Tag Archives: Ultimate RPG

With the Empire Crumbling, What of Darth British?

Zynga’s Emperor Palpapincus had only just recruited Lord British, turning him into Darth British (yeah, I decided to go with that just to keep things simple), with the promise of teaching him the dark arts of monetization and giving eternal life to half-baked cow-clicking games.

You’re right Mark, these helmets are great!

In the words of recently turned gaming jedi:

“Not just Zynga’s, but lots of social games use monetization strategies that, as a hardcore gamer, I find offensive, frankly,” Garriott admits. “I really don’t like games that constantly pester me to pay. I find it radically interferes with my suspension of disbelief. So, I’m devoted in the Ultimate RPG game to finding novel monetization strategies that don’t offend me like some of these do. Yet, it’s still really important to learn those lessons, and there’s no better place to learn them then by having Zynga as a partner.”

Richard Garriott de Cayeux (Darth British), on his partnership with Zynga

How often has a hero fallen in an attempt to learn the tricks of his foe by becoming what he opposes?  It certainly seems to come up a lot in juvenile pulp novels, so clearly it is a menace.

Failing to heed the warning of… well… many people… that once you start down the dark path with Zynga, forever shall it haunt your resume, the newly minted Darth British swore fealty to a new master.

And then, as the recruitment of this gaming luminary was nearly complete, Zynga totally took a dump on the living room floor.

There were $52 million in losses, layoffs, and the whole “EA is pissed and coming to sue you” dimension to what can only be seen as a setback for the Zynga empire.

Emporer Palpapincus issued a statement declaring, “While the last several months have been challenging for us, Zynga remains well positioned to capitalize on the growth of social gaming.”  He was then heard to mutter something about the second FarmVille being “fully operational” and there being “no civility in gaming, only ARPU” as he stalked off.

Which leads us to the next cliff hanger.

What course will Darth British choose?  Is he in too deep?  Has he signed in blood?  Has he committed his Ultimate Collector and Ultimate RPG to the fires of the Zynga sweatshop?

And is it ironic that EA, who he was totally trying woo… at least in the press… not only thwarted his Ultima aspirations, but has taken up arms against Zynga?

For whom will our hero(?) show a fondness next?

Quote of the Day – Lord British and a Fondness for Zynga

“Not just Zynga’s, but lots of social games use monetization strategies that, as a hardcore gamer, I find offensive, frankly,” Garriott admits. “I really don’t like games that constantly pester me to pay. I find it radically interferes with my suspension of disbelief. So, I’m devoted in the Ultimate RPG game to finding novel monetization strategies that don’t offend me like some of these do. Yet, it’s still really important to learn those lessons, and there’s no better place to learn them then by having Zynga as a partner.”

Richard Garriott de Cayeux, on his partnership with Zynga

I suppose we will see who ends up corrupting/influencing who in this partnership.

How are things with Mark Pincus?

Lord British and his company, Portalarium, teaming up with the foundering “Ville” magnate made the news a while back.  I hope he learns the right lessons for his Ultimate RPG.

I guess he must be pretty happy now that EA and Blizzard “let” Zynga have the casual market… such that it is.

Ultima Forever! Will Lord British Find his Fondness for EA Diminishing?

The first great Western RPG has been lovingly restored in Ultima Forever – return to the Ultima series in BioWare’s new cross-platform action RPG. Accept the challenge from Lady British and save the land of Britannia. Play as the Fighter or the Mage and travel alone or with friends, restore virtue and become the Avatar!

From EA’s newly announced Ultima Forever

Hah! Lady British!

It was just seven months ago, give or take a week, that the madness of Lord British seemed to find some focus and he began openly expressing a fondness for Electronic Arts in various interviews.

This seemed to be a pretty thinly veiled attempt to create popular support for the return of Richard Garriott de Cayeux to the arms of EA, where he could take over and revive the Ultima series of games, primarily by being able to set his planned Ultimate RPG in the Britannia setting.  As he put it:

“What essentially makes an Ultima an Ultima is the principles of design,” Garriott explained. “And I’m very confident that when players sit down with this new world they will very quickly recognise that, whether or not we end up doing any deal with Electronic Arts.

“This is clearly the spiritual successor of the Ultima series,” he said.

Or, as he put it before his attempt to woo EA:

I can’t control EA plans for the word Ultima. But we all know that only my team can create the true heir to my previous work.

This expression of fondness was tempered not just by ego, but also by complaints about the sports game mindset at EA, on which he laid the blame for the failure of Ultima VIII to beat Diablo to market, which made me wonder exactly how serious he was.  Still, at the time of these expressions, Lord British said he was talking with EA about the prospect.

EA just never got the memo.

EA, in response to all of this, said that they were not involved in any talks with Mr. Garriott de Cayeux, at which point somebody somebody from Portalarium stepped in and explained that the constrains of the time-space continuum do not really apply to Lord British, so that the fact he had at one point in the past… in our sense of time… broached the subject with EA meant that, from his perspective, he was always and eternally involved in such discussions.  Or something like that.

Anyway, this all died down and Lord British went on to express fondness for a movie about himself, his garage sale game, and the Mayans.

But the fate and future path of the Ultima franchise was still in play.

And today we know why EA suddenly got up in the face of people remaking Ultima IV a while back.  It was because they planned to remake it themselves.  Lord British and his expressions of fondness were but a vain hope.

And so Ultima Forever has been announced.

Get it?  Ultima IV. Ultima For-ever.  So smooth.

Though, oddly, it somehow changed from “Quest of the Avatar” to “Quest for the Avatar.”

Apparently the Avatar got lost somewhere.  They must have based the game on one of my 25 year old save files, since I never actually finished the game, and I was clearly lost.

You might need a map for this…

And just in case you thought that EA was only pissing in Garriott de Cayeux’s cornflakes with the whole “Lady British” thing quoted at the top of the post, they also seem to be intent on breaking some key aspects to the old game by introducing class choices up front rather than having the game select your class based on your sense of the eight virtues. (Which did, I admit, essentially become “picking your class” once you figured out what was going on.  But the first time it was a mystery!)

Wait, I just pick a class now?

Oh, and you can choose from two classes.  I am not sure how that and the name change fits into the context of “lovingly restored,” but welcome to the real world.

Anyway, the Lord British upshot of all of this is that, with EA’s renewed interest in milking the Ultima franchise, it seems that his Ultimate RPG might well be cast as the spiritual successor, but it will likely have to be developed in a new setting.

Edit: Oh, I suppose if you wanted to reading something more serious about Ultima Forever, maybe with a quote from EA, the article at Ars Technica might serve.  Though there really isn’t much to say about it at this point.

Lord British has a Great Fondness for EA

“I have a great fondness for Electronic Arts – I still think they’re one of the best, most powerful and competent sales and marketing and distribution companies in the business.”

Dr. Richard A. Garriott de Cayeux at EuroGamer

You will note that he doesn’t say anywhere that interview that EA can make a decent game.

In yet another interview over at EuroGamer (is that the only gaming site that will talk to him lately, or does he just have a “great fondness” for them as well?), Garriott de Cayeux continues to pour out his man-love for Electronic Arts in the hope that they will work with him by letting him use the Ultima franchise for his Ultimate RPG.

The sign of the Ultimate Ultima?

And, well, I am already two posts into this story, so why not carry on quoting for truth I guess.  I am sure that this will all seem worthwhile when I sum it up again in a year.

Unfortunately, according to Garriott de Cayeux, not everybody at EA is happy to see him.

“Electronic Arts is a big company,” he said. “There are some parts of the organisation that would love and embrace and clearly understand the logic of ‘wouldn’t it be great to work together on an Ultima’.

“And then there are other parts of the organisation who – I’m actually not sure where the resistance comes from, but it must be people who either have their own ideas about where the product should go, or have their own ideas about whether or nor I should be involved in it. And I don’t know where the counter-forces come from.

“So far we’ve not put a deal together, but of course, yeah, I would be very open to it.”

Ah well, life in the big leagues.  I am going to guess that maybe EA thinks that they have some RPG muscle in their BioWare division.

Still, EA is not the critical ingredient in this project.

“What essentially makes an Ultima an Ultima is the principles of design,” Garriott explained. “And I’m very confident that when players sit down with this new world they will very quickly recognise that, whether or not we end up doing any deal with Electronic Arts.

“This is clearly the spiritual successor of the Ultima series,” he said.

I do have to admit that his message is a bit more focused of late after recently spending some time all over the map.  I don’t know who reigned him in, but good job on that!

Anyway, the interview goes on speak of a Minecraft-like development process, getting the game into the hands of players as soon as possible, being platform agnostic, and allowing for both synchronous and asynchronous player interaction.

Now if they could just hook up an RSS feed on the Portalarium site so I would get notifications automatically, all would be right with the world.