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

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Serpent Isle, Day 3

Victory! Sort of! I finally got to the other side of Gorlab a day ago, that being my 12th (!) say of gaming. This is like maybe 3/5ths of the way through the game, and it's already about aslong as all of Ultima VII took. I forgot how colossal this game is, and of course that's part of its appeal.

Now let's go way back in time...

When I left off, I was standing outside of the temple in Faw, being woeful at Dupre's fate, and in the real world I was saying how the Fawn story is not so compelling because it is resolved in a positive manner no matter what you do. I decided to play it "naturally," and I was sent to manipulate some levers and kill one of the leaders of Fawn, who attempted to slash me with...a decorative sword! Couldn't he afford a real weapon? Yeesh. In any case, the second half of the trial is pretty amusing. Dupre is accused of trying to steal a kiss from the town healer, and Delin the provisioner thinks Dupre's a good match for his daughter. I am especially fond of Zulith whom Ii give a screenshot of, and what I imagine is a completely deadpan, "I don't think that would be advisable" when the local drunk sings a nice lewd tune.

From Fawn I went off to the Sleeping Bull, which is my favorite name in the game, derived as it is from the town of Bulldozer, which formerly occupied the spot in Ultima I. There's not much of a quest there, but I did spend some time wandering the basement. It's always surprising to me that I am the first to discover, say, a hidden door...Is no one else suspicious of the random levers scattered about? One of the nice touches at the inn is the "magical music player" that will provide lots of songs from the game, and elicit comments from your companions ("Not Stones again!" and the like). The primary quest is picking up a woman named Selena who convinces you to go rob the Britannian royal mint, which has been teleported to Serpent Isle and, for some reason, is haunted by weird shape changing, teleport-causing beasties. Selina, of course, is n league with Batlin and a small band of wimps attacks you and tries to kill you as soon as you escape the mint. When she vanishes, she drops a mysterious blink ring, a ring which does nothing, since apparently implementing the blink spell proved too difficult.

Somewhere in Serpent Isel, there is a blink ring hidden in a tree. I can't remember where it is, though...

I alsmot forgot one of the major parts of the game--tracking down all your hidden possesions which are snatched away by the teleport storm in the beginning. There are basically two items that prove impossible to figure out--one is the pile of Filari, which Delin claims is his but which as far as I can tell didn't really replace anything, and the bottle of Moonshade wine, which replaced a map that you didn't start with. Many years ago, I did some experiments by creating items and putting them in my inventory and seeing what vanished, and also by putting certain items on certain characters and trying to make a list og exactly what gets replaced with what. Sadly, that was so long ago I don't remember the results, except that if you give yourself a map of Serpent Isle, it vanishes from your backpack after the storm. The hint book claims that the wine replaced a map of Britannia (!), and so I presume this was just an oversight.

This day also brought to mind one of the weirder parts of the game, one which I deliberately avoided--There is an exploded building in the weeds north of the inn where a major game character is wandering around, for no apparent reason. I was concerned I could break the game by talking to him and abstained. Since Serpent Isle was rushed to release, there are a fair number of oversights like this in the game. We'll talk more of that as things move onward...

11 comments:

Philip said...

The blink ring hidden in the tree is just a bit north and west of Monitor, nearby an ophidian ruin with a substantial amount of rubble lying around which you can use to build yourself a little stairway to reach the ring.

Natreg said...

If I'm not mistaken, there is a note in Moonshade that explains why some spells like blink don't work.

I suppose they added it to explain why some spells don't work :)

btw, Glad to see you back :)

Adam said...

I've often wondered myself about the "major game character" just being there near Gorlab...

My guess is, a developer/tester at some point used the editor to move him there, possibly to check some dialog or something, and neglected to move him back to the "null room" location where all the non-existent and dead NPC's are. The change in coordinates ended up in the build, so it was permanent.

When you think about it, this could only be caught, testing-wise, by someone playing the game through. It doesn't break the later summoning of this character, so they wouldn't notice it that way. They'd have to find him, and if the tester had been in that building many times, he'd just as likely to run on by without checking...

And of course, no widespread Internet as yet, so no posts on a message board of "What's with the ghost in the ruined building near Gorlab?" As a player, you'd probably just think its strange he's hanging out there, but you wouldn't think it was a bug immediately.

Darren said...

He was just a ghost shape that wasn't meant to trigger a conversation.

Samuzon said...

Alas, I am ashamed to admit it, but it took me many, many years to realize that the hierophant-ghost was a bug. What is the in-story reason for that abandoned house being there? If I remember correctly, it looks sort of like some alchemical potion mixing took a bad, bad turn...

Natreg said...

When I first played serpent isle back in the 90s I played the spanish version, and the funny part is that I tried talking to those ghosts but no conversation was triggered, so that bug was corrected in the spanish version

Alex said...

I absolutely loved the early encounter with the major plot character. It added this unintentional level of surrealism, almost a Twin Peaks-style WTF moment. Especially because there are MULTIPLES of him in that building.

BACK TO THE VOID!

Anonymous said...

I think the Filari and wine replaced two pieces of meat that were in your inventory at the beginning. While talking with Delin, at some point he can mention about finding some food where his filari used to be, but he ate it anyway. I don't really know about the wine, but I noticed there seems to be an out-of-place deer meat on the banquet table in the Magelord's house.

Also something odd that no characters ever remark about is that a torch in Iolo's inventory gets replaced by a pumpkin.

avatar said...

The wine was replaced in Moonshade. It's not regular wine, it's ice wine that the rangers make. Can't remember what it replaced, but if I recall correctly, it wasn't that un-obvious.

It wasn't the spellbook, I remember that ended up being burnt to ashes in Furnace. I think you end up finding a burnt out spellbook somewhere there.

avatar said...

Oh, and that ghost in that ruin absolutely stunned me. All of a sudden I was getting a ton of information about balance and I think this must be an important quest character. I started taking notes thinking this would become important very soon.

By the end of the conversation I had no bloody idea what the hell he was on about or what to do next with this information. The next thing I had to do was go back to Monitor or Fawn to become a knight or something, which had nothing to do with the forces of chaos, or serpents or whatever.

It didn't throw me that all the ghosts in that house said the same thing, I figured that was just some supernatural undead thing that was completely normal.

Neko said...

Ugh, that pair of ghosts that wasn't supposed to be linked to that guy's dialogue!

Aside from being an interesting non-sequitur, it broke my game! Much, MUCH later when I was actually doing the balance hierophant part of the quest, I eventually figured out that talking to that ghost when I wasn't supposed to triggered some flag somewhere else. I had to restart!