Following the launch of Stygian Abyss, Gamasutra had the chance to sit down with Ultima Online lead designer Tim Cotten for a lengthy Q&A about the past, present, and future of the venerable MMORPG.
After 12 years are you guys sort of running out of things you feel like you can do with the world of Ultima Online?
TC: Are you kidding? [laughs] No. So, UO itself, if you want to go for a historical timeline, we're only around Ultima VI; we've got tons more of content left to play with. It's a good and bad thing. We've never felt constrained to stick purely with the story line. No, in fact it was built as an alternative Britannia in the first place, but we have paid homage to it.
The city of Magencia, we actually turned it into a fully destructible city two years ago and let loose a demon invasion that could tear open the city if the players didn't stop it.
And it was innovative in the UO sense because you don't really see that a lot and the players ate it up, and there was all sorts of fun with it. But we literally have the power as designers on UO to -- if we have a great idea -- implement it. If it's too complex the engineers get involved; otherwise we are very good at prototyping and just implementing interesting game play.
People throw out the word "sandbox" with UO; I don't know if they really get that. It's more than just being able to do anything you want, that's Second Life. UO is about having a world that feels like it's alive, and so we have all sorts of stuff we could still be adding to it.