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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar - A Miracle That The New Ultima Exists

Default Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar - A Miracle That The New Ultima Exists

August 19th, 2013, 21:43
Kotaku has an interesting article about Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar writing that it's a miracle the game even exists.

The back-story behind a new Ultima game should be a horror show: Ultima—beloved role-playing game series designed by the great Richard Garriott who sold his company to cold, corporate EA and down the tubes Ultima would go, returning in 2013 only for money-grubbing reasons. Nope. That's not it.

Some of that is accurate.

Some of that is part of the secret origin behind Ultima Forever, a re-interpretation of Garriott's beloved PC adventure Ultima IV, transformed into an massively multiplayer iOS game and released last week for zero dollars.

The game is nearly a gigabyte. It's all hand-painted, 2D, top-down. At its creators' most recent estimate, its play area is about 11,562 iPad screens large (down from at least 15,000 because they had to cut some content). It includes 22,318 lines of dialogue—141,660 words.

The game comes from EA Mythic, which was briefly a part of BioWare. As a BioWare game it was going to be made for Netbooks, then for Facebook. It was going to be a PC browser game, then it was going to be downloadable, according to Forever producer Carrie Gouskos and studio general manager Paul Barnett. "It went from 2D to 2.5D," Gouskos told me. "It went from Zelda to Castle Crashers to Diablo light."
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August 19th, 2013, 21:43
So… only for the iPad? Ah well.
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August 19th, 2013, 22:56
Yeah, I signed up to beta test and wondered why I never got anything. Guess I told them I didn't have an iPad.

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August 20th, 2013, 01:40
I suppose it won't work on my ipad v1. Checked… yep it's not…. Ha well.
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August 20th, 2013, 10:36
A miracle ? I really think this is completely wrong use of the word.
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August 20th, 2013, 17:11
Well, ipad or mobile silly devices = kiss of death for me, no thanks! These people that piss on the values of pc's simply amuse me.



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August 20th, 2013, 19:40
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
A miracle ? I really think this is completely wrong use of the word.
I'm with you. It's rather an "over-the-top" use of that word, imho, but nothing more.

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August 20th, 2013, 23:03
Ultima's have been written exclusively for a number of platforms over the decades

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima:…from_Mt._Drash

one even exclusive for mobile



Requiring a hard drive and making it exclusively for IBM/Tandy compatibles or Amiga was controversial back in the day too. No one owned an Amiga and IBM-PC's were garbage. No one could afford a $1000 20mb hard drive except the company you worked for.

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http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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August 21st, 2013, 05:27
Honestly anyone decrying the making of a game for the iPad is a luddite, pure and simple.

HOWEVER, *THIS* game is not a miracle on any level. It has some fun, loads of typical in-your-face $$$ crap (that you can fortunately play around), and well, it is just a middling experience at best. Even for an iPad RPG, which is not an area densely populated with greatness!

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August 21st, 2013, 05:32
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
HOWEVER, *THIS* game is not a miracle on any level. It has some fun, loads of typical in-your-face $$$ crap (that you can fortunately play around), and well, it is just a middling experience at best. Even for an iPad RPG, which is not an area densely populated with greatness!
That's the same thing I said in the previous topic. The article was an interesting read about the troubled development at least.

Though I'm always reminded as everyone knows by now it's Kotaku. Nothing they write surprises me anymore.

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August 21st, 2013, 11:56
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Honestly anyone decrying the making of a game for the iPad is a luddite, pure and simple.
Not if that game is made instead of another game tailored for stronger platforms - because the people behind it are trying to make more money with a short and pleasant development cycle.

If you think that's never the case, you're not being very realistic.

Also, luddite is a bad choice - as they were protesting against stronger machines, which is actually the reverse of what's going on here.
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August 21st, 2013, 12:14
I have to say that I agree with D'Art here - the word luddite is a very loaded concept and I think txa's reaction is a little on the extreme.

I'm not defending Ultima's right to exist or not exist on the iPad, merely indicating that perhaps there are legitimate reasons for believing in either point.

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August 21st, 2013, 12:58
Yes, but the word "miracle" is imho quite over-stretched, too.

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August 21st, 2013, 14:37
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Not if that game is made instead of another game tailored for stronger platforms - because the people behind it are trying to make more money with a short and pleasant development cycle.
But the 'instead' is a fallacious argument … comparing the two is not realistic. Dragon Age Journeys (remember that web browser game?) didn't stop Baldur's Gate 3 from being made, but from the way some people here talk every RPG released for a smartphone/tablet is stopping the next Troika from creating the next new deep RPG. Um. no.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
If you think that's never the case, you're not being very realistic.
Perhaps you are right - which is why we are more and more dependent on small devs and indies.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Also, luddite is a bad choice - as they were protesting against stronger machines, which is actually the reverse of what's going on here.
They are protesting advancing technology - whether or not a tablet is 'more powerful' than a desktop, one represents the 1980s and the other does not. Those embracing desktops and eschewing smartphones/tablets are luddites, looking for that lost golden age from 25 years ago.

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August 21st, 2013, 14:52
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
But the 'instead' is a fallacious argument … comparing the two is not realistic. Dragon Age Journeys (remember that web browser game?) didn't stop Baldur's Gate 3 from being made, but from the way some people here talk every RPG released for a smartphone/tablet is stopping the next Troika from creating the next new deep RPG. Um. no.
Baldur's Gate 3? Could you link that one?

As for my argument being wrong - there's no way to prove it using a single example of one game being developed that has nothing to do with another. It's a matter of using your common sense.

First of all, even if an iPad game doesn't actively prevent a PC/Console version - it WILL take resources to develop. Beyond that, if it's a multiplatform game (iPad/PC) - there's a significant chance design/development concessions will be made to avoid a difficult port job.

Also, if the iPad/Android platforms didn't exist - do you think iPad/Android developers would just not make games? No, they'd find other platforms in most cases.

It's no different from having consoles compete with PCs - except that consoles are better suited for similar games.

I guess you'd claim console game development has had no consequences for the PC gaming scene?

Perhaps you are right - which is why we are more and more dependent on small devs and indies.
Not really. Small devs and indies are more likely to target the iPad - as the kind of games that are expected are much easier to develop and potentially make a profit without a significant investment.

They are protesting advancing technology - whether or not a tablet is 'more powerful' than a desktop, one represents the 1980s and the other does not. Those embracing desktops and eschewing smartphones/tablets are luddites, looking for that lost golden age from 25 years ago.
That makes no sense at all.

Just because tablets are new technology doesn't mean they're ideally suited for games. They're hugely inferior when it comes to the kind of games we're looking for around here.

Tablets are great for doing certain things and for casual games to play on the road - or in bed when you have nothing better to do.

To call it advanced technology in this context is ludicrous and obviously incorrect. You can scream "progression" all you want - but it's a major step down for gaming enthusiasts.

Calling people luddites because they want good games instead of simplistic crap (which tablet games tend to be) is a sure-fire sign of bias.
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August 21st, 2013, 15:16
While you have a couple of good points, the majority of what you say is so hilariously biased and slanted and nuanced to push an agenda that I could tell if you were being ironic or serious … I am hoping ironic.

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August 21st, 2013, 15:17
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
While you have a couple of good points, the majority of what you say is so hilariously biased and slanted and nuanced to push an agenda that I could tell if you were being ironic or serious … I am hoping ironic.
That's ok with me
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August 22nd, 2013, 00:52
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Just because tablets are new technology doesn't mean they're ideally suited for games. They're hugely inferior when it comes to the kind of games we're looking for around here.

Tablets are great for doing certain things and for casual games to play on the road - or in bed when you have nothing better to do.

To call it advanced technology in this context is ludicrous and obviously incorrect. You can scream "progression" all you want - but it's a major step down for gaming enthusiasts.

Calling people luddites because they want good games instead of simplistic crap (which tablet games tend to be) is a sure-fire sign of bias.
I think there's middle line somewhere. I don't think they're hugely inferior, i think they're in they're still in their infancy and looking for their groove. For those of us who were once huge gaming enthusiasts with lots of free time on our hands, some of us now have little kids and family/work duties that just don't give us any time anymore. So "in bed when you have nothing better to do." becomes in bed, or at coffee break, because that's the only time you have.

On iPad i'm playing:
- XCOM (the Enemy Unknown remake)
- Baldur's Gate
- Avernum

On my Note 2 i'm playing:
- Ultima 7 (with the stylus, it was like this game was built for this phone)
- Lands of Lore

Yes the PC still vastly superior in regards to horsepower (is that what we're talking about here?) but considering the accelerated growth of the mobile/tablet industry, it won't take long for those lines to blur. But does that really matter? I would assume if we're talking about it here, we are not talking about FPSs. If we are looking for Skyrim graphics here, we don't need to go much farther then Infinity Blade, we just need to have a more open world engine evolve with the technology. They're already more powerful than older consoles, and those older consoles were modestly speced PCs not too many years ago. It will come. We're already seeing news about Tegra 6.

Or is it the interface we are talking about? Some games do better with a mouse/keyboard yep. Some games do really well with touch and arguable better than mouse and keyboard (I have no idea how you'd play infinity blade on a PC properly) and XCOM was much better with touch. But now we're seeing shield, and mobile specific controllers, etc. Again, tablets and mobile are in their infancy. And is some of it just us used to a certain way that we MUST HAVE OUR WAY!? I remember way back in the day, before there was optical mice, my father had a waacom tablet and it was setup as the primary mouse. Once he took it to work and I loathed using our old backup mouse again. But i'm going on a tangent here now I think.

When we say software on tablets is simplistic crap, this is not the fault of the hardware, it's most likely the fault of companies rushing to get on the mobile bandwagon. I think the dust needs to settle first.

I guess what i'm seeing it two extremes to both sides, when there's room for both. Richard Garriott even sees the possibility of taking SotA to tablet. And with engine like Unity and Unreal, etc, it's not the big conversion mess that things used to be when porting.

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August 22nd, 2013, 09:37
We've been through this debate a hundred times about now

I recommend checking out some of the other threads with me and txa participating.

I don't mean to be rude, but if you're comparing Skyrim to Infinity Blade and think them similar - you need to understand the difference between a free-roaming environment and static paths leading to a few scenes.

Yes, you're playing inferior versions of mostly ancient PC games on your iPad.

X-Com is one of the better recent games - but if you look closely, the X-Com for PC game is a watered down game with a ton of concessions made because of console hardware. Maps are tiny - enemies pop up instead of roam the maps and so on. Even with a few enemies on screen - the AI takes forever to move. Obviously, memory and CPU limitations played a part here.

The iPad version has more concessions still - and the visuals look like cardboard characters compared to the PC version.

I believe txa and I agreed that, yes, if you don't care about visuals and technical prowess - then there's no reason you can't have great games on the iPad - and it's not due to the platform that we're not seeing many great games (I'd argue I've yet to see a single great RPG/strategy game).

But calling people luddites because they "rebel" against inferior platforms taking away the attention developers give PC games is unfair. It's clearly about whether you understand the long-term consequences of how money affects investors and developers.

It's really simple. Look at how consoles have changed the focus of mainstream game development.

Why? Because consoles are better for games? That's a joke and you know it.

No, it's because of money and opportunism - nothing more.

Have consoles taken away PC games? No, they haven't. But if you can't see how there's almost no dedicated AAA PC games left - then you're being blind.

Consoles have all but ruined the chances of ever seeing PC hardware being fully utilised. We have kickstarters like Star Citizen and we have "better" versions of console games like Crysis 3 - but there's almost no dedicated PC games left in that space.

I can't be the only one remembering how games like Wolfenstein, Quake, Wing Commander, Ultima 7, Alone in the Dark, Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Privateer, and on an on all pushed PC gaming to its limits.

Maybe I'm the only one missing that kind of cutting edge games?

According to txa - I'm a luddite and I should just embrace the tablet platform because where's the harm?

Unfortunately, I have a brain that's telling me about things that happen in the long-term and about reality. I can't embrace a platform that can only take away focus from my favorite platform.

I'm happy casual gamers and people with families that don't have time to invest themselves can play games on their tablets when they have an hour here and there - but I can't say that's what I think should be the future of gaming.
Last edited by DArtagnan; August 22nd, 2013 at 09:57.
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August 22nd, 2013, 19:03
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I don't mean to be rude, but if you're comparing Skyrim to Infinity Blade and think them similar - you need to understand the difference between a free-roaming environment and static paths leading to a few scenes.
Oh trust me i'm well aware of the differences, and from first hand experience too. It's tons of fun in my own development adventures to increase draw call batching and decreasing draw calls, strategic use of lightmapping and pre-rendered shadows, and all those other headaches. I didn't say we ARE there yet, but the possibilities are there. the unreal engine on the mobile cheats a little because if you try out the epic citadel demo, you can plainly see the shadows are baked, and textures are cleverly used. It's not open world, it's not real-time lighting, but it's not static paths, the particle system is great and runs very smooth. While current gflop ratings of mobile GPUs is not even 10% of what they are on, say for instance to keep things consistent, a console, the next generation is already seeing close to 50% and with the exponential rate mobile technology is increasing these days seeing or at least hearing something about mobile technology that matches today's current hardware will be here by next year. It's impossible not to see what's happening there. I mean even looking at Intel and what they're able to do now with onboard video compared to just a couple years ago is impressive. As I said before, let the dust settle, it will come.

And hey, there's no luddite calling from me. I've always held the PC as the best overall gaming platform (huge fan of Privateer and Star Citizen is going to be awesome). Playing FPSs on a console is like doing brain surgery with an ice cream scoop. Console have their place though. In 1984, Ford came out with a 4 cylinder turbo charged svo mustang. It was the fastest available at the time. It didn't last. People just wanted a V8. I have Skyrim both on Steam and the collectors edition for PS3. The game looks amazing on PC with the high rez textures. It looks so pixelated on the PS3 compared to the PC. I can aim much better with the mouse than a controller. Guess where I play it most? On the PS3. Can I explain it? Not really no. It just feels better. I should probably stop there though, because talking about consoles is getting too far from the main subject, and it's a topic that's been beaten to death. But i'll just leave this here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWiXCPSN350

I see mostly you're scared of The Man taking away your PC. But:

It's not going to happen. We just have to make room for others. Yep it sucks that PCs are not being pushed like they used to be. But it's not entirely because of the money console issue, it's also the lack of visionaries. Even Carmack is not where he used to be (at least in the game world). He's too busy playing with rockets and VR goggles. We need more fresh young Carmacks / Chris Taylors / Chris Roberts / Garriotts. We just need people who are in it for the games and not the money. The indie movement is going to help this a lot. Wait what were we talking about? Right! Good games on mobile platforms. Im getting bored of typing so ill just say that game engines right now are built around the PC and favour the PCs architecture. Take Unity for instance, it scales well to mobile platforms but the architecture is built with PC in mind. You can have huge terrains but strange things happen wander farther from from the point of origin. Your floats get so large that things start to cave. PCs can handle this with large amount of memory and bandwidth, something a mobile can't come close to matching right now, but is this really advancement? Or is it a crutch for poor design? Are we just putting a V8/V10/V12 in a car and calling it a day? Shouldn't we work on making more efficient, high output engines? (poor design is a relative term obviously, there's some awesome stuff out there). Take a change of perspective. Take the Dungeon Siege engine, for instance. It's an engine that was WAY ahead of it's time (ignore the game, focus on the engine), and is even hard to match some of the technology in it, even today. It never stuck because of the inherent difficulties of having a seamless terrain game engine, but if someone were able to implement that for mobiles in a way that produced less design headaches, think of A) The possibilities of awesome games on mobile and B) how much more awesome this would scale on a PC.

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