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Intervista Ultima 1 - A legend is reborn

I’ve heard of problems with EA. Can yuo describe the dispute? What’s the situation now?

The problem is that when we got the permission from Richard Garriott to remake Ultima1 he was the creative director of Origin and as Origin was one of Ea’s companies we of course assumed that he spoke for both Origin and EA when he gave us his permission.
Later, after he left Origin, EA has stated that they have never heard of our project and they have pointed out that they hold the copyrights to the name Ultima. One of their spokesmen - a Mr. Brown - came with some quite aggressive statements to an online magazine in which he threw some mud after Richard and took a hostile attitude to our remake and also to a “Bards Tale” remake some other team is doing. EA has not contacted us since though and we have sent a letter to one of their employees in their legal department – a letter to which we never recieved any answer. So we have not reached an official agreement with EA yet about this project but hopefully we will be able to work something out.

What in common with the First Ultima 1? What not?

The first change people will notice is of course the change in graphics and sounds which has been vastly improved in our version. But as the player plays the game he will also notice that the plot has been extended alot with extra side-quests etc. The original plot for Ultima 1 is very thin due to the limitations of game programming when it was made. You might say that the original Ultima1 is a fantasy hack’n’slash game where our version will be a true RPG. One thing that will be missing in our version which was found in the original is the sci-fi elements where you could get laser guns and fly space crafts. We have chosen to keep the game in a fantasy setting and will replace the space-ace quest found in the original with something similar in a fantasy world.

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Intervista Ultima 1 - A legend is reborn

When have you begun to write first line of code. When will you write the last? :)

The first line of code for Ultima1 was written almost exactly 2 years ago. As for the last - I don’t know but it will take some time still. For most of the development time I’ve been alone with the coding and currently 95% of the code is written by me. Lately some friends of mine has joined the effort which has greatly speeded up the process.

Can you explain the features of your Graphic (and Sound, off course)

Engine? Our game engine is running in full 3d and is featuring what you would expect for a modern 3d game. One thing that is different from many of the 3d engines we know today (Quake, Unreal etc) is that our focus is on HUGE outdoor scenes where most 3d engines today focus on indoor environments. Therefore our engine will have a different feature set than most shooters. It’s not so easy to do shadows and advanced lighting in our engine but you will generally have more polygons on the screen per frame. Also editing is very different from the two kind of engines. Most shooter engines have a quite static level layout - in Ultima1 everything is dynamic and can be moved around by the player, by the level designer in the editor or by script code in the running game. Our sound engine is still under development but features streamed digital music and 2d and 3d digital sound effects.

Will the game run under Linux?

Currently our technology runs under Linux as well as Windows so unless this changes - yes!

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Intervista Ultima 1 - A legend is reborn

Have you implemented a “Multiplayer Mode”?

Ultima1 will be single player only. It is possible we will use the engine for a multiplayer game at a later time but we have no plans about a multiplayer Ultima1.

Will the game be “Free”? If so, do you think you will release the source code (like a GPL app.). Why?

The game will be free for all to download - because EA holds the copyrights and so it would be illegal to make money from it. This was the only demand Richard Garriott had when he originally agreed to the project - it must be freeware! The source code will not be released to the public. This is because it is way to valuable for us and it definitly has commercial value. It is possible we will sell licenses to the game engine to interested game developers.

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Intervista Ultima 1 - A legend is reborn

What do you think of the actual situation of GameDeveloping? In the near future will there be space for indipendent developers? Is “Internet Distribution” a valid alternative?

I think the game development community is very well alive both professionally (in the large game companies) and equally important among all the hobby programmers out there. I am a bit concerned about the current trend that everything has to be 3d though - it makes it really really hard for the smaller development teams to come out with products which can compete with what the big companies puts out. It takes a long time to write a good 3d game engine and the larger companies have huge teams working on their technology. Currently many smaller development teams chose to license an already finished game engine such as the Unreal Engine which is very suited for modifying to other games. The problem is that this engine is also expensive and so it’s not really an option for amateur teams. If a similar engine was available for a small price - say a few hundred bucks - then I think some amateur teams would be able to spend that kind of money and we might see some really interesting stuff from them - if not engine-wise then maybe in creativity and/or design. As we all gets faster and faster internet connections I think it’s very possible to distribute a game over the internet. This is also a good way for smaller companies to distribute their game - they just set up some file servers and people can pay to be able to download the game. This cuts away the need for distributors, box designs, cd printing etc. etc. which might be the last hurdle for some smaller teams that otherwise have a finished game ready.

Paolo "Matt" Marascia

Intervista Ultima 1 - A legend is reborn

Ultima 1 – A legend is reborn Interview

Paolo “Matt” Matrascia: Let’s begin with a little overview of Telemachos (and of your Team if possible). What about your love for Ultima Serie and Computer Programming? Can we have a little summary of your [Team] previous productions?

Kasper “Telemachos” Fauerby: My real name is Kasper Fauerby and I’m the founder of Peroxide – our little Game company which so far has run as a non-funded organization developing freeware titles in our spare time. I’m a great fan of RPGs and of the Ultima series in particular (the single player games, I’ve never liked Ultima Online much) and my Dream has always been to program a RPG game. As I’m also very interested in 3d graphics we decided to create a state-of-the-art 3d game engine and use it to drive a remake of the classic RPG Ultima1. Our choice of Ultima1 is partly because we love the Ultima universe and wants to give something back to the Ultima community.
Also it can be seen as my own personal tribute to Richard Garriott who is my “hero” in the field of game design and programming. Also the title seemed to fit nicely into an idea we had at the time where we wanted to recreate a whole series of old small games - a series we started with our partly finished remake of the classic Tetris game.
When we started our remake of Ultima1 we were aiming for a much simpler game than what we’ll end out with - we have now realised that we really want to focus on creating a good 3d engine and a high quality RPG and not just a “quick” remake. Thus we no longer consider Ultima1 as “just” one remake of a whole series but instead it has become our only product in development (officially ;)

So, how do you contacted Lord British (aka Richard Garriot, NdR) and how do you obtained the rights for the Remake of Ultima 1?

That was the easy part - I just wrote him a letter outlining my ideas and he was kind enough to agree to the project start. As it turns out Richard Garriott is really a great guy and he does not seem to have any of the concerns regarding copyrights and stuff like that which we have later seen from EA. Richard Garriott just seems to be interested in keeping the Ultima world alive and has shown interest in our project on several occations.