Ultima’s Lord British Returns, Without Ultima

By Alec Meer on March 15th, 2011 at 1:26 pm.

He doesn't look like this now. I'm not going to say what the main difference is. That would be very rude.

You can take the Lord British out of Ultima, but you can’t take the Ultima out of Lord British. Does that make sense? Probably not, but it sounded good, which is essentially the story of my career.

EA still jealously guards the Ultima license, despite not doing a whole lot with it outside of an only tangentially related free to play strategy game. However, it appears Ultima creator Richard Garriot has managed to personally retain the rights to sometime alter-ago and in-game ruler Lord British, which he now intends to use as the cornerstone of a new online game. “Lord British’s New Britannia” awaits…

Britannia is, of course, the name of Ultima’s main land, so presumably that’s also wrapped up in whatever other rights he managed to sneak out through EA’s coal cellar when he left.

There’s a factoid that will make at least some of you go “ssssssssssssss” through your teeth. It’s going to be a social network game, Garriot revealed at the SXSW conference this week (as attended by Gamasutra). However, unlike EA and their Lords of Ultima, Garriot seems a little more aware of the importance of heritage. “The virtual world game is not just an ultra-light MMO shopped on social media. I think that would be a failure.”

And that’s all we have, other than the news that he’s shopping around for potential investors. I’m going to put on my Cautious Optimism cap. If anyone’s likely to make an Ultima-esque title, it’s the creator of Ultima. He sure is knee-deep in a lot of social gaming stuff though (as well as in making rockets) – hopefully he’s aware that free to play/microtransactions can be difficult to reconcile with games of Ultima’s depth and and challenge.

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70 Comments »

  1. pakoito says:

    He will be making Tibia 2.

  2. Lobotomist says:

    Garriot is for whatever was said about him and all his weirdness – a true game development genius.
    I am looking forward to anything he works on.

    • Jonathan says:

      Unless it’s another Pagan or Ascension.

    • Eclipse says:

      Pagan was good, Ascension was well… good too but had a very buggy launch, and of course was smaller as all the world was for the first time in 3D

    • Premium User Badge Diziet Sma says:

      Or Tabula Rasa.

    • Hallgrim says:

      Right, so I’m totally looking forward to games of his, provided they are made before 1992.

      I’m sure the farmville crowd will eat his shit up though, more power to him.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Tabula Rasa …

      Exactly this was the game that apparently had Garriot fall from grace….

      When in fact ,

      He was playing the game himself. I remember he even once join me on the quest , and help me solve some puzzle.

      That is not something you encounter every day.

      And even today – TR is top on the list of MMOs that people want ressurected.

      And even more.

      Rift – and its “Dynamic” events. Is stale pond compared to dynamic world of TR.

      It was a gem , not finished and not polished.

      But a gem.

    • Tei says:

      On Tabula Rasa the enemy attacked the same bases again and again, forever. I dont know if thats what was programers intended, but that was the result ingame.
      In Rift invasions take over hub quest, and from there, launch invasion groups that capture the big city in the area. Is like a RTS game where the machine is left alone to conquer the whole map.
      Sorry but Tabula Rasa idea of invasions was “re-pop a lot of mobs”. The only thing that is better in Tabula Rasa (and is a lore thing) is how some of the mobs are put on the map… with dropships.
      To be honest, TR never advanced too far into these ideas…

    • Lobotomist says:

      You had bases constantly attacked by alien forces. But you also had mobs that landed with dropships on random places , and not just spawning at same place as in other MMOs

      The game at least had much more dynamic feel than Rift.

      And one more thing – but perhaps most important of all

      Tabula Rasa had gameplay

      Probably the most fun gameplay in any MMO before and now.

      I would simply log in to grind, not to get exp, but because it was simply fun.

      And that is probably the greatest achivement of TR

    • TariqOne says:

      Tabula Rasa was indeed better than it was given credit for in the general consciousness. I’d play me the fuck out of some Tabula Rasa right about now.

      Sad that of all the shoddy games kept on life support, TR was the one to get whacked early in its cycle.

    • manveruppd says:

      I always wondered why they canned it so quickly. Surely it can’t have been massively expensive to run, did they really have so few subscribers that it was utterly unprofitable?

    • Arglebargle says:

      Garriot WAS a genius designer. He was also a micromanager afflicted with feature creep, and completely unable to get a game out on schedule and under budget. After his glory days, his game production seriously faltered, with lackluster game production.

      That’s why he had Tabula Rasa yanked from him, and NCSoft managers put in to try and salvage the project. The TR that you played was quite far from the original intent. A few parts of that original setup survived there, and some of the other original ideas ended up in Aion. My guess is NCSoft scrapped TR due to their falling out with Garriot, probably enhanced by contractual features or insurance issues.

      It’s been a long time since he came up with something special, and his lack of skills at helming a project don’t bode well for this sort of thing. Unless he really is just a creative consultant, or window dressing.

    • Oasx says:

      I loved Tabula Rasa, but the days are gone when you could release an unfinished mmo and expect players to stick around for the game to finish, TR learned that the hard way

  3. Grinterloper says:

    Given the current trend I’d half expect him to announce a Tribes social game,

  4. jamscones says:

    He got to make Tabula Rasa at least twice before it was released, and it was rubbish. He deserves respect for his place in gaming history, but he’s not really a vital force in game development any more.

    • Orija says:

      Just like Warren Spector and Romero.

    • bob_d says:

      @Orija: Wait, what was Romero’s place in gaming history? Ah, right, he made the level editors for Doom and Quake. (Not that I’m trying to slag the guy off, I’ve met him, he’s a very nice, humble person, but honesty, besides being around for the formation of ID, he really hasn’t done anything.)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      “Apart from being in the Beatles, Harrison’s done very little.”

      KG

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Romero is listed as the lead designer of Quake, and per Wikipedia:

      He also served as Executive Producer (and Game Designer) on Heretic and HeXen. He also designed most of the first episode of Doom, most of the levels in Quake, half the levels in the Commander Keen series, Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny.

      Are there any game developers who have produced more than a few great things? Sid Meier hasn’t been a lead designer since, what, Colonization? Will Wright’s last major achievement was The Sims in 2000. id Software, in the absence of Romero, hasn’t produced anything interesting since Quake III.

    • Wizardry says:

      @TillEulenspiegel: There really aren’t that many, no. That technically makes Garriott one of the most prolific, considering. One developer who is notable for having created a lot of quality games is Jon Van Caneghem who designed the first eight Might & Magic games (and therefore not IX) and the first three Heroes of Might & Magic games (and therefore not IV). He designed King’s Bounty before Heroes of Might & Magic, and also designed the popular Arcomage minigame for Might & Magic VII and VIII (which then went on to have a stand alone release). In fact, what’s interesting is that he didn’t really design any duds. The big declines in the Might & Magic and Heroes of Might & Magic series happened as soon as he stopped designing them. Very rare to be so prolific, consistent and hands on.

  5. Premium User Badge UW says:

    ssssssssssssss!

  6. Atrak says:

    Cautiously optimistic!

  7. Alphabet says:

    I had to register, and assemble a picture of a parrot, to say how excited I am about this, because (and I may be the only one) I really loved Tabula Rasa. Despite, or because, my other favourite games including Planescape:Torment and Morrowind and Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath and so on. You know how some games just trigger the memory-creating cells in the brain? I’ll never forget fighting up a metal ramp, surrounded by aliens, firing my combat shotgun repeatedly while my comrades tried to carve out room for us to reach the computer at the top of the ramp. I think if it had been run on a Guild Wars model – and if it hadn’t been remade at huge cost from its original incarnation, it might have been – it would have evolved into a niche but fun product. Gameplay is hard to measure, and often subjective, but I loved the gameplay there. So I’ll be trying his new game as soon as it comes out!

  8. lunarplasma says:

    sssssssss indeed!

  9. Wizardry says:

    Richard Garriott is probably the most important developer in the entire CRPG genre. As someone who has played through every single Ultima game, alongside various other games from equivalent time periods, I can see clearly just how far ahead his games actually were. Each of the Ultima games from Akalabeth right up to Ultima VII improved on their predecessors in many aspects, building upon both game mechanics (right up to V) and world interactivity and detail (right up to VII). He was one of those developers who were limited by technology. Severely.

    It’s a shame how things have turned out. How he has turned out. It seems to me that he is creatively spent after pouring so much of his effort into the Ultima series. And, in a way, I can understand why. Perhaps if the EA acquisition didn’t take place and Origin Systems somehow became financially stable again, things could have gone differently. We could have been on Ultima 13 by now, and at the very least Ultima 8 and 9 would have turned out far better than they actually did.

    • Starky says:

      Agreed about his place of importance in the history of developers. his cRPGs were above and beyond anything others were doing at the time – and it wasn’t until the rise of Bioware, Black isle studios and Troika that those efforts were surpassed…

      But, I think he’s gone a bit too far off his rocker to be able to do anything near as important now – he’s so disconnected from gaming now, I think it would be near impossible for him to make a great game.

      no, the only thing that could happen is he could be a creative consultant, and a team could take his rough imput and idea’s and then ground them in a modern title – but even that probably won’t really work, he’d too out of tough with modern tastes.
      Just look at Peter Molyneux for an almost identical example in that regard.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Starky: I disagree. Only Black Isle can be seen as having surpassed Origin Systems, but only because of the Fallout games. And even then, Fallout did most things worse than the Ultima series, if you look back at it.

      How can you claim that BioWare’s games and Troika’s games surpassed the Ultima games? I don’t quite see it.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      I never understood why so many people dislike Ultima VIII. I’m a huge Ultima fan – my name is in part a combo of a E.A. Poe story like and a reference to the Avatar – but Ultima VIII did bring a very atmospheric and dark world with a lot of detail to the plate. Sure, it had jumping puzzles and it was rather short, but it was still a solid game.

      Ultima IX was more an action RPG but still a good game if you ask me. A few years back I completed it for the first time in Windows Vista (where it ran more stable than in Windows XP for some reason). Yes, it was buggy but beyond the bugs were quite a good game.

    • Starky says:

      It depends how you define “surpassed” I guess, if you mean on a purely mechanical system design viewpoint, they didn’t.

      Though I’d argue mechanically cRPGs had reach a peak of what was possible in those style of games (borrowing mechanically from table top games) – and it was beyond time that cRPGs evolved beyond their pen and paper origins. Something we’re only just starting to see – both in one side shifting to interactive fiction with action elements underpinned by a classic RPG system (Bioware, Witcher, so on)
      I think we’ll also see a rise of turn based/real-time hybrid tactical strategy/RPG games that will abandon the required simplicity of their tabletop origins and starting to move to the strengths of computers and interactive design, especially when it comes to online networking. Using mechanics that no one short of a mathematician could understand, but keeping it under the hood as part of a layered system. Like high level languages that build upon low level machine code – these games add a layer of abstraction that allows massively complex mechanics to be simply understood and applied. it’s been happening for years in tactical strategy games, and even action RPGs, I think that will become more popular in cRPGs

      But in almost every other way Bioware did surpass the Ultima games – Story, lore, characterization, interactivity with the world and player choice (even if it was often an illusion).

      While Troika was a mixed bag of genius wrapped in bugs and half finished games, but genius none the less. Arcanum was one of the best settings I’ve ever encountered in a original cRPG (as opposed to a licensed one – not to say it was original itself, it borrowed heavily from genre sources, but it was successful at doing so).
      Vampire: Bloodlines is one of the greatest cRPGs ever made. I honestly think if it had had 6 months more work (which would have also avoided it going head to head against HL2, which was stupid in the extreme) – ironed out the show stopping bugs. Finished the content that was planned, some of which has been recovered by the modding community – Troika were good about leaving any unfinished assets/voice/stuff on the disk – which every game they made had tons of… if they did some more work on the last 3rd of the game as good as the first 2/3rds. Then bloodlines would be held alongside Deus Ex, Half Life, and Planescape as one of the PC gamings crowning moments.

      In fact, with the unofficial patches, I think it is probably worthy of that as it stands.

    • Veracity says:

      > interactivity with the world
      They who it the what now? Infinity was pretty, mainly because you were prodding your witless minions around a picture someone drew instead of a bunch of tiles, but its environmental interaction was extremely retrograde. Bioware games still tend to rely on a magic highlighter to tell you which of three identical armoires contains auto-generated nonsense loot for the clicking. And you can’t bake bread. Granted, being able to pick up every fork and amass a fork hoard in a place of your choosing might be cute as a simulation-y end in itself, but it’s a lot like a micro-scale version of Frontier’s entire galaxy on a disc – impressive, but pointless and ripe for inevitable modern streamlining. Eh, we’re probably talking about different things. This language needs a patch.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Starky: How do the BioWare games surpass Ultima in terms of interactivity with the world? Are you insane? This is one thing that Ultima excelled at. BioWare games are full of static geometry that is nothing other than eye candy. In the Baldur’s Gate series the only things you could interact with were containers, doors and NPCs. All BioWare games since have been just as limiting. In fact, this is one of the hallmarks of their games.

      Ultima VII, on the other hand, was one of the most interactive games of all time. In fact, even Ultima V had more world interactivity than any BioWare game. You could push barrels in front of doors to block guards. You could wheel cannons around the battlements. You could play pianos. Change the direction of the wind. Sleep in other peoples beds until getting kicked out. Lock doors with magical spells. Ride horses around the countryside. Sail ships across the seas. Drop coins down wells. Drink from fountains in town centres. And four years later, Ultima VII came out with a hundred times this amount of interactivity.

      Mass Effect? Well, you could move your character around a bit, with heavy restrictions and invisible walls. You could also shoot at things, with the exception of friendly people. Oh yeah, you could also activate mini-games and start a conversation with NPCs. Basically, the level of interactivity in BioWare games is about ten levels lower than the Ultima games.

      I’ll give you story though. BioWare games do have better stories than the Ultima games. Same with characterisation and player choice, with the exception of being able to do what you want, when you want, that open world games bring to the table.

      Lore? Well, yes and no. I’m sure BioWare games have more consistent lore, mainly because none of their games have been limited by technology in a way that prevents the writers from sticking information in their games. Also, their games have come out so close to each other that they’ve managed to keep a similar writing team between games. However, I’d like to see how BioWare would have coped if they were making games in the first half of the 80s in the period of Akalabeth to Ultima III, while not being able to afford professional writers.

      The Ultima series after Ultima III have had very good lore. The reason for this is that Ultima IV, V, VI, VII, IX and both of the Ultima Underworld games are all set on Britannia. This meant that Origin could successfully evolve the world between games so that each location, from a single river to an entire mountain had a story. You might think codex entries in Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins make for stronger lore, but in these cases the lore is merely fluff because you hardly ever experience anything related to this knowledge in the game itself.

      Now on to Troika. You mentioned how Arcanum had a great setting. You are right. It did. It also had better dialogue and NPC interaction than the Ultima series, as well as having multiple ways to solve quests. Temple of Elemental Evil only really had a better combat system. That was basically all the game was. However, this wasn’t even a Troika combat system. Merely a Troika implementation of one designed elsewhere. Bloodlines had some great elements, such as the quality of its characters, its unusual setting, and the game experience playing out quite differently depending on clan.

      None of their games, however, have had a better sense of exploration that most of the Ultima games have had. Arcanum could come close, but many locations were flat out boring grinds. Probably because it was rushed. None of their games have had the level of environmental interactivity of Ultima. None of the games have had NPCs that felt as alive as in Ultima VII. NPC scheduling in an RPG has never been done better.

      Bethesda would be a better company to compare Origin Systems to because at least The Elder Scrolls is a similar type of CRPG to the Ultima series. But saying that Troika and BioWare (and even Black Isle) surpasses the Ultima series if flat out wrong. Hell, if you were correct then I may as well abandon the CRPG I’m developing because bringing back a heavy Ultima influence would be pointless. Right?

    • Starky says:

      Well it is pretty difficulty to be “flat out wrong” in a subjective taste based judgement, though you are correct about interactivity with game objects, I didn’t actually mean that though, my fault though I should have been more clear.

      When I said interactivity with the world, I meant NPCs not pushing around barrels and assets. cRPGs have always been crap (even all the ultima games) with object interaction in games – most of them are lucky to manage hidden object game levels of scenery interaction.
      What I meant is that you could talk to NPCs, you could interact with them in more meaningful ways in the baldurs series – you could interact with the world in that your actions in the game world had impact upon that gameworld. Dragon Age was the pinnacle of this (despite a rather flimsy and crappy combat system).

      Ultima did have good lore (if a bit convoluted, and scattered) , but you are badly mistaken if you think that background text (codex entries, snippets of history, brief asides told by characters) is just fluff, it what turns a game from a strategy into an RPG. It is what breathes life into a world, and makes the whole experience of playing in it something special.
      Roleplaying, storytelling, these are by far the most important factors in cRPGs, and Bioware and Troika surpassed the Ultima games by a nose, and Black Isle vastly surpassed them all.

      It seems to me that you are more of a wargamer than a roleplayer – you seem to care more about the mechanics, the physical interaction with objects, the complexity of the rules and the simulation model, more than the history, the characters and the tales these games are telling.
      There is nothing wrong with that, I too enjoy such things. In fact most of my favourite games of all time are strategies rather than cRPGs with no plot to speak of and only mechanics, X-com, jagged Alliance, Civ 4 (which surpassed Civ 2 as my favourite with warlords, never really liked 3).

      I’ve had this argument in tabletop circles many times over the years – it all comes down to preference, some people prefer tactical RPGs with a bit of roleplaying. Miniatures out, dice and HP counters at the ready. They prefer complex rule systems with very defined and refined systems.
      Some people (and I’d include myself here) don’t – the system is important, it needs to function, and it needs to be understandable and able to cope with the needs of the players – but story, interaction, roleplaying comes first.
      Rollplayers and roleplayers.

      It’s why Mage the Ascension is my favourite RPG ever made – it’s system for magic allowed for total freedom and creativity – pure unbridled imaginative creation – with just enough constraint to prevent it from being impossible to play.

      cRPG is a vast genre, there is no purist distillation of right and wrong, Deus ex is as much as a cRPG as the gold box games. Diablo 2 just as much as Ultima.

      End of the day though roleplaying isn’t about stats, character sheets, or experience – it’s about roleplaying. Controlling a character (your own design or pre-created) and experiencing, guiding and controlling a story through that characters eyes.

      All those “RPG” trappings that games love to add to their feature list, are really strategy, or wargaming trappings – wargames, expanded into RPGs – which inspired cRPGs. these at the start were so limited by technology that they couldn’t offer near the interactive experience that simply playing DnD with a few mates could – the best of the best cRPgs wasn’t even in the same league as a game of Vampire the masqurade, Shadowrun or Star Wars (west end games) – it has literally taken 20 years for them to start to get close.

      Seems to me cRPGs are following the evolution that table top RPGs did, moving away from mechanics and towards interactive fiction. Which just like with cRPGs left a lot of gamers who preferred the old guard statistic and dice rolling only style games claiming all newer RPGs sucked.

      hell every new edition of a RPG you’d get a whole chunk of people saying the new version was crap compared to the old, AD&Ders mocking 3.0, 3.5ers mocking 4th edition. Old World of Darkness players hating the new world of darkness.
      I was one of them for a time, then I realized that I didn’t hate the new world of darkness fictions, or DnD 3.0 – It’s simply that they were not -my- versions.

      In other terms it’s an Original Star Trek vs TNG – whichever you prefer usually depends on whichever you grew up with, watched first or watched most.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Starky: Thanks for the reply.

      I didn’t grow up with CRPGs, really. I only started playing them at the end of the 90s with Fallout and Baldur’s Gate. It’s only been within these last 7 or 8 years that I’ve gone back to play older games such as the Ultima, Wizardry, Might & Magic and Gold Box games, along with Realms of Arkania, Amberstar, Ambermoon and quite a lot of other less well known ones. In fact, I’ve pretty much covered the lot by now, though with some exceptions here and there.

      What I learnt was that so much had been lost in recent games. So many really great ideas that just didn’t catch on or, worse, dropped off the radar due to being in unpopular games.

      How about the fantastic NPC scheduling in Ultima VII that absolutely destroys the NPC scheduling in Oblivion, and will probably still destroy the scheduling in Skyrim? This added a huge amount to the atmosphere of towns and villages, as it made them seem busy and alive. In the future, and this was touched on slightly with Oblivion, it could allow for a huge variety of ways to solve missions such as assassinations and thievery, as well as making the player think carefully about how, and when, to approach an objective. Deus Ex was famous and highly praised for allowing multiple ways to complete missions. Combining Deus Ex level design and a day/night cycle with NPC scheduling, you could create a CRPG with a tremendous amount of ways to solve quests.

      How about the idea of rival adventuring parties in Wizardry VII who travel around the world, just as you do, killing other NPCs and taking plot essential treasure, requiring you to track them down in order to trade, steal or fight them for it? This added a dynamic nature to the game, and added quite a bit to the re-playability. In the future, if implemented in another CRPG, this could be improved massively to add role-playing opportunities. Most CRPGs these days have factions, guilds and clans in, right? Why is it that you are the only person in the world to actively work for them? Well, if they all had members roaming around the world solving quests or even creating quests, allowing you to unexpectedly bump into them, allying with or enraging factions would take on a whole new meaning. You could bump into a group of adventurers from a faction that you have an alliance with, allowing you to trade supplies. On the other hand, a group of adventurers from a rival faction may wait at a dungeon entrance for you to exit with an important artefact before ambushing you. Because it’s dynamic and not scripted, you could never predict these things using gamefaqs or the game’s wikia, and replayability will be upped significantly.

      Even though the game came out in 2001, how about the personality assignment that Wizardry 8 had, that allowed you to give particular personalities to different characters in order to allow for banters and interjections without having to have developer created NPCs in your party? This added a huge amount to Wizardry 8 from a non-mechanical perspective. It was very much a feature that people would love today, when the majority of CRPG fans prefer story and characters over numbers. You could quite easily pull off characterisation as strong as, say, BioWare and Obsidian games with this. Your party members with assigned personalities could just as easily have their own personal side quests and can even be made to affect the main plot in the same way. The only issue to work around is that it only seems to work if you start off with your entire party. This means that you may have to sacrifice those story moments where you gain an NPC for the first time, such as when you gain Liara in Mass Effect.

      Even ignoring these interesting elements that weren’t built upon, old CRPGs were quite often very fun. Take the Might & Magic games, for instance. Today they would be seen as too combat heavy and lacking in dialogue and plot. However, not many CRPGs have had a more satisfying character progression system. Simply put, you always felt your characters getting better. Remember gaining the ability to cast the walk on water spell, which instantly opened up new islands to you? How about later on when you gained the fly spell, thus sorting travel entirely? Ignoring content unlocking abilities, how about the time when you gained the Day of Sorcery or Day of Protection spells that allowed you to buff your entire party with an array of essential buffs in one single cast? Highly satisfying. Do you ever get that same feeling in Dragon Age: Origins? I didn’t think so.

      To summarise, CRPGs haven’t actually evolved in every way. They’ve gained in terms of story focus and scripted choices with scripted consequences to go along with it. They’ve gained in terms of voice acting, the amount if dialogue, graphics and the strength of characters. However, they’ve also become less interactive, less ambitious, less tactical and less mechanically fun.

  10. McDan says:

    Second the cautious optimism. But lord British should be recognised for the crazy genius he is.

  11. pakoito says:

    What’s the point of crazy geniousness if he has to cut the game to what the publisher wants?

  12. Jonathan says:

    I want his house, not his games!
    Oh, and modernised remakes of Ultimas 4-7.

  13. Triangulon says:

    I need a cautious optimism cap!

  14. Grey_Ghost says:

    *ssssssssssssss*

  15. Robin says:

    *Making* rockets?

  16. Hoaxfish says:

    Wasn’t he making a poker website or something?

  17. adonf says:

    Video games at SXSW ? I though it was a festival for generic indie rock bands to get recording deals.

    • Jonathan says:

      Wake up and smell the tech nerd coffee — SXSW has been pretty great for things like interactive media since … well, since the year I moved away from Austin :(

    • adonf says:

      Interactive media with hipster beards and shoulder tattoos ?

  18. Unaco says:

    Is this who Michelle Mone used to be?

  19. Axyl says:

    Tabula Rasa 2 please! (and make it…y’know….awesome this time)

    Failing that..and i know this wasn’t a Lord British game…but..

    Auto Assault please! I don’t care who makes it, as long as it gets made and stays alive this time.

    Either way…Social networking game leaves me cold.

    Step up, RG cos currently, i just don’t care about anything he makes.

  20. 7rigger says:

    Any Ultima from it’s creator can only be a good thing. I am very optimistic :)

  21. jonfitt says:

    If there’s anything which leaves me colder than the word MMO it’s Social-Network-Game.
    So far I’ve only seen them take an MMO’s skill-full grind and turn it into a skill-less grind.

    Civ currently the only Social Network Game I can see which might buck the trend.

  22. pipman3000 says:

    great can’t wait to bug lord british until he waters my evil radishs or whatever you’ll do in this games.

    (i actaully don’t have a hate-on for social games like everyone most people here i just wanted to talk about my evil radishs)

    • Red_Avatar says:

      There’s a reason so many people here dislike social games – and with good reason. They’re designed in such a way that they’re fun but simple and straightforward and Ultima has always been far more about choice, freedom and exploration and social games are like the opposite of that.

  23. Jae Armstrong says:

    Britannia is, of course, the name of Ultima’s main land, so presumably that’s also wrapped up in whatever other rights he managed to sneak out through EA’s coal cellar when he left.

    If EA managed to copyright thinly disguised fantasy analogues of mediaeval Britain I think they’d own half the universe by this point.

    • Bhazor says:

      If Nintendo took copyright seriously a third of the internet would go on trial.

  24. laddyman says:

    He’s going to do what now?

  25. something says:

    Lord British is brilliant, it’s MMOs that suck. Can’t blame him for that. If it’s possible for social games to not suck, he’ll be the one to prove it. I have faith (albeit, the kind of faith the goes “I knew it” when it gets proved wrong).

  26. ScubaMonster says:

    I have serious doubts that this will escape it’s social game trappings/failings. It might be more involved than Farmville, but I find it hard to believe it’s going to be as amazing as a full on PC game. You hear devs use all this spin talk to get people excited then release garbage. Plus, with his previous effort, Tabula Rasa, I have even more skepticism.

    On another note, F You EA for sitting on Ultima and not doing a damn thing with it. Lords of Ultima doesn’t count.

  27. BeamSplashX says:

    Would someone else even want the rights to Lord British?

    “Check it out, I own Richard Garriot’s alter-ego!”
    “That’s weird.”

  28. Huw_Dawson says:

    This could go in many different ways. What does a “social network” game even mean, other than a game built to work in a web or flash interface which is connected to a social network? I recall the multitude of free games based on HTML or flash that have existed pretty much since I’ve been on the internet (and that’s what, twelve years by now). Two that spring to mind are Ogame and AdventureQuest. The reason why the faceless Zynga is now a terrifyingly huge monstrosity and your mother is so intently staring at her laptop’s screen that she doesn’t even wave hello to you when you come home to visit is the fact that the first efficient and mass-market social network (Facebook) became big enough to replace email as many people’s internet communication device, and that device had an efficient API that has allowed light, addictive and persistent games to hook in an otherwise disinterested market into the microtransactions scheme. That’s not the failure of the format to create decent games, just like Microsoft Solitaire does not prove that PC gaming can never be more complex than an emulation of a card game.

    The Escapist’s Extra Credits gave huge props to a persistant HTML game called Echo Bazaar recently, and they’re the sort who make videos explaining gaming philosophy to people (and do it well) and I myself can think of numerous excellent games that could very easily be made to fit onto Facebook with little shoehorning required.

    TL;DR+S, you can fit excellent games onto Facebook. This should be an interesting experiment.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      You can fit excellent games on Facebook, problem is, nobody has really bothered to do that yet. Whoever starts making stuff that actually is equally as good as a typical PC game that fits within the Facebook framework will make a lot of money.

  29. megazver says:

    I wish he’d give up on trying to make an MMO and go back to doing RPGs. He might actually succeed at making one.

  30. Caiman says:

    I’ve seen the article’s photo before, and always wondered what was going on? Is Lord British standing in front of a particularly large camp fire? Is something casting a fireball spell in his general direction, in which case why is he posing for a mugshot when there’s fighting to be done? I can’t recall any other reason for gigantic framing explosions in Britannia, can you? Unless his castle is on fire. I suppose that could be it.

  31. GameOverMan says:

    That picture needs a “staring eyes” tag.

  32. dr_danger says:

    All the Ultimas will forever be in my heart. As for the King of Denim ssssssssssssssssssssss – he strikes again!

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