While news and speculation regarding the latest chapter in the Ultima saga - the upcoming Ultima 9 - has been bouncing around the Web since before the 1993 release of Ultima 7, Origin has kept the project under tight wraps - until recently.
Recently, Gamespot News had a chance to chat with Ed Del Castillo, producer on Ultima 9: Ascension.
Formerly a producer at Westwood Studios, Del Castillo produced Command & Conquer and Red Alert - titles that practically made Westwood a household name.
Technically, Ultima 9: Ascension has been in the works for roughly three years now. However, due to management shuffling, the U9 team currently at work on the project has been hammering away on the title for only the past one and a half years.
Originally begun as a traditional top-down-ish Ultima game (as seen in pictures in Origin's own company catalog and sites throughout the Internet), the game's recent restart prompted a move to a more technically impressive perspective.
The result was a move to a third-person trailer camera, ala Tomb Raider. Unlike Tomb Raider, however, Ultima 9's world will be one seamless environment and not broken up into chunks that will load at predetermined times.
By its projected fall '98 ship date, Ultima 9 will support Direct3D and natively support the 3Dfx Voodoo chipset, with others possibly following.
Despite the technology surrounding Ultima 9, Del Castillo promises that the grand finale to Lord British's "trilogy of trilogies" will not be an action game and will counter the industry trend to substitute technology for story and depth.
Part of this commitment lies in the inclusion of multiple playable characters. While the game's focus will naturally remain on the Avatar's exploits and his fight against The Guardian, players will also go solo as other notable Britannians.
This will provide players with multiple views on Britannia's current plight as well as varying play mechanics to keep the game's expansive playtime fresh.
GameSpot News will keep you posted on Ultima 9's future development.