Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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Origin logo Origin Systems
I first played Ultima II at Donnan's house on an Apple II+, and then Ultima III a lot on my own. Ultima III I loved the Origin Games, the Ultimas. They were roll playing that consistently pushed technological boundaries while asserting the need for relationships and choices and even proposed to create systems of morality within gaming experiences. How many roll playing computer games pose hypothetical situations for you to solve regarding your honesty, honour, humility? This range of "virtues" that determined your starting roll in the game (Ultima IV: I think I ended up a Tinker). More than black and white, good and bad guys, the games struggled to portray a dungeons and dragons world where compassion might rule over valour and either way they were contrary guiding principles. Most games stop at simple valour - brave and cunning combat to kill a clear foe. It made total sense to add nuance to character selection and roll playing, but few took it up and carried it as far as Origin.

Eventually Chris Roberts' products like Wing Commander would set a standard for immersive cinema, replacing cheesy video-stop-motion crime crap with excellently rendered bitmap spacewar set amidst engaging plotlines.

AutoDuel But even before then, Autoduel and a few other games engrossed the first generation of computer game players - games that were released on Apple first, because that's where the money was, and still make for good play on the PC today.

When I went to college I took up a Mac and lost track of the Origin world. But their continued pioneering was impossible to ignore - the Ultima Online massively multiplayer fantasy roll playing world promoted simple work as well as dragon slaying. Demand was projected at 50,000 units, 150,000 bought the game and have made it a thriving active online community that is dictating the shape of gaming to come.

I was able to visit Origin Systems in Austin in March 1999

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