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Ultima Forever Interviews at IGN and RPS

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Ultima Forever Interviews at IGN and RPS

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 6 August 2012, 20:42:49

Tags: Bioware Mythic; Electronic Arts; Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar

In this newspost, I bring you the two interviews that have recently appeared on Bioware Mythic's upcoming "reimagining" of Ultima IV, Ultima 4ever: Quest of the Avatar. First off, the most recent one at IGN with the game's executive producer Jeff Skalski:

IGN: Can you give us some examples of difficult moral choices the player may have to make?

Jeff Skalski: While travelling through town a woman stops you and asks if you can go find her husband. He’s been missing for 6 days and has not returned from his last adventure to a nearby cave. You accept the quest and go exploring. While travelling through the caves you stumble across a corpse of a fallen warrior and upon searching it you uncover it was this woman’s husband, but also in his pockets is a letter from his mistress. You return to the woman, now widow, and are given a choice. Do you hand the letter over to the woman and tell her, “Your husband has died, but no worries; he was a lying bastard who was cheating on you anyways.” (Honesty) or rip the letter behind your back and tell her, “Your husband died an honorable death. I’m sorry for your loss.” (Compassion) Neither answer is wrong or right, but it’s your choice to decide what virtues you lean towards and ultimately the path you’ll take to prove worthy of Avatarhood.

IGN: Ultima Forever is a "reimagining of the original rich world". Is this more a thematic reimagining, or will you be basing the new game on the same locations, characters and enemies?

Jeff Skalski: For those familiar with the ’85 classic Ultima IV, no doubt you’ll recognize certain NPCs, locations and some of the key moments you took in proving you were an Avatar. There will also be things new for you to explore and experience. We took liberty to make changes as needed, such as going from single player to multiplayer, and turn based to real time combat. The story has been fast forwarded 21 years and a new leader has taken the throne. Past friends have aged, but new friends are waiting to be met.

IGN: Can you tell me a little about the game's combat system?

Jeff Skalski: Sure, think Legend of the Zelda: Link to the Past, but you have 4-5 abilities instead of just swing. Our combat is positional based, and by flanking or hitting an enemy from behind you increase your chance to crit.​

Holy shit, incline of Ultima combat! Next in line, the interview at RockPaperShotgun with lead designer Kate Flack:

RPS: Are you comfortable talking about Ultima Forever as a remake of Ultima IV? That’s where you’re looking back to, right?

Flack: I like to think of it as less of a remake and more of a reboot. It’s a subtle distinction but an important one. We’re not here to remake exactly the experience you had in Ultima IV. What I’m interested in doing is taking the effect and the intent behind Ultima IV and then applying that to a game. If you think about Ultima IV, the time it came out, 1985, it was fairly cutting edge in terms of technology and massively high concept. It was the first game to really tackle ethics.

I wanted to do something that was as subversive, as interesting, as deep…something that could ask as many questions as Ultima IV.

RPS: You mentioned ‘enhancing’ virtues. Are there actual bars that show how far people have advanced along each virtue track?

Flack: Well, our character sheet is separated into two halves. One is your physical body and external nature and the other half is your virtues and internal nature. To become the Avatar you need to excel in both of those things. It’s not good enough to be a brutish Conan, you have to be a warrior poet on the other side.

So one half is dedicated to your virtues and as you go through the game there are a couple of different ways to gain virtues. One is progressing through the main quest, the Quest for the Avatar, where the choices you make will result in virtue points. So, like, +37 compassion. That fills up an XP bar and then you go to a shrine, which you have to find around Britannia, and meditate. That causes your acutal virtue to rise.

You can also earn virtue by doing dungeon runs, which is about encouraging play with other people. So when you enter the dungeon we start tracking your behaviour and then at the end of that we drop virtue rewards based on what you have and haven’t done.

RPS: And I have to ask about Lady and Lord British. Do you mention the backstory of where he is and why she has taken charge?

Flack: Yeah, she’s literally just come to the throne and her father, Lord British, is off among the stars. No one knows where he is. She’s a symbolic figure, it’s about passing on to the next generation.

Rather than put words into Lord British’ mouth, which I don’t want to do because it’d be like wearing someone else’s underpants. It’d be disrespectful for me to use that character and so Lady British represents the passing of the torch and she’s trying to heal Britannia.

There have been various councils trying to rule, with differnet NPCs like Lord Blackthorn, people who have tried to do good but haven’t ruled very well. Now the forces of hatred and lies have moved in and begun to manipulate, affecting BRitannia for their own ends.

Lady British comes to the throne and says let’s open up the Moongates and bring people from Earth. Let’s have the humility to know that we need help and that this time it’s not enough to have one Avatar. So, yeah, she’s symbolic but also I can’t write very convincing men! Sorry!​

No worries, Kate. We understand.

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