Welcome to what will presumably be a long-running Ultima blog. The purpose is to blog the experience of playing the now-defunct Ultima series by Origin Systems (plus a few other names here and there) from beginning to end. I will be including all the non-remake spin-offs that I am aware of, under the theory of "If I'm gonna do it, might as well go all the way." I am not blogging as if I am a character in the game, or giving reviews. I'm going to write about the process of playing, the annoying things, the fun things, and the assorted mental musings that arise from any long-term activity.
How long will it take? I have no idea. I am jobless right now, but I probably won't be for terribly long, so I intend to set limits that will be reasnable for a year or so. I'll begin with between 6 and 12 hours per week, and see how it works. I'm not aiming to complete them as fast as possible. Ideally, games which I really get into will generate lots of interesting comments, whereas other games will not.
The Ultima games have been released n a lot of different formats over the years, with plenty of additions and remakes. I am not going to play them all! Instead, I am going to try to balance closeness to the original experience, the quality of the experience, and modern convenience. as many aspects of an "original" experience (like swapping disks) are not fun at all. I will be using an emulator when needed, to facilitate screenshots.
In general, I consider the Apple ][ versions of the oldest games to be the "originals." However, I will play ports if they are somehow better and do not lack anything significant. For Akalabeth, I will use the MS-DOS port that's been floating aroudn the Internet for years, while for Ultima (the original) I will use an emulator combined with the first version of the game, because subsequent versions changed the gameplay too much. Ultimas II and III, I will use the DOS upgrade by Voyager Dragon (and Micro and Moonstone) to make the colors better and fix all the myriad bugs in the port. This isn't ideal, due to the modified graphics, but the gameplay should all be the same, and Ultima III includes the music, which is essential to an authentic experience.
I will also use the upgrades by Aradindae and Wiltshire for Ultima IV (sans the VGA graphics), and the upgrade by Voyager for Ultima V. This experience combines the DOS and Apple versions: good graphics plus great musical scores. Mt. Drash, if I can find the rip of it again, will be played on emulator, as will the Runes of Virtue games for the Game Boy. The remainder of the games will all be the orignal DOS versions, probably played on DosBOX if they are not happy with Windows XP.
I will avoid cheating, but there is a fine line between manipulating dumb game mechanics and cheating. I will be backing up saved games (I learned my lesson with my last attempt to play Martian Dreams...), but I won't be editing them. I will also not consult walkthroughs, hint guides, or anything else except comments posted to the blog from helpful readers. I've played all of these games before and beaten most of them, but I've surely forgotten a whole lot.
I hope it will be enjoyable for everyone. I encouraged you to subscribe to my RSS feed!
PS: My user name is "cageblogger" because I used it originally for the John Cageblog at http://cageblog.blogspot.com .