Richard Garriott Confirms Development of His Next "Ultimate" Role-playing Game

Thanks to a new letter to his fans on Facebook, we finally have confirmation that Ultima creator Richard Garriott and his team at Portalarium are once again striving to build the "ultimate" role-playing game. Based on the details he provides, it will be a social, free-to-play title that features "powerful new asynchronous tools that allow friends in the real world to aid each other and play together without being forced to play online at the same time every day." Since he also goes into considerable detail on the Ultima series before it, I'm going to do some generous quoting:
I began my pursuit of creating the (Ultimate) Role Playing Game (Ultimate RPG) around 1974 while in high school. It's been 36 years but it feels like yesterday. 1974 was an auspicious year for me. In 1974 my sister-in-law gave me a copy of The Lord of the Rings, the first fantasy fiction I had ever read, and I was instantly hooked. Soon after, I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons which had just been released. I quickly built one of the earliest and largest gaming groups which brought together 30-100 people most every Friday and Saturday for all night gaming sessions in many rooms throughout my parent's home in Houston. My English reports in school became fictional fantasy writings about my first fantasy world Sosaria, the basis of my D&D campaigns, as well as many of my computer games. Finally, still years before the personal computer showed up on the scene, I discovered a lone computer teletype terminal, unused by any class at the time. I convinced the faculty to let me have my own class, with no teacher or plan, other than to teach myself how to program on it, and show them the results of my work for a grade and count it as my foreign language credit. Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) is a foreign language to most people! Right? :) When the school agreed, my quest for the Ultimate RPG began in earnest! My quest continues to this day.

The first generations of my games were called D&D 1-28. These were games written on the schools teletype, stored on paper tape spools and run via an acoustic modem running on a distant PDP 11. They used alpha numeric characters for graphics. (A) was a giant ant, ($) was a treasure chest yet it was unmistakably, an Ultima-like Ultimate RPG attempt, with text characters instead of the later familiar tile graphics. Graphic style is not the essential element of an Ultimate RPG.


Starting with Ultima III, Ultimas regularly simulated multiplayer designs by providing you an artificial Non Player Character (NPC) party of friends to (share) the experience. {Trivia: Ultima III's working title was Ultima 3D/4P. It was played in 3D dungeons with a party of four players, all of them operated 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 (MUDs) for many years, and the AOL dial up service and Bulletin Board Services (BBS) 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!


Here is what I feel is safe to say: Lord British's Ultimate Role Playing Game, which may be called (Akalabeth) or may be called (New Britannia) or may be called (a name I cannot yet say as it describes the setting I am considering and think I should keep secret at least until I know if it's likely true,) will be an Ultimate RPG. You will have 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 in 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 provide new ideas about what to do. They will likely not tolerate bad instructions, bad interface or huge upfront fees, which is a good thing! We will teach and learn from them as well.