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    Multi-Player Gaming and Ultima Online
    by BlackSun

    I remember when I first bought my computer almost 2 years ago. I knew the day I decided to take the plunge that I would also have to buy a game for it. After thinking about all the available options, and considering what sort of title I would be interested in, I decided to get Diablo by Blizzard Entertainment. I remember it clearly. I put the game in, selected a character name, created a multi-player game on Blizzards, and I was in. Then after a few minutes of wandering around, someone joined my game. And we were walking around the town together having a conversation. Now I had been in chat rooms before, but this was different. Now I was thrust into this unknown world full of danger with another user, and we were about to embark on an adventure. It was like dungeons and dragons, but without the need to imagine the universe you traveled. Needless to say, I was hooked, it was the kewlest thing I experienced in a while. I was pk'ed (Player Killed) about 8 hours later for the first time. I was put into a state of shock with the unexpected death of a character who I had grown so fond of, but that's a whole other story.

    Thus began my love of the internet multi-player gaming world. I have owned a few online games now. Titles like X-wing vs Tie fighter, Jedi Knight, Red Alert, StarCraft and Ultima Online. In my opinion they are all great games in their own right. Though a few that I have mentioned definitely lack the ease and simplicity of Blizzard with free access, and user friendly set up. With this said I will have it be known that my intention in writing this isn't to mention how Blizzard has the best online gaming service around nor is my intention to mention that some of the other gaming services fail to make internet gaming an easy, enjoyable experience. No, I'm writing this to voice my displeasure with Ultima Online and Origin.

    I remember hearing about Ultima Online a long time before I came to purchase it. Given my recent interest in multi player games the idea of playing a game of this genre, and in a world said to be so huge and ever changing, sparked a lot of interest and curiosity in me. Well I didn't buy the game right away. In fact I didn't really know much about it other than what sort of game it was supposed to be. Well one day I put Total Annihilation back on the shelf (big mistake) and impulsively bought UO. Now I will admit I knew that only the first 30 days of my online adventuring with this title were free, and that after this time a charge of $9.95 in US funds was required to continue playing. I didn't care, I was so psyched. Well I played, it took me some time to get used to it, but I was actually having a pretty good time. I went from a guy who could get killed by a lama, to a guy who was killing ogres.

    Then after my month of joy I had to make a decision. I terminated my account with Ultima Online. Now you might be wondering, why? I was having such a good time why would I refuse to pay the fee to continue playing? Well, the answer is quit simple. I was getting ripped off! Yes, I knew before hand that I was going to have to pay after my free month, but I found after a while this was ridiculous. This game was giving me no more pleasure than any of the other games I had played online. It's not like this game did something the others didn't. The only thing this game did was prove that a company I once respected for great games like Wing Commander was money grubbing and greedy. Wasn't the fact that I played $89.95 in Canadian dollars for the game in the first place enough? Why would the company feel the need to resort to a non-secretive form of stealing?

    I'm sure that Origin would argue that maintaining a service as huge as this, with a data base holding all the users characters throughout the world costs money to maintain. I understand such a production doesn't come without expenses, but I don't see Blizzard asking for more money after the customers initial game purchase. On top of that, $89.95 is pretty steep to begin with compared to $60-70 Canadian for most other PC games on the market. If money is so badly needed to keep UO up and running, why don't they stop asking for an additional charges each month. How does that help increase revenue you might ask? Well I'm sure knowing that you can play this game online for free is sure to increase sales for the actual product itself. I know plenty of people who would love to play this game, but just don't want to play a monthly charge. If Origin were to remove this charge I can guarantee about 5-6 other people I know who would buy this game in an instant. Something to think about Origin.

    100 sales, to pissed of people who reluctantly pay the charge and continue playing? Or 1000 sales, to happy customers, who bought and play the game because it's free?

    Well, I'm not gonna beat a dead horse trying to get my point across. Just something to think about. A great company who has lost my respect, as I'm sure they have lost the respect of many others. Though I'm not completely nave, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there playing UO at this very moment who have nothing but praise for Origin. UO was, and is a great idea with fantastic promise. The game has its share of problems like lag, but then what online game doesn't? If Origin ever decides to waive the monthly charge I will return to this intriguing, and fantastic world as quickly as I canceled my initial account.

    I'd like to close this observation, and personal opinion of mine By recommending the internets multi-player games to all game lovers out there. You just have to ask around as to the best place to be. I for one would like to take the time to tip my hat to Blizzard Entertainment for providing what I consider to be the best online experience available. Even with its share of problems I will admit that when it's FREE, you are in no position to complain. And I am for one am extremely satisfied with Blizzard efforts.

    All questions or comments can be directed to BlackSun

    " "

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