Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar is 'less binary and simplistic' than Ultima 4

BioWare Mythic's Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar will feature all the quests, towns and even non-playable characters from Ultima 4, but the game will be less binary and simplistic, according to creative director Paul Barnett.

In a demo of the game, Barnett said Ultima Forever contains everything players would expect from an Ultima 4 remake, such as quests, answering people's quandaries, proving yourself to towns and mastering mantras. But the studio has made the game for "the modern world," which means it includes features like multiplayer, an in-depth BioWare story, high fidelity graphics and weather. The game's design is also less simplistic.

"In the original Ultima 4, you would have to find these runes, and the way you found them was you stood in one of eight spaces, and you pressed the search key over and over again until you found the runes," Barnett said. "We don't do that. In one of them we have a leader of the wizards guild who knows where the rune is, but he wants you to go on a quest to prove your worthiness. The quest takes you all over the world. When you finally prove your worthiness, he then gives you access to the rune.

"So we kept the spiritual idea of the original, and then we fleshed it out and made it a lot warmer and joyous."

"So it's taking it from that very binary and simplistic, 'We've hidden it somewhere,' and instead made it an actual story where you're making choices."

Players will also have to face much more complicated quandaries than they did in Ultima 4. In one example Barnett gave, the player encounters a woman who is looking for her husband. He is found dead in the sewers and, upon searching the body, the player discovers evidence that the man had a secret love. When the player returns to the surface and the man's wife asks him what he found, he has three options: tell her the truth, show compassion by telling her he is dead but that he did love her or telling her where he is and that it's best for her to find out herself.

"These are three strong answers, all of them very worthy, all of them in conflict with the others," Barnett said. "Of course, the right answer is whatever you feel is the right answer. That sort of depth and texture just doesn't exist in the original game.

"So we kept the spiritual idea of the original, and then we fleshed it out and made it a lot warmer and joyous."

Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar is coming to iOS devices this summer. To read about the game's rocky development, check out our coverage from GDC Online.

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