Lords of Ultima Browser Game Bends The Knee

Lords of Ultima Browser Game Bends The Knee

The F2P strategy game tenuously connected to the venerable Ultima series shuts down.

Time for a personal confession: I have never understood browser strategy games. I mean, my attention span is long enough to know how the games work, but I still can't believe that the appeal is wide enough to support the millions that seems to exist. EA's connection to Ultima was already that of a conquering usurper, so the announcement that the series would continue as a browser-based strategy game was as insulting as the avatar asking "what's a Paladin?". Now, after four years of life, Lords of Ultima is falling into the Ethereal Void and shutting down as of May 12th.

Lords of Ultima followed the typical constraints of the genre. Players are initially in command of a single city. From there, they build and upgrade buildings, harvest resources, and recruit troops, all with lots of waiting involved. As usual, players could skip that waiting with some cash. With the announcement of the impending apocalypse, EA has disabled the ability to purchase more "Play4Free Funds" and is encouraging players to spend what they have while there's still time.

The game's connection to the Ultima franchise was tenuous at best. It wasn't even set in Britannia, but the new land of "Caledonia" instead. However, it DID feature the Eight Virtues, and controlling land around each of the shrines would grant bonuses to players. However, battling over shrines of "compassion" and "humility" seem ironic and best, and a complete lore break at worst. Perhaps the best way to think of Lords of Ultima is to pretend that these are the false virtues, and EA is actually Lord Blackthorn. Anyways, there are still a few months left if any of the curious wish to take a peak before it all goes black.

Source: Lords of Ultima

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EA has disabled the ability to purchase more "Play4Free Funds"

If you have to purchase them why are they called 'play4free funds', if you pay for them then surely you aren't playing for free?

I never played this game as the "connection to Ultima" was obviously a complete hoax. In the end there will probably not be many people missing it...

And nothing of value was lost.

I also don't -get- browser "games". Practically all of them involve counters running down and resources summing up so that you can have more counters running down and resources summing up... it's the most maddeningly boring thing someone ever came up with. To me at least.

I'd actually like to see a complete modern-tech recreation of the original Ultima saga. Even a total conversion mod for Skyrim, Dragon Age, Neverwinter Nights, or even Minecraft (wouldn't that be a super-ambitious project?) would be a ton of fun to go through.

I know it'd never happen, what with EA owning Ultima and having a very "NO! DON'T DO NICE THINGS FOR FREE!" mentality, but I can still dream.

CriticalMiss:

EA has disabled the ability to purchase more "Play4Free Funds"

If you have to purchase them why are they called 'play4free funds', if you pay for them then surely you aren't playing for free?

Because EA was afraid calling it [We are getting] "money for nothing" might not set too well with customers.

_________________________

And this is yet another example of why games should not be viewed as subscriptions, isntead of the products that they are.

I took a peek at LoU when it first came out, and I don't see the appeal of that sort of "game". It all comes down to having higher numbers (units, resources, etc.); no tactics to be found. The only strategy seemed to be in the manipulating your neighbors into not attacking you and/or ganging up on a common target, and at that point the amount of work eclipses the amount of fun to be had. Can anyone who does like these sort of games explain the appeal?

But we still have Ultima Forever, as recently seen at http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/features/galleryoftheday/10992-8-Ways-Mobile-Publishers-Are-Trying-To-Take-All-Your-Money.3 , right?

(I hadn't even heard of that until today.)

I played it for a couple months back when it first came out it was a good time fill between waiting for raids to start in wow back in the day. Although it did get old after a couple months and it lacked any good depth of game play and just became a pay to win sort of game. You couldn't really make any major battle campaign and everything just turned into slug feasts of burning down city after city.

EA is shutting down niche games like Lord of Ultima due to their audience size not being comparable to large titles such as FIFA. I wrote an article that was published in a local gaming blog: http://lasttokengaming.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/silent-execution-ea-and-lord-of-ultima/ talking about their reasoning and what it might mean for the gaming industry.

I know that this sort of game isn't everyone's cup of tea. But you can say that about MOST types of games. If there is one thing that the history of gaming should tell us, it that people can be entertained by a LOT of different types of challenge. But what happens when the industry says, we're only making games for these two or three types... because they're the types that most of you like. The rest of you will either have to like these too... or do nothing. Because not only will we stop developing the other types, but we will buy out those other types... and their studios too... to ensure there is no competition for what we are selling.

Nooners:
I'd actually like to see a complete modern-tech recreation of the original Ultima saga. Even a total conversion mod for Skyrim, Dragon Age, Neverwinter Nights, or even Minecraft (wouldn't that be a super-ambitious project?) would be a ton of fun to go through.

I know it'd never happen, what with EA owning Ultima and having a very "NO! DON'T DO NICE THINGS FOR FREE!" mentality, but I can still dream.

Ultima 7 in Oblivion was being worked on (and looked pretty well done in screens) last I heard. There already was an ultima 5 done on some other game (Dungeon Siege?)

Jaesic:
EA is shutting down niche games like Lord of Ultima due to their audience size not being comparable to large titles such as FIFA. I wrote an article that was published in a local gaming blog: talking about their reasoning and what it might mean for the gaming industry.

I know that this sort of game isn't everyone's cup of tea. But you can say that about MOST types of games. If there is one thing that the history of gaming should tell us, it that people can be entertained by a LOT of different types of challenge. But what happens when the industry says, we're only making games for these two or three types... because they're the types that most of you like. The rest of you will either have to like these too... or do nothing. Because not only will we stop developing the other types, but we will buy out those other types... and their studios too... to ensure there is no competition for what we are selling.

Then we'll be entertained by the indie scene.

dunam:

Then we'll be entertained by the indie scene.

Will we?

Or will many niche players just give up and play other types of games because nothing good ever gets developed in certain niches anymore. There are already a number of those niches, you know... have been for years. People don't tend to notice until its their personal niche.

I tried Lords of Ultima out when it was released, mostly out of morbid curiosity about what EA was slapping the name of one of my favorite childhood franchises on this time. It was a disappointing, boring game whose only interesting characteristic was trying to pick out which bits of Ultima lore they would bastardized next when naming a building. It was not an Ultima game. It was a cynical cash-in on the name of a once-beloved franchise in the vain hope of attracting old fans to try it out. And its passing shall not be mourned.

I really wish EA, since they seem to have no intention of ever making a real Ultima game ever again (Aside from putting out endless expansions to Ultima Online,) would just retire the name. Let the series rest in piece while its fans continue to repress their memories of how utterly, unfathomably awful Ultima 9 was.

Jaesic:

dunam:

Then we'll be entertained by the indie scene.

Will we?

Or will many niche players just give up and play other types of games because nothing good ever gets developed in certain niches anymore. There are already a number of those niches, you know... have been for years. People don't tend to notice until its their personal niche.

Well I can't speak for you, but I'll be. I'm discovering new games all the time. Sometimes ahead of the curve, sometimes behind. Right now I'm crazy about Cart Life. A year ago it was Reus, samurai gunn and a few others. Nidhogg seems awesome.

Having fun with hearthstone and bloow bowl as well.

--

There's an advantage to games that aren't part of a 'service', in that you can replay them whenever you want.

The only MMO I ever enjoyed was auto assault, but that got cancelled rather quickly unfortunately and I've been wary of 'games as service' model ever since. You tend to pay more and get less.

Ritchian:
I tried Lords of Ultima out when it was released, mostly out of morbid curiosity about what EA was slapping the name of one of my favorite childhood franchises on this time.

To be honest, this was probably what hurt Phenomic the most when they originally released LoU. Most of the immediate response was... this isn't Ultima! And its not. In any way, shape or form. And by tying it to the Ultima franchise, Phenomic (or EA, whichever made that decision) performed a huge error in understanding niche / brand marketing. The browser RTS game is not the sort of thing that is going to appeal to a majority of the RPG / storyline seeking players of the Ultima series.

But in terms of a browser RTS... a game that players expect to take months playing, with lots of potential downtime while things move through your various build/action queues. You can check on the growth of your empire for a few minutes here or there through the day while you are between classes or tasks at work and spend a half hour to an hour on more serious plans during a lunch break or evening, and know that you're doing just fine. They're good for math/statistics people, because the strengths and weaknesses of unit types are all a numbers game... but most of the 'competitive' game is about social engineering. In that sense, most of the best leaders are HR types. They draw in the best strategists, the best math/mechanics players, a few good managers, and the right ratio of aggressive scrappers and defensive/builders to provide the core to a guild... and you use the advantage of a tightly formed group of players against a less organized opposition made up of whoever they can recruit.

It is very much a niche game. And those of us who play it know that. But while there are dozens of games out there, most of them created by independent companies or developers... they aren't up to LoU's standard on a number of levels. Not that LoU couldn't be improved upon... but it hasn't been. Not yet.

Is it okay that I've never heard of this game before?

That depends entirely on whether its a genre that you like to play. If it is, then I'm sorry to tell you that you've missed your chance at one of the best (if not 'the' best in the genre). But if you are like most people, none of this matters until they shut down games you like. If you're a gaming nomad with ADD and you don't spend more than 2 weeks playing any game ever... you don't have much to worry about. Some of us like things with a bit more depth... and thought that people might care enough about the direction of a game producer that controls over 4 billion dollars per year of the industry to be concerned about the impact of their anti-niche game choices.

Like I said in the article, its not the closing of any one game or studio... it's an outlook that puts the shareholder's gains above that of the consumer. If you're fine with that... then clearly, I'm talking to the wrong gamers.

Jaesic:
That depends entirely on whether its a genre that you like to play. If it is, then I'm sorry to tell you that you've missed your chance at one of the best (if not 'the' best in the genre). But if you are like most people, none of this matters until they shut down games you like. If you're a gaming nomad with ADD and you don't spend more than 2 weeks playing any game ever... you don't have much to worry about. Some of us like things with a bit more depth... and thought that people might care enough about the direction of a game producer that controls over 4 billion dollars per year of the industry to be concerned about the impact of their anti-niche game choices.

Like I said in the article, its not the closing of any one game or studio... it's an outlook that puts the shareholder's gains above that of the consumer. If you're fine with that... then clearly, I'm talking to the wrong gamers.

Didn't need to be all nasty about it. I haven't heard about this game before today. And I'm an RPGer. I can spend upwards of two months playing a game.

That's not nasty by any means. The closest it comes is irritation that so few people seem to see the long term ramifications of this sort of policy when held by a company as large as EA.

But as to upwards of two months playing a game... as an RPGer, you should know that most of that genre is already gone. It was already greatly reduced when studios shifted focus from single or small-multiplay RPG's over to development of MMO's and isn't exactly being revived now that the focus is shifting back away from MMO's. What's left? Elder Scrolls is now an MMO... there's Mass Effect and Dragon Age... the Witcher? Two worlds? I remember when the RP genre games were good for hundreds of hours of play just to get through it once. And it mattered which ones you bought because there wasn't time to play all of them. We're lucky now, if a game lasts longer the weekend... and we wait months, if not years, between decent releases.

Oh... and the fastest LoU victory was 163 days, I think. Most alliances win the first crown on a given server/world between 180-200 days. Runners up can take up to or over a year of play to finish.

Jaesic:
That's not nasty by any means. The closest it comes is irritation that so few people seem to see the long term ramifications of this sort of policy when held by a company as large as EA.

But as to upwards of two months playing a game... as an RPGer, you should know that most of that genre is already gone. It was already greatly reduced when studios shifted focus from single or small-multiplay RPG's over to development of MMO's and isn't exactly being revived now that the focus is shifting back away from MMO's. What's left? Elder Scrolls is now an MMO... there's Mass Effect and Dragon Age... the Witcher? Two worlds? I remember when the RP genre games were good for hundreds of hours of play just to get through it once. And it mattered which ones you bought because there wasn't time to play all of them. We're lucky now, if a game lasts longer the weekend... and we wait months, if not years, between decent releases.

Oh... and the fastest LoU victory was 163 days, I think. Most alliances win the first crown on a given server/world between 180-200 days. Runners up can take up to or over a year of play to finish.

I'm not so bothered by that - there's shitloads of oldschool games. What is doesn't bother me, because I have more than enough of what was to make up for it.

I was working in a game store (Microplay, if you've ever heard of it) back when the SNES and Genesis were the things to have, and I witnessed the birth of the PlayStation and the shift from cartridge and disk-based formats. I'm fully trained in resetting the contacts of an NES and know blowing into a cartridge actually makes thing worse.

I've been around for a good long time.

 

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