Ultima VII Part I: The Black Gate - All News
Wednesday - July 13, 2016
Ultima VII - The Cover That Never Was
The jet black cover to Ultima VII was memorable, and it made an impact. But there was almost another cover, and it's been revealed.
It's hard to believe that it has been nearly 25 years since I first laid eyes on the jet black cover of Ultima VII: The Black Gate, but perhaps the odd cover somehow helped to cement the RPG's significant place in video game history. Or maybe not, and it would have been even more successful had it sported the cover that was originally intended (Patreon contributors only) by artist Denis Loubet. We'll never know, but it's certainly cool to check out the cover that was proposed rather than the one that Origin ended up shipping the game with:
This is my cover to Ultima 7:The Black Gate from an alternate timeline where Origin Systems decided to go with an illustrative cover rather than a flat black, high-concept, box.
Here we have the Avatar with his companions, standing in a river of blood as the Guardian pulls the strings of the Fellowship in the background. The blood, of course, represents the gruesome murders which the Avatar and his party must investigate. This is all in a grim and somber color palette to highlight the melancholy nature of the plot. The Avatar's downcast eyes search for clues to end the bloody doings of Batlin and his zealots. (Sorry about the spoiler!)
As you can see, I've got The Avatar in front, Iolo with a crossbow on the right, Dupre on the left, with Jaana just behind him. You will also notice that the Guardian has ears. This is because when I did the animation of the Guardian poking his head through the screen and talking to the player, he didn't poke his head all the way through the screen. He simply did not push his face through far enough to reveal his ears. A happy "coincidence" of this rationale is that I did not have to model the Guardian's ears in 3D with the crappy tools I had available at the time. You'll notice the Guardian's face in that animation is made up of very simple shapes that overlap; This was by design. I knew I couldn't do a realistic face at that time, so I went for simple and cartoony.
Wednesday - May 18, 2016
Ultima VII Part I - Do you want a Remake?
The lead designer of Ultima 5: Lazarus and Mass Effect: Andromeda Ian Frazier asks this on the Ultima Dragons Facebook page:
Ok, one more question and then I promise I'll shut up for a while. :)
How much interest, if any, would you have in a remake of Ultima VII (both parts together as a single whole, with Forge of Virtue included but perhaps not Silver Seed), using the latest and greatest tech and significant overhauling of both combat and general usability? World sim features like day/night, weather, and NPC schedules would still exist but would be much more robust. New narrative content and polish added, but no significant deviation in the story itself.
Essentially I'm saying "Lazarus for U7, but with much higher production values."
Thursday - October 09, 2014
Ultima VII Part I - Retrospective Video
The Extra Credits Youtube channel uploaded a new eight minute video retrospective of Ultima VII: The Black Gate. Some of you may enjoy it so give it a watch.
James Recommends Ultima VII, a groundbreaking game that set the bar for open world, exploration rich CRPGs. It remains a classic to this day, revered as one of the best RPGs ever made with over 200 hours of gameplay in a immersive medieval fantasy world. While the graphics and UI systems have grown clunky with age, the powerful narrative with famous characters like the Guardian make it well worth playing today.
Friday - January 13, 2012
Ultima VII Part I - Google Map Project
This is a cool one..a project to map Ultima VII using Google's mapping services...
Source: Blues News
Tuesday - November 29, 2011
Ultima VII - Complete Edition on GOG
GOG has released a "Complete Edition" of Ultima VII, with Ultima 7: The Black Gate, Ultima 7: Forge of Virtue, Ultima 7 Part Two: Serpent Isle, Ultima 7 Part Two: The Silver Seed bundled for $5.99.
Tuesday - November 15, 2011
Ultima VII Part I - Gaming Made Me @ RPS
More than anything, Ultima VII was the game that first made me realise I preferred worlds that moved around me rather than worlds that I simply moved through. The way that worlds come alive for me can be in the history-changing sweep of a grand strategy game or something as simple as the addition of day-night cycles. It can be an attempt to simulate an ecosystem or something as simple as enemies actually dropping the equipment I can see they were carrying seconds before they crumpled to the ground. It all adds to the sense of existing in a world, which adds to my enjoyment of creating narrative in that world. And Ultima VII was one of the places that form of creativity first sparked for me.
Saturday - August 13, 2011
Ultima VII Part I - Design Docs @ Ultima Aiera
Ultima Aiera has another bunch of design documents courtesy of former Origin programmer Bil Randolph, this time for Ultima VII:
Specifically, the documents — all of which appear to be internal documents from Origin Systems — discuss the conversation syntax of the game and its technical implementation, the object design of the game, the in-house map editor that Origin developers used to construct the Ultima 7 game world, and much more! The most interesting detail about all of these documents, however, is that they are in fact focused on a very early version of the game, which is different in several ways from what was finally shipped.
Monday - October 25, 2010
Ultima 7 - Exult Updated
Exult for Ultima VII was updated last week - time for another trip through one of the best games ever made:
Exult 1.4.9rc1 has been released!
It took us over six years, but with DNF seemingly getting ready to be released after all, we had to do something. To prepare for a full release, we have created a first Release Candidate, available on our download page. Please play with it and tell us of any problem you encounter using the forum or bug tracker.
If you have followed the news this list is likely already familiar to you, but we did a lot with Exult in the years since 1.2:
- Compatible with the stricter permissions of Windows Vista and Windows 7
- Rewrite of the Graphics system to allow switching to full screen on modern systems
- Better integration into Mac OS X with default location for the supported games
- Smooth scrolling (disabled by default, though)
- Aspect correction is now supported
- More data from the original has been decoded and thus improved gameplay and combat
- In-game Notebook with support for automatic notes (notes created by usecode)
- Integrated Pentagram's audio system which means support for real Roland MT-32 device, Roland MT-32 emulation and FluidSynth
- Removed dependency of the audio system on SDL_Mixer
- New shapes for the paperdolls
- Tons of bugfixes
There have been many changes to Exult Studio and our support for mods as well:
- Multi-map support for new games
- Moved hard-coded information to datafiles
- Increased limits on resource sizes (shapes, frames, etc)
- Greatly improved compiler tools to ease new game development
Sunday - May 10, 2009
Ultima 7 Part 1 - The Black Gate - Garriott Interview Pt. 2 @ Crispy Gamer
Crispy Gamer writes in to say the second part of their Richard Garriott interview is up, continuing the conversation about Ultima:
Crispy Gamer: I know you’ve talked about it in the past in other interviews, but if you could, would you do another Ultima game?
Garriott: Absolutely, no doubt about it.
Crispy Gamer: So where would you start? Would you want to create a brand-new story with new characters?
Garriott: Well, I’d probably include a number of the key companions, but I probably would star in what I call a brave new world — in the sense that I would build new cities, and new storylines around the same characters.
Crispy Gamer: I know you probably have a design document lying somewhere around your house…
Garriott: While there’s been plenty of discussion on the subject for years, with myself and my team, frankly there’s nothing written — just a lot of thoughtful talk amongst many of us who were involved in the Ultima property who would love to continue to be involved with it. It’s hard to say what the future holds with that.
...and there's a sort of third-part bonus section:
Crispy Gamer: So what are you doing with your time now? Are you taking some time off or planning something exciting?
Garriott: I'm extremely embroiled in the privatization of space travel. Technically I am now a Space Adventures employee. My job title is Astronaut, and I'm now helping them work with other companies that are out building rockets to take people to space -- and that's everyone, from people you know well, like John Carmack of id Software -- who's got a company called Armadillo Aerospace -- and Elon Musk of PayPal fame, who's got a company called SpaceX, etc. I'm a big believer in both the importance and viability of taking people into space and lots of other people in our industry seem to be getting into this these days as well. While by no means is my time in gaming done, I'm spending time on this while it's fresh to me.
Friday - May 01, 2009
Ultima 7 Part 1 - The Black Gate - Richard Garriott Interview @ Crispy Gamer
First part of RG interview up at Crispy with lots of Ultima talk.
Frankly, Ultima I, II and III weren’t related to each other at all, in the sense that their stories weren’t connected. Ultima IV, V and VI were only related to each other in that I kind of realized that the series was going to go on for awhile, so I tried to pick up where I left off with each game.
Ultima VII (for me, the most important moment for the series since Ultima IV) was the first time I really sat down and said, “OK, what am I really trying to accomplish with this game?” I was trying to do things like set up stories and characters that would survive for more than one product. I had seen how people were reading into the philosophy I had put together with Ultima IV, V and VI, and so I was trying to — what you describe as “tearing down” — open it up, and say there are lots of other forms of thought that are either just as good or positive, or that might also seem good or positive but are actually quite dark. So I was trying to drive what I call alternatives.
Ultima IV, Ultima VII and Ultima Online are my favorites. And for me, the reason why VII that was true for was because it was a game where I most completely realized the virtual world I was trying to create. In other words, the depth of interaction and responsiveness of the world it played in.
Source: Blues News
Tuesday - September 02, 2008
Ultima 7 Part 1 - The Black Gate - Sub-Optimal Paths
Corvus Elrod's blog has a piece on sub-optimal paths (what I'll call "taking the scenic route"), using U7 as a prime example. Here's an excerpt:
A great, perhaps even the greatest, example of a game that effectively uses sub-optimal paths for narrative purposes is Ultima VII: The Black Gate (U7). Amusingly, U7 also provides a ridiculously optimal route via a cheat room that was inserted into the game in order to give one of the studio’s speed run competitors an unfair advantage. The cheat room provides the player with all the items needed to complete the game and direct teleporter access to the final confrontation. I highly recommend playing through U7 twice–the first time by using the cheat room and finishing the game in easily under 20 minutes. The second time by following and completing every single possible sub-quest in the game. If you have the time and are so inclined, play through a third time following only the central plot. You can then make up your own mind which makes for a better gameplay experience–the optimal path(s), or the sub-optimal path.
Source: Rampant Games