Name: Rick Hall
Role: Producer, Origin Systems
After getting his start at small gaming studios such as Paragon Software and Take-Two Interactive, Rick Hall traded the cool Pennsylvanian foothills for the intense heat of Austin, Texas when he joined Origin Systems as a content lead. As a fan of Origin’s past games, Hall eagerly awaited his first project assignment. In truth, he was hoping to work on anything but Ultima Online. You can probably imagine where he ended up.
Upon starting at Origin, Hall was amazed at the sheer number of projects being developed by the studio, his interest piqued by Wing Commander Online, Ultima IX: Ascension, several flight sims, as well as Ultima Worlds Online: Origin (better known as UO2), which had been in development for some time, but wouldn’t be announced to the public until the following month.
While it wasn’t clear to Hall which project he’d be assigned to, there was one game he secretly hoped he didn’t land with: Ultima Online.
“UO was low on my priority list,” Hall said. “It was old technology, and the UO Live team was looked upon as something of a red-headed stepchild at Origin. The game had been live for a couple of years, the code was a bit buggy, and it looked like a job where you spent all your time solving bugs and exploits.”
Hall was relieved to find out he’d instead be working on UO2, the 3D sequel to the company’s flagship online game. UO2 provided Hall an avenue to better understand the next generation of MMOs. In fact, everything was coming up roses until several months later, when the need arose for someone to lead Ultima Online’s Live team.
Hall drew the figurative short straw.
“My knee-jerk reaction was frustration,” he said. “I wanted any other project in the company except Ultima Online. But I took a deep breath and decided to just do my job, and give it a chance.”
Read more of Rick Hall’s story in Chapter 6: The View from 10,000 Feet.