That would be me. The original title was supposed to be “Why didn’t anyone tell me?!”, but then I realised I was the one to blame. What am I blabbering about? This. Sadly, I’m too young to have played Ultima IV and as a result I’m not really interested in its remakes and fan projects that have been hit by this (although seeing any kind of fan projects being stomped on by big corporations is always sad). Neither am I devastated by the news that I can’t legally download U4 for free anymore, I never had any desire to. What I’m getting my knickers into a twist about is what I found following this link from RPS.
What? BioWare Mythic, or more exactly Mythic, are working on SEVERAL secret projects? WHAT? Wow. It all makes sense now, it’s crystal clear.
Why didn’t anyone tell me?!
Granted, they’re “secret” projects, not announced or widely known about. But it would be easy to get a few hints by checking Paul Barnett’s twitter from time to time. Which I don’t.
For the record, I did know beforehand that EA was planning a reboot of one of the Ultima games as a browser-based game. I might have even known it was BioWare working on it (which later merged with Mythic). But bloody ashes!
It does make sense though. The ones currently maintaining Ultima Online are Mythic, so they would be the obvious candidate for rebooting the series. And if you read Paul B’s tweets from the second link, it’s more than a hint at what’s going on. I’ve heard great many things about the Ultima games (never played any of them) and most of them were described with a fondness that bordered on fanaticism. That’s how strongly they captured the imagination of the players. In many ways the games became sort of a cult.
The cynic in me warns that ye olde games that are described as legendary aren’t that good a lot of the time (this is relevant), but are instead reimagined as awesome because of nostalgia, sentimentalism and the hazy veil of memory. With that said though, I wouldn’t mind seeing an oldy-goldy game being reinvented, just not as a browser social game and not by Mythic. But that’s all irrelevant.
What’s relevant are the implications of all this. Now I have no idea how many employees Mythic has (the number I found was 100, likely before the merge with BioWare, most likely not a reliable number). But if you consider that it’s not the biggest of studios and that they are currently “maintaining” DAoC and UO, along with developing at least two new titles, it’s quite clear that there isn’t much manpower left over for WAR.
I’ve always been a firm believer of the theory (sadly, it’s still only a theory) that Mythic are still actively developing WAR. But by the looks of their last big effort, the RvR packs, it should have been clear that they simply don’t have the manpower to actively develop the game anymore. I’ve always argued against people saying that WAR is in maintenance mode, but this has opened my eyes. It might not exactly be the “we’ll just sit here and fix bugs” maintenance mode you are used to, but I still don’t believe that the game will get any significant and major content updates. At least not until EA/BioWare decides to pick the game back up and give it the manpower/funding it needs.
So until further notice, WAR will probably receive only bug fixes, tweaks and minor content additions (let’s up the renown rank cap to 120 and throw together two new sets, yay). The game is still perfectly playable though, so don’t let me stop you.
Mythic, you are welcome to prove me wrong (in this case, I don’t want to be right). As for the Ultima reboot, I would be a lot more enthusiastic about it if I hadn’t seen what happened to some other Mythic game first-hand.
PS: For the record, despite the fact that I’m not playing WAR at the moment, saying that it’s now in maintenance mode doesn’t bring me any kind of pleasure, since I still love the game to bits (the fact that I don’t deem it worthy of my time despite that is a big sign). I am not any kind of doomsayer, I’m only presenting a speculation based on strong evidence. Frankly, I was shocked to learn all of this, despite the information being freely available.