MEETING PATRICK "LEUROCIAN" MALOTT - UO DESIGNER

UO STRATICS INTERVIEW - AUGUST 14, 2004
UO Stratics was recently able to talk with Leurocian, a new Designer for Ultima Online, as well as Binky, the Community Manager for UO. We would like to give a special thanks to Mysticales for spearheading this interview for Stratics and ensuring that our readers would be able to learn much more about the newest faces to the Design Team. The following are the highlights of the discussion:
Mysticales: Hello everyone! Today we would like to bring you someone special who has made a large impact for everyone in the Ultima Online community, Leurocian! Also with us is Binky! So without further delay here they are!

Leurocian: Hail and Well Met. I am Leurocian, Designer for Ultima Online Live.

Mysticales: To start us off, let us talk a little a bit about yourself.

Q: What is your full name?

A: Patrick "Leurocian" Malott.

Q: Where do you hail from?

A: La Porte and South Bend Indiana

Q: Are you single, married, or separated?

A: Happily Married!

Q: Have you always wanted to play games for a living?

A: Yes. It has always been my dream to become a game developer. And now that dream has come true.

Q: What are your favorite games?

A: Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper. The old Infocom Zork games. Baseball. Ultima Online. Neverwinter Nights.

Q: What are your favorite books?

A: The Don Juan series by Carlos Castaneda. Anything written by the news commentator Bill OíReilly. The Holy Bible. And various Wizard of the Coast Dungeon and Dragon Novels (especially the Forgotten Realms).

Q: What are your favorite movies?

A: Columbo (I love Peter Falk) Old black and white horror movies (Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr and Sr, Boris Karloff, Evelyn Ankers, Colin Clive, Claude Rains, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight FryÖThey all ruled!) Of course, I love the 60s Hammer films also (Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing). Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. The Star Wars trilogy (the original). Indiana Jones trilogy. And any comedy movie with Leslie Nielsen, Jim Carrey, Chris Farley, Ben Stiller, Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, or Owen Wilson in it.

Q: What are your favorite or most accessed web sites?

A: Internet Movie Database, Yahoo, Google, various Ultima Online fan sites, Creepy Classics, Bill OíReilly web site.

Q: Do you have a favorite band(s) and/or song(s)

A: Van Halen, Ozzy Ozbourne (especially with Randy Rhoads), Steve Morse Band, Paul Gilbert with Racer X, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen (the first two albums), anything by BB King, Bach, Liona Boyd, and Al Dimeola.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote or personal mantra?

A: Always leave a place better than when you found it.

Q: What sources/people have inspired you?

A: Various guitar players that Iíve mentioned above (see Favorite bands question). All of the developers around me here at EA. My wife. And of course, God.

Q: What other online games do you enjoy playing?

A: Neverwinter Nights, Diablo II, FFXII.

Q: Describe one of your most memorable adventures/encounters in a MMOG you've played previously

A: When I use to hang out at the Sweet Dreams Inn at Britain Bank practicing my hiding or musicianship skill, a thief walked by and attempted to steal from my character. I remember when I actually gave him gold not to steal from me. It worked! He ended up stealing from someone else the previous night, but alas, the guards came when a stranger called for them and quickly ended the thiefís life. Those were fun times though.

Q: Do you have any phobias?

A: Like Indiana JonesÖI hate snakes!

Q: Would your ideal vacation be sitting around playing games?

A: Yes! But donít tell my wife that. I do enjoy bike riding as well and really enjoyed vacationing at Mackinac Island last year. There was no computer, no games, and a lot of bike riding and fudge.

Q: Everyone is wondering, how did you get the name Leurocian?

A: There was an old APPLE II game that I use to play called Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. There was an NPC named Lucian in that game. I also remember looking through a 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual and discovered a horse like creature called a Leucrotta. I always thought both names were pretty cool sounding. So, I came up the bizarre subconscious amalgamation of Leurocian from those two names. Donít ask me why I paired those two names together like that. My mind comes up with strange things sometimes...

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add or say about yourself?

A: Yes! Be young. Have fun. Drink lots of Vanilla Coke.

Mysticales: Great! You seem to be quite the creative man! Lets move on how you interact with Ultima Online some.

Q: How long have you been playing Ultima Online?

A: I've played Ultima Online since February, 1998.

Q: What Shard do you play on?

A: Catskills.

Q: Does your wife play UO with you?

A: No. Maybe someday I can talk her into giving online gaming a try.

Q: How would your describe your game playing style in UO? More that of a Fellucian or a Trammie?

A: Both actually. I love playing my fencer / assassin character, and I really enjoy bards as well. Iím looking forward to PvP after I convert my assassin into a ninja. Of course, I enjoy PvM as well. So I suppose I have no preference.

Q: You say that you play an assassin. Are you a famed pvper or do you die a lot? What would you describe your PVP skills as?

A: As Crocodile Dundee once said, ďBetter than averageĒ. ;)

Q: How often do you play UO?

A: Everyday Iím able, even if its only for a few minutes.

Q: Which era of UO did you enjoy most and why? Post AOS or Pre AOS?

A: Pre AoS for the PvP. Post AoS for the customized housing.

Q: As a UO/OSI Staff member, are you allowed in game to "bend" rules for your own personal use? Like make gold, change skills, or get a item?

Leurocian: Absolutely not.

Binky: We like our jobs! Doing this is a great way to lose them! (This is strictly forbidden)

Q: If you could ride one Ethy in UO that wasnít developed. Which would it be?

A: Maybe some sort of cool dragon or something.

Q: Do you have any serious pet peeves about what goes on when you play UO?

A: Skill gain system needs tweaking. Would like to see more action in the seas. Would like to see spawns more dynamic. And I canít stand unkillable guards!

Q: In UO, would you say you have a dark side in your past? Griefing, scamming, or anything similar? If so can you tell us?

A: Never done anything like that.

Q: How do you react to other players who get you upset or angry or know they are cheating? Do you get them banned? Play a dirty joke? Find revenge or ignore?

A: Havenít really encountered this particular experience. But if I do, I will do my job as Iím required to do.

Mysticales: Wow! Sounds like your really hooked on Ultima Online! Finally, a lot of us would like to know about your job some.

Q: How did you become a part of the UO team with so many available developers and other possible candidates?

A: Over the years, I've participated in internal beta tests for OSI/EA such as Publish 16 and Age of Shadows. On the side, I've programmed and designed online game modules and adventures using other software engines. Ultima Online heavily influenced my designing and programming. I would try to mimic Evil in a Can type Champion Spawns, Barding skills such as peacemaking and discordance, as well as items such as the firehorn. I had my own server where people from anywhere could hop on and participate in my world. Prior to working for EA, I was a consultant and an in house programmer for accounting and manufacturing software. I have about ten years of professional programming experience. As a hobby, I've also played and game mastered pen and paper RPGs for over twenty years. During the interview process, Sunsword asked me if I had anything to show them design wise, and I did. So after a couple phone interviews, I flew out to Redwood City California for an interview. Now, here I am.

Q: How big is you cubicle?

A: Large enough to home my two computers, phone, and life size Bela Lugosi / Dracula cardboard stand up poster thingy.

Q: Please describe your job a bit / How does a typical work day look like?

A: I am surrounded by professionals who are truly motivating and love their job. I donít want to sound corny, but thereís a strong, positive energy here. Everyday so far Iíve learned new things dealing with game design and the Ultima Online code base. My typical days have been tackling issues that the player base wants resolved and corresponding with the player base on message boards, soliciting their feedback for possible new game features.

Q: Since you started you have become an idol to all in the community. How do you feel about this? Do you feel it is warranted and do you feel in your natural days/months/years work you can hold this reputation?

A: Good question! I donít see myself as an idol. I see myself as a player Ė now a developer Ė who wants Ultima Online to be the best MMORPG out there. Iím grateful that Sunsword and Fertbert are giving the Live Team the opportunity to interact with the player base about Ultima Online and the ability to respond to their feedback through game development. Iím also very grateful for all the constructive feedback Iíve been getting from the player base. If anything, Iíve always idolized the Ultima Online community, and Iím proud to be apart of it.

Q: Do you chat often in Stratics IRC with other gamers?

A: I participate in the development chats as often as I can. I also correspond with gamers on message forums and via ICQ/AIM.

Q: Do you feel that at the rate you are working on UO, that you will develop a burnout and slow down some?

A: I donít think my wife will allow that to happen. I take my work very seriously, and I hold myself to very high standards. However, I imagine there will come a time where I will slow down a little bit as I get more familiar with the Ultima Online code base and tackle larger projects.

Q: What previous projects did you work on?

A: Most of my professional projects were programming and consulting for accounting and manufacturing software. Personal projects would be designing using Neverwinter Nights, playing guitar, and recording music.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I like all of it. The people I work with, EA, the Ultima Online community, and the opportunity to game design.

Q: What tools or software do you use most often?

A: Excel. Word. Outlook Express for email. Trillian for AIM, ICQ, and IRC. Internet Explorer for internet access. Various script and code editors.

Q: Have you worked on any other Games besides UO?

A: Not professionally. I have game mastered pen and paper games for over twenty years and worked on developing modules skin to Ultima Online themes using the Neverwinter Nights C Scripting engine.

Q: How long on average would you say a typical project would take you to finish?

A: Depends on the project. I cannot really give a clearer answer than this at this time.

Q: What evolutionary or revolutionary changes would you like to see in UO?

A: Better skill gain system. Newer updated graphics. Monsters with really mean AI. Improved spawner. Continued improvements to PvP. Improvements to crafting. Being able use a game controller like in Final Fantasy XI may be cool too. Disclaimer: What I would like to see and what will happen may be different things. These are just my personal likes.

Q: You say gamepad support like FFXI, How would this work in your eyes? And what would the possibility be of this?

A: I really donít know if it would work in Ultima Online or not, so I have little to offer here for comment. It was just a wild thought of mine.

Q: If you were allowed to implement one major change into UO, which would you personally like to add?

A: Better skill gain system.

Q: Have you ever gone out with other OSI staff members or developers and "raided" a shard? Just to show them who owns at pvp? (Or done anything fun with other co-workers on a public shard?)

A: No.

Q: What is the craziest internal event you and your co workers have done? (Either Internal UO shard or just an office party or craziness)

A: I havenít been here very long, so I havenít gotten the pleasure of sharing a lot of crazy events with my co-workers. I would rather answer this question some other time when something really crazy happens. The bard in me doesnít want to disappoint. ;)

Q: What advice would you give to someone with aspirations to do what you do?

A: Get to know people in the gaming industry. Be an active participant in the gaming community. Program or game design on the side.

Mysticales: Thank you Leurocian! Now before we conclude this interview, we would like to ask Binky some questions.

Q: What is your full name?

A: Christopher ďBinkyĒ Launius

Q: What is your job title with OSI?

A: Online Community Manager

Q: How long have you played UO?

A: 8 years...I was playing\working on the game before any of the public testing began.

Q: What are some of your typical duties?

A: Answer questions, raise concerns to the proper levels, update the web page, gather feedback from the community, process interviews and chats, organize player events, give people swag, legal liaison, graphics for emails and promotions, coordinate box production with the marketing group, attend lots of design meetings to make sure the community is represented, and many many more

Q: Do you consider yourself a fun person at work or are you more strict and focus on work?

A: I try to have fun in everything I do, if you are not having fun, itís not worth doing. Having said that, I know when I have to take the happy hat off and lay down the law. Luckily I work with an amazing team so those times are few and far between.

Q: If you could have one wish for UO, what would it be?

A: People would stop exploiting. (it would give us so much more dev time to address other issues and add new content)

Q: Anything you would like to add about yourself or think people should know?

A: I have a UO logo tattooed on my right arm and a Lake Austin logo tattooed on my left forearm.

Mysticales: Well that basically wraps it up. I only have one last question to ask.

Mysticales: Cake or Pie?

Leurocian: Definitely pie. I love pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry pie, and chocolate pie.

Binky: Pecan Pie!

Mysticales: Well that wraps up this interview, I would like to thank Binky and Leurocian for meeting with us and allowing to conduct this interview. Also I would like to thank all you for reading this and joining us!