Lord British Presents…a Countdown! (Updated)

This is, officially, the most exciting news of the week:

The same thing was posted to the Ultimate RPG Facebook page, so it’s fair to say that this is definitely related to the Ultima spiritual successor that Richard Garriott has been talking about for a while now. Too, we now know what the fuss yesterday was all about.

Also: he’s using the Avatar font. How great is that? Obviously, he wants Ultima fans to pay particular attention, and so we shall…in about a week, when the countdown timer on the Lord British Presents website runs out.

I’m just going to put my guess out there right now: there’ll be a Kickstarter campaign, next Friday. You read it here first (unless you read it on the UDIC Facebook group already, and/or are Sergorn Dragon, whom I made the same guess to in a chat window about ten minutes before publishing this).

There’s a signup form on the website, which I guess subscribes you to some sort of news list. Hit that up if you like…and if not, check back in a bit under a week. Something big is coming!

Oh, and: In case you missed it, Richard Garriott also posted a question to his Google+ profile:

Inquiring minds want to know… What were your favorite in box add ins to Origin Games? Cloth maps, coins, stones, radiation detectors, tool kits? Something else?

If you’re on Google+, stop on by and give him your answer!

The First Age of Update: Is former Orgin artist Denis Loubet supplying concept art for the Ultimate RPG?

The mind…it boggles. It is boggled.

Revenge of the Update: Will it be a PC game after all?

Updateodus: Welcome, Ultimate RPG fans from Facebook! And thanks, Portalarium, for the link!

Quest of the Update: I think we can safely say it has been confirmed that the game, whatever it is, is going to be a PC title first and foremost.

50 Responses

  1. enderandrew says:

    I must say that I was really disappointed with his garage sale social game.

    I know he has said for years he would never return to single player games, because the future lies solely in online play. I think you can still have a great, meaningful story in an online game. I sure hope that project can accomplish that.

  2. Asavar says:

    You forgot to add that the image of his website :
    http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/3939/garriot.png

    Is the same as his Ultimate RPG project :
    http://www.portalarium.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=77&Itemid=482

    Any match? 😀

  3. Sergorn says:

    Shroud of the Avatar ?

    Forsaken Virtues ?

    Frak me!

    He’s really going all in in terme of spiritual successor

    • Infinitron says:

      Eh, it’s just a name.

      I’m sure he’d like people to think it’s a spiritual successor though.

      • Sergorn says:

        Names can say a lot.

        He’s pretty much been touting URPG as a spiritual successor from both UO and Ultima since day one, and now he’s calling it “Shroud of the Avatar” ? Sorry but I doubt it’s to make Ultima-ville you know :- P

        What I was aiming to say though is that by calling it this really, it really feels like his intent is to do something than is an Ultima in everything but in name: ie. pushing it as far as he can without having EA’s legal hammer pulling down on him.

  4. Thepal says:

    Ok… As someone who had written the Ultimate RPG off… I’m starting to get excited…

    At least his marketing is good (even if he isn’t responsible for T.D. finding the picture).

  5. Terrormaster says:

    I dunno. I know I’m in the minority but I absolutely LOATH social gaming with a purple Barney passion. Much like Ultima Forever I’ll be keeping an eye on this simply out of curiosity. But if it’s tied in anyway to Facebook (which I don’t and won’t ever sign up for) or going straight to iOS first my interest is out the window. The only thing Ultima related that would get me salivating is something with a strong focus on single player, delivered to PC first, is isometric based or something along the lines of what Wasteland 2 is doing, and absolutely no pay-to-play mechanics. Fingers crossed but I know its wishful thinking.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      It will almost certainly be a social game, unless Portalarium have heavily overhauled their business model.

      It will be “fair handshake”-based free-to-play, as Garriott has stated in several interviews.

      It’ll likely be multiplayer to some extent, possibly with PvP.

      And it may or may not also target mobile. Garriott is a fan of mobile, which is actually quite versatile and makes an excellent gaming platform. But that’s rather more speculative than the rest of the above.

      • Terrormaster says:

        Ya, I know… I know… This is definitely looking like it’s the actual title for Ultimate RPG which we already know is Portalarium based. So yeah it’s gonna be all those things I have no interest in. Just wishful thinking on my part.

        As for mobile. I agree, it’s a great platform. The problem with mobile is it’s still not a bigger market than the PC, it’s just where things are heading. But it’s still a divided market – iOS and Android. I’m a Nexus 7 owner who swims in the Google Koolaid. But I also happen to know iOS owns a bigger mobile market share at the moment so when they say mobile they really mean iOS. So Android devices get left in the cold during launch and sometimes for a while afterwards. But at least we know the PC pretty much won the PC vs Mac war and is a pretty ubiquitous device and thus a larger install base IMHO.

        I’m just hoping for the day we see a new stand-alone single player Ultima or spiritual successor that takes the same Kickstarter route that Wasteland 2 took – one that appeals to what the fans really want, one where the fans can provide a good bit of project direction, and one that evokes the heart and soul of the stand-alone games we grew up with. I know that Garriott has left all that behind him so anything with his name on it will sadly never go in that direction. And I have ZERO faith in EA relinquishing that much control with this franchise.

        Ah John Lennon said it best… Some say I’m dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Well, that’s the beauty of modern game engines, like Unity or Unreal…out of the box, they support publishing to multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. So you can build the game once, and then just do minor tweaks to get it out on each platform in turn. Simpler — and much cheaper — than significantly overhauling the game between platforms. And I would expect this is the direction that the URPG will go; we already know that the Portalarium web player technology supports the Unity engine, after all.

        Who knows? They may release a PC client as well, but my bet is still on mobile. It’s the smaller market now, but the PC has been losing market share to the iOS/Android combo for a few years now, and I think the last time I looked it was expected that mobile would overtake PC in terms of number of internet-connected devices…next year, 2014. That’s a significant consideration for any company looking to publish what will apparently be an online, multiplayer game.

      • Sergorn says:

        Garriott stated already the game would released on tablets first and PC later. Now if some people consider it that because a game is releasing on tablet it has to suck well… whatever.

        As for the PC version, I would assume it’ll be browser based – that’s the whole point of the Portalarium player.

      • Infinitron says:

        If that’s really true, then the Kickstarter might bomb.

      • Sergorn says:

        Heh, I actually agree with this.

        Of course maybe things have changed since then – I mean KS certainly wasn’t in the cards originally.

        I do think that unless they have a strong PC componant and at the very least can promise a simultaneous PC/tablet launch… people aren’t gonna support this. If they want a strong KS, they need a proper PC version and not just browser based gameplay – there’s nothing that would theorically prevent the PC version to offer both in any case.

  6. WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

    I’ve yanked the Kickstarter image. You can all hate me for that, but…when the request comes from Portalarium proper, who am I to defy my liege?

  7. ZephaniahGrey says:

    It’s interesting to see that Garriott pays attention to this site, at least enough to retweet from it. Makes me wonder how long he’s been watching. >_> He obviously knows his target audience. As much as I’m not a fan of social gaming or Facebook either, I’ll probably check this out regardless. It’s pedigree alone makes it worth the interest.

    • Sergorn says:

      I’m not fan of facebook or social gaming either, but I’d just wish people would stop dismiss his URPG just because it’s a social/tablet game.

      This is just incredibly stupid to do. There’s nothing preventing either Facebook, browser or tablets to have quality games and just dissing something because it’s not gonna be some huge AAA PC games or whatever just makes one sound silly as far as I’m concerned.

      You would thinkg than Ultima and RPG fans would be people who… really woudln’t care about shiny big 3D graphics and so on.

      Basically what I’m saying is that, URPG might be good. It might be bad. But I’m willing to bet right now that whether it’s good or bad will be completly unrelated to it being a Facebook/Tablet game.

      (And really when I see how UF evolved and how it’s focused on tablet… I wouldn’t be surprised if URPG ends up providing a proper PC client in addition to facebook play).

      • mindx2 says:

        I could care less about AAA games as they stink. My money has gone to KS like Wasteland 2 and Project: Eternity. They certainly aren’t promising AAA production values and I don’t want them to! I also don’t want watered-down, casual, mmo, social driven mobile/ tablet junk either. You state:

        “There’s nothing preventing either Facebook, browser or tablets to have quality games”

        Please name some as I’ve yet to see, play, or hear about one that was even close to an Ultima game in terms of play-style and enjoyment.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        You state:

        “There’s nothing preventing either Facebook, browser or tablets to have quality games”

        Please name some as I’ve yet to see, play, or hear about one that was even close to an Ultima game in terms of play-style and enjoyment

        That’s technically two questions.

        To answer the first, I can name any number of excellent mobile games that have demonstrated considerable quality: Underworlds (which Denis Loubet worked on), Galaxy on Fire 2, Dungeon Hunter 1 & 2, Ravensword 1 & Shadowlands, Aralon, Lili, QuestLord, Wild Blood, The Bard’s Tale, and even Ultima Forever (which I have played at some length…although as it isn’t yet out, its inclusion on this list may not be entirely fair). All excellent from a production quality standpoint, and all very fun to play.

        To answer the second, it is true that none of these games can entirely match a late-series Ultima title in terms of the unique combination of gameplay features. (Enjoyment is too subjective a term to be useful as a measure.) But the same is largely true of any modern game, and I’m skeptical that even Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity will offer the same combination of world interactivity, open-world gameplay, and effective non-linearity as did Ultima 6 or Ultima 7.

        And much as the absence of such features from most modern PC games does not mean that it isn’t technically possible to implement such features with modern PC game engines, the same is true for mobile. All that is needed is a developer with the time, energy, and budget necessary to build such a game. Garriott could well be just such a one as this.

      • Sergorn says:

        “Please name some as I’ve yet to see, play, or hear about one that was even close to an Ultima game in terms of play-style and enjoyment.”

        Kenneth cited good example of iOS games. I would also add Baldur’s Gate to the list because… you know… it kind of proove that old school RPG gaming can work VERY well on Tablets.

        As far as Facebook back, I’ll just cite (as usual), A Mythical Land (which as it turns out uses Portalarium’s player to run). It’s not Ultimaish mind you, it’s basically a F2P EQ/WoW clone. But it kinda prove the point that Facebook game don’t have to be casual crap that focus on spamming you friends.

        And really even without those exemples, the point would be that just because it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Theorically speaking, there’s nothing preventing the creation of Ultima (whether Online or Solo) type game to exist on either Facebook or Tablets.

        Now frankly, I am hoping Garriott will take a cue from Ultima Forever, and plan a proper client for the PC version and not just FB/Browser play… but I guess we’ll have to wait&see.

      • ZephaniahGrey says:

        Agreed. There’s no reason that great games CAN’T be made of Facebook, and social game play CAN’T make it into a good game, but there does be a lot of reasons that it HASN’T happened. I was having similar thoughts on the Android format the other day. There’s no real reason that great game’s can’t be made for it as they seem to be produced in massive numbers for iOS. But they just don’t seem to for any number of other reasons. (open format allowing huge piles of shovelware, unfounded piracy concerns, etc.)

        The fact is, it’s easy to make cheap, greedy, pointless games for Facebook and other social media outlets, so people do…a lot of people…in massive amounts. I think that dissuades a lot of devs from really trying to break into that market with anything deeper. From the perspective of a developer trying to earn a living it probably falls to an argument like “Why bother making a deep and involving game when ‘those people’ are happy to dump hundreds of dollars on FarmVille clones?” I think Garriott hopes to break that perception and tap into an underlying potential he sees there.

        From what I heard, URPG is planned to be some sort of hybrid. Think UO with minigames for crafting. So if someone likes match 3 games, they could play one and make money as say, and alchemist. But the people who buy their potions will be using them to fight dragons in a more traditional MMORPG setting. Or at least that’s the impression I got from interviews. Or I could have just been day dreaming. If I was, someone needs to make THAT game.

  8. jaesun says:

    If this turns out to be some social MMO I have no interest.

    • Mike says:

      Anyone that types in this forum, has interest. From what I remember, Ultima Online was a very social game, and we all relied on our own marketability for obtaining items. Such as in-game User-owned Vendors. I would like to have a choice, to either buy my weapons online, or obtain weapons from a user-vendor. Either way, I’m playing this game, even if I have to buy an iPad to play it.

  9. mindx2 says:

    Ultima 8, 9, Tabula Rasa and his enthusiastic acceptance of the casual/mobile gaming junk it is hard to trust him. I have ZERO faith or interest in that type of game. Now an Ultima IV-VII style game my wallet is open, otherwise this sounds terrible and I really HOPE they are reading this!

    Also, if they think PC-centric Kickstarters are going to get enthusiastic over a “free-to-play, multiplayer, social, and tablet-based ” game they are going to be dissapointed. What many of the most successful Kickstarters brought to the table was the OPPOSITE of what he seems to want to make. Those games that made it, Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, Shadowrun Returns, Double Fine Adventure, etc., purposely distanced themselves from the “casual, F2P, mobile” gaming trends of the AAA publishers. They successful by going “OLD-SCHOOL” and promising a return to the single-player cRPGs and adventure games we enjoyed from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000’s. If people want “casual, F2P, mobile” there are 100,000s on the Apple and Android stores. No need to Kickstart that 🙁

    • jaesun says:

      EXACTLY. I don’t want some social media F2P crappy MMO. I just want another Ultima like game.It doesn’t need to have OMG IMMERSION SPECTACULAR 3D IMMERSION console game crap we have now. Something similar to what Eternity and Wasteland 2 are doing would be fine.

      • Saxon1974 says:

        This….I dont want a social MMO either, if it is that no interest in backing it even if it has an Ultima feel.

    • Sergorn says:

      “If people want “casual, F2P, mobile” there are 100,000s on the Apple and Android stores. No need to Kickstart that ”

      I understand what you’re saying, and I don’t disagree.

      But frankly, if you think Richard Garriott’s “Ultima RPG” (or as it seems to be called “Shroud of the Avatar” now) is just gonna be the same casual crap we see on mobile and Facebook… Well you haven’t been paying attention to anything he’s been saying over the last couple of years.

      Now forget about the FB or Tablet aspect for a minute and look at how he is describing his project : basically he wants to create something that offers both the virutal world MMO aspect of Ultima Online *and* the plot and thematic depth of the single player Ultima series. Just a few month ago he even mentioned how he’d like to offer solo quests and adventures dissacociated from the MMO aspect of the game (in essence… not so different from the approach Chris Roberts seems to be taking with Star Citizen/Squadron 42).

      Now assuming he manages to bring all that together and working… I’m sorry but how does this sound like casual crap ? How does it sound like anything an Ultima fan wouldn’t want to play ?

      What it does sound, is a rather ambitious project. Now it might fail, suck and crash and burn like Tabula Rasa did. But clearly : the aim is NOT to create your usual FB/Mobile/Tablet game.

      Again I understand the skepticism (I have my share of it as well), but if I just look objectively at the kind of experience Garriott seems to want to create : this sounds just ambitious with a lot of potential. It might suck of course, but I doubt it’d be for a lack of trying.

      • Saxon1974 says:

        I see what your saying, but I dont know if it can be done in any reasonable way. I have not seen it happen yet as the MMO games and single player games are just so different. I would love to be wrong though.

        The way I see it is you would have half your resources\effort on the mmo part and half on the single player and you would essentially have 2 different games. Not sure there is a way to merge them into one game that I would want to play.

    • T.J. Brumfield says:

      I don’t blame him for Ultima VIII or IX.

      VIII was ambitions and really interesting, but ran over budget and schedule. What we got was somewhat disappointing.

      IX was utterly butchered by EA who forced them to throw the entire game out the window and start from scratch with a 3D engine while at the same time stealing most of the team to make them work on UO.

      Tabula Rasa seemed to change a lot in concept over the years as he talked about it. I’m not sure if he didn’t have a consistent vision, or if NCSoft pressured him to change.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        IX was utterly butchered by EA who forced them to throw the entire game out the window and start from scratch with a 3D engine while at the same time stealing most of the team to make them work on UO.

        It’s true that most of the U9 team got pulled onto UO. But they had already moved to a 3D engine by then, and that decision was made internal to Origin. EA was pressuring Origin to go “all online”, rather than in the 3D direction.

      • Sergorn says:

        “VIII was ambitions and really interesting, but ran over budget and schedule. What we got was somewhat disappointing.”

        Ultima VIII was always a its core a hack’n slash game with a lot of platforming. This is NOT what I would ambitious, especially compared to Ultima VII/SErpent Isle.

        “IX was utterly butchered by EA who forced them to throw the entire game out the window and start from scratch with a 3D engine while at the same time stealing most of the team to make them work on UO.”

        EA never forced anything outside of movin the team to UO for abou a year. Garriott said himself right here they chose to revamp the 3D engine because they deemed the origal 3D isometric one was outdated.

        And it’s not like everything was thrown away: the Del Castillo version still used the same plotline, it was Garriott’s decision to rewrite the plot from stratch after he left. Not that EA is blameless of course (and their core blame is that they put a ship or kill on the game forcing to knowingly release an incomplete game) but you can’t “just” blame them for butchering the game – it’s a lot more complicated than that.

        “Tabula Rasa seemed to change a lot in concept over the years as he talked about it. I’m not sure if he didn’t have a consistent vision, or if NCSoft pressured him to change.”

        He was definitly pressured. Tabula Rasa was conceived (much like the gme “X” he intended to do at Origin after U9) as futuristic fantasy. It had a LOT of Ultima throwbacks (notably the aspects of the players being “themselves” in the game). But the game was deemed to be “out there” and “too original” so there was pressure for turning it into a generic shooter kind of universe… but with magic.

  10. Saxon1974 says:

    Richard if your reading this, I would definitely back an Ultima like single player game but if its a social MMO no interest. Still, nice to see something new and Ultima related!

    • Mike says:

      no interest this, no interest that. Wait until the game is released, and then throw out your constructive criticism, rather than relying on single player aspects. Play Skyrim if you want a great single player game. otherwise Ultima for online.

      • Saxon1974 says:

        So I am not allowed to state what it is I in fact like? Ok got it move along then. I dont remember the great Ultima’s being online games though…hmmm

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Well, it is arguable that UO, with its now-fifteen-year history, qualifies as a “great” game in that sense, if not exactly a “canonical” Ultima according to the common definition of the term.

        Though I agree it’s no Ultima 6.

      • Saxon1974 says:

        Yes I just meant that when I think of the great Ultima series I dont really think about Ultima Online. I am sure that is different for other people but I think when we are talking about the Ultima series as a game series and its influence in gaming history I would bet the majority of people are talking about the single player games.

        Plus, I dont really care for online\mmo games so I was just stating my opinion.

  11. Lodestone says:

    My faith in his Lordship was shaken by the fb games, but he has never failed me with his RPGs. MMOs leave me flat, but even if he/they revisit that genre, I’d give it a second chance, on his name alone. Too much of the man goes into every game, his loves, dreams, fears, and hopes, to write them off at the gate.
    “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

  12. Lord British says:

    Greetings Adventurers!
    Fear not! Any “Ultimate RPG” I would be attempting would be first and foremost a PC game (neither console, nor social media). It would be highly story driven as my original trilogy of trilogies. I would hope to also make it such that it can be played multiplayer as well as solo and offline.

    – Richard “Lord British” Garriott

  13. Lodestone says:

    “Audience with Thy Liege!” ACHIEVEMENT!!!
    Faith: RENEWED!
    Karma: +50
    HP: +100%

    Thanks, LB!
    Ya’ had me sweatin’ bullets about having to MMO, AGAIN! ;]

  14. Jonathon the Walker says:

    I think a good number of the old ultima players would kind of be crunched on time for a full force MMO like the “ol’ days”. I barely have enough time for that kind of stuff. But I also think it would be interesting to some how link percs from a later released, more in depth mmo for pc. Maybe to get certain extra perks in the tablet version, a pc quest must be complete. There are plenty of app players willing to try a cross over to a new platform for some customized stuff. Likewise the more elite PC might flaunt around on a tablet due to all the time he put in on the pc format. I’m not going completely stick to that though, as I still do put in time on WoW so its fun to hear about a new full force mmo again.

  15. Saxon1974 says:

    Wow Lord British has arrived! Nice to see you my liege!!!

    I have gained virtue!!!

    But seriously, thanks for the clarification…I’m still concerned it will be too much of an MMO for me but this still ups my interest.

  16. RandomGuy03 says:

    I peronally enjoyed Ultima VII the most.

    -being able to interact with the environment (making bread with pails of blood)
    -night and day phases
    -ability to kill NPCs
    -needing to eat and sleep

    I hope this new game will have some or all of the above game mechanics.

    I’d also like to see some dream/astral travel. That was unique.

    Whatever platform this launches in, I’m in.

    • Saxon1974 says:

      While I think Ultima VII was a great game I always disliked two major parts of it.

      1) Real time combat. It’s complete chaos and you cant really control anything.
      2) Small single level dungeons. They are way less interesting then in earlier games.

      I always prefered Ultima III and V

  17. cor2879 says:

    If Lord British opens up a Kickstarter for a new game that is every bit as much Ultima as Star Citizen is Wing Commander, then I will literally throw money at him – even more than I gave to Star Citizen. The only game that I hold in higher esteem than Privateer and Freelancer is Ultima VII.