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.