Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ultima Underworld: Won!

            
I guess I needn't have worried. The inventory error message didn't manifest itself in any obvious way, and I was able to get to the end of the game. I was in a constant state of agitation until then, however, which hurt my enjoyment of the last level.

I spent most of Level 8 obsessively collecting every bone and skull that I could find, then taking them back to Level 5 and trying to use them on Garamon's grave. The grave stopped accepting them with the previous "you thoughtfully give the bones a final resting place" message, and I started to worry that I'd somehow filled up the grave.

Eventually, I found a refuse heap worthy of a mage: Vas, Tym, Sanct, and In runes, a case with a scroll of "Freeze Time," a Ring of Invisibility, and a set of bones. Those, fortunately, turned out to be Garamon's. When I used them on the grave, his spirit appeared.

Garamon suggested that we open a gate to send the Slasher back to his own world, which would require a lot of magical energy. He said that the source should be "pure" and somehow tied to the traditions of Britannia. Then he left it to me to suggest the solution: the various TALISMANS of virtue that I'd been assembling for the entire game.
            
I didn't have a saved game recently; otherwise, I would have tried the first option.
        
While agreeing on the source, he was stumped on "a latent source of power" to "release their stored virtue." Again, I had to feed him the keyword. It wasn't hard; it was all around us: LAVA. He agreed and said I should toss the talismans in the lava when I encountered the Slasher.
           
I shall name a font after thee.
         
The last major step before the endgame was assembling the "three-part key." I'd already found the Key of Courage on an upper level. The Key of Truth came from telling the seer Illomo that I'd rescued Gurstang, which involved giving him a keyword--FALANAE--that Gurstang had spoken to me. Illomo said that the key was in another dimension, but I could call it back at an ankh shrine with the right mantra--a mantra that might be found in a library book.

Exploring the library, I found a book called Falanae Fanlo, used the second word as a mantra at the shrine, and got the key.
          
It's a good thing those are the only two words I could read. This otherwise might have taken a while.
          
I knew beyond a doubt that the Key of Love would come from Judy, once I gave her a picture of Tom, but I couldn't find the damned thing for the life of me. I finally had to look up a hint. I'm glad I did, because it was a bit unfair. One of Tyball's prisoners who you free on Level 7 is named Bolinard, and he asks if he can help you by making a map of the area. When I first met him and he asked that, I chose the answer that said, "No, I know my way around" because by then, I'd already explored the whole level and the automap was filled in. It turns out that you have to say "yes" so that he writes the map on the back of the picture of Tom.

In any event, I took the picture back up to Judy on Level 5. She mercifully had not fallen into the lava in the meantime. When she saw the picture, she cried a single tear, which fell into the lava and somehow turned into a Key of Love.
           
Well, I feel like a jerk now.
        
With the three-part key, I could open the inner chamber of the volcanic core on Level 8. I had discovered it ages ago.
          
Hey, is this supposed to be the same chamber that had the Codex in Ultima IV?
        
The Slasher of Veils was standing in a square of lava within, trapped by some magical energy. He won't talk to you, which I thought was too bad. Attacking him causes his bonds to break, and he kills you instantly.
          
I half-expected him to be a gargoyle.
          
With no other options, I threw each of the eight talismans into the lava, watching them burst into flames one by one. The moment the last one hit, a portal opened and sucked the Slasher into another dimension, and me along with him.
            
It's nice that in this chaotic hell-dimension, someone took the time to paint the floor tiles.
           
We were in a chaotic todash space, void on all sides, weird images like giant eyes and laughing mouths in the periphery. The Slasher was there, and he immediately started for me, so I had to run. There were several paths leading from the central area. My first choice, a red path, ended up leading me to a moongate that simply warped me back to the beginning.
            
Demon dogs are just a few of the horrors in the periphery of the final area.
        
My second choice, a green path, wound about for what seemed like miles, some horrible image at every bend, my health draining for no reason throughout the journey. Eventually, I came to a moongate and burst through. This was apparently the right one, for the endgame sequence commenced.
            
        
The moongate apparently brought me to the shores of the Isle of the Avatar, because the endgame narration (all text, no voices this time) explained that I dove into the sea with the lava at my heels. Fortunately, a ship belonging to Baron Almric was sailing nearby. 
          
What happened to my boots?
        
Almric apologized for how he treated me:
          
The "and more" part is never really elaborated.
         
And his daughter offered her admiration:
           
Have there been any others?
         
The ship sailed away as the volcano engulfed the Isle of the Avatar behind us.
         
Remember this next time you hear someone say, "Why don't we just throw all our trash into volcanoes?"
         
The final text explained how, after I got home, Garamon came to me in a dream, thanked me, and said he had used the last of his magic power to open a portal for the rest of the inhabitants of the Abyss. "They are now settling in a place called Destard," he said. I'm sure that I'll find their descendants there in Ultima VII and this will not simply be never referenced again.
          
From your lips to Lord British's ears.
          
After a final farewell, I got the screen at the top and a summary of my endgame status.
             
             
As usual, while appreciating the detail of the narrative, I feel that Origin missed some opportunities. First of all, rather than some demon we've never head of from a place we've never heard of, why not make this the first appearance of a villain who's about to have a big role in the Ultima series? You don't even have to refer to him by name. Just, you know, some being from another dimension has contacted Tyball and wants his help getting through. It would add more to the twist in the next game.

Second, just tossing the talismans of virtue into the lava is a boring way to treat them. Why not create a quest that makes more thematic use of the objects? It would have been fun if, for instance, the player had to identify the best individuals to wield each object among the game's NPCs.

The backstory is mostly wasted, but of course it's largely a framing story for a game that was originally conceived as an independent title. We don't really hear that much about Cabirus or why the colony fell apart, and the history is unnecessary to understanding present events. Wouldn't it have been more interesting if Cabirus had summoned the demon to purge the place after seeing his experiment fail? 

Adding insult to injury, I don't think we ever hear of the events in Ultima Underworld again. Neither Arial nor Almric nor their descendants pop up in a later game. We never hear about the Slasher of Veils. In Ultima VII, the Isle of the Avatar doesn't seem particularly worse for the volcanic apocalypse presented here, and despite my joke above, I don't think there are any signs of civilization in Destard. I'm pretty sure multiple characters in Ultima VII refer to "the last time" the Avatar visited, clearly referring to Ultima VI. Correct me if I'm wrong.
           
But let's make sure we include a Wing Commander reference in this game. That's important.
           
The story got really lazy at the end. How did the moongate happen to take the Avatar to the outdoor area of the island, right where Almric's ship happened to be? Why couldn't the Slasher follow the Avatar through the moongate? How did the Avatar even get home from this trip? After offering a pretty lame way to get him to Britannia--he came through a dream--the developers don't bother to send him home at all.

Before I close, I want to say a word about the nature of the combat system in Ultima Underworld and similar games in which combat is integrated with the main game engine, and not offered on a separate "combat screen."

On the surface, tactical combat seems to take a step backwards in Ultima Underworld. Previous Ultimas, which of course featured multiple characters, allowed for careful, turn-based combat on a tactical grid, with options to target various enemies with both melee and missile weapons, cast spells, and use items. Ultima VI allowed you to assign a "template" for offense or defense to each character. In each game after III, terrain was an important tactical consideration. Leave the Ultima series and you find even more tactics in the best games of the day. Consider the system of stealth, backstabs, and opportunity attacks in the Gold Box series, the "foresight" system of Knights of Legend, and the buffs and resistances of any D&D-based game.

In Ultima Underworld, we're reduced to a single character swinging repeatedly at foes while stringing together the occasional spell.
           
Swinging at a golem.
          
But something deeper is happening, because in Ultima Underworld, "combat" isn't a separate and unique phase of gameplay. Rather, a weapon or spell attack against an enemy is simply one of many options you can perform in the main interface. Hence, we need a new approach to thinking about "tactics" in such a game. I would submit that for a game in which combat is integrated with the main game engine, nearly anything possible in that engine is a part of "combat tactics."

This is far from the first game with an integrated interface. Ultima I and II had one. But the mechanics of those games even outside of combat were so limited that the integration didn't provide many additional tactics. Things start to improve in Dungeon Master and its descendants, also featuring integrated interfaces, with options to smash enemies in closing doors and try to get pits to open beneath them. Ultima VI was the first real "sandbox" game, but few of the related options improved the characters' chances in combat.

Ultima Underworld might be the first game complex enough that the integration of combat and exploration truly makes a tactical difference. Combat becomes not just a matter of standing in front of an enemy and trading blows, but rather effective use of terrain, spells, and objects to get a tactical advantage. Here are some things you can do in Ultima Underworld that you can't do in any other game that I remember:
            
  • Use my superior jumping ability to reach a higher platform where the enemy can't hit me.
  • Lead the enemy into a room, flee, and shut and spike the door behind me.
  • Shove an enemy off a platform or bridge and into lava.
  • Delay an enemy by pelting him with random objects scooped up from the dungeon floor.
  • Use one enemy to block missiles and spells cast by another one. (I don't know if these damage the enemy they hit, but they do keep them from getting to you.)
  • Hide in shadows and simply sneak past enemies. 
            
(One thing I don't know: do NPCs fight enemies when they encounter them? I wonder what would happen if I led a headless back to, say, the knight enclave.)

This is a fairly amazing list for a dungeon engine that is appearing for the first time. As such engines grow, so will combat tactics. Anyone who says combat in Skyrim is boring because it "has no tactics" either lacks imagination or is being too literal when it comes to "combat." I'll repeat something I once said in a comment:
           
The last time I played the game, I played on "legendary" difficulty, and it was exhilarating finding ways to defeat foes I could never have defeated just standing there swinging away. Between various stealth options, leading enemies to each other, spells and powers like "Calm" and "Frenzy," leading bandit chiefs up the sides of mountains so I could FUS-RO-DAH them back down, making daring escapes by jumping into rivers, sniping dragons from behind cover, conjuring allies to occupy enemies while I found a new place to hide, trapping Dwemer spheres behind grates, luring enemies into their own traps, and a thousand similar scenarios, I felt the game offered just about all I needed for combat tactics. I think if the next Elder Scrolls changes nothing [except adding body-part specific damage], it will be one of the best real-time combat systems ever made.
            
The problem with Ultima Underworld is that it doesn't have a "legendary" setting, so the combats are too easy to win without resorting to any of the tactics that it offers. But the engine is ready for them. That's something else we can add to the game's admirable legacy.

55 comments:

  1. Great set of posts on this classic game, I'm glad the inventory bug was a non issue! I feel level 8 is a bit of a letdown after the brilliant levels that precede it, apart from finding Garamon's bones it is mostly pointless and you can just fly straight to the core. P.S. a vision from one of the orbs shows you to run down the green path, but you probably saw that so long ago you had well forgotten it.

    I'll be fascinated as to how your Gimlet pans out for this one, as the game has a few big weaknesses (some of which you touched in this post around the overarching narrative and the shoehorning into the Ultima universe) but a hell of a lot of strengths as well. Certainly a great way to start 1992, thanks for your great coverage of a game that holds a special place in my life for various reasons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting. I don't even remember the orb, let alone the specifics of the vision.

      Delete
    2. An orb that showed me a vision of "bizarre creatures [floating] in space" and "a green path, flanked by a black void on either side." The vision concludes: "Somehow you know the path leads to Britannia."
      - CRPG Addict, February 28

      That's interesting. I don't even remember the orb, let alone the specifics of the vision.
      - CRPG Addict, March 28

      CRPG Addiction is bad for your short-to-long term memory...

      Delete
    3. Well, at least I didn't miss it. I suppose I should periodically re-read my previous entries as a play a game to keep my mind fresh.

      In truth, I usually keep a log of mysteries like that until I'm sure I understand them. This just didn't seem like the type of game where I had to do that.

      Delete
    4. This was my downfall too. I spent far too long stumbling around puzzles that had hints I had long forgotten. It also didn't help that NPCs rarely repeated helpful dialogue.

      Delete
  2. Taking the green path at the end is hinted at by that crystal ball way back on the first level ("the green path leads to Britannia"). It's kind of unfair, though, as on your first playthrough you'll almost certainly have forgetten about it by the endgame. And it's not like you'll have time to stop and think about it with an indestructable demon chasing your ass.




    >> "Use one enemy to block missiles and spells cast by another one. (I don't know if these damage the enemy they hit, but they do keep them from getting to you.)"

    Didn't Ultima 5 have you accidentally hitting your own teammates in the back with ranged weapons? Did that never happen to the other side? Even if they don't take shots where there's a risk of hitting each other I imagine you could maneuver to get them in each other's way to prevent their ranged attackers from doing anything.

    Of course, if they DO attack anyway and never hit their allies, I'd call that cheating on the game's part.



    >> "After offering a pretty lame way to get him to Britannia--he came through a dream--the developers don't bother to send him home at all."

    Hey, didn't you complain about getting kicked back to Earth the second you saved Britannia every time? Maybe they actually let you stick around for the victory party this time. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Didn't Ultima 5 have you accidentally hitting your own teammates in the back with ranged weapons? Did that never happen to the other side?" Yes and yes, but in both cases they were accidents and not really something you could strategize for.

      Delete
  3. Regarding integration of combat into the main game interface so that essentially everything becomes a part of combat tactics, roguelikes do that. Rogue itself was too primitive to allow most of the tactics you mention, but more modern roguelikes support almost all of them and a lot more, and in many situations creative problem solving of this kind is vital for survival. Perhaps Hack/Nethack was among the first games to support many of these features? This aspect of gameplay really comes into its own in roguelikes like ADOM or Dungeon Crawl, and I think it is a large part of what creates their appeal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very good point. I should have included roguelikes in the discussion.

      Delete
  4. Considering that this game starts as a dream, it may work better in terms of continuity if the whole thing is a dream.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. As awful as it is to haul out THAT old trope, I think you might be right.

      Delete
    2. That actually makes a lot of sense... Instead of dreaming that he forgot to wear clothes to work, the avatar dreams of showing up to Brittania, but no one recognizes him so they lock him in the abyss!

      Delete
  5. Thank you for these in-depth, thoughtful and often very funny postings on one of my all-time favourites! I like your take on combat tactics, and will probably approach games like Skyrim quite differently when assessing the combat engine.

    One nitpick about Ultima 6: I totally made use of the integrated combat when I played it! This was less for serious play-through ends, of course, but there is a lot you can do with terrain, spells and certain in-game items when you're just having fun with the game and are experimenting. Luring guards away from their brethren so they can be safely killed, or hauling a cannon around so I can kill NPCs without consequences come to mind. So does locking people/monsters in rooms with magic lock or forcefields. Or pushing an NPC on a swamp square and watching them die of poisoning. Or setting a trap with powderkegs. The U6 engine made a lot of things possible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's also pretty easy to get through Ultima 6 without any combats except the one at the beginning.

      Delete
    2. Paul, you're right. Ultima VI's integrated system supported more tactics than I was remembering when I wrote this.

      On the other hand, it suffers the same problem as UU: the combats aren't hard (or, as Nathan points out, necessary) enough to encourage you to make use of them.

      Delete
  6. Congratulations.

    About the combat system, I wonder how hard is to play a character with the Unarmed as a main combat skill? I want to give it a shot, but do not want to spend several hours on what may be a character build you can't win the game with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also wonder if you could play the game as a straight mage, only killing things with spells. I could see it being doable but really tedious due to the cumbersome nature of switching spells.

      Delete
    2. Mana runs out very fast... and if I remember correctly, combat spells are very swingy in how much damage they do. You'd end up hauling loads and loads of mediocre attack wands around - and running away a lot.

      Delete
    3. It shouldnt be a problem, really. You just put points into "unarmed" skill instead of "swords" and you save some place in your inventory. I guess you inflict less damage, but the fights in this game are really easy. The only problem are fire elementals which you can just charge so they can't cast fireballs when you are next to them.

      Delete
    4. Saving place and weight in the inventory was one of my main intentions behind the Unarmed build. Increasing reliance on the spells without sacrificing all of the combat strength is the other intention.
      It also cuts the costs on repairing, but it seems of little importance, given the ample amount of gold coins in the game.

      Delete
    5. I played through all of UU2 with nothing but unarmed, and it wasn't hard. I liked having less inventory weight to manage, but mostly did it for flavor - you get trained by npcs in that one, and it was a pretty fun roleplay experience! Also, I'm not too sure about using magic for combat, but good casting skill makes a lot of the other skills (like repair) completely useless, as there are spells that totally cover everything the skill would have done...

      Delete
  7. Congratulations! Report thy feat to Warren Spector?

    While I marvel at the technical aspects of this game, soon, there was Ultima VII and well ... enough said. Sandbox game with a murder mystery :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But will probably receive a 1 for combat. :p

      Delete
    2. Well, there are ... three battles in the game you need to fight, all others are optional.

      Delete
  8. In combat, I always use the basic tactic of moving backward to avoid being hit and moving forward to hit. Is everybody else doing this, or are there people who stand still while exchanging blows?

    It's kind of the equivalent of the combat waltz in Dungeon Master games. And like some people suggested to play Dungeon Master games without the combat waltz, is anybody recommending to play UW's combats without moving backward and forward all the time?

    I would like the combats to be more challenging, but I couldn't bring myself to try this yet, as I feel that while it would make buffing spells more important, it still wouldn't make the combats interesting. It'd just mean that you'd have to flee sometimes, sleep or quaff a few potions, and return again.


    "The problem with Ultima Underworld is that it doesn't have a "legendary" setting, so the combats are too easy to win without resorting to any of the tactics that it offers."

    That's so damn true. I really wish there were some mods for Ultima Underworld that increased the challenge. Not only for combats, but also for survival (reducing the plentiful food and light sources), equipment (you're practically swamped with more items than you need from the second level on), and the trading/economy (they never have anything you need, and you can't do much with the gold you find).

    As far as I can see there are no mods for UW at all. I wonder how difficult it would be to make such a balancing mod for UW. Quite a few of its file formats have been analyzed:

    http://wiki.ultimacodex.com/wiki/Ultima_Underworld_Internal_Formats
    http://bootstrike.com/Ultima/Online/uwformat.php

    It might not be easy to make the game difficult in an interesting way. If the player still can easily run away from any combat he is in and return fully rested, it might just turn into a tedious slog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was how I played it. All realtime games have some set of movement techniques that you can employ. Sometimes they feel just as exploitative as the combat waltz (pillars of eternity's monster juggling was super cheesy).

      Delete
    2. I didn't mean it quite that literally when I said "standing there exchanging blows." Sure, I moved SOME, although usually not so much to avoid an enemy attack as to chase down an enemy who decided to dance around.

      Delete
    3. I've done some hacking with UU. I wrote several tools to view/edit game files, but it's not the easiest engine to work with. I would like to put more effort into this, but I have my own game project to finish first. :p

      Delete
  9. Glad you were able to complete the game despite encountering the inventory bug.

    I played and completed the game when it was first released. I remember for the last couple of levels I experienced the inventory bug as well. In my case some of my inventory items would appear hanging in the air around me. That definitely spoiled the last part of the game for me.

    ReplyDelete


  10. Yaknow, I think you've been doing too much literal roleplaying recently and it's steering you wrong. You need to not lose sight of the gamey parts necessary to play an RPG. You know you've got to explore every part of every dialogue tree for stuff.

    I like "Slasher of Veils" as a demon's name. That's cool when demons have non-standard ominous-sounding names.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The previous comment was supposed to contain this preface but the HTML was missing a bracket.

      When I first met him and he asked that, I chose the answer that said, "No, I know my way around" because by then, I'd already explored the whole level and the automap was filled in. It turns out that you have to say "yes" so that he writes the map on the back of the picture of Tom.

      Delete
    2. I was more wondering why he would turn down that offer in the first place, surely you would say yes out of politeness. It's like when your dad draws you a hand drawn map to your Aunt's house 3 towns over, even though you know you will just use the GPS on the phone you take it and thank him anyhow.

      Delete
    3. I probably didn't want another item in my inventory.

      Delete
    4. Throwing this one out there for consideration, but what would combat have been like if you didn't prioritize loading up on the heaviest armor rather than having inventory space and weight available for exploration? It seems like every time I play Skyrim I naturally gravitate towards heavy armor and shields, and leave myself so encumbered that I end up leaving loot on the floor or returning to town every 12 minutes.

      Delete
    5. That's what I would do now, of course, knowing how the game goes--though I don't know, the fire elementals were pretty tough even with heavy armor.

      Skyrim is a bit different because your skill with various armors is as important as the armor material. I actually thing it dis-incentivizes the use of heavy armor by having so many light armor options that outperform heavy with a high enough skill.

      Delete
    6. I wouldn't say that it incentivizes against heavy armor at all, but it does reward one kind of play over another. After all, while light armor does get more protective as skills go up, heavy armor is still more protective at equivalent levels of skill, and perk choices can drive much different styles of play. I just naturally fall into smash mouth mode when playing in real time, I think.

      Delete
    7. Smithing is so important in Skyrim that between high Smithing and high Armor skill, you can reach max armor rating with any given kind of armor (or unarmored plus spells, obviously). That is late game, however. In the early game, heavy armor offer a significant protection advantage over light armor.

      I actually like this balance progression. Wish there was a similar thing in the weapons department, but unfortunately the weapons system in Skyrim is just rather bland. Would be cool if some weapons had knockback, some had trip effects, some had armor piercing, some had wounding over time, and some had a pain debuff attached – before enchantments! Also, would be great if weapon range and moveset made a greater difference, à la Dark Souls. Sadly, that's not to be.

      Delete
    8. Skyrim with DS melee combat would be very close to a perfect game.

      Delete
  11. I'm going to call it early: UU will be Game of the Year for 1992.

    While there are better games made this year, UU is the ur-example for most of our modern RPGs from Skyrim to Breath of the Wild. Other games will do it much better, but I don't think we can doubt the huge influence this game brought to the industry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (We already had this discussion and that was the general consensus)

      Delete
    2. I don't know. I'm holding out hope for this "Darklands" that you all keep telling me about.

      Delete
    3. Oh, ho, ho...UU wins on technical merit but Darklands is a far better RPG that drips with theme. In fact I'd go so far as to read a couple books on medieval Germany beforehand to fully appreciate the experience.

      Delete
    4. If I were to pick a Chester favorite that is closest to Darklands, I would say Baldur's Gate. Pausable real time action gives it a Gold-Boxish strategical feel as opposed to the twitch factor of a Dungeon Master or UU. It's late and I'm tired but I can't think of any prominent turn-based or RTS-based RPGs after Temple of Elemental Evil 10-15 years ago, so I think it might be fair to say that while UU was a seminal early entry in a genre that is widely popular now, Darklands was an innovative, deep, well thought out member of an established genre which has faded out.

      Delete
    5. I'm saying Darklands won't get 1992 GoTY due to the rough edges. The game never really ends, you just eventually run out of things to do.

      It's also very difficult in the beginning, but that might be my personal lack of skill with the game.

      Delete
    6. Never ends?
      The natural ending is when you complete the main quest. But loke many other CRPGs you can continue playing after that point.

      I agree that the beginning is rough. You have to break the curfew (and thus the law) in order to gain enough Reputation to get your first quests from the guilds.

      Delete
    7. Darklands' difficulty is mostly about the type of armor your characters can afford, especially when surrounded by multiple opponents. Plate/chain armor is extremely expensive, but turns most blows into glancing hits taking away only 1 stamina, trivializing most fights, while in cheap leather you'll be constantly eating 8-10 HP (out of a maximum of 40) penetrating hits.

      GOTY status is a tough call. It's an excellent open world game, and I think initial impressions will be very favorable, but it could really use more content.

      Delete
    8. I love how the game isn't even on the radar and already people are dropping endgame spoilers. Good job there.

      Delete
    9. There is no spoilers about Darklands here.

      Delete
    10. I think game of the year will be, err, Morkin 2, or maybe Kingdom of Syree. B.A.T. II: The Koshan Conspiracy surely has a shot too.

      Delete
    11. Darkland's a game that never ends.
      It just goes on and on, my friends.
      Some people started playing without knowing what it was.
      And they'll continue playing it just because...
      Darkland's a game that never ends.
      It just goes on and on, my frie-
      WTF?!

      Delete
    12. While I love Ultima Underworld and recognize both its technical and historical relevance I think both Wizardry 7 (which is coming up soon) and Darklands are my favorite RPGs of all time
      The mere fact that I can spend a good afternoon trying character builds, rerolling stats and experimenting with party composition for both of those games speaks volumes for just how incredibly deep and evolved those games were
      UU comes across as a tiny bit undercooked especially for some rather useless skills like stealth for example
      In any case, be prepared since Wizardry 7 will easily last you 100 hours and while Darklands can be finished in 15 or less it you will want to savor it doing a couple of mines and dragons
      Oh and you keep mentioning Skyrim, would love to read your thoughts on it especially vanilla vs Requiem mod

      Delete
  12. Congratulations!
    It's a game I can see myself playing at some point, whenever I would find the time.
    I don't know... this feels like a new era, from the technical point. It's like leaving history and entering the present time.
    My love for CRPGs began with Morrowind, and while I have gone back into time since then, I only made it back to 1996 (not counting Star Control II). I tried Wasteland but it felt too ancient. However, I think that UU represents some kind of threshold at which "too old" becomes "recent enough", at least for my spoiled modern eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Speaking of combat dynamics in Ultima Underworld, my favorite moment was facing the mage- I drank a levitation potion so we had an epic floating sword fight. Just a little moment that can only happen in a flexible system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ultimately, what's special about games like this is that no one's experience is exactly the same as anyone else's. Every player gets his own anecdotes to tell.

      Delete
  14. I'm a bit miffed at the Garamon puzzle. I found the bones easily, but when entering what pure virtuous items to sacrifice he didn't accept anything from the manual: mystic devices, artifacts, Cabirus' treasure, etc. Even Corby didn't call them talismans. I wondered from the bottom up talking to all the NPCs I could recall that referred to the items until finally the goblin noble called them talismans specifically.

    To Garamon's credit, he did accept volcano for the second answer. I wonder if magma would have worked as well.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.