This brief introduction is specifically directed at everyone at PA who jumped on board for IPY 2.0 a little more than a year ago: Man, that sucked. At least I thought it did. IPY was a whole lot of decent to good ideas that suffered from massive execution problems, and then around a year of complete denial from staff. It certainly wasn't the return to UO I hoped for. It was a long, hard grind to even get to the stuff that makes UO enjoyable, and most of us never made it there. The combination of absurdly slow skill gain and a bunch of PvP systems that basically forced players into mutually exclusive boxes made it one of the most profoundly anti-social MMO experiences I've ever had.
This new shard is being made by a bunch of people who were pointing all of this stuff out way back in IPY Beta. I think they've done a really good job of synthesizing what made other shards great, while cutting out the downside. Skill gain is going to be fast. Cheating is going to be curbed. And there is going to be a lot of fun to be had. I hope some of you guys give it another shot.
Rel Por is an independently developed, free Ultima Online server that launches later this month (July 2012)
About Ultima Online
Rel Por website
What is Ultima Online?
For those of you not familiar with the game, it is one of the grandfathers of the MMO genre. It launched in the late 90s, and continues to exist in commercial today, albeit in a form unrecognizable to players of the original game.
UO is remembered most for it's early years, which were characterized by total player freedom (some would say chaos). Murderers were rampant, thieves littered the streets, and looting victims for everything they had was a lucrative occuptation.
Richard Garriot, the creator of UO, was PKed himself during beta.
At this same time, this risk bred a truly unique player community. Players created towns of their own, and found ways to enforce justice themselves. Ultimately, this was not enough for the developers, and they created a non-pvp facet, taking most of the risk out of the game (The UO: Renaissance expansion).
What is Rel Por?
Rel Por is a new, fresh take on "classic era" UO. The core elements of oldschool UO are intact: PKs, thieves, tank-mage templates. But there's also a whole body of new material to fix the things about UO that are broken or don't hold up in 2012. You can check out more elaborate descriptions of those features at the Rel Por site, but I'll provide a brief explanation here.
I've always been skeptical of custom maps on UO shards, but I really think this one works. Let's be honest: the standard Britannia map is just too big for a game with niche appeal in 2012. UO is no fun if you never run into other players outside of hot-spots or dungeons-- one of the most quintessentially awesome MMO experiences is running into a fellow traveler in the middle of no where. This custom map is no panacea, don't get me wrong. But it does structure housing in such a way where the majority of plots are right on the road. Combine that with a faction system that necessitates traveling by foot (described below), and you're bound to have a world where running into random people on the road is commonplace again.
I know they're doing a lot with crafting and I haven't followed most of it, but I will mention this one feature. They are making it so magic weapons no longer drop as loot. Rather, "artifacts" with traditional magic weapon properties drop (e.g., artifact of vanquishing), which then must be applied to the weapon by a crafter with sufficient skill.
There are a whole slue of combat changes that I won't bother reproducing in full on here-- just check out the website. In short for people who care about this kind of stuff, they're incorporating a lot of UO:R-esque mage rules to increase template diversity and they've come up with some entirely new things altogether for warriors to make them more fun in PvP.
Towns, Politics, and Ministers
Anyone who played IPY will be familiar with this concept. Rel Por is essentially taking the Town/King system from IPY and toning it down. Players can become citizens of several different towns, and each citizenship--depending on the town's military power-- will carry certain bonuses (for all players, not just members of the militia).
Citizens may elect their town's Minister, who has the power to choose which bonuses the town offers, the guard level (e.g., some towns may permit murderers to roam free, others may instruct NPC guards to kill them on sight), and appoint the commander of the town's militia. The Minister's abilities are summarized here
. Unlike IPY, there are no "town treasuries" and taxation. While the idea was cool, it essentially became purely a means of exploitation.
Each town has a militia that is in perpetual war with all other towns. Membership in the militia makes you "orange" (and therefore freely attackable) to enemy militia members. There's a lot to this system, so I won't bother going into super detail here, but definitely check out the website.
The core mechanic is this:
each town has a stronghold where their NPC hero resides. Militias gain silver (which can be used for various town benefits) by capturing enemy militias' heroes, which they can do by essentially sieging the enemy stronghold. Now, here's the cool part. Capturing a hero requires physically escorting the hero to your town's stronghold (i.e., no gating there). So essentially, breaking into the enemy stronghold is the easy part-- you have to then fight your way back to your hometown on foot. It's basically capture the flag.
Bounty boards are back!
Revamped, of course. Bounty hunters can collect a reward and impose temporary
statloss on murderers by turning in their severed heads. They've made some tweaks to reduce the incentive of exploitation (e.g., reds killing themselves to collect the bounty). It seems like it will be enough of a stick to stop senseless griefing, but it won't be a deterrent to virtually any red activity like Paladins were on IPY.
SO IN SUM . . .
Hopefully IPY didn't ruin everyone's itch for UO, and a few of you give this shard a shot. Like last time, I'll be playing with a few friends. But I'd be more than willing to get together with some PA people and start a guild or just help each other out. There was a period on IPY where we were having some really good times. Anyone remember that war we got into with those Justice and Liberty guys who lived next door to us outside of Cove? That was hilarious. IPY was just way too much of a time commitment to be enjoyable. This shard, from my experience, has been expressly designed to correct that problem. I'll post more details when a launch date is officially announced, but until then, check out the website and forums
LAUNCHES END OF JULY 2012