I'll introduce myself by stating what the heck my job title means. I am the Development Manager for Ultima Online. Hold on a minute, that kind of just caught up to me. No pressure. This means that server crashes, staffing the team, schedule decisions, prioritizing bug fixes, squelching rumors, and emanating a general sense of well-being are well within my responsibilities for delegation. Restated: when it's "broke" I try to figure out who is going to fix it. If it's not broken I do my best to make sure it remains that way.
Did programming once. Hated it. Did sales. Had such a sense of self-loathing I often tried to determine whether to expense gas on business reports or suck straight from the nozzle holding a cigarette. Like many who are reading this letter: I love games. All games. I am an old school Efreet-cover carrying purveyor of Dungeons and Dragons who still has d100s in a mustard yellow TSR dice bag next to my boxed copies of Privateer 2 and Crusader: No Remorse. Run on sentence complete.
From this perspective, I am more than honored to hold the torch for Ultima Online. I spent a bit of time with the group at EARS before the team transitioned to Mythic here in Fairfax. During those few weeks I learned more than a bit from the experts of Ultima Online -- I was introduced to a lot of passion for Ultima lore, and respect for the entity that is Ultima AND the Ultima Online community.
I named a rock group Smock Llama Mama once. But that's a different story all together.
I am here to break radio silence. First and foremost: by no stretch of John Cleese's imagination is Ultima Online going away. On the contrary, if you could see and smell the amount of right and left brain molecules burning between developers here, you might wonder how we could stand to work among the palpable sulfuric fumes. We have some great plans in the coming months. There are three major story arcs in the works culminating in what I can only describe for legal and marketing reasons as an "Epic Event" coming this Spring ... Applying my First Rule of Molyneux, make that late Spring.
The first of said events will literally incorporate showing a little love to the players. Well a lot of love to the players. Our lead designer spends way too much time studying chocolate. So if you have an endorphin deficit, the Valentine's Day Event is for you. Next, the Mad Mage will finally make his way into Britannia. Look for the sightings of general mayhem and schizophrenia some time late March. I'm sure you'd like to know more. I would like to tell you more, however already understanding that these few words have obligated me to several years spinning straw into gold for a wee man, I'll hold off on any other announcements.
In addition, we are taking a bit of course correction from Jeremy on prioritizing our feature list. You should know that we have been working pretty steadily on answering the mail for both live events and several major systems the community is clamoring for. Understand we are by no means idle, and against all sanctioned methods of scope and project planning, we are doing a bit of parallel engineering. Do not try this at home without a certified project lead.
In closing, please stay tuned. We have some amazing, well-scoped, and thoroughly achievable plans - a lot of them silly, most well-intentioned, but all of them passionate about the continued evolution of the Ultima universe. The most important thing to remember is the team now dedicated to Ultima Online is growing and so thrilled about what's to come ... your best chance for survival is a +5 Helmet of Endurance ... and your seatbelts.