This was kind of surprising, CNN has put together a large article on Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar. It even gives a very brief history of Ultima IV and could be one of the highest-profile pieces done on U4E outside of the videogame media, even if it is in CNN’s Gaming and Gadgets section.
Making a video game espousing the virtues of compassion, sacrifice and spirituality doesn’t sound like a winner in today’s battle-happy gaming environment. But 27 years ago, it was exactly the type of game that caught the imagination and spurred excitement in gamers.
Comparisons are being made to personality tests:
While the graphics, look and feel have obviously been upgraded due to advancements in technology over the years, Flack said the concept still remains true to what it was nearly three decades ago.
“It’s about mastering yourself, not mastering the world,” she said. “When (a non-player character) asks you a question … you are forced to pause and ask yourself, ‘What do I think is the right thing to do? Do I want to be kind, or do I want to be fair? What kind of person am I?’ ”
Rather than seeing how many creatures a player can kill or how much gold they can accumulate, Flack is more interested in getting inside the player’s head. She says the game is almost like a personality test, giving players choices in the attempt to be a good person. How they get there is up to them.
Of interest to those that follow the development, we now know of another designer working on it:
Bioware designer Alec Fisher-Lasley was a former Arlington County, Virginia, police officer before deciding to get into video games. He says the decisions made in “Ultima Forever” are similar to the types of decisions he had to make while on the force — just at a much slower pace.
“When I found out they were working on the ‘Ultima’ series, I was really excited about it. It ties into what I had done as a police officer facing these kinds of moral decisions every day,” Fisher-Lasley said. “I wanted to give that experience to players. What do I do in this situation? What are the consequences? Why would I do this one thing over another?”
Bandit Loaf of the Wing Commander CIC even gets a few quotes in:
“‘Ultima IV’ is the game that all modern (role-playing games) flow from, but it’s also kind of the impossible platonic ideal of a (computer role-playing game),” said retro-gamer Ben Lesnick, 31, of Washington. “It came at this incredibly special time in game development history where that kind of game could exist. Really, if ‘Ultima Forever’ is one-tenth as engrossing as ‘Ultima IV,’ then we’ll have a pretty fantastic game that’s worth playing on its own merits.”
It’s a really long article – head over to CNN to read the whole thing.