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Default Ultima - Series Retrospective @ Hardcore Gaming 101

November 2nd, 2011, 06:13
A site called Hardcore Gaming 101 has a huge retrospective series on Ultima, starting with an overview and working through each game up to (currently) Ultima VI and the rest to come. The link above is the start and there is a list of contents at the top to take you to each game. I'm going to take a quote about Ultima IV, because of its historical importance:
Baffling and stupid as this was, it put the Ultima creator to thinking. Concluding that role-playing games, including his own, were actually about killing, gathering loot and gaining power instead of anything that resembled heroism or role-playing, he sought to try something different for his next game. Ultima IV: The Quest of the Avatar is the result, and is still a wholly unique product in computer gaming history. There are bad guys but no villains, and while there is still dungeon-crawling, it is not to acquire gold and magic items. Instead, the end goal of Ultima IV is to be a hero.
Thanks to Ultima Aiera for the link.
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November 2nd, 2011, 06:13
And then there is Ultima Online which returns to killing, gathering loot and gaining power.

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November 2nd, 2011, 06:23
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
And then there is Ultima Online which returns to killing, gathering loot and gaining power.
For the most part, although I do have to say it has more non-combat activities than most MMOs.
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November 2nd, 2011, 11:17
I'd argue that Ultima Online was just as much about the virtual world aspect as it was about killing, loot and powergaming. If anything powergaming wasn't exactly that rewarding in Ultima Online, because you'd easily max your character combat skills and then what ?

What made Ultima Online special was the "non-combat" activities. There were people who barely fought anything and had their fun doing all this stuff instead.

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November 2nd, 2011, 11:23
I played uo for six months in europa during 1999 and mainly with other roleplayers. I never powergamed. The world had lots of roleplaying villages. Ours was in the heart clearing of ultima. I even met one red headed (or was she blond?) swedish gf through that game.

I did have some property though i.e I got a house full of stuff donated to me from another roleplayer who was quitting the game.

The only powergaming I did was back in the mud days. Zombiemud and batmud 1996-1997. I quickly became bored to the whole gamestyle and never tried it again (except wow for two weeks in 2008 which I found out to be a waste of time and money).

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November 2nd, 2011, 14:39
Good read! Glad to see a little love being given for the Worlds of Ultima/Adventure games. Can't wait until they publish that.

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November 2nd, 2011, 23:43
Aww, those were grand days of gaming! I miss Ultima.
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November 3rd, 2011, 01:33
I miss Ultima as well.
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November 4th, 2011, 14:32
FYI, while the original link only shows through Ultima VI on the navigation part at the top, he's put up through Ascension, though the pictures are wrong on Ascension. http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/ultima/ultima10.htm

I'm curious to see what he writes for Savage Empire/Martian Dreams given this comment in the Ascension article:

he package also included every piece of documentation for the games in multiple faithfully-rendered electronic formats on the CD, as well as a series of short interviews with Richard Garriott about himself, the previous games, and the upcoming Ultima IX. (the collection notably does not include the Underworld or Worlds of Adventure titles, which disappointed basically everyone).
I know that they never achieved the sales figures that Origin had been looking for, but I was under the impression that both titles were reasonably well received. Savage Empire has always been one of my favorite games. I remember being so incredibly excited when it was announced because it was an Ultima game that was outside of the main storyline, opening up endless possibilities for more Ultima games.

Also, I had never heard this before (from the Ultima VII page):

Serpent Isle has a storied development history. The game was originally intended to be a new Worlds of Ultima title, a game themed around snake-worshipping pirates, voodoo and swashbuckling. However, the two released Worlds of Ultima titles, Savage Empire and Martian Dreams, had disappointingly low sales and the outlook for the game wasn't improved by the resignation of project lead Jeff George from Origin during development.

……….

With the limited success of the Worlds of Adventure line and the change in focus of Serpent Isle, this became Origin's last attempt at creating a standalone Ultima with an existing engine.
The first part is news to me. I had never heard that Serpent Isle was intended to be a Worlds of Ultima game. The last part seems to be flat our wrong though as Authrian Legends was in development after Serpent Isle.

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November 4th, 2011, 19:58
I know that they never achieved the sales figures that Origin had been looking for, but I was under the impression that both titles were reasonably well received.
They definitly were well received, both amongst review and fans. Martian Dreams is often a fan favorite actually.. amongst those that DID play it that is. This is very much the issue with the World of Ultima games - most people never played it.

However I'm thinking his sentence is saying that everyone was dissapointed that the WoUs and the UWs were not included in the Ultima Collection, rather than being dissapointed by the games.

The first part is news to me. I had never heard that Serpent Isle was intended to be a Worlds of Ultima game. The last part seems to be flat our wrong though as Authrian Legends was in development after Serpent Isle.
That is indeed true, Serpent Isle began as a Worlds of Ultima type game however it was decided very early in development (the team was just being put together) to make it a follow up to Ultima VII instead. At this point it was not even decided for sure if this was meant to be an actual World of Ultima game, or something unrelated to Ultima just using the same engine.

Regarding Arthurian Legends, while it seems possible the project initiated as a World of Ultima game (on account of Richard Garriott mentioning this as a possible spin off back in the U7 days), the project in the end was -not- an Ultima: just a a Arthurian inspired RPG with the Ultima VII engine. I'm not sure how far the development went though, design was complete as docs but we have no exact idea how much was made. As I recall the project had a small team to begin with, and people kept being taken to put on other projects until there was eventually no one left to work on it. Sad.

I do think the development was around the same time as SI though… not sure. And I'm pretty sure there must have been other attempts at Ultima spin off we haven't heard off though in the end, they ended reusing Ultima engines for different stuff (ie the U8 engine for Crusader)

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November 4th, 2011, 20:51
Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
However I'm thinking his sentence is saying that everyone was dissapointed that the WoUs and the UWs were not included in the Ultima Collection, rather than being dissapointed by the games.
That makes more sense. It's almost like the WoU games have been whitewashed. Even on the ultimaforever website banner image, they are missing:





Regarding Arthurian Legends, while it seems possible the project initiated as a World of Ultima game (on account of Richard Garriott mentioning this as a possible spin off back in the U7 days), the project in the end was -not- an Ultima: just a a Arthurian inspired RPG with the Ultima VII engine. I'm not sure how far the development went though, design was complete as docs but we have no exact idea how much was made. As I recall the project had a small team to begin with, and people kept being taken to put on other projects until there was eventually no one left to work on it. Sad.
Are you sure about that? Unfortunately the link that had the interview Sheri Graner Ray with (http://pcgtw.retro-net.de/index.php?id=games:alegends) seems to be dead, but I recall specifically saying that you were the Avatar in it. Makes sense though that they would move it to stand alone since WoU didn't sell real well.

I wonder why that was though. I can understand why Serpent Isle didn't sell as well as Black Gate. Even though it was a stand alone game, the whole 'Part II' made people think they HAD to play Part I to play it, so they weren't going to pick up many new sales from people who hadn't played Black Gate. Total Marketing fail due to Garriott's insistence that to be a whole new entry in the series, it had to have a whole new engine.

I do think the development was around the same time as SI though… not sure. And I'm pretty sure there must have been other attempts at Ultima spin off we haven't heard off though in the end, they ended reusing Ultima engines for different stuff (ie the U8 engine for Crusader)
I remember reading that Ultima VIII actually started as a general concept for a WoU game centering around the Greek Gods.

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November 4th, 2011, 21:14
Are you sure about that? Unfortunately the link that had the interview Sheri Graner Ray with (http://pcgtw.retro-net.de/index.php?id=games:alegends) seems to be dead, but I recall specifically saying that you were the Avatar in it. Makes sense though that they would move it to stand alone since WoU didn't sell real well.
Gah. I'm pretty sure the confirmation that this wasn't an Ultima game… came from PC Games that Weren't actually. I found the page on the web archive:
http://web.archive.org/web/200708282…games:alegends

There's no mention of any Ultima relation so I would assume this was not an Ultima. Though I guess we'd need to ask someone who worked on it to be sure.

I wonder why that was though. I can understand why Serpent Isle didn't sell as well as Black Gate.
I haven't heard anything about Serpent Isle selling poorly actually. I could see it selling less, but it was still considered a core Ultima and was popular (unlike the WoUs), and with it based on UVII's technology it probably cost a lot more to produce. It was very much meant in the same spirit as the WoU, an easier to produce spin off with the existing engine while waiting for the next "core" Ultima. Except that rather than doing something unrelated like the WoUs, they decided to make it part of the core series instead and as far as I can tell it worked, so I don't think calling it Ultima VII Part II really was an issue. I actually liked Garriott's philosophy of having a new engine for each new numbered episodes.

I don't think they aimed to pick new fans with Serpent Isle, that was Ultima VIII's purpose

I remember reading that Ultima VIII actually started as a general concept for a WoU game centering around the Greek Gods.
I think I read that on Underworld Dragon's website, but I've never seen any sourse. It seems to me a lot of this stuff comes from an interview Garriott did after Ultima VII when he delt with more Ultima spin off and mentionned how having the Avatar stuck on Britannia could serve as a basis for more spin off with the Avatar experimenting on his Orb of the Moon and bam, here he was with the Arthurian Knights, or there here he was in anciennt Greece facing the gods. But it seemed more like random thoughts than actual games concepts.

I prefer to be careful about this kind of stuff, because fans tend to extrapolate a lot. Until I contacted Bill Armintrout to clear things up about Serpent Isle, a lot of people still were under the assumption that Ultima VII and Serpetn Isle were meant to be a single game that was cut in half due to time constraints. So I can see the Arthurian Legends as Ultima, and U8 as WoU in Greece ideas just being fans exprapolating too much from Garriott's comments.

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November 4th, 2011, 21:58
Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
There's no mention of any Ultima relation so I would assume this was not an Ultima. Though I guess we'd need to ask someone who worked on it to be sure.
That's the page I was thinking of. I guess I just took it to mean Ultima since it started off talking about WoU.

I haven't heard anything about Serpent Isle selling poorly actually. I could see it selling less, but it was still considered a core Ultima and was popular (unlike the WoUs), and with it based on UVII's technology it probably cost a lot more to produce.
That's sort of what I was getting at. Essentially, I remember Garriott saying it cost more to produce than Black Gate (not sure why that would exactly) and didn't sell quite as well as Black Gate, so it didn't make sense to do it again.

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November 4th, 2011, 22:23
Erm d'oh, I meant to say it probably cost a lot LESS to produce than UVII. Not more.

I actually fail to see how it could possibly have cost more since it was done in less time, with existing tech, and not a lot of new art assets. I'd be curious to see this interview from Garriott if you know where it is.

It's not like the completly dropped these ideas after SI though even for Ultima games.

As a matter of fact, the very first iteration of Ultima IX was built off Ultima VIII's tech since it used Crusader's engine (to be more precise Ultima IX and Crusader were being developped at the same time sharing the same tech and a lot of code - so they both were built upon U8's engine) but Garriott was dissatisfied with the direction it was taking which lead to its cancellation and the overhead 3D "Bob White" version of the game to start in its stead.

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November 4th, 2011, 22:47
Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
Erm d'oh, I meant to say it probably cost a lot LESS to produce than UVII. Not more.

I actually fail to see how it could possibly have cost more since it was done in less time, with existing tech, and not a lot of new art assets. I'd be curious to see this interview from Garriott if you know where it is.
I had the same thought, but according to Garriott it did:

http://web.archive.org/web/200710181…ltima/g15.html

"The tools and the actual game are so interwoven that the task of extracting the tools and using them for another game is about as expensive as building a game from scratch.



That brings along to Ultima VII part 2: Serpent Isle, which was actually closer to the model of the Worlds of Ultima. Serpent Isle was really expensive. It cost more to make Serpent Isle than Ultima VII part one. It actually sold quite well and was reviewed better than the original, but again, it didn't really make economic sense. "

It's not like the completly dropped these ideas after SI though even for Ultima games.

As a matter of fact, the very first iteration of Ultima IX was built off Ultima VIII's tech since it used Crusader's engine (to be more precise Ultima IX and Crusader were being developped at the same time sharing the same tech and a lot of code - so they both were built upon U8's engine) but Garriott was dissatisfied with the direction it was taking which lead to its cancellation and the overhead 3D "Bob White" version of the game to start in its stead.

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Was that the one that was going to be party based? I remember seeing some screen shots from the alpha build. Wish we'd had that!

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November 4th, 2011, 23:44
I had the same thought, but according to Garriott it did:

http://web.archive.org/web/200710181…ltima/g15.html
Thanks for the link! That's an interesting read if rather surprising though at least it does confirm that Serpent Isle sold well

Was that the one that was going to be party based? I remember seeing some screen shots from the alpha build. Wish we'd had that!
We know very little from the first itteration of Ultima IX. There are elements hinting it was to take place on the Guardian's Homeworld rather than Britannia, and rumors that it was basically to follow the arcadish gameplay of Ultima VIII… but no conclusive proof. The only thing we know for sure (thanks to Jason Ely who commented a bit on this a decade ago) is that it was to use some form of dual scale map like Ultima I~V - likely because the Ultima VIII engine even improved could not handle a seamless world. So I guess a party could have been part of it… though if it really was meant to follow the same arcadish gameplay philosophy as Ultima VIII, I assume it could have been solo as well.

We never saw any pics of this version so if you saw images from an older Ultima IX version this was most likely from the Bob White version, which used an overhead 3D engine - much like Dungeon Siege or Neverwinter Nights before their time. (The 3D engine of the final game was actually built upon the overhead one).

You can see some of these pics there:
http://www.unseen64.net/2010/09/29/ultima-ix-9-pc-beta/

This version definitly had a party, though we don't know of how many characters.

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November 9th, 2011, 17:13
Yeah, that was the one. Thanks! Wish we'd had that one.

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November 9th, 2011, 17:29
Speaking lost Ultima games, have you guys heard of the Ultima 8 add-on called The Lost Vale.

I would bought that in a second. I actually liked Ultima 8. It wasn't something I would consider the best Ultima or even in the spirit of the past games, but still it was fun playing a necromancer.

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November 9th, 2011, 17:42
I've seen it on a lot of 'lost games' lists. Amazing that the thing went gold, yet was completely lost. You would think someone would have saved a copy if it was actually completed.

I didn't like U8 at all. Part of the reason was that my PC couldn't play it when it came out, then when I finally had a PC that could play it, I just didn't like the controls and such. Probably should have given it more of a try though. I think one problem was that I tend not to like dark games. I like bright games that cheer me up playing them. The whole thing doesn't have to be bright of course.

I still haven't finished U6 Project, but when I do, I was thinking I might run through U7 1&2 again. If I ever get that far, I might need to play U8 finally too!

Strangely, Ultima V was always my favorite game and it is anything but bright and cheery. I guess I just didn't notice due to the graphics!

I wish the guy on the link in the OP would finish his series, I really want to read what he has to say on the Worlds of Ultima games.

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