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 Origin Wakeheld 

UO2 'wake' held in Austin

Members of Origin, friends gather to mark passing of a company.
Thursday March 29, 2001 | Warrior

A gathering was held in Austin this evening as a form of celebration and mourning for the loss of what many called "a cool place to work."

Ultima Online 2 was cancelled by Electronic Arts last week and 85 members of the Origin team were laid off. Origin's founder Richard Garriott gathered a bunch of people together to remember the good times. Among them was former Origin staffer Harvey Smith, who now works for Ion Storm Austin as project leader on Deus Ex 2. Harvey relayed this report from the event:

Foto Galerie"The Origin 'wake' was tonight -- a gathering dedicated to marking the end of an era. Many of us in the game industry started there and have very fond memories of the place -- making cool games in an environment where you could routinely see dogs running through the halls and people not wearing shoes. We all spent lots of late night gaming there ... gaming of every sort: Nerf guns, RPGs, board games, LAN computer games ... you name it. The people there were drawn together by a love of games and of gamer culture. Many times, we'd just hang out, talking about game ideas until 4 in the morning. We played softball together, ate crunch meals together while working 18 hour shifts (during 100+ hour work weeks). It was a unique place, created initially by Richard Garriott, but later added to by a lot of really cool people.

So tonight we gathered in Austin, in a lightly wooded area (that will remain undisclosed), to "celebrate." The mood was one part somber, one part nostalgic, one part excited (by the chaos). Some of the people who had, until late, been working at Origin had built a giant bonfire, made of UO2 schedules, design docs and such. Several people, including (I think) Richard, Starr "Blackthorn" Long (UO2 producer) and Victor "Tungsten" Meinert (UO2 art director), lit the fire with torches in the form of a pyramid, sphere and cube. It was awesome. There was a small stuffed armadillo on top of the bonfire. As the fire lit, a column of sparks sizzled up into the black sky.

Walking around, I saw tons of people with whom I used to work. Everyone was laughing and talking about old times. George Sanger, AKA The Fat Man, had a dot matrix printout design doc of "Squadron," the game that eventually became Wing Commander. He threw it onto the blaze and we watched it burn.

Standing near the fire, I called a friend from Looking Glass Studios (which was closed abruptly last year) who had worked closely with Origin during Underworld and System Shock. He asked me to go high-5 Richard and I did. Everyone I know who ever worked with Origin was touched in some positive way by the experience. and everyone tonight seemed to understand that the moment was something special. I think the love of that place and of the people who powered it gave the air a weird electricity. It felt like a watershed event tonight.


For the occasion, Richard had printed up some black shirts that simply said:

ORIGIN
We Created Worlds...
1983-2001

- Wakeheld-Fotos von Todd Yarbrough und Mike McCoy