Surprising everyone, the orginal programming and design team of Ultima Online have announced that Ultima Online has finally “gone gold”.

“It’s been a long time,” said Rick Delashmit, one of the team’s programmers, “but we think the game is finally out of testing and ready for wide release. I feel confident we have one of the most throughly tested games in the country. Now I can get to work on the Macintosh port.”

Raph Koster, designer of UO, agreed. “Even though I’m currently working on Star Wars Galaxies, finishing Ultima Online has always been a cherished dream of mine. We’ve tested many systems of player justice and monster ecology, and I feel confident that we finally have a working model for a modern, first-generation online RPG.”

Players were said to be relieved that, after one of the longest beta test periods in history (which EA actually billed users for, in a somewhat controversial decision at the time) they would be able to play a game they had long anticipated. “I so want to meet Lord British in game”, said one. “That would rock.”