Destructoid has an article up about the trials and tribulations of Ultima Forever’s development, which summarizes Paul Barnett’s talk at GDC Online yesterday and includes some choice quotes:
“We went back in time to go forward,” Ultima Forever creative director Paul Barnett said during a GDC Online presentation, Wednesday, on the game’s tumultuous production history.
“We really cared about it! We really wanted do to it, and we could get our hands on it,” Barnett says about Ultima. “You’d be surprised how many times you want to put your hands on something and someone else says, ‘It’s mine you know!’”
Just a couple yards away sits Ultima creator Richard “Lord British” Garriott who laughed and applauded throughout Barnett’s off-the-walls, hysterical presentation, which doubled as a descent into one man’s madness experienced during production. Ultima Forever has been rebuilt multiple times, shuffled around by production houses, and saved from cancellation through the act of begging to BioWare’s co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk.
“We needed people to believe in what we were doing. All we had was a chicken and a spoon. We were up against it!” Barnett says.
“We just had to prove it could work,” Barnett says, as a video of an employee imitating Medusa plays in the background. Another glimpse into the madhouse of Mythic.
Months spent making a working prototype in Excel (not a joke) and painstakingly hand-crafted maps were for nothing, as the developer soon rebuilt Ultima Forever from the ground up. The main conflict came from an aesthetic disconnect between the art direction and game. For such a lighthearted adventure and bright world, it didn’t make sense to have grim, D&D-style character portraits.
Also, this is funny:
In March 2011, EA was overlooking its projects, trying to figure out which ones were making progress and which ones should be canned. Mythic scrambled together new footage and invited BioWare’s Ray Muzyka for a studio tour. After feeding him a sandwich, Muzyka rushed off and threw up for two days. Instead of giving Muzyka a tour, Mythic had given him the wondrous gift of food poisoning.
Oh, and hey…Destructoid sourced all their images from the Ultima Codex! That’s pretty cool too (as is the fact that they linked us to give credit).