Ultima Online Retrospective

While it's maybe a little misleading to call this article a retrospective, as the author took time to dive back in the present version of Ultima Online, it's still worth reading, even with the admission on the part of the writer of the difficulties of writing about such a seminal MMO. Here's a snip:
By that point, I was already rolling with my new character anyway. For some time now, there have been newbie-styled quests in New Haven, an area that is made for new players. Strangely enough, I did not start out in the newbie area when my character was first logged in, and I had to open a menu and ask to be teleported to the newbie place. How would a new player figure this out? Accidentally, I suppose. The NPCs in the area holler at you and hand out basic quests that help players understand how to play, but they're bare-bones for sure. Ultima is still very much a game of unknowns when you first start. This might have been frustrating when we started all those years back, but honestly I can only remember being so engaged in even being on the internet that I'm sure I was fine with trying to figure things out.

Veteran players come by the newbie area and throw down newbie gear, and a horse named Moneybags appeared at one point and seemed to poop out million-gold checks near by me. I grabbed two of them before he disappeared. What was he? Was he player-controlled somehow? Was he a GM in disguise? Either way, I suddenly had two million gold to run around with. I bought a horse, trained as much as I could, bought some equipment, and started murdering local wildlife.

Ultima is still fun in a lot of ways. It will run on any device, so it's great for late night netbook gaming sessions in bed. It was fun even on the touchscreen of my netbook! The "enhanced" client is basically a slightly beefed-up version of the classic client, offering better UI enhancements and a more adjustable gaming experience. I used the enhanced client on my notebook and gaming PC and the classic game on my netbook. I like that the developers did not take away the basic feel of Ultima with the enhanced client, although they did go through a few versions if I remember correctly.

It's worth noting that in his Facebook letter, written to explain his plans on his upcoming "Ultimate RPG", Richard Garriott explained why he didn't like the direction the title has taken in recent years:
Since I am no longer at the helm of UO, let's look at where it has gone in my absence. Elves and ninjas have been added into the game, things I specifically had banned. This is only a small example of why and how Ultima has drifted away from Richard Garriott, but I have not drifted away from Ultima. Overused, irrelevant & reused RPG elements are not the essence of my Ultimate RPG.

Food for thought.