My main characters names are Dob and Valius and I've been playing UO since Renaissance was released back in the day, and played till '04 or so. I've also played multiple free shards throughout the years. I'm impressed with what I see here and am looking forward to delving in.
I played release as well, back in 1997 through around 2002ish....Back and forth for some years and even ran a shard for awhile. Been here for a couple months now.
I don't think you will find a more helpful host than Amairgen. He is willing to help when able and answer questions when he is on.
There are some differences here compared to original game, that will take getting used to, some of them easier than others.
Crafting is pretty cool here although it is not without it's own frustrations I love how he has it set up with crafters able to get their own power scrolls but I do dislike the sheer rng when you turn your quest in. For example, I have been at 115 alchemy for a week now. I have not been successful in getting that last ps. Or with blacksmithy, been a legendary bs for over 5 weeks now. Have only received wicks and candles upon turnin....not one recipe. But conversely, tinkering went steady and I occasionally get a resource box, skill ball, etc. So it is just up to the rng. Don't get frustrated
Also, mobs are scaled differently. Back in the day, a tamer grabs a nightmare or dragon and heads out to collect riches. Doesn't really work that way here. You need the evo pets in order to do it. I guess the same about armor / weapons.
And I think I might say this every chance I get, since I love crafting, but one real difference here that I dislike immensely is the account age required to use the "special" dye tubs. (Furniture, runebook, etc) Your account needs to be almost 2 years old before you can use them. So until then, you either don't dye stuff or you find someone with access that can do it for you. With a small population, it is challenging.
Anyway, aside from a few things, the people I have talked with are awesome. The host is awesome. The shard is a lot of fun, what little I have experienced of it.