizing repetitive actions that feel more like work than gameplay (like mining for ore or camping spawns). It also means minimizing downtime (that is, finding your corpse, camping to heal, running for one hour to get to the dungeon entrance, and so on) between multiple “fun” activities. A player should feel like a hero, not a glorified exterminator and/or long-distance runner.
Which sounds about right for Tabula Rasa’s “Theme Park” model of adventuring.

Ilshenar Titles – 18th June 01 – nocturne
Adversary of the Vermin Horde
FierYiCe, on the Ilshenar title system –
The rest of the system will be published with the next major server publish. Expect some cool surprises. And with these cool surprise I highly recommend going to the spawn areas in groups. :)
I’ve been testing the title system out the past three days, and will put up a page to it once I’ve confirmed the info satisfactorily.

Looting Rights Fixes – 20th June 01 – nocturne
Patch June 01 2/2 – Fixes to problems with looting rights, as well as changes to the mask of orcish kin and the unlisted addition of bolas as part of the scenerio.

Ether Steed Test Drive – 19th June 01 – nocturne
Vex –
In order to facilitate testing a possible bug with the ethereal steeds, I have set up special objects on the Test Rewards 1 shard. These items are ankhs, located near the southeast corner of the West Britain Bank on both facets of that shard. When you double-click the ankh, you will receive an ethereal steed (random type). This item doesn’t count as a Vet Reward choice and can be used by anyone, regardless of account age.

Please feel free to log onto Test Rewards 1 and play around with an ethereal steed. Use this thread to report any strange behavior you find. We are also logging them, and to gain as much information in these logs as quickly as possible, we need to have a lot of people using them.

Thanks, and enjoy!
Calandryll –
Remember, we added about 2 months to everyone’s account age. Technically, nobody could possibly actually have a four year old account until the end of September, since that is when UO shipped (Sept. ’97) :)

The team is working on designs for the fourth year rewards though.
He also mentions that Looting Rights Fixes will be in with this week’s scenerio publish.
Evocare the 1337 gives a short clarification on the proposed hit point cal thingy, if you’re interested.

Bolas are In – 20th June 01 – nocturne
Bolas are in, made by Tinkers with components found on Orc Bombers. More info when we get some.
Calandryll –
The Third Dawn graphic only has three balls because when we had a fourth one on it, it looked really bad. So for aethstic purposes, we went with three. Figure the fourth ball and the leather it is attached to is behind one of the others. ;)
Calandryll –
Yes, they are one shot, that is why they are not difficult to make.
Calandryll –
The bombers don’t have any specific code to attack, damage, or hinder tamers. I’ve read the reports and we have investigated them, however, the bombers do not have any scripts attached to them that go after pets or tamers.

More Moving On – 20th June 01 – nocturne
IanStorm.com reports that Jack “Kal El” Wood, Mike “Scorch” Zupan and Matt “TRasa” Gutierrez have resigned from Origin. “TRasa” is a handle ?

Scenerio Stuf – 21th June 01 – nocturne
New story up, Bad Omens. Masks of Orcish Kin will now explode when you steal from an orc.
Player Owned Bartenders in In Development has been updated with the full list of 60 possible titles Gromm posted last week.
FierY iCe, on Ilshenar Titles
The rest of the system will be going in with the next major server publish. Hopefully it will be before the end of June, but I do not know for sure.

And here is your teaser:
Evil will grow in size and power if left alone,
Evil will shrink and weaken if properly opposed,
Champions of Evil will awaken if their minions are overwhelmed…

:)

4th Year Vet Rewards – 22th June 01 – nocturne
In Concept :: Fourth Year Veteran Rewards
** Note ** This idea is currently in a “concept” phase, meaning we want to get feedback on it. However please understand that this idea may change to be quite different from this proposal when or if it becomes finalized. Also note that this proposal might not get put in at all, depending on factors in the design proces as well as the feedback we get from players. As more information becomes available about this concept idea, the update pages will become updated.

As some players’ accounts approach four years in age, the question of whether UO will offer a set of fourth year rewards has been raised. We do intend to dedicate some resources to developing additional Reward items once the Veteran Rewards system is successfully launched. These items are not yet in development, and we are interested in getting feedback on these items from the players.
NOTE: If you are a player with an account age near 48 months, please be aware that when you reach 48 months, you may be presented with the opportunity to choose another reward. The fourth year rewards may not be in production at that time, so if you wish to use that extra reward point on a fourth year reward, you must be sure not to use that point on a first, second, or third year reward!

As a player’s account reaches 48 months of age, that player will receive an additional Reward choice. At a point soon in the future, we are looking to add another tier to the rewards choices, and the following items will become available to 48-month veterans:
  • Dyeable Spellbook (a special spellbook that comes completely filled with all 64 spells)
    • Only players whose accounts are 4 years old or older will be able to equip it. It can be dyed using the Leather Dye Tub.
  • House Decoration Kits (bags containing eight decorative items suitable for use in player-owned houses)
    • These will be deed-style add-ons. Some will consist of multiple pieces, and they cannot be manipulated using the Interior Decorator’s Toolkit. Others will be single-tile pieces and can be flipped and floated using the Interior Decorator’s Toolkit.
    • There will be three themed sets to choose from:
      • Day of the Dead – this set will include Halloween-themed decorations, including a skeleton in a coffin, a pool of fake blood, spiderwebs, skull candles, and scattered hay.
      • Gardener’s Delight – this set consists of several plants and cacti (some potted, some not) and a decorative rock.
      • Tavernkeeper Set – this set includes a large fishing net, suitible as a wall hanging. Additional treasures include dyeable wall-mountable shields, a saddle on a saddlehorse, a large ship’s anchor, and a bar complete with openable half-door.
  • Magic Hat
    • Intended for emergencies, the user can pull out desperately needed supplies, like a recall scroll, a small number of bandages, a few arrows or bolts, an orange, yellow, or black potion, a few magic reagents, an apple, or even a cute fluffy white bunny rabbit. This stylish treasure can be used once per day.
The screenshot for house deco kits is here. The thread to give feedback is here. Our vet reward section is here.
Calandryll –
On the house decoration things will they be redeedable? – Yes.

Also as a 4 year vet how many picks will be given? – You get 2 picks at first year, and then one pick for every year after that. So if you have not used any of your picks, when you hit 4 years… you’ll have 5 picks.

And what is the plan to to allow those who want to to turn in their previous picks since we could now choose 4 years? – No plans to do this.
Vex –
At this time, we have no plans to implement dyeing of sandals.

Desslock Talks Ultima – 22th June 01 – nocturne
From Desslock’s RPG News over at GameSpot –
What’s Planned for Ultima Online?
  • At least 20 developers, primarily artists, will continue to work on the game to develop new content.
  • The developers intend to continue to work on a “global events” system, to allow them to introduce dramatic, dynamic events that effect the entire gaming world and contribute to the developing, serialized fiction of the game – such as the invasion of the town of Trinsic during the Renaissance expansion, and the events that occur in Asheron’s Call.
  • Related to the previous point, the developers want to introduce additional “global storylines”, and those storylines may result in different outcomes on the different shards hosting the game, differentiating the shards in material ways.
  • Additional monsters, weapons and items should be introduced on an ongoing basis, and the 3D client will continue to be improved to feature particle effects and other 3D enhancements.
  • There are now approximately 240,000 active subscribers to the game, 50% more than last year, and that growth has come fairly equally from the U.S. market and overseas (primarily Asia). The company believes that Europe remains an area where the game’s subscriber base as the European population gains cheaper access to the Internet.
  • The company significantly upgraded its servers last year, so that there are now 23 servers, each with 4 GB of RAM. The company intends to continue promotions such as “power hour”, allowing players to gain experience more readily during the first hour they play a game in order to discourage longer play sessions. Still, most players play 12 – 13 hours a week, so the average UO player there aren’t a lot of casual gamers playing the game.
  • Over 80% of players play in non-player vs. player mirror shards, a figure which greatly surprised the developers (who had initially required all players to be subject to attacks from other players). UO belatedly adopted an option to allow players to avoid being attacked by other players, long after EverQuest and Asheron’s Call demonstrated that the majority of players preferred avoiding “pkilling”.
  • Despite rumours to the contrary, the company doesn’t believe there were additional account cancellations as a result of the Company’s decision to cancel Ultima Online 2.
What do Richard Garriott and Starr Long have Planned for Destination Games?
  • The game isn’t the rumoured “X” game that Richard Garriott was working on while still at Origin (which wasn’t to be an Ultima game, but would have followed the design spirit of the previous nine core Ultimas), but will cull the best design features from that project as well as Ultima Online and its cancelled sequel (both produced by Starr Long).
  • Richard Garriott and Starr Long don’t believe it’s necessary to gamble on creating a console game, since that’s not the area of expertise of the founders of Destination Games, and since online-only PC games have a proven record of commercial success. Destination Games will accordingly focus on PC games (one of the very few announcements to that effect at this year’s E3).
  • Richard Garriott announced that he felt the business model traditionally followed by online RPGs (sale of the game at a “normal” retail price for a computer game, coupled with an ongoing monthly fee) was outdated. Tabula Rasa will be available online for purchase, with a single ongoing fee.
  • Both Richard Garriott and Starr Long feel that the “virtual world” gameplay model that online RPGs, including Ultima Online, have all used may not be the best way to present a game. A virtual world isn’t necessarily easy to navigate, features frequent downtime or dull “waiting” period and is inherently full of activities that just aren’t a lot of fun, although players are charged for them – a pretty surprising announcement given that one of the primary features of the Ultima games is their ability to convincingly simulate a world better than their RPG peers.
  • Instead of a virtual world, Destination Games is looking at “Theme Park” models of presentation – which would allow players to instantly choose from a variety of activities. Stripping away the “work” aspects of online RPGs and allowing players to quickly access the activities that they want to do, and allow them to conveniently access the geographic areas of the world they most want to be in. In vague terms, the duo described a stylized virtual reality of entertaining activities or areas that could be accesses at any time by players.
  • Additional details concerning Tabula Rasa will be sketchy for a while, since the game isn’t scheduled to be released for 2 – 2.5 years. About 15 – 20 of the members of the Ultima Online 2 team (which numbered 45 – 50 members prior to the project’s cancellation), have joined Destination Games.
Also on GameSpot – their latest feature, The Ten Best-Looking Games, lists Ultima VII: The Black Gate.
The Black Gate was a substantial improvement upon its predecessor. Ultima VI’s graphics and gameplay were already considerably more complex than those of the fifth installment, and Ultima VII underwent an equal enhancement upon VI.

Getting Your Fix – 23th June 01 – nocturne
Testing for Next Update :: “Blue” Players Stuck In The Minax Stronghold
Blue players within the Minax stronghold will be able to become “unstuck” from that location. Some blue players may have possibly logged out inside that stronghold before certain recent changes were put in to restrict blue player entry. This has caused some blue players to become stuck within the location.
Testing for Next Update :: Additional Changes to UO
  • The Third Dawn zoom-in feature will receive the following changes:
    • Update range will automatically be changed in relation to the screen size and zoom factor. For example, if you zoom in really close to your character, your update range will be reduced to a small amount around your character since the other areas are no longer visible.
    • Objects that are out of range will appear as “greyed out” coloring. This will assist players with being able to better drop and pick up objects at the various zoom-in degrees.
  • The lightning spell effect is receiving fixes for Third Dawn players, to make it appear during each use.
  • A change is being added for the Third Dawn appearance of the White Wyrm body type.
  • Vendor Buy/Sell menus will have been adjusted to work with Localization.
  • A problem with NPC shopkeepers restocking their items has been fixed.

Quotes – 24th June 01 – nocturne
Dev Quotes from the past few days –
Gromm –
The barkeep will behave physically just like a vendor so no, you can’t “re-deed” it. But you can always change it to another character whenever you choose. So you can “trade costumes” with it. So to speak. :)

No lord or lady title but there is the “Noble” option.

Hopefully pretty soon we’ll be moving the barkeep over to In Testing over on the update page.
Calandryll –
I wanted to give everyone a heads up about this. We’ve changed the bola to not work against Ethereal mounts as we have gotten a few reports of them going wild because of the bola. After looking into it further, this is not actually the bola, it’s the same bug that we are fixing for the next major publish. We’re erring on the side of caution on this one.

The change to the bola is temporary and as soon as the bug is fixed, we’ll change the bola back.
Calandryll –
We’re probably going to increase the time the bola keeps you from remounting as well.
Calandryll –
If you are wearing an orc mask, orcs cannot be provoked on you. We fixed that yesterday. :)
Calandryll –
Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to do BNN audio anymore. We could do it, but every hour spent writing, recording, and editing BNN audio is an hour not spent on designing and coding the scenarios.
Cynthe, Hiring – A Progress Report –
I can’t stress enough two main things: 1) you guys have been keeping me REALLY busy with the resumes, and 2) we have the most unbelievably educated and qualified fanbase I have ever seen.

If I were filling a team of 50, this would actually be an easier decision. But with only 2 spots, it’s exponentially more difficult! So far, I have gone through a huge number of applications, and have made the difficult decisions necessary to pare it down to approximately 20. I hope by the end of this weekend to have it down to approximately 6 or so, and to spend next week conducting interviews. Keep in mind that’s a pretty aggressive timeline, and I may need more time depending on how the interview process goes. Of course, this doesn’t include any relocation periods, previous jobs’ notice, etc. So if you don’t see an immediate replacement once Melantus steps out, please don’t think we’re on some extended hiatus. If things were in any faster gear here, we’d be in hyperspace!

I also want to point out some good news, and that’s that some of the other departments here are hiring as well. This works out great at the moment, because I know from many of the resumes I’ve seen that there are players who would be extremely qualified for these as well!

These opportunities include: Server Programmer, Quality Assurance Director, Senior Internet Developer, and Development Relations Manager. Some of these may not be listed on our site just yet since the opportunities are pretty new, but we’ll get them up right away. Check the UO Employment Listings frequently to see the full descriptions of our open positions, and to see if these positions might be something that would appeal to you, and a position in which you could excel.

Many of the applications I have received seem to me to be ultimately qualified for more technical roles as well, so if you’ve already sent in a resume for one of my positions in Community, and you’d like it considered for one of the other positions here, please send a quick note to uojobs@uo.com, and let us know that! Ideally, if you reattach your resume, that would save us some time in looking it up, since we’ve had such an influx this week. :)

To wrap up, this is an interesting time. It’s difficult to see some of our folks leave, but it’s also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to get new people in who bring with them a new perspective – one that’s full of fresh ideas and is intimately close to the game. And of course, it’s an opportunity for some of you to stop working to support your game habit and actually *work* your game habit! :)

Thanks for reading!
Cynthe –
But actually, you’d be amazed at the difference location can make. While contemplating pay scales, etc, I’ve visited homefair.com quite often, and used their salary calculator. It’s pretty informative… for example, a 36K salary here is the equivalent of approximately $48K in Seattle, WA, and $87K in Palo Alto, CA!

It’s a cool site for anyone trying to figure out what salary they should request in a job application. :)

4th Year Rewards – 25th June 01 – nocturne
Calandryll –
First, thanks to everyone who has posted ideas here. While I am not directly working on the rewards, I did help design some of them and have kept an interest in the feedback. I would like to give some feedback though to help all of you when presenting your ideas by letting you know some limitations. Two things to keep in mind are that vet rewards should not give the player too much of an advantage (the ethereals are about the largest advantage that should be given from a vet reward) and that vet rewards are meant to be a symbol of the player’s veteran status.

That said, I’ve read a bunch of the ideas and I’d like to comment on the ones that I fear would be problematic or imbalancing, thus making them unfit for a vet. reward. Note that this represents current thinking, future enhancements to UO could change this…

Stat/skill increases – we have no plans to permantently increase skill or stat caps at this time. Aside from the balance issues this would create there are also tons of code issues as those caps are inherent to many other systems.

New wearables and art – not possible in the 2d client because of the issues with making them work on your avatar. Unless you wanted us to make wearables that ONLY worked in the 3d client, we cannot add new art like this to the game. Note that Blackthorn and British armor are not wearables. Most new art has these limitations at the moment.

Blessed deeds/weapons – we removed the bless deed last year because of balance issues. While we know there are some in the world still, adding more (that are only available to vets) will not help.

Name changes – again, Name Change Deeds were removed becuase of balance and support problems (mostly support). No plans whatsoever of ever putting these in, either as a reward or a general update.

Stables – a great idea, but one fraught with peril. The stable master or hitching post idea has issues with the spawner that until resolved keep it from being considered. In truth, should those ever be resolved, this would probably be a general update, rather than a reward though.

Please don’t take this post as a slap down or my way of saying the ideas are bad. They’re not. However, I do think it is usefull to you to know the limitations and the boundaries when scoping out your ideas.

Again, thanks to everyone who has posted, we actually have not even started coding these yet (almost all efforts are on the upcoming publish) so there is time for revision. No promises of course, and I am glad to see so many positive responses to the current plan.
FYI :: Formosa Shard Hardware and Hosting Service Upgraded –
The Formosa shard will be moved to its new hardware and new hosting service during its normal maintenance window on Monday, June 25th (JST). Due to this upgrade, we estimate that the Formosa shard may experience an extended two hours of downtime during its normal maintenance period. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Combat Changes – 26th June 01 – nocturne
In Development :: Combat Damage Changes
These changes are currently active on Test Center 6t. We encourage players to test these changes and provide feedback.
[200801] Changes to combat damage and how it is calculated.
Evocare, on the Combat Changes above –
I’ll do my best to clarify some things…

1) Regarding the anatomy bonus:
Currently (as in right now on all production shards) GM anatomy gives a 40% damage bonus against players, and 20% against monsters. Under the new system described In Development, GM anatomy will give a 30% bonus for both pvp and pvm.

Net effect: “stronger” melee hits against monsters/npc’s, and “weaker” melee hits against players.

Similarly, since the lumberjack bonus for 100 skill will be 30% instead of 33% (the 35% bonus previously listed was actually incorrect), the axe weapons will also do very slightly less damage then before in PvP (a warrior with 100.0 anatomy and 100.0 lumberjacking skill will do 13% less damage in PvP, and 7% more damage in PvM).

2) Regarding strength-altering effects like greater strength potions:
Strength and Max Hit Points are two entirely separate statistics, with their own modifier values. As a result we can modify the two independently of each other.

Due to the above, a player with 80 strength and a greater strength potion can in fact have 110 hit points (80 strength = 90 hit points naturally, + 20 point bonus to both a player’s strength and max HP values.

Feel free to try this out on Test Center 6 t if you still aren’t sure what it all means. =]

3) Regarding “ignoring” certain skills:
What you see In Development is a first round of combat changes. The changes are intended to keep things relatively well-balanced on their own, but they do not mean that there will not be any more combat enhancements in the future.

If any given skill was not specifically addressed in these changes, it is not meant to imply that everything is absolutely hunky-dory with those skills and/or that no changes are being considered to them.

4) Regarding wrestling move impacts:
Wrestling moves will continue to work as-is (ie: the wrestle disarm move will still disrupt a spell being cast by a player target). In addition, the wrestling moves will be usable while casting a spell (currently, these moves appear underpowered, and we don’t feel this change will overpower them).

5) Did I use bold text enough? ;]
FYI :: 2D and 3D Client Patch –
We will be releasing a client patch on Tuesday, June 26th at approximately 1:30 pm CDT. This patch contains an interface update and various bug fixes. The current versions should now be 3.0.2f (2D client) and 3.0.2i Build 66 (3D client).
FYI :: 2D and 3D Client Patch –
We will be releasing a client patch on Tuesday, June 26th at approximately 5:45 pm CDT. An issue with the patch released earlier today (June 26th) required some players to alter a line in their uo.cfg file in order to run the client successfully. This patch contains a fix for that problem. The current versions should now be 3.0.2g (2D client) and 3.0.2j Build 67 (3D client).
FYI :: Publish 12 Update –
While we are committed to releasing Publish 12 as soon as possible, several issues have arisen in testing that we feel need to be addressed before it can be released. This update (which includes veteran rewards) is still our priority right now, and we are targeting to release Publish 12 to one shard later this week.

That being said, we are aware that the veteran rewards system still has issues, and while we appreciate the need to work quickly, we are more concerned with seeing that our update is stable and polished. To help us accomplish both of those goals, Publish 12 is still active on the external test shard Test Rewards, and we encourage all players to send any bugs found there to tcbugs@uo.com. As always, non Test Shard-related bugs should be sent to uobugs@uo.com.

A full list of the changes included in this publish can be found in Testing for the Next Update.

Considering the complexities of the rewards system, we will wait until all public shards have received Publish 12 before the veteran rewards system will be activated. Once all shards are running Publish 12, and we are confident that the veteran rewards system is functioning properly, we will begin to activate veteran rewards systematically on pre-determined shards. Please note that this means that players will not be able to choose rewards immediately once the publish is received. We are working to see that this delay will be as short as possible, and we appreciate your patience.

NCSoft: The Piracy Pledge – 26th June 01 – nocturne
An article in The Korea Herald announces that NCSoft was caught using pirated copies of Starcraft. Kudos to Quarter to Three for this one.

Savages – 27th June 01 – nocturne
Calandryll –
Well, the fiction for it is that savages are adept at taking on large (think things like wooly mammoths – or in UO terms, dragons) and/or deamonic creatures (deamons, nightmares, etc.). They understand where the weak spots are and are able to do more damage. I don’t consider this a nerf though, but it does represent some challenges for tamers. You can’t simply bring in two dragons and let them run into the fort… they’ll die. Now you have to keep track of your pets, heal them, and make sure they don’t take on more than they can handle.
Cynthe –
We encourage tamers who have been surprised by recent changes to take a step back and try a new tactic. Not all creatures are affected the same way by savages, and there are more ways than one to be efficient in battle, including grouping with other players.
  • Savages will attack both players and Orcs.
  • Savages use bolas as weapons, which will dismount you. If you happen to be wearing a mask of orcish kin, and your mount attacks an orc, your mask will explode.
  • They do an extraordinary amount of damage to Master-level pets ((dragons, nightmares, et al)).
  • Special loot includes Savage Masks and Masks of Orcish Kin.
Calandryll –
The savage males are supposed to have bola balls as loot. They don’t right now. It’s a bug mostly due to the fact that I am a coding newb (stupid out of place parenthesis!) and I made a last minute change. It’ll get fixed though.
Calandryll –
The orc slayer weapons are being fixed in this week’s content update. Augur fixed it a while ago and QA already passed it. So if all goes well with the content update (which it should), it’ll be fixed tomorrow.
New story up, Conflicts of Conscience, written by Vex. The discussion thread is here.

Mizuho Opens – 28th June 01 – nocturne
FYI :: Announcing Mizuho’s Global Opening –
We are pleased to announce the global opening of the Mizuho shard on June 29th at 11:00 pm local time (JST). Mizuho is the 9th Southeast Asian Ultima Online shard and our 23rd shard worldwide. The name Mizuho dates from ancient times, when Japan was called “Land of Mizuho”. Mizuho stands for beautiful water, and Japan has been long famous for its rich rice harvest. As a result of our localized shard policy, Mizuho has been open only to players located in Japan for the last two months to allow local citizens to build a community base and to allow us to ensure a satisfactory level of local support.

The Game Master hours for the Mizuho Shard can be found by clicking here. For information on the shard’s maintenance schedule, click here.
FYI :: Chesapeake Publish Update –
We have published the changes listed in Testing for Next Update to the Chesapeake shard, and the shard will be brought down for a brief maintenance at 12:00 pm CDT, allowing these changes to take effect. We will update further as to the publish schedule for the remaining shards, and the changes will be added to Latest Game Updates once the publish is active on all shards.
FYI :: UO Concerns Policy Update –
UO Concerns Policy

For players who want to submit feedback concerning Customer Support personnel (whether positive or negative), the uoconcerns@uo.com mailbox has been created for this purpose.

In the past, while all mails sent to this mailbox have been read, we have not replied to these mails due in part to the volume of mail and the fact that our privacy policies dictate that when action is taken against a player or an employee, those actions are not made public. However, through posts on our message boards and mails into UO Concerns, we understand that some of our players feel the mails sent to this box are simply ignored, or even worse, unread.

It is important for our customers to have faith in our support process, so as of today, we have added two new steps to our methods of handling uoconcerns@uo.com mail.

First, all submissions to uoconcerns@uo.com will receive an automated response informing the customer that the email has been received. The automated response will explain the purpose of the UO Concerns email address, and list the criteria used to evaluate if the email is considered a legitimate compliment or complaint.

And second, all emails will receive a response from the staff member reviewing the email. If a complaint is verified, the player should receive a direct response from the CRMD (Customer Relations Management Dept.), and the assurance that the appropriate corrective action will be taken. These instances will then be discussed with the CRMD member involved and treated as a performance issue.

If a complaint is not verified, or if the GM was found innocent of wrongdoing, the customer should be contacted with an explanation as to why there was no violation found.

If a compliment is received, the compliment will be documented in the employee’s work history, and the customer should be thanked for the feedback.
Types of Responses

There are three types of responses that will be sent in regards to UO Concerns emails.
1). Incorrect mailbox
The response explains that the email was not sent to the proper address. The customer should be directed to the appropriate address to contact. There are several other avenues of communication that may be more appropriate, including:
  • support@uo.com for Ultima Online gameplay questions.
  • tech@uo.com for tech support issues.
  • admin@uo.com for all issues pertaining to in-game suspensions and terminations.
  • uobilling@uo.com for account related questions.
  • the MyUO Forums for suggestions and game ideas.
2). Requires more information
The staff member responds to the concern with a request for more information regarding the issue. We will only act on emails that provide the account name that interacted with the Support Representative.
3). Resolution of the Situation
The email is considered valid, and the customer is contacted with notification of the resolution of the situation.
What constitutes a valid UO Concerns email?

We will only review emails that are submitted with the login name of the account involved in the Customer Service interaction. If a player refuses to provide their account name, the email will not be considered valid. Requiring a player to submit their account name allows us to more thoroughly research the issue.

Important information that should be included:
  • The account name (EA employees will never ask for passwords) of the account you used when interacting with a GM.
  • Date, Time, and Shard where the incident took place.
  • An explanation of the reason why you called a GM.
  • What type of service you received, and what GM took your call.
  • The type of resolution you would have preferred.
  • Any additional information that is relevant to the situation.
All valid emails will be noted in the player’s account history, with the submitted feedback as well as the reviewing staff member’s findings.

It’s important to us to see that our level of commitment to our players is high, and that our customers feel their concerns are heard. We hope that these changes will work to show our commitment to the Ultima Online playerbase and community.
Hanse –
Here’s the breakdown for the spawn changes in the last year…

The dungeons had vermin in them that was driving many players batty. Many dungeons simply were not visited due to the overwhelming amounts of vermin (rats, snakes, slimes, etc).

So, we decided to revamp all the dungeons to strengthen their themes or change them totally. While fixing the dungeons, we found many bugs that needed to be addressed so that spawning could continue to be efficient, predictable (from a programming standpoint), fun, not overspawned, etc.

The problem was that the fixes caused overspawning in the entire world outside the dungeons. Our caculations were correct for most of the dungeons, but not for the overland. Players complained they were getting mobbed by too many creatures at their houses. This was caused by a problem with the spawner itself and the creature groupings for spawns.

We then modified the spawns on the overland to reduce overspawning (some areas had over 500 creatures packed into a small strip of land). We published a new spawner that is more efficient and extensible with Ilshenar’s beta test period (hats off to FieryIce for that fix).

Now there are less creatures on the overland map, themed dungeons, predictable spawn (from a programming standpoint), fun areas to hunt at, etc…

The overland spawn does need to be looked at, but it is not a priority at this time. We fixed bugs dealing with the overland spawns this time around and added in spawn where it was turned off. This was not a detailed pass (points of interest were not focused on… broad areas were, though) of the spawn in the world.

Dev Quotes – 29th June 01 – nocturne
Hanse –
The Vendor pay cycle does not pay out per UO day. It pays itself every 8 hours of real time. This means it is roughly 3 times per 24 hours. This does not include server maintenance, so the duration your vendor will last is actually slightly longer (depending on how long the shard is down).

So, the old report was wrong. The new report on the gump is more accurate.
Hanse –
Vendor status is now on a gump and not a message. You will not need to view your journal with this change. This is on Chessy only, as of this post.
Gromm –
When you make a bola you either make it successfully or you don’t. The quality of the bola will be the same no matter who made it, so no GM mark will appear. It’s always possible that we could change that on future scenario craftables.
Calandryll –
Magic weapons add to tactics because waay back in the old days of UO, tactics modified your chance to hit. When the change was made to tactics to make it affect damage, the magic weapons weren’t updated. This is probably somehting like 2.5 years ago at this point.

As far as hitting and missing, combat hasn’t been touched in a long, long time.
Calandryll –
Some of you have reported some problems with healing yourself when wearing an orc mask after you attack a monster (other than orcs). I wasn’t able to reproduce this bug until Player Relations gathered some info and showed me how to do it. It’s fixed now and should go in with this week’s scenario publish. My thanks to the players who called in about this and to the GMs who finally tracked it down. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.
Calandryll on Bartenders
They’ll be in the first week of the next scenario. No specifc date for that yet though. More than likely, there will be a 4 week time off between the end of this scenario and the next one.
Calandryll on Bartenders, again –
Yea, apologies for the wait, but they are basically going to be the item for the first week of the next scenario. So they’ll be in the same QA plan as the rest of scenario #2. They’re actually finished as far as coding goes, with some minor tweaks still needed, but we need to get more work done on other systems before QA can start the real testing on the next scenario.
Melantus’ last post –
Thanks, everyone. :) You will hear from me again someday.

Melantus has left the building.
The following was posted by Stratics and attributed to Hanse. I can’t find the original posting. Thanks to Veramocor for pointing it out ((nice handle, btb)).
Stablemasters do not withdraw more than the initial fee for stabling a pet.

Stabling a pet is for one week ONLINE real-time (in the game… if you aren’t logged in, it doesn’t count) of playing until it is ‘let go’. In example, if you play 8 hours a week, your pet should not decay for 21 weeks real-time (over five months).

This system is not linked to house decay.

Hope that clears everything up. :)
FYI :: Publish 12 Delayed –
After the release of Publish 12 to the Chesapeake shard yesterday (June 28th), issues related to the event scenario data required that the shard be reverted to a time before the publish was released. We regret this necessity, and are working to see that this problem is solved before Publish 12 is released again.

We are currently targeting to release the publish to the Chesapeake shard early next week, and we will update the players on the schedule when we are confident that the issue has been addressed.

Although this publish does contain the eagerly awaited veteran rewards system, please remember that to ensure the system is released smoothly, we will wait until all public shards have received Publish 12 before the veteran rewards system will be activated. Once all shards are running Publish 12, and we are confident that the veteran rewards system is functioning properly, we will begin to activate veteran rewards systematically on pre-determined shards. Please note that this means that players will not be able to choose rewards immediately once the publish is received. We are working to see that this delay will be as short as possible, and we appreciate your patience.

Savage Tribal Masks – 30th June 01 – nocturne
Savage MasksGot the pics off this Japanese page.

Calandryll has verified that there are 29 colours of Savage Masks. Also, there is the normal mask and two facings of magical masks.

The masks have no known special ability.
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