Paul Barnett's Rose-Tinted Memories of Ultima

Highlights from Barnett's appearance on the GameSpot Comic-Con 2012 stage show.

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BioWare Mythic's Paul Barnett joined us on our Comic-Con 2012 stage show to talk about the newly announced Ultima Forever. Here are some of the most interesting quotes from that interview…

On deciding which Ultima game to reimagine

When you look at Ultima, it's basically got three types of worlds that look good. Ultima Online--still going strong, still great. Ultima IV--very much stimulation. You go all over the world, the virtues become the avatar. It's got boats and pirate dens and great stuff. And then Ultima VII--this big, chunky, simulation world. We looked at the three of them and went, hmm, well we haven't got a very big team and we haven't got a lot of time. So I guess doing the online one's probably not a very good idea…and Ultima VII looks quite chunky. Maybe this…this Ultima IV looks pretty good!

So we got a group together at Bioware and said, who really cares about Ultima? Who's not gonna mess it up? Who's got supreme passion and wants to do Ultima IV again? Then they put their hands up. We said, great! We gave them sugar, put them in a room, and off they went.

On looking back at Ultima IV with rose-tinted glasses

Everyone who played Ultima IV who's old and craggy and remembers when all of this was text, they have this vision in their head of what all of this was like. In their head, it was this beautific game, and it wasn't really 27 different key controls with terrible, juttery graphics. They think it was awesome!

You then take the modern team, the team who have to deliver it. You sit them down and say, we need you to play this game we're gonna reimagine. We tell them it's an all-time classic, it's been around, it's formed a lot of big thinking. They then try to play it and it's sort of like when you're given Chaucer to read.

On building a game for both PC and iPad

In their head, Ultima IV was this beautific game, and it wasn't really 27 different key controls with terrible, juttery graphics. They think it was awesome!"

One of the benefits of going to the iPad is that it kept you honest on complexity, game depth, and game timing. It stopped us from being drawn into the gravitational black hole of, I'm a PC! I've got a mouse, all these keys, I can put hot bars in…I can go crazy!

We wanted it to be an RPG adventure. And so if anything, we were inspired by the Super Nintendo Japanese RPGs. One button to get through a conversation, choices that you had to make, extreme emotion, reasonably tight and fun controls rather than hot bars of madness and number-crunching math puzzles. Going onto the iPad helped keep that focus, that strong design urge.

On the biggest myth about Ultima Forever

[The biggest myth] is that it's a crappy Facebook game with energy rubbish and that we're trying to gouge money from people just for blinking. It's absolutely not! It's a joyous, full, rich game. It doesn't have any of that nonsense. You can get in and literally within half an hour you'll have gone across the entire world, visited all the great towns, got yourself a boat, visited Lady British, gone off to the Lyceum--there's no stopping you!

We went out of our way to remove the glass walls and instead we though, you know what? We're just going to let people play it. Play it and enjoy it. Have a really great go at it. When you actually see the game up and running, it's a joy.

More highlights: Cliff Bleszinksi on Fortnite and Frank O'Connor on Halo 4

Discussion

0 comments
RavenXavier
RavenXavier

I used to GM for UO years ago. Still, I think I'll just wait and see with this.

sasami_adachi
sasami_adachi

Paul is a true salesman.

 

I am curious how the end product would look, but from the way they describe it, it doesn't sound promising.

drgribb
drgribb

paul barnett- what a doucher.  He just called me "old and craggy"... seriously dawg?  Somebody punch this guy in the f***king face right now, seriously ho-ly s**t.  He starts out saying the team wanted to redo ultima and had this "appreciation" for the original content, and then he goes on to say that the team couldn't figure out what people ever saw in ultima IV and they had to explicitly spell it out for them.... wrong on *so* many levels

ConnerMcFly
ConnerMcFly

Its gonna have the bioware name stamped on it seems like, so even if it is a money grab rehash at least it's likely to be a quality one.

Darko-Ashitaka
Darko-Ashitaka

I was actually excited about this until... I watched the interview.

Schwarte
Schwarte

Sounds like a nice way of saying "We'll abuse the Ultima license and create a casual game".

The charm of the original Ultima games will be hard to capture with those conditions. I love JRPGs, but I don't see how that genre is going to help a western classic. I also don't think that a game that I can accomplish so much stuff in, within 30 minutes, will keep me hooked for long.

Recreating a game is more than just using the name once again, you also have to retain the essence of the original.

I'm glad they didn't try to overhaul Ultima Online, though. Didn't play for a decade, but it's still the MMO I've liked the most in all my time of gaming.

Tak666
Tak666

I any of you, and I mean ANY think this will be a Ultima game like from the old times, or as good as it used to be than abandon all hope.

 

This is EA, the game will be shit, look what they've done with Ultima Online 2, and Ultima Online expansion packs.

 

ID rather shave my balls with a broken bottle than trust EA with a rpg.

iluvOP
iluvOP

They should see spoonys poo tainted memories of Ultima

Prosercunus
Prosercunus

Paul Barnett. The same guy that tried to push off how awesome Warhammer Online was going to be. What an absolute snake. I love the attempt marginalizing people with his nice rose-tinted glasses remark. It sounds like Jay Wilson who essentially said the same thing about Diablo 2.

 

It is easier to pass poor game design by simply stating that your past loyal customers see only through rose-tinted glasses and it wasn't just the innate feel about older games that made them so great. Of course people want an update but they also want to retain the feeling and essence of past games, and if you as a game designer cannot achieve this then you essentially fail as a game designer, or at best gain a new set of customers while throwing the others in the trash.

KingofCabal
KingofCabal

blah blah blah show some bloody game footage!

Birth00
Birth00

As long as they don't get fucked by EA like with Ultima 8 and 9, game should be at least decent.

nodst
nodst

Lady British, my foot.

 

I'm with those who maintain that without Richard Garriott's involvement, a new Ultima will more than likely be an epic fail.

StammBladecastr
StammBladecastr

So... Will they mail me the map?  There's a cloth map, right?

Seriously, I'd love a faithful return to one of my favorite series.  They haven't aged well.  I tried playing III recently and quickly got frustrated with the UI.  I must have been much more patient as a kid.  So I jumped to VII, not much better.   If they could manage to capture the depth and feel of the originals, but make them responsive and intuitive, I'd buy.  I don't even care about the dated visuals.  Apparently, I want something slightly different than Ultima Forever.

Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

I absolutely loved Ultima Online. Even if haven't touched it since like 2003, I still love the original concept. I remember playing it on free servers with its own rules and admins. Me and a friend had a house built somewhere, with a small tower and we collected armors of all colors. We mined ore, gathered wood and knitted our own outfits. I absolutely loved the idea of having such complex and incredible MMO's such as Ultima. 

JoutenHadou
JoutenHadou

So we all know Richard Garriott owns the rights to Lord British and a few other names (Dupre and the other heroes), but will we get references to any of them or will this Ultima not take into account the events that happened in Exodus or have any references to Mondain and Minax (is that her art in the video)?  And Lady British?  Come on >.>

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

So in a half hour ive seen the whole world....next.

skunknuts
skunknuts

Also, just had to say - they're taking their main inspiration for a remake of Ultima 4, a distinctly western RPG, from SNES Japanese RPGs?! This really sounds like they've headed in the wrong direction, but I guess only time will tell. Not encouraging....

skunknuts
skunknuts

The development team couldn't figure out how to play the original Ultima 4, so someone had to explain to them why it's so great? Yeah, this is gonna work out just great.Also, lol at them calling modern gamers sophisticated, while simultaneously saying the original is too complex and needs to be simplified for today's gamers, who are trained to think only in terms of "good vs. evil".

linuxg100
linuxg100

with no Richard Gariot there is no Ultima.

Kcoshiob
Kcoshiob

Would you like some game with your milk?

I do not understand the industry's absolute terror of new IPs and franchises.

New ideas are how e got these undying franchises

EA try it sometime.

BlackaliciousX
BlackaliciousX

lol did anyone else notice that woman's expression when Sean tells kate, "I hope you haven't had too much sugar, I am worried about your personal health". She couldn't' figure out if he inadvertently called her fat or not. Priceless

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

Absolutely ridiculous. These BioWare mythic guys make my stomach turn in disgust. I honestly pity the people who will be uninformed to the point where they will have to endure this f#$%ery. Also, Lady British? What a joke. Doesn't matter if EA lost the rights to Lord British, it's a sorry excuse for a remake. Seriously EA, let a good franchise rest in peace.

 

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

 @ConnerMcFly Not in a million of years. It's BioWare mythic, the sub-division of bioware that makes facebook games.

iluvOP
iluvOP

 @Tak666 EA isnt all that bad. Even if they did ruin ultima 9. They absolutely murdered it. but we'll have to see!

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

 @Tak666 I couldn't agree more with you though, feels pretty bad to know that people are going to play this pointless re-hash.

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

 @Tak666 Have you ever played the old Ultima games? I mean, the Ultima community right now is so barren and empty that it's pretty sad to be an actual Ultima fan. Does Ultima truly exist outside of people's memories?

drgribb
drgribb

 @Birth00 I actually sorta enjoyed 8... maybe it's just nostalgia coupled with the fact that that was an early period in my pc gaming days.  We always love the games we had as kids and then one day look them up on gamespot.com only to find out that your favorite beat-em up game was really a cheap knock-off of final fight and that the rest of the world considers michael jordan chaos in the windy city to be one of the worst games in history that game was freaking awesome wtf is wrong with people

nodst
nodst

 @Gelugon_baat

 I never implied, nor would I ever imply, that anyone creating a game...or anything else, for that matter...has the Midas touch. Even the best of designers, in this case, can suffer a misstep every once in a while.But Ultima has always been Richard Garriott's signature game franchise...and since Ultima IV remains the best medieval fantasy adventure game ever made(at least, in my opinion) in the age of MS-DOS and Apple IIs, it stands to reason that I'll *heavily* distrust an Ultima title made without Garriott's input.

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

 @Gelugon_baat IMO Garriott became a crook because he is a kook. He tried to move on to MMOs, had his share of our money, and now he showers us with feces whenever his mouth opens.

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

 @Gelugon_baat Garriott may be a crook, but he is a cool crook like Bill Gates. He did legendary stuff. He may just rip people off nowadays, but his legacy shaped all that we know as Computer RPGs.