- Ultima VII level of interactivity with multiple crafting options
- All of Ultima IX's features
In part, FORGOTTEN WORLD is a project for Ultima IX Ascension, a game created by Origin Systems (an Electronics Arts Division) in 1999. Ultima IX Ascension was an outstanding game for its time, featuring a game world in full 3D, and one of the first games ever released with an implemented physics engine. Even though Ultima IX was a milestone in the history of computer games, it was rather unpopular among fans. Not only were the hardware requirements too high for the time it was released (not to mention the bugs in the initial release), but some players found that the story could not compete with any of the previous Ultimas. Some fans even refused to call it a real Ultima as many dialogues were limited in depth and scope and indicated a lack of background knowledge among the new developers that had never worked on an Ultima before.
While some of these critiques might be legitimate, it is also a true fact that the final released game was not the one that was supposed to be released (from the developers' view). Electronic Arts set the Ultima IX Ascension developer team a deadline that prevented the team from fulfilling its original plans.
Some parts of earlier game versions can still be found in the various Ultima IX files. For example, the bitmap files include gumps from older game versions and there are still map files for different locations that were not seen in the released game. Other parts - such as summaries of earlier story drafts or screens from cutscenes that had to been cut due to a story change, can be found on the internet. Also, the canon of the main plot and origins of the Guardian as presented by Richard Garriott in a post-release interview provide a clear indication of the true story partially implemented in Ultima IX.
The intention of our team has been to use this knowledge (about "old stuff" in the game) to improve Ultima IX Ascension to make it a "better" Ultima or a "real" one as some would say. However, while we have reverse engineered most of the external files and developed tools to alter them at least partially, much of Ultima's core elements remain locked, hardcoded within the executable itself. This coupled with the numerous weaknesses in the game's AI and physics systems has lead the team to shift our main efforts to a new engine for Ultima IX. This New Ankh engine will be based on the Unity Engine, include Ultima's IX final feature list at a minimum, and incorporate many of Ultima IX's files (requiring a copy of Ultima IX to work). Part of this effort will be supported by contributors to the Project Britannia 2.0 framework and will adapt assets obtained from the Unity Store.
First of all, the following is our overarching vision for recreating Ultima IX into a complete Ultima. It will involve a new engine based on Unity and Project Britannia 2.0 with numerous components taken from Ultima IX.
The main goal of Forgotten World is to recreate Ultima IX's narrative as it was envisioned by Richard Garriott and team in 1998 with some elements taken from early scripts. Forgotten World will feature a world filled with immersion and history, an expanded plot with in-depth dialogue, and a larger quest structure.
The linearity of the Ultima IX's plot and quest structure will be cut back allowing the player the ability to visit more towns and accomplish more quests earlier in the game. The size of the surface world will also be built from scratch and designed to significantly larger than Ultima IX's surface map to allow for increased exploration and greater distances between towns. This increased play area will allow for additional caverns, creature camps, mini-dungeons, and structures. In addition, new quests and NPCs will included as part of larger towns that exceed Ultima VII's. In addition, attempts will be made toward incorporating a scheduling system to add more life to the world of Britannia.
Finally, the overall gameplay experience will be dramatically improved. These improvements will include a more immersive apparent economy, better balanced loot and gold progression, a town economic system where you can trade goods with different npcs, a complete system of specific enemy weaknesses, tougher combat with better AI, and increased functionality from the magic system.
It must be noted that the above is what is the ideal, but the support of Project Britannia 2.0 will likely see many of the underlying systems shared across projects.
What are the details for the creation process?
The creation of FORGOTTEN WORLD is two phase process. First, the new engine will be created on top of the Unity Engine and include systems based on those developed by other members of Project Britannia 2.0 and assets obtained from the Unity Store. The second phase will include some of Ultima IX's assets and involve the creation of a new world map and the rewrite of all dialogue.