In that regard Skalski hopes fans can at least "enjoy the nostalgic elements" that give "clear nods to the past" of the series. They enshrine "the eight virtues as a core pillar" to gameplay.
The new entry for the action RPG series is a free-to-play affair and was officially unveiled back in July this year at the San Diego Comic-Con. It's for PC and iPad in 2012.
"Well, we certainly didn’t have a shortage of themes from which to pull. Ultima as a franchise has so many different facets of inspiration as many of the fans know," said Jeff Skalski, talking of what key facets they're developing in Ultima Forever. "From day one, our primary focus was making sure we had the eight virtues as a core pillar to the game experience."
"We know we can’t make all Ultima fans happy, but we hope they can enjoy the nostalgic elements that are clear nods to the past and new components introduced as we usher in the series to a whole new connected generation of players. We’re aiming for more stimulation over simulation."
The 'eight virtues' determine a player's course on their epic journey to becoming an Avatar.
"From the moment you create your character and meet the Gypsy, you are impacting your virtues. Your epic quest to Avatarhood is held back by how well you uphold all eight virtues. You’ll need to meet a certain requirement before being able to touch the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom," described the franchise producer.
"Along the way your virtue levels will open up additional quests and unlock access to new gear to show off your true colors. And even beyond launch, we have some additional game mechanics planned to continue to reinforce our virtue system."
Each virtue has a class representing it and those unique abilities "across classes complement each other. Part of the fun is to figure out your build and the best way to match them with group mates for some dominating combinations."
Unlike some other F2P titles, Ultima Forever will not be limited by an energy system that slowly trickles out, forcing gamers to only spend a certain time with the game. "Yeah, I don’t know about you, but being limited to play a game in 2 minute intervals is not really my definition of a gaming experience," critiqued Skalski. "It’s kind of like saying the ad that appears before your YouTube video is really the content you’re looking to watch."
Microtransactions will of course play their own role: "Players can play as much as they like in Ultima Forever, and our approach to how we monetise the game is what I would call a fair handshake. Having fun in the game? Throw some coin our way, so we can continue to make the game even more awesome."
"We have a premium currency players can purchase at anytime to gain access to items and boost their level progression. It’s something we’ll discuss more as we get closer to release, but one thing we won’t sell is virtue. That’s something you’ll need to earn." The beta for Ultima Forever is available to sign up to right now.
"We knew getting into Ultima was a tall order, but we love the IP so much and felt it’s been dormant for far too long."
Check out the full interview between Jeff Skalski and VG247.