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[NEWS] Former Ultima X: Odyssey Devs Interview On Middle-Aged Gamer

Discussion in 'UHall' started by _zigzag_, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. _zigzag_

    _zigzag_ Sage
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    Today marks the fifth anniversary of the cancellation of Ultima X: Odyssey, and in remembrance Admiral Ruffie has posted an interview with four of the former members of the UO:X dev team:

    "It's five years later, and the team has long since scattered across the country, and moved on to other jobs and challenges, so I wondered if maybe, just maybe, they were finally willing to talk about Ultima X : Odyssey and its unfortunate end. They were. I came up with fifteen questions and sent them out to some of the team and they were kind enough to answer, painting a picture of a time, merely five years ago, where events lead to the cancellation of Ultima X : Odyssey."​

    You can read the complete interview at Middle-Aged Gamer. Many thanks to Admiral Ruffie for sharing this with us!
     
  2. Teeshy

    Teeshy Guest

    That was a really interesting read!

    Thanks for the link!
     
  3. Nok

    Nok Lore Master
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    Great interviews by Admiral Ruffie! Thanks for sharing ZigZag. :)
     
  4. Great read , sadly I think UO's chances of a FULL upgrade are smaller now than ever..
     
  5. Crysta

    Crysta Babbling Loonie
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    Any review that describes the cancelation of UX:O as an "unfortunate end" probably isn't worth reading, even if Ruffie made it.
     
  6. Jeremy

    Jeremy Guest

    Very neat article and interviews. Thanks!
     
  7. love2winalot

    love2winalot Guest

    Very Nice. Do we have to wait 5 more years to read about KR/SA and the reasons it was cancelled also? hehehe Hmmmm, Offering to move people from Austin Tx to Ca, and double the cost of living, and they did not want to go? And EA was, "Surprised" by that? :coco:
     
  8. Nestorius

    Nestorius Guest

    This here quote is the problem with UO developers and why I sympathize with EA for not spending more money on UO:
    WTF attention span?... imagine if that talent kept on trying to improve UO? These tangents are what have most hurt our game.
     
  9. Ni-

    Ni- Guest

    "the game was a few months from beta"

    ...

    ... so close ...

    Good read, thanks for the post!
     
  10. Thangorodrim

    Thangorodrim Guest

    Except it did not make "business sense" because now they are stranded with an antiquated client and a spaghetti code scripting environment.
     
  11. Zooithion

    Zooithion Crazed Zealot
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    Thanks for that link. Good read but the memories made me sad.
     
  12. Hunters' Moon

    Hunters' Moon Grand Inquisitor
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    Interesting read to be sure. His third comment there makes me kinda nervous. What if we turn on our computers one day and UO servers are off-lined perma with no warning.
     
  13. Hunters' Moon

    Hunters' Moon Grand Inquisitor
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    I agree with you there. Reading it makes me think of "what could've been?"
     
  14. Nilrem

    Nilrem Sage
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    It made business sense at the time, to the accountants who didn't have a clue about the people involved (and thought that money would be enough to get most of the people to uproot themselves, move across country leaving behind friends/family), and assumed that it worked for one studio so it would work in exactly the same way for all of them.

    Accountants make great business decisions when there are hard figures on the money, unfortunately they tend to ignore long term consequences*, and not know much about people (except that shareholders like more money now, and some jobs can be filled anywhere**).

    Great article, some very interesting bits of information there :)



    *Same reason accountants tend to like to shut down/downsize "unprofitable" departments (customer service, research and development etc)

    **But don't seem to realise that not everyone can do every job, and that skilled/creative jobs aren't quite the same as burger king when it comes to filling a vacancy.
     
  15. AesSedai

    AesSedai Guest

    - Thanks much for the interview, Commodore Vic 20!

    Pretty much as I assumed it to be; but now I don't have to assume anymore :)

    Quite interesting how much positive feedback the 'stealth'-launch party in SF received; it was a really positive and groovy Ultima time, from what I recall hearing; moongates on hotel room-doors, and such. Aye, I think that is the best way to do it too, as long as relocating staff is not secretly in the works of the almighty money-saving busynessmen. It reminds me of what Stratics' poster Mish o sha recently said: "Trippin over dollars to save cents." -Maybe it looked good on paper, but in reality the midstream move did not make sense (& it did amount to the loss of quite a few dollars - the accountants should have researched a bit beyond the numbers on the papers, imho).
     
  16. LordJalek

    LordJalek Guest

    Sorry, I know this is old, but, I had to respond.

    It's not what it appears to you :)

    I didn't go into detail about what this was. We were digging into the 3d engine to see if we could make it better, cleaner and "prettier". The Third Dawn engine did not turn out how we'd hoped it would in some ways and we were really trying to enhance the engine. The uber-texture technology we used worked great technically speaking, but, it left a little to be desired in respects to visual quality. A lot of this had to do with the minimum specs the game was set for.

    Using larger textures would have helped, but, then all of the character art would have to be recreated. I won't go into details about budgets and such, so, I'll just say the development team LOVED that game and only wanted to make it the best it could be. We were not thrashing around in the code trying to change any gameplay.

    Don't think for a minute we were flippant toward UO. A lot of us fought very hard to get to work at Origin on UO specifically. We all were sad to see it taken out of Texas and away from Origin. =(

    I still believe UO is one of the best MMOs on the market. =)

    I hope that gives a little more insight. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.

    Lord Jalek
     
  17. LordJalek

    LordJalek Guest

    I meant this more in respects to game development. And although it can be applied to any running game, I seriously doubt EA would pull the plug with no warning to the players. It wouldn't make business sense to them to alienate the players.

    Lord Jalek
     
  18. Back before I retired from the Army, Texas was on the list of places we pick to settle. My birth/home state of Arizona was [in my eye] far to costly an area to retire, and mid Texas area look very nice, being I had been station at Fort Hood twice during my twenty + years, I had seen Austin and liked the city myself. But a tour of Fort Smith, Arkansas, back in 91, soon settle where we would retire, sorry Texas you lost, but it was a very close race, being my oldest daughter and her kids live near there.

    Very good interview, I liked it.
     
  19. canary

    canary Guest

    Very nice article... always love hearing stories like this. :p
     
  20. DuttyD

    DuttyD Guest

    thanks for bringing back the thread, good read.
     
  21. Nestorius

    Nestorius Guest

    Can't I make an irritable knee-jerk ignorant comment without getting a serious informative reply from a former lead programmer? Jeez! Thanks though!
     
  22. LordJalek

    LordJalek Guest

    Hehe, you're welcome :)
     
  23. Coldren

    Coldren Sage
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    Thanks for dropping in, LordJalek!

    Did you happen to work on the original UO2? I suspect you must have, because a lot of the lore, themes, and even graphics for Third Dawn seemed to have been derived from UO2.

    Can you tell us a little bit about why that happened? An insiders perspective? And how was the cancellation party where you guys supposedly burned documents and posters, crushed disks, etc.?

    Thanks!
     
  24. Duskofdead

    Duskofdead Sage
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    Can anyone explain what the "real deal" was on UO2? The interviews seem to heavily imply that "we didn't want to split UO's playerbase" was just a face-saving statement EA used a lot in regards to Ultima projects.

    For being so well known, long running and financially successful (especially within the context of its prime), it's always a bit sad to see UO, while still active, seemingly at a dead end in terms of just prolonging the inevitable with expansions and such, with no serious intention on EA's part of doing much more than appeasing the continuing subscription base in terms of Ultima.
     
  25. LordJalek

    LordJalek Guest

    I did not work on UO2, however, I am friends with a lot of the developers. As I passinginly mentioned in the interview, UO2 had some issues and EA didn't think it would be ready in the proper timeframe so they cancelled it. There were some very sharp developers on that project and EA canning it basically sent them to Richard Garriot's newly founded startup - Destination Games, hehe.

    As far as the "parallel themes". That's actually an interesting question. What had happened was UO2 had contracted Tod McFarlane to make some creatures and toys for the game. When UO2 was cancelled EA was still under contractual obligation themselves to use the in game assets and ship the toys (I don't have all the details on the toys). So, we used them in 3rd Dawn not only to fulfill that contract, but, for readily available assets. This worked out great for UO :)

    I think I answered your first question above, but, for the second part, I'll try to give insight from what I know. UO was, for lack of better words, an anomoly to EA. It was "successful" and everything else they attempted to do had not turned out so well. The Sims Online, Motor City, Earth and Beyond, etc. It also has a relatively low-yield compared to other games (think Madden numbers). So, while it is bringing in money, I don't know that they feel they should invest a lot into it. It's a shame really. I don't blame EA for this necessarily, I think from a business sense they are doing what anyone would do and that's keep it running but, watching how much they spend on it.

    It IS a niche market with a somewhat small following (me included!), so, I'm just happy it's still around and seemingly doing well.
     
  26. Coldren

    Coldren Sage
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    Was that you in the article? Sorry, I never learned all the monikers for Devs. My apologies!

    Aye, I remember the UO2 site and the fiction very, very well. It was part of the reason I was so looking forward to UO2. In that fiction/universe, the style and lore seemed to make a lot more sense. When they sort of graphed certain portions of the fiction and style on to UO, well.. It didn't feel right to me.

    But don't get me wrong. I've read Spawn since issue 1, and I'm a big McFarlane fan, so I'm glad SOMETHING came of his work. But for me? Just never felt like it belonged in the original UO.

    I'm a bit snooty, I know. :D

    Thanks for answering!