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Ultima Online Was Born

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#1
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After reading through good old stories of how Ultima Online use to be in the begining, I started to wonder who's brain child was UO?, and how did it all start from day 1.

So here we go.

Who were the first developer's?
Where did the lore come from?
How did they research the history of Brittannia?
Where did the name Sosaria come from?
Was it true, UO started out as Text only?

(and so on, and so on.)

#2
Maeglid

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Well, the lore originated with the Ultima game series by Origin Systems/Richard Garriot (aka Lord British). Much of the history is derived from the original games as well. I can't remember where Sosaria came from, but it was at one time the name for Britannia, if I recall correctly.

Not all the original material is canon for the online game though. There are no spaceships crashed in farmers fields, for example. Nor am I aware of any hot air balloons. And gremlins. I hated those food stealing brats. Oh yeah, food was required in a few of the ones I played.

I find it hard to believe UO was conceived or intended as a text only MMORPG. There were MUD's of course, but I do not know of any Ultima based ones...

#3
Nexus

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After reading through good old stories of how Ultima Online use to be in the begining, I started to wonder who's brain child was UO?, and how did it all start from day 1.

So here we go.

Who were the first developer's?


Most not all are listed here. This list the majority of the Orginal Dev Team. Look for a file called Credits.dat in your UO directory it lists most the people who've had their hands on it.

---=== Ultima Online ===---

- Product Development -


Producer
Richard Garriott

Director
Starr Long

Associate Producer
Joye McBurnett


Director of Development
Jim Browne

Project Consultant
Keith McCurdy

Executive Assistant
Michelle Bratton


Design Manager
Brian Martin


Design Coordinator
Mark Franz


Lead Designer
Raph "Designer Dragon" Koster

Designers
Marshall Andrews
Kristen Koster
Todd McKimmey
Kevin Schlipper
David Biggs
Dan Rubenfield
Chuck Zoch
Bob White
Andrew Morris

Lead Programmers
Rick "Wyrd" Delashmit
Scott "Grimli" Phillips


Programmers
Mike McShaffry
Jeff "Jooky" Posey
Jason "Stormwind" Spangler
Ragnar "BugKiller" Scheuermann
Gary Scott Smith
Jeff Wofford
Herman Miller

Art Director
Jennifer Davis


3D Art Managers
Bruce Lemons
Brendon Wilson


Artists
Chuck Crist
Bob Frye
Micael Priest
Clay Hoffman
Scott Jones
Cari Oberstar
Jonathan Price
Michael Morlan
Terry Manderfeld
Matt Sheffield


Additional Design
Ragnar "BugKiller" Scheuermann
Jason "Stormwind" Spangler
Jeff "Jooky" Posey
Scott "Grimli" Phillips
Rick "Wyrd" Delashmit
Richard Zinser


Additional Programming
Raph "Designer Dragon" Koster
Todd McKimmey
Chuck Zoch
Bob White
Kristen "Kaige" Koster
Dan "LordPall" Rubenfield
Edmond Meinfelder
John Watson


Additional Art
Raph "Designer Dragon" Koster


- Networking and Operations -

Network Manager
Mark Rizzo


Network Operations
Brandon Williams


Sound Effects
Kirk Winterrowd
Hal Milton


Music
Kirk Winterrowd
Joe Basquez
Hal Milton

Recording
Jason Cobb

Voice Talent
Ev Lunning, Jr.



- Quality Assurance -

Project Leader
Richard Zinser


Assistant Project Leaders
John "EvilJohn" Moreland
Todd Wachhaus


Hardware Tech
Brett Bonner


Testers
Timothy Bell
Rick C. Holtrop
Artie Rogers
Paul D. Sage
Russ Wilkins
Robert Windisman
Hal Milton
Monte Mathis
Paul Vaden


Customer Service Liason
David Cryer


Quality Assurance Supervisor
Evan "Fighto" Brandt


QA Support Site Programmer
Chris Graf



- Marketing/Game Materials -


Product Manager
Chris Plummer


Media Relations
David Swardford
Teresa Potts


Package Design
ORIGIN Creative Services

Package Art
John Bowie
Greg Hildebrandt
Tim Hildebrandt


Web Documentation
Tuesday Frase
Chris McCubbin
Jennifer Spohrer
Melissa Tyler


Printed Documentation
Tuesday Frase
Chris McCubbin


Printed Documentation Design/Layout
ORIGIN Creative Services


Editing
David Ladyman


- Web Site Programming -


Lead Web Programmer
David Kozlowski


Web Programming
Martin Delarosa
Tom Kiehne
Tuesday Frase


Documentation Web Design
Susan Bednar
John Bowie


Web Site Art
Wendi Dunn
John Bowie
Dave Kozlowski
Tuesday Frase
Martin Delarosa
Greg Hildebrandt
Tim Hildebrandt

Where did the lore come from?

The Largest Majority came from the Ultima Series of PC games from the 80's-mid 90's

How did they research the history of Brittannia?

No research Needed Because the orginal Producer of UO invented Britannia

Where did the name Sosaria come from?

Where did the Old School D&D Nutz come up with names like Aurumvorax
It someone with more creativity than us bent over and pulled it out his .....

Was it true, UO started out as Text only?

Well considering UO was released in 1997 on a CD and not a 1 1/4" floppy I'd say No it's always been graphical as have all the Ultima Games.

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#4
WarderDragon

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As far as I am aware, Ultima Online has always been concieved of as a graphical MMORPG.

It began as the brainchild of Lord British (Richard Garriot), who recycled one of the earlier Ultima engines to experiment with what was thought to be a relatively new, experimental idea. In fact, most gaming publications at the time thought that Ultima Online would be a financial failure; that only the most obsessive geeks would be interested in such a persistant, sandbox-type game (an observation that has some truth to it; they merely underestimated how many obsessive geeks there were). Of course, because it was such a new idea (there had been previous, but unsuccessful MMOs), it seems a better idea to create it from recycled parts than build the gameworld from the ground up.

They decided that, should Ultima Online be successful, Electronic Arts would invest the cash to create Ultima Online 2. We all know what happened to that.

Who were the first developer's?


Others have already answered this question; but I thought that I would point something out. Many of the early developers also played major background characters in the early years of the game. For instance, Starr Long had traditionally played the role of Lord British's chief rival, Lord Blackthorn. There were also individuals tied to their respective inspirations.

The inspiration behind Lady Gwenno passed away several years ago, which explains the memorial in Ilshenar dedicated to her. It was "Gwenno" and "Iolo" who created the Stones tune, which used to play on login and continues to play at her memorial.

Where did the lore come from?


As also mentioned above, it was the creation of Richard Garriot. The earlier Ultima games were largely inspired by various fictions (with references to Wing Commander, Hobbits, and so fourth); but Garriot decided to move away from High Fantasy and establish a more unique world without the archetypal elves, dwarves, and so fourth. In doing so, he created a unique moral system called the Virtues.

Where did the name Sosaria come from?


It was probably meant to imply that the world was a place of complex magic and sorcery. I will have to dig up the old lore, but I seem to remember references to a former King (Wolfgang) having used the Sun Gem (the Gem of Immortality) to literally bless the land and bring prosperity to its people.

This kingdom was actually once known as Akalabeth, and Lord "Cantabridgan British" was the Champion of White Light (and then Champion of Akalabeth).

#5
Tancred RedStar

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Excellent answers everyone!

In terms of the land, as I understand it, Britannia is the name of the kingdom/government entity, but Sosaria is the name of the world/planet itself.

#6
Tancred RedStar

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And I miss flying carpets from the old Ultimas!

#7
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The hot air balloon for me. I played the Avatar portion back in the early 90's. I think that one had the "Nexes", with Gargoyles that if you killed you were evil and if you didn't you were good and once the Nex was placed they were your allies? It has been a very long time. I loved that game but, man, I killed all my troop because I didn't have the shoes that allowed you to walk over poisen marshes, especially in dungeons. When I first played this game I avoided all marshes because I thought you needed the shoes and I couldn't find them. hehehehe. Finally someone was kind enough to correct me.

#8
Tancred RedStar

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lol, I avoided swamps too at first!!

#9
Maeglid

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Swamp Boots were the first thing I went after on later runs on that game. Tomo(?) in the REAL Yew made them. I can't remember if he just sold them, or if there was some sort of quest before he would sell them. I remember something about a girlfriend, but it is hazy.

Also, Empath Abbey was on the OTHER side of Yew! THE OTHER I SAY!

#10
sablestorm

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The hot air balloon for me. I played the Avatar portion back in the early 90's. I think that one had the "Nexes", with Gargoyles that if you killed you were evil and if you didn't you were good and once the Nex was placed they were your allies? It has been a very long time. I loved that game but, man, I killed all my troop because I didn't have the shoes that allowed you to walk over poisen marshes, especially in dungeons. When I first played this game I avoided all marshes because I thought you needed the shoes and I couldn't find them. hehehehe. Finally someone was kind enough to correct me.


There was a smith in Yew who looked like a sumo wrestler. His name was Utomo and he sold those swamp boots. Incidentally, I use this character and a few others (like the samurai avatar image from Ultima 6) as my argument that a land like Tokuno could indeed have existed in the Ultima realms.

Just for fun, here's a website with Ultima 6 portraits of all the characters:

http://www.geocities.../En/u6head2.htm

This is Utomo:

Posted Image


They even have the Avatar images which we used for characters in our guild fiction. This was the Tokuno looking avatar image. It even looks as though she's wearing an Ancient Samurai Helm. In our fiction, we named her Naitsumi Saitama.

Posted Image



#11
sablestorm

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Swamp Boots were the first thing I went after on later runs on that game. Tomo(?) in the REAL Yew made them. I can't remember if he just sold them, or if there was some sort of quest before he would sell them. I remember something about a girlfriend, but it is hazy.

Also, Empath Abbey was on the OTHER side of Yew! THE OTHER I SAY!


Not exactly a girlfriend, but rather a stalker. Andrea was pursuing him, much to his dismay.

Posted Image


And yes, in Ultima 4 and 5 and possibly 6 (I can't remember) Empath Abbey was always west of the city of Yew, with the moongate in between them in a clearing in the forest.

#12
WarderDragon

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There was a smith in Yew who looked like a sumo wrestler. His name was Utomo and he sold those swamp boots. Incidentally, I use this character and a few others (like the samurai avatar image from Ultima 6) as my argument that a land like Tokuno could indeed have existed in the Ultima realms.


I absolutely agree.

It has always bothered me how folks suggest (to this day even) that the Tokuno Islands and the Samurai Empire expansion have no place in the Ultima canon; based soley upon this notion that Sosaria was and could only ever have been "Medieval European." Rubbish. The cultures here on our earth developed based upon their enviroments, their unique circumstances, and so on; so why couldn't potentially diverse cultures have developed throughout the far corners of Sosaria?

I want to see more human cultures introduced, not less. I am still waiting on those celtic knots and bagpipes to compliment my "Scotsmans" kilt; heavy fur cloaks and conical helmets to represent my "Norseman"; and Arabian Nights-themed dress to compliment my treasure hunting "Sinbad the Sailor." *Chuckles* It hasn't been distinctly implied within the lore, but I have even gone so far in my roleplay to imply similarities between Luna/Rome, Umbra/Egypt, Nu'Jelm/Arabia, Savages/NativeAmericans; and some of the art almost appears to give Gargoyle architecture this almost Mayan feel. Yaay for me!

#13
sablestorm

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I absolutely agree.

It has always bothered me how folks suggest (to this day even) that the Tokuno Islands and the Samurai Empire expansion have no place in the Ultima canon; based soley upon this notion that Sosaria was and could only ever have been "Medieval European." Rubbish. The cultures here on our earth developed based upon their enviroments, their unique circumstances, and so on; so why couldn't potentially diverse cultures have developed throughout the far corners of Sosaria?

I want to see more human cultures introduced, not less. I am still waiting on those celtic knots and bagpipes to compliment my "Scotsmans" kilt; heavy fur cloaks and conical helmets to represent my "Norseman"; and Arabian Nights-themed dress to compliment my treasure hunting "Sinbad the Sailor." *Chuckles* It hasn't been distinctly implied within the lore, but I have even gone so far in my roleplay to imply similarities between Luna/Rome, Umbra/Egypt, Nu'Jelm/Arabia, Savages/NativeAmericans; and some of the art almost appears to give Gargoyle architecture this almost Mayan feel. Yaay for me!


I agree. In our guild lore we regard the Skarans and Yewish as being the descendents of a Celtic people. We imagine the Skarans in a similar light as the Scots (Skara Brae in Earth was located in Orkney, Scotland, I think) and the Yewish as the Irish.

Meanwhile, all the undead ruins and haunts throughout the Ultimas we attribute to an empire based on the Egyptians. We even base the mantras of the virtues on the names of their gods. The gypsies are decendents of this ancient empire.

Jhelom, we imagine to be a settlement based on the Norse folk and that is where the Viking Swords are most popular.

#14
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I absolutely agree.

It has always bothered me how folks suggest (to this day even) that the Tokuno Islands and the Samurai Empire expansion have no place in the Ultima canon; based soley upon this notion that Sosaria was and could only ever have been "Medieval European." Rubbish. The cultures here on our earth developed based upon their enviroments, their unique circumstances, and so on; so why couldn't potentially diverse cultures have developed throughout the far corners of Sosaria?


I want to see more human cultures introduced, not less. I am still waiting on those celtic knots and bagpipes to compliment my "Scotsmans" kilt; heavy fur cloaks and conical helmets to represent my "Norseman"; and Arabian Nights-themed dress to compliment my treasure hunting "Sinbad the Sailor." *Chuckles* It hasn't been distinctly implied within the lore, but I have even gone so far in my roleplay to imply similarities between Luna/Rome, Umbra/Egypt, Nu'Jelm/Arabia, Savages/NativeAmericans; and some of the art almost appears to give Gargoyle architecture this almost Mayan feel. Yaay for me!



Hear Hear!!!

#15
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Excellent answers everyone!

In terms of the land, as I understand it, Britannia is the name of the kingdom/government entity, but Sosaria is the name of the world/planet itself.


At one point in our real life history, was'nt Britannia a real place?
Were there actually real cities such as Vesper, Minoc, Skara Brea, and so on.

I'm wondering if the original creator's found in their reseach, actual lore, people and past event's, that they incorperated within UO.

If so, I think it would be interesting to look into the history of the real life information they found.

#16
WarderDragon

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At one point in our real life history, was'nt Britannia a real place?
Were there actually real cities such as Vesper, Minoc, Skara Brea, and so on.

I'm wondering if the original creator's found in their reseach, actual lore, people and past event's, that they incorperated within UO.

If so, I think it would be interesting to look into the history of the real life information they found.


*Smiles*

Comicon. You actually managed to hit it right on the head. There is actually a great deal of real-world influence and inspiration within the Ultima series, including our very own Ultima Online.

  • Britannia is the name used by the Ancient Romans to refer to Great Britain.
  • The map of Britannia (Trammel/Felucca) is actually an inverted representation of England and Scotland.
  • The King was known as Lord Cantabrigan British. Richard Garriot actually look this from "Cambridge" (a city in England), and his nickname when growing up ("British"); refering to his English accent.
  • Skara Brae is the name of a neolithic settlement discovered in Scotland. In the Ultima Online Renaissance guidebook, Skara Brae is refered to as a "renaissance village in the medieval Scottish highland."
  • Vesper derives from the Greek Hesperus, the name for the morning star. Interesting trivia question, the Roman name for Hesperus was actually Lucifer.
  • Occlo derives from Mama Occlo, a fertility goddess from Incan Mythology.
  • Yew is the name of a certain type of tree.
  • Papua probably refers to Papua New Guinea. Its fitting, considering the jungle atmosphere.
  • The Virtues are largely based off real world religions and philosophies, such as Christianity and Hinduism. The main source of their inspiration largely comes from Buddhim, though. Their is the eightfold path, and eight virtues in Ultima. They correspond to the sixteen ways of purification that lead to Avatarhood in Hinduism. Om, the mantra for the Spirituality shrine, is actually the mantra that is practiced by Buddhist monks when meditating. I remember one of my religious studies teachers mentioning that Buddhists believe that "Om" is the sound that the universe makes.
  • Mantra is clearly words, sounds, and prayers that are repeated by eastern religious practitioners during meditation.
  • The Principles are actually based off the Wizard of Oz. The Scarecrow represents Truth, the Woodsman represents Love, and the Cowardly Lion represents Courage. You can actually find the Wizard of Oz in one of the Ultima games, with the King commenting that it is his favorite book.
  • The Avatar is essentially inspired by messianic figures, such as Christ (Christianity), Mitra/Mithras (Zoroastrianism/Mithraism), the Madhi (Islam), and Maitreya (Buddhism).
  • Saduj is Judas spelled backwards; one of the Companions of the Avatar that eventually betrayed him. I believe this character has been mentioned in the recent "Warriors of Destiny" storyline.
  • Sircarii is the name of an ancient order of Jewish assassins that existed somewhere around the first century. They were actually tied to the Zealot faction; and some modern religious scholars believe that "Iscariot" is derived from Sicarii (suggesting that Judas Iscariot was an assassin). I wouldn't be suprised if the storywriter behind Ultima actually came across this, considering the above reference to Judas.
  • The Molech is mentioned in the Bible, as some Canaanite deity that the native peoples sacrificed their children to. The multiple arms and blue skin may be representative of Shiva, the Hindu deity of "Creative Destruction" and Fertility.
  • Many of the daemons have names that reference the monsters of folklore (El Chupacabra), Egyptian deities (Nyarlathotep), Canaanite deities (Ba'al), Babylonian deities (Astaroth), demons (Be'elzubub), and fallen angels (Azrael).
  • The famous login tune, Stones, was actually a real composed song that exists out there somewhere. I believe that the real-world inspiration for Iolo and Gwenno were the actual composers. Gwenno's (IRL) passing was the reason behind Gwenno's memorial tomb in Ilshenar.
  • Nu'Jelm actually has its own Sultan.
  • Druids obviously derive from the Celtic peoples that inhabited ancient Europe. As a matter of fact, the depiction of Ultima Druids as keepers of the law, is far more in line with the ancient Gaelic Priest-Judges than with the tree-hugging, vegan druids found in most modern fantasy games.
  • Paladin comes from the Palataine Hill; one of the hills that Rome was built upon. The name gradually became a title, and was used to refer to the Twelve Peers of Charlemanges Court (the Holy Roman Empires equivalent to the Knights of the Round Table).
  • The Ankh is the Egyptian symbol representing immortality.
  • Akalabeth (the name of Britannia prior to the crowning of Lord British) actually derives from book one of the Simarillion, the prequel to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
  • If my memory serves correct, Mandrake Root can be used as an aphrodisiac.
  • I took a quick look through Wikipedia, and Melisande may refer to Melisande, Queen of Jerusalem. She was one of the monarchs during the Crusading era.
  • The Labyrinth comes from the Labyrinth of Minos; a complex maze designed by Daedalus to contain the Minotaur.
  • Khaldun refers to Ibn Khaldun, a famous North African philosopher of the fourteenth century. Khal Ankur, the name of the undead king that sacrificed his servants, may refer to the Hindi Ankur, which means "the Seedling."
  • Bedlam is the former name of the Bethlehem Royal Hospital, which specialized in treating the mentally ill. This goes along with the Bedlam dungeon being located in the Healer Shop within Umbra.
  • Casca refers to Servilius Casca, one of the individuals responsible for the assassination of Julius Caesar. This probably would suggest that Casca is responsible for the assassination of Lord Francesco.

This is from the Ultima Online: Renaissance Guidebook:
  • Britain: "For its size, Britain is a clean city, very much like an English city at the end of the Medieval era, just on the cusp of the Renaissance."
  • Jhelom: "Jhelom is very much like a frontier town."
  • Minoc: "Minoc is essentially a rough-and-tumble frontier mining town. Furs are common, given the cold climate. It has very much the feel of a communitarian place, like an old Gold Rush city."
  • Moonglow: "In many ways, the city looks like one large campus, with the Lycaeum as the central college." (It sounds alot like the English university system).
  • Occlo: "The civilization of Ocllo lies hidden deep in the mountains on the island south of Magincia. Their knowledge of what lies beyond their mountains is fairly limited, and to them, everything in the region is part of Huansuytin, the World. The Ocllo build terraces along the mountains upon which they grow their crops: corn and potatoes and other staples do well enough up here, but lack of available fresh water is a problem for them." The text goes on to talk about their reed boats and their stony, often cramped building style.
  • Papua: "The city is best known as 'Swamp City' because large regions of Papua are covered with swamps. Although this may sound unappealing, young couples will find the Just Inn the perfect haven to spend their honeymoon."
  • Serpents Hold: "The walls are of large stone set with mortar, similar to a generic French keep of the Middle Ages."

I am sure that there are many more that I am forgetting, but there are the ones that I know of. There are also quite a few pop culture references that I've noticed.

  • Iyona Kondo is quite literally, "I own a Condo." She was one of the major characters in the pre-Samurai Empire storyline.
  • Inu might be a reference to Inuyasha. "Inu" means dog in Japanese.
  • There were a couple of characters inspired by Rurouni Kenshin. In the Inu storyarc, there is "Ken" (Kentarou; a young man skilled with a sword) and Tomoe. This was a clear reference to Kenshin and Tomoe, lovers from the prequel to Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Based on all the above anime references, I wouldn't be suprised if Casca is also a reference to one of the main characters from the manga Berserk. She is one of the lovers of the main character, Guts.
  • The Boomstick is a clear reference to Army of Darkness, where the main character raises his shotgun (to scare the medieval villagers), shouting "This is my BOOMSTICK!"


#17
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WarderDragon, All I can say is "Fantastic"
You are a GM of information and knowledge.

You've got inspired to do more research and learn more, for my own satisfaction.

Thank you so much, and well done!

Any chance you might visit Pacific Shard?
We could use some isparation, if not for Role Playing, just for teaching overal appreciation for the land's we live and die in.

#18
WarderDragon

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WarderDragon, All I can say is "Fantastic"
You are a GM of information and knowledge.

You've got inspired to do more research and learn more, for my own satisfaction.

Thank you so much, and well done!

Any chance you might visit Pacific Shard?
We could use some isparation, if not for Role Playing, just for teaching overal appreciation for the land's we live and die in.


Thank you so much. *Smiles*

As far as visiting the Pacific shard sometime in the future? Well, that certainly is not outside the realm of possibility. *Grins* Lord Winfield of Chesapeake sold me on the idea that developing relationships with roleplaying communities on other shards would only help to benefit our own. The sharing of ideas and the support of our fellow roleplayers community events is huge in preserving the roleplay on the shards. It is with that in mind that we held a series of shardwide tours of various player and seer historical sites with the help of Whispering Rose Radio. Winfield and the members of Paxlair held the Grand Tour of Chesapeake, while WildStar and I held one touring the historical sites of Baja. Luna Rossa held one on Pacific in June. All three were huge successes (beyond our wildest expectations), and we will probably be having more in the future (Baja will be hosting another in the spring, and I have brought the idea to folks on Lake Superior). I definately look forward to visiting Pacific again. We didn't get screenshots or a shard reporter on that one, so we're just going to have to do it again. *Winks*

WildStar and I have also tossed about the idea of having cross-shard roleplaying and lore classes in the future. Its just an idea at the moment, but one that is definately worth pursuing.

#19
sablestorm

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I had once contemplated hosting RP events on Test Center, inviting the different RP communities to come together at a place where you can create an established character cheaply. :)

#20
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WarderDragon is treasured on Baja... we will not give him up so easily! :bladespin: ;)

Those that believe UO is based strictly on and only about medieval Europe... know very little about the origins of Ultima, Richard Garriot the man himself, or his influences both growing up but also as a developer.

Like many people over the decades... Garriot read authors like Tolkien, CS Lewis, Hemingway, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov and many, many others. RG studied how directors like John Ford, Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and others... would tell a story within a film.

Something all of these people had in common? They all either knew, met, and/or studied the writings of Joseph Campbell. Long story short... Campbell studied, taught, and wrote about mythology. Campbell is to mythology what Carl Sagan is to astronomy.

If you want to tell your own stories, understand those of others, and enjoy them... where are some links:

Joseph Campbell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joseph Campbell Foundation
Lessons from Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l288vRz10jM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OVPcQxUNe0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgsm6XKD9DU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AG4rlGkCRU
STAR WARS Music, 3 of 4. Joseph Campbell Monomyth

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