Friday, May 6, 2016

New Guild forms on Rel Por: Black Gate [BG]
Name: The name is from Ultima lore - info on that here:
Aims: Build a new guild to fill the current gap on this shard. There's a real dearth of guilds offering a home to players, both new and experienced. It also means lack of competition and boredom for the few guilds that are here. I'd like to change that. Beyond that our aim is end-game content. Meaning PvP and dungeon bosses. We will seek to control one of the open dungeons at a time. Control will mean we farm it, and others farm it at our discretion. This will mean we'll probably end up with red chars, although we won't specifically be PKing outside of controlling our dungeon/territory. 
Entry requirements: Just one - a good attitude. Be willing to learn if you're a less experienced player, and be patient if you're a more experienced player - and be prepared to put your ego aside, we're going to lose a lot until we form a solid team. 
If you're interested in joining us, get in touch with clx or Turtle in Discord, or msg me (Dreadnought) on the Rel Por forums.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

UO is what you make of it

From reading the Rel Por Discord chat, and to a lesser extent the Rel Por forums, you'd think that the shard was struggling - all you see is complaints. In reality, it's the same old story with UO. The silent majority enjoys the game and plays, the vocal minority poisons the narrative and puts off prospective players. Unfortunately the majority of these tend to come from the community I've usually been a part of - PvPers.

Just a bit of advice for you from someone that is enjoying Rel Por immensely; Having fun is down to you. I was a PvPer almost exclusively from roughly a year after I started playing (1998) until I quit OSI for the last time in 2007. Any time I've started up on a free shard, I've done it with the intention of getting into PvP - IPY, IPY2, UOSA. Learning from my mistakes on those shards where I burned out very quickly, my friends and I have decided on a different approach this time.

We're enjoying UO as a whole. For years, we PvP'd exclusively. PvE bored me to tears. I'd always rather be PvPing. I'd never had a crafter, only dabbled in things like treasure maps. We remember how much we loved UO, and a lot of the magic of the game came well before we were PvPers.

We've decided that here we're going to recapture that magic, and we want to be a part of helping the shard succeed and encouraging other players to engage fully again as well. I'm having the most fun I've had in UO since 1999, doing things I used to have contempt for. I'm looking forward to doing treasure maps, and placing our guild tower. Even GM'ing Magery.

For those of you complaining about a lack of PvP opponents - the developers can't fix it for you on their own. Whilst constructive feedback is obviously a good thing, constantly whining for changes fixes nothing, and drives people away - achieving the opposite of what you want.

Help the developers, understand it's not their primary employment - it's just a hobby for them like it is for us. In the meantime, go out and enjoy the game. Do something you haven't done before. If you've done it all, start a guild to help new players. Build a guild town. Make a hardcore PvE guild and get impossibly rich. Get out and advertise the server everywhere you can. ANYTHING would be better than what you're currently doing. You're not enjoying it, the other players aren't enjoying it. Prospective players aren't enjoying it, and the developers definitely aren't enjoying it.

We can all play a role in making Rel Por a success. Don't expect it to be done for you. Remember the developers are the ones paying for this, not you. Don't like the above options? Go do something else.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why you should play Rel Por

I've been playing Rel Por since a few days after it launched. I'm hooked on UO like I haven't been since early Siege Perilous (1999!). It's clearly the most polished, innovative and worthy UO 'free-shard' that has ever existed. They've somehow found a perfect blend of the feel of old UO, pre-Trammel UO, whilst introducing enough additional features to make it feel fresh and new. This server is special. It has recaptured all of the old magic for me. All this shard is missing is you. Here's why you should play.

1. Beautiful new world map to explore. The level of detail you see when running around in the world is absolutely stunning, a real work of art. I think it's better than on the original UO map.

The world map. You can run from Pedran in the north to Calor in the south in a few minutes on horseback

2. The travel system. The real key here is the size of the map. It's probably less than a fifth of the size of the old map of Sosaria, and only has one facet. This has the effect of concentrating the player base nicely. You can't go more than a few screens without running into other players. More than anything, this is what makes it feel like 1999 era UO. Horses can only be ridden on road tiles. Suddenly you are presented with a choice; Travel off road on foot to avoid PKs or risk using your horse to travel the main route to get there quickly. You have two blessed runes. That's it. Beyond that, you must travel around on foot or on horseback on roads. For more information, read here.

The city of Pedran

3. Dungeon rotation system. At any one time, three dungeons (out of a total of fourteen) are open to players. These dungeons stay open until such a time as a guild or group clears the dungeon, summoning a special 'Champion' (not to be confused with Champion Spawns) that must be dispatched. On the death of this champion, the victorious group can choose to close the dungeon, and open another of their choice.

Dungeon 'champ'

4. Township system. Players and groups may choose to become citizens of five of Atria's towns. These towns have a minister, elected by the players (in a similar manner as faction elections on OSI). This minister has control over a number of things, foremost of which are bonuses available to certain players, or characters types. The 'Adventurer' bonus, for example, grants all citizens of the town a gold bonus when out hunting monsters. More info here.

Town elections

5. Militia system. Citizens of townships can also choose to join the militia of their town. This gives them 'war' status with members of the nilitia of the other four towns. This is a far superior system to OSI Factions. A really clever element is that normal citizens (non militia) members of a township can choose to engage in a defense of their town's heroes (more info here) without becoming permanently engaged in the militia system.

The city of Calor

6. Murderer atonement system. UO's eternal problem. How do you create the magic of old UO, the feeling of danger, the battle between good and evil - without allowing player killing? But then when you allow player killing, all the people that don't want to be killed leave because they get killed over and over. Rel Por has had a good stab at a working system here. Whilst it is still early day, I think it has been successful so far - the PvPers of the shard are almost all involved in the militia system rather than PKing. All I've done since I started playing is PvM in the dungeons, and I've been PK'd once in that entire time.

The three types of murderer on Rel Por

7. New housing styles. When AoS released on OSI, one of the few positives most players found was the ability to build custom houses. Whilst in theory this was a fantastic feature, and some beautiful houses were created, in general what we ended up with was servers full of featureless boxes. On Rel Por they've struck something of a middle ground. You can't customise your own house, but you can build one of many pre-made, Rel Por specific custom houses, as well as the classic houses from OSI. Check them out here.
Rel Por pre-made custom house

8. Character and account limit. Players are limited to two accounts per IP, and two characters per account. Remember back before UOR released when the game had a community? When not everyone had one of every type of every character. This is what that seeks to recreate.
North of Pedran

9. Crafting improvements. This is a big one. If you want a Vanquishing weapon on Rel Por, you can't just go out and hunt monsters to get one. Instead of the magical weapons themselves dropping on the corpses of slain mobs, an 'artifact' will drop. This can then be taken to a friendly crafter to be made into the magical weapon that you desire. Crafters are suddenly a lot more important. More details here.
Artifacts ready to be made into magic weapons

10. PvP mechanics. Rel Por is primarily based on the PvP mechanics of the T2A era, considered by many to be the pinnacle of UO PvP. One complaint people do have with this era is the lack of viable templates for PvP - tank mages dominate. Here however, some UOR templates, such as poison, parry and scribe mages have been tweaked to make them competitive, eliminating the main complaint with the era. Skills such as Spirit Speak and Taste ID have been linked into Inscription and Poisoning respectively to make them useful. This is what OSI should have been doing with the game, rather than adding endless landmass after landmass.

11. Mob's live coding! This is fantastic to watch. One of the developers regularly live streams himself coding the shard. Watch here.

Dungeon Edgewich

12. The community. Rel Por is only two weeks old, but has a fantastic community already. One of the cornerstones of this is two groups of roleplaying Orcs. Both Shadowclan (Catskills and Siege Perilous) and Bloodclan (Great Lakes?) play here. There is also an active Discord channel for the server, accessible here.
West of Galven

I can't recommend strongly enough that you play here. The developers seem to have a real vision for the server, both in terms of where they want to see it go, and in future content and systems that they are readying for release. The community is growing as well. I'm excited about a game in a way that I haven't been for more than ten years. Don't be put off by the fact that UO is old, that you moved on years ago, or whatever. Fun is fun, and Rel Por is very definitely fun.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ultima Online/Shards Online - Some things never change

Yes, I'm posting again, YES, I'm excited, and YES, I'm going to type random words in caps, because it's 4am and I feel like it.

All you need is a little bit of time speaking to the developers in IRC, and you know they're onto something special here. Then you start delving a bit deeper, and the excitement really begins to build.

For starters, take a look at this:

It tells us two things;

  • 1. The creator of this screenshot mashup is something of a genius - he also happens to be in charge of Shards Online. Good sign? I think so.
  • 2. The isometric viewpoint is one of the fundamentals that made UO great. The two games that I've previously thought of as potentially the next UO - Shadowbane and Darkfall - both lacked this key feature. 

Another thing that becomes instantly apparent on looking at Shards: TEXT ABOVE A CHARACTERS HEAD. Yes it's basic, but it adds hugely to that feeling of immersion. How can having text appear in a chat box at the bottom of your screen be the way forward?

Now I'm just going to ramble about why I love everything about Shards so far.

Player housing; I might present myself as a hardcore PvPer in my UO days, but I still spent countless hours decorating my various houses on various shards. SOMETIMES I LOGGED IN AND JUST STOOD AROUND IN MY HOUSE. What that says about me I don't know, but I do know I'm not alone in such behaviour.

I also know that this feeling of ownership in the game is an important part of tying players to it. Anything attempting to replace UO can aim for nothing less than at least equaling the housing system UO offered. No game has even come close yet, it's 2014 and no game has matched a housing system in A GAME RELEASED IN 1997.

Most importantly, this housing is promised in Shards, IN THE ACTUAL GAME WORLD, not an instance. I want to find where my enemies house is. I want to stalk them there and kill them when they venture outside. I want to break in, steal all their stuff, kill their characters, cut their heads off, and post pictures of it on the forums. I also want the possibility that this could happen to me. I want a sense of danger in the world. Other people might just want to go round to their friends house for a tea party and wear hats. They probably use emotes too, the sick bastards. If they don't want me to kill them, they play on a PvE or consensual shard. Either way, Shards works for both types of player.

The developers themselves; They're making a real effort to engage with their community. Yes, I realise this is in their own best interests, and also that this will scale down as the community grows, but when you compare their attitude and accessibility to that of the developers of say, Darkfall, it really is a very refreshing change. The fact that these guys worked on UO, and can answer UO questions I've always wanted answering is something of a bonus as well!

Rulesets: They are promising 3 different types of ruleset on the official Citadel shards/clusters. PvE only, PvP (Consensual only) and PvP+. This is smart, it removes all the problems of the clash between players of different playstyles on the forums, and removes all worry from players of each type, who would otherwise potentially be withholding their interest and backing from the game because they're worried the game is too PvP friendly, or not PvP friendly enough, or whatever. People are hard to please, and this is the best approach.

Shards/Clusters: I know this is confusing a lot of people that are stumbling across the Kickstarter. Don't be confused. Put simply, a shard is a map. A cluster ties these maps together. There will be official, Citadel run clusters, and players can run their own shards, and bind them together as clusters. It's initially confusing because it's actually a completely amazing, mind blowing, unique concept. Genius, in fact. Give players the tools to constantly improve your game once you release it to them. If you look at all the amazing work done in UO player-run shards - then just imagine how much more could have been done with official support - that's the potential Shards has. Limitless, really.

I know there's a long way to go, we're not even in pre-alpha. Make no mistake though, this game has serious potential. There is absolutely no doubt that no other game can claim to be the rightful heir to Ultima Online like Shards can. Anyone trusting that Garriott knows what's he's doing and that SotA is going to be anything like UO hasn't been keeping abreast of how that game is panning out. Darkfall and Shadowbane failed for various reasons, and there is NOTHING else on the horizon - if Shards is anything like promised, there doesn't need to be. If you loved UO, you need to support this game. Pledge on the Kickstarter NOW.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shards Online!

I really didn't think I'd be posting to this blog ever again, but it appears there may be hope on the horizon for those of us still pining for the greatest game of all time, Ultima Online.

That hope is Shards Online.

Shards Online is aimed at both the ex-Neverwinter Nights community, and the ex-UO community, including those that were involved in the huge free-shard development groups based around RunUO and other emulators.

I'm genuinely incredibly excited about this game, even at the current, pre-alpha, limited information stage that we find ourselves in. I'm obviously not alone. The Kickstarter has already successfully funded, within it's first week.

What am I excited about?

Quite simply, Shards offers a community modifiable UO replacement, with infinite possibilities for player-run shards, communities and content. Imagine combining the best of UO free-shards, with the stability and support of the official servers, and mix in a bit of NWN at the same time? That's what Shards offers.

What reminds me of UO?

  • Isometric viewpoint - this is probably the main factor in recapturing that UO 'feel' - I've never been unable to understand why more games haven't tried to replicate it. For PvP especially, it just works.
  • Player housing - essential. Everything these involved. Building, designing, decorating. A place to gather. A community or guild hub. A battleground. Player and guild housing is probably the main reason UO has maintained such a loyal following for years and years. However much a player's desire to actually 'play' may wane, having their house - sometimes just to log-in and stand around in - kept them engaged.
  • Skill based, not level based. Anyone that has played UO will only have good things to say about this method of character progression, as opposed to level based games. 
  • The intended audience. All play styles are catered for, simply due to the customisable nature of the game. Currently options are PvE games with PvP bolted on as an afterthought (WoW, etc). Or PvP games that exclude almost all other player types(Darkfall, etc). Shards can attract all play styles, all player types, and put them into the same melting pot that Ultima Online did, with such success. For a game to ever emulate UO, it needs Roleplayers, Crafters, Treasure-Hunters, Thieves, PvPers, Fishermen, Animal Tamers, Explorers. Shards is aiming to capture every single one of them.

The devs have already mentioned the existence of things like server-birth rares and IDOCs, they get it!

I've also seen some very promising comments regarding PvP - and these developers have history. The lead designer was involved in establishing a player focus group for PvP improvements that I was involved in. If I remember correctly, he did this in his own time, off the clock - as PvP was never going to get looked at otherwise - we all know where the priorities lay in UO, and it wasn't with us. PvPers; I think this development team actually understands us.

I'll make some effort to post some more updates - what better way to express some of my excitement for shards as we build up for Alpha. On that note, don't miss your chance to get involved in the Kickstarter so you can join us when the fun commences.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Four months into the life of a UO free-shard

So we've been live nearly 4 months. The shard has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations. There have been some problems and incidents, but in general, we've got a well populated, bug and crash free server that is a good representation of, and improvement on, the P25 era of OSI. The population peaks at over 150 clients every evening, recently.

Our original goals were:

AoS as it should have been:

  • A working economy
  • Real community interaction
  • Working murderer system that maintains an equilibrium
  • A role for all play styles and character types
  • Balanced PvP
  • Real goals, character and player
  • Risk vs reward at the heart of everything

I think we have achieved most of those. The thing I'm happiest about is the community though. Being reunited with old friends and enemies from Europa and Drachenfels, and meeting new friends from other OSI shards, as well as the freeshard community, has been something I have enjoyed massively. The shard has become a bit of a mixing pot from people all over the UO spectrum, which is the key ingredient to a working, real community. Because of the real community, it actually feels like a real shard, something very very few player-run shards ever achieve.

So what for the future?

The focus will be:

  • Improved new player experience (Making it easier for new players to get established, and removing some of the annoying aspects of start up.
  • Paid, targeted advertisement (If it becomes affordable!)
  • Improved website and information (With a focus on player-driven guides on the FAQ forum, and a reworked, more attractive webpage)
  • Improved crafting system, perhaps borrowing some elements from later OSI systems
  • New PvM challenges & tameables
  • Finished O/C system

Feel free to throw in your thoughts about where you think the shard should head to in the future, its your shard as well.

What you can do to help? ADVERTISE! Vote on RunUO. Spread the word. Talk about Redux on other game forums, talk about Redux on places like Reddit and Something Awful. Also help build the knowledge base. GM'd a skill? Post a guide! Got some spare time? Offer to help mentor a newbie with learning the game. There are hundreds of us here and if we work together, we really can build a fantastic shard that will still be here and thriving in 5-10 years time. Imagine if OSI had taken AoS in the right direction instead of creating SE and ML? That's what we could achieve here.

548 days since the shard first existed on my home PC!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Redux webpage, boards and myUO down

Should have it fixed soon - hosting company decided to just move everything we had hosted without telling us. Nice!

Join us in IRC

Also, although the server is paid for up until April 2013, donations are always appreciated and all funds will go towards the future of this server. The plan is to build up a back up fund of roughly $2000 to cover any unexpected problems. Remember this shard is paid for almost entirely by a group of seven friends, none of which actually get to play this server. The plan is for this server to be around for years and years, but there is no way we can support it forever without the help of players.

Help us with a donation, please! Details are on the webpage (When it's back up!)