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Electronic Arts Shuts Down Origin Systems? 343

Posted by simoniker
from the passing-to-the-other-side dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Waterthread.org has picked up the following on the studio that brought us the popular Ultima and Wing Commander series: 'Game company Electronic Arts is expected to tell its Austin employees this week that the company will be shutting down Origin Systems, its Austin operations, according to sources. Employees will be offered an opportunity to relocate to California or accept a severance package. Company officials could not be reached for comment. Austin is the #3 location in the U.S. for game development with more than 50 companies making major contributions to the game industry, including game development, publishing, tools and middleware and chips and hardware." The Wing Commander CIC has also posted a epitaph for Origin."
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Electronic Arts Shuts Down Origin Systems?

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  • Damn... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:44AM (#8370807)
    Looks like Pirt Snikwah [slashdot.org] won after all.

    RIP to the best of the old-school studios, from a former OSI employee and servant of the Crown.

    Everybody else just made crappy games. We created worlds.

  • by scrain (43626) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:46AM (#8370817)
    Even though they lost their main talents, in 'Lord British' off to NCSoft's Lineage and Raph Koster off to wreck Star Wars Galaxies, I still had hopes for them to do something good. Looks like that's over now.
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:46AM (#8370820) Journal
    This will result in the death of Ultima Online.

    Well, it did have a long run.
  • Origin, Bullfrog (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Operating Thetan (754308) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:50AM (#8370845) Journal
    What other studios has EA gutted?
  • Not a surprise. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Visceral Monkey (583103) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:50AM (#8370846)
    Having been to Origin Austin and seen their digs, there is no way a company like that could even justify the real estate costs they run up. It's crazy.
  • by DeadPrez (129998) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:55AM (#8370884) Homepage
    Before EA gutted the UO team and started taking it on a rambling development path towards an Everquest clone, Ultima Online was quite an amazingly complex and intriguing game. Despite contemporary wisdom 2d games have plenty of potential if not more than 3d games. UO of 1999-2000 is considered the greatest MMORPG ever for just about any play style besides ph@t l3wt collectors who hate risking said phat loot and even then it did ok.

    There are a whole lot of UO emulated player run shards alive and kicking today. Many are attempting to recreate that era for UO which changed, like I said when EA gutted the OSI team. I have found www.preuor.com [preuor.com] the best shard for that purpose. They have meticulously made efforts to recreate the small things that made UO great. Try it, you'll be surprised how fun a 2d game mmorpg can actually be and best of all its free (no monthly fee or game purchase required).

    www.preuor.com [preuor.com]
  • Re:Origin, Bullfrog (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wo1verin3 (473094) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:56AM (#8370894) Homepage
    Yeah and they ruined the C&C series. Generals was the first attempt and they totally screwed it up. Very poor testing and it barely ran for some people until a few patches, still crappy net code. For long time C&C fans, they know the story line was an integral part of C&C. Generals had no storyline. the ZH expansion was only slightly better....

    Will C&C ever be the same? Doubtful. :(
  • Re:Origin, Bullfrog (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MachDelta (704883) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:18AM (#8371009)
    Maxis isn't toast yet. SimCity 4 w/ Rush Hour is actually not a bad game. And The Sims, despite not appealing to the same demographic as the rest of the industry usually does, is really a very good game.
    As a game developer, i'd say Maxis is actually doing very well for itself. As Maxis being Maxis... yeah, I think they may have lost a little of their creative edge because of EA's meddling. But they still make good games for the time being.
  • Re:Not a surprise. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ruiner5000 (241452) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:19AM (#8371010) Homepage
    They were not ION Storm Dallas, they actually had some good games to afford a nice place, and I'm sure that would buy an apartment in San Fran maybe. I remember back in the day going over there trying to get a game testing job during college. It was a hard gig to get. Yeah, I remember shortly after EA bought them I was at Hula Hut on Lake Austin at the bar, and some guy with an EA shirt was there. It was after conversation that I figured Origin was screwed, and well, they are. It is a sad. No more Richard Garriot crazy ass haunted houses, no more Ultima. Oh well, Garriots stuff at the Game Conference over the summer was sweet looking. Where the hell is Robers after Wing Commander the prequel to Scooby Doo?
  • by DeadPrez (129998) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:21AM (#8371021) Homepage
    AC, you're refering to the wtfman server I believe. the preuor.com one has none of those problems.
  • Re:OK. And... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Deraj DeZine (726641) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:29AM (#8371054)
    I think if all of the guys at the top took a pay cut, they could build their own office. That's exaggerated, but, seriously, they (management) don't deserve the money they're getting. The only reason they get it is that people are in such a hurry to get a job developing games that they don't care how corrupt or wasteful the company is and wind up selling their soul to the devil (I meant "corporation," of course). Not unlike music artists under record labels (except music apparently can't be outsourced as efficiently due to more pronounced cultural differences in music taste).

    Additionally, they could probably save money and keep their current offices open if they used slave labor. Just an idea.
  • Could be worse. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chmarr (18662) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:38AM (#8371094)
    Well, at least they're shutting down one of their OWN companies instead of someone else's [slashdot.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:55AM (#8371173)
    Id/Activision...centered in Dallas, TX. They churn out gold...and the others, at best, copper. Id Software is the defacto pioneers/leaders in game development. Ever hear of John Carmack? Anyone who uses a 3d accelerated card or plays a 3d game should...
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:58AM (#8371188) Journal
    No, the AoS client that you download doesn't come with the code to enable the new AoS areas. I have a 4-5 page tech support ticked on this issue.

    In the end they refused to get me a code. This are several postions on uo.stratics.com (the official UO boards) about this 'issue'.
  • by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @03:04AM (#8371209)
    I can still remember some of the moongate codes in Ultima III... yikes, how many years ago was that?

    Just a general question: did anyone else pillage the city of Yew over and over to build up money and experience? (Note: it was the only city that didn't have guards, and the druids were easy pickings). Getting killed by orcs was humiliating, and I had to level up *somehow*

    Origin will be missed... those games are unqualified classics.

  • by TwistedKestrel (550054) <twistedkestrel@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @03:11AM (#8371230) Journal
    Whoa, did I just hear someone describe EA?

    That's EA to a freakin' T, and it practically brings tears to my eyes the projects and franchises they've run into the ground. Okay, namely it's just Ultima Online 2 that will never see the light of day, and it boils my blood that EA dropped the ball on that one! They're riding UO 1 like tobacco companies ride cigarette sales, and ... holy hell I hate them for that one. BUURRNNN!!!
  • EA is too powerful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by superpulpsicle (533373) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @03:22AM (#8371264)
    1.) There was a study done. Literally on a ratio of like 3 to 1. For every 3 titles that come out EA needs to buy or sell one small company. EA buys away its competition.

    2.) It markets the hell out of everything. NBA live for example has out sell Sega ESPN basketball every year. Soon competition from Sega might disappear and voila less competition again. They can keep the baskeball standard low for 5 years while they tweak their engine. Not good for consumer

    3.) EA is losing quality yearly like M$ especially on the PC product line.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @03:39AM (#8371312)
    Not to mention cleaner air, less traffic (well, yeah, just about any place has better traffic than LA), no state income tax, cheaper gas, cheaper cost of living in general, beef that you can actually eat, and my favorite part: They aren't a bunch of anti-mexican racists.

    God, after living in Texas most of my life, I still don't get the whole anti-hispanic thing here in SoCal.
  • by barc0001 (173002) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @04:53AM (#8371544)
    I wouldn't be surprised if Vancouver's in there, or at least in the top 5.
    About 4 blocks from my house is the huge EA Canadian headquarters (950 employees) where they do all the sports games, and then downtown we have Radical Entertainment, Relic, Threewave, Rockstar Vancouver, Barking Dog, etc...

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @04:55AM (#8371547) Homepage
    I wonder what the chances are of EA open sourcing old projects such as Privateer or any of the Wing Commander stuff; I'd love to see games built using some of that framework, even if it's old: you'd be able to have a complex world without too much hastle, as the framework is already available, and content creation could be focused on.

    Probably not. Old games tend to just die, unfortunately.
  • Goodbye. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thanatiel (445743) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @05:09AM (#8371593)
    Origin's games were an important part of my fun when I was younger. I still remember the "Stones" music from the Ultima VII serie. And for various reasons, I still see the attack of Kilrathi Mang when listening Bach music. /tear

    EA destroyed Bullfrog, Origin, ...
    What do they sell now ? The Sims ...

  • by cache_automaton (755685) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @05:25AM (#8371641)
    Google has some applicable cache hits.

    Rap Sheet - Ultima Series [google.com]
    Rap Sheet - Wing Commander Series [google.com]
    Wing Commander CIC [google.com]
  • by Bluetrust25 (647829) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @05:43AM (#8371688)

    Just last week I bought Dungeon Siege, the first computer game I've bought in a year, just so I could play the fan-based remake of Ultima V featured on slashdot the other day [slashdot.org]. It was a neat concept to remake an old (but loved) game.

    There's also a user created Wing Commander mod for Vega Strike [sourceforge.net].

    I really dig the user-created remakes. They're just so crappy in comparison to the originals.

    -----------
    Since you're here, you should sign up for a banner / pop-up free website on AloofHosting.com [aloofhosting.com]. 50MB disk space, 500MB transfer, FTP, and a pissed off monkey comes with each free account.

    * Monkey may not be available in your state. *
  • Re:It is true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dalcius (587481) <chrism3413+slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @06:39AM (#8371842)
    Donut --

    As a number of posts above have covered, a community [wcnews.com] still exists around a game that's been dead for roughly 6 years (WC: SO was released in '98).

    I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only guy who wants Privateer on Linux or a modern OS, or even a multiplayer version.

    What are your thoughts on releasing the source to the community for really old timers like Privateer, Armada, etc.? I think there's a lot of potential for a community project.
  • Goodbye old friend (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jodunni1 (89455) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @08:59AM (#8372288) Homepage Journal
    OK OK - so yes - we've known this was coming for a long time and it was obvious by their output (or lack thereof) that something was wrong with OSI but.....

    That doesn't change the fact that U IV was one of the reasons that I got into computing in the first place - the power of that world - I mean honestly - what other game forced you to take notes!!!! Hello! I was a freshman in high school at had like 6 notebooks - one for each subject and one for Ultima.

    In many ways, I think, it was the first departure from the true D&D style of the very early TSR games that was sucessful and paved the way for so many great games later.

    Just because we knew it was coming doesn't make the final death knoll any less sad.....

    Goodbye old friend
  • "Creativity is dead" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MMaestro (585010) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:12AM (#8372821)
    I agree, creativity is dead. Some people may think "oh well X game got Y features in its latest game." IMO thats not creativity, thats evolution. In another 5-10 years, unless we see some serious change, every game on the market not made by independent developers will be a rehash or a remake of another game.

    Even things regarding a game's difficulty is being gutted. Whens the last time anyone here played the singleplayer mode of any game and actually had trouble with it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @12:04PM (#8373997)
    What the fuck are you smoking man?? Morrowind a FLOP?!?!? It was the biggest RPG of the last 5 years. Everyday more & more mods are being released for it. Morrowind was far from a flop. Morrowind was a fresh of clean air to show the way that RPG games should be played. I for one always hated the Ultima games. They are too much like Final Fantasy. It's not a true RPG where YOU get to decide who you are. You just play the part that is handed to you. How is that any different than an action game? It's not.
  • by NeoSkandranon (515696) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:23PM (#8375618)
    I never got into the Ultima series.

    Crusader: No Remorse and No Regret however, were amazing. To this day I wish someone could figure out how to get them to run on WinXP systems (Installer refuses on non-win9x and no compatiblity didnt help) so i could spin through them again.
  • by Ondo (187980) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @02:32PM (#8375744)
    I agree, creativity is dead. Some people may think "oh well X game got Y features in its latest game." IMO thats not creativity, thats evolution. In another 5-10 years, unless we see some serious change, every game on the market not made by independent developers will be a rehash or a remake of another game.

    That's silly. In the last several years we've got numerous creative games from major companies, and no reason to believe this will change. Animal Crossing, Dance Dance Revolution, Shenmue, Space Channel 5, Pikmin, and the Sims, off the top of my head.

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