A Return to… Ultima Online

AKA: How I got my original 1999-2000 Ultima Online account back.

Yep, you read that right! Back in the golden days of the Internet, UO was one of my first MMOs. My sister and I shared an account (since there was only one computer in the house at the time), and this game formed the definition of what a MMO world was for me.

I’ve known about the Endless Journey (Free to Play) offerings for a while. Every now and then, I humored the thought of trying the game again. But never did I actually consider that my original account could be out there and playable. Turns out, it was!

The Rabbit Hole

So what got me to thinking about my old UO account? Strangely enough, it was an article that Kotaku posted about the WoW level squish and how fast leveling feels. The comments started to discuss Ultima Online, of all games.

Another commenter said they’d love to return to UO if they could reactivate their old account, but hadn’t been successful in doing so. To which another commenter said, lots of people have actually reactivated old accounts for the F2P option.

And that got me thinking.

So I searched around and found this on Reddit:

Well, now. I’m a packrat. So the one thing I knew I still had was my original UO CD with the key on it. I went to the closet and sure enough…

I have a feeling this was the major item for proof of ownership for my account when all was said and done.

Restoring the Account

So, Monday night, I sent UO support an email with all the information I could remember about my account:

The next day, I got an email back requesting pretty much all this information in a different format, and a little bit more in terms of bits and bobs.

So I complied and sent them all the information I knew once more. There was a LOT that I didn’t – such as my credit card, phone number of that time, and actual account dates. But much to my surprise, I got an email back in a few hours:

At this point, I was starting to get pretty excited! It seemed like the information I provided had been enough! So, I sent them my current email, which is also the one linked to my Broadsword account (I have an old DAoC account too).

Not long after, I got yet another reply:

They assigned my old account a new password and sent me all the info on how to link my original UO account with the existing Broadsword account. And also how to change the password for the UO account to something I’d remember.

I did all this, gave it about 45-50 mins and sure enough, I found myself back in Moonglow for the first time in 20 years.

Returning to UO

I was shocked to find all my characters (there are 4) just as I left them – I was correct that they were on the Atlantic shard, too! This included my sister’s character that I’d forgotten had been associated with this account.

It took some time to readjust to the small client screen and some of the game’s quirks – such as remembering that you had to log out in a safe location (such as inside an Inn) if you wanted to switch characters quickly.

I poked through all of the character bank slots and curiously looked at the skills that were leveled for each. Neither of us were very hardcore players. We had a lot of cloth and wool and crafting stuff in our inventory. My sister actually had cooler things than I did, such as deer masks, a dye pot, some nice katanas and such.

The first issue I ran across was that what appeared to be my main character was using a last name that I not only would never use anymore, but is too closely associated with my password. In fact, it was a downright security issue. So, that was right out!

I didn’t want to delete any of these historical characters, especially my main. Plus, you can only have 2 characters normally on an Endless Journey account, so I was lucky to have an extra 2 grandfathered in. But I really needed to do something about that name.

So I did some research about what options I had, and learned there was a name change token for about $10. I plunked down the money, and now my main from 1999 sports my current day name: Aywren Sojourner.

Bank Troubles

The second issue I ran across is a bit more troubling. An EJ character is only allowed 20 bank slots, which isn’t a lot given that you lose stuff you’re carrying when you die (if it’s not insured – this is something new).

But the real issue is, having an old account, my bank already had more than 20 items in it upon logging in – naturally, since there were no restrictions back in the day. Mostly, it was a bunch of junk that I could have done without, too.

Don’t laugh. I don’t remember why I was hoarding bone armor in 1999.

I was puzzled when I went to try to take something out of the bank, and could not. So, it was back to doing research.

Come to find out, a veteran player who returns as F2P cannot access anything in the bank, not even to lower the bank slot numbers to 20, if they have more than 20 items in the bank already. That’s just… really bad design.

I don’t care about the 20 slot limit in general. But at least let me pull stuff out and not put anything in the bank again until I’m under 20 slots. That makes too much sense, right?

So my options here were…

  • Remain F2P without access to a bank ever
  • Reinstate my subscription just so I can clean out my bank, then drop the sub and have to wait for 120 days until I’m F2P again…

Neither of which I want to do.

I might pay for a sub eventually. But right now, I just wanted to check out my old accounts and see what the game was like again. If I can stay F2P, that’s really key to keeping me logging back in while I’m casually exploring my options. Especially if I have to drop my sub and wait for 3 months before I could play as a EJ account again… that’s just bleh.

I discovered there was a third route that I could go that would not push me to re-sub, but would cost me about $3.

The Vault Token

So, there’s a thing called a vault token. It provides 125 slots of shared storage between all characters on your account for 30 days. Plus it allows you to unbank an overstuffed bank.

I cringed to have to put more money towards it, but I had two characters on this account that would have locked banks if I didn’t. Not to mention, my sister’s character had some pretty nice fishing poles, extra packs and tons of cloth that could benefit other characters.

I went the vault token route, and it worked for my needs perfectly. In fact, I’m actually pretty happy that I did this because it allowed me to shuffle items to two of the characters who were basically running around in their skivvies, not even a robe to their names.

I was able to throw them some supplies, distribute the fishing rods, clean out the banks to a point where they will be usable again come the expiration of the vault. I don’t like that there is an expiration… but that was the best option I could see to remain F2P overall for the moment.

So, with those two things squared away, I now have my fully restored 1999 Ultima Online account converted to the Endless Journey and open for me to explore again. I’m pretty stoked that this could have happened at all – who would have thought that this would be possible – that a game I played all those years ago, this account and these characters would still exist?

The immensity of it!

Ah well, time to go fishing with my trusty steed by my side. He only waited for me to return for 20 years…