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Let's Do Lunch!
Player luncheons allow UO players to match faces to the names of characters they interact with in-game on a daily basis. Heather of GL has been a long time coordinator of such events.

Could you give us a brief introduction of who you are?

I am Heather, guildmistress of the Cove Merchant's Guild on Great Lakes, and owner of the CMG Blacksmith Shop at Cove, Felucca. I also coordinate most of the UO Player Luncheons in Texas and host the Ultima Meetups in Austin. I live in Austin, Texas with my two sons, David (six) and Jack (four). When I am not playing UO, I work as a Pharmacy Technician at Walgreens Pharmacy and hope to attend the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas this fall.

How long have you been a part of the Ultima Online community?

I started playing UO when it was first publicly released, on September 26, 1997. I attended a happy hour sponsored by OSI at a bar down on 6th Street in November, where I first met some of the OSI team and other UO players. From March to August of '98, Faramir and Sir Fragmor started hosting UO Lunches every other month here in Austin, and I went to every one of them. I just remember being amazed at how 'normal' everyone was--just regular folks from every walk of life, old and young, male and female, parents and children.

What was the motivation behind starting the Austin UO Players Luncheon community?

Well, I didn't start it, but I am proud to continue it. Faramir and Sir Fragmor started it, and I still use the original website and email list that they set up in '98. I was very excited about the Luncheons happening here in Austin and had talked several of my online guildmates and friends into buying plane tickets to come out for one being planned for September '98. But the player who was planning that one had some problems with is tower being looted in-game and decided to protest by canceling the plans for the luncheon. I was horrified! I really wanted to see my friends!! So I talked to my husband, who also played UO, and we decided to host one ourselves out at the Texas Renaissance Festival in October '98. I now host one at Scarborough Faire on Memorial Weekend in May and another on Columbus Day Weekend in October every year.

There are many others who are continuing the Luncheon tradition in other cities as well. Joshua Rowan has hosted a couple in Seattle. Dor of Sonoma hosted some at a California Pleasure Faire. Angel Storm hosts one every year out at Disney in Orlando Florida. Jinx of The Chosen hosted a couple in New York with Todd "IanStorm" Pratt. KingDavid held one at the Excalibur hotel in Las Vegas in 2001. Lord Minauros holds a get-together at Baycon in Northern California every year in May. If I had the resources to hold a lunch in any city of my choice, I would definitely have one up in Ontario, Canada. There are a lot of UO players up there and many that I know personally that I would love to meet in face-to-face.

Do you remember the first luncheon you hosted? Tell us a little about it.

I remember it very well. I have pictures of the first one, as well as most of the others since then, up on my site at http://playerslunch.com. In October '98, David was about two and a half, and I was four months pregnant with Jack. I remember it went off much better than I had expected. I think we had over 100 UO Players and about 20 various OSI representatives, developers, programmers, GMs, etc. The only catch was that it cost much more than I had anticipated, and I made the mistake of buying tickets for several people that didn't show. Since then, I have gotten better with my accounting and usually come out in the black. The one image I remember most from that first lunch is the picture of Dread Lord DEATH of Knights of the Void [KoV] and Great Lord Lerxst of Golden Sword of Valor [GSV]. They were mortal enemies of two huge PvP guilds on Great Lakes at the time, classic PK vs. Anti guilds, yet there they were at the luncheon "irl," shaking hands, and sitting down to have a beer together. I was also amazed by a player named Kujo who had an Ultima Dragon tattoo on his arm!

What are the biggest challenges you face when organizing player luncheons?

As aforementioned, making the money balance out is the hardest part. I wish things were free, but the cost of food, BEvERages, nametags, site rental fees, Paypal fees, etc. all add up in the end. Another thing I struggle with is putting names to faces. We often have VERY famous players, and I am always extremely embarrassed if I don't recognize someone or forget to mention them in the list of announcements.

Out of all the player luncheons you've hosted, do you have a favorite?

I think my very favorite lunch was at Scarborough Faire in May 2001. We had a whole mess of players from Great Lakes come in from out-of-town, and we all hung out together and went over to Boromir's house afterwards. I remember standing under The Reaper (So named because it actually dropped a HUGE branch right on Calandryll's date the first year at Scarborough -- I think she forgave him for that one, though. I heard they eventually got married.) and looking out at a sea of over 130 faces. It was so amazing having all my very best online friends together in one place: Gwenn of CMG, Basil of LOP, Nephalia D'laine, Attichitchuk the Orc, Krista of The Ranger Station, Redlowinski, Kazola and Randal of HCD, Damien Creel of Sonoma, Jim Spellhurler HCD, Daedin HCD, EdGuArDo HCD, Arakasi, Seer Pann, Tristam TUR, Xtera and FiXXXer of the Great Lakes Roleplaying Council. It was a very bittersweet time because the Volunteer program had just been shutdown and everyone was very emotional.

What is the key to running a successful player luncheon?

Getting good help and involving other players in the planning and execution. I have a wonderful network of supporters and co-hosts for the lunches. Steve Sparks of http://www.sss.org hosts the Playerslunch.com site free of charge. Some of the co-hosts that have helped me the most in the past are Darius of Baja, Luminoso of LGT, SQiRL, DEATH of KoV, Ms. Slippy, Pandora, SysMatrix and even my ex-husband, George of CMG, who supported me through so many of them.

We have also been lucky enough to get a great response from the UO Live Team at OSI. Usually, around 10 members of the team attend the bigger luncheons to answer questions and give out prizes. Some that have been to multiple luncheons in the past and whom I have considered 'staunch supporters' are Rich "Dupre" Vogel, Raph "Designer Dragon" Koster, GM Ghostpig (a.k.a. Lead IGM Eidolon), Jon "Calandryll" Hanna, Sunsword, Runesabre, Goatboy/Orbeus, Melantus, Scorch, Sage, Cynthe, Adrick, Vex, Kerowyn, Debysue "Stargazer" Wolfcale, GM Aslan, Augur, Sannio, Oaks, and FiErY iCe. At the October 2000 lunch at TRF, the weather was particularly nasty, and I was very surprised to see that every one of the scheduled OSI reps was in attendance. I mentioned to Runesabre that I was amazed they all braved the weather to attend; he said: "Well, the players have put up with worse. We want to show our appreciation."

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in hosting a player luncheon?

To steal a phrase: "Just Do It." Simply decide you want to have an event and then do it! Choose a location, advertise your event on UO player fansites, and then have fun! I have a "How To" guide posted on Playerslunch.com with good tips, hints and online resources for hosting a successful event. A great way to meet other UO players in your area is the Ultima Meetup at http://ultima.meetup.com I heard about the Meetups last fall and started hosting them here as well. We get together on the first Monday of every month. Here in Austin, we usually meet at Dave and Buster's, but through the Meetup website, you can chose different venues and vote on where to meet in your town.

Thanks, Heather!

Do you know someone in UO who has contributed a lot of time and energy to the community, or has put forth a great effort to improve the gaming experience of others by offering help or guidance? If so, we'd love to hear about them! Send us an email at [email protected] with why you think this player should be spotlighted on UO.com.

Published: May 2003
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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