I’ve been keeping my eye on this project for a while now, and I’m excited to pass along the news that a team of dedicated Wing Commander fans and Origin Museum curator Joe Garrity, recently completed their 7-day archiving grind of almost 1 Terabyte of data at Mythic Studios. If you’re not familiar with Origin Systems, it’s the studio that produced the Ultima and Wing Commander games of the 80′s and 90′s, which was purchased by EA and went defunct in the early 2000′s.
Thankfully, EA did not toss out decades worth of artifacts, source code, artwork, design documents, and other archivists treasures that the folks at Origin produced. Months ago, the people over at the Wing Commander News site discovered that several boxes of Origin artifacts were shipped to EA Mythic, and quickly got to work on getting permission to archive all of the materials. All of that work paid off, when the team of dedicated archivists spent a week at Mythic photographing, digitizing, and copying, the tons of materials left from the Origin days.
Joe had this to say about the trip:
I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know some details on the trip to EA’s Origin archive at Mythic Entertainment. We spent a week going thru the last of Origin’s old holdings, and have sucessfully archived an enormous amount of data, including:
CD Images: 708
SyQuest Images: 25
3.5″ Disks: 274
Optical Discs: 2
DAT Tapes: 36
8mm Tape Images: 8
VHS Tapes: 101
The trip was a total success, with the recovery/documentation of some truly rare artifacts. The guys running Mythic were incredibly supportive and they treated us all like true professionals. We all got to live our childhood game developer fantasies and work with Origin data for twelve hours a day for a week — it was an incredible experience.
There was a total of just under 1 Terabyte of data that we recovered, in the form of ISO files and photographs. Technically, we don’t know specifically what we have yet, but I’ve seen box layouts, advertising proofs, video interviews, original artwork pieces, award trophies, design documents, budgets for live action film shoots… absolutely fascinating material for anyone interested in how these games were made.
Some highlights of what was recovered:
* Artwork from the unreleased Privateer 3
* Possible data from several unreleased games (Bioforge Plus, Technosaur, Ultima IX source code–Lost Vale was not specifically listed on any data labels, but there was a tape called U8-project archive)
* Detailed photographs of the *head* of Prince Thrakath (Wing Commander 3)
* Over 20 design docs for various Wing Commander, UO and UO2 projects
* videos of interviews w/Mark Hammil, Richard Garriott, Star Long, and others
There will be more discoveries made, as we catalogue all of the data.
The “official” word from Mythic’s office manager is that we need to vett everything before handing out data… but then their producer who arranged all his, Paul Barnett, has said he wants to see it preserved and available for people quickly–perhaps this may get to users hands!.
If you want to read more, and see some photos of the expedition, check out this photo diary of the experience. You might also want to check out some of the sexy, high resolution images of Privateer 3 taken from the archive, also available at WCNews.com. Thank you to the hard-working archivists and Mythic employees that made this possible. I’d personally love to play BioForge Plus, or work with the Ultima IX source code some day.