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Lord British Talks About EA, UO,& The Future 123

Posted by Hemos
from the i-love-britishing! dept.
Warrior-GS writes: "Richard Garriott (aka Lord British), the creator of the Ultima universe and Origin Systems, is not longer under NDA after his departure from Origin and Electronic Arts. He gave his first interview about what he thought were problems at EA, where the Ultima series was going and what his future holds, especially now that many of his old co-workers are no longer employed, thanks to recent EA layoffs. You can find the interview at GameSpyDaily."
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Lord British Talks About EA, UO,& The Future

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Game companies have a long history of going under while trying to complete "creative" projects that don't sell. (Witness Orgin and the lame selling Ultima 7 and 8.)

    EA has been in business since the beginning and has no sign of going under. That involves shoveling out crap that sells. Solution: People need to stop buying crap and start buying your valored "creative projects".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:12AM (#301298)
    Online a week?

    • 5: You'll lose your virginity at 20.
    • 30: You'll lose your virginity at 25.
    • 80: You'll lose your virginity at 30.
    • 120: Have you consider the priesthood?
    • What's Ultima Online? Aint pussy great!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @11:29AM (#301299)

    Honestly, I didn't expect RG to say too much. I think too many people wanted him to get down on his hands and knees and beg forgiveness for the disaster of Ultima: Ascension...well, it's not going to happen.

    What is painfully clear, beyond EA's continual negative influence, is that Richard Garriott was sick of his own creation. The pinnacle Ultimas (U VII and Serpent Isle) were headed by Warren Spector (Deus Ex and so much more) and a team of really creative folks...RG only had peripheral involvement. Ultima: Ascension, even given all the problems EA threw in it's way, is still a testiment to RG's apathy towards his own creation.

    RG says he didn't want to keep doing Ultimas; what most people don't know is that he DID commit himself (to the fans) to one last Ultima, Ultima IX...included with the Ultima VIII megapatch was a little file called FANS.TXT, in which Richard Garriott essentially apologized for the terrible mess that U8 was, and promised one last "great" ultima. He said that Ultima 9 would return to it's roots and be an epic game the bards would sing about for eons. THIS is why the fans are angry with him...he broke his promise.

    All this is in the past, however....Origin is dead, Ultima is dead and it's time to forge onwards. One thing is very clear though: Richard Garriott will have to prove himself once more. The longtime fans aren't just going to jump onboard whatever new project he's working on... it's clean slate time, and time will tell if RG is truly Lord British, or just another John Romero.

    --Radagast, sometimes historian of Britannia

  • Could you provide more detail?

    Just curious to know the whole story.
  • and music prefrences that follow you around.

    My old neighboors used to have something like this. They cranked the volume and anywhere withing three houses away they could always hear their music.
  • He was canned, he did not just get up and "depart". I wonder if he was escorted out by security =)

    asinus sum et eo superbio

  • What an atrocity! Now we see the violence inherent in the system!

    You know... I recently played Ultima 7 (using Exult [sourceforge.net]), and a guy in the prison of LB's castle said that "people of Britannia are being crushed by the vicious tyranny of the class system". I couldn't help but to think of the Grail movie. =)

  • Ultima VII was my favorite.
    . the plot[s] were cool, and you didn't have to complete them all to win.
    . the graphics were nice for the time and the interface was relatively intuitive
    . it worked, albeit slowly, on my 386/20
    . the pharlap hack isn't too nice, but the exile project for U7 for x86 unices seems to have gotten around that problem (which is more of a DOSEMU issue)
    . the guardian was a big dumb-ass, but he was the least annoying in U7.
    . the modpacks were cool
    . can anyone forget Hoe of Destruction?!!
    . if you lost your magic carpet, for example, you could use the commandline hack to get it back. i wouldn't want to beat the game this way, but it's nice if you screw up pretty badly.

    -l
  • Thief was done by Looking Glass, and published by Eidos.

    Daikantana was done by ION Storm, and published by Eidos.

    id's stuff is published by Activision now.

    Basically, all the large publishers seem to suck (ie, anything for the allmighty dollar buy hey, their shareholders love it and that's the point of running a business, as far as large businesses are concerned).

  • by dgp (11045) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @11:22AM (#301306) Journal
    Ultima 9 is the most misrepresented game in history. It is also the most entertaining game I have ever played. The Ultima 9 world is the most immersive, the most free-form, and the most beautiful game world I have ever played.

    The initial poor reception of U9 got the game thrown out of the gaming community's consciousness. How many games have been in development for years just to end up as PC Gamer's flavor of the month one month and forgotten about the next month. If you love a beautiful RPG with a real story, then give U9 a try.

    Who is making today's adveture games and story-based RPGs that aspire to be more than a "Quake plus inventory"? I am excited that RG is going back to doing what keeps school students away from their homework - making original games!

    Don
  • Mind you, it's still possible to have quality and originality come out of an EA. SSX is a hell of a lot of fun, for instance. But it's more evolution than revolution. The truly original stuff always comes from a Bullfrog or an Origin...

    Bullfrog [bullfrog.co.uk] is owned by Electronic Arts, and indeed has been for some years now. Peter Molyneux (the original creative mind behind Bullfrog) became completely disenchanted with the E.A. way of running his company after the sale, and decided to go it alone with a new company called Lionhead [lionhead.co.uk] games. They've just released their first game, Black & White [blackandwhite.com], which is currently receiving some truly amazing reviews from the computer games press.

    --
  • Personally, I thought 'Heroes Quest' II was great, and Enjoyed I. I did play III (Was it in 3 that they were forced to change to Quest for Glory?') But of course I loved all of the old Sierra games. (Remember Sierra-on-Line?) Multiplayer Red Baron was great. I wasted much time there.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:37AM (#301309)
    > You don't see Bill Gates house built like a circut board with PCI boards for walls.

    No, just broken windows everywhere he turns.

    --
  • "Why do so many young people feel the need to stay glued to their screens playing mindless drivel games like 'Ultima online', 'Baldur's Gate', 'Tekken Tag' and 'Kamakazi F-zero US destroyer' ? "

    Maybe doing work all the time stinks. Most of the really interesting stuff in CS is kept difficult to understand or code and never makes it's way out of technical journals.

    " I would not mind if it were just stupid redneck Americans playing these games, but even educated nations such as Great Britain and Japan now seem to be obsessed with these semi-pornographic games."

    Not every American is a red neck and quite frankly I find it hard to believe that people in Europe don't have people of that class.

    "All this simulated violence day in, day out cannot help but influence children and young adults into becoming Columbine-style misfits. I don't want my country to be populated by moronic juvenile adults whose idea of fun is dismembering a computer-generated image of another human being."

    Oh sure the European who thinks nothing of the most intellectual persuits? Come on Europe is usually at the forefront of controversial philosphical and intellectual forces that are usually not all that good for mankind (ie. Communism, Faciasm, Dadaism, etc).

    "It would be nice if slashdot would for once post an article that was critical of violence in video games."

    Maybe because not many people believe it really has any statistical correlation and that most of the violence is maybe statistaical outliers and not worthy of consideration in a scientific manner? Oh that kind of information.

    "Anyway, don't think I am some religious nutball. I last went to church over 2 weeks ago, I just feel I have to add my voice to the growing millions who feel video games have gone too far."

    As a European you have a greater propensity to know about your own ancient histroy. So you missed church one week to watch a cricket match and drink beer. Do I really care?

    There has been much more problems with so called "Christian" values and the world. Take a look at the Byzantine empire. Basically they used all the tactics of Snidly Wiplash and angered a great many people to get what they want. Basically they bribed their way to survive. The end was also ghastly.

    Point being religion is not a good basis for a rational person to base his life on.

    "The graphic portrayal of gory slaughter of innocent men, women, children and animals in these so-called games is a sick indictment of America, and in my opinion only a culture as bankrupt as the USA's could have spawned such unspeakable filth."

    Oh come on this isn't some game like "Home Invasion 3d" or some such. The people who get killed are usually very deserving of getting killed. Quake has a very easy to villify group called the Strogg who committed a massive group of hostile actions culminating in the invasion of earth and it's territories and killed millions. Then they killed the invasion force sent to eliminate them. They fight at every turn and then decide to torture/execute the downed pilots. What more of a rational justification do you need for killing them? Of course the European thing would be to have tea and crumpets with them and do a little psychoanalysis but that dosn't fly in most logical circles.

    "I think its about time Britain banned all American video games, until the producers demonstrate a little social responsibility. Only then will their hands be free of the blood of the children."

    Again no statistical correlation to anything at all. People will be more likely to shoot others if they have been mercissely bullied than if they play a round of Quake.
  • Eidos? "Nicer"? Surely you must be joking. I guess you must be unaware of the deep dickin' Eidos gave Looking Glass. Eidos courted Looking Glass, promising them that oodles of money were just around the corner. LG ships Thief II to resounding critical and decent commercial success, but doesn't quite have the money to keep the doors open so they can get the deal cut with Eidos. So, they go bankrupt, and Eidos picks up the valuable Thief property at fire sale prices.

    I'm sure that if I looked, I could find similar stories for Activision and Interplay. There is no such thing as a "nice" publishing company, in ANY medium.
  • Nope. Your country has moronic juvenile adults that crush people to death at football matches. Let's don't even go into that whole Northern Ireland thing.

    I'll take the skinny geeks that play Quake over 250+ pound football (soccer) hooligans any day of the week.

    If you think video games have gone too far, don't buy them. If you can't tell the difference between what is real and what is not, don't expect those of us who are well-adjusted to pander to your offended sensibilities.
  • From the Village Voice article: "It is a huge advance over well-known RPG titles like Doom, in which single users play against the computer." "RPG titles like Doom". Huh. I didn't realize Doom was an RPG. Here I was, playing a tried and true RPG, when I thought it was just a shooter!
  • I agree wrt U5, it's one of the most finished games I've played.

    I think it's my favorite of the Ultimas, the 3d ones (imho) were lousy. U5 had a nicer interface than 4, where you could target a monster in combat and hit it even if you or it moved, or if it wasn't in one of the four cardinal directions. Very nice stuff. U4 was also a bit heavy on the virtues, very (very!) hard to keep in control. (Accidentally talk to a beggar? Gotta give him something, or you'll lose virtue.)

    I can't really disagree with the original poster re: later Ultimas. U7 or 8 (the last one I played in mid 94 or so) was so buggy it would barely install, let alone play. It also had interface issues (too much mousing required, lame pack-style inventory, etc) but those might have been okay if the game was stable enough to play.

    I played U1 (a tiny bit), U3 (quite a ways), and U4 and U5 to the finish. I don't know where the interface in the later games was introduced.

    I really think there's no excuse for releasing a game as buggy as the later games. I don't care how broke you are, provide the product described on the box or don't provide anything. I work in a phone company and we provide a system with guarantees, it can't drop every 20th call just because we can't afford to find the bugs.

    I never tried later ultimas because I'm really a fan of the non-realtime, SSI or OSI late 80s games, where there's no emphasis on clicking on the monster, or anything. As such, most of the later stuff is a bit accademic.

    But, U5, now there was a game. Wow!

    I almost flunked grade 8 because of it. And I wasted tons of graph paper.

    Hey, maybe you'll find this funny... U4 was the first game I really tinkered with. I was fiddling with Copy2+ one day in the sector editor, and I was scrolling down a sector. It seemed odd, but a pattern of bytes caught my eye. Turns out that it was the shape of one of the little islands (off to the far east, Moonglow, was it?). I figured out roughly where I was and with a bunch of searching (later I learned how this related to sextant coordinates (in U4 or 5, don't remember)) I found the bay outside of British's castle...

    That was cool, it let me make a perfect map of any area. But, even better, it let me edit the map. (I backed up the disks first.) I put roads of grassland between all the cities, especially the annoying ones (north-west, surrounded by forests). Then, while experimenting with what values equated to what landscape, I noticed more things, towns, castle segments, horses, and ships (and more).

    I was trying to determind which of these tiles could be walked across (building bridges to the islands) and I walked on the horse... I hit 'B'oard and lo and behold, I was on the horse... I walked off the tile and was still on the horse, but it was also still there.

    So then I went around, putting a horse outside of every city and a ship next to the closest water.

    Insta-transport.

    I noticed, when trying to collect huge numbers of ships, that a whirlpool would start to swallow them when I got 12 or more on screen at once.

    Tons of other cool stories, but basically, U4 and U5 are the games that got me interested in how they're done, instead of just playing them.

  • by nuts (26500)
    i once played Ultima 7 for about 2 months or so.
    i really loved that game and its complexity and
    your freedom during the quests...i guess i was close to complete the game!

    then, one day my party had a terrible fight in one
    of the big forrests. we survived!

    but some time afterwards i realised that one of
    my heroes had lost the bag with all the keys i had
    collected. somewhere in the forrest. with no way
    to get them back...no chance to find em...(i tried for a few hours).

    i never played ultima again. :)

    ---
  • by Xmarksta (30211) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @01:30PM (#301316)
    Don't you think thats a little extreme?

    Nah, it's not as extreme as it sounds...if you look real close at all the secret doors there's a little dot in the middle of them.
  • God forbid that he enjoy what he does for work so much that, he plays with similar stuff at home!

    BTW the Gates house has somethingn like 200 servers doing changing art gallerys and personal temperature and music prefrences that follow you around.

    sounds pretty fucking similar to me

  • And a true Ultima fan will understand the significance of this.

    :)

  • Don't you find it at all concidental that when EA did finally step in, the Ultima games became the worst they have ever been? Once they step in, we get the 'abortion' Ultima 8 and totally disgusting Ultmia 9 (which I'm sadly currently playing, just so I can finally say I beat them all, ugh).

    I've never had any major problems with any of the older Ultimas. Sure, there was stuff like the 'lose keys' bug in Ultima 9, but considering the scope of the game, that's understandable - but there has been nothing even close to as nasty as what I'm up against in U9...

    Why do you blame RG for bankrupting Origin? Many/most people consider U7 to be the best Ultima, so obviously he didn't do that much wrong - if it's sales, then how is it RG's fault? Was he supposed to consult the gypsy or something before letting it out the door? And do you have proof that it's RG that decided to make U8 the way it was and not some marketing droid? And you complain that U6 shipped buggy - uh, what game doesn't? Sure, it's a damn shame we have to put up with it, by why blame RG? Even your venerable Spector ships buggy games... (not that he didn't do work on U6 and U7-p2 anyhow, both buggy). My god, actually, every game he made has bugs, wow! Thief crashed on me quite a bit...

    Anyhoo, you don't seem to have much proof anywhere that RG "drove Origin into the ground"... (and you seem very upset with him for some reason, attacking him personally by calling him unvirtuous... what did he ever do to you?)
  • I think having EA's deeper pockets allowed RG to try dumb things.

    Well, considering it took Ultima VII 1 million dollars to make, I'm not sure exactly where you're coming from. With one million dollars, even today, you'd be able to make any game you'd want... Are you saying RG purposely abused EA's money to create games that he wasn't sure would stick?

    If a store selling purple lingery goes out of business, do you blame the owner or might it just be the fact that nobody was buying anymore? He spent a million dollars on a game, and, unfortunately, the major RPG rut was already beginning... is it his fault the number of games sold wasn't as high as expected? I agree that he's to blame for some things, since he WAS in charge, but sometimes outside influences play a much more important role.
  • Everything was in a medieval tone, and the place was filled with hidden passages and secret doors. This guy wasn't just in it for the money, he truely loved his work...

    Don't you think thats a little extreme?

    You don't see Bill Gates house built like a circut board with PCI boards for walls.

  • Heh... if that were true, we wouldn't have Barbie on the top of the charts. And Deer Hunter. And Millionaire. And...

    ...and it's obvious that the average computer user's taste in games is different than that of the average Slashdotter's. That shouldn't be a major revelation to anyone.

    Everything went onto the pyre of UO, and everything else went to the back burner.

    I didn't play UO (at least not for more than ten minutes), but I seem to recall that soon after it went on line there were massive complaints about the servers not staying up, bugs in the software - wasn't there a class action lawsuit brewing? In light of that, maybe Origin had to dedicate all their resources to getting their premier product to Stop Sucking. Maybe that, in the long term, was the right decision.

    But then again maybe I'm thinking of some other online game....

  • by Monte (48723) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:11AM (#301323)
    We did not have the management bandwidth to grow intelligently.

    "Management Bandwidth" - now there's a concept! Why do I keep thinking I got stuck with 1200 baud?
  • Is that a joke?
  • by Ted V (67691) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:32AM (#301325) Homepage
    Has anyone noticed this problem with EA Games? A small, successful company comes up with a really well designed game (Ultima IV, Ultima Underworld, Thief, etc). EA buys the company and starts wrenching the life (money) from the franchise. A few years later the company gets funding cut by EA.

    To me this is yet more evidence that makes me believe EA knows very little about how to run businesses. They exude the mentality that "Lots of Hype for a well known Franchise makes oodles of money." Witness Daikatana... The fact is that only fun games can make serious money.

    Would you kill a cow for $100 in meat today, or milk it for $1000 in the coming year? EA's Business practices are not geared towards the long term health *or* profitability of the Computer Game market!

    One more reason to buy id software [idsoftware.com] games. They're not owned by EA-- it's just a bunch of guys who like making extremely vicersal games.

    -Ted
  • by smirkleton (69652) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @10:54AM (#301326)
    We all know Lord British was assassinated [villagevoice.com] in 1997, at the hands of a lowly thief named Rainz, while attempting to give a speech to the denizens of the Ultima Online beta. What are you saying, he didn't really die? I SAW IT HAPPEN.

    This low-level thief filched a firewall spell from a random knight, cast it, and suddenly, a wall of flame appeared out of nowhere before the real Lord British.

    Then, with the hardened arrogance that several years of omnipotence might visit upon any of us , Lord British cried out, "Ah ha ha! You can't kill me!" as he wandered into the flames. Where he died instantly.

    I barely escaped with my own life, since Lord Blackthorn, British's right-hand-man, completely panicked and summoned four daemons from the bowels of hell [azstarnet.com] to unleash demonic slaughter on the mass of innocent bystanders. What an atrocity! Now we see the violence inherent in the system!

    So who really gave that interview? Because Lord British is a dead man. Miss him. Miss him.
  • Given Windows's propensity to spontainously combust, I can understand WHY Mr. Gates wouldn't wish to build his house around a similar theme.
  • The link comes back as document contains no data.
    The main page crashes NS if you have JS turned on.
    After turning it off, half the links from their main page also come back as document contains no data.
    The rest of them feature black text on black background (probably as a result of not having JS turned on)

    Does anybody have a mirror of the article or someting?


    ---
  • It's sad, just as Thief was tossed aside like an old toy . . . .

    When Looking Glass Studios went under I assumed I'd be boycotting any Thief 3 to come along. I mean, who would even have a prayer of creating a game that was even half as good as the first two Thief projects!?! But then Eidos threw a curve ball by handing Thief 3 to ION Storm Austin -- Warren Spector's team! Who promptly hired on several of the former Thief team members. Sorry, but I do not think Thief has just beed tossed aside like a Toy.

  • by CaptainCarrot (84625) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @04:59PM (#301330)
    After reading a number of posts bemoaning the end of the Ultima games and the declining quality of the games later in the series, I thought I should point out that Ultima-style RPGs are alive and well. Spiderweb Software [spiderwebsoftware.com] started out in 1994 with Exile [spiderwebsoftware.com], a massive retro-RPG in the style of Ultima IV. This was followed by two sequels, Exile II: Crystal Souls [spiderwebsoftware.com] and Exile III: Ruined World [spiderwebsoftware.com], both of which implemented minor enhancements but were still basically in the same style. Blades of Exile [spiderwebsoftware.com] was an expandable version of the game engine. It shipped with three sample scenarios and the Scenario Editor which allowed users to create their own. The best of them can be downloaded [spiderwebsoftware.com] from Spiderweb's website.

    The company shifted to a new engine that offered a pseudo-3D orthogonal projection with Nethergate [spiderwebsoftware.com]. Nethergate was also innovative in that it allowed the player to roleplay either side of the conflict. Now they're working on re-releasing the Exile games using the new engine and under new titles. Avernum [avernum.com] and the recently released Avernum 2 [avernum.com] do not disappoint.

    Although I have linked to the Windows versions of the games [spiderwebsoftware.com], Spiderweb actually develops and releases for the Mac first, and later ports its games to Windows. They also distribute a number of games that they do not produe, but IMO they're nowhere near as good.

    All Spiderweb games are shareware, and you can play a fairly substantial portion of the game before having to pay. So if you miss Ultima, give them a try!

  • The article makes a reference to UO2 dying, I don't follow game news that closely, can anyone explain what happened (or provide a link?).

    Thanks.
  • >(BTW, the answer is obviously "Ultima IV")

    Actually, the answer is "Ultima Underworld", though Origin would never admit it. :-)

    And there are good arguments to be made for several of the others in the cardinal series as well. Ultima 7 was probably the most in-depth "world" they ever did. Serpent Isle is probably the longest and most intense CRPG in the series, though riddled with too many bugs to make it very playable. Ultima 5 also gets votes for its plot and the level of interactivity with the game world, which was pretty darn nice way back in 1987. But Underworld gets my vote for being most revolutionary and influential - unless you want to argue about the original Ultima title itself or something.
  • >I didn't play Uo (at least not for more than ten minutes), but I seem to recall that
    >soon after it went on line there were massive complaints about the servers not
    >staying up, bugs in the software - [snip]

    Actually Origin's problems with UO started long before the game was released. Originally UO (which "alpha" tested in April of '96) was supposed to be released by October of that year. I actually spoke with the project lead at a convention during that time, and they were sure they would make that schedule. In actuality, it took another year-and-more to get even the buggiest first product out the door. In the meantime, they had to drop support and development resources from practically everything else - and notably from Ultima 9 - as a result of the development fiasco that UO became. And of course after UO was released, the situation just seemed to spiral out of control. But that was what I meant by saying that UO was at the root of their problems: long before UO was actually released, the standalone Ultima series was already doomed.

    >Maybe that, in the long term, was the right decision.

    Maybe - if by "right decision" you mean the death of their premiere product line. Make no mistake, they've made a buttload of money off of UO - probably more than they ever would have made from any number of titles in the standalone series. On the other hand, the company is now effectively *dead* outside of that one product, and their entire fan base of 20+ years was alienated and moved on. "Right decision"? *shrug* You make the call. I certainly have my opinion.
  • > The fact is that only fun games can make serious money.

    Heh... if that were true, we wouldn't have Barbie on the top of the charts. And Deer Hunter. And Millionaire. And...

    Unfortunately it's getting harder and harder to have shelf space unless you belong to an EA. 'Net distribution still isn't big enough of a factor to offset that; look at what happened with FireTeam (I'd include a link, but developer Multitude [multitude.com] has shut down).

    Mind you, it's still possible to have quality and originality come out of an EA. SSX is a hell of a lot of fun, for instance. But it's more evolution than revolution. The truly original stuff always comes from a Bullfrog or an Origin, who have the guts to take a chance to begin with. And once they're 0wn3d, the ability and/or incentive for that goes away.

    As far as the fate of Origin goes, they're as much to blame for what happened as EA. One thing sealed the fate of Origin, and that was UO. Everything went onto the pyre of UO, and everything else went to the back burner. Had U9 actually been ready by late '96/early '97 like it was supposed to, things would have worked out very differently for them, one would suppose.

  • A few years ago, right when Origin was selling to EA, I visited a game company created by ex-Origin staff who were running away. Their claim was that Origin was beefing up the staff with random people to bolster the sale price to EA!

    So is EA really the culprit? Some people who owned Origin (hint, hint) got lots of extra money this way.

    According to "Lord British," they didn't have the management bandwidth to pull it off. Who's fault is that and why did they do it?

    It would be interesting to know how long "Lord British" had to stay after being bought out. Did the time just so happen to expire recently? (-: Maybe he's taking a page from Peter Molyneux, who sold Bullfrog to EA for outrageous fortunes, waited for his three years (?) to pass, then scrammed.

  • Even if he fails his next one, it still won't make him "just another John Romero". Now THIS is just too insulting. At least he *invented* the whole CRPG genre.
  • Ultima V on Apple II with sound card.

    Very immersive world with even more immersive music. I still can hum all of them after all these years. Gotta be it.
  • The ImagiNation Network (INN) was actually The Sierra Network (TSN) before ATT got ahold of it. I was very sad to see it go as the sentimental value was high for me and my wife -- we met in Larry Land.

    In those days, the blood bank was your friend!

  • I don't think Ultima7 had anything to do with Origin's financial problems. They were more likely due to the huge expenses incurred developing Wing Commander 3 & 4, as actors like Mark Hamill don't work cheaply.
  • Thanks. It's nice to know that I'm not the only Ultima fan who liked the game. Sure, it had its faults, and didn't have the complex character development of Ultima7. But I liked the plot (which was more like an adventure game than an RPG), the dungeon puzzles, and even the ending. And technically, the 3D engine was truly amazing.

    One other thing: Many people complained about the game's bugginess. But for me, it was quite solid, with only a handful of crashes, and those to the desktop.

  • You probably didn't have a Voodoo card. Ultima9 was in development for such a long time, that it was originally designed for the proprietary Glide (3dfx) library. The DirectX version was added later, and doesn't seem to have been particularly well-done. My system was a modest K6/333 with 64Mb and a Voodoo3/2000, and U9 performance was generally okay.

    I played Gabriel Knight 3 on this same system, and had far more crashes, and about the same performance, for a game that didn't look 1/4 as good.

  • Making Ultimas is hard. Try it sometime.

    No kidding! Just reverse-engineering one is a big task!

  • Yes, the Underworld's, especially the first, were excellent! I generally don't even like 1st-person games, but I found the creepy atmosphere of UW1 enthralling.

    Ultima7 was the first CRPG I ever played; and starting out, I didn't even know what it was. My previous game-playing experience was with Sierra's adventures, so I thought that Ultima7 was just another mystery adventure, with Trinsic as the 'universe'. It was quite a shock when I found that Trinsic was only a tiny part of Ultima's world!

  • "I would not mind if it were just stupid redneck Americans playing these games, but even educated nations such as Great Britain and Japan now seem to be obsessed with these semi-pornographic games."

    Perhaps he can work on the port of Martin Prince's (of "The Simpsons") favorite, "My Dinner With Andre: The Video Game"
  • Yeah, the hoe of destruction was awesome! I think you had to go find a key from inside a dead fish near a lake to open a shed to get the Hoe.
    But it was a badass weapon!

    Also the spaceship from Wing Commander in a farmers yard was cool too.

    Ultima was just plain fun. U7 had pictures of all of the team members hidden in the game as well.
  • Considering who the interviewer is, the poorly done interview isn't surprising. Tina Haumersen has been one of Garriott's sycophants for years. She has gone so far as to name one of her kids after a character from the Ultima games.

    Then again, she's used his misfortunes for her on ends. When RG was fired from/left Origin she couldn't wait to post that information on her little website in order to drive hits to it. Her scoop was more important that any respect for the man and what obviously had to be a painful time for him.

    When the Dallas Observer story broke about the antics at Ion Storm, this same person tossed John Romero the same softballs. Her opinion was that if you knew the creators of a game it would tell you if the game would be good or not!
  • Really? What a fascinating assertion. I don't recall many complaints along these lines from U5's players, and (having been the lead programmer on the project) I seem to be missing the usual feelings of resentment and anguish that accompany the forced shipment of an unfinished game. Can you refresh my memory here?

    I was basing on the reviews of U5 when it was released, such as Scorpia's review in CGW that commented on the unfinished areas in the game. I also remember Ultima V was rather late from its originally announced ship date. If I am misremembering both those facts than I apologize.

    I believe Richard has expressed his regrets and taken responsibility for U8's problems on more than one occasion. Certainly the design direction in U9 (bugs notwithstanding) took U8's criticism to heart.

    Which design direction? I can come up with at least three different designs U9 went through: the one that Mike McShaffry said gave him the chills it was so good, the Del Castillo one, and the one we finally got in the released version.

    Not to apologize for U8 -- I wasn't involved in it, and never got around to playing it -- but you're being a little dramatic with your Monday-morning quarterbacking. From Richard's point of view, it was scary as hell to watch his dev budgets climb supergeometrically with each successive title, while sales figures remained pretty much where they peaked in U3. By the time Origin started work on U8, it was clear that drastic changes were required to keep the series financially viable.

    I believe RG has said a number of times that each Ultima has sold more copies than the prior Ultima. If the sales of the series has remained essentially flat since U3, then I really have problems with his _management_ abilities (but not his creative abilities). Being able to hit a deadline is a part of what you are paid for as a manager.

    My understanding is that U8 actually sold pretty well, but few of the old-school people, including Richard himself, were ever happy with the final product.

    My understanding from what Mike McShaffry said in the infamous CGW interview, U8 was exactly what they set out to create.

    I believe Richard has expressed his regrets and taken responsibility for U8's problems on more than one occasion. Certainly the design direction in U9 (bugs notwithstanding) took U8's criticism to heart.

    RG has consistently blamed EA as the cause of U8's failures. If he is to get the credit for the games, should he not bear the burden of the mistakes?

    Making Ultimas is hard. Try it sometime.

    Heh. That's an easy cheap shot to make. You and I both know that EA won't every let Ultima out of their hands. Though if you could I would be happy to see you give it a shot.

    And this might just shock you, but I honestly think you can't have an Ultima without RG's input. It is just that I can see he can be a disaster as a manager. Then again, I now from first hand experience as a programmer for almost two decades that seldom do you find a decent manager and a decent programmer/creative person in the same body. Each job function requires a set of skills that require time and experience to develop and have little overlap.

  • Don't you find it at all concidental that when EA did finally step in, the Ultima games became the worst they have ever been?


    No, but not for the same reasons you believe. I think having EA's deeper pockets allowed RG to try dumb things. He could try the action/RPG U8, whereas before he had to appeal to his core market. He could take 5 years to create U9, whereas before he had more pressures to ship and to ship a polished game.


    Why do you blame RG for bankrupting Origin?


    Is it all his fault? No. Is it all EA's fault? No. I do think, as the person in control of Origin, he bears the greatest share of the responsibility for what happened to Origin. Again, what appalls me is the fact RG never mentions his own mistakes, but instead prefers to leave you with the impression that all of Origin's woes were the result of Big Bad EA. That answer is a little too pat for me.


    Anyhoo, you don't seem to have much proof anywhere that RG "drove Origin into the ground"..


    Ultima VI was shipped to meet payroll. Origin was in such financial straits that the company was sold to EA. If neither of those are driving a company into the ground, then we aren't speaking the same language.

  • You're probably thinking of the Underworld portion of the game. It consisted of a map the same size as the main Britannian world, but which was (as you'd expect of a newly-revealed subsurface continent) only sparsely populated with cool stuff. Some of our more vocal players and reviewers, including Scorpia, evidently felt that their $49.95 entitled them to a certain amount of entertainment value per square foot of real estate. The Underworld was never intended to look like some kind of underground Disneyland (or whatever these people were expecting), so it was a disappointment to some. But it most assuredly was complete as shipped. :-)

    Then my apologies are tendered. :-)

    I dug out my CGW (#47, May 1988) that included the Scorpia review. In her review she gave an example of a pair of secret doors in Skara Brae that lead to nowhere. She went on to point out other areas and say, "It gives Ultima V a certain unfinished look, as well as aggravating players who may spend fruitless hours looking for something or waiting for someone that doesn't exist.". If this effect was what was intended, then obviously the game was finished as designed.

    Richard may or may not be a decent manager these days -- I honestly couldn't say. We had a very small, highly-motivated, and largely self-managing team on U5. But he is certainly an impressive living example of the difference between a "manager" and a "leader." If you worked for Richard, you'd follow him into Hell to collect nifty glowing rocks, just like the rest of us did. :-)

    That I understand. Charisma is a powerful motivator. While I think Ollie North ought to be in jail for what he did, you can't help but like the guy when you meet him.

    This is completely tangential to the discussion, but I was wondering if you knew anything about the FM-Towns (Japanese) version of Ultima VI that included full speech? I have an original CD and I would like to be able to convert the sound files to something more usable. I was hoping that as the author of the Miles Sound System (thank you :)) you might be able to point me in the right direction towards decoding these files.

  • Just thought I'd point out that RG wasn't in control of Origin when EA took over, EA appointed at the least a different GM, as well as high level management types... In which case, by your logic RG is absolved... ;-)

    But not completely, then. ;-)

    However, I believe RG was in control of Origin for long time after EA bought Origin. It wasn't until some of the UO follies occurred that EA installed their own person. Wholly-owned subsidiaries and all that.

  • Wing Commander IV was released in 1996, after EA owned Origin.
  • by FortranDragon (98478) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @10:00AM (#301352)
    Richard Garriott has been more and more disconnected from Ultima since U7:Black Gate. That's understandable since I'm sure he's tired of Ultima and wants to create something different. I can respect that, but the bad things he has done really puts a smear on his reputation.

    The thing that bugs me is that the man finally drove Origin into the ground and he _still_ blames EA for his own mistakes. Ultima V shipped unfinished because they had no other choice. Ultima VI shipped buggy to meet the following week's payroll (ask Dr. Cat). Ultima VII drove Origin to the point of death and EA stepped in and saved Origin.

    When RG decided that expanding the market for the Ultimas was more important than anything else we got the action/RPG abortion called Ultima VIII: Pagan. After that flopped, instead of accepting that he made a big mistake in abandoning the existing Ultima fanbase he blamed EA. That's where all of this 'Origin's problems are EA's fault' started. It was always EA's fault, never his. The man who created the Virtues, who brought morality and ethics to the computer gaming industry wasn't willing to accept responsibility for his own actions.

    EA gave him five years to create Ultima IX and he still screwed it up. He fired good people. Move the entire U9 team to work on Ultima Online (ignoring Brook's Law). Hired a RTS guy to create the capstone of the Trilogy of Trilogies. Fired his design team. Ignored what the fans cried out for. Didn't bother to talk to anyone because he feared the "wilds of the Internet". And on and on and on. And when he shipped a buggy beta as the final product he blamed EA once again. No wonder they booted him.

    Hell, don't even get me started on the whoppers the man has told: UO: There is no lag. U9: Well tested and debugged. These are not the actions of an ethical person, no matter how much the later Ultimas deal with those same issues.

    All in all, it makes me sad that people like RG who -- however talented as a storyteller -- couldn't manage a one car funeral procession gets this attention when truly deserving people like Warren Spector who *can* manage, promotes the teams he works with instead of himself, and is very creative.

    :sigh: When I was playing the original Ultima on my Apple ][ and waiting for Ultima ][ I never realised that one RG would make himself into a John "Daikatana" Romero.

  • They used to have UO for Linux, it worked okay, but lacked some features that the Windows client had.
  • EA may not know how to run a "business" in the mom-and-pop sense. But they do know how to run a "business" in the steaming dungheap of post-80's American investment financing sense.

    In order to meet their investors' hunger for immediate capital gains, companies must grow through predatory buy-outs, and they must shed niche market groups in pursuit of the amoebic "mass consumer" target. Since the mass consumer has no passion or focus, only the forces of marketing, branding, and shelf-space can be brought to bear in the conversion of product into gross profit.

    Since today's investor intends to get rich today, buy a house with a 3-car garage and retire early to a life of travel and excess, rather than to retire at 65 and live comfortably from their investments, companies owned by these investors must pursue the high-entropy goal oc continual quarterly growth.

  • You don't see Bill Gates house built like a circut board with PCI boards for walls.

    Silly rabbit. That's because it kept crashing.

  • I know it's a troll... but I just...can't...help...ut:

    Not every American is a red neck and quite frankly I find it hard to believe that people in Europe don't have people of that class Yes and then Britain's video game ecperience will be as exciting as their culinary experience.

    and in my opinion only a culture as bankrupt as the USA's could have spawned such unspeakable filth.

    Yes only American culture spawns filth (you're word not mine). New from the country that brought us Monty Python, and a tremendous fat man puking everywhere and blowing up, and such wonderfully non-vioelent files such as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.... CULTURAL VALUES. Call now for your free copy of "This British dudes anal retentive, holy than thou Morality" and you too can learn to talk like you are a superior person with a stick up his ass. Learn to blame all the problems of you country on video games from other countries....

  • But, U5, now there was a game. Wow!

    U5 and U2 have always been my favorites. But I haven't played any of them since U6 all the way through, to be fair....

    Tons of other cool stories, but basically, U4 and U5 are the games that got me interested in how they're done, instead of just playing them.

    Yeah, they were all very hackable. I learned 6502 assembly by poring over monitor listings of ULTIMA2.OBJ, myself!
  • In her review she gave an example of a pair of secret doors in Skara Brae that lead to nowhere

    Hmm, I'll have to look back at the Skara Brae map in the clue book. Don't remember any dead-end doors, but there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then! Mostly, I just remember a lot of bellyaching about the Underworld's relative emptiness.

    U6 predates MSS by quite awhile, actually. What's the file suffix? I'd guess they're just uncompressed 8-bit unsigned PCM files, maybe with a header. You could email me one or two of them if you like, and I'll see if anything around here can deal with them.
  • U5 was initially developed on Apple IIGS machines, to run on the //e and later models. The C64 and other ports followed.

    Like most of the Origin programmers at the time, I was hired as a result of offering them my Ultima clone to publish. :) There actually have been a couple of more-or-less accurate books about the early Ultimas' development... if I remember correctly, this one [ebay.com] has some good background on the people involved.
  • Thanks! I suspect U5 was the biggest, most complex consumer application (not just game, but app) ever built for an 8-bit micro. A few games (like Time Zone) shipped on more disks, but U5 had a heck of a lot more code than anything else I ever saw on the Apple.
  • by John Miles (108215) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @04:33PM (#301361) Homepage Journal
    I was basing on the reviews of U5 when it was released, such as Scorpia's review in CGW that commented on the unfinished areas in the game. I also remember Ultima V was rather late from its originally announced ship date. If I am misremembering both those facts than I apologize.

    You're probably thinking of the Underworld portion of the game. It consisted of a map the same size as the main Britannian world, but which was (as you'd expect of a newly-revealed subsurface continent) only sparsely populated with cool stuff.

    Some of our more vocal players and reviewers, including Scorpia, evidently felt that their $49.95 entitled them to a certain amount of entertainment value per square foot of real estate. The Underworld was never intended to look like some kind of underground Disneyland (or whatever these people were expecting), so it was a disappointment to some. But it most assuredly was complete as shipped. :-)

    Which design direction? I can come up with at least three different designs U9 went through: the one that Mike McShaffry said gave him the chills it was so good, the Del Castillo one, and the one we finally got in the released version.

    True, but note that none of the principal designs emphasized the Jumping Jews of Jerusalem routine that U8 demanded of its players.

    I believe RG has said a number of times that each Ultima has sold more copies than the prior Ultima.

    That was true up until U5. I'm not sure if U5 outsold U4 at the end of the day, although they were both very successful products relative to their budget. U6 was a much more expensive product to build, and it was where the profitability curve really started to break down.

    U2 sold more than twice what U1 sold; ditto U3 versus U2. I'm pretty sure U4 eventually outsold U3, but not by a factor of 2. Hopefully someone who's more up to date on the real numbers will correct my assumptions where necessary, but the bottom line is, the market for Ultima-style RPGs showed distinct signs of saturation as early as the U3/U4 era.

    If the sales of the series has remained essentially flat since U3, then I really have problems with his _management_ abilities (but not his creative abilities). Being able to hit a deadline is a part of what you are paid for as a manager.

    Richard may or may not be a decent manager these days -- I honestly couldn't say. We had a very small, highly-motivated, and largely self-managing team on U5. But he is certainly an impressive living example of the difference between a "manager" and a "leader." If you worked for Richard, you'd follow him into Hell to collect nifty glowing rocks, just like the rest of us did. :-)

    My understanding from what Mike McShaffry said in the infamous CGW interview, U8 was exactly what they set out to create.

    Right... an Ultima that they were hoping would find a broader audience.

    I've always understood that Richard was less involved in U8's design than in most of the other titles in the series. My impression is that, for better or for worse, some of the people who did have a lot of creative input weren't necessarily among the "old-school" types that I was referring to.

    Though if you could I would be happy to see you give it a shot.

    Let's just say that the erstwhile Lord British is not the only one with an upcoming Project X....

    And this might just shock you, but I honestly think you can't have an Ultima without RG's input.

    I wouldn't disagree with that for a nanosecond.
  • by John Miles (108215) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @10:43AM (#301362) Homepage Journal
    Ultima V shipped unfinished because they had no other choice.

    Really? What a fascinating assertion. I don't recall many complaints along these lines from U5's players, and (having been the lead programmer on the project) I seem to be missing the usual feelings of resentment and anguish that accompany the forced shipment of an unfinished game. Can you refresh my memory here?

    When RG decided that expanding the market for the Ultimas was more important than anything else we got the action/RPG abortion called Ultima VIII: Pagan.

    Not to apologize for U8 -- I wasn't involved in it, and never got around to playing it -- but you're being a little dramatic with your Monday-morning quarterbacking. From Richard's point of view, it was scary as hell to watch his dev budgets climb supergeometrically with each successive title, while sales figures remained pretty much where they peaked in U3. By the time Origin started work on U8, it was clear that drastic changes were required to keep the series financially viable.

    My understanding is that U8 actually sold pretty well, but few of the old-school people, including Richard himself, were ever happy with the final product.

    After that flopped, instead of accepting that he made a big mistake in abandoning the existing Ultima fanbase he blamed EA.

    I believe Richard has expressed his regrets and taken responsibility for U8's problems on more than one occasion. Certainly the design direction in U9 (bugs notwithstanding) took U8's criticism to heart.

    EA gave him five years to create Ultima IX and he still screwed it up.

    Making Ultimas is hard. Try it sometime.

    :sigh: When I was playing the original Ultima on my Apple ][ and waiting for Ultima ][ I never realised that one RG would make himself into a John "Daikatana" Romero.

    Okey-dokey, then.
  • by Rurik (113882) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:16AM (#301363)
    It's sad, just as Thief was tossed aside like an old toy, so has the name 'Ultima'. It used to mean a wonderous world of adventure, then it just turned into a moneypot. Richard Garriot was a genious of his own right. I remember watching a special on him about 6 years ago, where he designed his own house. Everything was in a medieval tone, and the place was filled with hidden passages and secret doors. This guy wasn't just in it for the money, he truely loved his work... then big bad EA came and gobbled him up, and spit him out like so many other companies.

    Sigh
  • Out of curiosity, what was wrong with QFGIV? Personally, I think that III was the best, II was the worst, V an interesting experiment, and I was just solid.
  • I do have to admit. I bought IV when it was new on shelves, and could never quite beat it. A few years later, when the Internet was, I decided to read a FAQ, and found out that the game shipped with a bug that prevented an event from happening that needed to happen so you could advance. That was annoying. Oh, and even with a CPU inhibitor, you can't play it on modern hardware.
  • They've just released their first game, Black & White, which is...

    ...published by EA.
  • I know, I wasn't contradicting the original statement, I was just pointing out the irony that in the end, EA still makes a few buckets of money from it.
  • The Sims, the entire EA*Sports line (the best PC sports games on the planet), the Janes military flight simulators, Black&White, Dungeon Keeper, Command&Conquer, Alpha Centauri, the Need for Speed series, SimCity...

    Saying none of those are great games is ludicrous...
  • I don't doubt its a good game while working ok; most of the magazine reviews I read said how its a great game fatally flawed by the bugs.

    The problem seems to lie in the huge development time; if you had a 3dfx-based card then you might be fine, but by the time of release NVidia were in the ascendant, and no way near enough testing was done to the DirectX engine. It seems like the beta team said 'well, it works ok on this PC' without giving it a proper go on any of the other popular hardware configurations.

    Once again another argument for consoles, where you are writing for a standard hardware platform. Unfortunately, U9 requires copious hard-drive space to work in, so a console version would have been a squeeze.
  • RG: Very proud to help them learn and grow and yet also often sad to see them leave the fold.

    Hmm...spoken almost like a character from Ultima :).
  • Electronic Arts and Origin Systems have announced a plan that will increase their focus on Ultima Online and halt production of OWO: ORIGIN (UO2). The reason is simple, rather than creating OWO: ORIGIN (UO2) as a parallel world competing with UO, we've decided to put those resources into growing and improving the core offering for Ultima Online's 230,000 loyal subscribers. In the near future and with the release next week of Ultima Online: Third Dawn, players will see new lands, new creatures, and a world that is continually evolving within Ultima Online.
    There ya go. They just decided there money would be better spent improving the current game, rather than creating a new one.
  • oh my god. I *still* play that on my old Apple2e. Much more rewarding than playing thru an emulator.
    By the way, you probably know this already, but in case you dont.. in the original wizardry game: create a bishop, enter the maze and camp immediately, and cast identify 9 until it succeeds. Whammo! tons of experience points instantly. Now go turn yourself into a ninja, or samurai, or other cool class you cant be from the start.
  • I haven't seen Felorin around for a while. I should probably reinstall furcadia. Go llama me :x
  • He has learned his lesson, and, hopefully, others will also learn.
    The biggest problem with game programming is that you can't just make a game and ship it, you need to have a publisher, support, buy a graphics engine, etc.... This can all be provided if you sold your company to a bigwig like EA. Problem solved, accept you have to adhere to their schedules, and basically do what they say. EA is a giant that needs to fall. Hopefully Eidos, Interplay, Activision, or some other *nicer* company will dethrown EA.
  • by FortKnox (169099) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:44AM (#301375) Homepage Journal
    I'm a touch disappointed with the interview. It was stuff I pretty much coulda told you about last year. I am more interested in what company he has started, people he'll be hiring, any more info on project "X", what genre of game he'd like to work on (I'm guessing he'll avoid RPG like the plague), stuff like that. For his first interview, the questions they asked weren't very good.

    Perhaps Taco or Hemos can work their magic and get a /. interview of the 'ol Lord British??
  • Yes, I think 6 is my favorite too.

    I remember wandering around for hours, discovering new places and people..

    Remember the Armagedon spell? If you cast it it would kill EVERYONE, and IIRC Lord British too!

    I did do a little cheating here and there.. (SPAM SPAM SPAM HUMBUG!) :) Glass swords were pretty fun to have.

    I used to play that game on my old Tandy 1000 HX on DD Floppyies. The good ole' days!

    What a great game that was. Perhaps one day I'll get cracking on my Ultima [sourceforge.net] project..
  • My favorite part about Ultima 7 was you could go to the casino in Buccaneer's Den and play roulette. After you spun, you could move your money to other squares, and it would still pay you if you won! I would:
    • Put 100 gold on a color
    • Wait until the wheel slowed and place the 100 on the most likely color.
    • I'd win 6x(+) what I put down, so I then had 600 gold to work with.

    Gold got pretty heavy, so i disovered that you could place barrels between seats of the magic carpet, so I always had money on hand :)
  • I think that a good poll question would be "Which episode of the Ultima series was the best?"

    (BTW, the answer is obviously "Ultima IV")

  • Out of curiosity, what was wrong with QFGIV?

    Well, I had loved the game engine from I and II -- I enjoy typing, I enjoyed the versatility that being able to type arbitrary text gave me, and I felt that the addition of mouse-based spell targetting in the second game added to the engine without losing anything.

    Then QFG3 came along, as part of Sierra's new "pure mouse" school of thought. I was less than happy with this decision. I was also less than happy with having to make my character repeatedly train his physical attributes in order to stay even remotely viable in the new world. But I accepted these changes and still enjoyed the game all the way through to the end. I didn't replay it multiple times (unlike the earlier games), but I still had fun.

    And then I saw QFG4 on the store shelf. The question in my mind was not "Should I buy this?", but rather "How much money do I have on me?" I happily headed home, new purchase in hand, only to discover...

    Sierra had shipped a bug-laden, poorly tested pathetic excuse for a piece of software. As much as I disliked the mouse-only interface, I could live with that. I couldn't live with the game crashing every 20-30 minutes. It takes real effort to turn a hardcore fan off of a series like Quest for Glory, but they managed to do it. Because of my experiences, I never bothered getting QFG5.

    And, as a random aside, Erasmus from QFG1/2 (can't remember if he was in 3 and I didn't play 4 far enough to find out if he was in it) was a significant influence in my choice of online nicknames. (The other factor being, of course, Charles Darwin's paternal grandfather, Erasmus Darwin. But I wouldn't have gone with the name if it weren't for my earlier exposure to Mr. Razzle Dazzle Rootbeer.)

  • I think that a good poll question would be "Which episode of the Ultima series was the best?"

    Personally, I think Ultima 4-6 was just pure gold. Ultima 1, 2, and 3, while nifty from a nostalgia standpoint, had this "I'm throwing together a fantasy world or something." sort of feel. Once he hit 4 was where coherency started to develop. However, 5 and especially 6 kept building upon that world and outdoing the previous ones. I remember being completely wowed by 6's concept of "The entire overworld is one scale."

    Finally, I used to like 7, but these days I can't help but view it as the ramp leading up to 8. I don't think I managed to make it past the first town in 8. My disappointment was on the par with Quest for Glory 4. I suppose I should be thankful that 8 cured me of my Ultima addiction before UO came about.

  • I would disagree. If you stop and think about it, what majorly radical improvements have come to UO in recent months? The stupid faction system? The slow/buggy 3rd dawn client? I would say OSI's problems are now much larger than poor execution. They are a lack of ideas and a fear to stick their necks out. There is so much potential still in UO but OSI is too reluctanct to expand on the game in any MEANINGFUL way. They are like amateurs trying to not break anything in terms of the way the game works. They are too AFRAID to add REAL new features (like new spells) and to generally be creative with UO and take some risks.

    The problem isn't with the coders themselves. It's with management and the fact that they lack BALLS.

    Game design is about risks. It's about letting your imagination run wild and it's about pushing the envelope not just technologically, but concept-wise. Look at how much fun Moleneaux (or however you spell his name) has with Black & white.

    Richard Garriot had his hands tied for far too long. I think we're going to see some really interesting things coming out by him in the next few years. At least I hope we will.
  • DUDE!! AUTODUEL ROCKED! After the Ultimas, it was my FAVORITE GAME. Man.. how I loved it. Ahh.. amateur night.. the courier runs.. doing jobs for the FBI. It was so ahead of its time concept-wise. The programming that went into that game was also pretty impressive considering the limitations of those old 8-bit machines it used to run on.

    Also, that game I think had some of the largest maps I had ever seen at the time. Driving from New York to Albany FELT like you were covering huge distances...

    Ahhh.. thanks for bringing up Autoduel man. I am truly content to be thinking of such pleasant memories..
  • Ultima V was an excellent excellent game that was SOOOO ahead of it's time (same can be said about every Ultima). You did some extraordinary work on that title! I think half of the credit goes to RG for coming up with great game concepts, but surely the programming on that title was amazing (esp. considering the limitations of the computers it was designed to run on). I had never before experienced a game so big, so full of so many different areas (towns, keeps, castles, dungeons, all larger than ever and very very detailed), and so much fun. All that and it still ran on hardware inferior to a Palm Pilot!!

    To this day I occasionally take Ultima V off the shelf and play it and still enjoy it! BRAVO!

  • Haha monitor listings. Now there's a term I haven't heard in a long time. 6502 assembler had it's elegance in simplicity, didn't it?? I am curious--was Ultima 5 developed on the Apple ][ or on the C64 originally? Hey, so did you get the lead programmer role for U5 because you loved the Ultimas so much and they inspired you to learn 6502 assembly? You should write a book about those good old days!!
  • Yeah I can't believe how much bad press U9 got. Sure, it had some minor problems.. but the world was really, as you say, immersive and beautifully free-form. The graphics were stunning and the plot was still lightyears more entertaining than most wanna-be titles out there that get better press. Right on!
  • Ah, Lord British... there's a name that brings me back. Not that I played any of the games mentioned thus far.

    I remember his name from AutoDuel [links.net] (a bit more info [mobygames.com]), a conversion for the Apple ][ (well, the one I played) by Lord British and Chuckles from the Steve Jackson Games [sjgames.com] PnP game Car Wars [sjgames.com].

    Why do I mention this? Becuase AutoDuel was the greatest game of all time. It was Road Warrior meets the eastern seaboard, and was great fun. Of course, my original 5.25" disks got corrupted, but I still have it on an Apple ][ emulator. I don't play much anymore, but it was a fantastic game.

    I thought there were plans to make an updated version... did anyone hear anything about that? This was a few years ago. Google hasn't turned up much...

  • Electronic Arts has a long history of churning out money-makers while screwing creative projects and people they've brought.

    There was Peter Molyneux (B&W) at Bullfrog, and then in Bullfrog itself projects you'll never hear of but had real promise like "Creation" being dumped, and people leaving to do their own stuff - people like Bullfrogs second in command, and Mucky Foot.


    Is there anything which cannot be programmed?
  • I read this article yesterday, and then I did some googling to dig up some stuff on Project X. Here are some nuggets I found (sorry, I don't feel like re-finding all the links to articles I read): -X will be an online community like Ultima Online -X will be value based (like Ultima), and the world will dynamically reflect the number of good and evil people in different areas (he respectfully tips his hat to Molyneux) -X will be set in the relatively near future with a SciFi background -X will integrate Ebay-esque functionality for buying and selling virtual property; British believes that some people will choose to make their living in X -X will try to be more inviting to casual gamers by not rewarding hard-core gamers who devote their lives to the game; British's clue was (and I paraphrase) "think of your best friend, who isn't necessarily someone you spend the most time with" -X will place a strong emphasis on fashion -X will have a target audience of both males and females -X will have a primary seamless world environment (like UO) as well as "missions" for parties to embark on (which can also be player-created) -British fancies tele-immersion technology, so although he denies knowing about the "story-telling" approach used by Neverwinter Nights, I'd expect him to return to his D&D roots by making X more of a role-playing experience That's all that comes to mind right now. KP
  • by KineticPoet (197813) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @10:26AM (#301389)
    Ugh, sorry...I forgot how /. does formatting.
    ---

    I read this article yesterday, and then I did some googling to dig up some stuff on Project X. Here are some nuggets I found (sorry, I don't feel like re-finding all the links to articles I read):

    -X will be an online community like Ultima Online

    -X will be value based (like Ultima), and the world will dynamically reflect the number of good and evil people in different areas (he respectfully tips his hat to Molyneux)

    -X will be set in the relatively near future with a SciFi background

    -X will integrate Ebay-esque functionality for buying and selling virtual property; British believes that some people will choose to make their living in X

    -X will try to be more inviting to casual gamers by not rewarding hard-core gamers who devote their lives to the game; British's clue was (and I paraphrase) "think of your best friend, who isn't necessarily someone you spend the most time with"

    -X will place a strong emphasis on fashion

    -X will have a target audience of both males and females

    -X will have a primary seamless world environment (like UO) as well as "missions" for parties to embark on (which can also be player-created)

    -British fancies tele-immersion technology, so although he denies knowing about the "story-telling" approach used by Neverwinter Nights, I'd expect him to return to his D&D roots by making X more of a role-playing experience That's all that comes to mind right now.

    KP
  • I think they are called "skanks" and there are council estates full of them across the UK, living off government benefits, and producing skanky offspring in their image.
    Easy though it is to make fun of typical Americans (or insert your culture here) there is good and bad in all cultures.

  • ....I'm really suprised that they are still in business, they don't have any really _great_ games. I guess anyone can get by with enough mediocrity. Anyhow, if it isn't Black Isle or Blizzard, it probably sucks.

    Jaysyn
  • heh...I should do some research before I open my mouth.....Didn't realize that some of those titles ^ we're made by EA...I was thinking Sims = Maxis etc....

    Jaysyn
  • thanks for the insight....Bioware/Black Isle still kick major arse though

    Jaysyn
  • Or, you could lug a cannon from LB's castle and blow the door to the shed open...
  • Dr. TJ Eckleburg kicks ass!

    Now who's going to correct me?
    ---

  • A very interesting link [sierra-online.com] to remember how ATT and AOL killed ImagiNation Network and CUC International killed Sierra. I think Leisure Suit Larry and King Quest are as good memories as Ultima and worth mentioning in this sad context.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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