UO is too big.
It’s got too much stuff. Just ask the dev team. Waaay too much stuff. Those Alphastations or whatever they host the servers on are just creaking updating H0K1ll3r’s reg stash every morning.
So the dev team is hot on the trail of ways to fix it. I hear new rumors of what’s planned almost on a daily basis. This tells me that probably they are ALL true and over in Austin, they’re tacking ideas on a dartboard and aiming particularly pointy-headed GMs at them seeing what sticks.
Well, here’s some really, REALLY basic ideas on how to reduce UO’s item database. You guys in the Dev Team don’t need to thank me or anything; just keep making those k00l sig files we all love.
Many of these suggestions involve changing cherished paradigms and other game rules we all know and love. Uh, change them. It’s for the best. I also assume that stackable items are stored as one item. If they aren’t, um, there’s a REAL big change you can do right there.
(1) Spellbooks. A full spellbook takes up 65 items – 64 spells and the container. I suspect any mage worth their salt has a full spellbook.
Create a new item called “complete spellbook”. Shade it grey so that it looks different without needing to add new artwork to the client. (Of course, new artwork wouldn’t kill us, guys. Really. I download 30 MB in patches all the time on my piddly dialup modem. But let’s fix things first.) Do a test every time a spell is scribed into an incomplete spellbook to see if it turns into a complete spellbook.
This cuts down the item count by 64 for every experienced mage and also makes full spellbooks a better saleable commodity on vendors.
(2) Potions. They need to be stackable. In the past it’s been said that potions aren’t stackable because their effect is variable.
Change it. The effect of having 200 potions multiplied by 100,000 people removed from the game world is worth losing a little garnish in game mechanics. It won’t kill people to know that that GH potion heals 40 points. Really. We won’t mind.
(3) Monsters. Go up to a server line sometime, by the ocean. Laugh at all the landlocked monsters stuck in the ocean flailing around. Note the lag you experience while you laugh. Wonder what it’s like on server lines that aren’t as accessible.
Solution – one-time monster wipe, possibly followed up by regular wipes. This will also eliminate creatures trapped in houses. Wah. Some coding wizardry would have to be done, I imagine, to preserve things that are stabled, but I imagine the dev team is up to it. In an ideal world, monster spawn would actually be coded so that they didn’t spawn in the middle of the ocean or mountains or stuff, but let’s not get TOO ambitious here.
(4) Housing. Too goddam many houses, full of too much stuff.
Solution – housing maintenance. Even a token amount will eliminate the log-in-refresh-house-repeat-until-sold-on-eBay. Further maintenance will make houses rarer and probably only owned by guilds; a system that is working pretty well on Siege.
(5) Rethink secure container storage (houses and banks). Weight should be unlinked from secure container storage; instead allow a given item count, and allow stacks to count as a single item. This will break fiction in allowing people to store thousands of ingots in a bank box. Newsflash – the UO fiction is pretty much shredded already. (How many GMs do YOU know that stay in character? Or even know what the term “in character” means?)
With this change implemented, many people will not even need houses. It will also encourage storage of large stacks of items instead of many smaller stacks. (I can only hope the UO programmers were not braindead enough to make stacks stored as 2 byte signed integers, but I suspect they did exactly that and item stacks will be limited to 32,767 items. Oh well. Better than nothing.)
No magic wands, but hey, every little bit helps. You could also eliminate item count significantly by wiping Great Lakes.
Only kidding. I think.