Today I began my Ultima journey with a non-Ultima, Akalabeth: World of Doom. Lord British is featured in the game and it came out in 1979/1980, depending on who you believe. I consider it to be Ultima 0, and its importance requires that I play it. It features a 3x3 grid display for the overhead map full of meaningless trees, shops, and dungeons. It also has first person dungeons, where you fight hard monsters like balrogs, as well as total wimps like the skeleton on the right.
However, it's been a technical-problem filled day. I began, as i said I would yesterday, with the old DOS version that's been floating around the net. I made an outer-world map and a map for a dungeon (after deciding that my "lucky number" was 10 in order to create a character), only to discover that every entry of the dugeon is different--the locations of doors and ladders downward are screwed up. Ahhhh! I also discovered that Windows XP won't let me take screenshots of fullscreen command command prompt programs, and I cannot put them into a window. Double ahhhh!. Finally, i discovered that if I tabbed out of the game, I would be unable to get back to it. Triple ahhhh! At that point I gave up, and jumped to AppeWin and an the original version for the Apple II.
This game went a bit better, but not without its share of bugs--specifically, I discovered that for unknown reasons I quit getting gold from killing enemies or gaining hit points. Maybe I hit a hit point max? (In this game, you gain HP by entering dungeons, killing monsters, and leaving.) I also discovered annoying quirks in the visuals, so that sometimes I appear to be next to a door that vanishes when I turn. Oy. I believe tomorrow I'll be ready to play a full-length game, and I will use save states to avoid annoying glitches!
The goal of the game is straightforward--kill whatever British tells you to kill. My strategy is to begin with great stats--over 20 in all attributes, except maybe Wisdom which does not appear to do anything, and gold, which is easy to acquire in the dungeons. The next important thing to do is immediately buy a magic amulet and turn into a Lizard Man--preferably twice--because Lord British is one seriously stingy bastard with the attribute bonuses. I should be more acurate and say that I am using a magic amulet and casting the "xBad???" spell, which has the effect of turning me into either a lizard man or a toad.
I've never beaten this game on level 10 before, and I remember why I quit back in the day--In order to kill some hard enemies and appease His Laziness Lord British (his castle is on the left), you must delve WAY down the dungeons to find them, with thieves stealing the weapons out of your hands and gremlins gorging on massive quantities of food. However, I am desperate to see that level 10 endgame! I hope I am told to call and report my deed.