What is a Lord British “Ultimate” Role Playing Game? Day 4

The Second Grand Era of Games – Massively Multiplayer

Starting with Ultima III, Ultimas regularly simulated multiplayer, by providing you an artificial Non Player Character party of friends to “share” the experience with. {Trivia: Ultima III’s working title was Ultima 3D/4P, for 3D dungeons, and a party of 4 Players (all run by the one real person at the keyboard)} True multiplayer connectivity and richly detailed and varying interconnected roles were the chief contributions of Ultima Online! Multiplayer was a great boon to game play and popularity, but a great challenge from storytelling standpoint. Multiplayer is desirable and very challenging in any “Ultimate RPG”.

While there have been multiplayer games since the advent of computers, and Multi-User-Dungeons (MUD’s) for many years, and the AOL dial up service and Bulletin Board Services (BBS’s) hosted numerous large multiplayer fantasy games, Ultima Online is regularly recognized as the first major success of the Massively Multiplayer Games era. Much to the dismay of some of those important earlier creators from whose work I learned and whose employees often joined my team, I am often referred to as the father of online gaming. A title I am very proud of in spite of the objections!

For the last decade most of the growth in the games space has been in the MMO space. While this has represented a great economic opportunity, it has also been a great creative challenge. Many players lament the story telling set back of the MMO era, where they are no longer the singular hero on the singular journey to ultimate personal success for themselves and the whole world. Yet I remain convinced, the Ultimate RPG can be made in the MMO medium.

Alongside the great challenge of making you feel ultimately unique, MMOs provide great player to player bonds that go far beyond what can be accomplished in a solo player game. I remember the depth of these bonds as players who met in the game got married in real life, how people who died in the real world were deeply mourned and celebrated by their online friends whom they may never have met face to face. The power of real face to face interaction should not be passed over easily in the quest for the Ultimate RPG.

The Third Grand Era of Games – Social & Mobile gaming

Today, with my new company Portalarium, and with the talents and skills of many who made Ultima an Ultimate RPG, we set forth to forge a “New Britannia”, a new world from scratch, internally self consistent, deep and refined. We have lofty goals as an Ultimate RPG. An Ultimate RPG does not fear going where others fear or have failed.

Few believed in the years I took to craft Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar and its deeply introspective plot, fewer yet believed in “MUltima” when we began it, and it opened the doors of the MMO space. Many traditional gamers are concerned about the growth of the new social and mobile gaming and its impact on games with meaning and depth. They are doubtful that this era will provide them the Ultimate RPG experience they crave. But this new era has unearthed some powerful new tools that add to the value of an “Ultimate RPG”.

There are staggeringly important new features unearthed by some of the early movers in this space. Powerful new asynchronous tools allow friends in the real world to aid each other and “play” together without being demanded to all get online at the same time every day, else fall out of the leveling curve, and thus the ability to play with friends. Proper social tools are essential to the Ultimate RPG.

Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues will be an Ultimate RPG. You will have a customized Avatar homesteads and real roles to play in a deep, beautifully realized highly interactive virtual world. It will have virtues and the hero’s journey reflected back to the player. It will have the best of synchronous and asynchronous features in use. Fiction will support your arrival from earth into this new world. I even hope to make maps, coins and other trinkets available to players of the game.

But… please be understanding, it took 25 years to craft all the detail of Ultima. The new world will start smaller, thinner and lighter. It will have fewer features than some or most MMOs. Critical elements of the story I have just told may be missing upon launch. But fear not, this is where we are headed. Come play with us in the brave new world. Help us grow it. Teach us about what you have learned in your years of playing. Invite in your new friends, who are new to gaming, they will be a new spirit and new ideas about what to do.

I hope you will support and join us in the creation of the best ever “Ultimate” Role Playing Game!

Thanks to you,

Lord British

a.k.a. Dr. Richard Garriott de Cayeux

1 Comment

  1. ChirurgieChirurgie

    Great series of articles. Love the evolution from Alakabeth to Shroud of the Avatar. We will all understand the smaller scale starting out as long as the strongest ‘Lors British product’ ie deep storytelling remains the prime focus. Here’s to your 4th Grand Era of Games!

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