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Inside Origin Systems

Vol. 2, Issue 11
February 7, 2000


For Ultima: Ascension, Origin choose to design their own 3D engine rather than license one from another company. While they may have needed to do this due to Ultima IX’s special needs, it did prove costly. The engine was seriously incompatible with some 3D cards, and only people with 3dfx-based video cards had any real chance of getting it to run properly. On top of that, there were many crippling bugs in the game, such as invisible walls, or blocked entrances. Indeed, in one dungeon, the entrance refused to open again, and a bottomless pit was behind the player, leaving them stuck, with no choice but to restart the game with patches in place. Even now, while looking at the release notes for the patches, there are still many “This will not work if you have already entered the game world” beside many fixes, but none of those bugs are very serious, and it has to be said, the patches so far have fixed virtually all problems with the game for those with fresh installs of the game.

Current Projects

Current projects under development at OSI include Ultima Online 2 (due for release sometime in Winter this year) and the mysterious project “X.”

So far, very little information has been released on UO 2, let alone any screenshots, but the game looks as though it will be every bit as fun as its predecessor, but with a new 3D engine, although its not known what view/perspective the game will use. The beta is expected in late Autumn/early Winter, so it’s a long wait yet for everyone who’s looking forward to playing it. The beta will be offered to current UO subscribers before the general public, so get in there if you want to be one of the first to get into the beta test.

At the moment, one of UO 2’s biggest issues is whether or not the game will contain a PK (player killer) switch, so people can choose whether or not they want to become involved in battle with other players, as is used in Asheron’s Call and EverQuest. OSI is going after the idea of ‘zoning’ the game, with non-player vs. player (PvP) areas that contain much smarter monsters, and PvP zones, which will of course, be rampant with player killers and thieves. How they’ll overcome this problem and keep everyone happy is yet to be seen, and may well be impossible. Richard Garriot won’t be overseeing UO 2 himself: instead Starr Long (Lord Blackthorne in the Ultima games) will be the producer. In charge of designing the characters will be cartoonist, Todd McFarlane, creator of the Spawn series of comics. McFarlane has been commissioned by RG to design several of the game’s creatures, which RG has said look amazing at their current stage, so it must be impressive.

Project ‘X’, (X being the Roman numeral for 10) is said to be a futuristic style online game, and it may even have a name change to Ultima X at the last minute according to Richard Garriot. But as he has said before, Britannia and the Avatar are gone and finished, so it will be interesting to see what story line the game will take. According to Garriot, identity will play a large part of the game. He recently told GameDaily:

“For example, one of the most successful attributes of UO is the personal identity of the characters; you can tell who the cool players are because they are well accessorized and they act well. That's one of the features I really want to push.”


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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.