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[URPG Stratics] Lord British Interview on TGN

Ultimate RPG News

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On Sunday, Lord British sat for a very informative two-hour interview on The George Show. During the conversation, LB fielded many serious, off-beat, and entertaining questions surrounding his upcoming UltimateRPG title, development career, and history as an explorer of new worlds.
Watch the video on TGN to catch up on the latest news from our favorite pumpkin-pie-lover-astronaut-game-developer-new-dad guy!

Continue reading...


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If you don’t have time to watch this wonderful interview, here’s a summary of what Richard Garriott has revealed about Ultimate RPG!

Lore and Setting

Richard Garriott addressed his role in the creation of Ultimate RPG. He feels that his strengths lie in creating the story, languages, symbology, magic systems, and the other design elements as opposed to coding or art. He stated he has been working on it for the past year, and but there is still some work to be done.

He is not discussing the setting in great detail yet. He doesn’t want to show any visuals and set up expectations that they may eventually move away from, but they do have art up and running in the prototype engine. It is not a traditional medieval fantasy, but it is absolutely not futuristic sci-fi. It’s more of a “historical” look than a “futuristic” one, in his words. Their goal is to make it something familiar, but to have its own unique setting and art that will make their world distinct.

It will have its own belief and ethical systems that will not be derived from Ultima Online. While no details about the new system were given, he did state the reasons why.

First, he does not want to continue or retread ground that has already been covered, and is excited and challenged by the prospect of doing something new and different.

Secondly, there are legal reasons not to do so, as they were part of the sale of the Ultima IP to EA. While they have had discussions with EA in the past about bringing Lord British back to UO, they have never gone farther than discussions, but he states the door is open to EA.

And finally, he wants to avoid competing with his previous work, avoiding any comparisons that could be made.

He also revealed that much like the Ultima series, the player will be someone coming from Earth to New Britannia, and that it will avoid any religious undertones. And it is a certainty that Lord British himself will be part of this world.

Game Mechanics

The World:

It’s important to note that URPG is *NOT* a traditional MMO - It's a hybrid with session-based gaming in mind with MMO elements, a completely new paradigm. There is no large metaverse everyone will inhabit, nor are there shards. He said to think of it as a solo player game first, but as you go to places, if your friends are there, you will find each other. On the outdoor map, you want to see things and bump into others, but it will opportunistically pull in other players. The exact mechanics of how it will do this were not discussed, but this is the broad view.

The layout of the world will have 2 scales. The first is the outdoor travel map, where players will move along roads or long distances, with only occasional random encounters. There may be forced encounters that the player will have to pass to get to something that is blocked.

The second is what they are calling “Scenes”. Scenes are scaled encounters, built in hand crafted zones. They have a beginning and an end, but not one set way to progress through them, and will depend on the skills of the players as to how they proceed. They will have puzzles for players to solve, and not just be focused around combat. The example given was, think of a portcullis. You might be able to shoot monsters through the gate, but you have to figure out how to open or get around that gate by finding a way to open it, or to build a siege ladder to climb the wall, how to get through another door with a magical enchantment (“Speak Friend and Enter”), and so on.

There will also, assumptively, be puzzles that can only be done by “certain virtues”, so the ethical and moral decisions your character makes may have an impact on how you solve puzzles, and what skills you and your party will require to strategically accomplish objectives.

Also, there will be no setting in which hundreds of people will occupy. It's something they are intentionally deciding to give up. There may be larger scale encounters, but he feels that for encounters with real people, small numbers of 10's are sensible. Four people can feel like a party, and 32 for larger encounters, but he doesn't feel that excessively large numbers of people in a given space adds to the experience. He feels that, yes, you may run through town and like seeing all those people, but you largely ignore them and tend to focus on what your friends, guildmates, or you personally are striving to accomplish. He believes it is a fair loss, and there are technical advantages to avoiding this.


At this time, there are no other playable races planned. He could easily rationalize the player could undergo some physical transformation as part of the journey - He is not opposed to it, but he is not compelled to do so. He wants it to be YOU coming to the world, and bring your moral and ethical ideals, not those of a particular race or character such as Conan the Barbarian. If you want to see additional races, feel free to post a thread on the forums and make your case!


Richard also revealed that he wants URPG to be skill based, not class based. He and the team are still having discussions, but it his preference and he is pushing for it. Along with this, he also revealed that he dislikes it when you have to start over with a new character or completely drop skills in order to explore skills and abilities in another area, so it will likely be possible for one character to learn all skills.

However, to prevent all-powerful builds, skills and abilities will have built-in incompatibilities. As a reference, he cited that in UO, if you wanted to be a mage, wearing plate armor was ill advised. It is an assumption that this will extend to skills, and not just equipment. It was also not discussed how many skills could be used at one time, but it’s a logical guess that there will be a limit that will not prevent combinations, but some combinations will have consequences.

PvP and Thieving:

There will be open world PvP, and there will be thieving. It will be a core system to the game, however, the discussion they are having now is what IMPORTANCE do they give to it, and how do they deal with it. While he sees that open PvP and thieving is what made UO magical, it wasn’t managed to the best success of the community. He and his team are discussing ways to implement it in such a way that it is as open as possible, but not threatening to new players and players that would never play in that way, driving off such players. Be sure to leave your comments and ideas in the PvP discussion thread, as he and his team ARE reading it!


One of the systems Richard is excited about implementing is conversations. It used to be that NPC’s had a life, and did things based on the time of day rather than stand around waiting. They used to even give a greeting based on the time of day, and you could talk to them with text. He wants to get away from the menu-driven, flag-over-the-NPC style of conversation, and return to such earlier systems, where you may get a hint from an NPC in a conversation, but it’s up to the player to remember who to ask and what to ask to continue. This will make the game more participatory and get players to think about how to get information.


Much like conversations, Richard is also planning a return to the old days with maps in a fashion. He feels that traveling the world today in most games lacks a sense of exploration, with players just following arrows or trails. He also understands that a complete return to the old days of players drawing their own maps and notes isn’t advisable, nor does he agree they should, but he does want to keep that “just a little bit”.


Initially, the team is designing URPG to run on a tablet. By doing so, as they develop for other platforms (PC, potentially Mac, or Web-based, which are yet to be determined but hopefully all) they will ensure that they stay within the technical limitations of the hardware that will run it. It was also discussed that because there are technical limitations, there may be apps specific to roles. Some of these may be able to run offline that do things like tend to your shop, some may require a connection, but they are exploring options. Some assets to the game will probably require a download of some type to ensure that animations, art, and other such assets don't suffer the limitations of streaming.

Richard is someone who plays F2P games, and doesn't mind paying for them. However, he hates the fact that most of them always "have a hand out", meaning, "Sure.. You could do it the hard way, but if you'd rather save time and spend a little money....". He's more in favor of what he calls the "Fair Handshake", where you let people play for free, originally, with the understanding that some will never pay. But you don't do anything to push them out, because those people can still bring in others to the game that MIGHT be willing to pay.

They're going to see how the genre develops these payment methods and adapt accordingly. They're pretty sure even 3 months before release, they'll still be figuring out how to go about it, and what fits the game best. What he wants to be certain of is that what they ask you to pay for is a reasonable and fair request, like to access new areas of content, or perhaps they will let you get some skills (any) to a certain point, but then if you want to go further, or access elements of the skills that they develop later, it might cost a very small, nominal fee.

He doesn't want the paying to be a surprise, but they have nothing set in stone. It might be free at release, or an impulse purchase price, like a buck or two. What you can be sure of is that it will be F2P or practically free, because he sees that low barrier of entry as a way to draw in more people, and overall a focal point of what he calls in other interviews and posts “The Third Era of Gaming”.

He didn't give any indications of limiting access to anything for free players, at least initially.

The impression I got from the interview is that, what is there is there for free and for all to use. Everything. But as they add to the game, or "catch up" to what the players demands and requests, and as they add to the world, those things may have a price, or outside elements. It's more like, "Here, have Ultima Online and everything therein for free. But every expansion pack and additional skills we add in the future may cost you something... MAY." Again, that's just my impression, and it makes sense given the way he's described how he sees the industry moving forward in previous interviews.

Also of note, internally, there is a working folder the team uses called “Lord British’s Canon”. This folder has goals that the team WILL achieve, and are NOT negotiable among the team members. One such item is CLOTH MAPS, so yes, they will be available. The method of acquisition is still under consideration. Some may be available for purchase, or may be given out as rewards for completing certain objectives, but there is nothing definite yet.


At the end of next year, they will be letting people in, and possibly as early as next summer. He liked the approach ArenaNet took that let people in early to guide the development of the game, and plans to do something similar.

And there you have it folks! This is everything I had taken away from the interview about URPG, but if you find I missed something, please feel free to add to this!

I will be condensing this down to a bullet-point FAQ soon, so stay tuned!
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Former Stratics CEO (2011-2014)
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Awesome summary. :)