Monday, October 19, 2015

Game 201: Martian Dreams (1991)


It is a truth universally acknowledged that women cannot get enough of Jane Austen. My wife, Irene, is no exception. A number of years ago, she made me sit through an A&E miniseries of Pride and Prejudice, which to the best of my recollection was 176 hours. It consisted primarily of wealthy people sitting around drawing rooms trading quotable barbs. Occasionally, to really liven things up, one or two of them would get up and walk around the perimeter of the room and sit back down again. High drama and scandal came when a man whose estates brought in £10,000 a year considered marrying a woman whose father's estate only brought in £9,500 per year. I remember remarking to Irene at the time that there was no time or place in world history more in need of an alien invasion.

I was thus delighted to see, some years later, that a writer named Seth Grahame-Smith had taken advantage of the novel's public domain status to produce Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I bought a copy for Irene for Christmas in 2009 or 2010. I didn't expect her to love it, but I also didn't expect her to be offended by it. She flipped through a couple of pages and then threw it away, right in front of me. I learned an important lesson: when you're really invested in a setting and story, you don't want to see it treated frivolously.

I shouldn't have needed to learn this lesson because I had already experienced it myself with the Ultima series. As I've wrote about before, Ultima IV was literally a life-changing game for me. It infused my impressionable and agnostic 12-year-old mind with the equivalent of a secular religion. Moreover, its approach to storytelling made me feel, more than any other game, that it was literally my avatar wandering the fields and caverns of Britannia. When Ultima V opened with a screenshot of "my" desk, complete with computer and soda can, I didn't mind because I realized it was abstract and it pretty much looked like my actual desk anyway. When Ultima VI put a picture of a pole-dancing centaur on "my" wall and decided that "I" was a white male with long hair, it was harder to swallow. At 15, I was already sporting a bald spot. Yet aside from the opening screens, the game still allowed "me" to adventure in the game's fictional world and practice the principles of virtue.

This game's Avatar has an Ultima VI poster on his wall. How does that make any sense?

But when I first encountered the Worlds of Ultima* titles, my reaction was "oh, hell no." Not only did the games codify a particular appearance for the Avatar, they gave him a set backstory and acquaintances. The Avatar was no longer traveling from my living room to Britannia; he was traveling from his house on his peculiar version of Earth--a version of Earth in which reporters still look and talk like 1930s caricatures and--to quote from the current game--"scientists have long suspected that Mars was capable of supporting intelligent life." By Ultima VII, in which the character remains in Britannia at the end of the adventure instead of returning home, the deconstruction is complete. The Avatar is no longer my avatar but just a character of that title.

The game gives me no choice but to play as this guy.

(*This little series can't seem to make up its mind as to whether its title is Worlds of Ultima or Ultima: Worlds of Adventure. It's also unclear whether the series title is supposed to be part of the game's title. My convention is usually to favor the game's title screen but also consult the manual title and the box cover title. In this case, they all conflict, with Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams appearing on the box and Martian Dreams appearing by itself on the manuals and game title screen. Since Martian Dreams by itself is more common than the alternatives, that's what I've used for the official game name.)

Otherwise known as the "only" Ultima: Worlds of Adventure game.

To be clear, I don't object to Origin re-using the Ultima VI engine to tell stories in alternate universes based on early-20th-century pulp magazines (as in the case of The Savage Empire) or on 19th-century science fiction (as in the case of Martian Dreams). I just object to them trying to shoe-horn them into the Ultima universe and making the Avatar the main character. (Could they truly conceive of no other protagonist?) I object to the weird plot developments, retconning, and conflicts that accompany these titles, including moonstones that explode and allow time travel, ancient saurian civilizations on Earth, and a habitable atmosphere on Mars. But like I did with The Savage Empire, having written all the above as a kind of catharsis, I'm going to try to ignore everything I've just said and see if I can enjoy the game on its own merits, particularly because I like the engine and everyone keeps saying that the game is good.

The introductory screens are well-composed.

Like most Origin titles, Martian Dreams benefits from solid production values in the supporting material and in-game introduction. These come together to tell a story that is absurd but sometimes clever. The summary is that the Avatar and his friend from The Savage Empire, Dr. Johann Spector, are contacted by an "odd-looking woman" (there's a hint that she's an alien) who gives them information necessary to travel through time with the Orb of Moons that the Avatar has been carrying since Ultima VI. Following the woman's instructions, they find an abandoned lab in the mountains of Colorado. There, they step through a timegate and find themselves in the same lab in 1895.

Now that we know time travel is possible by moongates, future problems that arise in Britannia ought to be easy to fix. I'm sure the series doesn't simply never reference this again.

The lab is owned by Nikola Tesla. (It's funny to see him appear in this game, 20 years before a poorly-researched and hyperbolic Internet comic would make him the patron saint of geeks everywhere.) Tesla is organizing a mission to rescue a group of people stranded on Mars. Two years earlier, the astronomer Percival Lowell created a "space cannon" which can shoot a bullet-shaped vehicle to another planet via a mysterious explosive substance called "Phlogistonite." He demonstrated the contraption at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, but somehow it went off while a group of dignitaries was on board, rocketing them to Mars. (Good thing it was pointed at just the right place, and there was enough food, oxygen, and resources on board.) The list of accidental astronauts includes Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane, Andrew Carnegie, Marie Curie, Wyatt Earp, Thomas Edison, Emma Goldman, William Randolph Hearst, George Washington Carver, H. G. Wells, Mark Twain, and Theodore Roosevelt. The idea of Emma Goldman and William Randolph Hearst stuck in the same tiny capsule for months is, admittedly, interesting to contemplate.

Yeah, this was destined to end well.

Spector naturally realizes the effects on history should this group of luminaries remain on Mars, and he and the Avatar eagerly join the rescue mission. The rest of the party includes Tesla, the investigative journalist Nellie Bly, Sigmund Freud, a mysterious doctor named "C. L. Blood," who I suspect is going to turn out to have something to do with Dracula, and a cowboy named Garrett who I at first took for Pat Garrett, but who says his first name is actually "Dallas."

Dr. Blood has a point.

During character creation, Freud fills in for the gypsy of Ultima IV, asking a series of leading questions and providing questionable interpretations to the answers. Somehow, your answers determine your starting strength, dexterity, and intelligence.

It took me longer to get the symbolism than it should have.

The game begins at the landing site of the space capsule. The Avatar, Spector, and Bly are in the party. Bly keeps a notebook that serves the same "quest log" purpose as Jimmy the reporter in The Savage Empire

Dr. Blood won't join the party; he just hangs out in the capsule and waits for you to return with injured party members. Similarly, Tesla says he has to stay behind and run the communications, Garrett is going to guard the others, and Freud is too busy working on The Interpretation of Dreams--I'm not sure why we even brought him.

You're stocking a small pod to take 6 people to Mars. Clearly, a large pipe organ is a priority.

The interface is more or less identical to Ultima VI and The Savage Empire, although the number of commands has been slightly reduced. As with its predecessors, it allows both mouse and keyboard inputs. I think this is the last Ultima game to feature the keyword-based conversation style introduced in Ultima IV, so I'll try to treasure it this final time. Unfortunately, the game doesn't have any fun by giving the characters keyword responses to obvious prompts. Tesla has nothing to say about COIL or EDISON; Freud nothing about CIGARS.

Garrett has nothing about "BILLY THE KID," but I guess if he's Dallas Garrett, he wouldn't.
  
A hold in the rear of the craft is full of mostly-useless items like plates and mugs, but also a lot of other supplies like guns, ammunition, knives, lamps and oil, a sextant, a spyglass, and clothing--which is nice because the Avatar starts the game naked. Soon, I had everyone equipped with guns, machetes, and various utility items.

Looting the ship's stores.

The first major task, clearly meant to introduce the player to the interface, is to get the stuck door open. You have to first talk to Garrett, get a prybar from him by asking the appropriate keywords, and then (U)se the prybar on the door. At this point, Tesla interrupts you with a copy protection question, but after that, it's off to explore the Red Planet!

As you step outside, there's a notice to the effect that you're stepping into a low-oxygen atmosphere, and everyone's attributes decrease by 3 points. I'm not sure what consequences this will have throughout the game or if there's a way to reverse it. Dr. Blood said something about giving me oxygen canisters, but nothing showed up in my inventory.

The game's most notable nod to reality is that on Mars, human beings can breathe slightly worse than on Earth.

The game's depiction of the Martian landscape is mostly desolate, but with occasional flowers, trees, and living creatures. The game manual gives a description of the varied flora and fauna that we might expect to encounter, including "canal worms," "creeping cacti," and "oxy-leeches." The first ones I encountered were "plantelopes," which I attacked before realizing that they were probably non-hostile.

"We come in peace!"

The game acknowledges that its depiction of Mars is a little contrary to the twentieth-century scientific consensus. "What could have changed the planet so in just 100 years?" Spector asks in the manual. "How could the Mariner and Viking spacecraft have missed such clear evidence of Martian life?"

Tesla had given me the coordinates of the 1893 expedition's landing site as 28S 153W. The sextant showed that we were currently at 27S 153E. So I headed off for a long journey to the west. It wasn't long before I ran into a large, walled compound with strange architecture and a large gong in the center. We were attacked by "jumping beans" and "creepers" on the inside. There was some machinery that needed power, but I decided to leave the area and save it for later exploration when I had a better sense of the landscape. Unfortunately, I soon ran into a large canal that seems to inhibit progress past 68E, so apparently walking to the previous expedition site isn't going to be that easy. A map comes with the game, but it's not a lot of help yet, since it doesn't seem to have any man-made features on it. And if I'm interpreting the map correctly, canals seem to surround entire large areas. I'm not sure how you're supposed to cross them.

Exploring an area that seems suitably alien.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Freud was 39 in 1895. The game depicts him as like 70 already.
  • Nellie Bly is cute. I wonder if she's going to turn out to be a love interest. Of course, she was 31 in 1895 but looks 10 years younger.

Thankfully, America's approach to mental health is entirely different 120 years later.

  • I don't know if food is going to be a thing yet. There's no sign of it so far.
  • As for an economy, so far I've found a single "piece of dirt money."
  • There's some clue to Dr. Blood in this dialogue here. I'm not getting it. The address seems to belong to a succession of publishing companies.

     
So far, Martian Dreams hasn't opened in a way that's any more promising than The Savage Empire. The plot is just as goofy, and I have less of a clue how to proceed about the game's main quest. I'll keep exploring and see if it improves. In the meantime, Irene and I are going to see The Martian later on. That should be an interesting contrast.

144 comments:

  1. IIRC Dr. Blood's oxygen canisters, which are basically resurrection potions, appear on the ground near him. Try [M]oving the machine he's sitting next to over a square, there may be a canister you can pick up left in the empty space. Or maybe he doesn't provide them until later in the game? I dunno.

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  2. Heh, loved that first paragraph. Reminded me of my own reading of Sense and Sensibility, and the terrible plight of the poor, poor sisters who were so miserably poor that they could only afford two servants, and actually was in danger of having no maid to help them dress.
    It was a very disturbing read.

    As for the game it sound kind of intriguing, with Powell as an NPC. He was the foremost advocate of the canals on Mars, but the funny thing is that the whole canal thing was due to a mistranslation of the original "canali" from an Italian astronomer, which should have been translated into "channels", not "canals", the latter implying it was manmade or martianmade.

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    1. I meant Lowell, not Powell.

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    2. I loved that first paragraph so much, I forwarded it to my Jane Austen-loving wife. I'll update if she files for divorce.

      For the record: I found Pride and Prejudice pretty entertaining. But the "alien invasion" twist absolutely needs to be made into a big-budget movie.

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    3. I'm just gonna leave this here... you should go watch the trailer. ; )

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1374989/

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  3. C.L. Blood was a real, albeit unknown, doctor.

    http://wiki.ultimacodex.com/wiki/Dr._C.L._Blood#Notes

    -j

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    1. I just picture him being played by Paul F. Tompkins in the movie version.

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    2. But then we'd miss out on seeing the filmic versions of his performances as H G Wells and Mark Twain! (From Dead Authors Podcast)

      Maybe he could just pull a Nutty Professor and do all the characters.

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    3. Attested in two references in fairly odd publications, and apparently nowhere else. You have to wonder how the creators came upon such an obscure figure in 1990.

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    4. The Wikipedia article has a few more references, including a book Blood apparently wrote. I'm honestly amazed that the human race managed to retain and access information of any kind before the Internet.

      Um, though apparently this page didn't exist before October 21, so that's probably not a coincidence...

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    5. I wish whoever created that page would come along and admit it. There's no way it wasn't influenced by my post.

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  4. "During character creation, Freud fills in for the gypsy of Ultima IV, asking a series of leading questions and providing questionable interpretations to the answers. Somehow, your answers determine your starting strength, dexterity, and intelligence."

    The conversation with Freud also determines if you play as a male or female Avatar. I always thought the question/answer that determined that to be a little too obtuse until you did it once and possibly got the opposite sex from what you intended to play as. After that you just know which answer picks which and just meta game it.

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    1. That's interesting. I had no idea what that first question ("Who you take after most: your mother or your father?") was going for. I didn't think a female Avatar was possible in this game.

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    2. The same question is used to determine gender in the recent puzzle game 'Road Not Taken', though it happens a few levels in.

      Anyway, giod to see you back in the saddle, Chester!



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  5. I had the opposite reaction to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as your wife. I read the whole thing and decided that even with every twentieth word replaced with zombie, fear, vomit, or dagger, the story was still entirely too much Austen. No amount of situational veneer could really change the Victorian ladies' keepsake box into anything else.

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  6. Would you be able to theoretically use a sextant on Mars?

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    1. As long as you are able to see the stars, moon and sun, you can still get your bearings with a Mars-centric star chart. Also, you'd need to have a watch that measures time on Mars. It probably has shorter days. Anyway, a lot of prior work has to be done before actual star navigation is possible.

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    2. You can get by in the short-run by taking a few readings off the sun and siting down and doing some math. But that only lets you calculate your position north and south, and only while the sun is up... As long as you returned to the ship every couple of weeks to recalibrate though it wouldn't take too much work. Especially where Mars has a much longer year, so the variations from the axial tilt will happen much more slowly.

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  7. Nit-picking because even though I get that language evolves due to common use and understanding, I don't like the history of this particular word distortion: In the context of your sentence, Atheist might be more accurate than agnostic. The words describe different things. Atheism describes whether or not you follow a religion, Agnosticism describes whether or not you think the question 'Is there a God' is knowable. Agnostics are still also atheist or theist.

    Tesla was pretty geek famous even back in the 90s. When Red Alert came out with Tesla coils as a base defense device, my friends and I had a chuckle because we knew the urban myth of Tesla's superweapon.

    Another thing they get a bit wrong, is that by the late 1800s, Phlogiston had long been discarded as bunk. They should have some references to luminous aether though

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    1. I wrote a long and angry answer to this post that I thought the better of posting. Suffice to say that I reject the idea that agnosticism and theism exist on two different axes. Such renowned agnostics and atheists as Neil Tyson and Richard Dawkins agree with me. I will continue to use "agnostic" its originator, Thomas Huxley, used it--as the 0 point on a scale between -1 (atheism) and +1 (theism).

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    2. Haha. As long as you didn't not post it for my sake.

      Huxley did differentiate agnostic from atheist, but that tells us more about his definition of atheist, namely that he was using one of the more exclusive definitions as Dawkins has when describing his agnosticism and as you did when putting atheism as -1 rather than 0. From what I know, Tyson's reluctance to wear the Atheist badge is a little different in that his concern is that the label itself can be counterproductive.

      The more inclusive definition of atheism (which would encapsulate each of you, Huxley, Tyson and Dawkins), is also the definition which answers whether one needs some sort of secular ethical structure to fill in for the the lack of scripture. Being an atheist (in the inclusive sense), meant that you had that experience.

      Anyway, the above is largely irrelevant. I shouldn't have suggested that the word you used was less accurate. It's your identity and your prerogative to use the terms you choose. I apologise unreservedly.

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    3. Yeah. I, too, think that if you are undecided if you should believe that God exists or not, you're some kind of True Neutral character; a.k.a. agnostic, in the theological scheme of things.

      Anyway, Tesla actually did have many super-weapon designs with one of them being tested out on Mythbuster and proven TRUE.

      http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/about-this-show/earthquake-machine/

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    4. If it makes any difference, I do consider myself an atheist now, but I'm suspicious of these "more inclusive definition(s) of atheism." They strike me as an attempt by atheists to increase their numbers by screwing around with the terminology.

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    5. It's been a while since I read up on this, but my understanding was that the church pushed to define atheism as a statement of 'there is no God' so it could frame Atheism as faith-based as well - and it was largely successful. The 'inclusive' definition has been around for centuries, though I've no idea of the definition' relative prevalence through history (and geography).

      I think these days I should just refer to myself as 'non-religious' as it seems unlikely to be misinterpreted.

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    6. >I will continue to use "agnostic" its originator, Thomas Huxley, used it--as the 0 point on a scale between -1 (atheism) and +1 (theism).

      I more or less agree with Tristan. As I understand it, a/gnosticism is about method, where a/theism is about a god's existence.

      I've heard it explained this way:

      Gnosticism: You don't need evidence to determine that a god exists. (this is related to, but not quite the same as, the blanket term for a family of old religions. That's capitalized Gnosticism, where the lowercase flavor is just gnosticism.)
      Theism: A god exists.

      Typically, most strong religionists are gnostic/theist; evidence will never change their minds.

      Weak agnosticism: We don't presently have the tools we need to determine whether a god exists. Evidence may eventually be sufficient, but we don't presently know.
      Weak atheism: There is no compelling evidence for a god; the working assumption should, therefore, be that one does not exist. (this can also be weak theism, if you choose the opposite assumption.)

      Strong agnosticism: The existence or non-existence of a god is forever beyond human reach. We will never be able to answer the question.
      Strong atheism: There is no god.

      It's on a different line. It's not so much midpoint between two stances, it's more about whether or not evidence is applicable to the question.

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    7. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesNovember 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM

      I believe in weak Nihilism: I agree that there is no controlling force in the universe or afterlife and man is doomed to be destroyed by his cruel nature, but I disagree with the idea that there is no point to achieving anything or gaining knowledge.

      I like scientific atheism: The idea of supernatural beings like ghosts. Gods and aliens is absurd because all the supposed evidence easily explained by natural phenomena, and because they are irrefutable. Anything that is irrefutable, meaning that supporters will not be dissuaded if contradictory evidence is presented, is inherently unscientific and should be disputed unless substantial evidence is shown.

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    8. Simply put,
      Gnosticism deals with what you KNOW, or think you know. (from Ancient Greek: γνωστικός gnostikos, "having knowledge", )
      Atheism only deals with what you believe.
      People tend to conflate those because of Huxley. I think, however, the greeks and the ancient Gnostic religion preceed him.
      It has become very muddled nowadays, with increase of non religious people and the formation of many sub-groups.
      I've never really cared too much about the distinction, most people know what you mean. As long as people don't start calling atheism a religion then I'm ok.

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    9. @Ryan - That's because you will sometimes be tasked to question yourself, "Do I believe that what I know is true?" "How much of what I know do I believe that may be proven false?"

      Also, let's say that there's a roaring fire before you.
      Believe: that you will burn your hand if you put it in.
      Know: that you cannot burn your hand until you put it in the fire.

      It is possible to obtain wrong knowledge (like the whitewashed history textbooks in Japan and North Korean propaganda) as it is to believe in a wrong theory (bacon and eggs are great for breakfast & 8 cups of water a day is essential).

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    10. I don't think I understand your 1st paragraph, but I think we have at least a tenuous agreement.

      Knowledge is a subset of belief. It is a well justified true belief. Asking that 1st question makes no sense to me. If I truly have knowledge of something, it would be true. If it is false then it was never knowledge, just a mislabeled belief. Me mislabeling something does not change it's true nature.
      I would also call the "fire will burn your hand" to be knowledge, because it's a well justified true belief. Well justified though personal experience and confirmed by others en mass over and over again.
      It is not possible to obtain wrong knowledge. That is an oxymoron. I think I understand what you mean though; people mislabel their beliefs as "knowledge" all the time. (see religion)

      discounting man given labels and such things like 1 + 1 = 2 because those are laws we made and are true because we define them as such) most of what is in your head is believed, not known.

      Its all kinda for naught though. Like the term "theory", the common use of the term has diverged so far from it's actual meaning that almost everyone uses it incorrectly for one reason or another. That's usually why people rarely hesitate to claim they "know" something, even when they do not. we "know" almost nothing.
      Anyway, back to work!

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    11. I don't think I distinguish between belief and knowledge - Kenny's belief/know statements seem the same to me.

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    12. The thing is, we used to have an appropriately powerful word to describe something that we know for sure is true. It was something we experienced ourselves, watched it repeatedly play out the same way, and through experience and critical thought realized it was as close to a constant as we could find in our short lifespans.
      Now we don't have a word to describe that.
      We just don't. It has been neutered, balls whacked off, by people using it as a shortcut, or a way to relay information minus any caveat like 'person A told me X'. Just because someone told you something, or you read something on the internet doesn't make it true, but its easier to say "yeah, I know that cause I read it" as opposed to saying "yeah, I read that but it may not be true because I have not done any studies on it myself and I have no empirical evidence and have experienced it myself etc. so take it for what it is."

      So many words have had their balls chopped off that it is becoming harder to relay to another person the nuances of greatly complicated subjects. The English language is raped daily for the sake of ease and brevity. I do it, we all do it. We should be conscious of it though, so we can find a better way to communicate with each other.

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    13. That's because, on some level, they will usually be an intersection between them. It's like saying Ancient History is a Belief and not Knowledge. What we know of Ancient History mostly stems from research done by archaeologists that are based on local folklore, carbon-dating, linguistics and a bunch of other disciplines coupled with lots of guesswork.

      For instance, we "knew" that Pluto was a one of the planets in our solar system until someone decided it's not. We "knew" that Amazonian warrior-women are all a bunch of Herculean bullshit until someone dug out their remains in Scythia.

      There was a time when we "knew" that humans cannot fly. Today, more than 8 million people fly each day.

      @Ryan - Sometimes, fire will not burn your hand.

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    14. I think most of those archaeologists would add the caveat "we think" or "we're pretty sure that" or "this leads us to believe" before any question is answered in detail. It's rare you hear them talk about specific non generalities in terms of absolutes. There will be exceptions, no doubt, but that does not make them right.

      Pluto is a different beast entirely. Nothing about Pluto changed - We changed the definition of "planet" to have a more scientific motif in 2006. Pluto is still Pluto. It's actually a "dwarf" planet now.
      We STILL do not know if there were tribes of "amazon" women. We have gone from believing it to have been unlikely to believing that it could have been very likely. You would also have to set a definition for Amazon as well, since it encompasses a wide field of attributes that many authors have fiddled with over the years.

      Humans can not fly. We can, however, sit in machines that do the flying, but that's a very semantic argument.. What we knew then was that we did not know how to fly. Many attempts were made, however unsuccessful. What was probably thought more often was that we weren't meant to fly, or a god didn't want us to fly.

      I'm thinking the video was for laughs? it was pretty neat though.

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    15. I have no beef with archaeologists at all. I have utmost respect on them, if anything. Who else is gonna crawl in dirt all day, answering curse-riddles, setting off primeval deathtraps and dying off mysteriously one after another even if their expedition was successful?

      No, my beef lies with those who interpreted their findings, the so-called scholars and journalists who changed the "we think" and "we believe that" into "irrefutable evidence" and "academics found out that". Totally irresponsible in the fields of social science and humanities.

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    16. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesNovember 9, 2015 at 1:18 PM

      I think I get the metaphor behind the believing and knowledge statement, and it is essentially Pascal's Wager: If something is common knowledge, such as the fact that fire is hot and dangerous, then it is reasonable to assume that it is correct. We can disbelieve that which is generally assumed, but the consequences may be dire, as in a guy sticking his hand in a fire and being burned. Most men believe that God exists, thus it is common knowledge, and so by this logic we should all believe. We could deny this belief, but then we are risking burning in Hell. This argument fails for a few reasons:

      1. There are other religions, and by this logic, believing in Christianity would make their Gods angry if their belief system are correct.
      2. Would you really want to spend eternity in the home of the guy who punishes everyone for eternity for arbitrary reasons?
      3. Just because a assumption, or the consequence of denying an assumption, is unpleasant does not make the counterargument invalid. I believe that human nature is inherently cruel and we will all fade out of existence when we die: These are depressing, but all of the evidence supports these conclusions.

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    17. Agreed. The worst part is that when you think you KNOW something, you stop looking for answers.

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    18. I agree on all 3 points.
      I like how Hitchens put it. It goes something like 'Anything that is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence'. Pretty much wraps it up.
      @TheAddict You see where these forums end up when you don't post for a month?... lol

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  8. This game has the best ending everrrrrrrrr in a RPG, so do stick around until the end :)

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  9. BTW this is not a spoiler, just an oversight from your part that has sent you in the wrong direction (literally):

    "Tesla had given me the coordinates of the 1893 expedition's landing site as 28S 153W. The sextant showed that we were currently at 27S 153E. So I headed off for a long journey to the west."

    Check your paper map. Check your (ingame) compass as you walk a few steps. West is not where you want to go.

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    1. I must have gotten a bad version of the paper map that came with the game. It has no coordinates at all. I'll scout for the proper one.

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    2. No coordinates on the map, but the map shows you where both landing sites are.

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    3. The map I have has lat/lon lines, but you will need to use your brain (and sextant) to label them yourself if you desire.

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    4. Are you not useing the free gog version?

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    5. I am now, but it doesn't come with a map, either.

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    6. The map is on GOG.com under Game Goodies: https://www.gog.com/downlink/file/ultima_worlds_of_adventure_2_martian_dreams/16393 if you're logged in.

      Unless that also has only been added since your post. ;-)

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  10. Now for some ROT13 advice :)

    1) On items: gurer'f n oht va gur tnzr gung nyybjf lbh gb olcnff zbafgref ol hfvat gur fcltynff va gurve qverpgvba. Zbafgref qvfnccrne zlfgrevbhfyl. N jerapu jvyy nyfb or hfrshy gb pneel nebhaq

    2) On levels and stats: Fgngf ner ernyyl abg arrqrq va guvf tnzr. V svavfurq vg, hfvat gur fcltynff zrgubq nobir, ng n irel ybj yriry. Zl cnegl jnf nyy yriry svir V guvax.

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  11. The introductory screens look like they were stolen from Wing Commander! And Chuck Norris is in there as well...! What a game! Lets see what you will make of this... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chuck Norris actually CAN breath on Mars

      Delete
  12. Remember that a planet is a sphere, and the 180E = 180W.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given how fast we were traversing between them, I didn't imagine that the coordinates referred to lines of longitude, or that the entire planet was explorable. In any event, thanks for your hint. I found the wreckage site.

      Now I'm having a problem where it freezes every time I try to save the game. A lot of people online seem to have had the problem, and no one has offered a solution.

      Delete
    2. Not sure if that's the case, but go to the game folder, and check if the SAVEGAME folder and it's files inside are read only. That may be the issue.
      It could also be a problem of windows permissions, so another thing could be that you have installed the game on the program files folder. Try installing it on another folder.

      Delete
    3. Nah, it's none of those things. It seems to have something to do with the first landing site. The moment I get in that area, the save feature no longer works. Not even after I leave. I downloaded the GOG version and had the same problem.

      Based on what some people posted on the GOG forum, a work-around seems to be to take no items from the first ship and just head right for the second to pick up the NPC there, then get out of that area and save. It seems to work, but inevitably I get attacked by something on the way to or from, and if I take nothing from the starting location, I can't defeat the enemies.

      Very frustrating. I wanted to get another post out tonight, but I've been just screwing around dealing with this problem all day.

      Delete
    4. That's some really weird behaviour. Is the game hacked so that the copy protection accepts any answer? I did play a hacked version a long time ago when I first heard there was a Martian Dreams game and it had serious problems while saving.

      Delete
    5. This is very strange. I played through the opening hour or so twice (once because I didn't quite know what supplies I'd really need and it was easier just to start over) and neither time had any saving problems. And both, I loaded up with gear like crazy.

      I am playing on a Mac under Boxer/DosBox so that could be a difference.

      I hope you can find and resolve your problem.

      Delete
  13. I live Martian Dreams. It is my favorite game using the U6 engine with which I have two annoyances: the difficulty of navigating forested areas due to short visibility and blocking as well as the night cycle where you really see nothing even when using lights. Martian Dreams has very long days and no forests, this helps a lot.

    Also the plot is fairly clever. The main stretch is how people got to Mars, the planet itself being different makes sense. They cheat a bit with the ages of the people but it is still cool to see them all there. It has also two od my favorite evil characters in gaming...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Welcome back Chet! This game's plot sounds so goofy that it seems like any and every idea that the writer(s) came up with got included.

    Also, the picture of Dr. Spector is clearly Warren Spector. Didn't he work at Origin at the time? Maybe he wasn't interested in being renamed in a game like Richard Garriot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I'm fairly certain that Dallas Garrett is Dallas Snell, another Origin employee.

      Delete
    2. Yep - the case of a couple of ciphers as is typical in the Ultima games.

      To me, the game is kinda similar to the graphic novel series: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Though instead of using literary figures and situations, it's using versions of real life figures and various Victorian-era thoughts about Mars. It is goofy, though it holds better than Savage Empire to me. It just feels more complete and thought out; whilst Savage Empire just felt like a long demo.

      Delete
    3. Yup. Early Rock Paper Shotgun went full tilt with the joke, and did a mock interview with Warren Spector, where the latter answered purely in responses from the Ultima games' character speech.

      Delete
    4. I had to look that up. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2007/12/04/rps-exclusive-warren-spector-interview/ is anyone else's interested.

      Delete
  15. Good to see you back in action!
    Personally, I've been on a gaming break for 3 weeks now. Icewind Dale has turned out to be a bit of a slog. And I hate resting unless I really, really, definitely need it.
    As for this game, I hate it when a historical setting becomes a sort of period slideshow. It's a bit cheap.
    Did Doctor Blood try to resurrect dead people? His "innovations" sound a bit like necromancy, and sort of like Game of Thrones' Qyburn.
    The intro screens look Westwood-esque.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also playing Icewind Dale! Very difficult- probably the hardest thing is the repetition, with few breaks. "Wow, that was crazy! I can't believe I just killed 30 wights! That must mean I'm close to the end of this dungeon. Let's scout ahead and see what's next. 60 wights. Alright, time for a break..."

      Despite the frustration, it tends to put me in a Zen trance, brought on by a continuous and consistent cycle of victories and defeats. Really highlights the craftsmanship of Infinity. Also avoiding rests on principle.

      Delete
  16. I hope you will find the game enjoyable. I think the plot is nice and the inclusion of "real" characters is a nice change of things. I just LOVE everything Mars related, forlorn Alien nations sunken civilizations etc ...
    If you just think about the game as a non-Ultima-canon game you might enjoy it more ..

    Regards
    Your fan Discobutcher

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am somewhat worried by your map and your start. I'll keep this plain text because you are not yet "in" the game yet and I think it's important if you have incomplete docs.

    The map that I have shows both the 1895 and the 1893 landing site clearly, but the coordinates that you have seem wrong. In fact, the landing site that you are supposed to get to is a short walk to the EAST rather than a long walk to the west. Is this perhaps something with botched copy protection?

    In any event, I am playing along with you although have not had as much time as I would like. I completely missed that Bly had a notebook, so I'll need to ask her about that.

    This game is a lot of fun, although I have been stuck and needed to use a hint book twice so far. I am curious to see how you do with it, especially as it fixes a number of issues that made Savage Empire a poor game. But it's probably best if you forget that this is an Ultima game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, clearly I downloaded the wrong map. I'll cast about for the correct one.

      Did you encounter the saving issue that I'm having? Once I left the capsule and got out into the world for a while, the game stopped letting me save--it crashes every time I try.

      Delete
    2. No. I'm 5-10 hours into the game and have had no saving problems.

      I'm running the version on GOG.com and while I could send you the docs, the game is currently free there so you can pick it up yourself: http://www.gog.com/game/ultima_worlds_of_adventure_2_martian_dreams

      Delete
    3. I played this one countless times in my teens. It's not perfect but I found the blend of fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction to be quite fascinating.

      Never ran into a save bug before. GoG version should solve that.

      As others have mentioned the included printed material is quite essential to the game. Everything but the hint book really should be digested thoroughly before playing.

      Delete
  18. Yes, welcome back. I first tried MD after playing U6 and SE, but was burned out by the engine at the time. The departure comments by Dr. Blood convinced me that I had missed something crucial and I tabled the game. Moving it up on your list inspired me to try GOG's free copy. I'm a few hours in with no problem saving.

    Lack of "cash" early, limited ammo and getting used to all the inventory manipulation (a lot of packing and unpacking) slowed down the early stages. Not to mention--but I will anyway--the mandatory unAvatarlike looting of everything in sight. By the time you solve the first quest the game becomes more interesting. Strangely I can't seem to get the questgiver to acknowledge that the problem was solved.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dare I point out that Ultima 2 establishes both that moon gates can be used for time travel and that Mats has an atmosphere in the Ultima universe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, very well. But the universe in which MD is taking place wasn't really established at the time of U2, and the U2 manual calls them "time doors," not "moongates."

      Delete
    2. Time Gates are referenced again on a future Ultima. I won't spoil which one though.

      I don't think that "they can be used to solve the future problems of Britannia" since they need to be used precisely on an exact spot to go back in time to that exact spot. Or at least that's what I think happened on the intro. Usually, normal moongates created with the Orb need to be on a spot relative to the person using it.

      How the Avatar knows where to use the orb is a time paradox in itself, since the book seems to be written by Spector on the past as shown on the intro, but in order to get there he should have been able to know the information of that same book in the present.

      Delete
    3. Then again, anybody who whips out an Ultima to play it for the nth time will already plunge that Avatar into a time paradox since YOU know all the mantras, Words of Power, locations of runes without speaking to anybody.

      Delete
  20. If you really hate this game and yet you don't want to break your "win" streak:

    Tb gb 57F, 49R arne gur fbhgurea cbyne vprpnc. Zbir gur pragre fgbar naq lbh jvyy svaq n cngpu bs qvfgheorq rnegu. Qvt naq trg gur ehol fyvccref. Hfr gurz guerr gvzrf.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I used the shovel in a random spot in the "desert" and found some ruby slippers. I used them and was immediately transported home and won. I have no idea where I was when I dug so no magic spoiler. It may be that digging anywhere gets them??? What an odd easter egg. Maybe someone else can shed some light.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope. Anonymous above you has you covered on that. As for it being odd, not if you treat it as a reference to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which was published in 1900.

      Delete
    2. Having ruby slippers from Oz is still pretty damn odd.

      Delete
    3. That's because you might not have heard about this.

      http://marssociety.org.au/project/mars-oz

      Delete
    4. Oh, geez. Sorry, wrong link.

      Should be this one.

      http://life-on-mars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz

      Delete
    5. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesOctober 26, 2015 at 2:27 PM

      Maybe that is a parody of the difficulty of navigation in the Ultima games and most of these old C.R.P.G.s? I want to love Albion, for example but the unclear distinction between walls and doors, the constant switches from a horribly broken 2D navigation to an even worse 3D perspective, and the horrible interface and combat really kill the fun. It took me five hours to figure out how to get out of the home base at the beginning of the game.

      Delete
  22. It's been ages since I last played this game.

    But from what I recall, the cash used in Martian Dreams is also used as a form of consumable; i.e. you'd have to eat it once in a while to NOT die like a fish out of water.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Welcome back. Man, this game. I tried to like it but I guess all these caricatures, that of Freud most of all just aren't doing it for me.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This game will get bonus points with me if there's an explanation about what happened to Martian life by the end of it.

    This game will get extra bonus points from me if the player causes it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "I didn't expect her to love it, but I also didn't expect her to be offended by it. She flipped through a couple of pages and then threw it away, right in front of me."

    Harsh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What? Chet was literally asking for it.

      Delete
    2. To be fair, I bought it as kind-of a joke gift. I thought she'd read a little of it, get a few laughs, and discard it. That's pretty much what happened, minus the laughs.

      Delete
  26. Buying your wife a bastardized version of a book she loves for Christmas (which you admit yourself you didn't expect her to love) seems like a very thoughtless and insensitive gesture. Her response was 100% sensible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I'm glad I always have anonymous commenters to help me be a better person.

      Delete
    2. As an anonymous commenter, I approve of the purchase. And my girlfriend loves Pride and Prejudice and she bought the zombie version on her own - and thought it was hilarious. Not all women are made from the same mold. Crazy, I know.

      Delete
    3. Is his a wife a geek, or a non-geek who likes zombie stories?

      Delete
    4. The things you do for love :)

      Delete
    5. And, unfortunately, the price you pay for it.

      Delete
  27. If playing this really start to get to you, I recommend you take a break and read Nakar's LP of Ultima 4-7. He even does a Martian Dreams LP, and his narrative style that completely lampoons the entire series is hilarious.

    http://lparchive.org/author/nakar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truly excellent stuff. I think Chet was the one who brought Nakar to my attention way back when.

      Delete
    2. I remember reading Nakar's Let's Play "live" on the SomethingAwful forum. Someone pretending to be Richard Garriot commented on the excellent quality of the whole thing when it was over and Nakar's writing was so good that a lot of people actually believed it was the man himself. I doubt that though.

      Delete
    3. Yes, it is very funny and successfully parodied the best and worst aspects of the games. I also recommend Spoony's analysis of the series, especially 2, 8 and 9.

      Delete
    4. I seem to recall reading an "evil" walkthrough of the Bastard Avatar in which he lies, cheats, steals (from) and kills anyone who gets in his way while getting away from it all.

      There was one where he was basically sleeping months away in Minoc to farm 99 Skeleton keys and using them in Castle British's treasury till he could carry no more treasure, then giving some of those ill-gotten gains to beggars to get his virtue back.

      Delete
  28. Why the Kate Beaton hate? Her comics are hyperbolic for humor's sake. She's pretty well learned and an avid historian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree. Kate Beaton's stuff is really cool.

      Delete
    2. I suspect that he's actually referring to this old comic (if you can call it that) from The Oatmeal:

      http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

      Delete
    3. I thought the Tesla comic was a reference to The Oatmeal...

      Delete
    4. I don't think anything I said could be construed as "hate," but in any event, the follow-up commenters are right: I was referring to The Oatmeal comic.

      Delete
  29. I thought you were talking about these Tesla comics...

    http://harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=61

    http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=256

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Edison actually did steal everyone's inventions: AC power was an inferior ripoff of Tesla's AC, Tesla also invented radio around the same time as Guglielno Marconi; French scientists invented movies with color and sound 30 years before Edison claimed to have invented silent movies; the lightbulb was created by Heinreich Goebbels; the phonograph was invented by Joseph Snow, who threatened to sue Edison and forced him to give him control of half his company and rename it SnowEd; William Preece invented the microphone and called Edison a con artist he stole the idea; when Bell and Tainter tried to make an improved version of the phonograph, Edison accused them of stealing the idea he had stolen, and then when Bell invented the telephone, he also tried to take credit for it.

      Tesla was a century ahead of his time: he invented the field of electronics, discovered things that were the bases for almost everything we take for granted today, and created things that would probably have been considered impossible by most guys at the time. Edison stole all his work, fired him from his company and left him to die forgotten in the gutter while he got rich and famous.

      Delete
  30. Haw! Haw!

    You're a funny writer Mr. CRPG Addict. I did have a good time, for which you have my thanks.

    Martian Dreams I did complete and found it to be a fine game. Story and dialogue I found quite entertaining. Though it must be said that the Martian world is a bit barren for my taste, and the number of treks that were required did test my patience.

    The game is likely to provide you with plenty opportunities for quotable barbs regarding its historic authenticity.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wow. You call yourself a CRPG addict and yet you cry about not knowing how to advance the story? That's sad.

    By now you should know that Ultima is about freely exploring and gathering clues from NPCs until the objectives become clear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never had to much fun in games without a clear red thread. That includes Ultima, Gothic, Elder Scrolls and much more, basically half of all crpgs.

      While the method is clear, it just feels tedious to collect clues. With good storytelling, exploration and side quests aren't denied by having a clear main goal. I don't see a reason in starting a game before the story has started.

      A good example is Albion, you start with the simple goal of finding back after your shuttle crashes. Then the story unfolds and you get drawn in.

      Delete
    2. That's just an absurd, insulting interpretation of what I said. I know perfectly well that I have to walk around talk to people; I was just noting that the direction of the main plot is less clear in the game materials and opening screens than it was for, say, Ultima VI and The Savage Empire.

      Delete
    3. All these anonymouses trying to steal my thunder as the resident tosser.

      An interesting point raised (and expanded upon by sucinum) though. How much red thread should there be? Some games on this blog have had pretty scant amounts - There were a number of times Chet had to methodically revisit every place/square/NPC in an attempt to trigger the next piece of the main arc. That seems pretty user unfriendly!

      There are a fair number of games who don't give you your main quest out of the gate. Games like Avernum 1, EV: Nova, and Sunless Sea just say 'go forth ans survive/prosper, which some sort of thread eventually making itself apparent. Games like Dead State and This War of Mine never have a thread beyond survival.

      Delete
    4. @Anonymous - What's wrong with that even if it's true? I've seen crack addicts cry about lesser things regarding their habits.

      Delete
    5. During my hiatus, my blog for some reason became a popular site for jackasses, trolls, and spammers.

      Delete
  32. Hey, not sure if anyone else commented but the game gave you the wrong coordinates for the previous crash site, based on your info above.

    Triple check the map that came with the game, assuming you have not gotten past that already. There is definitely NOT a canal blocking the second landing site from the first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I figured that out. The coordinates were correct, but I needed to go east to get to the west.

      Delete
  33. I'm sort-of craving an Elder Scrolls fix, but I don't want to go back and replay Oblivion or Skyrim (and I am saving myself on Arena, Daggerfall, and Morrowind for when Chet gets there).

    Does anyone know if Elder Scrolls Online has a reasonable single-player campaign? Or is the game only good as a MMO and I should stay away (because I do not desire MMO gameplay).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you don't find crafting thousands of daggers to get your Weaponsmith skill to 100 fun on Skyrim, stay the f#$& away from ESO, Joe.

      Delete
    2. Joe....play the first three. The world could easily come to an end before I get to them.

      Delete
  34. This game is longer than Savage Empire. It's worth it to go thru and complete the game. The Ultima Underworlds are a far better "branch" to go down than these Avatar Adventures. I'll probably get criticized for saying this but Ultima is a VERY weak series in terms of playability or replayability.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't say "very weak", but I think there's some truth to this. The Ultimas I've played (from Ultima 6 onwards) focus on story and dialogue, taking place in detailed RPG worlds that are fun to explore. But combat, leveling up, battle tactics, economy, equipment, challenging level design and suchlike aren't really their strengths. It seems to me that Garriott wasn't that interested in these things.

      Delete
    2. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesNovember 2, 2015 at 12:14 PM

      I love Ultima 4 and 7, but the only one of the series after 4 I like is 7: 5 feels like a tedious slog compared to the relatively fast paced 4, and the fight against Blackthrone is not nearly as interesting as the quest of the Avatar; 6 and Serpent Isle are crippled by technical problems; 8 is one of the worst games ever made; and I hear 9 is even worse, but I refuse to believe that.

      Delete
    3. Why not try playing it and be amazed at how truthful rumors can get?

      Delete
  35. I have this in the original box with 5 1/4" floppies, paper map etc. One of my most prized nerd possessions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any game box still holding its default contents, that includes 5.25" floppies, is to be enshrined and worshiped as a digital Methuselah.

      Delete
  36. I'm still wandering around in the wilderness. I've spent a lot of time trying to find ways into places. The good news is that everyone is at least level 6, the bad news is that oxium is in short supply.

    At one point I thought that I had reached dead man walking status. In the second dream world sequence I found Earp (who thanked me for a rescue I hadn't done yet) and Twain (whining that I had not saved him) standing on the inset points for their obelisks. Meaning I had no way in and could not advance the game.

    I tried quite few things, but found that if I attacked them in the Dream World they would run off the insert point. I suspect a bug was involved because if I "Talked Out" of a dream and then went back in the game promptly hung: program not expecting 2 Earps? So now I'm back to wandering. It seems that no one could get anything done until the Avatar showed up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't try it, but Move doesn't work with people outside dreamworld.

      I'm very near the end and I'm finding out that I didn't need to hoard ammo as much as I did (I used melee weapons almost the whole time).

      Delete
  37. I don't mind them using the Avatar or Ultima brand in spinoffs, as long as it is done well, like in Ultima Underworld. I consider that to be a canon Ultima title, though I'm pretty sure it and the sequel were basically ignored in future Ultimas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Underworld II is clearly canon, but the first one makes no sense whatsoever in the Ultima universe and should probably have been designed as a standalone game.

      Delete
    2. I thought it had a really cool story: a Bioshock-esque fallen utopia based on the 8 virtues. It was heavily exploration and dialogue focused, like most Ultima titles and had an amazing engine for the time. I thought it was a perfect fit in the Ultima universe, nitpicks aside (the new magic system, the re-emergence of non-human races, etc.) What about it made no sense whatsoever?

      Delete
    3. I shouldn't have made a comment like that before re-playing the game, as it's been years since I played, but I seem to recall thinking that none of the in-game elements had anything to do with Ultima mythology, including most of the monsters.

      If the game didn't come with a back story and you just started playing, would it in any way be recognizable as an Ultima game?

      Delete
    4. Yeah I think so. You are playing as the Avatar, the location of the game is the Stygian Abyss, the events of the game revolve around the virtues, shrines, mantras, runes, etc., everyone speaks in "thees and thous," references are made to other Ultima characters and places. Like I said before they changed the magic system so that it doesn't work on reagents, and there are also dwarves and other typically non-Ultima races but there are tons of Ultima monsters like orcs, goblins, gazers, daemons, ghosts, etc. It'll be interesting when you play it again. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much Ultima is in it, despite the fact that for much of its development it was not an Ultima title at all.

      Delete
    5. Your last sentence kind of proves my point, though. The game feels like a non-Ultima title in which Ultima themes are grafted on--and that's what it is.

      "You're playing as the Avatar, the location of the game is the Stygian Abyss..." Would you even know this except for the framing story in the game manual? (Honestly asking; I can't remember if these concepts come up in the dialogue or other in-game text.)

      Delete
    6. Well that game did the "you're the Avatar but nobody believes you're the Avatar" thing before Ultima VII.

      But yes it is an Ultima game through and through. Maybe it depends on your definition of an Ultima game? If a game that takes place in Britannia, features you as the Avatar, has an intricate story that revolves around the virtues, is heavily exploration, discovery and dialogue based, is open world and has "scavenger hunt" aspects to it (like how U4,5 and 6 are essentially giant scavenger hunts) isn't an Ultima, then I don't know what is.

      Delete
    7. There's so many irregularities that Ultima Underworld qualifies as a "Worlds Of Ultima" title.
      http://ultima.wikia.com/wiki/Ultima_Underworld_Nitpicks

      Then again, there's Escape of Mt. Drash...

      Delete
  38. Due to the long absence, I'm hoping Chet didn't have a fallout with Irene, or perhaps he has Uranium Fever.

    -Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesNovember 12, 2015 at 12:59 PM

      "I just tried some Nintendo and Taito games, and they were really cool.
      "I must stop posting until I figure out how to hide a body.

      Delete
    2. His next post will probably be something like: "Can't post, too busy carting materials back to my settlement every time my tiny inventory fills up."

      Delete
    3. Chet smiled as he drove through the ancient chain-link fence. It had been expensive, but worth every penny. He had been searching for an out-of-way retreat for some time and the abandoned Titan missile silo had been for sale on eBay at 25% off.

      He had told his wife it was a business trip, one week max. That his destination was deep underground in the Midwest went unmentioned.

      The gate was locked, built to withstand the battering power of a Soviet T-72, but he had the key to let himself in. Confidently Chet strode through the rusted corridors until he reached the only powered elevator in the complex. Stepping inside, he pressed 'B40' and waited anxiously. It had been so long.

      The elevator deposited him in a single room containing a large Faraday cage surrounding a desk. Smiling, Chet entered and locked the cage behind him, placing his laptop upon the desk. Soon, the introduction music to Shin Megami Tensei bleated out of the computer's tiny speakers.

      "No one must know...", he whispered.

      Fin.

      Delete
    4. Good one!

      Delete
  39. I didn't realize The Oatmeal was that popular. I knew of Tesla from Spider Robinson's books back in the 90s. Heck, I thought the Mythbusters episode was before The Oatmeal, though I could be wrong.

    ReplyDelete

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