Origin Systems

Worlds of Ultima III: Arthurian Legends (Origin Systems) [PC – Cancelled]

The Worlds of Ultima series (an offshoot of the main series Ultima) died after the first two parts – Savage Empire (1990) and Martian Dreams (1991) – fell short of their expectations. However, the idea of independent stories still attracted Origin, which resulted in the emergence of Arthurian Legends. The project, in general, was doomed from the very beginning – it was not possible to find a publisher for it after the failure of “Worlds …”.

Nevertheless, the Origin staff continued to work on it. First, the work was supervised by Richard Garriott, then by Warren Spector. Unlike most other Camelot games, the Arthurian Legends strictly followed the writings of Thomas Malory and Chrétien de Troyes (medieval writers, authors of books about King Arthur). But the game formally had nothing to do with the Worlds of Ultima.

From wiki.ultimacodex.com:

Arthurian Legends was to be set in ancient England, in a world based on the actual legends about King Arthur. Some of the sources used included Knight of the Cart by Chretien de Troyes, and Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. The player would be in charge of trying to find the missing King Arthur and to fix the problems currently plaguing Camelot. Though the initial idea was for the player’s alter ego to be one of the twelve knights of the Round Table, this was eventually changed for the player to create his own avatar. Several well-known characters were going to make appearances, including Sir Pelenor, Sir Gawain, Melora, Sir Mordred, Morgana, Lancelot, Guinevere and Arthur.

The game was going to include some of the bloodier elements from the legends, such as a giant cannibal that was praying on the children from a local village. However, the search for the Grail was not to be included, as the team felt it had already been played out too many times. Other quests included curing Sir Pellinore from a blindness inflicted to him by an evil mage, and a maze of moving thorn hedges.

What is funny, after the end of the series, the Origin staff jokingly drew a silhouette in front of the office with chalk on the ground, as they do with corpses, and hung a sign “The King is Dead” next to it. The next day, flowers appeared under it.

Information is taken from «Игромания» magazine, 03 (114) 2007 

BioPlus (Origin Systems) [PC – Cancelled]

BioForge is an action adventure game released for MS-DOS and developed by Origin Systems in 1995. Set in the future, the player controls an amnesiac cyborg trying to escape the research facility in which they are being held prisoner.

Immediately after the release of BioForge, the Origin studio quickly, in just two and a half months, made an addon called BioPlus (a.k.a. BioForge Plus). This kind of promptness was explained quite simply. The BioForge itself was originally much longer – it had to be cut for ease of distribution. The part that went under the knife formed the basis for BioPlus. However, that very “quick” failed Origin: the addon was so full of bugs that there was no question of its viability.

We can read more about it from Bill Armitrout (former worker  from Origin) in theminiaturespage.com:

A “quickie” project. We had nine weeks to put together a new adventure to tack onto the end of the original BioForge game. Let me stress right here that nine weeks is an insanely tight deadline! The project was a wild ride, with millions of obstacles and emergencies (including artists in the hospital, half the programmers pulled off for another project, and so forth), and we set a new record: BETA in 10 weeks. Unfortunately, the game never shipped (the executive product left the company, and all of his projects were cancelled).

BioForge 2 was also part of the company’s plans, but the development process did not go beyond the oral discussion of the concept between the designers. Origin planned to build it on a new engine, and the plot again revolved around the heroes of the first part. But in 1995, Origin suffered a financial crisis, and the BioForge team was laid off.

And from the same source:

I took over the BioForge license at Origin, and had the chance to put together a Dream Team to make the next-generation technology. Many of my old Serpent Isle guys came back, and I was also able to recruit some top-grade new talent. We had finished the design and were working on the art when the company halted the project, and diverted us onto…

Some information is taken from «Игромания» magazine, 03 (114) 2007

UPD (17.08.2022): early Gauntlet video and intro movie were found (Thanks to Daniel) 

Privateer 3: Retribution [PC – Cancelled]

Privateer 3: Retribution is the cancelled sequel to Privateer 2: The Darkening, a space flight sim series started in 1993 with Wing Commander: Privateer. This third chapter was in development by Origin Systems’ Wing Commander team in Austin around 1997 / 1998, using the Wing Commander Prophecy engine and planned to be released by Electronic Arts on PC.

Players would be able to freely explore a sandbox universe, flying from planet to planet selling items, shooting down enemy ships and resolving similar space-missions. Computer Games Strategy Plus magazine even published a long Privateer 3 preview in their May 1998 issue, with more details about the game’s story, characters and gameplay. If you have a copy of this magazine and could take some photos from the preview, please let us know!

Following the success of Ultima Online EA decided to focus Origin Systems on online games, and Privateer 3 was quietly canned. You can download the Privateer 3 game script on WCNews.

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Frontier (Origin Systems) [PC – Cancelled Pitch]

Frontier is a lost PC game pitched by Warren Spector  to Origin Systems with a planned to ship date of Q2 ’94, and was described as a system simulation of the taming of the old west. The high concept of this game was that the player would be a pioneer and they would have to explore and settle a new nation. The player would have to choose what route they would take, the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, what time of the year they would travel, how many settlers would travel with them and where they would eventually stop.

Origin systems logo

Once the player had decided where to settle they would then choose what they would like their settlers to specialize in like farming, mining or becoming a rancher. The player would then have numerous natural disasters they would have to deal with like earthquakes and floods, natural predators, “Indians” (Native Americans), and what is described as “bad men”. There would also be NPC players that would be direct competition to the player.

The players initial goal was to attract new settlers to their settlement so that they can start a community and make a prosperous new town, this would lead to trains stopping at the town, mail routes, and banks. Ultimately the goal was to attract the county seat and then the state capital so that your settlement could request to become a state, but the player could decide how they would get there, striving to keep their settlers happy or becoming a rich tycoon.

Interestingly this game was pitched as more of an educational game that was akin Civilization, Sim City and Railroad Tycoon, they were looking to attract the audience of these games but were also looking at it being utilized in schools. This would have been Origin’s first simulation, and as far as I can see this game went no further than this pitch document.

Many thanks to Joe Martin for the document.

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Gladiator 3000 (by Ion Storm) [Cancelled Pitch – PC]

Gladiator 3000 was a pitch from Ion Storm (the team behind such titles as Daikatana, Deus Ex and Anachronox) to Origin for a 3D man-to-man RPG combat simulator that would have been developed for the PC. Ion storm were looking for a budget of around $500,000 depending if an engine was already available for them to use. Ion Storm were awaiting concept approval so they could start development.

The game was going to use the ancient lore of Gladiatorial battles from ancient Rome and put them into the future on a very inhospitable planet in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy. There would only be one complex on this planet and it would be solely use for gladiatorial combat. Players would have taken the role of a warrior who had been enslaved by an alien race and the only way to win his freedom was to fight for it. This would have been against other gladiators, robots, animals and alien monsters.

The game was going to utilize a very popular RPG system where players would allocate points to their warriors in different stats that they would want to excel in, they would also have the option to pick a pre-generated warrior or randomize them. Many different alien races would have been available for the player to choose and each of these would have different strengths and weaknesses. The arena that the player would fight in would have different scenarios and landscapes and was described in the document as infinitely variable. There would have been water, fire, ice pits and mazes included, and the player would have to change tactics depending on the arena they were going to fight in.

The other main features that were to be included in the game were limbs that could be chopped off, dozens of weapons from primitive to advanced alien technology, numerous different combat manoeuvres, three levels of difficulty, head to head combat online. Graphically Ion Storm wanted to use bitmapped images over rendered 3D skeletons.

Described as the main risk for the game, was the actual 3D figure technology that would be used to animate the characters in the game. Ion Storm wanted to minimize the risk by utilising technology that Origin had already started developing, such as the corridor rendering technology form Bounty Hunter, Ion Storm thought that if they could not utilise the technology the risks would greatly increase in developing this game.

This game does not look like it was taken any further than the initial pitch and so there is not much more information that can be found on this game, if you do have any please feel free to contact us.

Many thanks to Joe Martin for the document.

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