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Ultima Forever – Ultima 4 remake chosen over Ultima 7 due to limited resources

Saturday, 13th October 2012 23:03 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Ultima Forever creative director Paul Barnett has said the team at BioWare chose to remake Ultima 4 due to the team’s affection of for the original, and the fact that resources were limited.

Speaking during talk at GDC Online attended by Polygon, Barnett said the team wanted to develop an Ultima game, but remaking Ultima Underworld or Ultima Online would have “cost a fortune.” So, that left two games to choose from: Ultima 4 or Ultima 7.

“We’re doing [Ultima 4] for lots of reasons, the most important one being we really cared about it, and we really wanted to do it, and we got our hands on it,” said Barnett.

“Ultima 7 I really liked. It was the simulation Ultima. It was the one that had one-to-one scale, it’s the one that had a weather system. Your own party, when you recruited them, they blew you up with their lightning spells. It was marvelous. You had the Black Gate, and you had the Guardian. It was great, but it was a simulation. And simulations are tough to code.

“Ultima 4 was the first grown-up Ultima. In my opinion, Ultima 4 is the birth of the great RPGs. And, I’m of the opinion that it needs to be revisited, because people really haven’t done it. Best of all, it was stimulating.

“I went back to our head coder, and I said, ‘Okay, Ultima 7: simulation. Ultima 4: stimulation.” And he said, ‘What have you got?’ And I said, ‘A chicken, and a spoon.’ And he said, ‘Okay, four it is.”

Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar is a cross-platform RPG and will arrive on iPad and PC. An exact release date isn’t known, but the game is expected sometime this year.

Beta signups are through here.

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4 Comments

  1. Jerykk

    I’m not sure why EA hasn’t put any serious effort into reviving the Ultima franchise. If they did it right, they could have something that competes with The Elder Scrolls.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. TheWulf

    Eh. The only really worthwhile Ultimas to resurrect were VI and VII. And I don’t know, but this reeks of ‘man, that would be hard, and hard is effort, and we don’t like effort, man.’

    Oh well.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    @2 The problem isn’t that these men and women don’t want to put in the effort. It’s that E.A. doesn’t want to commit to the franchise.

    Barnett is a long time Ultima fan, and without his push the franchise would have already died and withered away completely by now. He’s keeping it going, but the numbers simply aren’t there to commit to any sort of full blown sequel. Barnett is *trying* to convince E.A. otherwise.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. TheWulf

    @3

    Fair enough. I can accept that, and that I’m wrong about how I phrased my comment. It’s just incredibly disappointing, I guess. There’s only so much cynicalness from the gaming industry you can take before becoming cynical yourself. And this does seem kind of cynical. And at this point, I’m just wondering why they’re doing this in particular.

    It seems like EA gave them just enough to cash-in on hopeful Origin (damn you, EA, and your download service) Systems fans, but not enough resources to actually create the kind of game that would do the series justice. You know? That’s just the vibe I get.

    I’m not specifically blaming these guys, but… it feels like they’ve given up before they’ve started because of their lack of resources. So maybe lazy wasn’t the right word. But it feels like they’ve been defeated before they’ve even begun.

    Are they going to actually be able to do anything with this? Is it going to do anything good? Will it be a fantastic remake that will lead to an Ultima VII reboot?

    I have my doubts.

    #4 2 years ago

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