It does, and I appreciate the response. It sparked quite the conversation between myself and my old UO crew, who I have been gaming with since the old days. It's funny - of all the MMOs I've tried, I never found myself making any long-lasting friendships from PvE-centered games like World of Warcraft. I could play that game with the same guild for six months and then forget 99% of the people when I move on to the next game.
But with UO, a brief moment from years ago was enough to serve as the foundation for 15+ years of friendship with dozens of the people I encountered, both allies and enemies. Isn't that amazing?
We had differing opinions about your post. On one hand, you were brought on to grow the game, and you certainly did. On the other hand, my speculation is that Trammel based players were more numerous BUT Felluca based players were more loyal to the game. If every Felluca-based player stuck around for twice as long as a Trammel based player, then doubling the subscription numbers only really breaks even in the long run, doesn't it? And I imagine the numbers curved steadily downward within a year or two, proving that point. But even if I'm right, I doubt you could have convinced the clueless denizens of EA to understand that kind of thinking.
I have mixed feelings about this. I think UO could have still appealed to a mass audience without the existence of Trammel, though I guess we'll never know. Maybe if the difficulty of UO was a "9", and Trammel dropped it to about "2," a better balance could have been struck around "5" (specifically, some solution that didn't separate all of us from each other - I don't think Siege Perilous or other varying rulesets are really the answer to this either.)
I would have been 100% on board with the "this game ain't for everyone" way of thinking before I played Darkfall, but I think a lot of us learned quite a bit from that game. It was, as another poster alluded to, a field of all wolves and no sheep, and the resulting community was terrible. It was like playing Call of Duty but in a persistent world. Being a "PK" was meaningless because everyone PK'd. There were no "good guys" and "bad guys," just "team A" and "team B." Of course, the players weren't the only problem - it also had a broken alignment system and really no incentive for being good.
But still, I'm cautious about an MMO that caters only to the "intense" playerbase. One of my RL buddies played UO for years without ever experiencing its "intensity." He was a merchant who just sat at Brit Bank all day buying and selling ****, getting rich, and building houses. He couldn't care less about PvP. But his actions still impacted both the PvE and PvP playerbase in significant ways. I hope the modern MMO era has not deluded us into thinking that sort of synergy can't exist.