If there was one single thing which I have to point to as to bringing back people to the game recently it has to be ICQ chat. When I was working to bring back the HOT Guild over the winter, one of the big hurdles was communication. People were logging in very haphazardly and not checking our website much at all anymore. People were around, but getting people together was a big hurdle.
I know there are other programs out there that people chat on, such as WhatsApp and Discord. But Ultima Online players are stubborn and will only use ICQ. Luckily it seems ICQ has developed a pretty decent chat interface to compete with other programs and so far it has served our guild very well. There are hundreds of messages every day and any questions can be answered promptly.
If you haven’t loaded up the ICQ app on your smartphone then I strongly encourage you do so! Now you don’t need to be at your computer and have the ICQ application open to be connected to what is happening in UO. It could be 4:30 at work and you get a ping that something will be happening tonight, so you know exactly when to login. Personally, I turn off notifications for chat rooms so I don’t get notifications. But if someone needs to reach me all they need to do is send me a message.
There was a recent update to ICQ chat which allows basic permissions. Now you can set it so people have to request permission before they can join (before anyone could invite anyone else). So problem users can be removed. With this I decided to create public chats for the Atlantic shard, a general and a PVP focused one. If you want to join one or both chats (and you should, you don’t have to talk to anyone) then message me at 59523359.
I would encourage every shard to start their own ICQ chat room(s). It will help connect players for all kinds of reasons, whether it be trade, PVP, looking for hunting partners, answering a simple question, etc. The more people communicate the more they will have fun in Ultima Online.
Have a Nice day.