A new editorial on MMORPG.com looks at the history and current state of Origin and EA's Ultima Online.
Ultima Online was not the first graphical MMORPG, or multi-massive online role playing game, to be created. It was, however, the first one to achieve true success, and paved the way for online RPGs such as Everquest, World of Warcraft, and even new games that borrow heavily from UO, such as EVE Online and Darkfall.
Unlike other RPGs at the time and future MMORPGs to come, you were nothing more than another person living in the massive world of Sosaria. There were no linear quests to follow or boss characters waiting patiently in their set position to defeat, but the absence of set goals didn't hinder the enjoyment of Ultima Online's player base - it gave them the immeasurable freedom to do whatever they wanted. Players could band together to take on the monsters that roamed the countryside, buy a home and live peacefully off the land, or even learn a trade and never have to lift a sword.
Sosaria was truly an interactive world and you felt like one of its citizens. Lord British would appear from time to time in his castle to speak to his subjects. Town criers would shout to brave townsfolk as monsters would declare war and invade cities. Players could take part in real time quests to kill bosses controlled by real people, bosses that would not respawn for the next set of adventurers. The town of Magincia was even burned to the ground recently and has yet to recover. Players molded the world around them, not just by crafting and setting up vendors, but by actually altering storylines for their server through live events.