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|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||March 4, 1983|
|Headquarters||Austin, Texas, U.S.|
|Richard Garriott and Robert Garriott (co-founders)|
Wing Commander series
Wings of Glory
(archived from 1997)
Origin Systems, Inc. (commonly referred to as Origin, sometimes abbreviated as OSI) was an American video game developer based in Austin, Texas, which was active from 1983 to 2004. It is best known for the Ultima and Wing Commander series.
Brothers Richard Garriott and Robert Garriott, their father Owen, and Chuck Bueche founded Origin Systems in 1983 because of the trouble they had collecting money owed to Richard Garriott for his games released by other companies. The company's first game was Ultima III: Exodus; because of Ultima's established reputation, Origin survived the video game crash that occurred that year. It published many non-Ultima games, and Richard Garriott claimed that he received the same royalty rate as other developers.
By 1988 Origin had 15 developers in Austin, Texas, and 35 other employees in New Hampshire. In September 1992, Electronic Arts acquired the company for $35 million in stock, despite a dispute between the two companies over EA's 1987 game Deathlord. Origin, with about $13 million in annual revenue, stated that it had considered an Initial Public Offering before agreeing to the deal.
By 1996, Origin had expanded to more than 300 employees, most of whom were divided among small, largely autonomous development teams. In 1997, Origin released one of the earliest graphical MMORPGs, Ultima Online. After this title, Electronic Arts decided that Origin would become an online-only company after the completion of Ultima IX 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 Online. Richard Garriott left Origin shortly after and founded Destination 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, originally to be released in 2004 but later canceled. In February 2004, the studio was disbanded by Electronic Arts. The Longbow series of simulation games was developed at Origin and published under the "Jane's Combat Simulations" brand of Electronic Arts. A follow-on project, Jane's A-10, was under development when the project was canceled in late 1998 and the team moved to other projects.
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 by surname):
- Eric "Maleki" Avila – Player Relations Manager (1995–2004)
- Raymond Benson – Writer, Audio (1992–1993)
- Tom Chilton – Lead Designer (2001–2003)
- Was lead designer on Ultima Online: Age of Shadows and went on to be a lead designer for Blizzard Entertainment.
- Rob Corell – Programming, Voice Acting (1992–1995)
- Worked on the Wing Commander franchise, Ultima VIII: Pagan and Crusader: No Remorse. He went on to Simtex where he worked on Master of Orion II. He then spent 11 years at Adobe Systems as a senior architect for numerous projects, including CreatePDF.com, Adobe Bridge and Photoshop.com. He currently works at Portalarium.
- Britt Daniel – Sound Designer, Composer (1994)
- Was a composer for numerous titles and went on to found the rock band Spoon.
- Marten Davies – Director/VP Sales (1991–1994)
- Having founded the first UK games software publisher in the US, Firebird Licensees Inc. in 1985, went on to co-found Digital Anvil with Chris Roberts and others.
- Ken Demarest – Game Designer, Programmer (1990–1995)
- Martin Galway – Sound Designer/Composer, Audio Technician (1991–1994)
- Went on to work at Digital Anvil.
- Richard Garriott – Co-Founder, Game Designer, Programmer (1989–2000)
- Robert Garriott – Co-Founder, Business (1989–2000)
- Brother of Richard Garriott, co-founded Origin Systems and Destination Games.
- Paul Isaac – Lead Programmer (1987–1997)
- Raph Koster – Lead Designer (1995–2003)
- Scott Kreuser – Supported the entire software roadmap
- Went on to work for Dell Computer as a Worldwide New Product Project Manager.
- Starr Long – QA Lead, Designer (1992–2000)
- Director of Ultima Online, and co-founder of Destination Games.
- Denis Loubet – Artist (1989–2002)
- Was the first artist Origin hired. He did many box cover paintings, manual illustrations, in-game art and animation, and cinematics.
- Aaron Martin – Developer (1990–1992)
- Developer of gaming systems for multiple releases. Focused on Assembly language and C++. Developed and ported 3D graphic engines, and interactive music systems to enhance, and provide next-gen gaming experiences. After, he went into "security" and decided to become an engineer and capitalist around the globe.
- Mike McShaffry – Lead Developer (1990–1997)
- Later co-founded the other Austin studios and has written and taught on game development theory.
- M. A. "Al" Nelson – Art Department Manager, AP (1991–1992)
- After Origin, Nelson worked as a project manager at Sony Online Entertainment and BioWare.
- Sheri Graner Ray – Writer, Designer (1993–1994)
- Frank Roan – Game Designer, Programmer, Director, Producer (1993–1998)
- Chris Roberts – Game Designer, Creative Director (1989–1996)
- John Romero – Programmer (1987–1988)
- Was shortly working for Origin before co-founding id Software.
- Andrew Sega – Music Composer (1995–1998)
- Aka Necros; was a Software Engineer/Composer who went on to work for Digital Anvil.
- Zack Booth Simpson – Programmer (1992–1995)
- Was Origin's 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 with installations in museums around the world.
- Warren Spector – Producer (1989–1996)
- Producer of Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss which was developed by Doug Church and Looking Glass Studios, as well as its sequel, System Shock, Wings of Glory and numerous other titles. He later joined Ion Storm and managed its Austin office, creating Deus Ex. Later co-founded the now-defunct Junction Point Studios and now works at OtherSide Entertainment as its Studio Director.
- Paul Steed – Artist (1991–1995)
- Was a leading artist on the Wing Commander series and went on to serve as an art lead for id Software on the Quake series.
- Jason Templeman – Programmer, Game Designer (1989–1995)
- Richard Tolar – Programming (1997–1998)
- Was one of the Linux port team members.
- Brian White – QA, Artist (1995–1999)
- Was on the Felucca design team.
- Tony Zurovec – Programmer, Designer (1992–1996)
List of games
Developed and published
- Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness (1981)
- Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress (1982)
- Ultima III: Exodus (1983)
- Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985)
- Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988)
- Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)
- Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (1990)
- Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams (1991)
- Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992)
- Forge of Virtue (1992)
- Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle (1993)
- The Silver Seed (1993)
- Ultima VIII: Pagan (1994)
- Ultima Online (1997)
- Ultima IX: Ascension (1999)
Wing Commander (series):
- Wing Commander I (1990)
- The Secret Missions (1990)
- The Secret Missions 2: Crusade (1991)
- Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi (1991)
- Speech Accessory Pack (1991)
- Special Operations 1 (1991)
- Special Operations 2 (1992)
- Wing Commander: Privateer (1993)
- Righteous Fire (1994)
- Wing Commander Academy (1993)
- Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (1994)
- Wing Commander: Armada (1994)
- Proving Grounds (1994)
- Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (1996)
- Privateer 2: The Darkening (1996)
- Wing Commander: Prophecy (1997)
- Secret Ops (1998)
Games with single sequel:
- Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony (1985)
- Ring Quest (1986; sequel to The Quest)
- Windwalker (1989; sequel to Moebius)
- Crusader: No Remorse (1995)
- Crusader: No Regret (1996)
- Jane's AH-64D Longbow (1996)
- Jane's Longbow 2 (1997)
Games without sequel:
- Caverns of Callisto (1983)
- Autoduel (1985)
- Ogre (1986)
- 2400 A.D. (1987)
- Omega (1989)
- Tangled Tales: The Misadventures of a Wizard's Apprentice (1989)
- Space Rogue (1989)
- Bad Blood (1990)
- CyberMage: Darklight Awakening (1995)
- BioForge (1995)
- Transland (1996)
- Times of Lore (1988)
- Knights of Legend (1989)
- Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992)
- Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds (1993)
- Shadowcaster (1993)
- System Shock (1994)
- Abuse (1996)
Most of these projects had no release date announced (NRDA) prior to their cancellation.
- Crusader: No Survivors (cancelled multiplayer expansion for Crusader: No Regret) (NRDA)
- Crusader 3: No Escape / Crusader: No Mercy / Crusader II (NRDA)
- Worlds of Ultima: Arthurian Legends (NRDA)
- Ultima Worlds Online: Origin (NRDA)
- Harry Potter Online (NRDA)
- Jane's A-10 (NRDA)
- Privateer 3 (NRDA)
- Strike Team (NRDA)
- Wing Commander VII (NRDA)
- Ultima X: Odyssey (2004)
- Warren Spector interviewing Richard Garriott for his University of Texas Master Class in Video Games and Digital Media 
- Durkee, David (Nov–Dec 1983). "Profiles in Programming / Lord British". Softline. p. 26. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- Ferrell, Keith (January 1989). "Dungeon Delving with Richard Garriott". Compute!. p. 16. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- Varney, Allen (October 11, 2005). "The Conquest of Origin". The Escapist. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
- "Electronic Arts And Origin Pool Resources in "Ultimate" Acquisition". Computer Gaming World. November 1992. p. 176. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- "Origin". Next Generation. Imagine Media (13): 105–8. January 1996.
- Interview with Richard Garriott, Executive Producer, NCSoft Austin