Ultima IV & Wasteland - The Era of Maturity
USGamer looks back at the era of Ultima IV and Wasteland and how it ushered in a new era of maturity for the genre.
Fittingly, the first meaningful attempt to bring greater depth to PC RPGs came from Ultima’s creator, Richard Garriott, by way of 1985's Ultima 4. Throughout the initial Ultima trilogy, Garriott experimented with a variety of narrative and mechanical concepts before settling down into a comfortable groove with Ultima 3: Exodus. Not only did Exodus lay down the foundation for the workings of future Ultima games, it also brought the series' story cycle to a self-contained stopping point. With his game design formula locked down, and freed of the need to continue some overarching narrative, Garriott took the opportunity to reconsider the very concept of the Ultima franchise. What could the series become? Was there room for more than combat and looting?
"My earliest games really were just about fighting monsters and collecting treasure," says Garriott. "There was a story, but it was pretty much go 'save the princess' or 'kill the big, evil wizard.' Ultima 3 was the first game I published myself through my own company, Origin, so it was the first time I started to get letters from people who had played the game. For the first time, I actually could see what was happening in the heads of people playing my games. I was shocked to see what those letters contained."
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