Richard Garriott In Family Computing (1985)

An Ultima fan who goes by the handle smack forwarded a link to this issue of Family Computing magazine, in which can be found an interview with Ultima creator Richard Garriott. The year is 1985, Origin Systems is still headquartered in New Hampshire, and Lord British has met with two aspiring young journalists to discuss his latest project: Ultima 4.

The interview isn’t particularly long, but it contains a few interesting glimpses into Richard Garriott’s history and his creative drive. For example, have you ever wondered where the “Lord British” moniker came from?

I was born in Cambridge, England, but my “title” was the brainchild of my sophomore-year roommates at the University of Oklahoma. When I met them for the first time. I said “Hello.” They looked at me like I was crazy and one of them said “Hello!? Nobody around here says ‘Hello’! You must be from England…We’ll call you ‘British.'” The name stuck and I decided to use Lord British as my professional name.

He also gives some details about his then-upcoming project, Ultima 4:

Ultima IV is an involving game which is much more user-friendly than the other Ultimas, it’s easier to get into the game and your information choices can be seen on the screen, so you don’t have to use the fact sheet. Ultima III takes two or three months of part-time play to finish. Ultima IV will take about four times longer to play, and the map is exactly 16 times the size of the others. It’s divided into eight quest groups, and each group is almost equal in size to an entire Ultima III game.

Ultima IV is also very different in feeling from the other Ultimas. I got a lot of mail after Ultima IIIbecame a hit, and I suddenly realized that I was having a real impact on the people who played my games. I didn’t want this to be a negative impact, making them think the bad guys always win. In the previous Ultimas, there was always one big bad guy to defeat; in Ultima IV you aren’t up against an evil force — it’s a personal conquest.

He goes on to describe his quest for the “ultimate” Ultima and what changes he would make to Origin’s development processes if he could. Other Origin games under development at the time get a mention, as does a curious 5 PM tradition in the Origin offices that the two young interviewers found themselves caught in the middle of.

Anyhow…enjoy! Pull up the images or download the PDF (which is hosted on the Family Computing archive maintained by a former writer for that magazine, Joey Latimer). The Origin Gallery is indebted to smack, Joey Latimer, Richard Garriott, and everyone who worked at Origin Systems and Family Computing for this glimpse at a small but enjoyable piece of history.

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