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Vol. 2, Issue 11
February 7, 2000

Inside Origin Systems

An article by Tim “Damarr” O'Malley



rigin Systems is one of the world’s leading software companies. Going from hit title to hit title, they have been one of the market leaders since the 1980’s. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at what got the company where it is today, who got it there, the main man behind it (Richard Garriot) and where the company will be going in the future.

Who are they?

Origin Systems Inc. (OSI) is based in Austin, Texas, founded in 1983 by Robert (now retired) and Richard Garriot (aka Lord British), and spent many years publishing the Ultima series of games, with the final installment of the Avatar’s quest (Ultima IX: Ascension) being released last December.

Today, OSI is made up of over 200 employees, with QA testers, programmers, artists and an extensive customer support team, so it has clearly come a long way from the small company it was in 1983.

Origin was purchased by Electronic Arts in 1993, enabling it to have much greater international support for its games, with Ultima Online having customer support departments in England, Germany, the United States and Japan.

To date, OSI has published well over 50 games, and is currently concentrating on what they see as the future of entertainment: online massive multi-player games. Their first project, Ultima Online, is still running strong at 135,000 players after two and a half years, despite serious competition from Verant’s EverQuest, and Turbine’s Asheron’s Call.

Other successful games published by OSI included Wing Commander, Privateer, Crusader, System Shock, Bioforge, and of course, the Ultima series, with Origin’s first published title being Ultima III: Exodus.

Who makes up Origin?

Richard Garriot – Vice President of Origin, and the Executive Designer.
Jack Heistand – Vice President, and General Manager
Jeff Anderson – In charge of production
Gordon Walton (aka Tyrant) – Online Services and Operations
Carly Staehlin (aka LadyMoi) – Player/Community Relations for Origin

Of course, there are many more people at Origin who aren’t mentioned here, but these names would probably be among those best known to the general public.

The man behind the company: Richard Garriot

The first name that would come to anyone’s mind when thinking of OSI would have to be Richard Garriot, co-founder of Origin and the man behind the longest running RPG series of all time, Ultima. Operating under the alias of Lord British in all his games, and naming the capital of his world Britain, you start to wonder what is going on. Richard Garriot was born in Cambridge in England, and less than two months later, moved to Texas where he lives to this day, in his very own special house, which is made up like a castle on the inside, but wouldn’t appear too odd from the outside. His monicker dates back to his days at college, where all of the new students were given nicknames on the first day. It was thought he had a British accent, and so he was given the nickname “British”. And naturally, it stuck.

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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Joachim. This article is © 2000 Tim “Damarr” O'Malley. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it, or we'll make you cry, sissy.