Ophidian Dragon blogs his way through the entire Ultima series, from beginning to end.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ultima III, Day 2 (and Day 3)

I skipped a day of blogging concerning Ultima III because there wasn't all that much to say. This game had a much slower "starting-out" period than any of the other games. We left off last time with me preparing to wander into a dungeon hoping that it held the Mark of Kings, and fortunately for me, it did! I also managed to pick up the Mark of Fire in the bargain, which means I can now walk across laval unimpeded. The cave I chose was the Perinian Depths northeast of Castle British, which also conveniently had a big stash of treasure on the 3rd level. In theory, you have to go down to the bottom and back up again, or so I surmise, but the use of the wizard's down spell eliminates the need to bother with that.

Acquiring those Marks and a few trips to Ambrosia were all I accomplished the past two days, despite maybe 6 hours of playing. The fact is that gathering gold, even when you have a dungeon trove and (and town, Death Gulch, which has a big pile of chests), is fairly tedious. I don't have a thief, considering them totally overrated, because casting the open spell (DAG UMANI or something like that...) is much more efficient, and it doesn't result in town guards getting pissed off at me, the way they would if I used the OPEN command.

I also collected a wide array of hints from various townsfolk. The most useful of them was a nice thief in Dawn (or was it a wizard?) who informed me that I can DIG on islands for Exotic weapons and armor. I did so and was rewarded (there aren't many islands to check, actually). I now feel compelled to raise Jaana the Druid strength, so that she can whack enemies with the Exotic Sword. Other clues reminded me to go find the Time Lord, to SEARCH shrines for cards, and so on. These words are in captital letters because they represent commands to be typed in conjunction with the O key, which allows you to take Other actions besides those listed in the reference card.

In order to raise my characters' stats, I have to sail my boat into a whirlpool, and appear in Ambrosia, which is a maze-like area that would be hard to navigate without gems and the willingness to take a screenshot of the game while viewing them. I don't consider this cheating, because if it weren't for the screenshot I'd just spend a minute or two copying the important parts of it to a piece of paper. The shrines are fairly stupid--if you offer 100 gold, you alwaysget 1 point added to an attribute (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom), but offering 900 gold does not seem to get you 9 points.

I have encountered a decent number of annoyances with the game. Most annoying is the fact that the counter for gold rolls over if you have more than 9999 gold coins. I'm guessing stats may do the same. The second is that food is ridiculously expensive, at one gp per ration, each of which lasts about 4 steps outside. That means feeding my whole party with 200 foods--which lasts maybe 45 minutes of gameplay--costs 800 gold. Possibly most annoying about food and gold is that you must do the work of distributing them among your characters yourself--and the prompt that allows you to transfer gold and food between people has space for only two numbers! As a consequence, transferring, say, 6000 gold between two players requires about 360 keystrokes. Considering the vast sums required to raise stats and buy expensive weapons, what in the world was Garriott or his cohorts thinking?

Anyway, the gameplay has sped up a bit. I will spend today hitting Death Gulch and Ambrosia over and over, raising my characters' stats. With higher wisdom, Jaana can hopefully open chests more efficiently than before. Then I have to go choose some dungeons in which to find the Marks of Force and Snake, but without any particular clue as to which dungeon I need to go to. In addition I have to seek out the Time Lord, who interestingly is reachable only via moongate (which are quite pretty in this game, I might add). It will probably be a few more days before I'm done, because after all that I still need to hit Castle Exodus and kill all its denizens.


Eric said...

That's quite funny about the gold rolling over... it reminds of of the time I used a disk editor in Wizardry unsuccessfully to try to cheat by giving myself lots of gold-- I somehow ended up with a truly gigantic NEGATIVE quantity of gold, which then sucked up all the positive gold I had acquired! I couldn't get rid of it-- eventually I had to just create a new character, give them the negative gold, and delete them again.

Ah, the good old days.

stu said...

aah I remember a cheat, you can sell your exotics and go back and get more and keep repeating ad nauseum...

Anonymous said...

The best version of U3 ever is the Lairware version for the Macintosh.


-Corbomite Dragon

Ultimate Carl said...

Argh, I hate early technical limitations. It's hard to claim that games "were better in the good old days" and that "technology doesn't matter" when there are obvious little accidents like character limits or wrap-around...

Ruminating said...

You can join all your gold to one player by using the (J)oin command. It makes pooling your resources for stat-raising and resurrection much easier.

Also, I always seemed to recall that you could give up to 900 gold each pass in to the Ambrosia shrines (but not more than nine). I seem to recall doing a lot of 9-9-2 and 9-6 commands in there. :)

There is one skeezy way to "cheat" to get food and gold. Provided you don't mind wiping out the state of your world map (read: all the ships you've captured will disappear. I _think_ this is the way it worked, but I can't remember), and you have a great deal of patience, you can disband your "proper" party, create three "dummy" characters, and re-form those three with a fourth character from your regular party. Transfer their gold (150), food (150), weapons, and armor to your "regular" character, quit, reform the party, and voila- you now have an additional 450+ gold and 450 food. Repeat as necessary. Cheesy-bordering-on-exploitative, but it does get around that nagging food problem in a pinch (but got incredibly tedious on a C64 with ten-minute load times ;) ).

Also, note that running out of food in U3 is not automatically fatal, as it was in U2. You lose 1 HP for each time your char needs to eat, but can't (and when your char has over 1000 HP, that doesn't mean much). There were _many_ times when my chars limped back to LB's castle/Britain triumphant, but starving. :o

Anonymous said...

I too am hacking through each Ultima, in order, to see them all play out before me. I had never played the older ones (I started with Underworld and SI), but I decided to give it a go.

I'm trying not to "cheat" at all bt looking solutions up online ir in FAQ's, so getting all the Clues in Ultima III is extremely important to solving the game, expecially if you've never played it before.

What drove me up a wall is the fact that, in the City of Dawn (I think), there were 3 wise men in the SE corner of the city, hidden in the woods near the wall. I could not figure out any possible way to talk to the guy in the corner without killing one of the other men that was blocking the way. I thought this to be very uncharacteristic of a would-be Avatar.

If there was another way to talk to the guy, I never found it, as there was no way for diagonal movement or actions.