Ultima Online GDC Online Retrospective

Gamasutra is offering a transcription of some of the highlight of a recent retrospective panel for Ultima Online, held at GDC Online 2012 by some of the original developers of the title: Raph Koster, Rich Vogel and Starr Long.

As you might expect, they have quite a few stories to tell, here's a few:
Killer rabbits

In the alpha, the team had wolves that chased rabbits across the map as part of its emergent gameplay system.

In those early days, the rabbits would actually level up if they got into a fight with a wolf and managed to escape.

"People would wander off in the alpha and try to kill a rabbit, and pretty soon they were playing Monty Python: The MMO," joked Koster.

The game was tweaked to disallow this, though Koster confesses that they left one monster rabbit in the world when the final game shipped.


Faking it at E3

A pre-alpha version of the game somehow managed to be playable at E3 in 1996, only 9 months or so after the team was formed!

But one year later, when beta 1 was shown at E3 1997, the game didn't have much in the way of AI. So, to fake it, developers back home were actually playing the NPCs live.

"People were amazed by the AI," joked Koster.