Ultima Online: Samurai Empire Interview, Part One

RPGVault has published the first installment to a new Ultima Online: Samurai Empire interview feature with EA producer Anthony Castoro. Here's a bit about the future of UO:
Q: As for the future, at the high concept level, what's your vision for the game moving forward from the present?

A: So what does the future bring? I've been involved with UO off and on over the course of its entire life. I've been a player, Lead Designer, and now I'm back with EA as the Producer. Even though it continues to be a strong contender in the MMO space, I believe that UO has suffered from a lack of consistent vision rooted in a fundamental understanding of what makes UO unique. It has also suffered from developer turnover and an inability to sell itself internally.

All of that has changed. Over the past 18 months, I've been working with the Origin management team and now EA Executive management to craft a cohesive and compelling vision for the future of UO. This is a process that has taken time and commitment. It's not something that can be done in a few weeks or even months, but we now stand on the verge of a turning point in UO's destiny. This change in the air was clearly evident when, several months ago, over 70 percent of the developers from Austin picked up their lives and moved with their families to California to continue working on Ultima Online.

Instead of turnover, we have commitment. Right now, there are more developers working on UO than at any point since the game was launched. And with that commitment, we have a plan for the game that goes back to the original roots of "reality" in fantasy, with an emphasis on player interactions. We intend to emphasize UO's strengths of immersion, ownership, community and Ultima lore. We know that the market is increasingly competitive and we intend to keep UO competitive both in its visuals and its gameplay. Although we're not ready to talk about the specifics of that plan, the wheels are already in motion, and I'm sure that it's something we'll be ready to discuss soon.