Origin Systems (1990-1997)

Martian Dreams box Ultima 7 box Ultima 8 box Ultima 9 box Ultima Online box
I joined Origin Systems in 1990 to work as a game systems programmer on Martian Dreams, produced by Warren Spector.

Afterwards I worked as a user interface and game systems programmer on Ultima VII: The Black Gate, produced by Richard Garriott, aka Lord British. Ultima VII was a 32-bit game running on a 16-bit operating system, and was something of a miracle - I don't think we could have put a single byte more into that game and still have it run.

After Ultima VII, I had my project directorial debut on Ultima VIII: Pagan. Looking back on it, I think Richard was crazy for letting me drive such a big ship - I made tons of mistakes but I'm still proud of the project and everyone that worked so hard on it.

I started in much the same position on Ultima IX: Ascension, a project that not only had to make the transition from 2D to 3D, but from DOS to Windows. Early in production Ultima IX was halted to ramp up the Ultima Online development team - and I was put on the back end server systems. If you logged into Ultima Online, you touched a little of my work.

During all this it was rumored that Ultima IX was going to be cancelled completely. The project was still using software rasterization and the throughput of our renderer was just not making the cut - the best we could get was 10 fps. Late in 1996 I decided to take Ultima IX home and play around with Glide - one of the first hardware 3D APIs. I brought my work back to the Ultima IX team and showed them Ultima IX running smoothly at 40 fps. I'm not saying that it was me that saved the project and got it back in development, but without that proof on concept it would have been dead for sure.

I left Origin in 1997 to pursue the first of a few crazy dreams - Tornado Alley.