My return to Ultima Online has left me thinking about why this antique game resonates with me when so many newer and flashier titles have left me feeling flat.
One draw that UO has that so many others don’t is a dedicated contingent of contract staff (Event Managers) that run events and scenarios, playing characters in the game and interacting with players and player communities. It’s an extension of the successful and popular volunteer program of the early days of UO (which was derailed by a lawsuit).
Advice to developers: in-game staff is critical. Obviously out-of-character support is vital (and just as obviously most companies short-staff support — when your accountants start tearing their hair out and screaming that you have far too many GMs, then you probably have about half of what you need).
But it’s just as important to have staff in the world that are part of the world. Your NPC queen should stand up from her throne now and again, stretch, and stroll down to the nearest player-run village to borrow a cup of sugar. Or something.