The cover story was titled "ORIGIN'S CUTTING EDGE", showing Garriott brandishing a sword, the right of his face hidden in shadow, and spanned twenty pages (ads included), covering Ultima Online, Wing Commander Academy, the then-imminent Kilrathi Saga release, Ultima IX, Privateer 2, and a brief seque into Chris Roberts and Digital Anvil ("but don't hold your breath — the first Digital Anvil game probably won't appear until at least the end of 1997.") But the real gem was a four-page interview with Richard Garriott.Here's a couple tantalizing quotes. You can check out the entire interview here.
Ultima IX and Ultima Online obviously represent the future of that series, but what's next for Wing Commander?
Well, we've had Wing Commander I, II, and III, which had their heavily intertwined stories that we call the Kilrathi Saga; and Wing IV was a solo product. But Wing Commander V, which we're doing now, starts a whole new series. It's the opening chapter in a series of two to four new games which will form the new series. The Wing Commander games so far have been about flying missions and then coming back to see movie sequences which you fairly indirectly affect. What the team really wants to do now is much more carefully intertwine those two elements, so you'll start out on the fringes of the battle, but by the end, you'll be in the front lines and at the critical junctions of the battle; and your wins and losses are directly tied into the story, in the sense that the foe you shoot down in space is the character you would otherwise have run into in the cinematics. We're also working on another new Wing Commander project with a working title of Maniac Missions, centered around that character played by Tom Wilson. That whole project only came about because Tom is such an interesting character.
Do you see Wing Commander and Ultima as ageless properties, or do you envisage a time when they will have run their course?
A little bit of both. I think what we'll do is give them breaks periodically, and or re-invent them. For example, with Ultima IX, I'm purposely closing the Britannia history which has evolved throughout the series, specifically so that after IX I can sit back and evaluate the series and decide where to take it from there. It's time to ask, is the online environment where the next round of Ultimas should be created, or now that we've moved into this 3D virtual environment in which we can create great stories, is that more important? It's kind of a fresh start for the whole series.
There was speculation a while ago about a Wing Commander movie...
That's still a reasonably likely event. We're already doing an animated tv series with Wing Commander Academy, and we have a movie deal waiting to be signed. But there's an interesting difficulty right now, with George Lucas planning the next Star Wars series, there are lots of studios who want to work with George and don't want to piss him off.