Friday - May 17, 2013
Origin Systems - How It Started
A tweet from the Rampant Coyote led me to an article at The Digital Antiquarian about the birth of Origin Systems and Ultima III.
Everything about the young (literally; look at their picture above!) Origin Systems was bizarre, even by startup standards. They set up shop in Richard’s personal playhouse, a space above the Garriott family’s three-car garage which had once served as an art studio for his mother but had been commandeered by Richard and his friends years before for their D&D games. It was a big room scattered with desks, chairs, and even cots. Here Richard and his friends set up their various computers. A little cubbyhole at one end served as Robert’s business office. Robert himself was still officially living in Massachusetts with his wife, who had quite a career of her own going as a manager at Bell Labs and thus couldn’t move. Robert, however, was a pilot with a little Cessna at his disposal. He spent three weeks of each month in Houston, then flew back to spend the last with his wife in Massachusetts.
Together Chuck Bueche and Richard worked feverishly on the games that would become Origin Systems’s first two products. Chuck’s was an action game called Caverns of Callisto; Richard’s was of course the big one upon which they were all depending to get Origin properly off the ground, Ultima III.
Given its flagship status, Garriott felt compelled to try to remedy some of the shortcomings of his earlier games. In particular, he was obviously eying the Wizardry series; for all of the Ultima series’s stellar reviews and sales, the first two Wizardry games had garnered even better and more of both. Much of what’s new in Ultima III is there in the name of addressing his series’s real or perceived failings in comparison with Wizardry. Thus he replaced the single adventurer of the early games with a full party which the player must manage; added a new strategic combat screen to make fights more interesting; added a full magic system with 32 separate spells to cast to replace the simplistic system (which the player could easily and safely ignore entirely) of his previous games; added many new class and race options from which to build characters; made some effort to bring some Wizardry-style rigorousness to the loosy-goosy rules of play that marked his earlier games.
Monday - December 13, 2010
Origin - The Roots of CRPGs @ Bitmob
Bitmob sent word the next installment of their Forgotten Ruins series is up, discussing the role of Origin in the history of RPGs. A taste:
From his tentative steps with Akalebeth and then on to the first Ultima and its sequel, Richard Garriott clearly saw just how successful his computer role-playing game was going to be when the cash began rolling in and the phone calls never stopped.
Garriott (aka Lord British to his fans) founded Origin Systems in '83 partly as a result of the series's runaway popularity. The Ultima games would become the standard bearer alongside other pioneers such as Wizardry in defining the early years of the CRPG. Even in Japan, Ultima and Richard Garriott had received the kind of accolades -- and merchandising -- that had been reserved only for properties like Hello Kitty.
Ultima's amazing success on both sides of the world owed itself as much to Garriott's hard work as it later did in challenging the player later with social questions and deep narratives that expanded the fictional world of Britannia, such as when Ultima 4 revolutionized the genre again in '85 by replacing the typical world-destroying threat at the end, which stamped its chest with even more accolades from the press and CRPG fans in general.
Friday - August 15, 2008
Origin - Museum
EA Mythic have been busy sorting out some inspiration from some old Origin material, including some great Ultima artwork they now have up on their walls. Alec Meer article here, and the site artfulgamer.com piece here, with photographs here.
Some highlights of what was recovered:
* Artwork from the unreleased Privateer 3
* Possible data from several unreleased games (Bioforge Plus, Technosaur, Ultima IX source code–Lost Vale was not specifically listed on any data labels, but there was a tape called U8-project archive)
* Detailed photographs of the *head* of Prince Thrakath (Wing Commander 3)
* Over 20 design docs for various Wing Commander, UO and UO2 projects
* videos of interviews w/Mark Hammil, Richard Garriott, Star Long, and others
There will be more discoveries made, as we catalogue all of the data.
The “official” word from Mythic’s office manager is that we need to vett everything before handing out data… but then their producer who arranged all his, Paul Barnett, has said he wants to see it preserved and available for people quickly–perhaps this may get to users hands!.
Edit: The Origin Museum web-site can be found here.
Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Country: United States