Welcome to the tenth and final episode in our “Where Are They
Now” series. I’ve been a gamer since the days of
Pong, and I thought the time for someone to take a look at famous game
developers from days gone by, and find out how (and if) they're still
involved in making the games we love to play, was long overdue. For our
final show, what better choice to pick than a man whose career started
with one of the genre’s pioneer games, Ultima Online? Who am
I talking about? Paul Sage.
Claim to Fame
Paul Sage may have started out in the bowels of Customer Support for
Origin before Ultima Online came to fruition, but it was only a matter
of time before his hard work allowed him to crawl from the bottom. He
worked his way up the ladder and eventually became the Lead Designer
for Ultima Online. Needless to say, Paul’s been around the
industry for a very long time and has seen its triumphs and
From Origin, Paul went to NCSoft and began working on a new title they
were creating with one of our previously highlighted developers,
Richard Garriott on his ambitious Tabula Rasa project. The development
of the game went through numerous iterations and restarts, but
eventually made its way to the public. Sadly, the title
didn’t meet with much commercial success although there are
aspects of the game that players continue to discuss with fondness.
My personal favorite was the alien language system that had been talked
about early in the development and eventually made its way into the
game, though not in its originally discussed form. It was still cool
and something I’d like to see a developer take a chance with
today and add into a game.
Where Are They Now and Why the Hell Should I Care?
Ah, I was wondering when you were finally going to ask that question!
Seriously, though, Paul is not just a game industry veteran with a
distinguished past career. He’s currently the Creative
Director for one of the most anticipated MMO titles to come about in
quite some time – Elder Scrolls Online. While we were all a
little heartbroken to hear about the game being delayed, that
doesn’t mean everything I’ve seen of the title so
far still doesn’t have me excited.
People worry that the MMOs of today are becoming too easy, too fast,
too boring, etc. As I mentioned earlier, Paul is a serious industry
vet. Not only is he a vet, he’s a vet of one of the most
infamous and brutal games of all time. Ultima Online was famous in the
beginning for being a savage land and it took guts (or severe mental
illness) to stick it out in the early days.
I remember when I finally picked up Ultima Online a couple months after
its release at the request of a friend of mine that was constantly
going on about it. I agreed and started a Mage. After an hour or so of
getting my ass kicked by cats and cows, I ventured out into the
wilderness where I was promptly murdered by another player who also
took my wizard hat I had just purchased. The game may not have been for
me, but as history can attest, there were plenty of people that loved
it. The moral of the story? Paul was there for all of it so knows a
thing or two about what us old-school players want in a game.
I’m sure Elder Scrolls Online will cater in some ways to a
new generation, but I have faith that there’s plenty of love
for us old timers as well.
Paul’s not only a developer icon, he’s also an
extremely nice man. I’ve had the occasion to meet and speak
with him a couple of times, and one night at a lovely dinner with
plenty of drinks. I can safely say with zero hesitation that he is a
geek’s friend. Whether it be video games, pen and paper RPGs,
good taste in movies, and plenty of reading material –
he’s a wealth of information and share’s our love
of it all.
I’m happy to see developers of our youth still active in the
creation of the games we’ve all loved for so long.
It’s been a lot of fun doing this series of articles and I
hope you’ve all enjoyed them. To all the developers
I’ve highlighted over the past few months, I’d like
to say thank you. As a former Community Coordinator for BioWare and
ArenaNet, I know first-hand the harsh backlash of player revolt when
something is added into a game they don’t like. Thanks for
standing in the fire and continuing to create content we want to play!