|Player Profile: Dragons of The Syndicate|
Peaches:1. Hi , lets first start our interview off with your first real name and which state you live in?
Dragons: My real name is Sean and I live in the Washington DC area.
Peaches: 2. How long have you played Ultima Oline. How did you hear of this vitural world? Did you have a history with any of the Ultima serires? Or any other games?
Dragons: I have been involved with UO since the pre-alpha test. In that test there were only a small number of us and UO wasnt anything like what it is today. It was a technology test to prove they could make the game. You gained levels. Only Britain and the immediate area around it was open to adventure in. You fought orcs and skeletons. And the guards could kill them for you and you could loot them. UO has come a long way since that time. I have played all of the single player UO games dating back to the days when a Commodore 64 was the "hot" computer to have and a 300baud modem, that you could trick to go 450baud was the "high speed" connection of the day. I, and my guild The Syndicate also have a solid Everquest presence. We dominated the Shadowbane beta but chose not to play the final as we felt the game wasnt sufficiently complete to meet our needs as veteran gamers. And we are beta testing other future MMORPGs currently.
Peaches: 3. I notice you're in a guild, can you give us information about this guild? How long has it been in existance, and what are the goals of this guild?
Dragons: I am the guildmaster of The Syndicate which is the oldest and largest UO guild. We currently have about 525+ adult (average guild age is 29.2years) members of the guild spread across UO's Atlantic shard, EQ's Tarew Marr server and in our beta testing team. The Syndicate has existed since early 1996. We are a team focused and friend focused guild who seeks to have a good time. We are not solely about any one game and our values and the way we measure our success is not tied to any specific game goals. We are an online gaming community that has existed for going on 8 years that goes beyond any one game. Each year we hold a guild conference somewhere in the US where 100+ members attend, which not only is the largest single guild gathering in online gaming history, but it also demonstrates the focus of our guild is far more than any one game. We are a huge guild, with members from all over the world, but we are very unified and very team focused. We only recruit a certain type of person that shares our values and goals. They are mature, team focused, friendly, fun loving, looking for a long term guild home, motivated, hard working and with solid personal integrity. By having that focus, we can maintain a huge size but remain very loyal and very unified.
Peaches:3a. Do you prefer Trammel or Feluca? Why?
Dragons: The Syndicate has assets in both areas. Our main city of Arx Draconis (the oldest player city in all of UO, dating back to the very early days of housing) is in Felucca. Our events tower is there as well. We also participate in faction warfare off our warstone and hold many champ hunts. We also have more guild assets and lots of member housing in Trammel. We do have some members who prefer Trammel and some who prefer Felucca. I personally perfer Felucca as that is where I have lived since UO began and the added possibility that you can get pkilled while hunting adds to the game experience. However, Felucca has very little opportunity for hunting for items and gold since all of the dungeons were converted to champ spawns. Unless you wish to do a champ spawn for power scrolls, your best bet is to adventure in Tram, Ilsh or Malas to get the most bang for your time and effort. So the game design itself pushes people away from Felucca except when you wish to hunt for power scrolls or if you fight in faction warfare. In my opinion the champ areas should have been separate from existing dungeons.
Peaches:4. Now that AoS is pretty well settled, what is your favorite aspect and your least favorite aspect of AoS?
Dragons: I like the new item system in AoS. It offers many new possibilities for players and it helps give you the ability to make your character more unique. Its harder to be an expert in everything now. It forces more specialization and that in turn promotes more teamwork and grouping with friends which is a good thing, in my view. I dislike the unintended consequence of Item Insurance. While it is nice that you can insure your best items and not lose them, that option has crushed the player economy. The economy was once very robust and very vibrant but it is not nearly as strong now as it once was. There is still a market but it has shrunk and supply now outpaces demand which isnt good for the sellers in the market. Ive noticed a great many vendors closing up shop and, in a fair number of cases, leaving UO as a result and that hurts us all in the long run. I dont have a magic solution to the issue but a change in how much you an insure might be one option. Or maybe that insurance works in Felucca on all items but in Tram only certain ones stay with you, so you have the ability to lose gear and thus need new gear and thus there is a market. Every day that passes, any item less than top end gear (which is 95% or more of the items for sale) is worth less and less since once you get that top end item you just insure it and never need another.
Peaches: 5. If you had one change to make within our world, what would that change be?
Dragons: That is a tough question as there are many changes I would like to make to, in my view, keep UO vibrant and interesting for years to come. One change I would like to see would be a much larger quest system implemented. OSI recognizes that since they are launching UXO with at least 300 unique quests and many more to come. UO lacks that. Quests can be alot of fun and offer players many new adventure options and force them into lands they may not otherwise go to. Id love to see UO expand upon the few quests it has and implement NPCs all over the world with many quests that players can chose. The UXO way of implementing them (with the quest NPCs seeking you out) is very nice and would add alot of value to UO.
Peaches: 6. What is your most favorite template? And, what is your least favorite template?
Dragons: Im not a big crafting person and have never had the time or patience to work those skills up so that would probably be my least favorite. Crafters are very important but playing one from scratch isnt something that appeals to me personally. I spend many hours a day running the guild and lack the additional hours to build up such a char or maintain its vendors. I really enjoy playing a mage. Ive always had at least one mage char, even since the early UO days and that is the most entertaining template for me. Its become easier to manage one with a 100% LRC suit but that leads back to my issue with the UO economy being negatively impacted by AoS.
Peaches: 7. How do you feel about Ultima Odessy? Do you think you will give it a try?
Dragons: UXO looks like alot of fun. While the developers may or may not like this comparison, its very much like a cross between Diablo + UO + some of EQ + some quake feel. Its very easy to play. When I played it at the UXO unveiling in San Francisco, the interface was very intuitive and you were able to pick up and start playing it in not time at all. The quest system, as I discussed in an answer above, is also very nice. Its one of the strongest systems ive seen in a game to date. You can logout at any time and it remembers your place. The quest NPCs will seek you out to start them. The quests scale automatically based on if you are doing them solo or with a group. And the quest zones are instanced so its just for you or your group. I am likely to give it a try. If the game is deep enough and offers enough value to a veteran gamer guild, beyond a couple months of hack and slash, if we have the extra guild bandwidth/resources at the time of its release and if they do commit to implementing crafting and housing, we may have a branch of The Syndicate there.
Peaches: 8.What advice would you give to a new player just starting out in Ultima Online? What advice would you give to a veteran returning to this much unknown land if the last time he played was for the ren version of the game?
Dragons: New players should take full advantage of the new player quest system setup around Haven. Its fairly detailed and does get a new player going in UO and through the basics. I remember one of the first articles written on UO, after it went live, was in PC Gamer and the author was very down on UO and the social aspect of it since no one was helping anyone and as a new player he was left totally on his own. That has all been corrected with the creation of Haven and the misc newbie quests surrounding it. For veteran people coming back, if you are the kind of person who likes to moan about "oh back the day things were so much better" then dont come back. UO is a much changed game now. In many ways its much better. But in some ways it will never be the same. The old days of how pvp was, are not coming back. Get over it. PvP is primarily focused on faction warfare and some surrounding the champ spawns. Housing space is hard to find. And your old char that was a 7xGM in many unrelated skills will be at a big disadvantage now. However there are many really good things about how the game is now. Customized housing is great. The new vendor system coming is nice. The new items are super. The new skills are great. There are many new monsters and lands to explore. Its worth the time to come back if you enjoy the ULTIMA part of the game. If you wont be happy unless things have the same magic and spark as they did when UO first came out, coming back wont make you happy. When UO first came out, it was the first major game of its kind. Meridian 59 and The Realm were out but UO surpassed them in what it offered and set the standard. It was all new. How to act in a online world was new. How to interact with others was new. The concept of fighting other players was new. PvP tactics were new. Being social or anti-social was new. Its not new anymore and it never will be in any game, ever again. So you have to enjoy the game itself for what it offers to stay with it. UO has alot to offer and if you enjoy those things, UO offers you even more today than it ever did before.
Peaches: 9. What keeps you busy in Ultima Online?
Dragons: Running my guild keeps me busy. With hundreds of members there is always something to do. We have guild events or hunts all the time. Some events are formalized (like our fight nights, craftsman days, tmap hunts etc..) that take place on a set schedule. Others are pickup hunts or events that occur all the time.
Peaches: 10. How do you feel about us having the return of the event moderators?
Dragons: I personally feel its a "nonevent". UO has a flaw when it comes to OSI run events. Its a catch-22. You have events in order to offer interactive, fun things for the players to do. You want the players to come and enjoy them. BUT if you tell players when they will be and encourage them to be there, the lag is so intense the event is not fun for anyone there. So you get into a catch-22 and you end up with unannounced events that only a few people get to attend and the vast majority of the gaming world is left out of them and that breeds resentment. The EM system is a nonissue and wont affect most gamers lives at all. In my opinion, they should explore adding in dozens of different quests, that are NPC driven, that take place all over the world, and that players can trigger and do any time they want. The quests can be complex ones with big spawns too. You can have those that need a group (or several groups) to win because when you trigger it, an orc invasion army sweeps in and you have to defeat them, for example. The quests would be all over the world... running 24x7... and players chose when to do them. Thus, you spread the lag over all subservers and all hours of the day and everyone can participate. A lesson could also be taken from EQs recent expansion in that as players win quests you could award them points. Save up points and you can buy special items from special vendors. Those could maybe be a scroll that has a 1 time use that can add something to a current magic item (like +20% fire resist or +5% more damage) or rare items or powerful magic items that get better with the more points you have to spend. The EMs can only be in so many places at once. Players love quests and want to be there. But if players show up, the event grinds to a halt. So another solution is needed. I hope OSI will consider a quest type solution at some point similar to what I described above. Its scaleable and solves the timing issues.. the lag issues.. the setup issues.. and lets all players participate