Since there won't be an Ultima Online "Five on Friday" Q&A this week, EA's Calvin Crowner has stepped in to provide us with a development update on Stygian Abyss and to ensure players that the development team is still in place despite the company's announced layoffs.
For the record what I am about to write is (so not my gig), but I'll endeavor to push through it.
I wanted to pass on that with the recent announcement of earning from Electronic Arts that the Ultima Online team is still intact and still pressing forward on both the Stygian Abyss Expansion, and supporting the Live Game. In addition, we are still moving forward with the Event Moderator Program. I know it's been a long time coming, but as you may have read we're going through more than a bit from our side these days. For us, the team is actually having a great time coming up with diabolical ways to engage you for the foreseeable millennium, or until 2012 when the Mayan calendar says everything will end whichever comes first.
We're preparing both the New UO client and the first completely playable level to internal testers next week. We are also planning how we want to run beta internally and externally, and as soon as we have a complete answer on it all, we'll inform you as well.
About Event Moderators: there has been a lot of speculation on how we chose who we chose, why some were selected and others were passed over. I can tell you this: we read for content before we read names. There was no favoritism in any part of the team, and I can say there was a bit of common sense in selecting who went to which shards. We also selected a mixed team of experienced members, and not-so experienced members. We eliminated anyone who had legitimate marks on their accounts, or anyone who had (great intentions) but no event experience at all. In short we picked an initial team that would best serve the community, and whose applications seemed to have the community's best interest in mind.
We will continue to grow, adjust, and evolve the EM program as we go. We have kept everyone's applications on file, and have a backup list of Event Moderator contributors. Some EMs may not be able to fulfill their duties so we will be selecting from the initial batch for anyone who is not able to commit as they planned. Life happens.
Finally, we've been tracking the latency issues since their inception. We tested the impact of the Invasion and other associated events in game and found none of the additional content impacted lag. We're constantly following up with trace routes that some players have contributed and our World Wide IT team is in contact with the external carrier we think may be the key to the problem. The more data we have the better, so have your friends create an account and send us all the information you have. Wink.
I sincerely hope this answers a few questions or concerns. Now, I have to go help Leurocian figure out how Baby Bach really can be used as an educational tool, and why puppets should be a new system in UO.