Episode 156 presents the ultimate word on Ultima

Well, not "ultimate", but definitely authoritative—thanks to insights from series creator Richard Garriott.

Beginning with a piece that'll be going up this week, I've begun a long-term venture with our old pals at USgamer in which I hope to recount the history and evolution of role-playing games—ideally in their creators' own words, whenever possible. And to go along with that series, here's a tie-in episode of Retronauts that goes back right to the start of the genre and the first hit RPG franchise: Ultima.

I had the rare opportunity to interview Ultima's creator, Richard Garriott, back at Game Developers Conference in March (he was there to discuss Ultima Online's history in light of his newest project, the spiritually similar Shroud of the Avatar). He was kind enough to sit down and recount his memories of creating the original Ultima (and Akalabeth before that… and DnD1 before that). It's an interesting conversation… although really, it's more like a legendary game designer talking about creating an influential masterpiece for an hour while I clam up and try not to get in the way.

However, I didn't want to just drop an interview on everyone. Since the point of this venture is to explore and contextualize the history of RPGs, Bob and I kick off this episode by getting together with friends from GamesBeat to talk about why Ultima matters. Jason Wilson and avowed Ultima super-fan Rowan Kaiser join us this time to explain why Ultima was and is such a big deal as a kickoff to the interview segment.

Man, Retronauts is almost turning into, like, a real radio show. Weird. Well, enjoy the insights in any case, surreal or otherwise. And keep an eye on USgamer so you don't miss the companion feature!

Retronauts Episode 156
Ultima feat. Richard Garriott
MP3, 52.0 MB | 1:49:01

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Episode description: It's a double dose of Ultima! First, Jeremy and Bob chat with Jason Wilson and Rowan Kaiser from Gamesbeat to explore the RPG series' legacy, then Richard Garriott (Lord British himself!) shares some insights on the origins and evolution of the games.