By: Ryan – Shard Founder
I’ve always wanted to take the time to write a history of UOGamers to explain some of where we’ve been and how we got here. Mostly we got extremely lucky but there was an extreme determination and a lot of hard work which made this project a success. UOGamers began roughly ten years ago in early 1999. During those days there was no “easy” way to build an Ultima Online shard. In 1999 the only solid option for building an Ultima Online server was UOX (The Ultima Offline eXperiment). UOX was at best unstable and really never gained any traction until the years of “UOX3”. At that point I decided to start a centralized network for all things UOX and quickly built the UOX Development Network. This lead to a lot of popularity for UOGamers and we quickly built a playerbase of between 20 and 30 players which at the time was an amazing accomplishment. During this time there was no Razor or UOGateway it was all manual config file editing and typically resulted in people giving up very quickly when it came to connecting to a free server. I spent a few years in the UOX camp and quickly realized it just wasn’t going to go anywhere and we parted ways.
Shortly thereafter in 2002 I met up with Krrios and together he and I built what would arguably become the largest Ultima Online program ever… RunUO. Zippy would join shortly after the inception of RunUO and the three of us quickly revisited the idea of UOGamers and we launched the RunUO Development Shard. The shard became hugely popular despite constant world resets, countless crashes and many insane players who’s sole point in life was to run off other players. We realized that with hundreds of players online we needed to give them a world where they could grow characters, those characters would be around forever and have their own stories.
In the middle of the year of 2002 UOGamers: Hybrid was born. Hybrid was a labor of love for us and required countless hours of work. After spending thousands of man hours building RunUO we launched UOGamers: Hybrid to to pleasure of thousands of RunUO users. Shortly after the launch Mark joined the team and from that point forward the three of us grew Hybrid into the most popular Ultima Online “free” shard of all time. With well over two hundred thousand active accounts UOGamers: Hybrid quickly became a well recognized brand among Ultima Online players around the world.
Many of our oldest veteran players will remember the ‘Great Wipe of 2003’ which probably serves as the worst day in the history of UOGamers. While I don’t recall all of the specifics times were very tough in 2003. I was headed to Iraq to serve with the United States Marines and the server was (at one point) being run out of the back room of a liquor store (this is no joke). During this time many people helped keep UOGamers alive and they are all owed a mention here. So to Chaos, Krrios, Alkiser, Zippy, Mark and the rest of you who are not directly named here that have worked on this shard over the years I say thank you for all of your help during a very tough time. I’ll never forget when I was given a chance to check email in Iraq the only thing I cared about was getting UOGamers moved out of the liquor store and back into a datacenter somewhere. I spent my computer time finding a hosting provider and then working with Alkiser and even my mother to get a server rented and the shard moved.
Shortly after my return from Iraq we moved providers and went into a massive growth spurt. It was during this time that we really put RunUO (the software) through its paces. Krrios, Mark and Zippy spent countless hours digging through code, debug logs and optimizing every ounce of performance possible. After we were confident in the stability and scalability of RunUO we launched a massive stress test that beat all the odds. During our stress test we had over 9,000 users logged into UOGamers: Hybrid. We were still able to walk, talk and run around despite some small amounts of lag. The server held it’s own with over 9,000 users logged in. This will probably mark the greatest achievement of all time for UOGamers and RunUO.
Hybrid has a history of pushing the envelope and has done so for many hosting providers around the United States. With Denial of Service attacks on the order of 15 Gigabits per second and hardware requirements that were just out of this world we constantly required more than most providers could offer. We’ve been through the thick and thin with our providers, our players and out staff but we know this shard would not be where it is today without the crazy combination of all the events which have transpired over the years. We’ve learned many things from our experiences, most important of which I think is we always come back to Ultima Online for one reason or another.