U5: Lazarus - Interview @ RPG Codex
RPG Codex caught up with Ian 'Tiberius' Frazier to chat about his work on the Ultima V remake, Lazarus:
- Lazarus features far more text than the original Ultima V, much of it in the form of comments made by party members at appropriate times throughout the game, but all of it slotting in seamlessly with the original material. What steps were taken to ensure this, and was it a challenge to write for characters with a long history and an established fan base?
There were a few keys to making this work. The first was that we started with a strong foundation of preproduction—before we made any quests or anything, Michael "New Breed" Hilborn (a writer of spectacular Ultima fanfic) crafted a couple of documents that helped set the mood, tone, and themes for the world of Britannia in the Ultima V time frame. He brilliantly articulated the "feel" of the world, the roles of the Oppression and Resistance, and how the common people of Britannia would react to the major events afoot in the world. After that, I handed out the original U5’s full transcript to the team and using that as a base, I had a handful of our best writers create Region Profiles, documents that defined the general mood, feel, and major characters of each major location in the game. Mike and I then reviewed and critiqued these region profiles until all of our various planning documents were rock solid. These documents then served as our "bible" as we started to create actual game content. [Note: Many of these documents are now available online—we released them to the public a few months ago. http://www.ultimaaiera.com/blog/new-gallery-ultima-v-lazarus-regional-profiles/
The next key was editing. As individual writers started writing dialogue and books for the game, Mike and I performed review/edit passes on every single piece of dialogue that was created, helping to keep up the general quality bar of the writing (and correcting Elizabethan grammar, haha), but also ensuring that all the dialogue in the game supported the general fiction of the world and did a good job of exhibiting the Ultima spirit, which is frankly rather hard to quantify.
The final key was the writing staff itself. We managed to get some truly amazing writers on board with the talent to create compelling characters, the drive to put in an obscene amount of time working on this project simply for the joy of seeing it completed, and the passion to rewrite the same dialogue half a dozen times over if that’s what it took to end up with a top-quality result.
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