Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ultima Online Rune Griefing, Boating, Carpentry Griefing and more

Early in the game's history, there was a particularly naughty nasty trick you could play on people that involved runes and Moongates. It was incredibly annoying yet hilarious. GM's (And the victims) absolutely hated people like us for pulling it.

We had coded runes in our guild, and Whenever anyone in our guild had a rune marked "Home" or "Guild" or "Britain", it was bad news for whoever picked the thing up and used it. Those runes always lead to tiny islands we found while out on the ocean in a boat. We would often walk around Britain, stealing people's runes, and making sure they ended up with those runes, while one of us waited on the Island. Or, we would just open a gate by the Brit Bank and see who decided to jump in. Once there, we would kill the person, loot them, and leave the ghost completely stranded on that tiny island until a GM came and got them off. It became such a widespread problem that Gm's eventually had to install teleporters on some of the smaller islands and prevented access to others. It was glorious.

And who could forget the runes that instead lead to the most dangerous parts of dungeons like despise, or isolated "lairs" where people had untamed dragons waiting to kill whoever entered so they could return for the loot later.

"Logjam Boating" was a form of Griefing that a specific alliance of guilds implemented. Some guilds early on stole dozen of boats. Literally. The guilds worked out a plan together to park their stolen boats on every possible landing spot in Buccaneer's den, and then locked them down and left them there to prevent all other boats from landing. The guilds went on a mass Dreadlord killing spree, and owned the Island for a brief time until a few other guilds who had Runes marked for the Island, gated in all at once in a large PVP battle.

Carpentry Griefing was one everyone remembers well. One minute, you are not paying attention, and then next, someone has built a table and piano around your character, trapping you in the corner:)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Defining Moment: The Assassination of Lord British

Rarely does a game have so defining a moment as Ultima Online had. A moment which set the tone for things to come.

During his in game roleplaying appearance to the Beta testers of UO to stress test the server, Lord British was to appear before the entire population of players currently playing the beta. Lord British was a character of UO creator Richard Garriott and overloard of UO, and was flagged to be invulnerable, as he was in every Ultima game previously. However, and oversight when logging on caused him to lose his invulnerability, although nobody knew this.

Rainz, a beta player was among those at Lord Blackthorn's Castle with those lucky enough to be in his presence. The plan was for Lord British to leave Blackthorn's castle and arrive to his castle to the awaiting mob of players(99% of the players were awaiting him at his castle, while the remaining few were at Blackthorn). He never got there. As a result of guards being disabled in Blackthorne Castle, Rainz was able to snoop and steal a Firefield Scroll from another of the few who were at Blackthorn castle. Rainz quickly cast the FLamestrike, to the amusement of all in attendance. As Lord Blackthorn laughed off the attack, to everyone's shock, Lord British fell over dead. Comments were seen left and right of "LB is dead!!!" and "HE DIED?" Blackthorn then summoned creatures to slaughter everyone in sight.

A direct quote from Player Rainz
The servers had just been taken down to prepare for the huge influx of players for the speech Lord British and Lord Blackthorne were giving throughout Britannia. When the servers came back up, I strolled through Britain with Helios, my fellow guild member. We headed to Blackthorne’s castle where the first speech was being given. LB, Blackthorne, and their jesters were up on a bridge orating to the masses. Unfortunately I wasn’t playing my mage character, so casting spells from a spellbook was out of the question. Luckily my character was a good thief who had high “stealing” skill. I desperately searched the backpacks of those around me and eventually came upon a fire field scroll. After that it was pretty simple, I just cast the scroll on the bridge and waited to see what would happen. Either LB or Blackthorne made the comment “hehe nice try”, can’t recall exactly who. It was a humorous sight and I expected to be struck down by lightning or have some other evil fate befall me. Instead I heard a loud death grunt as British slumped to his death. After that it was just pure mayhem, Blackthorne or another force summoned 4 daemons into the castle and people were dying left and right.

Rainz was banned very quickly from the beta test afterwards. UO staff cited Rainz continual use of Exploits without reporting them going against the spirit of the beta as the reason for his ban, but many thought it was simply retribution for the embarrassment. Rainz was elevated to heroic status among online gamers in forums.

If Lord British can be killed with such impunity by a thief, what else can happen in this game? Players quickly learned that there were almost no boundaries.

This event remains the most memorable event in MMORPG history.


Griefing. A word that came into existence in Ultima Online that continues to be used to this day, usually in a derogatory fashion. But Griefing, while some take it overboard, was often just a part of the game. Often the most fun parts of the game. Ultima Online was an amazing game pre-Trammel that sadly has yet to be replicated in this day and age, mostly because of the carebears that have taken over the gaming world and whined that all games must be easy and skilless. You really had to be there to understand what it was like. No amount of explaining can really give you a feel for a giant world where you could do anything, with almost no rules. To those who wanted a simple game where they could farm dungeons and fight NPC bosses without worrying about other is now your era since you cried enough about it to make developers pansy up the games. But when Ultima first came out, it was the era of the Dreadlords, exploiters and PVPers. Murderers, and guilds thriving in a lawless land where you could do almost anything, anytime, anywhere.

Well folks, its been at least 13 years of gaming for me, and stories from the dawn of Starcraft and Ultima Online, to Warcraft 3, various shooter games and MMORPG's like World of Warcraft, Dark Ages of Camelot, and more.

Often the best time to play a game is in the Beta phase, and right when the game comes out. It enables you to experience what it was like before the developers nerf it to hell and dumb it down so even inept players can have fun, instead of forcing players to develop skill.

I understand that some people look at griefing, and powergaming with disdain, but if that is the case, this blog is not for you. In the end, you are the ones that really won. The games today are tailored to the roleplayers and instance players who want peaceful farming and dungeon crawling anyways, so you do not have a whole lot to truly complain about.

This blog stands as a testimony to what gaming was like when various games came out, starting with the King of all MMORPG's. Ultima online.

I will be updating it regularly.