Charting the Northeast Passage Part 2 – North By Northwest

The Northeast Passage was one of my favorite sailing routes in Uncharted Waters 1 and New Horizons. With the arrival of Gran Atlas, the Passage is finally here in Uncharted Waters Online! But how difficult is it to actually travel through? Here is the story of my efforts to chart UWO’s Northeast Passage…..


My journey to unlock the Northeast Passage continues. As with any journey, there will be surprises – both good and bad. But as far as the second day goes, there were few if any surprises. Much of the map charting has become routine – steering the ship here and there and fishing (or shall I say “trawling”) along the way.

 

Perhaps the biggest surprise I’ve run into so far seems to be with the GvoNavi program (in case anyone reading this doesn’t know, GvoNavi works like a “GPS” app for UWO). GvoNavi is a very convenient program to use in UWO – especially if you’re going to be sailing thousands of miles into the ocean. What I’ve noticed, however, is that when my ship reaches a certain area (somewhere above the Arctic Circle perhaps?), I’m no longer able to track the ship in GvoNavi. At least not in its actual location. It’s kinda like a compass going haywire as a ship approaches the magnetic north pole.

 

Aside from the GvoNavi issues, however, everything else went smoothly during my second day of map charting. Today’s efforts – as my title suggests – required me to sail NORTHWEST of the NE Passage and chart three sea zones located between Iceland and Greenland. Why Mercator requires me to do this first before tackling the NE Passage itself I have no idea. But I guess these quests are meant to be like an audition, a chance to make sure that I’m ready to tackle the more difficult sea zones in the NE Passage.

 


The three zones I charted on my second day were the Icelandic and Denmark Basins and the Fram Strait. Icelandic and Denmark are pretty much “ocean” zones, zones that are relatively easy to chart since you don’t have to worry about running into land or ice. Charting the Fram Strait however proved to be a bit more challenging than the two Basins. As in the Lofoten Basin, my GvoNavi failed to work correctly at the Fram Strait, forcing me to rely again on the good ‘ole compass and survey skill window. I was also expecting to run into the dreaded ice floes at Fram but none turned up. A couple of my charting quests forced me to sail pretty close to the ice pack, but I was able to successfully complete the quests despite these closer encounters with the polar ice.  In the end, charting the Fram Strait proved to be a much easier task than I had expected.
After finishing the charts, it was time to head back to Mercator in Amsterdam and turn in the new information. My reward for doing so was the permit for the first sea zones that are actually in the Northeast Passage!


So far, it looks like I’ve been very lucky with my map charting. I haven’t run into any ice floes yet, and there’s been little trouble otherwise on the open sea. But how long will my luck hold, especially now that I’m actually going to enter the Northeast Passage?

 

Will I finally run into the ice floes that I’ve been hearing so much about?

How long will it take for me to chart these new zones?

Will I be within easy reach of supplies?

And will all the time and trouble I’m spending to unlock the Passage be really worth it in the end?

 

The answers to all of these questions await me in the Barents Sea…

 

 

….To Be Continued

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Charting the Northeast Passage Part 1 – St. Petersburg and the First Arctic Regions

The Northeast Passage was one of my favorite sailing routes in Uncharted Waters 1 and New Horizons. With the arrival of Gran Atlas, the Passage is finally here in Uncharted Waters Online! But how difficult is it to actually travel through? Here is the story of my efforts to chart UWO’s Northeast Passage…..


My first day of trying to unlock the Northeast Passage was mostly spent doing other things in order to actually begin unlocking the Passage.

 
My first goal was to unlock the port of Saint Petersburg in the Baltic Sea. Unlocking Saint Petersburg – as with unlocking the rest of the Northeast Passage – required me to complete a number of charting quests in order to “complete” the map of the Baltic. Most of this consisted of sailing around to vairous coordinates and using the “recognition” skill, but I was also forced to sit outside of Saint Petersburg and fish for several days. Sailing around in the same region for a certain period of time also counted towards completing the map.

 
After charting the Baltic Sea, I was then required to take a “chrono quest” (a more special quest involving a specific historical time period) called “Delivery of Books to the Russian Capital” from the Business mediator in Stockholm. You cannot be fleeted with another character while trying to pull the quest, and you’ll need to spend a certain amount of qmps. After awhile, I sucessfully pulled the quest and was on my way to St. Petersburg.

 
Saint Petersburg reminds me of Venice with its open setting and lovely canals. I had little time to enjoy the secenery, however, because my quest got me caught up in some sort of power-play involving a German princess and the Russian court. After all of that was sorted out, I was then able to purchase the “Far North Languages” from a Japanese resident of St. Petersburg named Kodayu. Far North is an expensive language (1M ducats), but it’ll be useful for navigating around St. Petersburg and possibly the Siberian seaports.

After finishing my business in St. Petersburg, I returned to Stockholm to turn in the quest and then sailed to Bergen, Norway to begin charting the first sea regions in the Arctic. After charting the waters surrounding western Norway and Northern Britain, I relocated my staging base to Edinburgh, Scotland to begin charting the actual waters surrounding the Arctic.

 
Before finishing for the evening, I was able to sucessfully chart the Norwegian Basin and the Lofoten Basin. I charted Norwegian and Lofoten pretty much the same way as I charted the other sea regions – map coordinates, fishing, and sailing around. Charting Lofoten, however, proved to be a bit trickier than the other regions. My GVOnavi conked out, and I was forced to rely on my survey skill and compass windows for navigation. Near the ice pack, I ran into a somewhat nasty storm that kept me pineed in Lofoten for several extra days.

 
Nevertheless, and after a significantly longer voyage than anticipated, I managed to return to Edinburgh sucessfully. Before continuing my charting of the Arctic, I will need to return to London in order to turn in an Oxford thesis.

 

 

I was worried that I would begin running into the dreaded “ice floes” while charting the Norway and Lofoten regions, but I did not run into any ice. However, I have been following other adventurer’s efforts to open up the NE Passage, and nearly all of them are talking about how much ice there is in the Passage. The ice floes continually bang into their ships about once per minute, and people are being forced to stock up on tons of lumber and MCTs/LCCT’s in order to navigate through the passage. Some explorers believe that turning in the charts to Mercator will help reduce the amount of ice damage in the Arctic. Others, however, believe that short of a special aide who is able to minimize ice floe damage, the NE Passage may prove to be too difficult a place for trading ships to go through.

Hearing about all this has made me somewhat disappointed about the NE Passage, since part of my reason for unlocking it is to open up an alternative trade route to East Asia. Still, I press on, hoping that the ice damage will not be as bad for my ship as it has been for so many other Arctic adventurers. I may have to do some dungeon farming in Bordeaux in order to collect white ore for crafting MCCT’s but at least I have some stashed around somewhere.

 

 
Charting Lofoten and Norwegian was pretty easy and I hope the same will go for the other regions in the North. Whatever happens, I will be prepared….

 

 

…To Be Continued

Sir John Franklin and the Potential of Teaching History Through Video Games

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Psalms 107:23-30 (King James Bible)


With the arrival of Gran Atlas and the Mercator map quests, players are now sailing all over virtual world of Uncharted Waters Online, completing the world atlas. Many players are charting the Northeastern Passage, battling storms, pirates, and ice floes in order to do so. I have begun my own efforts to chart the Northeast Passage and will detail these efforts in an upcoming series of posts. Yet in beginning this undertaking, I could not help but remember the story of a real-life attempt to chart the uncharted waters of the Northwest Passage.

 

 

The story of Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition ranks among one of the most famous – and tragic – stories of sea exploration. Sir John Franklin is not the first explorer that most people think of right away. Columbus, Magellan, Cook, and even Henry Hudson are usually remembered first before Franklin. But in my view, Franklin’s 1845 expedition stands out as a particularly tragic story of exploration not so much because it failed (many other sea explorations failed during the Age of Discovery) but because it failed despite its tremendous technological advantages – and despite the overwhelming confidence of Sir John Franklin and his men.


“More than any other expedition, this attempt” to navigate through the Northwest Passage “should have succeeded” notes a NOVA documentary on the Franklin Expedition (“Arctic Passage – Prisoners of the Ice,” 2006). “The men had every advantage. What could have happened?”

 
To make the long story short, Sir John Franklin and his men were unprepared for the harsh and unforgiving conditions of the polar ice. Despite their advanced and well-equipped sailing ships, and despite of (or perhaps because of) the extensive supplies and equipment that Franklin and his men brought into the Arctic, the expedition was practically doomed from the start. The men of the Franklin Expedition relied too much on their ships – and on Sir John Franklin – to make it through the Passage. And when those ships became permanently trapped in the ice – and when Sir John Franklin died after two years of battling the polar ice – the surviving officers and men were doomed to a heroic – but inevitably tragic – attempt to walk of the Canadian Arctic.

 
More than any other story of sea exploration, the Franklin Expedition is a sobering reminder of the very real dangers that come with sea exploration. And although Uncharted Waters Online is a video game, it is a game that portrays – at least to a certain degree – some of these dangers.

 
I realize that sailing in virtual waters is not the same as sailing in actual waters. Those of us who play Uncharted Waters Online from the comfort of our computers, laptops, or Ipads will never know the hardships of being on a sailing ship in the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s, or 1800s. Video games create the illusion of reality, and the more detailed the graphics, or the more detailed the simulation, the more powerful the illusion becomes.

 
On the other hand, games like Uncharted Waters DO give players an idea about what it must have been like to be on the sea during the Age of Sail. And one of the things I have been enjoying about Gran Atlas so far is that it ENCOURAGES players to go back into the sea, rather than simply sitting around in port all the time.


So why the allusion to Sir John Franklin? Why should somebody playing a Japanese online video game in 2015 care so much about a tragic story that occurred over a hundred fifty years ago?

 
The reason is because I believe that video games have the potential to inspire people to learn more about actual history. Players who couldn’t have cared less about sailing ships or the Age of Discovery can download Uncharted Waters Online (for free!) and experience all the excitements – and a little of the actual dangers – associated with sailing a ship. Students who may have fallen asleep in their world history class can play Uncharted Waters Online and maybe not fall asleep when their next class is about the Age of Exploration. Players doing the various adventure quests in UWO may actually want to learn about the stuff they’re exploring in the game. In my own case, learning the “Arctic Languages” skill today led me to learn about a Japanese sailor who spent over eleven years in Russia after becoming marooned in Sakhalin during the 1700s.

 
I know that video games are not the most accurate way to learn history. Reading books (and preferably academic studies) serves that purpose well. But if a game like Uncharted Waters can inspire someone to read a history book or watch a historical documentary, then that counts as a victory in my book.


Maybe I’m being a little bit too idealistic about all this. After all, most people play video games in order to escape their daily lives rather than learn something new about the world. But there is a reason why so many students end up leaving school thinking that “history is boring.” History does not have to be “boring” any more than Uncharted Waters Online has to be “boring” or “repetitive.” There is the potential – at least – of video games becoming a powerful tool for reaching people – especially young people – who could have otherwise cared less about the past.

 

 

In other words, if I had not been introduced to Uncharted Waters, I may never have become interested in people like Columbus, Magellan, Cook, or Sir John Franklin.

Gran Atlas – A Brave New World?

Gran Atlas is Here!

I’ve just finished reading through the chapter 1 updates, and it looks like there’ll be A LOT of cool stuff to check out in Uncharted Waters Online after the Gran Atlas updates. These updates will not only affect specific aspects of Uncharted Waters Online but may encourage (or force, depending on your point of view) players to play the game in a different way.

Here are some of the updates that I found interesting:

1. “Completing the World Atlas”
Sailing around and discovering new places was really what got me hooked on Uncharted Waters in the first place. Gran Atlas will expand this aspect of UWO with the introduction of Mercator’s “survey quests.” Starting with the North Sea, you work your way through the different map regions completing various tasks (ranging from using recognition skill at various coordinates to buying and selling trade goods). The tasks seem pretty easy enough (at least if you’re a more advanced player), but you will need to have finished at least ONE intermediate school in order to start the Mercator quests. Once you’ve completed each region, you will unlock new information about that region, including wind speed and direction, the different market goods available in that region, and so forth.

2. The Northeast Passage is finally here!
I’ve personally been waiting for this region to open up for a long time (almost as long as Hawai’i, which was introduced during the 2nd Age updates), and it’s finally here in UWO land! Based on the update info, I’m not exactly sure how players will be able to receive the permits for this region. I think players can either complete the Mercator World Atlas quests or if they already have East Asia unlocked, they can receive the permits a different, “uncharted” way (whatever that means). The updates did mention that this will be one of the most “challenging” regions to explore, and if UWO’s version of the Northeast Passage is anything like the NE Passage in UW New Horizons (or perhaps UW 1), then this sounds pretty dauting. Still, I’m very curious to see if the NE Passage will be a viable trading route to East Asia rather than sailing all the way around Africa, India, and SE Asia or sailing around South America and across the Pacific.
We shall see…

3. The Dungeons get ALOT more interesting……
First off, I did not really see anything in the updates about the ESBT nerf. I don’t know if this will be implemented into the game or not, but if it does, it will be one of the most dramatic changes occurring not only to the dungeons but to the entire game itself. Alot has been said about the ESBTS from everybody (including myself), so I’m not going to get into all that here, but suffice it to say that if the nerf does happen, then players will actually have to sail to their dungeons or suffer severe loot penalties (in other words, no more running Fort San Domingo from the comforts of Seville!)

What I DID FIND in the updates are a whole lot of other interesting changes Players can explore a brand new dungeon in Rome itself (home of the Coliseum, which is a pretty good place to go and rank your land battle skills without having to sail outside Europe). In addition, players may now be able to entirely avoid fighting altogether if they can “stealthily” avoid the enemies in the dungeon. On the other hand, if players simply run around the dungeons doing stuff, they may increase their “enmity bar,” a new feature that may add additional drama to dungeon running. The updates also mentioned that “new traps” will be introduced into the dungeons, some good and some not so good. I don’t know how this will affect players who like to “farm” the dungeons for stuff, but it may be KOEI’s way of trying to encourage players to get out of the dungeons and back into the sea. Finally, the dungeons themselves will be expanded to include new “passages,” passages that may lead to more loot…or to more trouble.

4. Significant Changes to Piracy and to Bounty Hunting

I am more of an adventurer and trader than maritimer by nature, but there are several major changes coming in Gran Atlas that will not only affect pirates and bounty hunters but everyone sailing the open seas.

Perhaps the most significant change is the “abolition of item plundering.” Anyone who has played this game for a certain amount of time knows that once you reach a certain level in the game, you will have to deal with the player pirates, and unless you are willing to invest in buying astros for blue flags (a worthy investment in my opinion), you are going to run into these guys at some point. And most of the player pirates happen to be the most experienced players in the game. Not all of them are bad people, really, but I don’t think anyone really likes to see their most valuable equipment or ship parts be snatched from them by a player pirate.

Well, Gran Atlas means that players who DO NOT want to have to spend actual money in this game can now pretty much sail the open seas without having to worry too much form pirates…..Well, actually players still have to worry about the pirates because they can still lose their trade goods, provisions, and ducats, but at least they will no longer have to worry about losing their newly acquired Gold Armor, Gae Bulg, or heaven forbid their Shipwright Saw from a merciless pirate! And why you would be sailing around with these things in the first place I have no idea, but at least you won’t have to worry about losing them anymore.

As for pirates and bounty hunters, there are lots of more specific changes coming as well. PVP deck battle now requires BOTH opponents to agree in order to initiate the battle (in other words, somebody can’t just sail up to a pirate and force him/her into a deck battle or vice versa). The kill count restrictions will be lifted from the game, restrictions will be lifted from pirate bounties, and bounty hunters will no longer be protected from repeated pirate attacks (I guess all of these changes will help console the pirates from losing the ability to steal somebody’s precious item). Bounty hunters, on the other hand, can now acquire a new title (“Bounty Hunter”) that will confer certain advantages in their anti-piracy adventures (Pirates likewise can also acquire new titles with their own sets of privileges). They will also now be able to track pirate activities via the Maritime Mediator, so if anyone’s pirating anybody else, the bounty hunters will at least know which region pirates are engaging their nefarious activities in.

There are ALOT of other updates coming in Gran Atlas Chapter 1 that I did not get to mention here: new ports, “skill reinforcement,” easier ways to use purchase orders or check market rates in other cities…..the list goes on and on. And alot of these changes are not only going to affect the game itself but how players play this game. While considerable updates were also introduced in 2nd Age (e.g. Nanban goods nerf, Ship Fusion, World Clock, etc.), the Gran Atlas updates in my opinion are going to be much more interesting than the ones in 2nd Age. Only time will tell how these changes will affect GAMA server, but hopefully they will be all for the best. Uncharted Waters Online is still a game that I love to play, and if Gran Atlas gets more players – newbie or veteran – into the game, then that will be a plus for everyone.

*Postscript- I’ve just finished charting the North Sea and have received my first permit for the Northeast Passage. I haven’t run across any other way of unlocking the Passage except by charting the various regions, but at least it’ll be somewhat more interesting than doing repetitive imperial quests. It’s getting pretty late, so I’m not gonna do anymore exploring tonight, but I think I’m gonna head back to Seville to grab some MCCT’s (Masters Carpentry Tools, which are good to use if your ships getting banged up too much) and maybe an alt to help me with extra supplies and languages. The Arctic regions look a bit challenging to explore, but hopefully I won’t run into too many ice floes, snowstorms, or whatever else the game decides to throw up there.

Why Wiping The UWO Server Is A Bad Idea

Aloha Everyone!

In my last post, I mentioned that changes were coming to Uncharted Waters Online in August. And changes did indeed occur. For one thing, players can no longer lose their valuable stuff in land combat or in the dungeons, although sailors will still continue to take your things if you let their fatigue run too high (I lost a cheap pair of boots while collecting stuff because I forgot to leave the collection area before going AFK).

But perhaps the BIGGEST (and most recent) change to occur in Uncharted Waters Online since July is OGPlanet’s decision to bring UWO back to Steam. The class registers are full to the brim again, and there’s even players talking about whether OGP should open another server (probably too expensive for them to consider doing that, but who knows?).

Along with my regular forays into the OGP forums, I’ve also been following the UWO community hub at Steam. Over there, Uncharted Waters Online has been receiving generally positive reviews, although I’ve also noticed many of the same old complaints about the schools, dungeons, ESBTS, and so forth. I think it’s great that UWO’s back on Steam again, and I hope that this will lead to a more vibrant player community. More players after all equals a greater chance that Uncharted Waters Online will continue into the foreseeable future.

I do want to point out a specific thread that’s emerged (again) on the OGPlanet forums about “resetting” or “wiping” GAMA server. This is the first and hopefully last time that I will have to bring up this topic. A lot has already been said about server wipes in the OGP forums, so hopefully I won’t rehash too much of that stuff here (forgive me if I end up doing so; sometimes I get a bit carried away). And it is very unlikely that OGPlanet will even consider such a drastic move, especially now that they have been managing UWO’s GAMA server for nearly a year now.

But for some reason, there are players out there who are still floating this idea about. For that reason, I’ve decided to state some of my own thoughts about server wipes and why such a move would be a VERY BAD IDEA for the future of Uncharted Waters Online….

—————————————————

Ok,

For those of you readers who don’t know what a “server wipe” is, it basically means that EVERYBODY on the server – whether you started playing Uncharted Waters Online yesterday or have been playing for over four years – will have ALL of their character and stats reset to zero. Period.

So….

If you’ve finally leveled your adventure, trade, AND maritime classes to level 50, server wipe means you’ll need to go back to school and start all over again.

If you’ve just spent 100 astros on ships bottles, booster items, or what not, then server wipe means that all of that is now gone.

And If you’ve spent a year grinding shipbuilding in order to begin building clippers, then you’ll need to grind shipbuilding
all over again. And if anybody reading this has tried to grind shipbuilding (and I have), you’ll know that even the THOUGHT of having to grind shipbuilding all over again from scratch is painful!

Now the people arguing for server wipes will give you a couple arguments for doing so:

1. Astros can be refunded, and any progress made in the game can easily be made up again.

Perhaps that may be true for some players, but I don’t think this will be true for ALL players. As mentioned earlier, restarting from scratch means undoing weeks, months, or even years of playing time, and I don’t think everyone’s going to be happy with that situation.

2. The dungeons and ESBTS have corrupted the UWO economy so much that KOEI/OGPlanet has no other choice but to reset the server in order to make everything nice and balanced again.

I’ll admit here that the dungeons and ESBTS are NOT how Uncharted Waters was ORIGINALLY meant to be played. There are still many players who are calling for an end to both in UWO, and I sympathize with their concerns. That being said, I personally have no problem with either the dungeons or the ESBTS being in the game. Players can still sail around the world and trade to their hearts content if they want to, and anybody who’s tried farming the dungeons before will tell you that the dungeons, while addicting at first, can get quite boring eventually. Not only that, running the dungeons a little bit can be quite helpful for new players struggling to establish a secure financial base so that they can focus on all the other aspects of UWO.

This is probably why the “majority” of players have not come out against removing the dungeons and ESBTS, and this is also why removing them, like wiping GAMA server clean, will probably do much more harm than good.

——————————————————-

Now here’s why I think a server wipe in UWO will be a very bad idea:

1. It can take a VERY LONG TIME to level classes or skills in UWO.

Now of course there are ways to grind more quickly in UWO, but that usually involves things like relentlessly playing UWO during 2x events (such as the one occurring right now on GAMA server) or buying expensive booster items. Some players may be able to do either or both of these things, but I don’t think many players will be willing or able to spend 12 to 16 hours a day grinding away during 2x events or spend a hundred dollars at a time buying all sorts of boosters in order to shortcut this process. Being forced to re-grind skills or classes that you’ve already spent weeks or months grinding WILL lead to burnout. And burnout means players will quit playing UWO altogether. And that’s not a good thing for anybody who cares about UWO, either players or management.

2. A Server Wipe will lead to ALOT of heated discussion and debate both INSIDE and OUTSIDE Uncharted Waters Online, and this will discourage new players from joining UWO

Like any other commercial product, image/reputation is everything when it comes to a video game. If people do not like your game, they will talk about it openly and quite vociferously. And while there will always be somebody who’ll be unhappy with a video game and who’ll therefore complain about it over and over again (especially around the Internet), having LOTS of people complaining about a video game AT THE SAME TIME is NEVER A GOOD THING. Negative publicity has a way of feeding back upon itself, especially on the Internet, and when lots of people are getting mad about something, that usually tells bystanders that whatever their complaining about is probably a not a good thing to get into.

And that is what a server wipe will do. It’ll lead to LOTS of players (especially Veteran players) quitting Uncharted Waters Online. And while the proponents of server wipes may say something like “good riddens” to these players, not having many experienced players around is just as bad, if not worse, than having few new players around in UWO. And the worse thing about all of this is that it will send a negative message to anyone who is remotely interested in playing Uncharted Waters Online. In other words, veteran players will leave and very few, if any, new players will want to sign up.

One minus One equals Zero.

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All of what I’ve just written are of course my own thoughts about server wipes in UWO. I cannot speak for every player in Uncharted Waters Online and I do not intend to. Any of you reading this post are free to agree or disagree with me or to correct me if anything I’ve said here is inaccurate, misleading, or wrongheaded. And I do not want to convey any negative impressions about Uncharted Waters Online. I know that I am taking a bit of a risk in writing about a topic as controversial as server wipes, and I do not mean to “feed the trolls” either (the person who started the original thread and/or the person who revived the thread may have done so for trolling purposes).

But after reading some of the reaction on the forums to the “server wipe” thread, I felt that it was time for me to weigh in with some of my own thoughts in a place that I am relatively comfortable writing about such stuff. Even though I’ve chosen to play more privately in Uncharted Waters Online, I have a good deal of respect for UWO’s player community, which on the whole is quite friendly, welcoming, and supportive.

The last thing that I want to see happen is for that community to become divided beyond repair.

——————————————————

Whew!

Now that all of that has gone off my chest, I want to end this (long) post on a more positive note.

First, I want to reassure anyone who is still reading this that there will be no server wipes happening in Uncharted Waters Online. Not now and heaven forbid not ever.

Second, and especially since this summer, OGPlanet seems to be managing Uncharted Waters Online quite well. There have of course been hiccups along the way. The OGPlanet GM’s, it must be remembered, not only had to take over running UWO, but also had to learn how to play this game from scratch. OGPlanet’s GM’s – like the rest of us players – are human beings who make mistakes, and considering the fact that UWO’s very future was in doubt last year, I think that things have improved quite considerably under OGPlanet’s tenure.

It’s one thing to point out issues or to make suggestions, for a healthy honest discussion is never a bad thing. But it is also good to give the credit where it is due. And although November is not here yet, it is never too early to give thanks for the things that we do have, rather than always complain about the things that are wrong or missing.

On that note, I will end here. For those of you who have been following my posts, I apologize for not writing more regularly these past few months. I’ve been far too busy enjoying Uncharted Waters Online, and far too busy with other things in life, to post as consistently as I had hoped. But hopefully I’ll be back soon with another update on my adventures in Uncharted Waters Online.

Mahalo for all of your feedback and support, and happy sailing!

New Horizons are Here Again

It’s been awhile since I’ve made my last post, and there are several reasons for this.  First, I’ve been taking short breaks from Uncharted Waters Online in order to focus on other games of interest (Tropico 5, Fifa 14, and older videogames like Day of Defeat Source).  Second, I’ve been spending time with family and enjoying the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (I’m currently rooting for Germany to win the World Cup!!). Third, I’ve been too busy enjoying Uncharted Waters Online rather than writing about it.

 

All this being said – and for the interest of anyone still following my blog – here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been doing in UWO since my last post in April:

 

1. Running Nanban Trade between Seville and Japan – basically lots of wine for lots of Japanese muskets/swords/Saori.  This is a real money booster, but a time-consuming activity in terms of sailing to and fro, as well as waiting in Japan until the right conditions for a 1:1 trade (even with the help of the Nanban purveyor certificates).  The other problem with running Nanban is that it really boosts your trade exp, which is a good thing if your’e trying to unlock clippers but a bad thing if you still need to finish mastering production skills.  Nanban is a bit confusing to learn – and definitely not easy to master – but things will get much easier (and much more lucrative) if you have clipper ships, PO2’s, blue flags, and Nanban tickets (or if you have friends with all of those benefits).

 

2. Leveling Adventure Exp and Adventure Skills –  After reaching lvl 64 trade, I decided it was time to focus on leveling adventure – and particularly my adventure skills.  From whatever I could gather online, I’ve learned that you will pretty much need to rank all the basic adventure areas (i.e. Geography, Biology, Theology etc.) in order to complete the quests required in order to unlock Adventure levels beyond level 60.  I could be wrong about this, of course, but if anyone knows better, please feel free to comment on my blog.

Another reason for leveling my adventure skills was to unlock all the dungeons in the game.  With the future changes that OGPlanet are most likely going to put into UWO, however, it may not really be worth unlocking dungeons like Fort San Domingo (especially if players will be required to actually sail to them, rather than using the ESBT teleport system)

 

3. Mastering Cooking – While Nanban Trade gave me the money (and items) to focus on adventure, I became concerned that I will not master cooking (production skill for my main character) until it was too late.  Therefore, and after buying just about every cookbook available in the game,  I decided to switch gears and focus on ranking Cooking in Seville.  As always, I’ve tried not to sell my products for too exorbitant a price (especially now that people are throwing billions of ducats into ship fusion, investment battles, and HRE Elections).   Once I’m finished mastering cooking, I will most likely switch to my alts in order to master the other production skills (and possibly shipbuilding, even though that skill takes ages to rank without boosters and 2x events).

 

In the meantime, I’ve decided to keep a pretty low profile in-game.  I’ve enjoyed working with other players in-game, whether  in school chats or in companies, but going solo has allowed me to focus on leveling my characters without any distractions or pressures.  I still keep up with things via the OGPlanet forums (where I periodically post comments), and like those of you still active in UWO, I’ve been following the recent OGPlanet changes with a good deal of interest.  As I mentioned in my last post, it seems like OGPlanet is (finally)  investing time and resources into UWO.  As one player recently mentioned in the forums, UWO seems to have entered a sort of “transition” phase.

 

As with any sort of transition, there are both positive and negative effects, depending on your point of view.  Personally, OGPlanet’s changes have not really affected my gameplay in UWO, although I am a little concerned about OGPlanet’s expansion of the “Astro Shop” to include various items that heretofore were only available in-game (e.g. guild cards, Purchase Orders, rapidfire cannons, etc.).  Perhaps OGPlanet’s intention is to make these important items more available to players who have the real-life money (rather than time) needed to acquire them, but I do wonder if all of these changes will end up making UWO a “pay to win” game rather than a game that equally favors players who are unwilling to spend lots of cash.

 

Of course, UWO has come quite a ways from its more-or-less freewheeling days last year.  But the question still remains:  Will OGPlanet continue to support this game if not enough players are willing to spend astros?

 

In closing, I want to add a little bit of perspective here.

 

Last October, there were some pretty deep concerns floating around the UWO community, especially after Netmarble’s announcement that it was going to give up managing UWO.  At that time, I remember wondering whether the UWO servers were going to close for good, especially after hearing about NM closing the servers on their other games.

Nine months later, UWO is still alive and – in many respects – doing quite well.  Not every player on GAMA server has been happy with all of the changes made by KOEI and OGPlanet to UWO, but then again I guess you cannot make every UWO player happy all of the time.  And the interesting thing is that by and large, OGPlanet seems to be actually listening to the player community.

There will most certainly be more bumps down the road for UWO, especially with the major updates that are rumored to occur beginning as early as August.  The important thing, however, is that despite all of the changes and all of the reactions that have occurred from these changes, Uncharted Waters Online will continue to be sailing onto new horizons.

 

Looking Back

It’s funny looking back at stuff you’ve written, especially when it’s long reflective stuff.  I’m actually a little surprised that my last post received so many views (and even a comment! =D)  – more views, in fact, than any of my other posts since I’ve started this blog on WordPress.

I guess CPC’s thread on the OGPlanet forum (and to some degree my blog post) has opened up a bit of a discussion about Uncharted Waters Online.   And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, as long as it’s not distracting you too much from enjoying the game!   The good news about the game  right now – and especially for those of you who have been taking a break or stopped playing altogether – is that OGPlanet seems to be taking more of an interest in UWO these days.  The GM’s are online more often, the daily pop quizzes are back, and there’s even going to be the first all-nations ESF (Epic Sea Feud) this weekend!

And of course, if you don’t really want to participate in all this stuff, you can still pretty much keep doing whatever you’re doing in the game, whether that’s running Nanban trade, dungeoning in FSD, grinding casting in Hamburg, or simply bazaar-ing away in Seville.

In short, things seem to be going well in UWO land, or at least they’re a little  better than they were before.  To those of you who who  read my last post, I hope that whatever was written doesn’t give the impression that UWO is a terrible game with terrible players.  It is far from being either of those things.  But looking back, I’m glad that I’ve finally expressed my thoughts on some things that I think don’t really get talked about in the UWO community as much as other things.

Anyways, it’s time to get back to my current UWO past time of trading Spanish wine for Japanese guns.

Good luck to all of the guys participating in this weekend’s ESF!!

And to those of you who have been out-of-loop for awhile, here’s a good chance to maybe get back into the swing-of-things.

 

Aloha!