Ultima VII: The Black Gate Reflections

After taking in another person's relatively negative perspective of Ultima VII: The Black Gate, Rampant Games' Jay Barnson has shared some reflections on why his fellow gamer (who had never played it before) may not have fallen in love with the RPG as much as we did a couple of decades ago. A taste:

I think that the interface is a bit cumbersome by today's standard (of course), but not quite so bad as its half-siblings of the era, the Ultima Underworld games. The mouse was still kind of a novel device in the games industry back in the day, only barely risen from the status of an optional peripheral. And of course, the screen resolution is tiny. But after a little bit of practice the game still seems to be amazingly playable and enjoyable.

What I want to share is really that feeling of playing it the first time, what it meant waaay back in the day. Ultima 7 was in many ways the pinnacle of Origin's motto, (We create worlds,) although the trophy might belong to its immediate predecessor. It's debatable which was a more complete (world simulation,) but it was not only a pretty impressive feat even today. But it was not a sandbox game. It was not even all that (open.) It presented you with an illusion of openness, and didn't have too many artificial limits to your ability to roam around and explore, but the storyline progressed somewhat linearly. You weren't led by your hand (or by your nose), but you still had to follow the clues to follow the story. You felt a little bit like a detective which seems appropriate, as part 1 opens with a murder mystery.