Concerning Obsidian and Ultima
It’s hopefully commonish knowledge to everyone here that back in roughly 2006, Electronic Arts was shopping around the Ultima IP to a handful of major development houses, including Obsidian Entertainment. We’ve never known much about that whole affair, apart from that EA and Obsidian were never able to come to an agreement; the whole affair fell through at a fairly early stage.
Until now, it’s been the…accepted wisdom, let’s say, that things fell through at the “paper stage”, and maybe that’s true. However, just recently, Infinitron Dragon happened to engage a former Obsidian developer in a discussion at the RPG Codex, and learned that Obsidian were starting to get worked up into an Ultima fever.
Well, actually, the story’s a bit more interesting than that. Here’s what the developer in question had to say first:
EA has been trying to get Ultima breathing again for as long as I can remember. I can’t get into specifics, don’t ask.
Mythic does game development talent so I am curious.
To which Infinitron replied:
We know they contacted Obsidian about it at one point. That leaked to the public.
This news was received with moderate surprise:
Oh, well then, nevermind!
When did that leak? Who leaked it?
I remember we were all talking about and playing the Ultimas to refresh those old neurons. Josh was trying to remember how to play Stones on the harpsichord and Jeff Husges, Super Ultima Expert, walked into his office and played it by heart (allowing Josh to get the magic carpet).
Great games and great times.
An interesting bit of discussion pops up later in the thread concerning the Onyx Engine and whether Obsidian might have used it to make this hypothetical Ultima game. I didn’t realize that Onyx dated back as far as 2006, although I’m of the opinion that it would have been a good engine for an Ultima game, as long as it could have been re-tooled to support world interactivity and sandbox features.
And that’s about the sum total of new information. I realize it isn’t much…just a couple short sentences about how a few people at Obsidian (Josh Sawyer and Jeff Husges) were getting themselves back into an Ultima groove, which certainly sounds like the workup to an attempt to make Ultima game. Alas, the deal fell through, and that was the end of that.