Name: Shawn Hescock
Character Name: Ultuan Vecto
Even though Ultima Online would eventually inspire Shawn Hescock to become a novice designer for tabletop games, he had to first overcome a series of difficult obstacles in order to even play the game. That list of obstructions included a monthly subscription fee, a highly-religious mother, and the threat of the Y2K Bug destroying the world.
Hescock came across a copy of UO on the used games shelf of his local PC repair shop in 1999. As he shuffled through the available discounted titles, he felt immediately drawn to the Ultima Online box.
“It was the cover, hands down [that drew me in],” Hescock explained. “I had always loved the fantasy genre, even though my mother considered it sinful, satanic, and evil. The picture of Mondain using the crystal ball on the front caught my eye.”
Smuggling the game home, the then-sixth-grader installed UO on his PC, jumping onto the Pacific shard as the sword-wielding paladin, “Ultuan Vecto.” But rather than throw himself into a guild or hunting group, Hescock’s curiosity prodded him to see how many of the game’s challenges he could overcome as a lone wolf.
As Hecock moved through Britannia at his own pace, his sessions were often delayed by his mother wandering into the room. Not wanting to catch her ire, he’d hide the screen and wait for the maternal threat to pass. Thankfully, Hescock’s father was not so concerned with what was happening on his son’s screen.
“My mom didn’t know about the game until after I had been playing it for a while,” he admitted. “I know I hid it from her for a long time, but eventually she found out. I was able to keep the game only because I convinced her that she could make my character and I would play her way. She chose wrestling, music, and other skills that gave the character almost no survivability.”
But while Hescock was getting his bearings on Pacific, a potential disaster loomed at the end of the calendar. 1999 was ticking down to a close and the year 2000 was preparing to dawn. If you were watching the news at the time, then you may recall that broadcasters and anchors were working overtime to put the fear of God into viewers over the impending Y2K Bug.
Read more of Shawn Hescock’s story in Braving Britannia: Tales of Melancholy, Malice, and Peril in Ultima Online!