Origin Systems, Inc. (sometimes abbreviated as OSI) 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, and Crusader game series'.
The company was founded in 1983 by brothers Robert and Richard Garriott, their father Owen and Chuck Bueche after Richard had terminated his contract with Sierra On-Line to publish the third part in Richard's Ultima series, Ultima III: Exodus.
In 1997, they released one of the earliest and most successful 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, 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 of 2004, the studio was disbanded by Electronic Arts.
Notable Employees Edit
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 (far from complete and in alphabetical order):
- Thomas Blom was a computer programmer for Origin who took a year off between projects to travel the world.
- Tony Bratton was a technical lead on Ultima, Privateer, and Wings of Glory. He went on to become the Director of Technology for Digital Anvil/Microsoft.
- Michelle Caddel Bratton was Lead Assistant to Richard Garriott for several years.
- Billy Cain was a designer / associate producer that worked on many titles including Ultima and Wing Commander. He currently co-owns the outsource development studio Critical Mass Interactive.
- Britt Daniel was a composer for numerous titles and went on to found the rock band Spoon.
- Marten "Bulldog"" Davies was Vice President Sales prior to the acquisition by EA, went on to co-found Digital Anvil
- Chris Davis was a Lead Artist and Art Director who worked on the Wing Commander series.
- Ken Demarest created BioForge and went on to co-found Titanic Entertainment.
- Art DiBianca was a programmer on the Wing Commander series and went on to co-found the Logic Factory.
- Madeline "Maddy" Fox was an Administrative Assistant to the Associate Producers on Chris' (Wing Commander) team.
- Beverly Garland was a Graphic Artist went on to Titanic Entertainment and later NC Soft.
- Richard Garriott aka "Lord British" creator of Ultima, and founder of Origin. Later founded Destination Games later acquired by NC Soft
- Martin Galway was a Sound Designer/Composer and Audio Technician who went on to work at Digital Anvil.
- Danny Garrett worked as a Graphic Artist.
- Jeff George was a creative writer at Origin who went on to raise and market tropical fish.
- Melanie Green was a Game Designer.
- Jim "wonderboy" Greer was a programmer.
- Todd Hartman was a programmer for the translation team.
- Scott Hazel worked in QA and Game Design. He went on to work at Thundercloud Subs.
- Andy Hollis produced Jane's Combat simulations and other titles. He later became COO of Origin.
- Paul Isaac was technical lead on the Wing Commander and Strike Commander series. He later became a lead developer at Digital Anvil / Microsoft working on Freelancer. And more recently joined Certain Affinity as engineering lead.
- Starr Long was director of Ultima Online and went on to co-found Destination Games with Richard and produced Tabula Rasa.
- Dennis Loubet was lead artist on the Ultima series and went on to co-found Asylumsoft.
- Al Nelson was the art department manager and an associate producer who was later involved in Cabela's Big Game Hunter among other games and founded a guitar amplifier company.
- Myque Ouellette was game designer on Ultima IX and now teaches at the Guildhall at SMU.
- Raph Koster was lead designer of Ultima Online and later joined Sony Online Entertainment in Austin developing Everquest II and Star Wars Galaxies.
- Mike McShaffry was lead developer of several of the Ultima series. Later co-founded other Austin studios and has written and taught on game development theory.
- Ana Moreno Amon worked at Origin twice - first as Executive Assistant to the VP and later as an Associate Producer.
- Steve Pietch (sp) was a Graphic Artist.
- Micael Priest was a locally famous artist who learned computer graphics on the job, during OSI's early years. He worked on several notable titles.
- Kevin Potter was a Game Designer and Dept. Manager.
- Sheri Graner Ray 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.
- Carol F. Roberts was a 3D artist/animator on Andy Hollis's "Skunkworks" team, worked on the Longbow games for Jane's Combat Sims.
- Chris Roberts creator of the Wing Commander Series. Founder of Digital Anvil, later acquired by Microsoft.
- Jake Rogers was an artist on several Origin titles, later became art director for Sony Online Entertainment, Austin working on Star Wars Galaxies.
- John Romero was shortly working for Origin in 1987-1988 before joining id Software.
- Frank Savage was lead developer of Wing Commander III and went on to lead MechAssault for Microsoft.
- 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 with installations in museums around the world.
- Dallas Snell was Vice President at the time Origin was acquired by Electronic Arts.
- Warren Spector producer of Ultima Underworld which was developed by Doug Church and Looking Glass Studios as well as System Shock, Wings of Glory and numerous other titles. He later co-founded ION Storm and managed its Austin office, creating Deus Ex.
- Paul Steed 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 was a programmer on the Wing Commander series. He went on to co-found The Logic Factory w/ Art DiBianca and other ex-OSI employees.
- Mark Vearrier was a lead artist and later Art Director for the last 3 Wing Commander titles. He has continued to work with several leading video game studios and helped to start up a few now defunct studios..
- "Stretch" Williams was an Audio Technician and Sound Designer.
- Tony Zurovec created Crusader: No Remorse. Later co-founded Digital Anvil and then Loose Cannon.
- Jeff Wilson, creator of the infamous VooDoo Memory system, went on to form the Library & Tools group at Origin. Later went on to work at the Human Genome Project, and currently works in Norway for Funcom Oslo AS, on a MMOG game.
- Jason Yenawine was a Lead Programmer on the Wing Commander series.
- John Henry worked in Production, moved to Play Tester and went on to found Henry Haunted House Productions which produces the Haunted Mansion and Forbidden Forest in Salem, New Hampshire.
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); 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.
- 2400 A.D. (1987)
- Autoduel (1985)
- Bad Blood (1990)
- Bioforge (1995)
- Crusader series (1995–1996)
- CyberMage: Darklight Awakening (1995)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow (1996)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow: Flash Point Korea (1996)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow 2 (1997)
- Knights of Legend (1989)
- Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony (1985)
- Ogre (1986)
- Omega (1989)
- Pacific Strike (1994)
- Privateer (1993)
- Privateer 2: The Darkening (1996)
- Shadowcaster (1993)
- Space Rogue (1989)
- Strike Commander (1993)
- System Shock (1994)
- Tangled Tales (1989)
- Times of Lore (1988)
- Ultima series (1983–1999)
- Ultima Online (1997)
- Windwalker (1989)
- Wings of Glory (1994)
- Wing Commander series (1990–1998)