Although scheduled to be released sometime in 2004, EA cancelled the project on June 30, 2004, after the closure of Origin and the layoffs of several employees. Despite being a multiplayer game, UXO was being marketed as a continuation of the Ultima series that was last visited with Ultima IX rather than as a sequel or replacement to the still commercially successful Ultima Online. Although the "X" in the title is a Roman numeral 10 (in keeping with its place in the sequence of numbered Ultima games), it is sometimes pronounced as "eks," instead of "ten."
Ultima X: Odyssey was the first Ultima game developed after series creator Richard Garriott left Origin, and is the second Ultima-based MMORPG to be cancelled (Ultima Worlds Online: Origin — Ultima Online 2 — was cancelled in 2001). The game's demise followed in the wake of other MMORPG cancellations in 2004, including True Fantasy Live Online, Mythica, and Warhammer Online (which was revived in 2005). EA noted that it would focus development efforts on Ultima Online but the real reason behind the cancellation was the fact that EA decided to move the UXO development team from Austin, Texas to another facility in California where a small team was already assisting on the creating of the game . Most of the developers couldn't cope with the move because it would mean they would have to go away from their families and friends in Austin. After this unexpected turn of event, EA cancelled Westwood Studios' Earth & Beyond with the intent of moving its development team full time on Ultima X. In the wake of the cancellation however, most of the development team chose to leave Electronic Arts instead. Left with no team to work on the game, it was eventually decided to cancel the debut of the last game of the Ultima Series.
Ultima X: Odyssey was to use the lauded Unreal engine (a prototype was developed using the Sims 2 engine which would have replaced the Unreal engine plans). As with most MMORPGs, players would have had to pay a monthly fee to play it. UXO hoped to revitalize the MMORPG genre, which many have criticized as being full of EverQuest clones. For example, it promised exciting combat as opposed to the "press 'A' to auto-attack" found in many MMORPGs. The fiction stated that after Ultima IX, the Avatar created the new world called Alucinor in which UXO is set. Moongates throughout Alucinor would allow players to traverse the game world quickly and all players would have the ability to teleport their friends to their current location.
Drawing from the single-player Ultima games, Ultima X: Odyssey was to use the established Virtues of Ultima in addition to skills, experience points and levels. Players would be able to practice in the eight Virtues (Compassion, Honesty, Honor, Humility, Justice, Sacrifice, Spirituality, and Valor) and eventually reach the maximum level with it. If a player maxed out each Virtue, they became very powerful, attaining the power of the Avatar. This example, provided by EA during development, could help in understanding the Virtue system:
- A hooded guy asks you to get his gold medallion back that has been in his family for centuries. He tells you who stole it and where that person could be found. Once you find the thief, he tells you that he only stole the medallion so he could sell it and buy bread to eat. From here you can either be Compassionate by giving him some bread, letting him live, but taking the medallion back; or practice Justice and kill him, taking the medallion to its rightful owner. When you return to the hooded guy who gave you the job, you find out the medallion isn't his, but another person's who got robbed by the foodless guy, and now you can either Honor the agreement and leave with your payment, or be Honest and take the medallion to its real owner, killing the person who gave you the job.
The storyline of the game was meant to pick up right where Ultima IX left off, in the story the Guardian and Avatar are now one being, and both the Avatar and Guardian halves are fighting to dominate one another and take control. The game itself would have taken place in a world inside the Avatar's mind (the world was called "Alucinor", which roughly translates from Latin to something like "Wandering in the mind"), and the people in the world were tasked to follow the eight virtues in the hopes of aiding the Avatar gain the power to completely defeat the Guardian.
- Humans of Alucinor
- Gargoyle History
- Elven History
- Orcish History
- Phodas History
- Pixie History
- Planned Monsters for Ultima X
Richard Garriott's Ultima X
Preceding Odyssey, Richard Garriott first revealed in interviews conducted around the time of Ultima VII and Ultima VIII his intention for the series to continue into a tenth chapter after the release of Ultima IX. While not divulging possible plot details, Garriott indicated Ultima X was already at an incipient stage in development and would possibly feature a return to three-dimensional, Ultima Underworld-style dungeons, even going so far as to experiment with support for stereoscopic virtual reality devices.
Beyond these early explorations, the game appeared to remain in conceptual form throughout the following years, receiving passing mentions on several occasions in 1996. While presenting Ultima IX at that year's E3, Garriott spoke of a potential creative direction for its sequel, in which a detailed story would unfold in a multi-player environment—in essence, merging the core series with its spin-off, Ultima Online. Months later at Dragon*Con, he revealed Ultima X would see the player taking the role of a new protagonist, for the first time relegating the role of the Avatar to a non-playable character, or potentially even a historical figure. By this point, it had also been decided that the game would take place in an era of early modern science, drawing thematic inspiration from such sources as Leonardo da Vinci's experiments. As well, Garriott expanded upon earlier comments with the possibility of the title playing entirely in a first-person perspective, potentially even merging it with the concurrently in-development Ultima Underworld III.
It was not until 1999, as work on Ultima IX drew to a close and the game was released, that Richard Garriott again divulged particulars of his next project, now cryptically referred to as X (the Roman numeral) and seemingly distanced from the tangible connection it once shared with its predecessors. Instead, X was vaguely described at the time as featuring a gameplay style akin to Ultima but taking place in its own universe, with Garriott remaining ambiguous as to whether it would eventually blossom into a tenth lineal Ultima as originally intended. Such speculation was settled, however, when the veteran designer's departure from Origin in early 2000 to form Destination Games engendered the project coming to fruition at the fledgling studio, in the form of the sci-fi MMORPG, Tabula Rasa.
- Taylor, David. "Lord British: A Fantasy Interview". Ultima Archive. April 23, 1992. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
- Fuhrhop, Christian. "Lord British talks about Ultima VIII in Berlin". Usenet. December 6, 1993. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Richard Garriott on early Ultima IX Version E3 1996". YouTube. May 1996. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Brewmeister's Transcript of Lord British's DragonCon Speech". The Ultima Compendium. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
- Whitta, Gary et al. "Ultima IX". PC Gamer. Imagine Publishing, Inc.: October 1996. Page 104.
- Ultima X: Odyssey official site, showing the cancellation notice by producer David Yee
- EA announces cancellation, June 30, 2004
- Ultima X trailer on YouTube
- Katixa: UXO - hosts many screenshots of UXO (Spanish)