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Origin Systems, Inc. was a computer game developer based in Austin, Texas that was active from 1983 to 2004. It is most famous for the Ultima, Wing Commander
Wing Commander (franchise)
Wing Commander is a video game media franchise consisting of space combat simulation computer games from Origin Systems, Inc., an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures...

, and Crusader game franchises.

History


The company was founded in 1983 by brothers Richard Garriott
Richard Garriott
Richard Allen Garriott is a British-American video game developer and entrepreneur.He is also known as his alter egos Lord British in Ultima and General British in Tabula Rasa...

 and Robert Garriott
Robert Garriott
Robert K. Garriott is a computer game industry figure and entrepreneur. He co-founded Origin Systems and Destination Games with his brother, Richard Garriott, and was the CEO of NCsoft-North America until 2008. He is the second-eldest son of NASA astronaut Owen K. Garriott...

, their father Owen
Owen K. Garriott
Owen Kay Garriott, Ph.D. is a former NASA astronaut who spent 60 days aboard Skylab in 1973 and 10 days aboard Spacelab-1 in 1983. He is also the father of Robert Garriott and fellow spacefarer Richard Garriott, with whom he helped found Origin Systems.-Education and background:Garriott was born...

, and Chuck Bueche
Chuck Bueche
Chuck Bueche is a game programmer most famous for his involvement with the Ultima computer game series.Bueche was a high school friend and university roommate of Richard Garriott in Austin, Texas. After being introduced to computers by Garriott in 1981, Bueche founded his own company, Craniac...

 because of the trouble they had collecting money owed to Richard for his games released by other companies. Their first game was Ultima series, Ultima III: Exodus.

In September 1992, Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts, Inc. is a major American developer, marketer, publisher and distributor of video games. Founded and incorporated on May 28, 1982 by Trip Hawkins, the company was a pioneer of the early home computer games industry and was notable for promoting the designers and programmers...

 acquired the company.

In 1997, they released one of the earliest and most successful graphical MMORPG
MMORPG
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game is a genre of role-playing video games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world....

s, Ultima Online
Ultima Online
Ultima Online is a graphical massively multiplayer online role-playing game , released on September 24, 1997, by Origin Systems. It was instrumental to the development of the genre, and is still running today...

. After this title, Electronic Arts decided that Origin would become an online-only company after the completion of Ultima IX
Ultima IX
Ultima IX: Ascension is the ninth and final part of the main series of the computer role-playing game series Ultima.Following the Avatar's escape from Pagan, he is transported back to Britannia for one final battle with the Guardian, who is increasingly ruining the physical and moral fabric of...

 in 1999. However, within a year's time, in part due to Ultima IX's poor reception, EA canceled all of Origin's new development projects, including Ultima Online 2, Privateer Online, and Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

 Online. Richard Garriott left Origin shortly after and founded Destination Games
Destination Games
Destination Games was a computer game development company created in April 2000 by Richard Garriott, Robert Garriott and Starr Long, following their departure from Origin Systems. Destination was founded in Austin, Texas to develop massively multiplayer online role-playing games...

 in 2000.

In later years, Origin mainly existed to support and expand Ultima Online and to develop further online games based on the Ultima franchise such as Ultima X: Odyssey
Ultima X: Odyssey
Ultima X: Odyssey was to be a massively multiplayer computer role-playing game based in the Ultima universe, developed by Origin Systems for Electronic Arts....

, originally to be released in 2004 but later canceled. In February 2004, the studio was disbanded by Electronic Arts.
In early 2011, Electronic Arts restored the Origin brand for its electronic software distribution platform.

Notable employees




Origin employed many young game developers over its tenure who have since gone on to leading roles in numerous game development companies, especially in Austin. Among its prominent employees were (alphabetically):
  • Britt Daniel
    Britt Daniel
    John Britt Daniel is the co-founder, lead singer and guitarist of the Austin, Texas, rock band Spoon.-Biography:Britt Daniel was born in Galveston, Texas, and grew up in Temple, Texas, in a household of five children...

     was a composer for numerous titles and went on to found the rock band Spoon
    Spoon (band)
    Spoon is an American rock band formed in Austin, Texas. The band is composed of Britt Daniel ; Jim Eno ; Rob Pope and Eric Harvey .-History:...

    .
  • Chris Roberts creator of the Wing Commander Series. Founder of Digital Anvil
    Digital Anvil
    Digital Anvil was a computer game company. It was founded in 1996, when Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts left Origin Systems, Inc., along with many other employees....

    , later acquired by Microsoft.
  • John Romero
    John Romero
    Alfonso John Romero is a game designer, programmer, and developer in the video game industry. He is best known as a co-founder of id Software and was a designer for many of their games, including Wolfenstein 3D, Dangerous Dave, Doom and Quake...

     was shortly working for Origin in 1987-1988 before co-founding id Software
    Id Software
    Id Software is an American video game development company with its headquarters in Richardson, Texas. The company was founded in 1991 by four members of the computer company Softdisk: programmers John Carmack and John Romero, game designer Tom Hall, and artist Adrian Carmack...

  • Ken Demarest
    Ken Demarest
    Kenneth Llewellyn Demarest III is a computer game programmer, business person, and artist.As a technical innovator, he helped advance the state of the art in video games by developing the first 3D, texture-mapped characters ever seen in a computer game with BioForge...

     created the technical prototype for Ultima Online, directed BioForge, led programming on Ultima VII, and coded on Wing Commander 1.
  • Martin Galway
    Martin Galway
    Martin Galway is one of the best known composers of music for the Commodore 64 sound chip, the SID soundchip, and for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum...

     was a Sound Designer/Composer and Audio Technician who went on to work at Digital Anvil.
  • Mike McShaffry
    Mike McShaffry
    Mike McShaffry is a video game programmer, entrepreneur and author. he graduated from the University of Houston and began his video game industry career working for Origin Systems in 1990. He worked on titles such as Martian Dreams, Ultima VII: The Black Gate, Ultima VIII: Pagan, Ultima IX:...

     was lead developer of several of the Ultima series. Later co-founded other Austin studios and has written and taught on game development theory.
  • Paul Isaac was technical lead on the Wing Commander and Strike Commander series. He later became a lead developer at Digital Anvil
    Digital Anvil
    Digital Anvil was a computer game company. It was founded in 1996, when Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts left Origin Systems, Inc., along with many other employees....

     / Microsoft
    Microsoft
    Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

     worked on Freelancer and more recently joined Certain Affinity
    Certain Affinity
    Certain Affinity is an American video game development studio based in Austin, Texas, in the USA. It was founded in 2006 by Max Hoberman and a small number of other ex-Bungie employees and other industry veterans.-History:...

     as engineering lead.
  • Paul Steed
    Paul Steed
    Paul Howard Steed, Jr is a video game modeller and artist. He has worked for Origin Systems, Electronic Arts, id Software, Wild Tangent, Microsoft's Xbox, Atari, and now Exigent. He created artwork or models for several prominent game series including Wing Commander and Quake...

     was a leading artist on the Wing Commander series and went on to serve as an art lead for id Software on the Quake
    Quake (series)
    The Quake series is a line of first-person shooter video games produced by id Software.-Overview:The Quake series is somewhat unusual in that its focus changes frequently; the story of Quake II has nothing to do with Quake, and Quake III Arena has little to do with either of its predecessors...

     series.
  • Raph Koster
    Raph Koster
    Raphael "Raph" Koster is an American entrepreneur, game designer, and author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Koster is widely recognized for his work as the lead designer of Ultima Online and the creative director behind Star Wars Galaxies...

     was lead designer of Ultima Online and later joined Sony Online Entertainment in Austin developing Everquest II and Star Wars Galaxies.
  • Raymond Benson
    Raymond Benson
    Raymond Benson is an American author best known for being the official author of the adult James Bond novels from 1997 to 2003. Benson was born in Midland, Texas and graduated from Permian High School in Odessa in 1973...

     was head writer on Ultima VII—The Black Gate, contributed some writing to Ultima VII, Part Two—Serpent Isle, and went on to work as a game designer for MicroProse
    MicroProse
    MicroProse was a video game publisher and developer, founded by Wild Bill Stealey and Sid Meier in 1982 as Microprose Software. In 1993, the company became a subsidiary of Spectrum HoloByte and has remained a subsidiary or brand name under several other corporations since...

     and Viacom New Media, then later became an official continuation author of the James Bond 007 novels.
  • Richard Garriott
    Richard Garriott
    Richard Allen Garriott is a British-American video game developer and entrepreneur.He is also known as his alter egos Lord British in Ultima and General British in Tabula Rasa...

     aka "Lord British" creator of Ultima, and cofounder of Origin. Later founded Destination Games
    Destination Games
    Destination Games was a computer game development company created in April 2000 by Richard Garriott, Robert Garriott and Starr Long, following their departure from Origin Systems. Destination was founded in Austin, Texas to develop massively multiplayer online role-playing games...

     later acquired by NC Soft.
  • Rob Corell worked on the Wing Commander franchise
    Wing Commander (franchise)
    Wing Commander is a video game media franchise consisting of space combat simulation computer games from Origin Systems, Inc., an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures...

    , Ultima VIII
    Ultima VIII
    Ultima VIII: Pagan is a video game, the eighth part of the computer role-playing game series Ultima. It was not as well-received as its predecessors, Ultima VII and Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle...

     and Crusader. He went on to Simtex
    Simtex
    Simtex was a video game developer established by Steve Barcia in 1988. It created a number of well-known turn-based strategy games for the PC, most notably the first two Master of Orion games...

     where he worked on Master of Orion II. He then spent 11 years at Adobe Systems
    Adobe Systems
    Adobe Systems Incorporated is an American computer software company founded in 1982 and headquartered in San Jose, California, United States...

     as a senior architect for numerous projects, including CreatePDF.com, Adobe Bridge
    Adobe Bridge
    Adobe Bridge is an organizational software application created and released by Adobe Systems as a part of the Adobe Creative Suite, beginning with CS2. Its primary purpose is to link the parts of the Creative Suite together using an interface similar to the file browser found in previous versions...

     and Photoshop.com. He currently works at Portalarium.
  • Robert Garriott
    Robert Garriott
    Robert K. Garriott is a computer game industry figure and entrepreneur. He co-founded Origin Systems and Destination Games with his brother, Richard Garriott, and was the CEO of NCsoft-North America until 2008. He is the second-eldest son of NASA astronaut Owen K. Garriott...

    , brother of Richard Garriott, cofounded Origin and Destination Games
    Destination Games
    Destination Games was a computer game development company created in April 2000 by Richard Garriott, Robert Garriott and Starr Long, following their departure from Origin Systems. Destination was founded in Austin, Texas to develop massively multiplayer online role-playing games...

    .
  • Sheri Graner Ray
    Sheri graner ray
    Sheri Graner Ray has been making computer games since 1990. She has worked for such companies as Electronic Arts, Origin Systems, Sony Online Entertainment, and Cartoon Network, and has worked on such licenses as Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima, and Nancy Drew...

     was a writer and designer on several of the Ultima series. Went on to work with several major companies including Sony Online Entertainment and Cartoon Network. Also founder of Women In Games International.
  • Tom Chilton
    Tom Chilton (Game developer)
    Tom "Kalgan" Chilton was a lead game designer for Blizzard Entertainment and is a lead designer for the MMORPG World of Warcraft. He has been referred to as "Blizzard's PvP guru." Chilton, along with Rob Pardo and Jeffrey Kaplan, were the three Lead Designers for World of Warcraft: The Burning...

     was lead designer on Ultima Online: Age of Shadows
    Ultima Online: Age of Shadows
    Ultima Online: Age of Shadows is the fifth expansion pack for the popular MMORPG Ultima Online. It was released on February 11, 2003 and was the last title by developer Origin Systems.-Malas:...

     and went on to be a lead designer for Blizzard Entertainment
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher founded on February 8, 1991 under the name Silicon & Synapse by three graduates of UCLA, Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce and currently owned by French company Activision Blizzard...

    .
  • Tony Zurovec was the designer on Crusader: No Remorse and Crusader: No Regret Series. He worked on Ultima VIII: Pagan. He went on to work with the company Digital Anvil
    Digital Anvil
    Digital Anvil was a computer game company. It was founded in 1996, when Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts left Origin Systems, Inc., along with many other employees....

     on the PC Game Loose Cannon.
  • Warren Spector
    Warren Spector
    Warren Spector is a role-playing game designer and a video game designer. He is known for having worked to merge elements of role-playing games and first-person shooters. He currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, fantasy writer Caroline L. Spector...

     producer of Ultima Underworld which was developed by Doug Church
    Doug Church
    Doug Church is an American computer game designer and producer. He attended MIT in the late 1980s, but left and went to work with Looking Glass Studios, when they were making primarily MS-DOS-based first-person adventure/shooter/roleplaying games, including Ultima Underworld, Ultima Underworld II,...

     and Looking Glass Studios
    Looking Glass Studios
    Looking Glass Studios was a computer game development company during the 1990s.The company originally formed as Looking Glass Technologies, when Blue Sky Productions and Lerner Research merged....

     as well as System Shock, Wings of Glory and numerous other titles. He later joined Ion Storm Inc.
    Ion Storm Inc.
    Ion Storm Inc. was a Texas based developer of computer games founded by John Romero, Tom Hall , Todd Porter, and Jerry O'Flaherty, under the slogan "Design is Law"...

     and managed its Austin office, creating Deus Ex
    Deus Ex
    Deus Ex is an action role-playing game developed by Ion Storm Inc. and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000, which combines gameplay elements of first-person shooters with those of role-playing video games...

    .
  • Zack Booth Simpson was Director of Technology and Research Fellow and went on to co-found Titanic Entertainment and later became a pioneer of interactivity as a fine art
    Interactive art
    Interactive art is a form of installation-based art that involves the spectator in a way that allows the art to achieve its purpose. Some installations achieve this by letting the observer or visitor "walk" in, on, and around them; Some others ask the artist to become part of the artwork.Works of...

     with installations in museums around the world.

Characteristics


Origin's motto was "We Create Worlds" and its games were known for their well-realized plots and the amount of detail furnished. OSI was always ahead of the curve in terms of cutting edge graphics and game versatility.

The original Wing Commander, for instance, came with a booklet purporting to be a shipboard magazine named Claw Marks, written and published by the crew of the Tiger's Claw (ghost-written by Aaron Allston
Aaron Allston
Aaron Allston is an American game designer and novelist of many science fiction books, notably Star Wars novels. His works as a game designer include game supplements for several role-playing games, several of which served to establish the basis for products and subsequent development of TSR's...

); it provided the player with a number of irrelevancies (such as an interview with the star of a popular televised wartime drama) as well as convenient statistics and user guides for ships, weapon systems, and information regarding pilots and tactics on both Terran and Kilrathi sides and also hints on a rich background history.

Gameography

  • Ultima series (1983–1999)(also published remakes of the first two games)
  • Caverns of Callisto (1983)
  • Autoduel
    Autoduel
    Autoduel is a 1985 computer role-playing game published by Origin Systems for the Atari 400 and Atari 800 , Commodore 64, Apple II, Apple Macintosh, and MS-DOS. It was released in 1987 for the Atari ST and in 1988 for the Amiga...

     (1985)
  • Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony
    Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony
    Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony is a computer game produced by Origin Systems and designed by Greg Malone. It was originally released in 1985 for the Apple II series of personal computers...

     (1985)
  • Ogre (1986)
  • Ring Quest (1986)
  • 2400 A.D.
    2400 A.D.
    2400 A.D. is a 1987 computer role-playing game designed by Chuck Bueche and published by Origin Systems. It was developed for the DOS and Apple II platforms; a version for the Commodore 64 was planned, but never completed.-Premise:...

     (1987)
  • Times of Lore
    Times of Lore
    Times of Lore is an action role-playing game with a detailed world. It was released for several platforms, including PC, Commodore 64/128, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad, Atari ST, Apple II, NES, and Amiga.-Description:...

     (1988)
  • Knights of Legend
    Knights of Legend
    Knights of Legend, released by Origin Systems in 1989, is a computer role-playing game.The game had support to add region and adventure modules, which were supposed to be released starting in 1990...

     (1989)
  • Tangled Tales (1989)
  • Omega
    Omega (1989 computer game)
    Omega is a computer game developed by Stuart Marks and published by Origin Systems in 1989.-Summary:The game puts the player in the role of a cyber-tank designer and programmer. Given a limited budget, the player must design a tank that can defeat a series of ever more challenging opponent tanks...

     (1989)
  • Space Rogue
    Space Rogue
    Space Rogue is a science fiction computer game released in 1989 by Origin Systems, makers of the hit Ultima series, for the Apple II and Commodore 64 and later ported to the PC, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST and FM Towns. The game combined elements of both a space combat simulator and a role-playing...

     (1989)
  • Windwalker (1989)
  • Wing Commander series (1990–1998)
  • Bad Blood
    Bad Blood (video game)
    -Story:A nuclear war has turned the world into a wasteland. The pure-blooded humans have retreated in large cities while mutants live in small villages on the plains where they make a living by hunting the many monsters. Now one of the human leaders, Lord Dominix, wants to start a war to wipe out...

     (1990)
  • Shadowcaster
    Shadowcaster
    ShadowCaster is a first-person/role-playing computer game from 1993 developed by Raven Software. It was released by Origin Systems after Electronic Arts acquired them...

     (1993)
  • Strike Commander
    Strike Commander
    Strike Commander is a flight sim computer game for MS-DOS released in 1993 by the now defunct Origin Systems and designed by Chris Roberts. Its 3D graphics-engine used both gouraud shading and texture-mapping on both aircraft-models and terrain, an impressive feat at the time...

     (1993)
  • Privateer (1993)
  • System Shock
    System Shock
    System Shock is a first-person action-adventure video game developed by Looking Glass Technologies and published by Origin Systems. Released in 1994, the game is set aboard the fictional Citadel Station in a cyberpunk vision of 2072...

     (1994)
  • Pacific Strike
    Pacific Strike
    Pacific Strike is a 1994 DOS computer game. Created by Origin Systems, the game follows the pattern of the Wing Commander series, although it resembles more its cousin Strike Commander, in the sense that it is set in a more or less contemporary setting and allows the player to fly actual planes.The...

     (1994)
  • Wings of Glory
    Wings of Glory
    Wings of Glory is a combat flight simulator computer game for MS-DOS, developed by the now defunct Origin Systems. Released in 1994, it is one of the comparatively few World War I simulators.-Gameplay:...

     (1994)
  • Bioforge
    BioForge
    BioForge is a 1995 computer role-playing game published by Origin Systems for the PC. The game was marketed as a movie-like production, because of its in-depth plot and extensive voice acting...

     (1995)
  • Crusader series
    Crusader (computer game)
    - No Remorse :As the game progresses, the Captain uncomplainingly undertakes dangerous missions, often with substandard equipment, and his continued success gradually earns the respect of his fellow Resistance members....

     (1995–1996)
  • CyberMage: Darklight Awakening (1995)
  • Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow
    Longbow (computer game)
    AH-64D Longbow is a realistic PC flight simulator of the AH-64D Longbow. Released on May 31, 1996, this simulation was developed at Origin Systems, Inc. by producer Andy Hollis and director Will McBurnett...

     (1996)
  • Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow: Flash Point Korea (1996)
  • Privateer 2: The Darkening (1996)
  • Jane's Combat Simulations: Longbow 2
    Longbow 2
    Longbow 2 is the sequel to the best-selling AH-64D Longbow from Jane's Combat Simulations. Made at Origin Systems with executive producer Andy Hollis and producer Will McBurnett on board, and released on Nov 30, 1997. This sim improved on virtually every level of the first game, and it is...

     (1997) Windows
  • Ultima Online
    Ultima Online
    Ultima Online is a graphical massively multiplayer online role-playing game , released on September 24, 1997, by Origin Systems. It was instrumental to the development of the genre, and is still running today...

    (1997)

External links