VG24/7 sat down with BioWare Mythic’s Jeff Skalski, the franchise producer for Ultima, to talk about the (massive!) expectations that Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar has to live up to:
…we certainly didn’t have a shortage of themes from which to pull. Ultima as a franchise has so many different facets of inspiration as many of the fans know. From day one, our primary focus was making sure we had the eight virtues as a core pillar to the game experience.
“We know we can’t make all Ultima fans happy, but we hope they can enjoy the nostalgic elements that are clear nods to the past and new components introduced as we usher in the series to a whole new connected generation of players.”
Beside how one interacts with the NPCs in the game, we track how one plays with other live players around them. All of these choices open up new quests, unlock new gear and puts the gamer one step closer to realize that they truly are an Avatar sent to save Britannia.
We know we can’t make all Ultima fans happy, but we hope they can enjoy the nostalgic elements that are clear nods to the past and new components introduced as we usher in the series to a whole new connected generation of players.
He also managed to work in a mention of the rapidly-upcoming 15-year milestone for Ultima Online:
We knew getting into Ultima was a tall order, but we love the IP so much and felt it’s been dormant for far too long. Outside of Ultima Online, there hasn’t been much going on. By the way, Ultima Online is also hitting its 15 year anniversary which is rather unbelievable when you think about it.
And the intrepid group of fans who participated in the early alpha test of Ultima Forever also gets some praise:
To get things started, we brought some of the superfans in early, really early, and just recently held our first Alpha test with some of the most passionate core Ultima fans we know. We got a lot of valuable feedback from them, and the game moving forward will be better because of it.
…over 80% of the players did not want to stop playing, which was great to see they were all engaged. We had some players put some crazy hours into the game during alpha even though it was only open for three days. The feedback really helped us identify areas we could better leverage the Ultima IP, and influenced changes to several game mechanics.
Other topics that come up for discussion are, of course, the nature of the Virtues as they are implemented in-game, and the way its free-to-play implementation and microtransactions will be handled. Skalski re-affirms that the game will be entirely playable for free, and borrows Richard Garriott’s “fair handshake” concept in explaining how monetization will be implemented in the game. He’s is a bit coy on the details, but he more or less confirms that players will be able to buy cosmetic add-ons. Virtue, he re-iterates, will not be for sale.
There’s other little details that come out in the interview, so click on over and read it in its entirety.