War Stories: Lord British on Ultima Online

Ars Technica managed to sneak a camera and a set of questions into Richard Garriott's personal home, and the result of that chance enounter is a new "War Stories" video series that has the Ultima creator talking about the challenges of building Ultima Online and the "virtual ecology" they created (and later removed) in the MMORPG. The embedded version:

Lucky for us, they've even posted a full transcript, so I'll yank a quote from that. However, it also means that you'll miss Richard smoking out of a coyote skull:
What we discovered the moment the game went live was that players ran over the world like a swarm of ants that consumed every living thing as fast as it was possible to spawn it. They killed every creature, so as soon as a deer, or a rabbit, or a wolf showed up on the map, the nearest person to it killed it, skinned it, took its meat and took its hide instantaneously. And the fact that the wolf was worth more than the deer or the rabbit was irrelevant, just the fact that it was fun to kill would have been enough for them to eradicate all life, all living things on the surface. And we spent the next few months trying to figure a solution out by either decreasing the value of the deer or the rabbits or increasing the spawn rates to try to make them be so plentiful the players couldn't kill them all. We actually could not keep up with the rate that the players would massacre anything and everything that moved.

[war drums]

So we actually changed the fiction of the game and introduced a hack going back to Ultima I, where in Ultima I the way you defeated the Dark Wizard Mondain was by destroying the Gem of Immortality, and you broke it into shards and so we decided that that moment also splintered the world into copies in these shards, and that was the fiction for shards, which are now used by other MMOs and even database operators around the globe who don't have anything to do with gaming, and have no idea where the word shards came from. So we knew we'd go past 100,000 players, however we really had no idea that it would quickly ramp to a million.