A recent visit to UOSS reminded me why I never visit there much anymore, and a post about UO reminded me why I don’t play UO much anymore. Someone sent in a picture of a locked back room in Jhelom they came across…

Now, if you go take a look at the link, you’ll see the tired old “we have now decided that macroing is bad” text from the GM FAQ. The good/bad of macroing has been bandied around various sites for a while, but there are a couple of key issues here:

Macroing has been around since alpha

I wasn’t in the beta for UO… in fact, it took a while for that idiot Kagero to talk me into getting it… but know a helluva lot of people who were. Back in the day, it was possible to hit GM almost anything pretty damn quickly, usually by using EZ Macros to make a nightsight potion over and over again, or casting In Lor about a thousand times. When the skill system was changed (i.e. harder to raise a skill if everyone else is using it at a high level at the same time), macroing skills became more and more prevalent, as manually casting Kal Vas Xen An Flam about 8 billion times leads to things like carpal tunnel syndrome and tunnel vision.

Since this is the case, the skill base is so screwed that it’s nearly impossible to get to acceptable skill levels through normal play

What is “acceptable” depends on what you want to do… well, not really. “Acceptable” means that you might be able to live for more than 4 seconds when a PK attacks you, or a couple of them. There is NO SUCH THING as low-level PvP combat in UO, as even a throwaway PK character will have macroed up to about mid to high adept magery, GM tactics and weapons, and high eval int or anatomy, depending on their specialty. This is a factor no matter if you are a monster hunter, a merchant, or a PvP fighter; unless you never leave town (hey, good use of your monthly fees), you are going to be attacked by other players. This is “part of the game”, like losing your house due to a bug and not getting it back, being exploited, and shitty customer support.

The other thing is, if you have a goal like grandmastering magery, good luck getting it with no macroing. Hokuto, the newest shard and therefore the easiest to gain skills on in theory, is littered with GM mages, and as a result it’s almost impossible to gain skill past high adept/master. I suppose it is theoretically possible to do it manually, but I’d like to know what people think of as “normal”… quitting your job and clicking a fucking mouse for 16 hours a day? Massively multiplayer gaming experience ahoy.

Dumbass red robers could be out there dealing with real problems

My first encounter with a GM in UO was with the much-despised GM Datura of Atlantic. Kagero and I had been scammed out of a ton of money (we were relatively new), but what the hell. Trying to maintain a veneer of roleplaying, I took my tamer to the house area (she had sold it to a bunch of people) and renamed every damn animal in the area to something like “TwylightIsAScammer” and sticking a bunch of animals inside the house that were named “ThisHouseIsAScam”, etc. Pretty funny, I thought, and about as far into roleplayed vengeance as this shitty engine would allow. Well, a few hours later, Kagero and I get messages from Datura saying, “If I get any more calls on you, I will penalty box you.” WTF? I paged a counselor to find out what the fuck was going on, since there was no explanation, and every time I sent in a page, BAM *Connection Lost*. Datura monitored me and kicked me for asking a question 3 times in a row. The only thing I could have figured out was that Twylight saw the animals and started to cry and paged her GM buddy saying I was harassing her. Well, FUCK YOU Twylight; being scammed out of about 150k and looted several times might also be construed as harassment, but I didn’t go crying to daddy Datura, I kept it in-game. And FUCK YOU Datura… I heard he apologized to Kagero after another incident came up and a more senior GM told him to, but I never heard shit. (I also heard that months later, Kagero got email from Twylight saying it was not her, but her sister and sister’s boyfriend scamming from her account, but FUCK YOU anyway. 8P)

Every single goddamn time I have tried to contact a GM in-game about something going on, exploiters victimizing people, house looting with bugs, harassment, etc., not one goddamn GM has ever deigned to even send me an invisible page with the “I cannot help thee” macro. However, they are perfectly happy to hunt out those dangerous Anatomy macroers and penalty box them. Oh, never mind these 400 pages telling you that a bunch of guys crashed a party and are tossing 3 simultaneous ebolts, go get that guy using UO Assist to loom that thread! I’ve seen more of these incidents than I care to recall, but you can find a lot more on better rant pages than mine (Lum’s, Dr. TwisTer, etc.).

GM’s are hated and mistrusted, and for good reason. One of the reasons I went to Hokuto is because there are almost no GM’s around. I would rather deal with being exploited by other players than being exploited by other players AND annoyed by GM’s. But I digress…

Let’s take a look at the GM FAQ regarding macroing…

EXPLOITATION

Is it legal to use a program to help me macro out repetitive tasks while I am away from the game?

Although we realize that many players use 3rd party programs, such as macro programs, to aid in the growth of their characters, we want to point out that unattended macroing runs contrary to the gaming experience of Ultima Online and that the use of unauthorized 3rd party programs is a violation of the terms of service.

The “gaming experience of Ultima Online” can pretty much be summed up as follows: enter world, get killed, spend days roleplaying a tailor, buy some equipment, get killed, tailor more, get more gear, get killed again, get your mouse finger in a sling because of constantly navigating the shitty world interface. Then there’s that 3rd party thing. Remember the days when Designer Dragon was praising UO Assist? Remember all the GM statements (which continue today) about how macro programs which only reproduce keystrokes were fine? As they do on all issues, OSI waffles incessantly on the 3rd party issue.

Macroing can mean a number of different things, but it is the unattended macroing that we are most concerned with, not usage of the in-game macros.

This statement compares two things which are not related to each other and by no means mutually exclusive. What about unattended macroing by sticking a penny on your F1 key so you don’t have to go insane hitting a training dummy?

Unattended macroing means being away from your UO session while your character repeats a series of actions for any length of time. Any macro that repeats is potentially unattended. Some players use macroing programs to aid them in repetitive tasks within the game, and, although it may seem as if these programs are benevolent time savers, when used in an unattended or repeating manner, these programs actually create problems within the game.

Time-savers are used to solve problems within the game, you dorks. If I use UO Autopilot to eat and work on my blacksmithing skill, the same input is going to the OSI servers as if I was there torturing myself in the mind-numbing stupidity which is UO mercantile skill gain.

Many people who play UO are not willing to pay for these programs to assist in character development, nor do they feel comfortable playing in a world where such tools are available to others.

Umm, I feel kinda uncomfortable playing in a world where my neighbor is a 14-year old kid who blows off his homework so he can play 10 hours, developing his character so he can kill me and take my stuff. I also feel uncomfortable in a world where people have cable modem pings, which I am UNABLE to get, forget “unwilling to pay for”.

They simply wish to play in the environment they feel Ultima Online should be. We tend to agree with those players.

So do I. I think the UO environment should be one where GM’s act with responsibility, one where the interface isn’t so shitty as to be nigh-impossible to handle without third-party assists, and where my gaming experience doesn’t revolve around sewing a fucking shirt 10,000 times a day so I can afford to replace the last set of armor I lost. The environment I think UO should be is impossible, since support has sucked for so long and the world has been skewed by bad management and exploitation. How are you going to fix my gaming experience?

Players found to be engaged in unattended macroing will be kicked from the game and a note will be placed on their account. Being kicked means that your connection to UO will be terminated. This is not a banning; it is simply that we are dropping your connection while you are not present in the game. Players who consistently violate the terms of service by using 3rd party programs to perform unattended macroing may have their account banned on a temporary or permanent basis. Players should only call a GM to report others performing unattended macroing when it is interfering with their gaming experience.

I have NEVER, not ONCE, heard about a player who was macroing in a way that screwed with another player’s experience. The bannings and player reporting that I’ve seen comes from some fucker walking by a house and seeing some poor schmuck inside summoning animals, then calling a GM on the macroer to ruin the guy’s day. There are actually players who walk around looking for macroers to call a GM on. The funniest thing is that these people are exploiting the system to harass other players. I actually know a couple of them, and yes they also use UOE. 8P

So does macroing ruin UO’s potential as a roleplaying game experience? Yup. Is it necessary? Yup. There is no solution to the UO problem. The game has been fucked for too long, and for too long OSI really didn’t give a shit. If this new support team is actually trying to work on improving the situation, well bless you, but it’s too fucking late.

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