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Creator / Origin Systems

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"We Create Worlds" note 

Origin Systems was an American video game developer and publisher, best known for creating the legendary Ultima and Wing Commander franchises. It was founded in March 1983 by the brothers Richard (a.k.a. "Lord British") and Robert Garriott, their father Owennote , and their buddy Chuck Buechenote , right on the eve of The Great Video Game Crash, but the company's first offering, Lord British's 1983 Ultima III: Exodusnote , immediately established the newcomers among the top Western RPG creators, a genre they would soon change forever with Ultima IV and its successors.

Over its two decades of existence, many soon-to-be-famous video game developers got their start at Origin Systems, thanks to its culture of visionary game design, pushing the limits of technology, and never cutting corners in pursuit of artistic goals. Some of these names include Chris Robertsnote , John Romero, Raph Koster, Paul Neurath, Warren Spector, Harvey Smith, as well as the entire company of Looking Glass Studiosnote . However, like many top CRPG developers of The '80s, Origin was hit hard by the mid-90s crisis of the genre, and encountered severe financial troubles on the publishing side of its business, despite the massive successes of the early Wing Commanders and Ultima VII. Things went downhill from there.

In September 1992, the floundering Origin was bought out by Electronic Arts, who quickly began curbing the developers' habit of artistic tinkering and prioritized commercial success instead. Infamously, Ultima VIII was put on such a tight schedule, it shipped in an unfinished and barely playable state, and although EA originally saw no potential in Ultima Online, its surprise early success had led them to divert Origin's resources away from Ultima IX, resulting in the latter's extremely Troubled Production and, ultimately, a sad end for one of gaming's greatest epics.

Ultima IX: Ascension, released on November 24, 1999, was the last game Origin had ever finished. The remaining founders resigned in April 2000 to form Destination Games and, much later, Portalarium. Origin Systems finally disbanded in February 2004, joining Bullfrog and Westwood as the third in the long list of developers EA had acquired and shut down. In a darkly ironic twist, the "Origin" trademark got a second life in 2011, when Electronic Arts appropriated it as the name of its new digital games distribution platform. For more information on the birth, fall, and legacy of Origin Systems, see the respective link.

Games developed and/or published by Origin Systems:

Before Electronic Arts buyout

  • Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness (1981), originally published by California Pacific Computer Company, then bought out and re-released by Sierra, then again by Origin when the trademark rights reverted to Garriott again.
  • Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress (1982), originally published by Sierra, then re-released by Origin after the trademark reverted.
  • Ultima III: Exodus (1983), first major game developed and published by Origin
  • Caverns of Callisto (1983), developed by Chuck Bueche simultaneously with Garriott's Ultima III
  • Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985)
  • Autoduel (1985)
  • Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony (1985)
  • Ogre (1986)
  • Ring Quest (1986)
  • 2400 A.D. (1987)
  • Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988)
  • Times of Lore (1988)
  • Knights of Legend (1989)
  • Omega (1989)
  • Tangled Tales: The Misadventures of a Wizard's Apprentice (1989)
  • Space Rogue (1989)
  • Windwalker (1989), a sequel to Moebius
  • Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)
  • Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (1990)
  • Wing Commander (1990)
  • Bad Blood (1990)
  • Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams (1991)
  • Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi (1991)
  • Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992, as publisher), developed by Blue Sky Productions
  • Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992)

Post-Electronic Arts

Canceled Video Games

  • Ultima:
    • Worlds of Ultima: Arthurian Legends
    • Ultima Worlds Online: Origin, a.k.a. Ultima Online 2
    • Ultima X: Odyssey (canceled in 2004)
  • Wing Commander:
    • Privateer 3 / "Privateer Online" (or variously "Wing Commander Online")
    • Strike Team
    • Wing Commander VI
  • Crusader 3: No Escape / Crusader: No Mercy / Crusader II
  • Harry Potter Online