MEET THE DEV TEAM - by Joshua Rowan, Community Manager

The Ultima Online Development Team
 

THE LEADERS

Anthony "SunSword" Castoro - UO Producer
E3 Event Interview with UO Stratics - May 2004

Jessica "Lady Lu" Lewis - Associate Producer & Team Lead, Samurai Empire
UO Stratics Interview - August 10, 2004


THE DESIGNERS

Michael "Vex" Moore - Designer
Current Specialty: Bard Skills

DUTIES: Vex, a designer on UO Live, started programming 8-bit home computers at age 11, and later built a map editor for Ultima IV on his Atari 800XL using a BASIC compiler. In school and for a while afterwards, he played bass (the guitar, not the fish) in an alternative rock band before eventually moving into database and Web development. Vex started playing UO with the release of T2A, and began working for Origin shortly after the release of Renaissance. In addition to systems design, he also programs, fixes bugs, and does world building and testing.
"In my time here, I have quickly learned the difference in scale between running a MUD with a few hundred players and working on a big-time online RPG. Writing code for a server cluster instead of a single process involves levels of complexity heretofore unknown to me. Having to balance the needs of thousands upon thousands of diverse players completely eclipses the same task in the context of a small MUD. I am still a neophyte in the commercial gaming biz, but in these six short fast-paced months, I have already been able to prove my abilities while at the same time gaining what feels like a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about the relatively new field of massively multiplayer games." - Team Comment 04/09/01
Team Comments - October 30, 2001
Team Comments - August 6, 2001
Team Comments - April 9, 2001

Kai "Helios" Steinmann - Designer
Current Specialty: Localization

DUTIES: Currently, UO Designer Helios is deftly working on the New Player Experience / New Player Retention initiatives and design-side localization stuffs. Of course, he also works to keep his sanity while sharing an office with Hanse, Vex and Adrick every day, which is a job all on its own. :-)
"What am I working on these days? Recently, I have been working on a wide range of localization changes as well as some ideas for animal lore (which you guys liked for the most part - woohoo!). We're always trying our best to improve the localization process to be as unobtrusive to the game's ambiance as possible. There’s always room for more improvement, but at this point, some of the localization changes we’re making now are so transparent that you can't even distinguish them in game. You’ve got to love those programmer types."
Team Comments - October 19, 2001
Team Comments - August 27, 2001

Thomas "Hanse" Eidson - Designer
Current Specialty: Crafting Skills

DUTIES: Hanse is a UO designer and bug fixer extraordinaire. When he's not eradicating bugs with a vengeance, he's busily creating new content for systems such as creature spawn locations/amounts, bulk order deeds, magic spells, map changes, decorator tools, monster enhancements, and many others. Hanse likes to stare at orange juice containers because they say 'concentrate'.
"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." - Team Comment 05/29/01
Team Comments - May 29, 2001
Team Comments - April 3, 2002

Patrick "Leurocian" Malott - Designer
UO Stratics Interview: August 14, 2004


THE PROGRAMMERS

Tim "MrTact" Keating - Lead Programmer
DUTIES: MrTact is the newest server programmer for UO, having recently moved over from QA Engineering. He is notorious for fearlessly asking EA executives pointed questions during company-wide meetings, yet still somehow retaining his job.

"Seriously, as the lead, I am more responsible for the overall development process. I am more aware of the schedule now, and I'm the point man when it comes to taking on onerous duties (like figuring out why the current server build is crashing test centers) so other team members can stay focused on AoS development. Plus, I go to a lot more meetings" - Team Comment 09/04/02
Team Comments - September 4, 2002

Fertbert - Server Programmer
"I'm the new server programmer. I work in C++ on various flavors of UNIX constructing the basic building blocks of the UO code base. Most of what the server programmers do isn't directly seen by the players -- a recent exception being the Publish 16 housing changes. Much of what we work on are new features that the designers need in order to be able to script new gameplay, and that the client programmers need in order to improve the user interface. We also do a lot of behind the scenes work to make the existing code more robust, so that we can continue to reduce server downtime. There's always a server programmer on-call, ready to investigate any shard crashes that the Operations group can't immediately identify as a networking or hardware failure." - Team Comment 07/24/02
Team Comments - July 24, 2002


THE COMMUNITY RELATIONS TEAM

Keith "Sannio" Quinn - Online Content Coordinator
DUTIES: Sannio is Ultima Online's "Online Content Coordinator," which is simply a more professional way of saying he's the company's official "Town Cryer." As the main researcher for the OCR department, it's his job to sort through all the myriad bits of paperwork, e-mails, scraps of notes, and back-alley conversations that relate to UO, and somehow present it to the players in such a way that the company doesn't realize valuable gaming information is being given away for free.
"Sannio's role has switched from being divided evenly between boards and website posts to being fully focused on web updates. Sannio is responsible for "dynamic" news, such as UO.com front page news posts, development documentation write-ups (In Concept, In Development, In Testing, etc), patch message updates, and keeping the event calendar current. If it's something that needs to be posted "now!" then it probably comes from Sannio (with the exception of most of the round-the-clock shard issue posts, which come from our support department)." - Cynthe, 03/14/02
Team Comments - February 1, 2002
Team Comments - October 8, 2001
Team Comments - August 24, 2001
Team Comments - July 26, 2001

Kerowyn - Online Content Editor
DUTIES: Kerowyn is the Online Content Editor and current reigning "Miss Tackiest Office Color 2002". When not stalking her co-workers for their Team Comments, she spends her time communicating with the fansites, arranging chats and interviews, posting web updates, and completing various other miscellaneous writing/editing tasks.
"Kerowyn's role has changed from being divided between front page news posts, Playguide updates, and fansite relations to now focusing on Playguide Updates and the fansites. Now that she has to spend less time focusing on getting the skinny on immediate news information for the UO.com front page, she can spend more time focusing on scheduling interviews and chats with fansites and going through the Playguide to see where we can improve, and what needs to be updated. She also selects and edits the Screenshots of the Week, Spotlights, and keeps the player luncheon page up to date." - Cynthe 03/14/02
Team Comments - July 26, 2001


EVENT MODERATOR TEAM

kieron - Lead Event Moderator


THE PLAYER RELATIONS TEAM

Maleki - Player Relations Manager
Let's see… I came to work for EA/OSI around December of '99 as a Game Master for UO. I had previously spent some time as a Counselor, Seer, and a Senior Companion. Over the past two years, I have spent time as both the Player Relations Manager and UO Product Manager. Prior to working for EA, I attended the University of Central Florida, out in Orlando, FL. I am originally from Tampa, FL.
UO Stratics Interview - August 25, 2003

GM Platinum - Player Relations (Support Team Lead)
"I have been working as a Senior Game Master for just over a year now. I know a lot of you are probably not familiar with the role of a Senior Game Master. Your first instinct may be to request one of us if you are unhappy with the answer another Game Master has given you. However, the best place to send any concerns about in-game service is to [email protected]. The Senior Game Master is there to manage all the calls that come into the queue, as well as complete various administrative tasks. There are some calls we receive that are extremely important, such as calls about hacked accounts and calls from players who have been scammed. Help requests like these need to get attention immediately, and we do everything in our power to make sure a Game Master goes to these calls as quickly as possible. So, if you get a call from a Game Master asking you to provide more information, it is nothing more than an attempt on our part to make sure that high priority calls get attention as quickly as possible." - Team Comment 10/12/01
Team Comments - October 12, 2001

GM Silvani - Player Relations (Senior Game Master)
"Though it may seem like GM’s have godlike powers, we are not “all knowing”. Game Masters need help from the players in-game in order to perform their jobs properly. Many people question the wait times associated with calls. I cannot express enough the need to clarify pages that are sent into the global queue. For example, include the name of the person that you are calling about instead of just saying "some guy". This will expedite the process. If something as simple as a name is included, we can start looking for the player and checking into the situation. The simple facts of who, what, when, where, why and how should be the focus of your call. I know it may seem like 40 characters is not very much room, but you don't have to be worried about writing complete sentences when requesting help. You would be surprised at what we are able to understand after all the pages we go through in a day. Many players will even page into the queue with no spaces between their words in order to include all of their information. It's amusing, but it also gets the job done." - Team Comment 01/18/02
Team Comments - January 18, 2002

GM Ash - Player Relations (Game Master)
"Along with the public responsibilities, Game Masters work behind the scenes to talk about Ultima Online issues and policy. When I was younger, I always joked that I would never use my Student Congress skills in real life. Then I learned that as a Game Master, one function of the job is to help debate and shape UO policy. When players make suggestions to Game Masters, they listen to what is said and bring it up in policy discussions. We present the ideas, and if we can reach a consensus, the changes are implemented. The discussions are always interesting and are very similar to policy issues that people face in the real world." - Team Comment 08/31/01
Team Comments - August 31, 2001

GM Carbon - Player Relations (Game Master)
"I was hoping to let slip some scandalous Game Master secrets here, but alas, I can't think of any. We're just normal folks trying to make the game run smoothly for you. Well, most of us are normal. Nothing more exciting than that, I'm afraid. Instead, I think I'll use this space to further emphasize a point GM Silvani made in her Team Comments. If you decide to page for help, and it's about some other player who has committed some heinous crime against you, include their name and what they did in your page. A lot of players complain about the amount of space given for a page, yet they never include any useful information. Instead of paging with: "ok, like some guy with a robe was just totally bad. Like way bad,” please include the player’s name and what he did. So, it would look more like this: "GM Carbon is dumb and he turned my castle sigil purple!" Now we can get the lowdown on this GM Carbon fellow and what he did immediately when you page, instead of much later when the other player has long since logged off." - Team Comment 02/22/02
Team Comments - February 22, 2002

Other Game Masters:
GM Dengar
GM Fletch
GM Halona
GM Mordor
GM Panda
GM Phields
GM Pigpen
GM Roland
GM Spada
GM Starblade
GM Visigoth


THE QUALITY ASSURANCE TEAM

Brian "BIGtiny" DuBose - Quality Assurance Director
DUTIES: Being the manager of the UO bug exterminators, BIGtiny's job is to make sure that bugs are quickly removed from UO society. Usually under the cover of darkness and with as few witnesses as possible. BIGtiny could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman said, "We have nothing against bugs; in fact, I have an ant farm at home. But when bugs enter the world of Britannia, they cross the line and must be dealt with... severely."

Daniel "Oghma" Betsinger - Quality Assurance Process Lead

FarmerFarley - Quality Assurance
UO Stratics Interview: April 12, 2005

Lindsay "Jex" Collier - Senior Quality Assurance Tester
JoAnna "Aardvark" Green - Senior Quality Assurance Tester
Zafer "Kat P" Hamza - Senior Quality Assurance Tester

Craig "Usul" McDonald - Online Testing Coordinator
DUTIES: Being one of UO's Lead bug exterminators, Usul's job is to make sure our QA group is using the latest and deadliest insecticides. Many of these insecticides are potentially harmful to the environment, and sometimes downright illegal; so his duties also include keeping the EPA and left wing environmental groups off our backs. Hey, you may not like carcinogenic chemicals in your food, but at least your dinner plate won't be garnished with a cockroach. :)

Grok - Quality Assurance Tester
"Our unofficial motto in QA is: "Silence is louder than applause". What this means is that if we've done our job, no one notices. While this may not seem to be the most glorious position, I am certainly extremely proud of our contribution. This was my first shipped title, and I couldn't have picked a better project to work on. QA as a whole has spent many a late night in the office making sure LBR had as successful a release as possible." - Team Comment 03/01/02
Team Comments - March 1, 2002

Anthony Dimario - Quality Assurance Tester
Mike "Sihugo" Green - Quality Assurance Tester
Jay Jack - Quality Assurance Tester
Lucas Johnston - Quality Assurance Tester
David Jones - Quality Assurance Tester
Trey "Rosicrux" Neshyba - Quality Assurance Tester
Jonathan Reynolds - Quality Assurance Tester
Brian "Helix" Richardson - Quality Assurance Tester
Tim Stewart - Quality Assurance Tester
Christopher "Tgyps" Tschacher - Quality Assurance Tester
Sarah "Jazz" Tye - Quality Assurance Tester

Bonnie "Mesanna" Davis - External Lead Tester