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Ultima X Odyssey Details Unveiled 9

Thanks to GameSpy for their interview with the lead developers of Ultima X: Odyssey, discussing their recently revealed PC "action-adventure, online role-playing game." As well as an in-depth dissection of the gameplay details, they discuss why the mainstream aren't flocking to MMORPGs: "They feel like the current crop of games is just very repetitive... they feel like a lost soul among billions of people. So, we're really trying to bring a single-player feel to massively multiplayer games", and also why this Unreal-engine title isn't intended to compete with their own quarter-million strong Ultima Online: "There's no reason to try to target our own game [in terms of approach/gameplay] when it's time for a new game."
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Ultima X Odyssey Details Unveiled

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  • Whereas the Minter interview was utterly worthless, this one was full of details and theories and screenshots.
  • by tessaiga ( 697968 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:35AM (#6957027)
    Hall: Another big blocking factor too is, uh, people perceive massively multiplayer games to be a major investment of time.
    I think Rick Hall hit it right on the head here. Except that it's not that people perceive MMORPGs to be a big time investment, it's that they ARE a big time investment.

    MMORPGs really only start getting fun once your character becomes high level and competitive with all the other regular players out there. For most games, this tends to involve a large time investment on the levelling treadmill. The result is that people who have large amounts of time to invest in a MMORPG are those who are already in the market, and those who just want a game they can play at a leisurely pace see this as a huge barrier to entry.

    Unlike single-player games, where even at the beginning of the game you're having fun because the challenges are typically tailored to your level so you only see enemies (and loot) which are appropriate to your level, in MMORPGs you see right off the bat the level 50 people and monsters running around doing all this much cooler stuff, while your level 1 newbie can't really do much of anything. At this point, the hardcore online gamers will put in lots of time in the boring leveling process in the hopes of rushing to level 50, while your average gamer will quickly get bored and give up. In most games, the leveling process tends to a chore (and you'll see people treating it as such) rather than a fun part of the game process. Whether this is a good or bad game design element is open to debate, but the point is that it limits the mass appeal of such games.

    Compounding this problem is the fact that, unlike most online roleplaying games, your personal skill counts for very little. For example, someone who used to play a mean game of Quake in the past decides to pick up Half-Life. It won't take them very long to develop reasonably competent gaming skills. But for MMORPGs, all that time you invested in your level 50 Blademaster for Dark Age of Camelot doesn't mean squat when you sign up for Star Wars Galaxies. So it's not even that someone can invest some time picking up a new set of gaming skills and be over the hump on the learning curve; in order to be a long-term MMORPGamer right now, it's your ability to invest time (and tolerance for leveling) that would have to change.

    Until they come up with some way to address this, the MMORPG audience will continue to be limited to a specific subset of gamers, rather than all gamers in general.

    • That's not half-bad an idea (sort of)...

      If the barrier to entry for Joe Average is the amount of time it takes to level-up *AND* that effort is required anew when you start a new game, why not change the leveling up system to be cross-game compatible?

      This isn't to say that one can just import characters from Dark Age of Camelot into Star Wars Galaxies. But, maybe one could present a character of such-n-such level, and be started off with a higher level character in the new game.

      It would require agreemen
    • I think there are a couple of things that make these problems (with MMO games) worse:

      1) the low-level characters have to deal with low-level creatures that are rather rediculous. I ran around EQ killing bats. It's a freakin bat, it's about as likely to hurt me as a rat, but it's got wings so it's harder to hit. I quit playing Hexen 2 when they sent a spider after me because it was a rediculous enemy. Somehow, after dealing with these rediculous enemies off and on in several FPS games (can we say 'killing h
  • hmmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by gtshafted ( 580114 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:56PM (#6957820)
    I'm not even sure the average person would even get to the point where they figure out there's a big time investment. Most people just want something that's plug and play. Most online games are on a PC that most average people are intimidated and scared of. This doesn't even include the cost of maintaining decent hardware just to play these games. Most people use the computer for word processing, internet surfing, mp3 playing, and not much else beyond that. It's hard to justify spending about 300 - 500 bucks in upgrades when PS2 and Xbox start at 179.99 - 199.99 - and for the most part - they're plug and play (no messing with software installation, OS configuration, patches, etc...)

    Basically I don't even think most people even bother to look at pc games in general - let alone massively multiplayer online pc games

  • ...If they manage to pull off that virtues system and make it half as cool as it sounds, I suppose I'll have to forgive them for canning Ultima Online II. I'll be interested in seeing how it affects player behavior; can a griefer still be a complete ass to others, yet be able attain Avatar status?
  • Ugh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Man In Black ( 11263 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:02AM (#6961459) Homepage
    Can someone tell EA or Origin or whoever is making these games these days to PLEASE make a new single player Ultima! I used to play Ultima 4 for hours, and aside from Ultima 8, they were all quality games. I'm definitely not buying into all of this MMORPG stuff though. They're an interesting idea, but they all look boring compared to a good game of Ultima 7, and there's no way I'm paying more than once for a game.

    Thank god we still have Exult []...

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan