Ultima - All News
Thursday - January 05, 2017
Ultima - An Excerpt from Explore/Create
Glixel provides an excerpt from Richard Garriotts 'Explore/Create' which goes into detail on the origin of Ultima.
From Chapter 7: IV-Play, Or The New Rules of Engagement
"When I wrote Ultima I, I wanted the game to be something more than players wandering around 3D dungeons killing things. But while we had successfully added some pretty cool visual elements and interactions for the era, these fan letters made it clear the game hadn't progressed as I'd hoped. Two things became obvious to me: First, if there is going to be a bad guy, he needs to actually be bad in a way far beyond what the player is told in the introduction. He has to be an active presence. If I am a player seeking advice from confidants throughout the world, the bad guy should be looking for these people and killing them. He should be responding to my actions and making my journey far more difficult. Rather than simply existing and waiting for me, he should be trying to do terrible things to me and the people I care about as I progress toward a final confrontation.
Second, I was surprised that the people playing these games did not play with the moral compass they followed in the real world. Presumably, they were law-abiding, kindhearted people in their day-to-day lives, but in this fantasy world they enjoyed being someone else. That was understandable, as my games didn't respond directly to their behavior; there were no rewards for being a moral person and no particular penalties for being an evil wizard.
Five years into a very successful career I had an important decision to make. My other games had borrowed liberally from existing fantasy stories: None of them were particularly original, other than the fact that they were being told in a computer game format. I had adapted the basic plot structure from The Lord of the Rings. Players were able to move back and forth in time as did the characters in Time Bandits. I had borrowed elements from my own D&D games and from Narnia. Ultima II became the first game ever sold in a box because I wanted to include a cloth map like that in Time Bandits, and wanted to disguise the instructions as an elaborate history of my world.
Monday - November 28, 2016
Ultima - Conveying Philosophical Themes
A long time ago, a series of games managed to imbue into gameplay, world and story a series of values and ideas in a way that few other games ever managed to replicate. Let's take a look at the Age of Enlightenment, the trilogy of Ultima games that shook the foundations of storytelling in video games.
Wednesday - December 03, 2014
Ultima - Why did the Avatar of Virtue screw up everything s/he touched?
I was amused by PC Gamer’s article by Richard Cobbett, “Ultima: The Legacy of the Avatar.” (Hat tip to RPGWatch for the link). He doesn’t present anything all that new, although he does drive home the idea that the Avatar’s efforts to save Britannia ultimately led to its doom. Actually, not even saving Britannia. Just trying to be a nice guy and exemplify virtues in Ultima IV. It sets off a number of escalating, horrible events.
However, unlike Cobbett, Rampant Coyote believes the reason for this plot progression is rather mundane:
My personal belief is that Richard Garriott had already done the “save the world” story three times with new characters – the Girlfriend of the Big Bad, and the Computer-Child of the Big Bad – in Ultima I – III. Ultima IV was a departure from that, and a much celebrated one at that. From that point further, however, there was the problem of putting the world back in peril so the Avatar was needed. But then there’s also the concern about how that world ever lasted past five generations without the Avatar’s help, because it’s constantly in peril (well, every 200 years or so).
The natural answer, when starting anew, is to build the new peril off of what has already come before. In other words, instead of a brand-new earth-shattering event, it’s more of a revision or evolution of a peril that had come before. Since the games left very few “loose ends” at the end of each one, a new game had to tug some new ones loose to be tied into the narrative.
Monday - December 01, 2014
Ultima - The (Not So Helpful) Legacy Of The Avatar
It's always a good time to reminisce about the Ultima series a little. But was Ultima's hero the Avatar always a good person? Over at PC Gamer, Richard Cobbet muses that actually, the Avatar was pretty much a walking disaster for everyone he ever met and every place he ever visited.
What I find fascinating about the Avatar is that [...] you can argue that despite saving the world on at least four separate occasions, the Quest Of The Avatar was the single worst thing that ever happened to Britannia. This is never really gone into in the games, where he quickly becomes a mix of Superman and mythical god [...] but looking back it's tough to argue that what it led to was worth the benefits.
In the first place, damn near everything that goes wrong is entirely, literally, the Avatar's fault. Never intentionally! There's no arguing that.Ultima is not a story about perfection. That's important. Lord British, despite being creator Richard Garriott's author avatar, is regularly wrong, often pig-headed, and at times, damn near blind.The Avatar too is, canonically, just a guy. He's from Texas. He makes mistakes. Between adventures in Britannia he comes back home and he lives a regular life [...] The Quest For The Avatar isn't an attempt to find a magical chosen one or a demigod scion or anything like that, but a role-model. Anyone could in theory be an Avatar [...] and even if most won't have what it takes, they can at least aspire to it - to step up, to be better, to actively live the Virtues instead of simply paying lip-service to them. [...] It's not about being the toughest, it's not about being chosen, it's about trying.And Britannia... never gets that. At all. Instead, the Avatar becomes their equivalent of Superman, a symbol deified in a world that otherwise goes out of its way to avoid religion. His depictions grow more saintly, his victories become legends. But when he's gone, and as said, he can be gone for centuries at a time, does anyone truly follow in his footsteps or rise to the challenge? No. They figure that if something goes badly wrong enough, he'll be back. And he always is, even if usually to clean up the mess that he started.
Friday - February 14, 2014
Lord of Ultima - Shutting Down in May
The website for the F2P game Lord of Ultima has news EA has pulled the plug. Starting in May the game will be permanently shutdown.
Today we bring sad news. It pains us to inform you that the final days of Caledonia are drawing near. While glory has flickered in the heart of this new world, the shadows of the old one have risen to take it back from us forever.
It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you, that on Monday 12th May @ 07:00 UTC we will be closing the gates of Lord of Ultima for good and stopping the service in its entirety.
Thanks for the tip TheMadGamer.
Monday - June 18, 2012
Ultima - The Savage Empire & Martian Dreams Free on GoG!
Today GoG offers the complete Worlds of Ultima series for free! Both The Savage Empire and Martian Dreams are included.
If you don't have an account yet, you can register through the banner at the top.
In related news, GoG starts their Battle of the Games summer promo today. You can vote. The winning game will be sold at 60% rebate, the loser at 40% rebate. Today's battle: Myst vs. The 7th Guest. A new battle will happen every day until July 5th.
Friday - January 27, 2012
Ultima - Most.Important.Game.Series.Ever. @ Joystiq
Joystiq has a piece titled Ultima: Most.Important.Gamer.Series.Ever which sounds reasonable to me:
Hey there. Whatcha playing? No, actually, don't tell me. You're playing Ultima. You don't know you're playing Ultima, but you are. If you're playing an open-world game, you're dealing with Ultima. If you're playing a massively-multiplayer game, you're dealing with Ultima. If you're playing a game with a morality system, Ultima. Even something as simple as three-dimensional graphics – either in perspective or overall representation – have ties to Ultima. How?
Friday - September 02, 2011
Ultima - Patch Recap for U1-IV @ Ultima Aiera
If you've picked up GOG's Ultima 1-IV pack, Ultima Aiera has a recap of patches, updates and mods that might be worth a look.
Monday - November 15, 2010
Ultima VI - Video Retrospective
The Spoonyone has posted his next retrospective in the Ultima series. This time he takes a look at Ultima 6. This one is a little more goofy than his previous Ultima retrospective. It probably has to do with how much he hated the inventory, the controls, the graphics and the racist Lord British. To say he is not of fan of Ultima 6 is putting it mildly. You can watch the video here.
Thanks to JemyM who pointed out that the video was up on the site.
Monday - September 20, 2010
Ultima V - Video Retrospective
The Spoony Experiment has posted the next retrospective of my favorite Ultima game, Ultima V. Not too much joking around in this one as he goes into a lot of detail on what Ultima V was all about.
Monday - August 23, 2010
Ultima IV - Video Review
The Spoony Experiment has another video review in the Ultima series. This time he takes a look at Ultima IV. This one is more a straight forward review of this classic.
Sunday - August 15, 2010
Ultima - Retro Video Reviews
The Spoony Experiment has done some retro reviews of the Ultima series. Spoony, aka Noah Antwiler, is going to review all of the single player titles (god help him with Ultima IX). His reviews are always funny and his Let's Play series are some of my favorites on the web.
Here are the reviews that he has put up so far:
Ultima 1 - I wish I played this one. I never knew until this review that there were Tie Fighters in the game. Too awesome.
Ultima 2 - Too confusing
Ultima 3 - BEWARE THE FLOOR!!!
Ultima 3 contest - It's a little late, but he is having a contest where you send in your video submission of being attacked by GRASS!!! If you've played the game then you'll know that the freaking floor and grass were a pain to kill. The deadline is August 22nd.
While there you should check out his Let's Play of Ripper. Ripper was a Full Motion Video game made back when FMV was all the rage. It's an extremely long Let's Play, but it's worth it to watch the movie of the man himself Christopher Walken without having to play that horrible game. There are some other great talent in there like Burgess Meredith, David Patrick Kelly, John Rhys-Davies, Karen Allen, Scott Cohen, Ossie Davis, Paul Giamattie and even had Jimmie Walker thrown in there for kicks.
Ultima IV Part 2 - Fan Made Parody
I've only played a small portion of the game, but from what I've seen I'm impressed. The humor runs the range from witty to corny. The graphics are lifted straight out of Ultima V. There is no party this time around. It's just you. The combat is more like Ultima 1 or 2 than Ultima 5. You even get a shotgun from the best retailer around, S-Mart. Of course there are a ton of Ultima refrences in the game, but for those old timers like me the game throws in some extremely old game refrences. For example: I ran across Indiana Jones from the old Atari system. If you've ever played Pirates! on the commodore 64 then you'll get hit with a ton of nostalgia when visiting Buccaneer's Den. Plus there are a few characters from classic TV series like Knight Rider, Magnum P.I. and Night Court.
The game uses the keyboard and you have to actually type out your responses just like in the original, but it highlights any word in the conversation that you need to type. I haven't had to write down too much other than the new mantras for each shrine, but if you have a short memory you'll need to write down what to say to certain people.
This isn't a game for children as there are many references to sex, drugs and rock & roll, but it never goes too far. Katrina is always there to stop the avatar from engaging in any 'unavatar' type of behavior.
In short (too late) if you're an old timer like me and grew up on the Ultima series then you should download it and give it a shot. Even if you didn't grow up in the bronze, silver or golden age of gaming it still is a fun little game to play.