Tobold's Blog
Friday, June 29, 2007
WoW players have it easy - compared to UO

One of my readers, Syncaine, started his own blog. And he starts with an interesting topic, comparing World of Warcraft with Ultima Online. Unsurprisingly in that comparison WoW turns out to be a carebear MMORPG. You might get ganked in WoW, but only on a PvP server, and then nobody will be able to loot your corpse. Pffft! Where is the challenge in that? :)

While the description of UO as "it was just an open world with basically no rules. You had no levels, no quests, no instances, just a bunch of forests and mountains with a few towns to explore and make of it what you would" kind of misses mentioning the skill system, which was UO's version of "leveling", Syncaine otherwise has a point. Modern MMORPGs are a lot more user friendly and accessible than Ultima Online. Or Everquest, if you want another comparison. But then, a lot more players play these modern accessible games than did play the old hardcore games. Though part of that might have to do with technology: I first played UO on dial-up, and with local calls not being free here in Europe that landed me with a $500 telephone bill for my first month. :)
Let all the player killers whine for the good old days, but the days of unrestricted pvp in mmorpgs is over.

Naturally, I'm all just tied up and hurt inside that some guy on the other side of the internet is calling me a care bear, because I prefer to play on blue servers.
Haha yes I know the days of open PvP are long gone, even as an option. I guess what I was trying to say was, in UO, its was NOT an option. The idea of a 'pvp server' did not exist. It was just part of the game, until EA decided to try to compete with EQ and added a non-pvp side, which lead to the term carebear.

It was just one example of how MMOs have changed. People now complain that raiders use raiding gear in pvp. That kind of complaint back then would have been laughed at.

Back then I was on the 'red' side, now I'm firmly on the 'blue' side. Guess the player along with the game evolve.
Strange... I used to be on the blue side(well green to be exact, rp) and now I moved to the red. After having nothing to do but raid and go to battlegrounds for so long it's actually fun to kill or get killed while questing and farming, makes grinding less boring. And if someone from the other faction tries to steal a nod from me I can always bash him.

Sure I get ganked and camped but in the end it's much more exciting this way.
I played UO during its beta and early release, and what I remember most was astonishment on the part of people like PKers were out there. I honestly and passionately wanted a game where PVP could happen (and picking pockets, and so on) for what I was convinced would be emergent storytelling. Having played a few single-player CRPGs before, I figured UO would just be a chance for lots of players to get together and roleplay.

In fact, I even remember some of the early marketing material talking about how one could work to acquire a boat, then make money ferrying players around. I believed in that vision.

Of course, the PKiller phenomenon has been discussed to death, but this post reminds me of the idealism I and many others had when the UO world simulator seemed to hold so much promise. And the disappointment I felt when the few PKillers really did ruin it for everyone.

I guess it's not really a "gamist" point of view, but if I could have UO without the griefing, I'd choose it in a second. For what I want out of an MMORPG--a world simulation suited to emergent, collaborative storytelling--nothing else has come close.
One of the many differences between UO (old school as now is more carebear UO too) and the so called modern MMO's....

It's that players tended to moderate language a lot more than now. I mean that at the time if someone was going to say something bad, you could eventually kill you. Or at the same point nobody would say "I'll kill you" as easyly is used nowadays. That's because at the time the threat could be also real. With one of the two being killed and looted.

Now in chat you can see people threating eachother... but is like dogs kept away with leash. They bark and pull but at sametime they know that nothing can happen
"It was just one example of how MMOs have changed. People now complain that raiders use raiding gear in pvp. That kind of complaint back then would have been laughed at."

I remember playing EQ PvP on Sullon Zek for years, and the ONLY reason to raid was to gear FOR PvP - so I agree, that argument is laughable.
I wouldn't say the days of open PvP are "over". You'll still see open PvP and other off-the-wall "hardcore" mechanics like that in the rising crop of Indie MMOs we'll see coming out in the next few years and thereafter.

If there are interested players, someone will make it.
But how much interest is there? It was accepted in UO simply because people did not know better, and had nothing else to compare it to.

Another influencing factor is that griefers need someone to grief. If everyone in the world is a hardcore pvp type, no one is a walking target. Many of the players in early UO were not looking for a good challenge, but a quick kill and some easy loot. Take that away, and away go the griefers.
Open pvp adds more gameplay beyond "beating the game". You reach the level cap in the game, then what? (typically reroll or quit) Now at least you can use the char you already invested some time/effort into towards something beyond killing mobs and finishing quests. The char becomes a trophy you can beat someone over the head it.

PKing offered sort of a direct route to the endgame as you can play the alternate role in the game. On top of mobs/quests now other playrs need to worry about playerkillers as well, It does add some extra emotion to the game as playerkillers are not some 1010001000100110101 mob that acts the same way each time you see it. There is randomness and often a chance to use some some higher intellect social skills (politics and guilds) to add another layer to the gameplay.

With all that being said, pvp/pk gameplay does have its downsides... as it often has a very quickly changing face as classes get rebalanced, gear gets rebalanced, events happen that alter the power of your char in the atmosphere of pvp and you need to adjust to these change quickly or be calleda ZOMGNOOB. New players and fresh players and casual players often do not like this sort of pace and dont care about the style of gameplay enough to enjoy it, and unfortunately in the videogameland they will get called Carebear for it... even tho the term "carebear" is quite prejudice in a meaningless way.

As tobold pointed out a few times, pvp and pve in the same game creates difficulties. My own personal preference leans more towarsd the games with player vs player interaction and less mob killing and questing... Which is why I play guild wars i think instead of playing papermario.
I think the next big MMO will have to make it even easier than WoW. LOTRo already shows some of this. Downtime is much less than in WoW due to the way health/mana regens work, you don't have to go to an Inn to get rested bonus. Stuff like that.
The problem with PVP.... most people have no honor. If there was a PVP game that had a forced system of honor, no one would play it. If you are able to, for instance, only attack someone within one level of yourself, most (and by most I mean 90% of PVP players) won't play it because the ability to be an asshole has been taken away from them and they can function no other way. It's a sad fact of human nature. I don't see the fun in a game where the only way to succeed is to be part of a roving gang of people too cowardly to attack someone that might actually be able to beat them. That's why my PVP experiences have been very short-lived. No tolerance for cowardly assholes.
Re. the first comment made, the funny thing is that in old school/hamer theory worlds, like the MUD Dev forums, they're still talking about things like perma-death as though these features are still credible. I'm sure free-roaming PK is another topic for fervent debate.

I don't mind the ganking so much, after all I'm on a PvP server what did I expect, but consistent corpse camping should be punished in some way without a doubt.
Old school UO, as much fun as it was, was nothing more than an exploiters paradise. Most notorious PKs were just really good exploiters.

Instead of fixing the problems, UO released Trammel to sidestep them.
On MUDs, interestingly a lot (most?) MUDs had no PVP at all. At least the ones I remember didn't. So historically MMOs started off carebear if you look at it like that...
I left UO after about 4 months due to the PKers. They would camp bridges by newbie towns, kill the newbs and steal the gear. It got old after awhile.
Yeah.. I've lived in the bridge camping era of UO... sometimes I would trick one close to town to call the guards on him and loot him but yeah.. I couldn't get out of towns. It was so bad I couldn't play the game.

Strangely enough I think WoW pvp servers struck a fine balance. The no rewards for ganking discourage griefers and allow low level players to accomplish something while keeping it dangerous. I can assure you that if you got a few silver each time you killed another player we would see hunters farm players...

I'll be honest, I'm the first one in WoW not to play fair at PvP. I hide and attack when someone is low on health or fighting mobs. I have no compulsion about fearing in mobs or similar devices and I'll hapily slaugther someone 50 levels lower than me if I cross one. I don't corpse camp because there's nothing to gain from it.. not because it's immoral. And if I meet someone capable of beating me I'll bow and smile hoping he's more carebear than I am.

And I don't think that makes me a bad personn. I play by the rules, don't use exploits and I do so on a server made for PvP. To me I'm using the system as best as I can and I'm doing so with other people who agreed to the same rules that I do.

Those who say they want a game where hard pvp exist already have a ton of choice. No need for more.
The problem with PVP.... most people have no honor.

The funny thing is how many people are still angry at UO for introducing Trammel, the non-PvP mirror image world. It is not as if UO suddenly removed PvP or something. PvP was still there, worked exactly as it did before. Only the defenseless victims had left to Trammel, and the only people left to fight were those that *wanted* to fight you. "Oh no, I can't gank any more, I can only do fair fights! PvP is ruined!"

That was also the moment that open PvP died, because inadvertedly UO had allowed people to vote. And about 90% of them voted for the non-PvP half, with only 10% staying on the PvP half, in spite of it being a perfect mirror image, and often actually easier to play on, due to less players competing for the same stuff.
The problem was, that Felucca was basically empty except for some roaming pks that could just find other pks...

But free, unrestricted, full-loot PvP is about to return!

In some months Darkfall-Online ( Beta will start and will be the place to be for every oldschool UO/Shadowbane/Asherods Call-PvPer...

Here a good Fan-Clip about what Darkfall will be offering: (Youtube Version:

Its all about recreating the freedom and realism all MMORPGs lost since UOs early days...

Links: offical site german fansite with highlights and gallery containing every media ever released in connection with darkfall
"Oh no, I can't gank any more, I can only do fair fights! PvP is ruined!"

Nailed it!

But by then it was too late, thousands had migrated to EQ and Koster's stubborn refusal to address the problem gave SOE the foot in the door they needed, and the rest is history.

Oh, and whenever pve has to be balanced against pvp, the pve is going to suffer.
My first PvP experiences were with Meridian 59 over 10 years ago now...that game allowed PvP after level 10 but then it was as much about your connection speed to the Internet than anything else. PvP acts were quick affairs but the loot dropped by a dead character was able to be collected by any player & so friends/foes alike could collect your items.

I do miss this from present MMORPGs ...decay is one thing but item drops from players are something that I feel are sorely missed.
After 10 years UO still gets such strong responses (for or against) from the gaming community. I think that is a great testimony to the UO experience.

UO (UO:R) had a "Wild West" feel to it that gave me some of the best MMO memories. I truly enjoyed the game as a whole. Though I never became a PKer nor a thief and while you could argue that those people were "greifers" I still miss those days.

You really felt like you could have an impact on the gaming world. You felt a sense of responsibility toward your character and the game.

If a naked person was standing next to you at the bank get ready to gank him or calls guards because he was trying to steal from you. If you went to the Brit Graveyard prepare for PKs. If you wanted to go PK hunting then head on over to the Cross Roads.

I feel that UO helped to make more mature players. One time I remember that while a guild mate was out hunting he came across some players who started talking trash for no reason, which happens in many online games. They even killed and looted the creatures we were fighting. However, instead of walking away he opened a gate for me to back him up. At this time there were 3 of them and the two of us. They too opened a gate and brought 2 more guys in. So we called another member that was online, which was by no means a PvPer since we were not a PvP guild.

Now it was 3 vs 5 not in our favor. But our guild mate that was being harassed (perhaps you could even call it being "griefed") walked right up to them as I back him up with my best poker face. They had no idea how strong I was or even if I was a good PvPer. After several moments of summoning multiple demons and while they failed their summoning spells they started to change their attitude from greifing to, "hey it is no big deal" and they all left.

And I bet that they didn't grief people as much after that.

One final thing, many of the now automated things in MMOs were handled by players in UO. If something was lacking players banded together and created it. Quests, PvP tourneys, massive guild wars, and vendor malls. UO also made the character the star not the gear they wore nor items they had or what levels they had reached.

UO:R was an amazing game. I image this wont be the last time that people passionately talk about UO. Whether you hated it or loved it UO will never be forgotten :)
I loved UO pre-trammel, and did indeed leave soon after Trammel was introduced.

But I wasnt a pker, far from it I was in a guild that was r/p orientated and also went out of their way to kill pk if they infringed on our town.

The thrill of open pvp was a fantastic, even being pk'd on my first day in the game was a good experience (for me) within the game.

The introduction of Trammel ruined the game for me as a non-pker person, as the thrill had been removed, and ever since I still play mostly on pvp servers in my MMORGs for that unknown factor, even at the detriment to playing with those who I class as my main guildies (ORC).

But by then it was too late, thousands had migrated to EQ and Koster's stubborn refusal to address the problem

Well, now, actually, I worked to address it quite a lot. We wouldn't have gone through three revisions of systems like reputation and notoriety if we weren't trying to address it, after all. So the issue was more that the solutions we tried were not effective enough.

The goal was to try to curtail the PKing while still allowing scope for all that stuff that to this day surfaces in stories about UO.

Ironically, where WoW ended up is REALLY similar. The PvP flagging that occurs there is almost identical to what was going on in UO in 1998. The big differences are clear lines between sides, stronger geographical partitioning, and the removal of cross-side chat. But the rest of the mechanics are almost identical. In fact what WoW calls a PvE server is what EQ would have called a PvP server...
I've played around 20+ MMORPG's (I've lost count). The only MMO that I still play, other than WoW, is Ultima Online.

I tell stories from my UO days to some current WoW players and they're amazed that things like that could happen in a game world.

Our guild once infiltrated another enemy guild during one of their events and we all carried explosion potions. As soon as the event began we started throwing the potions and killed everyone, including us!

I remember leaving out poisoned food and waiting & watching for someone to walk up and eat, but I would usually cure the person, unlike others.

I would use communication crystals to bug people's homes and listen to their conversations.

Once I tamed and released a dragon in an enemy guild house and blocked the door with deadly poisoned boxes filled with heavy ore (unable to move, or open).

I used to ask someone to heal me, then I would steal their wep as it unequipped during a heal and I was able to take it from their bag - although I was bad as a thief and the person usually killed me, but it was still fun!

I remember when I purchased the smallest house in the game for a TON of money for it's player city location. I couldn't even get inside my house because it was constantly camped with PKs. The day I sold it I told the buyer it was a "safe neighborhood with family values" ^^

As a previous commenter said, the features UO didn't have were implemented by players. If a murderer killed you there was nothing stopping you (except your own social skills) from making friends and going back with more people to kill the PK.

I don't mind those who don't like full-loot open PvP, to each their own I say, but there's a ton of games for this type of player and not enough with full-loot.

I hope Darkfall Online lives up to the hype...
Diablo on-line was full of pkers waiting to steal all your hard-earned loot.
In general I hate the thought of some 12 year old or social misfit camping my corpse, simply to get some feeling of superiority over me.
I will stay a care bear.
I'm surprised no one is mentioning Eve Online. Maybe it's just because the setting is so different that it doesn't appeal to people the same way an open-PvP fantasy setting would. But Eve's got all the old emergent gameplay that occurred in UO pre-Trammel. You absolutely need to have friends in space.

I think Mythic has managed PvP the best since UO. In DAOC, PvP mattered. It was a group activity because your success or failure in PvP as a realm had ramifications for everyone in the realm. Granted, you could spend your life PvE'ing, but over time I saw even lifelong carebears coming out to defend the realm in times of dire need.

I'm hopeful that WAR is similarly balanced...but that's still certainly not like Eve in 0.0 space or the old UO days. I do think we'll see successful open PvP fantasy worlds again, though. As the market grows, the niches will grow larger. If Eve Online could survive for years with 100k subscribers, some other smart development house will figure out a way to make a great open PvP world, and how to succeed financially in that niche.
""But by then it was too late, thousands had migrated to EQ and Koster's stubborn refusal to address the problem"

"Well, now, actually, I worked to address it quite a lot. We wouldn't have gone through three revisions of systems like reputation and notoriety if we weren't trying to address it, after all. So the issue was more that the solutions we tried were not effective enough."

No kidding Raph, really?

I played UO from mid-1998 until the Everquest beta was over. Once EQ went live, I was gone. Why? For the same reasons several folks have already pointed out: your original design put people who wanted to Fantasy Role Play (or just plain Dungeon Delve) in with people who got their jollies from ruining the game for others. Now I *still* here old UO PKers complain about how Trammell ruined UO or how the Carebears ruined UO.

Not to say anything that Lum the Mad hasn't already said, but it was the PKers that ruined UO for themselves. And you, Designer Dragon, didn't wise up fast enough to keep your virtual world from being trampled by these idiots.

Why you didn't I'll never know. All you had to do was go down into the dungeons. PK gangs made roaving patrols of all dungeons constanly, using Mark and Recall. You couldn't spend 15 minutes in a dungeon without having a gang of eight morons come treat you like you were a walking Seven-11 store. Those Anti-PKers who actually *tried* to stop them couldn't because the PKers just Recalled away.

Fact of the matter is that unrestricted PvP and the idea of player policing is dead, and it's the old UO PKers who killed it. And they sit around and whine about it still, like this guy:

"Here we are, a site devoted to hardcore PKing and PvP, stuck in the world of carebears and EQ clones. I won't bore you with rants about WoW since I've already done it once and most of you were probably so apathetic about the topic that you skimmed it at best and the few who didn't most likely skipped it altogether. So here's the issue; what the fuck are we to play? I'm a hardcore gamer, the kind that lives in his parents house, doesn't have a job and spends 12+ hours a day playing online games(you may laugh, but when you get on after a hard days work and break your keyboard because some asshole keeps killing you over and over.... that's me) and I'm completly lost. I try every single game that I can get my grubby little hands on looking for another UO or AC much like everyone else but the MMO market is now catering to the carebear crowd(I would too for a couple billion a month) which leaves poor sadistic fucks like you and I searching, hoping and spending more in activation fees then monthly ones, for the messiah of online gaming to appear."

Yeah, it's still a fact. 90%+ of the people who play MMORPG's don't feel like getting "raped" by basement dwelling losers.
ultima is probably still the best mmorpg out there. i played wow but i got sick of doing the same 3 quests over and over. Kill/talk to some guy 3 days away(btw sorry mate you have to run) wait, were there only 2? oh no gathering also, less fun than killing. without the levels in wow that take forever the game is nothing... the pvp in uo was content and if you didnt like it that was the point :P. become the aggressor and steal somones regs. give me a horse and my pants and im ready to fight
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