Ultima Aiera is pleased to present this demo reel
— which was apparently only ever released internally at Electronic Arts and whatever studio was doing the development (Mythic Entertainment?) — from a second attempt at making Ultima Online 2! which was part of a pitch to Electronic Arts, by Origin Systems, to begin developing Ultima Online 2 again.
This footage dates back to
2006 2004 (the proposed release date was FY06), and seems to depict what I would assume to be a PVP area within the game. To the best of my knowledge, the graphics are in-game (that is: this may be a scripted sequence, but it is not specially rendered), and show off a the game’s magic and combat systems in action, as well as horse riding and the terrain and scenery. and I have been informed by BanditLOAF at the Wing Commander CIC that it is actually something of a kit-bash of content excerpted from, among other things, the canceled Harry Potter Online and various other Ultima projects which never saw the light of day*.
And is it just me (and Joe Garrity), but does that lich look remarkably similar to the one from Ultima 9?
What I find most striking about this video is that, whereas the previous attempt at UO2 had a strikingly different engine and graphical feel, this second attempt — or proposed attempt — at UO2 really
looks looked like an evolution of the Ultima Online engine into the 3D space. The way the terrain is textured, the shape of the characters, the assets in use…they all look like “3D-ized” versions of what you could find whilst wandering around the countryside in Ultima Online…but better.
But here’s where it gets interesting: this is pretty much the assassin’s bullet, the final nail in the coffin. In a way this video can be considered to represent the moment that Origin Systems died. As BanditLOAF informed me, this video was produced as part of the very last pitch that Origin delivered to EA, proposing to resurrect UO2 and begin new development on it. Electronic Arts turned the pitch down, and Origin was closed instead. So, at least in one sense, this video is Origin’s dying breath.
Anyhow, enjoy. Watch the video. Look for little details. Check out the straightforward, somewhat more traditional, logo. Take in the soundtrack. This is Ultima history at its finest, and Aiera is indebted to Joe Garrity, BanditLOAF and the team at the Wing Commander CIC, and especially Electronic Arts/Mythic Entertainment/BioWare Mythic for allowing the archival project that rescued this footage to happen!
* Incidentally, this is actually a fairly common thing. I’ve been told by a contact at EA that a lot of projects get launched more as research efforts than actual attempts to produce a title for release. This has included more than a few experiments involving Origin IPs, including Ultima and Wing Commander.