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

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Ultima VI, Days 2 and 3

Well, I played several hours today and yesterday--maybe three and a half or so. I tackled most of the plot threads I picked up in Britain, visiting Moonglow and learning about the missing silver tablet, and collecting a few more runes. I used those runes to cleanse a few shrines--Compassion, Honesty and Justice (the latter I did invisibly due to the mass of gargoyles eager for my doom). Most difficult is Honesty, because I invariably forget that you have to get a key to the crypt, so I go down there and kill some adventurers, but immediately have to return to the surface. However, I did make a nice map of the crypts. It is a boring place, overall. The next "dungeon" I will visit is the library in the Lycaeum, which for some insane reason is guarded by a bunch of energy fields. What kind of library is this? More interesting is that a book I am hunting for is wanted by a fellow who offered to buy it from me, which means I may be selling someone a library book--not exactly just or honest. I may lose an eighth.

In honor of the fact that gaygamers.com has linked to my blog, I hooked up with both genders of prostitutes outside Trinsic. Prior to our uncomfortable activities, the guy provided many swordplay puns. Hey, speaking of puns, I used "honor" in a sentence with Trinsic. Ba da bing!
I played Nim a few times with a guy named Dr. Cat in Paws, a bit north of Trinsic, and eventually realized that the key is to get the other player down to four beads, which I did a few times. But his cats made me angry by getting in the way, so I killed all of them, and then went on a rampage and killed the whole population of Paws. Then I decided it was time to reload the game, because after that the shrines probably would not say I am "an inspiration to all."

The most interesting part about Ultima VI is the *huge* variety in the quality and quantity of conversation items between individuals and towns. People in trinsic, for example, are practically mute, whereas nearly all the characters in Skara Brae will go on and on, about each other and about the Quenton murder (Quenton is a ghost who haunts the city). This makes it all the more absurd that you can't solve the murder! From what I can gather, Quenton's daughter is infatuated with the bully Michael who lives outside town, and somehow Quenton got killed by Michael.

This leads to some insanity in terms of the Britannian timeline. Several people in Skara brae insist that Marney's mother was killed by Mondain's henchmen! I assumed that this just meant maybe some monsters associated with Mondain, but no, another character, an armless guy in Empath Abbey, specifically said "Mondain had to be thwarted." What!? Guys, your memory must have been addled by Blackthorn, except none of you seemed to exist in Blackthorn's time....but anyway. My usual explanations for the fact that almost everyone from Ultima V is dead are twofold:

1) Gargoyles kill people (even though te bards in Minoc are sufficiently unconcerned about the gargoyles to make me go get wood for a panflute and play a tune to give me the rune...) and a bunch of people might have died.

2) Britannia may have some sort of civil service, such that the populace is drafted as guards--so nameless guards in Ultima V might now be characters in Ultima VI, and vice versa.

3) The world map of Ultima V suggests that some people who were adventurers or who lived in the woods etc. would have never been met.

4) They went to check out a book at the Lycaeum and fell into a fire field!

Nevertheless, there seems to be a dearth of children in Ultima VI and all the games for that matter, so it's not clear how the population replaces itself! So we've got people who didn't exist 20 years ago talking about events from 100+ (?) years ago as if they were yesterday, plus we have a woman in the mint whose mother was at the celebration of the Codex before she was born. I think multiple developers must have written these conversations for them to get so confused...


Anonymous said...

I remember doing the Honesty quest the first time. It literally took me years to realise there was a key for that tomb. I always blew up the door or exploited the bug with magic locking the door then magic unlocking it.

Anonymous said...

Yet another late comment, but Dr. Cat was the guy who made the C64 versions of the Ultima games. I remember that there was a Dr. Cat logo in the start sequence.

By the way, there was a C64 version of Ultima 6, so the lack of an Apple II version was probably due to money rather than technical reasons.

Anonymous said...

I had the (mis)fortune of playing the C64 version of U6. It was good enough to get me hooked on Ultima but so many sacrifices had to be made because of the technical limitations of the C64 that I don't think it ever should have been made.

Anonymous said...

"By the way, there was a C64 version of Ultima 6, so the lack of an Apple II version was probably due to money rather than technical reasons."

You could probably scrape something together for the IIgs, but both it and the IIc were in pretty limited supply - the IIe was the only one of the Apple II line that came close to PC/C-64 in terms of install base, and without a dedicated graphics chip, it'd be a monumental struggle getting even the watered-down C-64 version to work.

I don't doubt that something could be done by a hobbyist, given time and effort, but technically speaking you're looking at hardware from 1982 versus hardware from 1977; sprite support versus no sprite support; SID versus the piezo beeper.

Not to mention that the entire Apple line - including the barebones II and II+ - sold about six million units at most, versus an easy ten million for the C-64 alone (with some estimates as high as 16+ million). Particularly in Europe, the C-64 was akin to how the NES was in America.

So certainly money entered into it at some point, but to handwave away the technical aspects is just plain silly. No matter how small the install base was of IIe/IIc/IIGS computers, if there were no technical concerns then Origin would have been happy to publish on the deuce as well.