Interview with Mike McShaffry
Mike McShaffry got his start in the gaming industry shortly after Ultima 6 shipped. In fact, it was that game — and its inclusion of Origin Systems’ mailing address on the box — that prompted him to apply for a job with the company. His first game was Martian Dreams, and he worked on Ultima 7 as well, in both cases as a programmer. He rose through the ranks at Origin fairly quickly, and was tapped for the project director role for Ultima 8, and then again for the earliest incarnation of Ultima 9.
He left Origin before Ultima 9 was released, and worked at several other studios on the Austin area in the years that followed — including Ion Storm and Red Fly. He also runs a game design consulting service and, as he lets slip in the interview, is presently working with a pair of well-known game developers to launch a mobile gaming startup.
“Mr. Mike” was kind enough to answer a torrent of questions put together by the Ultima Dragons, and did so with humour and good cheer. In the course of the interview, he discusses many aspects of the design of Ultima 8 and its production history, and brings to light some details about the earliest designs for Ultima 9…including what I think would have been a truly brilliant way to end the series. We here at the Codex — and I’m sure I speak for the entirety of the Ultima fandom — are very grateful to Mr. McShaffry for taking the time.