Ultima IV - Of DMCA Takedowns and Reboots
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March 30th, 2011, 02:22
Maybe I'm just feeling a bit more cynical than usual, but I'm actually dreading a possible resurrection of the Ultima series. Much as I might like a new game, I
that it would be no more than an excuse to save on marketing dollars for the publisher; the actual game would bear little if any resemblance to the Ultimas that I know from days gone by in either game play or lore (even though the Ultimas pretty much ran the gamut in terms of game play, from 4 - 8, I suspect what we'd see is a continuation of the game play from U9).
Besides, the true hallmark of the series for me was the moral stance of the Avatar. The concept of being deliberately Virtuous, according to the virtues laid out for you in the game, was, as far as I know, unique at the time and remains unique today, particularly in that many of the games hinged on that stance, far moreso than defeating some Foozle at the end. But without The Avatar specifically, I'm not sure there's really all that much to recommend the setting as a whole. There's the remnants and bits of lore from the old series — the columns, artifacts, Lord British (pretty much an artifact in himself) which I suspect would be heavily retconned anyway — but beyond that, it's a pretty standard sort of fantasy setting without much of anything to really set it apart.
Incidentally, what is it with the incessant retcons these days? Do developers simply not know or care that they're undermining their own storytelling, or is the whole game development process so infected by writer ego that "putting their own stamp" on a game, regardless of what the lore suggests, is more important? Revisiting locations seems to be particularly galling, for whatever reason, unless it's a cost cutting measure (with the 10 years span of DA2, Bio had a real opportunity to show how a city was affected by the player's actions. Reports that I've read suggest that they really did next to nothing in this regard), but I found that what Black Isle did with Kuldahar in the IWD series really brought that town to a new level of depth in that I'd
before. Is one thing to read about the history; is another to have experienced it. That too was a hallmark of the Ultima series for me: that while there were changes here and there, the setting remained familiar. And this too is something that I feel is going to be lost with a new game.
Anyway… a rather dismaying line of speculation for me, but as I said, maybe I'm just overly cynical right now.
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