Executive Decision

by Azaroth | January 17th, 2011

Or… “Pushing Back (Sorry!), And What We Want To Accomplish”

It’s a difficult decision. We probably can release now, but we’re slightly uncomfortable with the level of polish, and there are a few things we’d love to rework somewhat. To push back or not?

Is it worth it?

What are the consequences one way or another?

These are the questions we’ve been asking ourselves.

In the end, it comes down to this:

Ultima Online has been around since 1997. Everyone knows about IPY. Most UO fans have been playing for a very long time. They’re not going to lose interest in UO, or in IPY, just because of a couple weeks of delay.

Some people will be very upset initially. Others will take the opportunity to troll for one reason or another. For the most part, they’ll all log in when the big day comes.

I think the beautiful thing here is that I don’t have investors or bosses rapping on my door and demanding a release in a state I’m not entirely comfortable with. That doesn’t mean there aren’t risks, however.

I considered that I perhaps risk losing out on the wave of excitement we’re riding right now. I didn’t want to always wonder what would have happened with the server had I not delayed, causing people to potentially be disappointed.

Now, is a small delay a big deal? Not particularly. But I worry that some might lose interest anyway. Not worrying would be a symptom of not caring. I care a great deal.

The people that are, at least relatively, new to Ultima Online might get turned off by a delay. Maybe. This is a market I’m very excited to appeal to, and turning them away unintentionally is the last thing I want to do.

However, I also think these people are the first that’d be turned away (for good) with a launch that’s not up to par.

In the end, I think people will appreciate a smooth, polished launch more than a quick one. If you’re interested in playing IPY 2 right now, I think you’ll probably still be interested in early Februrary.

Besides, I’ve been working on this project since July ’09. Seneschal and I have been working day and night since July 2010. As much as pushing back may disappoint some, as much as it may disappoint ME… I just refuse to launch this long term project, as important to me as it is, in a state that I’m not entirely certain of.

I’m not necessarily saying we’re “buggy” right now – and the base of the game is time tested and made from old IPY code. 70% of our beta testers voted to launch when we held a poll on this very subject. Certainly, anything anyone would encounter in the first weeks is just fine.

However, we’ve just added so much to the game. Nobody has ever done something like this before with UO. Nobody. This is the most ambitious UO expansion pack ever. Period. In the history of UO. Free shard or paid. That’s a big deal, and it requires careful testing as well as thought and rethought. We also need true testing time, and we feel like handling the day to day of a crazy UO server won’t afford us enough quality time with the design and the code to fix things promptly, fix things right, and make everything as fun as possible for you.

Obviously a little more time is going to be needed when compared to most shard launches, and we’re committed to the quality of your experience. We want you to log in, have fun, and not see any problems.

No, two or three weeks extra doesn’t guarantee perfection. I’m not trying to pretend that it does. It’s a large project. MMOs are a lot of work.

If you’re interested in IPY, nothing out there right now is going to take your attention away from it just because we’re taking a little extra time to polish the experience and get things right. Ultimately, the more dangerous thing is to launch with too many bugs. The disappointment of a delay is temporary. The disappointment of crashes on launch day because hundreds or thousands of people are mucking with new systems is forever.

In the meantime, we’re going to use this opportunity to not only fix, polish, rethink a few things to make them even more fun while finishing up a few others, but we’re going to be using it to create MORE excitement for IPY.

We’re not sitting still – we’re going to use this time for promotions and new community tools, a new website, slicker forums, more wiki content, interviews and posts in other communities, plugs on big websites and advertisements. We’re going to take this time to actually make launch BIGGER than it was before, and we’re going to make sure that the shard STAYS big because it’s polished when you first log in.

We’re almost finished right now. We really could probably be ready for the original launch date. But we’d be risking not being ENTIRELY ready, and you deserve better than that. IPY deserves better than that. Ultima Online deserves better than that.

Our original launch date of Friday the 21st was a promise to you that I don’t take breaking lightly. Because that’s what it is, a broken promise. But a more important unspoken promise is a polished and smooth experience, with as few major problems as possible from the getgo. Given just a bit more time, we can do all of that.

I dont think a launch should be rushed when there are questions. Because even when everyone is totally sure, there are bound to be unforseen problems. We’ll take unforseen over forseen any day of the week in this particular sense.

I’d like to thank everyone interested in IPY, everyone in the IPY community, and everyone in beta for their help, their enthusiasm, and their patience. IPY is going to be great, and I hope you’ll allow us a small amount of extra time to make sure it’s even better. This is the second evolution of Ultima Online, this is Classic Ultima Online for the future. We believe in our direction and our design, and because you’re here.. we hope you do too.

Allow us just a little time to make everything even better.

In the end, it comes down to this:

We really just want some more time to make things even better than they are. We’re tying up loose ends, fixing bugs, taking beta tester opinions, and smoothing everything out. We’re going to take that time and use it well, and you’re going to have the best, most innovative Ultima Online server of all time to play on – when we feel we’re truly ready, with no question marks involved.

IPY 2 Final Release Date:

2/11/11

(or 11/2/11 depending on where you live)

This is the final launch date. No matter what, we will open the doors on Friday, February 11th, 2011. This is a promise to you that I will not break. It would probably be a week earlier, but we want to skip over Superbowl weekend.

Now, why February 11th? Why not January 28th?

Yes, there’s the Superbowl in the middle. But we’re waiting longer than a week because of the nature of the delay:

It’s not because we’re not ready. It’s not because we just can’t right now and we’re scrambling. We’re letting you know a week in advance, and we’re not doing a bunch of little tiny delays.

What we want is more time to add more polish and find more bugs, and we demand of ourselves that we absolutely never push back again.

I understand how it may be hard to explain to your friends that the launch date is now different. We’re going to make that up to you and make it easier for you with lots of great new content previews. We’re reworking Pirates and the Buccs’ Den battleground into a new concept that’s REALLY awesome, we’re going to show off (and add more) Portals, new houses, new ships, achievements, we’re going to put up videos… and we’re even thinking about a Monster Play system.

It’s going to rock.

Just allow us a bit more time and we’ll all make UO history together.

Thank you once again, genuinely, to all of the IPY community.

3 Responses to “Executive Decision”

  1. As a beta tester, I was excited to be a part of launch on Friday. I had confidence that the server was ready to go.

    However, considering how many new systems are being implemented, I understand your desire to make absolutely certain that everything is in order before the ball starts rolling down the hill.

    Looking forward to Feb 11th!

  2. Superbowl? I heard that Brett Favre is retiring JUST in time for the IPY launch.

    Honestly, do what you gotta do, if you build it, they will come. Next level beta testin, cmon peeps!

  3. I admire that fact that you’re pushing it back. Of course we’d all love to jump right in and start working on our Chars. But I think I speak for everyone when I say we’d much rather have a polished awesome product rather than something that hasn’t been fully tested.

    Keep up the great work, and we’ll kick the countdown a few weeks back. :)

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International man of mystery, jetsetting billionaire playboy, world renowned philanthropist and notorious double agent, Azaroth enjoys charitably running online games in his free time for the people he loves most - internet stalkers.

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