Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar - All News
Friday - July 11, 2014
Ultima IV - Retrospective @ Digital Antiquarian
The Digital Antiquarian has posted a new retrospective for Ultima IV.
Late in the fall of 1983, when it was clear that Ultima III was turning into a huge success and thus that their new company Origin Systems was going to be a viable operation, Robert Garriott came to his little brother Richard with a forlorn plea. Robert, you may remember, had for months been commuting via his private Cessna between the Garriotts’ family home in Houston, whose garage served as Origin’s development studio and assembly line, and North Andover, Massachusetts, where his wife Marcy worked for Bell Labs. It wasn’t, to say the least, an ideal way to run a marriage. Would Richard and the rest of the fledgling company agree to move to North Andover for three years? After that Marcy expected a promotion that should make it much easier for she and Robert to move, and, assuming the company was still alive, they’d then move wherever Richard and the rest liked. Young, unattached, and ready for adventure as they were, just about everyone agreed. They packed their cars with their personal possessions and rented two trucks to fill with supplies, computers, and other equipment — most notably the precious shrink-wrap machine — and headed northeast just weeks later.
Tuesday - December 31, 2013
Ultima IV - Interview @ The Escapist
The Escapist has a short interview with Richard Garriott about Ultima IV.
"I do believe Ultima IV is my most important work," said Garriott, responding to questions from The Escapist. According to Garriott the game represents "a clear milestone in RPGs" that saw a number of firsts both for the series and the genre. "The introduction of the term 'avatar' which is now pervasive, the introduction of virtues, and "role-playing" versus level grinding," all of these, according to Garriott can be traced back to Ultima IV.
That being the case, Garriott acknowledges that the game isn't perfect, even with its prominent place in the history of RPGs. "As highly as I think of the high concept of Ultima IV, it still has lots of rough edges, and I think that Ultima's V-VII have better told 'stories' in general," he said. "The game is too "black and white" once you know to be virtuous. Its relatively easy to 'walk the line', I think Ultima V made a better case for questioning what is right and what is wrong."
Even so, he still hopes that Shroud of the Avatar will be able to channel some of the spirit and mechanics of older games like Ultima IV. For instance, the game will see the return of typed dialogue, a mainstay of earlier RPGs. He likewise hopes to see the new MMO do away with many of the conveniences of modern role-playing games. "The push for ease of use to bring in new players had us go to simple conversations, auto-mapping and quest logs with arrows. The result has been brain dead clicking to follow instructions. I am happy to get back to needing to think to play!"
Monday - September 09, 2013
Ultima IV C64 - Available On The iTunes App Store
Elite Systems has released Ultima IV C64 for free on the iTunes App Store.
‘Ultima IV: C64’ is a near 100% replica of the original version developed by Origin Systems in 1985, available free of charge - courtesy of Mythic studios - utilizing Elite System’s C64: Elite Collection technology.
SET FORTH ON GRAND ADVENTURES
The evil triad of Mondain, Minax, and the hellspawn Exodus has been vanquished but evil yet abounds, in isolated pockets and in the hearts of men. A new age awaits the coming of one who can conquer evil through mastery of both magic and the use of force. Daemons, dragons, and long-dead wizards plague the countryside and must be destroyed.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GOOD?
Ultima IV challenges not only your physical and mental skills, but the true fabric of your moral character, breaking traditional “kill the bad guy to save the world” clichés.
BATTLE ENEMIES IN STRATEGIC COMBAT
The seeker on the path of the Avatar will face hostile groups composed of mixed enemy types and will survive such encounters only by strategic use of weapons and terrain. Earthly victories over seemingly impossible odds lead to the final conflict, where the ultimate challenge awaits.
ULTIMA IV: C64 GAMEPLAY FEATURES:
•Digital copies of materials included in the original Ultima IV including the ‘Player Reference Card by Lord British,’ ‘History of Britannia as told by Kyle the Younger,’ ‘Book of Mystic Wisdom as told by Philpop the Weary,’ ‘Ultima IV Map of Britannia,’ and assorted images
•Helpful in-game guide to help you master gameplay as well as an in-depth gameplay guide for Beginners, courtesy of GameFAQS **Spoiler Alert**
•Enjoy playing Ultima IV in portrait or landscape mode
•Automatically save your game each time you exit with up to four save game slots
Monday - February 11, 2013
Ultima Forever: Quest of the Avatar - Interview @ Gamasutra
Kate Flack, who is working on the Free-To-Play iPad version of the Ultima IV based Ultima Forever, has been interviewed by Gamasutra on the design of the game.
I always presume that the game is created in such a way that I'm not going to be punished for a good deed; I'm not going to lose a whole bunch of stuff. I will eventually be able to beat the game anyway. So, for me, it doesn't become much of a choice. I feel like, eventually, there's got to be something; like, who do I save, my mom or my dad? [editor's note: this interview was done prior to the release of The Walking Dead, which does this kind of choice very well.] But I don't want to have to make that choice! It makes me uncomfortable. Do you have any thoughts about that kind of space?
KF: Yeah, absolutely. What we try and do when we give you a quandary is we give you three options that are equally valid. It's not up to us to judge a player; we're just there to make you think. So NPCs will come up to you and say, "Hey! What should I do in this situation?"
One of the classic situations is there's this beggar who's been beaten within an inch of his life. What do you do about that? Do you go for justice and say, "Right; I'm going to track down the people who beat this guy up, or do I sacrifice and get myself in debt in order to pay for magical healing for the guy to bring him back to life? Or do I go for compassion and go off and buy some medicine to give him a good, peaceful, painless death?" They're all equally valid, but which one do you think is the right thing?
Somewhat more complex choices like that are interesting. I think the iPad and free-to-play tend to try to address a somewhat more casual audience -- if not directly, at least they try to include them -- so I think it will be interesting to see how you can try to bring those players into the idea of these choices being something that you make.
KF: It's not that different to a personality test. Those have always been massively popular because people love finding out about themselves; we're our own favorite subject. I try and present it and think of it, if you're a more casual player, as being more like a personality test; you end up with the character you deserve or who reflects who you are.
Thursday - September 01, 2011
Ultima IV - Available for Free on GoG
After making the first three Ultima's available you can now also get Ultima IV from GoG. As it can already be downloaded for free for some time from Ultima Forever, Good Old Games has made it available for free as well with a cluebook, spellbook and map as bonus downloads.
Wednesday - June 15, 2011
Ultima IV - iPad Port Screens
Thought I'd mention some screens of Ultima IV running on an iPad through through Xu4 at Ultima Aiera - seems like the sort of game that would match the format quite nicely to me.
Friday - April 01, 2011
Mythic's Secret Ultima Project - Image @ Ultima Aiera?
The story of BioWare Mythic's "secret" Ultima project keeps bubbling along with an image released that purportedly relates to the game. If you head over to Ultima Aiera, you'll see a shot from a presentation with what appears to be a (blocky) Brittania map with Paul Barnett (Mythic Creative Director) standing in front. The codename for the project is "Ultima4Ever".
Thanks, Vistaer Dragon.
Tuesday - March 29, 2011
Ultima IV - Of DMCA Takedowns and Reboots
You may recall Ultima IV projects we've covered such Phi Psi Software's Flash remake - according to Ultima Aiera, Phi Psi has received DMCA takedown notifications and, indeed, the game is now gone. Their speculation is the sudden legal action from EA is preceeding a reboot - probably BioWare's Mythic's secret project we mentioned a while back.
Ultima Aiera has much more background on Ultima IV's status and their speculation on this secret project, so head over for a read.
Monday - February 21, 2011
Ultima IV - Flash Remake
We first covered this in July last year but some major websites have discovered it and Zerotown sent it in, so it doesn't hurt to mention it again - Phipsisoftware has quite faithfully remade Ultima IV using Flash in a web browser.
Wednesday - January 12, 2011
Ultima IV - Remake from BioWare Mythic?
I'm surprised we apparently missed this previously and, franky, it all seems a little bizarre but it looks like Mythic might be working on a web-based remake of Ultima IV, which they are about to present to BioWare boss Ray Muzyka. It all comes via Ultima fansite Ultima Aiera and a tweet from BioWare Mythic's Paul Barnett. To backtrack, here's a snip from last October:
But there’s the long and short of it: Paul Barnett has a small team at BioWare Mythic working on a browser-based Ultima game. And no, it’s not another Lord of Ultima; it’s the real deal, a full-on RPG. I’ve seen some of the artwork that will accompany and be used to promote the game; it’s impressive, and despite its modern flair it manages to capture some essential elements of what could be called “classic Ultima.”
My saying as much will probably make some Ultima fans balk, roll their eyes, or otherwise scowl and wonder whether EA is just willing to let its various studios savage and abuse the good name of Ultima with reckless abandon. It’s an understandable sentiment; we got burned by EA Phenomic, after all. But let me just stick my neck out here and say that what’s happening here, under Paul Barnett’s supervision, is not going to be a cheap exploitation of a classic gaming franchise.
Fast-forward to the present and Paul Barnett tweeted this yesterday:
Dr ray of bioware plays my secret project tomorrow, pray to the 8 gods!
Is it the same project? I have no idea, but Ultima Aiera thinks so.
Friday - September 24, 2010
Ultima IV - Jeff Vogel: "The Ugly Truth"
Look, nobody worships at the altar of Lord British more than me, and you can't put into words what a breakthrough Ultima IV was at the time. It set me on the path to writing games for a living. I played it again and again. It literally Changed My Life.
But it isn't playable now. The controls make no sense. The dialogue is bland. All of the little UI tricks that make RPGs accessible (tooltips, in-game maps, pathfinding) were not yet invented. And, and this is really important, everything that Ultima IV introduced everyone has done far better. Ultima IV had an epic quest and morality woven into the game, which was amazing at the time. But everyone does those things way better now.
While I'm doing a Jeff Vogel update, he also addresses indie game pricing issue again in another blog post.
Thursday - September 23, 2010
Ultima IV - Unplayable @ The Brainy Gamer
The Brainy Gamer writes on the recent results when he asked his students to play Ultima IV, which makes for an interesting - if discouraging - read:
They had five days to play U4, and I asked them to make as much progress as they could in that time. When we gathered to debrief in class, a few students explained how they'd overcome some of their difficulties, but the vast majority was utterly flummoxed by the game. As one of them put it, "I'd say for gamers of our generation, an RPG like Ultima IV is boring and pretty much unplayable." After removing the arrow from my chest, I asked them to explain why.
Tuesday - July 06, 2010
Ultima IV - Fan Made Flash Version Released
Another non-comercial Ultima remake has been released, this time an Ultima 4 flash conversion. The source is the original Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar for Apple IIe, not the newer console versions. All current browsers are supported.
Ultima IV: Flash Version is a new and improved version of the classic role-playing game released in 1985. This new version widens the appeal of Richard Garriot's original game and tells the story of The Quest of the Avatar to a younger generation of game players.
A detailed feature list can be found on the official homepage.
Saturday - January 16, 2010
Ultima 4 - Quest of the Avatar - The Reason I Became a Gamer @ IGN
IGN has a piece titled The Reason I Became a Gamer: Ultima IV, written by one of their console reviewers, Hilary Goldstein:
Ultima IV wasn't about ridding the world of a particular evil. You were trying to become the spiritual leader of Brittania by proving yourself worthy in eight virtues. I know it sounds strange, but it remains one of the most unique concepts in the history of gaming. Your actions affect your attainment of these virtues and the decisions you make have real consequences. I'm certain that Ultima IV was a major inspiration for the gang at Bethesda who created Fallout 3. Look at the opening of Bethesda's game, for instance, where you take a test to determine your starting stats. Throughout there's a focus on exploration, morality and consequences play a major role and there's really no traditional final boss.
Monday - January 19, 2009
Ultima 4 - Wasn't Perfect @ Scorpia
Ultima fans often divide on whether IV or VII was better, with V and VI occasionally popping up. Scorpia writes that despite being her favourite RPG, Ultima IV wasn't perfect:
In most RPGs, you replay to find stuff you missed, to try out a different character or party mix, and/or experience a different path through the game. None of that mattered in Ultima IV.
There was only one path, and it had to be followed down into the Codex Room; that was the only way to win. You needed a full party of eight, and it was always the same party, pretty much. It would be slightly different, depending on your class, but that was trivial.
Friday - September 12, 2008
Ultima 4 - Quest of the Avatar - Themes @ Dungeon-Games
I haven't come across this angle before. Daniel McNeese writes in his dungeon-games.com blog about the way the Ultima series loses sight of the thematic message set up in Ultima IV. Here's the issue:
The moral code in question - the “code of the avatar” - is, admittedly, easy to find flaws in. Not everything it purports to be a virtue really turns out to be under rational scrutiny, and there’s no proper integration of said virtues (such as, what do you do when two or more virtues appear to be in conflict). But still, it was the first game to really try and incorporate a sophisticated moral system and have it actually matter. And arguably, not only was it the first but it is still the best even nearly two-and-a-half decades later; the single-axis good/evil systems (or two-axis good/evil-plus-law/chaos systems) we see everywhere today are primitive by comparison. For this alone, Ultima 4 deserves a lot of respect; taken by itself, its message seemed to be “character matters, and trying to become a better person is worth it.”
Sadly, when you look at the Ultima series as a whole, the message seems to change to ”don’t bother trying, you’ll only make things worse.” After Ultima 1, pretty much every game - with the arguable exception of the sixth - involves you either cleaning up some mess left over from your previous adventures or creating a future mess. With Ultima 4 arguably being the worst screw-up of all.
The Rampant Coyote also picks up this message with his own blog post on the subject of gaming themes and consistency.
Source: Rampant Games
Friday - November 30, 2007
Ultima 4 - Retrospective @ GameTap
A nice retrospective on Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar can be found at GameTap. Here's a sample:
Designer Richard "Lord British" Garriott had already made a name for himself with the first three Ultima titles. These turn-based role-playing games borrowed rules and mythology from Dungeons & Dragons, infusing them with innovative plots involving space and time travel. They were definitely significant works, and by converting the traditional tabletop experience of D&D to home computers, they paved the way for the PC and console RPGs we know today. But aside from the technological feat of computerizing complex RPG rules, they were hardly revolutionary.
Ultima IV, on the other hand, most definitely was. Not through its technological advances, since it looked hardly better than Ultima III. And not through its fundamental gameplay, since it played like only a slightly evolved version of what Ultima had been doing all along.
No, Ultima IV was a revolution simply because of its theme. Your goal here was not to save the world from an evil magician or a diabolical computer; your goal was to save the world from itself. Lord British, the benevolent ruler of Britannia, notices that his people are lacking in direction and focus in their lives, and puts out a call for a leader to step forth and serve as an example of virtue to the populace. If you wish to become this leader--this avatar of virtue--your job is to learn, study, and implement the Eight Virtues: honesty, compassion, valor, justice, sacrifice, honor, spirituality, and humility.
Source: Rampant Coyote