Spam Spam Spam Humbug chats with Richard Garriott and Starr Long about the genesis and first years of Ultima Online.
Creation Theme, from the Ultima Online soundtrack
Welcome back to another year of Spam Spam Spam Humbug. This year, to ring in 2016, episodes for the month of January will mostly be focused on re-capping the news pertaining to Ultima, including Ultima Online (which, at least for now, is the only game still in active development that is carrying on the Ultima namesake), various Ultima fan projects, and also different games that have been inspired by Ultima (including Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant).
This week, I'm fortunate to be joined by Richard Garriott and Starr Long, two of the original masterminds behind the Ultima Online idea; I've invited them on the show to take some time to talk about the early history of the game, beginning with its inception as Multima.
- That was the original name, right? Multima?
- I've heard the original Multima concept was based on the Ultima 6 engine, whereas of course the UO we all know and love was ultimately designed around (if I understand this correctly) an entirely new engine. Is there any truth to this?
- As the story goes, too, it was Starr who really sold Richard, Origin Systems, and EA on the MMORPG concept. How exactly did that play out?
- One of the more exciting features that was ultimately cut from the game was the Artificial Life engine, apparently because players went through and killed everything before the game could respond. Is that basically what happened?
- Do you think this sort of thing could work in MMORPGs today, or has the technology still not caught up with the ambition?
- Is/was there anything similar planned for Shroud of the Avatar?
- Ultima Online was always a relatively plot-free game, and was mostly geared toward the players creating their own experiences. Were there every any plans for more involved quests or storylines that never materialized?
- What was the last expansion for Ultima Online that each of you contributed to, if any?
- What were/are some of your favourite moments/memories from the early days of Ultima Online?
- What is one thing you would have done/seen implemented differently in the game, had time and budget permitted?
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Novia Overworld, from the Shroud of the Avatar soundtrack