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Ultima Forever News Roundup

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Ultima Forever News Roundup

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 24 November 2012, 14:31:31

Tags: Mythic Entertainment; Paul Barnett; Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar; Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar

Mythic Entertainment's upcoming quasi-MMO, Ultima Forever, has been a controversial title in these parts (with sometimes amusing results). In the interests of completeness, as well as morbid curiosity and of course lulz, we offer you this U4E news roundup.

Back in October, Mythic Creative Director Paul Barnett gave a talk about the game and its development at GDC Online. Some details of the the talk were summarized over at Destructoid. Apparently it was quite a troubled project, in more ways than one:

Just a couple yards away sits Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott who laughed and applauded throughout Barnett's off-the-walls, hysterical presentation, which doubled as a descent into one man's madness experienced during production. Ultima Forever has been rebuilt multiple times, shuffled around by production houses, and saved from cancellation through the act of begging to BioWare's co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk.​

Given Barnett's candor and spirited delivery, it's hard to tell when he's serious or not -- though, after the speech, he insisted he wasn't making anything up on stage. One of the most baffling things is that an early promo video for Ultima Forever (then attached with the subtitle "Quest for the Avatar") showed up at Mythic's office with a BioWare logo positioned at the start ... but they didn't work for BioWare, at the time. This is how they first heard of the 2010 BioWare Mythic merger that apparently marketing knew about before the developer.​

In March 2011, EA was overlooking its projects, trying to figure out which ones were making progress and which ones should be canned. Mythic scrambled together new footage and invited BioWare's Ray Muzyka for a studio tour. After feeding him a sandwich, Muzyka rushed off and threw up for two days. Instead of giving Muzyka a tour, Mythic had given him the wondrous gift of food poisoning.​

Tee hee. Mythic's merger with Bioware has since been reverted - "in the wake of a new focus" on mobile gaming (more likely because the value of the Bioware brand has cratered). U4E was originally meant to be a browser game, but no longer. If you're interested in seeing the effects of this transition, Kenneth over at the Ultima Codex has put together a nice screenshot gallery which shows the evolution of the game's graphics throughout its development cycle.

Most recently, also courtesy of the Ultima Codex, the Australian gaming magazine PC Powerplay has published an article/opinion piece about Ultima Forever. Most of it is a repeat of material from the GDC talk, but there are some additional details:

However, the article does go into a bit more detail about the game’s free-to-play implementation (which, in addition to paid vanity items, will seem to limit the number of keys free players have access too in a certain time period; keys can be used to open chests to obtain high-end loot). She also highlight’s Barnett’s explanation — which was in his GDC talk — of why certain mechanics (wind, food, etc.) that were present in Ultima 4 are absent from Ultima Forever: to avoid the appearance of wanting to monetize these gameplay elements.​

There are also a handful of soundbites from Barnett that are listed on the right-hand side of the fourth page of the article, which offer some additional insight into the game’s mechanics and contain a few amusing quips. Like his labelling of Britannia’s main continent as a “Croissant of Joy”.​

Uh huh.

There's also a cute little aside in which the author, in an attempt to contest Paul Barnett's remarks about its comprehensibility to modern audiences, describes her experiences playing the original Ultima IV with her five year old son. If you read only one article that I've linked here, I recommend it be this. I guess the kid is too young to know that "80s games are unplayable today".

There are 14 comments on Ultima Forever News Roundup

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