ctvo 4 days ago

I remember my second day of playing UO back in 1998. I'm chopping trees and making bows in the woods on my crafting character to generate gold for my main character. I'd read to do this in a guide somewhere online. I'm moving along in the woods and I see someone who's obviously disconnected from the game (standing still, not moving) in full golden armor. We're out in the middle of nowhere so I attack them with my hatchet because 11 year old me really wanted that armor set. It takes forever to kill them, and I wasn't aware of how lucky I was since players disappear within 5 minutes of disconnecting. I must have caught the start of the disconnect. They finally die. I loot their corpse: The expected items and a house key!

I take that key and for the next few hours I tried to open the door of every single home in the area to finally find it: A small brick house in a clearing about a 10 minute run from where they died. I ICQ my friends who also only started playing and they help me loot it clean and walk back to town to bank the spoils. This was before housing transfer and managed ownership was added so losing your house key meant you lost 45k gold since it was no longer secure. Later that week I make copies of the keys and yell at the bank that I was selling a house for 20k (half off!). I managed to resell it 3 times to 3 different new owners. Once while showing it to a potential buyer, I run into the original owner who was inside the house and very confused. That's a different story though.

UO was so good that I still listen to the Stones theme sometimes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mDcGDx4QyA

  • ctvo 4 days ago

    UO had a lot of bugs related to housing:

    - Large towers in UO were expensive player owned homes that are narrow at the base, but wider on the higher floors. Some players would place them near water and the widest roof area would hang over the water. At that point in UO you could look inside a container if you were close enough to it (3 tiles?) regardless if it was inside of a building. The game does a check to see if you can remove an item from a container based on walls and other rules, so you couldn't get items out of them, only see their contents. For some reason this can-I-take-item check didn't include the Z axis when over water. My friends and I bought a boat and would sail around for hours looking for towers near the water, sail under their wings and loot them.

    - UO had items that were stackable (you could place one on top of another, and they would stack up along the Z axis). For most items that allowed you to pass through them, when you're on the same tile as the item stacked, nothing happens: Your character is standing inside of a stack of shirts for example but doesn't have their own Z axis changed. Early in the game, there was one item that didn't behave like this: fur. Players found that if you stacked fur in a certain way, you could make a ladder that would move your character's Z axis up higher and higher. They would stack enough fur to allow a character to walk on to the roof of houses and fall through to break in.

    - When you died in UO you were a ghost. Your screen turned grey and you could walk through doors and other objects, but couldn't interact with anything. When a player resurrects another player, the player being resurrected would get a prompt asking them to confirm. Early in UO, players could walk around with the prompt still on their screen. So! You find a house you wanted to break into, kill yourself, have your friend resurrect you, walk through the front door with the prompt up, once inside, confirm, and you'd be brought back to life inside the house.

    • swozey 4 days ago

      When I played the UO beta, or maybe release very early on you could enlarge your circle of transparency and literally take things out of peoples houses. Fun times.

  • forgingahead 4 days ago

    Reminds me of the Joy of Villainy, a blog site for UO criminal behaviour started by Warik: http://www.wtfman.com/oldjov/ - Click "Stories" to get the list of players and their entries.

    UO in 1998 was a special time - I love seeing threads pop up on HN because there are always interesting stories shared by players of that era.

    • ctvo 4 days ago

      I remember reading Greybeard’s writing back then. Me and my friends were the idiots the story made fun of. We were as awful as a pack of young men can be.

  • idiotsecant 4 days ago

    UO definitely had a certain magic that is impossible to recapture - it forced all kinds of different players into a single environment and made for a very rich world. The scams, random PKing, and numerous bugs were part of the charm.

    • Cthulhu_ 4 days ago

      I think for a later generation, Runescape captured that same vibe - especially since it was free to play and ran from a browser, so it could be played everywhere.

trh0awayman 5 days ago

When will someone stop caring about money and make something like this again? Surely, the spending power of people who played UO is more than insignificant, it could at least break even.

Charge $20 a month (roughly the same as $9.95 a month in 1997), focus on creating a world and MUD-level game complexity. Stand on the shoulders of giants and get in front of exploits (which were basically new at the time).

I feel like people are starving for this type of experience again, but forced to feed on the scraps (WoW and clones).

Mortal Online was one such attempt recently, but it wasn't enough of a playable world. And any time someone creates a hardcore MMO, it attracts almost only PKs (because there are so few hardcore MMOs). There needs to be a healthy mix of people, of all Bartle types.

I can't remember where I read it, but I believe Raph Koster once said something like "Nobody pays $9.95 a month to get killed repeatedly by another player". While that is true, I also don't want to pay 10 bucks a month to only win. Surely, there's a way to blend these experiences. It feels very similar to the OSR vs trad gaming schism in D&D...

  • dj_mc_merlin 4 days ago

    EVE Online is very much a sandbox like that, but quite different from everything else in theme and _definitely_ in mechanics. However it is the very definition of a Bartle's Killer game.

    I think there's a deeper link between the kind of players who play hardcore MMOs and the mechanics of the game itself beyond the lack of games in this genre. The allure of real loss/real displays of skill draws naturally competitive people. Sure, you can pubstomp in TF2 but at the end of the match, what changed? Maybe someone has a new hat. In EVE you can blow up someone's structure that took them hours of space work or real money. There's no real "risk&reward" when the risk is basically nothing, no matter how great the reward is. What kind of person is drawn to this kind of gameplay? Sociop^H^H^H^H^H^H Competitive people.

  • ineedasername 4 days ago

    >it attracts almost only PKs

    This is it really. I've tried a few such games over the years and it felt like a majority of people were just trying to get powerful enough to kill & loot other players a little under their strength and then repeat the process to bootstrap themselves higher & higher. Players that want to play that way are attracted to such games, and they inevitably drive out players who want the balance shifted a little in the other direction.

    I don't see how game design can easily shift this balance because it's more about attracting a different balance of players than in how you design the game itself.

    • trh0awayman 4 days ago

      In UO, you could spend your whole character career in towns (although there were other ways to mess with people in town). In SWG too, where Koster was also involved, there was an entire life outside of combat.

      In WoW, for example, everything revolves around combat - and any secondary skills (mining, enchanting, etc.) are support for combat, or require combat to advance.

    • runnerup 4 days ago

      > I don't see how game design can easily shift this balance

      several options, tweak values to taste:

      - Give defending players a boost/advantage against attackers until the winnable spoils are too lame to be worth the effort.

      - Let there be a magical force which returns 90% (x%) of a loser's stuff to their magic box. Therefore the winnable spoils are too lame to be worth the effort.

      - Allow "titling" of real estate and expensive personal possessions. Upon death, the title would be transferred by pre-set rules to someone specific, or in estate court to next-of-kin (respawned player). NPC Shops call the guards if they see mis-titled sales. Guards do random searches at the city gates and confiscate mistitled items. Those are then eventually returned to the next-of-kin/etc.

      - Provide an option for mutual "yes lets fight!" where no taxes/boosts/etc are applied and winner takes all/most. (maybe they could agree on custom % of spoils too).

    • bombcar 4 days ago

      It works when it's the only game in town - and everyone is playing on the server so the PK crowd is diluted, but once there are options people who don't like dying move to servers where they won't die, and the ones where PK is allowed become nothing but PKs.

  • kethinov 4 days ago

    It's not gone. If you don't like the weird settings on the official servers, you can still play on high quality free servers with healthy populations, like UO Forever. These servers tend to have more old school settings to keep the game more like it was when it launched, introducing new content more carefully.

    I agree that it's curious that newer games don't offer the sandbox model though. Instancing is so boring and UO's land ownership concept remains fairly unique.

    • trh0awayman 4 days ago

      I used to play Second Age up until around 2011. I tried to play it again during COVID, but it was pretty dead. UO Outlands looked interesting, but I don't wanna play UO exactly.

      I'd like to experience something completely new that focuses on being a world first.

      • jackstraw14 4 days ago

        You should check out UO Outlands. It's a completely redesigned world with new cities and dungeons, and multiple new progression systems for every type of player class now. Around 2100 players online during peak hours. It's really amazing and something that any fan of UO past or present should experience.

  • jahsome 5 days ago

    Albion Online is about as close as I have found to UO.

    It has its warts, but as far as full loot sandboxes go, I enjoy it more than any other I've tried.

  • simne 4 days ago

    > When will someone stop caring about money and make something like this again?

    When somebody else will pay for this.

    I participated in one uo group, we gather money, buy powerful server, paid for hosting. All this based on big enough group with positive economy.

    Exist games which cheaper than uo in terms of need server power, but they are much less fun.

  • Cthulhu_ 4 days ago

    There's a few games and communities that, I believe, create the same experiences but for a different generation.

    But first, remember Eternal September; basically it will never be like it was back then, even if it is exactly the same. See WoW Classic.

    Anyway, I think people are experiencing the same things nowadays in games like Runescape, Minecraft and Roblox, where in especially the latter two there are a number of servers offering MMO-like gameplay, including heaps of weird bugs. I wouldn't recommend them for people looking for an UO experience though. I never played any of those myself.

  • bovermyer 4 days ago

    Raph Koster's current company, Playable Worlds, is trying to build something like this now.

    • trh0awayman 4 days ago

      I've been following it, but there's almost no concrete information about it. I assumed it would be more like Roblox, or something of that nature.

clemensnk 5 days ago

That's a great anecdote. Ultima Online was mind-blowing to me when I first read about it in early 1997 and then started playing later that year. There was something magical about just being in a virtual world where other players would go around doing their thing while you did yours. Ultima Online server emulators were also what really got me hooked on programming in my teens. I'm now a CS prof working on collaborative systems.

Recently, I've started playing again. I stumbled over a project called Ruins & Riches (http://ruinsandriches.com) that's a total modification of Ultima Online in the spirit of the early Ultima games. I don't do MMOs anymore, but Ruins & Riches can easily be played alone or as a small group.

  • enlyth 5 days ago

    Which server emulators? Me and my friend did a few contributions to SphereServer back in the days.

    • clemensnk 5 days ago

      I started playing around with UOX late 90s then with a shorter-lived one called CFuse. Then I moved to POL where I did some scripting and finally RunUO where I worked on a customised server for a long time until my "great data loss of 2002" where I managed to wipe a disk containing everything I had been working on, among lots of other things :-)

      I found a nice timeline of the different server emulators here: https://www.uox3.org/history/timeline.shtml

zcam 4 days ago

I was lucky to play UO from the beta days, when a lot of unintentional "features" existed. To name a few good ones:

* monster gating. Opening a gate (portal) would allow people to travel from one place in the world to another by crossing that portal. The thing is, that also worked for NPE/monsters. So we would go to the craziest dongeons, run around to get the attention of hordes of monsters, open a gate in a tight spot and have this whole group of monster reach some place where they should never be seen. Imagine dragons, Liches & whatnot at the edge of a beginner's town for instance or worse, inside somebody's house :).

* stealing stuff from somebody in the middle of combat/duel, magic required reagents to perform spells, steal regents = win, finish the player with your bare fists.

The combat system in the early days also benefited from bugs that made it nothing short of a dance, it required to be very good at timing and sparked some complex strategies to win (spell interuption, spell pre-casting, weapon hit timing in between spells, etc etc). You could also "pretend" you were casting a specific spell while in fact another one was being invoked. Luck played very little in duels.

It's also the first mmo where team play started to be a big thing, small tight knit group of players using software like Roger Wilco (ancestor to mumble/teamspeak) handling combats against crazy odds.

It was also full of nasty stuff, accounts/houses/gold had a real world value, hacking was very easy back then and rampant.

I could go on and on about stories about Ultima, it was an incredible game at a time where massive multiplayer gaming was being defined. It had me learn how to program, learn the english language, build websites and much more.

p.s. I used to play on Chesapeake, with various guilds (WWW, AdJ, Oinland etc) if anyone from these days is around :)

  • devin 4 days ago

    I was in KoC on Chesapeake. :wave:

    • zcam 4 days ago

      The enemy =)

  • kingnothing 4 days ago

    I also used to play on Chesapeake and was pretty active in the roleplaying scene in Pax.

dosethree 4 days ago

Ultima online was the coolest. Heres one of my stories. In UO housing was at a premium. Buying a house was a big deal. But if you didnt periodically log in to refresh your house, eventually, it would start to crumble..

Since you could tell which houses were about to crumble, and crumbling means all the belongings in the house would fall to the ground and a new house could be put in its place, this was a big deal. Campers would come from all around to camp out all the falling down house. Guilds would show up. Anyways during one epic battle at a house near the coast, my buddies and I were camping out at the house to try to get some loot. Battles ensue At one point, a bunch of role players pulled up in a boat from the coast and started shooting arrows at everyone trying to camp at the house

nu11ptr 5 days ago

I have fond memories of this game. I was a thief and would sit in front of the bank, steal a bunch of gold from some poor player, and quickly deposit it into the bank BEFORE the guard could kill me. When they searched my body they found nothing.

Sorry if that was you, I was kind of a bastard, but it was fun. :-)

  • DonHopkins 5 days ago

    I remember you! Grrrr!!!

    Before they finally patched the hole, I used to enjoy running through crowds of high level monsters in dungeons to get a whole parade of them chasing me, then quickly casting a portal into the middle of town, usually next to the bank, then ducking behind the portal without going through, as the whole line of monsters walked towards me and popped through the portal and into town!

    I hope they got you. Pththth!!!

  • gubneor 5 days ago

    A lot of players did this, many had early macro programs for it. It was probably less profitable than running elder gazers or similar.

    Doing this before blessed items might have yielded good returns, but there were far more exploitable avenues in that game.

    Selling UO gold is how I bought many things in my youth.

    • Romanulus 5 days ago

      Wow, that seems early in the days of gaming to be doing that... good entrepreneurial spirit! How did you facilitate the sale IRL (and what kind of amounts were you selling)? I'm curious!

    • DonHopkins 5 days ago

      Who remembers the World of Warcraft oriented Thottbot web site, and how it pivoted to farming and selling gold, and who was involved, and what they're doing now? It's a fascinating, lurid, and twisted story, worthy of its own Connections episode by James Burke.




      WOW is extensible in Lua, and there are lots of cool, even sophisticated extensions, including Auctioneer, which analyzed and remembered histories of items and prices on the auction house, and helped you make lots of money selling items in the game.


      The Thottbot web site was an enormously useful catalog of ALL WoW items (and monster drops, weapon stats, monster spawn locations, and character profile data), which was gathered by the Thottbot WoW plugin written in Lua, that monitored network messages and kept a journal of every object a player encountered, then uploaded them to the Thottbot web site.

      Thottbot was originally created by Bill "Aftathott" Dyess and run by Wowhead, but then was bought by a company named ZAM (for Alakazam).


      Then ZAM was bought be a slimy gold farming company called IGE, whose parent company was RPG Holdings, and they incorporated it into their gold farming and selling empire.


      Through a dramatic saga of infighting and scams and scandals and lawsuits, ex-child-actor-who-turned-into-a-banana then underage-sexual-abuse-scandal-triggered-dot-com-scam-video-streaming-company-ipo-meltdown-involved and now Trump-boot-licking-crypto-bro-new-age-burning-man-whack-job and failed-presidential-candidate Brock Pierce spun the company out into Affinity Media.


      Brock Pierce worked with none other than Steve Bannon at Affinity Media, farming and selling virtual gold online. That was where Steve Bannon discovered and started fanning the toxic hateful easily manipulated sexually frustrated incel culture that he exploited and replicated to launch GamerGate and the Alt Right MAGA whack-jobs, which led to electing Trump, which led to the insurrection on January 6, 2021.



      >1/ Hey guys, remember that time Steve Bannon ran an army of game virtual currency miners in Asia, for sale to westerners at discount prices, arbitraging attention for profit? That was awesome...

      John Oliver did a hilarious story about Bitcoin featuring Brock Pierce:

      Cryptocurrencies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


      Here's Brock Pierce spouting cryptocurrency bullshit:


      And here is Brock Pierce as a child turning into a banana:


      John Oliver recommended "Just google Brock Pierce Scandal, that's all I'm saying there."


      Brock Pierce was deeply and notoriously involved with the DEN sexual abuse scandal.


      Before he worked with Steve Bannon, now-convicted sex offender Marc Collins-Rector was Brock Pierce's original partner in crime at DEN (which been called "the poster child for dot-com excesses"), and when DEN's IPO collapsed when the child enticement indictments were leveled, they both fled their LA party mansion and went on the lam together, then got arrested by Interpol in their party mansion in Marbella, Spain.


      Fucked Company made a hilarious documentary all about DEN in the format of a South Park style swf file, which was eventually uploaded to youtube, but has since been taken down. But I saved a copy of the swf file, although I don't know how to view it now. (Anybody know how to convert it? VLC is supposed to play it, but it's not working for me, just playing audio...):


      >Dot Com Boom & Bust - Digital Entertainment Network

      >A parody of the founders of Digital Entertainment Network. DEN was "a quintessential example of the excesses and lack of control of the dot-com craze."


      Here are some stories about Steve Bannon's involvement with Brock Pierce and virtual gold farming:

      Trump Campaign CEO Once Worked for a World of Warcraft Marketplace


      >Stephen Bannon brought quite the varied résumé to his new gig as CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. At various points, Bannon has worked as an investment banker, earned money off Seinfeld royalties, overseen a biosphere, directed films, and run an alt-right news site. But one of the stranger blips on his career path came in the mid-aughts, when Bannon joined and eventually ran a company that made its name and fortune as an online marketplace to sell virtual gold to World of Warcraft players and other online gamers.

      Trump's Campaign CEO's Little Known World of Warcraft Career


      >BEFORE HE BECAME CEO of the Donald Trump campaign, and before he took over the alt-right media outlet Breitbart, Steve Bannon made his living selling virtual gold on the Internet.

      The Decline and Fall of an Ultra Rich Online Gaming Empire


      Brock Pierce was appointed as a board member to the Bitcoin Foundation, and several people resigned over his links to sex abuse:


      And here is a photo of Brock Pierce at Trump's inauguration proudly wearing a red "Make Bitcoin Great Again" cap.



      >‘Crypto colonizers’ in Puerto Rico try to sell locals on the dream. A new wave of wealthy investors is moving to the island. Locals are greeting them with excitement — and suspicion.

      There is a documentary called "An Open Secret" all about all the underage sexual abuse, cocaine, guns, threats, extortion, and all kinds of other shit that went down at DEN, which showed interviews with the people involved, including lots of evidence like videos and photos and printouts of emails from Brock Pierce and others proving what happened, but apparently Brock Pierce or other alleged Hollywood child abusers who didn't like what the documentary said sued to take it down and suppress it, so it's not on youtube any more.


      SAG-AFTRA Threatened To Sue Director Amy Berg Over ‘An Open Secret’


      I found the PG-13 version here:

      AN OPEN SECRET. Official PG-13 version. Copyright Esponda Productions LLC #AnOpenSecret


      >In light of the long awaited revelations of sexual abuse in Hollywood finally being reported ESPONDA PRODUCTIONS presents AN OPEN SECRET for free for a limited time . A film about the sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry in Hollywood. Please support our efforts of raising awareness by sharing with your friends and colleagues. #AnOpenSecret #BeCourageous #ReportIt #LifeGetsBetter. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @AnOpenSecret.

      No, this isn't just a bunch of Q-Anon Pizzagate bullshit. It it all went down and was well documented a long long time before Q-Anon. Although it may have inspired some of those conspiracy theories via psychological projection.

      But Brock Pierce's deep involvement with the Alt-Right, MAGA whack jobs like Steve Bannon, and Bitcoin bros, as well as his latest hypocritical presidential campaign to end human trafficking (and the fact that he also attended the Mindshift conference that Jeffrey Epstein supported, after he had already been convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor), just goes to show how much that Q-Anon Alt-Right MAGA bullshit is all just about psychological projection and hypocrisy.


      >Meet Brock Pierce, the Presidential Candidate With Ties to Pedophiles Who Wants to End Human Trafficking

      >In the trailer for First Kid, the forgettable 1996 comedy about a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the president’s son, the title character, played by a teenage Brock Pierce, describes himself as “definitely the most powerful kid in the universe.” Now, the former child star is running to be the most powerful man in the world, as an Independent candidate for President of the United States.

      >Before First Kid, the Minnesota-born actor secured roles in a series of PG-rated comedies, playing a young Emilio Estevez in The Mighty Ducks, before graduating to smaller parts in movies like Problem Child 3: Junior in Love. When his screen time shrunk, Pierce retired from acting for a real executive role: co-founding the video production start-up Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) alongside businessman Marc Collins-Rector. At age 17, Pierce served as its vice president, taking in a base salary of $250,000.

      >DEN became “the poster child for dot-com excesses,” raising more than $60 million in seed investments and plotting a $75 million IPO. But it turned into a shorthand for something else when, in October of 1999, the three co-founders suddenly resigned. That month, a New Jersey man filed a lawsuit alleging Collins-Rector had molested him for three years beginning when he was 13 years old. The following summer, three former DEN employees filed a sexual-abuse lawsuit against Pierce, Collins-Rector, and their third co-founder, Chad Shackley. The plaintiffs later dropped their case against Pierce (he made a payment of $21,600 to one of their lawyers) and Shackley. But after a federal grand jury indicted Collins-Rector on criminal charges in 2000, the DEN founders left the country. When Interpol arrested them in 2002, they said they had confiscated “guns, machetes, and child pornography” from the trio’s beach villa in Spain.

      >While abroad, Pierce had pivoted to a new venture: Internet Gaming Entertainment, which sold virtual accessories in multiplayer online role-playing games to those desperate to pay, as one Wired reporter put it, “as much as $1,800 for an eight-piece suit of Skyshatter chain mail” rather than earn it in the games themselves. In 2005, a 25-year-old Pierce hired then-Goldman Sachs banker Steve Bannon—just before he would co-found Breitbart News. Two years later, after a World of Warcraft player sued the company for “diminishing” the fun of the game, Steve Bannon replaced Pierce as CEO.

      The lesson: Be careful who you buy virtual gold and Bitcoin from, and never trust MAGA Bitcoin Bros!

  • blarg1 5 days ago

    I use to play a game called the 4th coming. Once saw one player dropping items on the ground for another player. I quickly picked up the items and then sold them back to them.


    Oh I also use to search through a farm area below town, where people would hide items to transfer between characters.

  • coding123 5 days ago

    You bastard you stole like a crap ton from my brother who thought he was buying a house from you.

na85 5 days ago

I played an awful lot of Ultima Online in my youth, primarily on emulator servers, with which I later got pretty heavily involved on the development side.

It was a truly special game in its heyday; there have been many attempts but no successes at recreating what made UO so special. The adrenaline of PvP in that game is something I've only seen matched in a small handful of titles since.

From everything I've read and watched, Eve Online comes (came?) pretty close to the same general feeling/atmosphere of UO but to be honest I've avoided Eve because I don't want to get hooked. I don't have time for an MMO addiction these days.

  • philliphaydon 5 days ago

    I owe my entire career to UO.

    I used to play a shard called Novus Opiate. It was the biggest early shard.

    After it died I went on to run a couple of servers and teaching myself to code. Alphanine and Sacred.

    When I wanted to drop out of school I wanted to do 3d animation to make a game like UO. But realised I have 0 talent in design but I love programming. So ended up doing that. Thankfully I never became a game dev tho. The stories scare me.

    • Agentlien 5 days ago

      After spending my entire childhood wanting to be a game programmer I had one short summer job at a big studio during my university years and was immediately put off by the terrible working conditions.

      Years later I heard that there were good studios which treat you right so I left my job in surgical simulation and finally started as a game developer. That was seven years ago. It's tough at times but I haven't ever regretted it. There are plenty of good employers out there, these days.

      • datalus 5 days ago

        Exact same experience, except I've never gone back to a career in game development... although I've considered it at various points in my software dev career.

        • Agentlien 5 days ago

          While software development in general is fun and continuously challenging there's a very special excitement to looking at what you're actually doing and going "holy shit, we make games!". I've had those moments when I'm in a meeting discussing design details and considerations when suddenly it just strikes me that we're sitting there discussing how to make a game more fun and that's part of our job.

          I'm also really happy when people ask me what I do for a living and I can link a flashy trailer instead of trying to describe some web backend thing for a service they never heard about.

          edit: probably the biggest advantage in game development is the unique atmosphere brought about by the shared deep passion for games throughout the company.

          • philliphaydon 4 days ago

            Nice to know there's good places to work in the gaming industry. I think I'm scared due to the number of bad stories that popup now-n-then and the over-worked scenarios to meet deadlines.

            I think the problem now is I would like to build a game similar to UO but unless I did it myself I don't think it will ever happen. Kinda like the plot of Mythic Quest on Apple TV. He starts his own company to make the game of his vision.

  • johng 5 days ago

    I was so afraid of losing my good equipment I never carried it. I would PVP in underwear, with GM made items and reagents and pots. That's it.

    I liked how I could chop a body up and spread the pieces which is really fun when you are at war with your neighbor and you see their ghost standing over their dead body saying OOOoooOoo OooOOOO

    • datalopers 5 days ago

      I never played UO but read a fair bit about it. I was under the impression that all of the gear was perfectly mundane (player crafted often, no bonus stats, magical properties, etc) and skill/ability was entirely based on your character skill choices and their respective levels? Or was there slightly superior weapons/armor that was so rare you never used it since your gear was fair-game upon death?

      Did you lose gear from both monster and player kills?

      • nrb 5 days ago

        Yes, everything dropped on your corpse on death.

        The vast majority of gear used by people was crafted by others, but higher level monsters dropped magic items that increased their accuracy, damage, or durability. Or, had a "slayer" affix against certain enemy types that caused additional damage toward them. For example, might find a "Silver Katana of Vanquishing" that would vastly increase damage against liches or other undead, which would have been a highly coveted item (and a nice prize for a PK who found you deep in a dungeon with practically no escape).

      • cetra3 5 days ago

        Yes there was more rare gear, like bone armor that you didn't want to be ganked.

        When you died, by either monster or player, your corpse contained all your possessions. If you could get resurrected in time or you had help you could get all your stuff back.

      • ajxs 5 days ago

        In the game's early incarnation this was the case. After a while there was special materials for weapons, and armour; Items with special properties; echantment; etc. Eventually the power creep accelerated to ridiculous proportions after WoW had set new precedents.

    • DonHopkins 5 days ago

      It's almost worth creating a novelty HN "UOGhost" account, doing something extremely obnoxious to get it shadow banned, and then haunting around replying "OOOooOooOoo OoooOOO" to live people's comments.

  • KVFinn 5 days ago

    >It was a truly special game in its heyday; there have been many attempts but no successes at recreating what made UO so special. The adrenaline of PvP in that game is something I've only seen matched in a small handful of titles since.

    The closest thing is probably heavily modded private servers in various games, that are still big enough to feel like mini MMOs. Minecraft has some for sure. Project Zomboid recently. Some very specific Rust or GTA servers. In the past there was some permadeath Neverwinter Nights persistant worlds (there might even still be.)

  • kethinov 4 days ago

    Check out the new UO Overdrive free server. They recreated that PVP but with a much more modern client and user experience in general which I think is worth checking out if you enjoyed that kind of PVP in those days.

DonHopkins 5 days ago


DonHopkins on Dec 24, 2018 | parent | next [–]

Oh, you could tame animals to make them your pets.

One Halloween I logged into UO, and my character had been transformed into a deer, as some kind of a sick joke! All my inventory was gone, and all I could do was deer stuff.

Then some bastard came along and TAMED ME. That totally sucked! I had to follow him around obediently all day. I guess I'm lucky he didn't skin me and make me into leather armor.

  • smcl 5 days ago

    That's incredible. What happened next? Was it a temporary thing, or was your character doomed to live as a (tame) deer forever?

    • trh0awayman 5 days ago

      You changed back the next day. I have fond memories as a kid of all the holiday events. You usually could do a special task that awarded you a cool, decorative item for your house. I think most MMOs have something similar now - but back then it was brand new!

      edit: I remember on Christmas you were assigned a "team", red or green elves. And there was a giant snowball fight.

      • smcl 5 days ago

        Ahhh it was part of Hallowe'en, not sure why I didn't realise. That's actually really cool :D I wasn't into RPGs, had awful internet and was in my early teens in UO's heyday so I never got into it, but that does sound kinda fun.

kragen 5 days ago

Some years after I read this, I wrote http://canonical.org/~kragen/sw/dev3/lmu.py, which is a simple one-file text MUD. A little too simple, really: you can dig rooms, create objects, change their descriptions, pick them up, drop them, travel around, look at things, and chat with other players. But there's no way to program the objects to have behavior like walking around and picking things up.

It's a bit verbose for me to include a full transcript in an HN comment, but maybe this edited snippet gives a bit of the flavor, at least if you speak Spanish. Riyhor is the player's name.

    ? ver     

    Estás en un lugar borroso, sin mucha forma visible, con un pozo.

    Sipapu contiene: Riyhor y pitbull.
    ? cavar este
    Otro vacío

    Estás en otra habitación sin características particulares.

    Otro vacío contiene: Riyhor.

    Hay salida hacia el oeste.
    ? renombrar aca El living
    Ahora aca ya no es “Otro vacío” sino “El living”.
    ? describir aca como Es un lugar bastante chico con tres sillas y una mesa.
    Descripción de “El living” cambiado.
    ? ver
    El living

    Es un lugar bastante chico con tres sillas y una mesa.

    El living contiene: Riyhor.

    Hay salida hacia el oeste.
A slightly longer session is at https://pastebin.com/GSf4Bske.

The game world is pretty much just a Zork-style containment hierarchy, though implemented with Python lists and objects rather than linked lists, so, just as in Ultima, the player's possessions are children of the player, the player is a child of the room they're in, and all the rooms are children of the world. Pretty simple.

But it turned out that, despite having already read this story, I'd implemented my own version of the same bug! When you dig ("cavar") it creates a new exit and by default also a new room, but alternatively you can specify an existing room to dig into. But I'd forgotten to check that the destination was a room! Even though you couldn't program player-created game objects to pick things up, players could pick things up, and you could tunnel into a player, walk through the new exit into the player, pick up objects from their inventory, and walk back out. In fact, you could even dig into yourself. This did not cause other players to appear and start saying "Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich," for some reason.

It was a pretty entertaining bug for a few days of work.

  • DonHopkins 5 days ago

    Also: here's a very simple Logo Adventure I wrote: my first paid commercially published code. Terrapin wanted an example of a Logo program that demonstrated how to use list processing and functional programming, and they included it on the Terrapin Logo disk for the C64. It took advantage of the interactive Logo top level read/eval/print loop, so I didn't need to actually write a parser!


  • drKarl 5 days ago

    I used to play a MUD when I was in college called Reinos de Leyenda.

    • Al-Khwarizmi 4 days ago

      I played that one as well, still remember the hostname by heart. To be honest it wasn't too good compared with some English-speaking MUDs, but it was good to have an option in Spanish.

      • kragen 4 days ago

        I never played it!

  • DonHopkins 5 days ago

    My favorite object containment related ZORK bug (which I discovered in the origin ZORK on MIT-DM, but which persisted in the InfoCom version), involves the troll holding an axe, blocking the door to the depths of the dungeon, who eats anything you give to him:

        The troll, who is not overly proud, graciously accepts the gift 
        and not having the most discriminating tastes, gleefully eats it.
        The troll, disarmed, cowers in terror, pleading for 
        his life in the guttural tongue of the trolls.
    To have killed him in cold blood then would have been cruel, so I tried something else:

        The troll, who is not overly proud, graciously accepts the gift 
        and not having the most discriminating tastes, gleefully eats it.
    *POOF*! No more troll!

    (I've actually been able to successfully apply this technique of giving HN trolls their own weapons (quoting their own words back to them), then giving them to themselves (pointing them back to their previous posts), to make them disappear from HN!)

    But giving the troll to itself triggered another bug, because apparently it forgot to clear the TROLL flag, so you could still not leave the room, because when you tried to go through the exit the troll previously blocked, it said that "The troll fends you off with a menacing gesture." even though there was no troll in the room.

    Decades later I finally found the Zork source code, and it turns out there was actually a troll flag called "TROLL-FLAG!-FLAG" that it forgot to clear, which the exit depended on.

    I wrote up the bug in more details, with links to the source code:


    DonHopkins on April 16, 2019 | prev | next [–]

    I wrote some comments on the Wikipedia Zork talk page:


    Link to the original Zork source code in MDL

    I suggest linking to the original Zork source code in MDL which is available here:


    Is it OK to link to that source code from Wikipedia? I don't know who officially owns it, though. It was never a commercial product, and was developed at MIT. As the Zork article mentions, the Zork source code was leaked way back in 1977, so the cat's been out of the bag for a long time. A link to the actual source code would be a nice thing to cite in that section.

    It is fascinating to read, and really beautiful code, quite understandable even if you don't know MDL, and practically a form of literature.

    I played the original Zork on MIT-DM and also the Infocom versions of course. Reading the source code is like seeing the behind-the-scenes underground rooms and passages at Disneyland!

    While I was playing Zork, I found a bug. First some context: when you're battling the troll, you can give things to him, and he eats them! Sometimes he drops his axe, and you can pick it up and kill him with it. He blocks the exits until you kill him.

    So I tried "give axe to troll," and he ate his own axe, then cowered in terror: "The troll, disarmed, cowers in terror, pleading for his life in the guttural tongue of the trolls."

    Not satisfied with that, I tried "give troll to troll", and he devoured himself: "The troll, who is remarkably coordinated, catches the troll and not having the most discriminating tastes, gleefully eats it."

    ...Except that I still could not get out of the exit, because every time I tried, it said "The troll fends you off with a menacing gesture."

    I figured there must be a troll flag that wasn't getting cleared when the troll devoured itself. And sure enough, I found it in the code, and it's called "TROLL-FLAG!-FLAG"!

    Here is an excerpt of the MDL troll code, where you can see the bug, where it should clear the troll flag when the troll devours itself, but doesn't (well that's how I would fix it!):

                   <COND (<VERB? "THROW" "GIVE">
                          <COND (<VERB? "THROW">
        "The troll, who is remarkably coordinated, catches the " 1 <ODESC2 <PRSO>>>)
        "The troll, who is not overly proud, graciously accepts the gift">)>
                          <COND (<==? <PRSO> <SFIND-OBJ "KNIFE">>
        "and being for the moment sated, throws it back.  Fortunately, the
        troll has poor control, and the knife falls to the floor.  He does
        not look pleased." ,LONG-TELL1>
                                 <TRO .T ,FIGHTBIT>)
        "and not having the most discriminating tastes, gleefully eats it.">
                          <REMOVE-OBJECT <PRSO>>)>)
                         (<VERB? "TAKE" "MOVE">
        "The troll spits in your face, saying \"Better luck next time.\"">)
                         (<VERB? "MUNG">
        "The troll laughs at your puny gesture.">)>)
                  (<AND ,TROLL-FLAG!-FLAG
                        <VERB? "HELLO">>
                   <TELL "Unfortunately, the troll can't hear you.">)>>
    Xardox (talk) 02:45, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

    You can give something that you don't have? I was under the impression that it wouldn't work. Double sharp (talk) 13:17, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

    You can give anything that's in the room or your inventory to the troll. So if his axe falls on the floor, "give axe to troll" will work without having to pick it up first, which is supposed to work. But even before he drops the axe you can go "give axe to troll" and he'll eat it while he's holding it, since it's transitively in the room. That's the first thing I did, that made me think of typing "give troll to troll"! Xardox (talk) 03:32, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

red369 5 days ago

Did anyone else do jail time in Ultima Online?

I got a week for exploiting a bug I discovered (maybe I wasn’t the first) involving the shopkeepers who could run stalls for you. Like all NPCs, they would pick up everything not locked down while walking around. And unfortunately (for other people), they could be teleported into people’s houses. Unfortunately I stole I one of a kind object. That was the end of my burglary career. I also stayed a vampire all the time. Anyone who got in a fight with me would usually win, but would then have to find a cure. I don’t remember why vampirism bothered other people more than me…

Edited to remove my question about whether jails were on all servers - I see in another comment that they were common

  • idiotsecant 4 days ago

    I did! In my case it was for exploiting a bug that allowed access to 'Green Acres' which is what the playerbase called the zero elevation empty grassland that occupied approximately 15% or so of the world map. This area of the map was later used as the land area for the 'Second Age' expansion pack, but at the time it was just empty. I had grand plans of dropping a bunch of castles and establishing a real estate empire but the game masters must have had some kind of automated alert that a player had accessed an out of bounds area because I was almost immediately remotely teleported by a game master into jail and asked how I had accessed the area!

    They also had some extremely high level custom monsters patrolling the area too, which I thought was kind of fun.

  • Max3000Max 5 days ago

    Yes, I also did plenty of jail time.

    This "jail" was a place on the corner of the green acres, a place for the developers/GMs to test on a endless grass field.

SigmundA 4 days ago

UO has many fond memories for me. So much emergent silly gameplay, so many unintended consequences. Also taught me after playing WoW later that a more controlled and restricted mechanically game can be much more fun while still giving enough freedom for interesting emergent gameplay, it's a fine balance.

One of my favorites (going by memory) was master thieves taunting people into dueling. A thieve had a random chance to steal something from your pack but it flagged them, if dueling though already flagged. If you cast a spell your weapon automatically gets put in your pack while casting, so they would attempt to steal your nice weapon while casting leaving you with no weapon, they could also steal your reagent bag leaving you no ability to cast spells, at this point they could probable kill you easily or just run off with a nice weapon.

Leaving the entrance of town was many times a gauntlet of thieves with houses right outside the guard zone. They would run out steal something from you and run back in and lock the door.

rootw0rm 5 days ago

Awesome little anecdote, thanks for sharing. I learned about reverse engineering because of UO. I reverse engineered EasyUO's technique for running macros which involved code injection and shared it with the world. Long live T2A!

  • johng 5 days ago

    We would block ourselves into a corner in the house and just use old school macros that just replayed the same mouse movements over and over to level up casting water elementals in our respective houses. Just keeping that magic at 100% :)

    • philliphaydon 5 days ago

      Haha if you cast a spell and walked out of line of sight it caused the spell to fizzle but still gain experience.

      So we would lure an npc to the house and set a macro to cast and walk 1 tile out of sight. Used regents but it was faster due to cancelling and the npc never died.

      Likewise if you attacked an npc in a city but not hit. Then walk 2 screens away you could set an in game hotkey for attack which would trigger and cancel causing you to gain exp but not do anything.

    • Jagerbizzle 5 days ago

      Brings back some memories. I remember macroing my magic resist up to 100. In the high 90s you'd have to flamestrike yourself hundreds of times for a point. It was really hard to nail the timing of the macro because on a bad die roll it could almost kill you, so if you were too aggressive the next one could wipe you out if you didn't leave enough time to heal in between casts. I remember waking up in the morning after an overnight macro setup and feeling like it was Christmas day rushing to the computer to check the outcome.

  • lakomen 5 days ago

    For me that was Meridian 59. That game taught me so much about everything, network code, packets, reverse engineering, dll injection, objects and oop, cryptography, btree, winapi. I was not the first but one of the first people ever to write cheats for a, no, the first MMORPG on the planet. A friend who I've met through m59 and who is way more capable took that to the next level and wrote in game radar which would show players and monsters as dots on the map. That was years later. Another guy on the team was interested in writing a bot and is now working in robotics. So yeah those early games are great learning material.

Madmallard 5 days ago

RunUO and trying to make custom scripts as a young teen is what got me into programming so I guess I can think Ultima Online for my career.

  • achillean 5 days ago

    I'll second that :) SphereServer for me but it's also what got me into programming and I have very fond memories of using Dragon, InsideUO etc. to create a new world. I'm guessing kids today would do something similar with Minecraft.

    • Max3000Max 5 days ago

      I also tinkered around with Sphere.

      It was such a awesome feeling after years of playing the game as intended by the developers to just beam myself around the map and explore all the hidden stuff I never seen during playing this game as a normal player for years.

  • bhay 5 days ago

    Same for me! My first exposure to programming was writing mining macros around Vesper.

  • nrb 5 days ago

    Same here, but with UOX a few years before!

shever73 5 days ago

Fantastic anecdote, thank you for sharing. I love these kind of stories. It reminds me of the Dwarf Fortress “dead cats in taverns” bug [0], which just goes to show the detail that goes into these game mechanics.

[0] https://www.pcgamer.com/how-cats-get-drunk-in-dwarf-fortress...

  • Rebelgecko 5 days ago

    It also reminds me of a trick used for a subway car in Fallout 3. Instead of actually implementing vehicles, there's an NPC running under the level whose head has been replaced with a train.

nivenhuh 5 days ago

I was a game counselor, which gave me light GM powers (like teleporting people to jail).

Thats all I got to the story. Didn’t participate in the lawsuit .

Fire-Dragon-DoL 4 days ago

My first encounter with programming was RPG maker, however it was UO the first time I started programming for others. It's also when I realized I loved programming more than gaming (I'd rather spend days developing new features for my server than play the videogame).

Lucky at some point I understood my passion was not game development but programming itself. Made a great career out of it (at least so far).

Chris2048 5 days ago

> inventory systems did not use slots but free placement on a coordinate system

Is it me or is this a curious design choice? I mean, discrete (int-based) coordinate system makes some sense, I suppose, if there is a reason containers need it (I don't know, like adjacent object contaminating each other?) - but a float system seems fairly inefficient..

  • ztorkelson 4 days ago

    Items could be placed at any pixel location within the bounds of the container. The game used the same X and Y (integer) variables which otherwise denoted the item’s location in the world.

    This gave players more degrees of freedom to arrange their inventory as compared to a one-dimensional slot-based system.

  • ceearrbee 4 days ago

    The Ultima series was known for its attempts of immersion (in the singleplayer games you are supposed to play yourself), so things like a world simulation were built into it as the games progressed (you want to bake bread - get flour, mix it with water, bake it in an oven, etc).

    This spilled over to the UI/UX design - so having a free form inventory meant it felt like you had a backpack.

  • db48x 5 days ago

    Except that you don’t have to write any more code. You already have code for objects sitting on the ground in a room.

    • NickBusey 4 days ago

      Interestingly, in UO the ground was a grid based system, you could only drop items into a tile and they would be centered there. So the floating inventory system was different code it would seem than the discrete ground system.

    • Chris2048 4 days ago

      You'll still have to modify that code to apply to containers, versus a a set/array that your language probably already supports

      • db48x 4 days ago

        Sure, your language has some kind of lists or arrays or whatever, and you could use one to store an inventory. But the UI designer decided that the player should be able to rearrange items in their inventory, so now you have to store a position for each one. And it has to have a background image, and such. But that’s what a room is! The room itself has a normal array of items and an array of positions, or something similar.

        Sure, rooms have a few extra features that containers don’t necessarily require, such as the ability to have exits. But that’s ok, the list of exits can be empty. No problem. Even if you enumerated all of those extra features you might not realize to document that nobody should ever put _actors that can move around on their own_ into a container.

lars512 5 days ago

I have such fond memories of this game. The public lists of bugs were also fun. Like, you could break into a house by being killed, then being resurrected on the doorway. You could tame a pet, and ask it to fetch something from the roof of a castle. So much fun!

planarhobbit 5 days ago

So many days, weeks, months, years spent on Imagi-Nation, The Alter Realm, Abbadon, among other shards.

chrisacky 5 days ago

Can anyone remember the boat strategy for level up magic? How did that work...

The idea was that you would sail north cast spells until you level up, then stop, and move the boat 13 tiles, then repeat the spell. It genuinely worked for leveling up high eval.

  • mungoman2 5 days ago

    To prevent macroing in your house they split the world into a grid of tiles sized 8x8 steps and linked your gain to the grid. This worked by hashing the tile coordinates and your skill level to find out the probability of gaining a skill point at that location.

    The hash function was poorly chosen which had the effect that if you found a tile where you gained a skill point, there was a good chance the tile 8 steps to your North would let you gain another skill point.

    So the algorithm became: 1. Run boat continuously trying the skill over and over 2. Stop when there is a skill gain 3. Move boat 8 steps north 4. Do skill again 5. Gain? Go to 3 6. Otherwise, go to 1

    • nrb 5 days ago

      It was simpler than that, it just limited the number of gains you could make per 8x8 cell, but moving out of that cell and into another (in any direction) reset your ability to gain skills. Due to how players moved around in the world, that was sufficient to prevent macroing in-place, but since nobody knew how many cells it remembered you being in, AFK levelers just traveled around the entire world continuously in a boat.

    • philliphaydon 5 days ago

      Oh very interesting. I guess this was on the main servers. I didn’t play the main servers so the reasons we did it in play run shards was different.

  • philliphaydon 5 days ago

    The cost of the boat was cheaper than buying a house, so people would sail out into the sea to be 'safe' from someone trying to kill them.

    Generally people used the technique similar to leveling melee skills in towns but there was always a work-around to killing people in towns. In downs you would kill someone macroing by dropping like 5 explosion potions on the ground around them, then throwing 1 in and teleporting out while a friend would loot the body.

    Magic on the boat involved walking in front of the mast to cancel the spell.

    • SenHeng 5 days ago

      I must have bought at least a dozen boats. I would park them somewhere secluded or near the mines/forests, then totally forget about it. By the time I got back, the boats had already decayed into nothingness, (or I forgot where I parked it).

      I used to own a house on that little pirate island with NPCs you could kill. My house was situated on some weird boundary line such I could fire spells at people outside while in the safety of my own home.

  • jahsome 5 days ago

    It was 8 tiles, no? I hope so because 8x8 is ingrained in my memory for some reason...

mcraiha 5 days ago

UO was one the buggiest online games ever made. There were so many problems: patch issues, they had to keep graphical compatibility between 2d and 3d clients, very bad game design problems, no proper testing of features etc.

  • ajxs 5 days ago

    Ultima Online did have a lot of bugs. Being fair to the developers, they were sailing in uncharted waters when developing Ultima Online, not only in the technical sense, but in the social sense too. Raph Koster goes into more detail about the interesting lessons they learned from their mistakes in designing Ultima Online's early gameplay. A lot of UO's bugs spawned interesting emergent behaviour from the playerbase too.

    • Max3000Max 5 days ago


      One of the "bugs" created a system of epic items. Rares.

      Rare items were random objects that normally could not be obtained by players. Due to bugs, items that were only meant for decoration etc, were available to players.

      For example a pair of shackles in a dungeons that were supposed to be locked down as a decoration item. On every server restart these shackles would become "unlocked" from the ground and players could grab them. They would then go to a grey market where there was a big trade for rare items.

      There were some rare items that were only available once per server. Mind you, if a player lost them they were simply gone. One of the greatest rares was a piece of cloth with a rainbow pattern that wasn't available anywhere else in the game.

  • philliphaydon 5 days ago

    UO more or less defined the genre of mmoprgs. And there really isn’ta single mmorpg to date that has or had the freedom of UO.

    So while it has had a lot of problems, it’s done bloody well considering 25 years later people are still playing.

  • can16358p 5 days ago

    Even with all its bugs (which I agree, there are a lot), it was probably one of the greatest games ever made, especially considering the setting it was made in.

    Still being praised, played, and respected with all its bugs is kind of a validation.

  • ekianjo 5 days ago

    Sure but it was also a great experience and one of the key precursors of modern online games.

  • Kiro 5 days ago

    That's like complaining that the first wheel was not a perfect circle.

  • gubneor 5 days ago

    Duping and sigil dying were some note worthy defects, not to mention all the npc economy exploits -- all of which helped to destroy the retail game eventually.

  • yakata 5 days ago

    and still loads of fun. Still harboring some resentment from being pwned? :D

simne 4 days ago

For me big question, when cryptocurrency movement will lead to community driven mmg.

I participated in one uo group, we gather money, buy powerful server, paid for hosting. All this based on big enough group with positive economy.

Exist games which cheaper than uo in terms of need server power, but they are much less fun.

And spend much money to infrastructure, makes things very complicated, works as barrier to create such games.