Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss Interview with Producer Cal Crowner

Updated Thu, Sep 10, 2009 by Martuk

Few MMORPGs have had the staying power of Ultima Online and the game just got a fresh infusion of new content from the its latest expansion the Stygian Abyss. Ten Ton Hammer recently got the chance to speak with Ultima Online's Producer Cal Crowner about what's in store for the Ultima Online community with the new content in the Stygian Abyss expansion.

Ten Ton Hammer: Why did you decide to do another expansion for Ultima Online? It’s been a little while since Kingdom Reborn came out, but why not just continue to do the free content releases?

Cal Crowner: We don't really consider Kingdom Reborn an expansion. Kingdom Reborn was an engine update that was going to eventually change the look and feel of how people played UO. Initially, Stygian Abyss would only be able for people that had the Kingdom Reborn. Since Kingdom Reborn did not go that well, we had to take a look at what direction we needed to go.

We had a plan for the game, there were design docs for it, and they gave a preview and it was like “Ok, this is what we’re going to do and with the new engine it will be great. It’s a new era for UO.”

And then we had to take a step back and look at it. We decided that this isn’t really where the player’s heads are. So what we did is we pretty much adapted all of what we originally did for Stygian Abyss and made it so that people could play it with the classic client. So the idea was always there to do Stygian Abyss. All we did was pick it up and finish it.


Ten Ton Hammer: During the G4TV Interview, Josh Drescher talked about bringing back the old Ultima Online players and getting those guys back in the game. So what are you doing in Stygian Abyss to really draw those players back in?

Cal Crowner: I think the most important thing that we’ve done is bring in a lot of the things that players already do. I know I talk about this all the time and folks say that I am kind of playing favorites, but I do like the idea of the chicken coop because it’s an idea that players had that we’re bringing in. We’re updating how camp spawn play actually works and how the encounters work.

We actually have environments that are different, and new in how we actually designed the game. It’s not like we were making an expansion just to make an expansion. There was a lot of love and focus that went into doing this and I think what really attracts people to UO is there’s a sensibility and respect for the franchise. I think when people feel that and it goes into an expansion that’s what attracts them. That’s what we’re actually seeing on the forums is folks telling us that we got it right. That this feels like the way UO was.

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