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

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The Ultima Series, grounded firmly in a sword and sorcery world, extended the stakes of saving the world to include the soul of the game player.

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.

Contrast Ultima's elegance of plot and ethics with the straight-ahead sword slinging of Might & Magic and designer loot in Rage of Mages.

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