I look back on the last 30 days and it’s been a whirlwind of activity and excitement. First off, I never thought we’d see another Ultima. The last time I played was in the early 90s and it was in the Ultima VI timeline. I know I’ve seen the others in the series, but I didn’t actively play them. It wasn’t too long after EA took over that I stepped aside.
But even still, it’s been years since Lord British graced us with his presence in the gaming realm. And now the creator of Ultima is back with the idea for a brand new game of massive scope and scale.
I was quite literally stunned when I heard the news Lord British was making a new game. My mind immediately jumped back to my adventures in Ultima 3 and 4 and the hours I spent travelling from time to time waging in epic battles while trying to uphold the Virtues. I had to read the news twice to make sure it was real. Then I saw the Kickstarter page and saw we were already halfway to reaching the fundraising goal. I immediately threw in my lot to help the project along (I would later up the ante, twice). If the project didn’t get funded I was going to be devastated.
This wasn’t going to be a silent fundraiser. There were all the videos and demos and chats showcasing the game and asking for feedback. I’ve been a part of a lot of development projects but I’ve never seen anything like this. Most people hide their game away and refuse to release details because they’re scared someone will steal their idea or beat them to the punch. Or heaven forbid someone offer criticism or feedback that contradicts the designers vision. Not this crew. Hell, they’re making video game art right there live on YouTube!
We even got to see the real life characters that made their way into the game – Iolo, Dupree and Lord Blackthorn. In an odd way, it was sort of like a family reunion.
Then we hit the final 24 hours and the party got underway. The million dollar goal had been reached so everything is just icing on the cake right? Nothing to do but coast. Oh no, not this team. What do they do? Lock themselves in the Dev studio with video cameras and huge bottles of top shelf liquor. Their goal? To try and raise even more money to meet more stretch goals and offer up even more prizes and benefits for pledging. They want more people to play the game. They want to bring more people on board to help them shape and mold the vision.
Soon we have a book written exclusively for the game, digital copies of the original Ultima story Garriott wrote in high school, new Tiers, bigger maps, better housing, waterfront property and the list kept growing. Garriott and team discussed the game at length, created a whiteboard filled with user suggestions and did shots every time they passed a new monetary milestone. Pretty soon the shots were coming fast and furious.
Then we hit $2 million. Again, I was stunned. Literally stunned. When I first heard of this project I was scared there wouldn’t be enough people who cared about the game to make it happen. By the time we were done, we’d all helped to double the original goal. That was inspiring.
And that’s just the beginning. Now the real fun begins. Now the game starts to take shape. Now the real design elements get added. Now the real story starts to weave itself into the game. Now we get to peek behind the curtain, talk to the devs and offer opinions and feedback on where the game is going.
30 days ago Ultima was nothing but a distant memory. Fond memories of quests, shrines, runes and virtues. The stuff that would live in my past only to come out around other seasoned adventurers. Adventurers who were around when the Apple ][ and the Commodore 64 reigned supreme.
But now the wheels have been set in motion. Lord British is at the helm of creating a whole new world and a whole new adventure. And not just one game. And not just one world. Shroud of the Avatar will be an episodic adventure that will take us years to complete. And not just a typical hack and slash escapade, but a real world where people can interact, build houses and even have jobs. This will go far beyond anything we’ve seen before.
I’m thrilled and proud to be part of this project. I’ve said it before, but it’s going to be just as much an adventure watching this game come together as playing it. Kickstarter is a fading memory as we look forward to the huge amount of work that needs to be done. The end of 2014 will be here before we know it. And by the end of this year we may very well end up in “New Britannia” facing the demons and evil influences that overshadow the Virtues.
More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia
- Richard Garriott is back with Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues
- Just a week left to pledge support for Shroud of the Avatar
- I’ve upped my pledge for Shroud of the Avatar
- Watching Shroud of the Avatar take shape
- Tune in for the 24 hour lockdown with the Lord British and the Shroud of the Avatar Devs
- Looking for news of Shroud of the Avatar from E3?
- SotA Dev Update – The Edge of the World, More Demos to come and soon we can buy some Swag
- So we can keep upgrading our pledges for a full year?
- Wondering about the SotA story? Progress has been made! Dev Hangout for 4/30 will feature Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott talking about the story
- The Virtues of Shroud of the Avatar – A Dev Hangout