Title: Ultima I: A Legend is Reborn
Developer: Peroxide Entertainment
Date Published: Canned by EA in early 2003
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux
Ultima I: A Legend is Reborn (abbreviated as U1:R) is a fairly interesting CRPG project, currently in full (though a little bit slow) development, with a couple of playable technology demos released so far. The project has been going on for several years now, and the current results are very promising.
The idea of the project is to reimplement the classic computer RPG Ultima I that was released in 1980 (and remade for renEGAdes in 1987 for PC). The team doing this reimplementation got the blessing from Richard Garriott, the Ultima series copyright holder. EA won't have problem with the game, as it will be released free of charge.
This reimplementation uses a rather stunning 3D graphics engine. The game looks very modern, all of the graphics in latest technology demos look very good (even when some of the animations are a little bit exaggerated: everything from the shop signs to the bellies of the guards swing in gentle summer breeze).
The game is mostly mouse-driven, with movement on keyboard and mouse clicks activating things. The game is similar to Ultima Underworld series in that the game is from the viewpoint of the Avatar - and in the final game Avatar will be alone in the game as the Companions were not able to join the party in the original, either. In tech demos there is item use, teleporting using teleporters (no moongates in such an early game, regrettably...), and dialogue. The one notable thing missing from 2.5 tech demos was the combat, even when there are many interesting-looking monsters in the game already. Also featured in the tech demo is original music; The game already has two pretty good original pieces of music - they couldn't use classic Ultima music because the original U1 didn't exactly have much music...
Reportedly, the plot that is being worked on is not much different from the plot of original U1. It is time to relive those moments of glory: The fall of Mondain the wizard and rise of Lord British and the unification of the city-states of Sosaria... The flora and fauna will be familiar enough, and familiar monsters can be found. And the views 'round the place are just beautiful. The game is basically a real-time game, creatures and NPCs also have daily routines. To a long-time U7 fan, this game already feels quite "right"!
How nice the game will be in its finished incarnations remains to be seen, but I am sure that the new, non-disciplined gamer generation will find the nice 3D graphics to be much more interesting than the black-and-white stick-figure 3D in the original. =)
Screenshots, music and technology demos can be found from Peroxide web page: http://www.peroxide.dk/ultima/
Staff (from the web page):
Update: Yeah, right. "EA won't have a problem with it", indeed. When Peroxide folks contacted EA again regarding the validity the agreement they had with Richard Garriott, EA just replied they cannot allow the use of any Ultima material whatsoever, end of discussion. Why didn't they believe Richard and understand that EA is evil to the bones and you shouldn't try to do anything that might invoke the wrath of their LAWYERS?
I feel absolutely appalled. Peroxide folks had done an amazing job so far, spent years working on a very nice graphics engine indeed, and now they get roasted by EA. Jesus.
Since the game was in development and EA didn't actually sue their sorry butts out of existence, the Peroxide folks will recycle their work and develop a world of their own in the same spirit as original Ultima, yet, since the world is theirs they can now try to get their game published commercially, which makes the whole thing sound even more confusing. The new game will be called ERA (http://www.peroxide.dk/era/).
Shame about the lack of True Ultima Name and the Disappearance of Sosaria, though. Moves like this makes me extremely angry at EA. It has now become one of the few game companies I boycott actively. Hell, it's the only game company I boycott actively.
Another update: At some point in Summer 2004, Peroxide is apparently changing their name - and Era is apparently changing name as well! Where the game goes from this point, I have no idea. I'll update as soon as I get news.