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Default Ultima - Most.Important.Game.Series.Ever. @ Joystiq

January 28th, 2012, 01:45
Joystiq has a piece titled Ultima: Most.Important.Gamer.Series.Ever which sounds reasonable to me:
Hey there. Whatcha playing? No, actually, don't tell me. You're playing Ultima. You don't know you're playing Ultima, but you are. If you're playing an open-world game, you're dealing with Ultima. If you're playing a massively-multiplayer game, you're dealing with Ultima. If you're playing a game with a morality system, Ultima. Even something as simple as three-dimensional graphics – either in perspective or overall representation – have ties to Ultima. How?
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January 28th, 2012, 01:45
That opening paragraph is taking it way too far, IMHO. The text is more reasonable (e.g. "..Ultima Underworld was one of the first games to offer three-dimensional movement…").

Of course, it is a tad easier to be "one of the first" at lots of aspects of gaming when you're actually one of the first games to exist at all.
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January 28th, 2012, 03:32
Um…it wasn't one of the first…I think you are getting confused with ultima 1

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January 28th, 2012, 04:52
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Um…it wasn't one of the first…I think you are getting confused with ultima 1
I think you're getting confused with 2.5d and 3d; also conflating 3d movement with representation of a pseudo 3d environment.
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January 28th, 2012, 13:41
Now i am confused.
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January 28th, 2012, 15:05
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Um…it wasn't one of the first…I think you are getting confused with ultima 1
?? It's about the whole Ultima series.
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January 28th, 2012, 18:56
Well for me personally, the Ultima series, to date, is the holy grail of my gaming experience. The only other series that comes close is Gothic (1 & 2).

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January 28th, 2012, 20:05
The Ultima series may very well be the most important game franchise ever but only a hardcore fanboy could agree with all those reasons listed as to why. For instance, the series was in no way an MMO pioneer. There were quite a few graphical MMOs up and running years before work even started on UO including Meridian 59 which was the direct inspiration for the developers of Everquest, and it was EVERQUEST that every subsequent MMO tried to emulate to one extent or another not Ultima Online. Hell, the lead designer of Ultima Online even ended up working for Verant/SOE as Brad McQuaid's replacement on EQ. I could go on with all the other items but it's pointless arguing with fanboys. All he's got on his list I'd agree with is the open world (they weren't the first with that either but they did it best at least) and the morality system. Of course, when it comes to changing from the player deciding at character creation what morality they wanted their character to be D&D style to the character's morality changing on the fly based on the player's actions it's up for debate whether that's a good design decision or not, isn't it? Companies like Bethesda have made drastically altering the character's morality so trivial that most people go from one extreme t the other several times during a playthrough just to capitalize on morality benefits and reduce penalties. Why is that better than enforcing (disallowing or penalizing behavior that's not consistent with a character's personality) a morality selection made at character creation?
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January 28th, 2012, 20:11
I remember the first time I saw Ultima1 being played on an Apple II in programming class; I was awed that a whole virtual world could fit on those floppy discs. Since then I’ve played them all at least twice, Ultima 7 being my favorite game of all time.

@CraigCWB: MMORPG was coined by Richard Garriott for Ultima Online. Meridian 59 was a MUD or MMPRPG. Yes, we are splitting hairs, but UO was the first MMO.
BTW, I was never a fan of MMOs… I was an early beta tester for Ultima Online, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Last edited by Vindicator; January 28th, 2012 at 20:23.
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January 28th, 2012, 22:01
Originally Posted by Vindicator View Post
@CraigCWB: MMORPG was coined by Richard Garriott for Ultima Online. Meridian 59 was a MUD or MMPRPG. Yes, we are splitting hairs, but UO was the first MMO.
Well, I've never liked that term nor any of the related massively, immersively, awesomely, intuitively, accessibilityively givemeyourmoneyively marketing babble so that's one more strike! Origin over-hyped the hell out of UO and if they'd just worked a little harder at making a good online game that was different and better than what others had done instead of investing so much into promising to be the coolest thing EVAR it would have been a better product, in my opinion

Originally Posted by Vindicator View Post
BTW, I was never a fan of MMOs…
I liked Meridian 59 a lot at first but the gameworld was just too small and it really became nothing but a PvP arena in the space of a couple weeks. I had high hopes for UO but nothing ever came of that for me. EQ I loved for the first year it was out, and I continued playing it a couple more years even after I started loving it a lot less. Haven't done anything but dabble with them since then. DAoC seemed like EQ but better to me for a while, until I realized how much they'd dumbed it down for a mainstream audience. That's a trend that's done nothing but accelerate, and I don't want to invest any significant amount of my time doing the cyberspace equivalent of hanging out on an elementary school playground.

Originally Posted by Vindicator View Post
I was an early beta tester for Ultima Online, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Me too! On both counts! I was so disgusted by UO and the comments made about it by Richard Garriott and Raph Koster that I ver nearly passed on EQ when it shipped. Glad I didn't, as I wouldn't have wanted to miss that year or so of being involved in an online community that actually DID feel like an online community
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January 28th, 2012, 22:29
You are playing chess, you are playing Ultima.

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January 29th, 2012, 01:02
Hell, the lead designer of Ultima Online even ended up working for Verant/SOE as Brad McQuaid's replacement on EQ
Actually, Raph Koster went to work for Verant to create Star Wars Galaxies… which was pretty much a spiritual sequel to Ultima Online. He ended up working on EQ2 after that and doing more stuff at Verant/SOE, but SWG was the game he actually *designed* while being there.

I would have prefered if MMOs had emulated UO instead of Everquest personally. The fact that MMOs basically all turned into powergaming grinding combat focused games instead of the virtual world approach of UO it what killed all interest in them to me

I think you're getting confused with 2.5d and 3d; also conflating 3d movement with representation of a pseudo 3d environment.
There were true 3D engines before Ultima Underworld actually, one of the most notable one was the Freescape engine which was used for quite a few game in the 16 Bit era and even had its own construction kit released (3D Construction Kit). It wasn't as advanced as what Underworld, but it was 3D and didn't just pretend to be.

I think Underworld was the first one which had *textured* 3D graphics though.

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January 29th, 2012, 11:19
Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
I think Underworld was the first one which had *textured* 3D graphics though.

-Sergorn
Alternate Reality was the first textured 3D RPG and it came out in 1985 on the Atari 8bit. Quote - "This vid shows the then-revolutionary texture-mapped 3D graphics" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KmPOb4PGBQ


Or… http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari…-city_238.html

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PP: "I had no knowledge of 3-D. I was unaware of the techniques and terminology that existed in the academic world, so I had to reinvent many things. I used a vertical, single line Z-buffer - though I didn't know it was called that at the time - and a number of techniques to cull the polygons. I used self-modifying code in the loops that did the incremental texture mapping. I did cycle-counting to allow hardware sprites to be in two places at once. It was a challenge to do 3-D fully textured mapped graphics - even with fixed ninety degree turns - on a computer that ran at less than 2MHz and had 48K of RAM.
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January 29th, 2012, 11:53
The cynic in me says : "Most.Important.Unplayable.Game.Series.Ever."

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 29th, 2012, 12:49
Alternate Reality was the first textured 3D RPG and it came out in 1985 on the Atari 8bit.
Right, but I was thinking more in term of actual freeform 3D environements.

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January 29th, 2012, 16:17
"3D Graphics" in the computer industry is 3D modeling and rendering. Until the early to mid 1990s that was only done on (very powerful) computers for purposes of creating animations for movies and TV shows and it wasn't done in real time. the shots were assembled and recorded a frame at a time. What yoiu guys are talking about was called "vector graphics" in that it was an API library built into C language that allowed programmers to draw geometric shapes with API function calls, along with other operations such as floodfills, pattern fills, and bitmap(texture) fills. This was all done in code not by artists using 3D graphics packages. You could call vector graphics the conceptual forefather of modern 3D game programming but there's no direct relationship. As far as having to do it on a computer with very limited memory, that was the one really great thing about vector graphics vs raster graphics. Takes a lot less memory to draw a screen with filled polygons and lines/curves than it does to load full screen bitmaps and overlay animated bitmap sprites.
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January 29th, 2012, 16:38
Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
Actually, Raph Koster went to work for Verant to create Star Wars Galaxies… which was pretty much a spiritual sequel to Ultima Online. He ended up working on EQ2 after that and doing more stuff at Verant/SOE, but SWG was the game he actually *designed* while being there.
I never said he designed EQ! I would never have even bothered with EQ if that were true

I don't think anyone really knows the full story of what happened with Brad McQuaid at Verant/SOE or what Raph Koster's roll was. There was a lot of rumor, speculation, innuendo and conflicting information being distributed at the time and it's never been cleared up. All I know is EQ started changing and not in a way that I liked, right when all that crap was going on, and Brad McQuaid left shortly thereafter. I blame Raph Koster mostly because I just don't like him

Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
I would have prefered if MMOs had emulated UO instead of Everquest personally. The fact that MMOs basically all turned into powergaming grinding combat focused games instead of the virtual world approach of UO it what killed all interest in them to me
Virtual world? Were you drinking any coolaid while you were over Raph Koster's house? Anyway, I liked the top-down perspective of UO. I still prefer that in my RPGs and I probably always will because for me it gives games more of a tactical feel and as far as I'm concerned an RPG without tactical combat is not an RPG, it's an action game with stats and a persistent environment. There were some other things I liked about UO, but those were all things that came from the Ultima franchise. I don't think there's anything that came from Raph Koster that I liked, and his biggest problem as far as I can tell is that he's a stubborn design nazi who sticks to his own bizarre ideas no matter how hard people work at trying to explain how broken they are and how detrimental to enjoyable gameplay they are, and he won't change anything until he's about to get fired and that's usually right before the company he works for is about to go out of business.

But as I said, I don't like the guy. He was mean to me. He even chased me around dropping spawns on me once just because i called him a fat dumb bastard on usenet. So maybe I'm biased.
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January 29th, 2012, 17:10
Virtual world? Were you drinking any coolaid while you were over Raph Koster's house?
Erm. No coolaid, just stating a fact.

Now I'm not going to argue about the quality of UO and EQ and their seperate elements in themselves because that's not the point (and you do do sound a bit biased as far Kostor goes actually ), but "virtual world" is very much the approach used by UO and (later) SWG.

What I mean is if you take EQ or the gazillion of clones that followed (including more recent endeavour such as WoW or The Old Republic), these are games which are basically about killing monsters, getting XP, levelling, getting loot, gears and so. It's all about battling stuff in a MMO environment, basically like a big massive Diablo kind of game. Which is fine if you like that sort of things of course.

Ultima Online was first and foremost about the virtual world : it was a big sandbox were people could come and go anything they wanted, so there were people who'd just go and kill monsters, but people who'd just go and become fishermen, miners, tailors, building houses and shops, players cities and so on. SWG was very much the same philosophy (which is no surprise since most of the team came fresh for OSI after Privateer Online got canned). And this is something that very much came from the single player Ultima series too of course.

As I said I'm not gonna argue about whether this was well handled or not, since we're obviously not gonna agree - but this is the kind of stuff that made people enjoy UO really - and sadly it's an approach that is not used in MMO anymore and personnally I'd take this over EQ 10.0 anyday of the week. And I know quite a few people who loved UO back in the day and never really got into later MMOs because none offered a similar experience.

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January 29th, 2012, 19:58
I have no doubt Ultima was the greatest gaming series ever.
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January 30th, 2012, 04:23
Sergorn, I disagree with all you said about EQ. Leaving aside the fact it was nothing at all like Diablo, its primary draw during its first year of release was exploration and adventure, and the thing that made it different from every other MMO that came before or after was the intense social experience that in my opinion was forced on the players by how shatteringly hard it was to do anything worth doing in EQ without a friend or three with you. But lets leave all that aside, as it doesn't really matter at this late date.

When it comes to Ultima Online and SWG, I think you're saying that the main draw for you was that it was a reality simulator only in a more interesting setting. People crafting, fishing, catching butterflies, etc. Is that right? If so, I'd agree with that. My problem - and I said this to Raph Koster at the time on usenet - is that I found the non-adventuring activities available to me in UO and SWG about as interesting as mowing my lawn. If I wanted to go fishing I'd get in my car and go fishing. If I really wanted to make an outing of it I'd invite a couple of friends to go with me. If I wanted to spend hours of my time "crafting" something I'd have done some of those jobs around the house my wife was always wanting me to do (and if I had maybe I'd still be married). And so on. This is where you say "Ah, but it's the fact you can do all these things in the context of this really great game and not just in your boring normal life!" right? My problem with that was that I found what passed for adventures and quests in both those games about as interesting as wandering around in a field kicking over anthills. "But what about all the great social atmosphere?" he says. Well, the doods in UO and SWG set a low-water mark for quality social content that even WoW has never managed to surpass. Is it even possible to be offended on so many different levels by one simple doodism and still feel like maybe you shouldn't say anything about it because the guy might be mentally handicapped?

Anyway, I get that a lot of people liked those two games. I might have liked them too if they were everything you describe. I just didn't see it. I didn't see greatness, I saw an attempt at greatness.
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