Ultima Producer’s Letter – November 2, 2011

It’s here.

It’s finally here – the Ultima Franchise Producer’s letter to the UO community. Jeff Skalski mentioned it and a few minutes ago it was posted on the UO Herald.

This is a proper introduction to both the Ultima Online and Ultima communities.

Jeff Skalski
2 Nov 2011 18:22:39 EST

Hello UO Fans,

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself properly. My name is Jeff Skalski and I’m the Ultima Franchise Producer here at BioWare. As many of you know Calvin left us two months ago to move onto his next adventure in life. I’ve stepped in to help Mesanna and the team to stay on course. It’s been a wild and challenging ride since I joined the team and I still have plenty to catch up on in terms of the latest UO content. In fact, I have exactly 12 years to catch up on which is a lot in the MMO space. Before I go any farther let’s get some of the big questions I’m sure on your minds out of the way…

1) Franchise Producer for Ultima? What does that mean?

It means I have the best job in the world. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this was ever going to happen. Who would have thought some UO RP’ing high school kid from the 90’s who got into the beta would get this opportunity 15 years later. I’ve been a huge fan of this franchise for quite some time. It started the day I first played Ultima 1 on my friends Macintosh and continued with each new adventure into Britannia. We love Ultima here at BioWare and have a huge respect for what it has accomplished. Ultima made a huge impression on so many of us who work on RPG’s and MMO’s.

We have lots of exciting things to share, however that day is not today. I will say we are just getting started. The re-releases of the classics on GOG.com were just the beginning. Launching UltimaForever.com and giving players an official place to download for free one of my favorite games in the series, Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar is just a baby step to where we are going. Expect to see more content celebrating all things Ultima on that site over the coming months. Meanwhile, UO will continue to move forward with your help. The team and I really want to hear what you want to see next, so please let us know. I can’t promise everything, but I can promise we’ll consider everyone’s feedback as we layout the plan for the next 14 years. 😉

2) What are your plans for Ultima Online?

Well, being that I’m a retired UO player who’s in the transition of becoming active again, there are 3 areas of focus I plan to put a lot of my time and energy towards.

Communication with the people of Britannia who matter most… you the players.
* I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening lately. It’s obvious to me that you demand to hear more from us, so I plan to improve that. Starting with this 8 week late Producer letter. (Hey at least I admitted it.) Joking aside, I had a lot of Ultima Online to catch up on before I felt I could type this up.
* Second, for those UOForums and Stratics users you’ll see me and the team online more. We’re going to be kicking off weekly Q&A sessions with members of the team. Expect to hear from Mesanna soon.

Breathing life back into areas that have long been forgotten.
Ultima Online is huge. It’s crazy to even begin try to explain the scale of the game to a new player. As the game has grown over the last decade some areas have begun to get lost in the shadow of new content and features. I really want to see new life brought back to these areas and keep you guys and girls on your toes. You’ll see a little of that each publish. Just like the upcoming Shame dungeon revamp in pub 73.

Last, but definitely not least, kill bugs.
We have too many bugs sitting in our queue and I want to take an aggressive approach to fixing them. We won’t be able to knock them all out at once, but we can start taking out chunks of them each publish. We read the bugs lists on the forums and I’m planning to reach out to the community on which ones we should attack first.

Before signing off on this letter I just want to say it’s refreshing to come back to UO and still see so many passionate fans from all corners of the globe dedicated to this world of Sosaria. 2012 will no doubt be an exciting year for us all as we build up to the 15th year anniversary.

Cheers everyone and see you online,

Jeff Skalski
Ultima Franchise Producer
Tweet me anytime at @jeff_skalski

Last week I mentioned three things that I thought were important to UO’s future:
1) Act like BioWare owns it.
2) Raise the level of communications.
3) Talk to us about the short and long-term plans for UO.

It sounds like #2 is being met. #3 is a toss-up bug fixes and revamping older/neglected areas do count, and we already know about the ongoing high resolution artwork upgrade. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt – we could hear more in the Q&A sessions, there is the part about “We have lots of exciting things to share, however that day is not today” and there is the bit about UltimaForever.com.

Updated: In response to a question I asked about overhauling the UO Herald and UltimaForever.com, Jeff Skalski sent this response: “If I get my way yes. 😉 It’s time to go back to our roots and bring back UO.com

Note: This was originally published on UOJournal.com.

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