By Al Giovetti


Ultima Online: Kill the Player Killers?

by Al Giovetti

Rescently PC Games, a magazine edited by Steve Klett sklett@pcghames.com who takes the pseudonymn "The Player" and another writer known as "The Opponent" did a point counter point on the last page of his magazine: PG Games, February, 1998, pg. 102, volume 5, number 2. (Editor: It should be pointed out that Al Giovetti was a contributing editor to PC Games, when it was known as Electronic Entertainment, and was one of the contributing editors that helped launch the magazine with Gina Smith, who now has a television show on computers.) The article entitled Face-Off: Kill the Player Killers was a an analysis of the pros and cons of player killing in Ultima Online. In the article the Opponent lauded the joys of killing helpless characters and especially newbies and stealing all their stuff, while the Player defended the newbies and weak players' right to play the game unmolested.

The article had a distasteful overtone of disrespect for those who oppose player killing, more than once referring them to cowards or wussies, not only from The Opponent's point of view but also from the editor's who interesting enough was Steve Klett, the very person who was writing the counter point to the article's pro-player killing bent. This seems to be another case of the wolf guarding the hen house door, similar to Origin making counsellors and game masters out of player killers.

The following is the text of an open letter sent to Steve Klett on thier interchange:

You both have missed the point.

Most, if not all, of the people who play Ulima Online, hereafter referred to as UO, as player killers are cowards and bullies who get their jollies humiliating other people. A very small percentage are opportunists, read as greedy, who kill others to steal all their hard earned cash. And other than the occasional liar, I have found no one in UO who plays a player killer to make the game richer by role-playing an evil character.

I have yet to meet a player killer who did not run at the first sign of dying. When met with superior force or equal force they run and hide. They are always the first to pick up their marbles and run home to moma.

Most player killers hunt in packs of several. They have a mage or two to spell them up if hurt. They have backups so that they can ambush the lone player, which is why travelling with friends is one of the most effective deterrents to PKing in UO. Which unfortunately, leaves those who like to play as lone adventurers out of luck in UO.

Tactics used by player killers are those of the coward. In several treasure rooms, the player killers, hereafter called PKers, block off the entrance and fill the rooms with fire, by blanketing the area with fire field. If you want to live you must teleport, recall or gate to another location. Another case of killing like a coward.

The other problem is that once the player killer kills someone, they leave the scene quickly after loading up with the loot. They usually find someone alone or separated from their party, after befriending the party, then kill the straggler, and very quickly recall or gate to another location, such as a bank. Then the Pkers go to another shard or another location far away, making it impossible for the victems to find them. They never stand and fight. I ask you are these the actions of a corageous player or "people with spine," referred to in your "face-off"?

If you become a PK hunter, you are faced with these same spineless people running at the first sign of trouble, moving to other shards, only fighting those who are too weak to fight back, and other tactics of cowards and bullies. Online games continue to have the same problem, you cannot have a decent battle against an enemy who can go offline to sleep and recouperate, while you are left to spend your energies to vainly search for them. Online games, give too much advantage to the cowardly, hit and run murderers. There are no real consequences to their actions.

People who are against PKers and PKing are not "wussie's" as your article suggests. The real wussies are the cowards who PK.

The other problem with PKs is they make the game boring. Many claim they turn to PKing out of boredom. When the point of fact is, if a game does not have other events that are more interesting, and the players turn to pking, this is the sign that the game is dead.

Ultima has a long history of games that have lots of things to do. The over 60 skills in Ultima have supporting them involved pocedures that produce useful and saleable items in the game. The designers in UO have seen fit to ruin the economy and promote PKing to the point of overshadowing the reasons why UO has been successful over the years.

Of all the skills, only tailoring remains as a reasonably profitable venture. You can still make money on skull caps and female plate bustiers. Unlike tailoring, smithing skill requires that you have skill in mining and in tinkering. Alchemy, Fishing and Cooking are just barely profitable. Ultima was never as boring as UO is.

In the ten (Ed: Yes I know that only Ultima 1-8 were released. There were three Ultima sevens: Black Gate, Forge of Virtue, and Serpent's Isle) single player Ultima games that have been released, there have always been scripted quests and multiple professions to occupy the player in other pusuits. The quests lead you ever onward to new lands and new adventures that were in constant development by the Origin design teams. In UO you can see the entire game world, including the caverns beneath Buckaneer's Den in a few weeks.

Ultima was never about player killing, it was about good role playing. The Online version of the game has seriously degenerated to an unfulfilling romp which resembles Quake and Diablo. And while Quake and Diablo are great games, eventually you tire of them and move on. Unfortunately, if UO is nothing but a reincarnation of these games: "I have been there and done that."


Subject: Bravo! From: Lou Capuano
Having played UO during the Beta Test, and then in the first 6 months of its start, I was greatly refreshed to read your article on the internet. I could not agree with you more, in fact, although it truly broke my heart, I canceled my UO account shortly after they changed the recall spell so you could not recall in or out of dungeons. I think UO is the best role-playing game on the internet, but I simply could not take the player killing anymore. I too wrote an article about the player killing, and included what I thought to be an acceptable solution. Unfortunately, UO never implicated a NON-PKING Server. Not even one. Anyway, if you would like to read my article, it is at: www.mpogd.com/editorials/ed59.htmlBest of luck to you, and again... BRAVO!! Lou Capuano


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