MEETING THOMAS "HANSE" EIDSON - DESIGNER

Team Comment - Bug fixing, Hanse-style - May 29, 2001
Howdy!

It’s been a year since I started with the design team for Ultima Online Live. As I sat pondering whether I should comment on any hot topics debated on our web boards, I realized that I am just one person on a large team and any changes/additions being considered could not really be commented on accurately. Those changes can be altered at any point in the development cycle and be very different at the time of release, thus any specific comment I make on upcoming changes could be misleading. I’d like to discuss instead bug fixing by the Ultima Online Live team, rather than new and upcoming changes to the game.

Over the last year, I’ve helped squash many bugs in the game. Most of my development time has been bug fixing. It’s not the most glorious of designer tasks, but seeing something fixed, and seeing players enjoying the game more as a result of the fix, is a sweet reward.

Bug fixing continues as one of our big challenges for this year. In fact, we have more resources to devote to bug fixing now than we did last year. The past approach of “find and squash” has also been revisited and altered. Along with the previous approach, we will start separating bugs into classifications of bugs and attempting system-wide approaches to the fixes. Time to devote to systematic fixing was not available in the past. You may think that this approach is a “no brainer”, but last year was a busy one, with development split up between many new systems (after I came on the team, not including UO: Renaissance and before) and one expansion product.

The developers here devote their time to many different tasks, which are split into different groups. This allows us to work efficiently on the specific areas of the game we are assigned (a few examples are bug fixing for server code, bug fixing for the client that runs on your computer, and new content). The whole team does not stop what it is doing to create an “orc mask”. One or two developers can make an “orc mask”. Quality Assurance maintains a database of bugs for us to review and their priorities. Many of the bugs in the database were submitted by players or brought to our attention through posts on the MyUO boards. Usually, there is not a workday that goes by without someone deliberating over some kind of fix for the game.

Now that we have a larger group of developers working on fixes, the publish process is taking longer to QA. The next two publishes will be large, with some noticeable fixes to standing bugs as well as new content (some items left out of previous publishes for Ilshenar), more localization, some optimization, and various other changes (of course, this list is subject to change as dictated by our Quality Assurance team).

In closing, we’re aware of many of the issues in the game and are making good progress on strengthening our foundation. This process continues while many other systems are developed. It is my privilege to get my feet dirty squashing all these bugs. In fact, it’s one of the most rewarding positions I’ve ever held within a company. If you have knowledge of a bug within the game, please feel free to stop by our developer board on MyUO and say hello with a description of the bug. :)

-Hanse
UO Live Designer

Team Comment - Hanse on the Bulk Order System - April 3, 2002
This time around in my comments from the team, I’d like to talk more about the Bulk Order System and the additions/enhancements we’ve added to the system. On our development and crafting boards, I dropped hints as to what is coming in our next publish in regards to blacksmith rewards. I’ll try to sum up many of the hints that were spread out over all the threads.

A mistake we made with the blacksmith bulk orders was releasing rewards for the easy bulk deeds that were not very appealing to veterans, and the appealing rewards were almost too difficult to obtain for a veteran that is a casual player. While our new players do benefit from our lower rewards, veterans wanted something more substantial for their efforts. At the same time, some veterans felt that the low-end deeds became worthless after collecting a gob of durable shovels, pickaxes, and mining gloves.

Here are the enhancements we’ve posted on our boards, so far (for Publish 16), for Blacksmithy bulk orders:
  1. Currently, GM smiths have a bonus to get exceptional bulk order deeds. The exceptional bonus percentage will be significantly increased.
  2. Currently, GM smiths do not have a bonus to get colored bulk order deeds. A significant bonus will be added to get colored bulk order deeds (if the object selected is colorable).
  3. Weapon deeds are not appealing to veteran smiths, because they are not colored and give small rewards, while hardly giving any fame. Instead of increasing rewards for individual weapon deeds, we will be introducing five weapon large bulk orders that give new rewards (axes, swords, fencing, maces, and pole arms).
  4. As with #3, we will be adding seven new rewards to the system. Three of the rewards will be low-end rewards. These rewards have not been released yet. They will be available on Test Center when Publish 16 is available for testing.
  5. Any colored deed or weapon large bulk order will get an increased bonus to its rewards if it is exceptional (object reward, fame reward, and gold reward).
  6. A context menu option will display how many hours until your next deed will be available. Minutes are rounded up to the closest hour.
  7. Ancient smithy hammers were increased from 150 uses to 600. This is retroactive for hammers that were obtained prior to the increase.
  8. Runic hammers will have their color displayed as part of their description (i.e.: “a valorite runic hammer”).
  9. To prevent scams, all hammers will state how many charges they have left.
And now, a summary of Tailoring Bulk Orders…
  1. There will be 55 craftable Tailoring items in the system. These items do not include cross-skill items (such as house add-ons) and will not include oil cloths. This means 55 small bulk orders will be available as offers. (Hint: Tailors only have 51 craftable items, currently.)
  2. There will be 14 large bulk order deeds in the Tailoring system. All items that can be crafted will be included in at least one of the large bulk orders. This makes all the small bulk order deeds valuable.
  3. There will be 19 new colors of cloth (not currently available in the game as colors of cloth) as low to medium rewards. This will make all the low-end rewards valuable and usable. Only one color is not original and that is pale blue, but it is not available as a dye.
  4. There will be 44 different rewards (colors of rewards included) with the Tailoring bulk orders.
  5. As with Blacksmithy, we felt that in order to add depth and difficulty to the bulk order system, colored resources would be needed. We explored other avenues of creating depth in the system, but settled on three new types of colored leather. This means there will not be as many deeds in the system, so the system will be easier than Blacksmithy.
  6. GM tailors will receive the same bonus as GM blacksmiths in regards to getting exceptional and colored deeds, mentioned above.
  7. Exceptional quality deeds will yield a higher monetary value than normal deeds.
We have learned a lot from our previous release of Blacksmithy bulk orders, and hope you’ll enjoy both the new changes to Blacksmithy and the new Tailoring bulk order system!

Now that I’ve told you about the stuff most folks are probably interested in, I’ll go into the design steps required for making Tailoring bulk orders.

I was challenged by Evocare to make a bulk order system design. I had predicted that Carpentry would be the next obvious choice, but was surprised when Evocare decided that tailors would benefit from the system.

Tailoring does not have the depth or usage that Blacksmithy does. With only 51 items, it would have been very difficult to make a challenging and rewarding mini-game with the system. Different approaches were plotted out, but I still felt it would be too easy and not on par with the Blacksmithy bulk order system. It was decided that Tailoring needed to be changed to give it more depth.

This meant that the Tailoring system would need to undergo some modification and new additions. New leather resources and an as-of-yet undisclosed resource were created (the new resource is stackable). With a resource system much like that found in Blacksmithy, we now had a foundation to make a bulk order system that was on par with the Blacksmithy system.

After finishing the changes to tailoring itself, everything fell into place with the bulk order system. The rewards were culled from player posts on the boards, and a few twists were added (like the new colored cloth). Now, I’ll go rest my eyes from staring at spreadsheets, graphs, and localized text. :)

Hanse
UO Live Designer