As usual, with anything happening in the Interest team, there is no communication from OSI to the players about this. There are, however, some clues in the latest Team Comments from Sage, dated April 3. He suggests that there are two ways to “integrate meaningful story into our games” as follows:
- “the story should be pervasive in the original design, and players should be encouraged to involve themselves in that story
- the story should be emergent based on behavior of the players, and the design should offer interesting choices so the story derives from player activities”
He focuses on the later as the better design, for various reasons, one of them being that the first design requires more work on the part of the players. They have to seek out ‘quests’, and then when the quests are finished, they have no way of attaining the ‘glory’ that they desire, because few, if any other players learn of their brave (or notorious) deeds. With the current system, players have to bother to write up the stories and then other players have to read the stories for a ‘hero’ to attain any REAL notoriety, and most players are too lazy to do either. Trust me, I know this to be true for a fact, I have been writing and reading the Great Lakes Community News for a while and believe me, players are l-a-z-y. Players are even worse when it comes to running events. Players that are brave and creative and agressive enough to run their own events are few and far between, though I aplaud their efforts with a standing ovation. I personally think that player events are cooler than Seer events just because players are more limited and it takes more creativity and ingenuity to run a player event.
On the other hand, giving players the incentive, and the tools to run their own events, rather than pouring all efforts into company run events has grand possibilities. During the World Faire last fall, I attended several sessions about
roleplaying, both in how to improve the current system, as well as ideas for how to give players tools to run their own events. These sessions were moderated by then Lead IGM Eidolon (who was let go at the same time as the cancellation of UO2 and whose presence and genious is sorely missed) and former Lead IGM Twilight, now known as Ignatz, who moved to the Development team some time ago. I was unable to attend the session by Sage on ‘returning the Virtues to Sosaria’, and I am sorry I missed it, I heard it was quite good. I came away from the World Faire with a renewed sense of hope for the roleplaying aspects of UO. We talked about such things as holding events that consisted of more than hack and slash (events for crafters and merchants, woot!), incentives for players to participate in events, both ingame (‘l33t items’ and rares, scoreboards posted at the local tavern) and out of game (scoreboards and ranking systems on uo.com). We also talked about systems to empower players to run their own events such as ‘quest stones’ and the ability to ‘rent’ certain locations ingame for events, and whether or not these powers could be implemented in a manner in which they were not exploitable for personal gain.
I await with bated breath the outcome of this change in the interest program, of which I have never been a ‘volunteer’, but in which I hold a vested interest, being a major contributor as a participant of the highest degree, and a chronicler of past events. I came to be a ‘roleplayer’ by default. I was told one too many times “What?? You don’t PvP? Oh, you must be one of those roleplayaz’.” My husband and I built the Cove Merchant’s Guild Blacksmith shop, which we made to be one of the first, and still one of the most popular, public venues on Great Lakes. We were ‘sponsored’ by Seer Degodefroi of ‘Rhysart the Hermit‘ fame, IMHO ‘the’ hardest working, most creative, and most popular Seer ever to wear the green robe. We were honored by having our shop ‘blessed’, or decorated by, then lead IGM Twilight in July of 1998. I went on to write for the Great Lakes Quest News and am currently updating news and working on content for the Crossroads of Britannia UO fansite. I also got involved in coordinating the Austin UO Player Lunches, where I met Eidolon, Calandryll, Sage and many others face to face.
I have faith that Cal and Sage have the best of intentions in this upcoming phase, whatever it might be. I honestly feel that they belong to the ‘brotherhood of players’ and really care about roleplaying in UO. I am just nervous about big changes, and especially in this arena. The interest program has been notoriously secretive and not forthcoming whatsoever, in the past, about how the system works and what it is and does exactly. I always feel deeply slighted whenever big changes happen and we, the players, the ones with the most vested interest in this program, are never informed, let alone consulted, when changes happen in the program. Back when Durga took over the whole volunteer program, it was my understanding that we were supposed to get a totally new and revamped interest program along with the revamped counselor program. The counselors got 500 new volunteers and a totally new system of applications and tools, and the Interest team got ZILCH. Since then, we lost several Seers with no explanation to the players, most notably, on GL Seer Scyllirya and then even Seer Degodefroi. Most recently we have lost Lead IGM Eidolon, who was in charge of the Trinsic Invasions and is also the genious behind Dungeon Khaldun and many of the new and wonderful places in Ilshenar such as the Serpentine Garden.
I was paranoid about UO:R and UO3D. I still avoid Trammel like the plague, but I have actually had a lot of fun exploring Ilshenar. My best hope is that “by the players, for the players” will be the saving grace of roleplaying in UO. My worst fear is that we have had close to doodly squat in support for roleplayers over the last 3 and a half years of UO, and now we will have even less. There has been quite a lot of discussion on the UO.com “Roleplaying, Events, and Scenarios” Board today. If you have an opinion or a constructive criticism or suggestion to give, I highly encourage you to voice it. Speak now or forever hold your peace. You can also email Calandryll@uo.com.
I have a feeling that we are about to see the death of the Interest Program in UO as we know it, the question remains as to whether it will also be the death of roleplaying in UO or whether it will be a new beginning…