The Collectible ULTIMA


There have been so many people involved in bringing the wonderful lands of Sosaria, Britannia, Pagan, and the rest to life over the years, that it seems only fitting to call some of them out by name. Here are a few brief bios on some Originites past and present, with notes on what they've done, and what they're up to today. It's amazing to see the impact that the Ultima games and those that worked on them have had on the game industry at large. If there is someone you'd like to nominate for this page, feel free.

Ken Arnold
  • Years with Origin: 1983-1990?
  • Also known as: Sir Kenneth (U5), Lord Kenneth (U6)
Ken Arnold knew Richard Garriott not only before Origin, but before Ultima. Ken worked at the same Computerland that Richard did during the summer of 1979, when Richard had his first success with Akalabeth. Ken and Richard did the graphics for the original Ultima by drawing them on graph paper and manually translating the patterns into machine language. Richard included his friend Ken in the game by naming the town of Arnold after him. Later, Mr. Arnold produced much of the music for Ultimas III, IV and V, and wound up being portrayed as the Court Composer for Lord British. I'm not sure of Mr. Arnold's whereabouts today, though he no longer seems to work for Origin.

Chuck Bueche
  • Years with Origin: 1983-198?
  • Also known as: Chuckles the Bumble
Chuck Bueche was responsible for several Origin games, including Caverns of Callisto, Autoduel, and 2400 AD. He also wrote some of the Ultima conversions. Ultima fans known him best for his pseudonym, Chuckles, who appears as Lord British's jester in several of the Ultima games. What is not as well known is that Mr. Bueche was one of the four individuals, along with Richard and Robert Garriott and their father Owen, who co-founded Origin Systems in 1983. Mr. Bueche and the others put up a significant amount of personal money to start the company, which has almost certainly been amply repaid through their vast success. Mr. Bueche left Origin several years ago, and today he works as the director of software development for Xatrix Entertainment, publishers of Cyberia, Cyberia 2 and Redneck Rampage.

Dr. Cat
  • Years with Origin: 1986-1991
  • Also known as: Dr. Cat in Ultima VI
Dr. Cat, whose real name is David Shapiro, joined Origin way back in 1986. He worked on a number of different projects, including the Commodore 64 version of Moebius and the Ultima I rewrite. His best known work with Origin was on Ultima VI, for which he created a large portion of the characters and dialogue. (For example, the character Gertan, who was injured battling the Gargoyles, tells of having defeated a legendary dragon named Freitag. "Freitag" is Dr. Cat's stuffed toy dragon, and the story of their battle was Dr. Cat's first computer game, "Caverns of Freitag".) He also did some work on the Runes of Virtue games for the Nintendo game systems. Dr. Cat has been involved with the Ultima Dragons from time to time, and was kind enough to act as the source for some of the information on this site. These days he is working for his own company, Dragon's Eye Productions. His latest project is Furcadia, a multiplayer graphical role playing environment.

Richard Garriott
  • Years with Origin: 1983-present
  • Also known as: Lord British; Shamino; Baron Almric; Dick British
If you've read this far, I think you know who Richard Garriott is. He created Ultima, Britannia, and so on. "Lord British" is a pseudonym from his high school days. Shamino is his alter ego in the Society for Creative Anachronism. And Dick British is what some people have called him casually around the office. Really. He was also "credited" with two of the "books" in Ultima VII that those of you who write software will appreciate: The Day it Didn't Work, and the sequel, Nobody Goes Home. Hehheh... Richard is one of the most influential figures in the computer entertainment industry today. And also a really nice guy. He bought me lunch. I like that.

Robert Garriott
  • Years with Origin: 1983-199?
  • Also known as: Lord Robert in Ultimas III, IV and V
Robert is Richard's older brother. After obtaining his master's degree in Finance from MIT, he suggested to Richard that he should produce his own games, because they could do it better than Sierra. So they did - and the rest is history. I know Robert was with the company at least through 1992, because Inc. Magazine named he and Richard the Regional Entrepeneurs of the Year for the Austin area that year. I don't think Robert is still with the company, since it was taken over by Electronic Arts.

Jeff Hillhouse
  • Years with Origin: 1983-present
  • Also known as: Sir Geoffrey in several of the games
Jeff Hillhouse was Origin's very first employee, hired in 1983 shortly after the company was formed. He was responsible for the packaging and delivery for Ultima III. At the time, he actually lived at the Garriotts' house, sleeping in a room over the garage. Ahh, those were the days. He still works at Origin today.

Denis Loubet
  • Years with Origin: 1983-1996
  • Also known as: Monsieur Loubet in Ultima V
Denis Loubet is the artist responsible for most of the artwork you've seen in Ultima. Almost all of the game covers (going all the way back to Akalabeth!) were his work, as were most of the stylish black and white sketches in the handbooks for the various games. Denis originally worked with. Mr. Loubet left Origin in 1996 to work for Illusion Machines, a small software house in Austin, Texas. He maintains a web site which has a lot of artwork from past Ultimas, including the original art for some of the box covers.

John Miles
  • Years with Origin: 1986-1989
  • Also known as: Captain Johne in Ultimas V and VI
John Miles has had a prolific career, and his influence has touched nearly every corner of the computer game industry. He joined Origin in 1986 in the classic way: he sent them a demo game he'd written himself. At the time, Richard Garriott was looking for new talent to add to Origin's stables, and John wound up not only getting hired, but acting as lead programmer for Ultima V. When Ultima VI began development, John got the task of writing the introductory sequence, the first "cinematic" scene Origin had inserted into their games. He developed the Terramorph tool which Origin used to do much of the graphics for Wing Commander and Ultima VI, and some of the tile work for Ultima VII.

In 1989 John left Origin to work as a technical developer for Dell Computer Company, working on throughput for computer networks. He went on to write the Miles Sound System, which was widely used throughout the game industry for years. In 1991 he founded his own company, Miles Design, which produced a number of graphical and audio tools which were also used throughout the industry. In 1993, he created SSI's game Eye of the Beholder III. In 1994, he created yet another company, Non-Linear Arts, which performs game consulting for the Win95 platform. In 1995, he retained by Microsoft to help develop the technology behind the DirectSound libraries. Today, he is a member of Chris Roberts' Digital Anvil, again developing system tools and graphical and audio libraries for leaders of the game industry.

Chris Roberts
  • Years with Origin: 1986-1996
  • Also known as: Christopher aka "Dibbs" in Ultima V
Chris Roberts is best known for creating the Wing Commander series, whose Kilrathi have made several cameo appearances in Britannia. Mr. Roberts is from England, and came to the US in 1986 because he wanted to make a computer game he had been working on in his head for years. Chris did make his game with Origin in 1988, which was called Times of Lore, and its icon-based interface was a heavy influence on the design of Ultima VI. Chris went on to make Bad Blood, a sleeper hit, and the first four Wing Commander games. In 1996 Mr. Roberts left Origin to start his own software and multimedia production company, Digital Anvil. The company's impressive payroll already includes Roberts' brother Erin (Privateer 2: The Darkening) and Tony Zurovec, creator of the Crusader series. The company also plans to produce full-length movies in conjunction with their games. Their first title is expected in the fall of 1998.

Warren Spector
  • Years with Origin: 1987-1995
  • Also known as: Dr. Spector in Savage Empire and Martian Dreams; a quiet spectre named Warren in Ultima Underworld
Before joining Origin, Warren Spector did a lot of work in the role-playing industry. He worked for both TSR and Steve Jackson Games, and developed, among other things, TOON, Top Secret, and the Bullwinkle and Rocky RPG. Richard Garriott asked Warren to join the Ultima VI team in 1987, to help plot out the game. He is better known, though, for being the producer of both Ultima Underworld games, which as everyone knows are the best computer games ever created. You DID know that didn't you?

Both of those games were actually developed by the staff of what is today Looking Glass Software, and in 1995, Mr. Spector left Origin to join that company. He acted as producer of The Dark Project, which is scheduled to be released in 1998. It's bound to be a hit; any games developer that mentions Settlers of Catan on their web site already has a vote in my book! In the summer of 1997, Mr. Spector moved again, joining John Romero (formerly of Doom and Quake fame) and another former Originite, Todd Porter, at their new company, Ion Storm. There, Warren is reported to be happily working once again on a new first-person 3D RPG.

David Watson
  • Years with Origin: None, officially
  • Also known as: Iolo Fitzowen; author of "Stones"
David Watson is a friend of Richard Garriott's from the Society for Creative Anachronism, where he has the pseudonym "Iolo Fitzowen". Richard incorporated the character of his friend Iolo into the very first Ultima, and he's been there ever since. The real Iolo is, like his medieval counterpart, a bowyer. Mr. Watson runs his own crossbow manufacturing company, known as New World Arbalest. He shows up as a vendor at some of the larger SCA events, so if you're going to Pennsic sometime, you might try to look him up: large fellow, with a huge fluffy blond beard. Mr. Watson also wrote some of the music for a Ultima V, including the very well-known tune Stones, which was inspired by the stone circles of the Orkneys. He also wrote some of the music for False Prophet and Black Gate. Mr. Watson's wife Kathleen shows up in the games as the character Gwenno.

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