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Inside Origin Systems

Vol. 2, Issue 11
February 7, 2000

 

So, if you want a good idea of what it will be like, imagine an online form of Blade Runner. RG also said that fashion will play a role in X as well, and it will be interesting to see how that turns out. In addition, he has said that putting hours upon hours into X won’t guarantee advancement in character stats and skills. Instead he hopes to implement a different system, but no details have been released yet.

Of course, the original Ultima Online is still an ongoing project at Origin. The game boasts a support team of over 100 Game Masters, thousands of volunteers, dedicated to providing game support or plots, and a team of 12 people constantly working on the game’s programming. They are constantly adding new, and sometimes controversial, elements to the game. Putting anything in, or taking something out, is always considered very carefully before its put into action, as it may seriously upset the players and their society. More recently, a page called “In Concept” sprung up on their web site, outlining future plans, and asking players for feedback and comments on the proposed changes. It may have its fair share of problems, but the people who complain are a vocal minority, with the vast majority of players usually agreeing to changes in the game.

A large aspect of games in the future will be putting in modifications after the game has been released. Almost every game these days has patches, which fix bugs and add new features. Perhaps one of the best patches ever added to a game was the Team Fortress Classic multi-player mod added with a bug fix to Half-Life, giving players a reward for upgrading their software to the latest version. Even now, some Dreamcast games offer extra levels, as a free download. Sonic Adventure has a downloadable Christmas level, and this has been done on some PC games before, and will happen many more times in the future, as people realize the benefits of patching a game. Origin seems to have noticed this, and Ultima Online receives patches on a monthly basis, while mostly fixing bugs, also giving players some extra items at the same time, making the patching process worth the wait, so it doesn’t seem so tedious.

It does have a lot of problems though. Anti-social players, cheaters and indiscriminate player killers have driven many people away from the game. $10 is a lot of money to pay just for the privilege of being harassed, and harassment problems rarely ever result in the offending player getting banned. The system for reporting incidents is just too dodgy, with some players afraid to use it, as miss-use can result in a ban if you do it 3 times, so most people just stay away from it all together. And on top of that, there are some websites out there, which seem hell-bent on destroying UO, but trying to justify their actions at the same time, but UO was the first game of its kind, and such problems were inevitable.

Richard Garriot decided to do Ultima Online because he believed that socializing has always been an essential part of any RPG experience, and he hoped to deliver the best social experience online anyone could get. He most certainly succeeded with his plan. Unlike EverQuest and Asheron’s Call, a very strong community exists between the players of UO, and this is partially due to the ability to build homes. Many player-built towns have sprung up all over the UO servers, and these are usually a safe heaven for role-players while out in the wilderness. Many of UO’s best-known players are the people who run some of the more famous towns, such as Paxlair.

The Future of Origin

It seems that without a doubt, the future of games lies with online gaming, and Origin intend to be at the spearhead of this concept. Richard Garriot has announced that Origin will now be making online games exclusively, and Electronic Arts, their parent company, said they would be investing heavily into the new market for online only games.

The developers at Origin seem to firmly believe, that human interaction is really the best element any game can offer. In the future, children will probably laugh at the idea of having to play a game by yourself, with no other humans taking part in your adventures. Who knows what they may do in the future. Maybe in 20 years they will be producing games with a Matrix-style level of reality, with people being able to use virtual reality to actually enter the medieval world of Britannia, or the sci-fi settings of X. Whatever happens to online gaming, Origin will be one of the few developers at the head of it.

Whatever they make, like UO, it will be a massive world filled with people, both real and computer generated, and putting painstaking detail into everything that they create. I believe the following sums up everything that Origin is, and hopes to achieve in the future:

Company Motto:

“ORIGIN creates worlds of immersed simulation and technological innovation. We create worlds with unparalleled attention to detail, setting new standards in interactive entertainment. But most of all, we create worlds of fun.”

- This is Tim “Damarr” O'Malley's first contribution to loonygames.


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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.