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Thread: Random thoughts...

  1. #176
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    It was a miracle of rare device,
    A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.

  2. #177
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Just got the strongest flashback to English literature classes. All that's missing is a middle-aged lady loudly and energetically going over it line-by-line and explaining what it means.

    This one feels more suited to the times we are in, though:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

  3. #178
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Falcons and tides sure, but no ice caves...

  4. #179
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2001
    Location: under God's grace
    Kubla Khan, eerily fitting. I'll embark into the ice caves in a week, after the Global Game Jam. I'll let you know if I find the lost city of Anodunos.

  5. #180
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Qooper View Post
    I like your drawings Tocky, especially the one with the skelly. Even though it has a body, its expression reminds me of Morte from Planescape: Torment.

    In the ice caves, there IS a lost city somewhere, isn't there?
    I'm sorry but I don't know Planescape or UW1. Is that Ultima? I haven't played those. I know Kubla Khan, which is as dense as Poe's prose, elegant and as removed from today's language as a parasol stroll down a boardwalk.

    I get in those states where I don't enjoy my pursuits and have to change them for others for a time. Good luck with Anodunos. I once took five years to finish Omicron because of a game glitch that caused me to only have use of my service revolver. I quit thinking I could never defeat the end boss with such a puny weapon then revisited and found I could hide between rocks and fire enough to win.

  6. #181
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2001
    Location: under God's grace
    Quote Originally Posted by Tocky View Post
    I'm sorry but I don't know Planescape or UW1. Is that Ultima? I haven't played those.
    Planescape: Torment is a top-down RPG with similar mechanics to Baldur's Gate, but it's totally something else. You wake up on a stone slab in a mortuary, quite dead. There's a hovering, talking skull next to ya, called Morte. This game is a combination of several well done things coming together, including refreshing writing.

    Ultima Underworld 1 and 2 are first-person RPGs made by LookingGlass Technologies. Paul Neurath, Warren Spector, Tim Stellmach, Doug Church, many greats. They made System Shock 1 after UW2. Great games, but the interface is clunky

    I get in those states where I don't enjoy my pursuits and have to change them for others for a time. Good luck with Anodunos.
    Thanks Tocky! Yeah I think it's the same for me. Need to take some distance for a while, a journey.

    I once took five years to finish Omicron because of a game glitch that caused me to only have use of my service revolver. I quit thinking I could never defeat the end boss with such a puny weapon then revisited and found I could hide between rocks and fire enough to win.
    Omicron looks fascinating! I think I'll need to give it a try at some point. Also, the game is featuring David Bowie?

  7. #182
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Yes. Bowie. Some didn't like the album featured on this game- Hours- but I liked a few of the songs, particularly and it was fun to find songs in the game as well. There were a lot of inventive and interesting things in this game. The graphics are dated but so much else makes up for it. It was a first for me in many ways gamewise. The first I ever fought someone to the death in a bathroom, the first I ever gave anyone a Micky, the first I ever had sex with a girlfriend in a game. Take advantage of the training sims. They improve your reflexes and strength.

  8. #183
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    This game is practically the whole reason I have been willing to cut Cage's disasterpieces some slack for the longest time. Too bad he never directed anything quite as interesting again.

  9. #184
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2020
    Quote Originally Posted by Tocky View Post
    I'm sorry but I don't know Planescape or UW1. Is that Ultima? I haven't played those.
    If you want a quick look into those I recommend The two Worlds of Ultima DOS games, which were both built on the Ultima 6 engine. (Ultima 7 is considered the pinnacle of the top-down Ultima games, but these are considerable shorter than that. Ultima 8 was a flop: Richard Garriot listened to the marketing guys and they told him the games were too "complex" so he handed off the new game to them and it had a massively dumbed down game system with almost all the RPG and crafting stuff stripped out).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worlds..._Savage_Empire

    In this one you're explorers lost deep in the Amazon and find a "land that time forgot" type setting with ancient jungle pyramids and dinosaurs. It has an elaborate crafting system.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima...Martian_Dreams

    In this one you're aboard a Jules Verne style Victorian era wooden rocket that crashes on Mars, Mars is populated by sentient plant life and has a widespread canal system, hinting at a lost civilization. The only gear your party has is what you salvage from the rocket or can scrabble together from the Martian wilderness.

    EDIT: I should also add that EA uploaded patched versions of both of these on GOG, for free!

    https://www.gog.com/en/game/worlds_o..._savage_empire

    https://www.gog.com/en/game/ultima_w...martian_dreams
    Last edited by Cipheron; 2nd Feb 2023 at 21:20.

  10. #185
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    But if you play either Worlds of Ultima game, have a walkthrough close at hand, because the puzzles get quite obscure.

    The base game Ultima VI is also fantastic, with an open-ended main quest that leads you to explore the work quite organically. Unfortunately the UI is quite old-school; to play at any decent speed you need to not only memorize the keybindings but learn how to execute sequences of them quickly.

  11. #186
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2020
    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    But if you play either Worlds of Ultima game, have a walkthrough close at hand, because the puzzles get quite obscure.

    The base game Ultima VI is also fantastic, with an open-ended main quest that leads you to explore the work quite organically. Unfortunately the UI is quite old-school; to play at any decent speed you need to not only memorize the keybindings but learn how to execute sequences of them quickly.
    I didn't have any walkthroughs, but I think that applies more to the Savage Empire one that Martian Dreams. I recall it taking some time to work my way through unlocking the areas of Savage Empire, whereas most of the effort of Martian Dreams was mapping the planet.

  12. #187
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Oh good, fellow Ultima fans. I'm not sure the Worlds of Ultima games are good introductions, short as they may be. They're quite unfashionably oldschool, and even back in the day when I played them they were more cumbersome than fun. Ultima VII is very long, but it's also (relatively) easier to play and get around in and sinks its hooks into you faster, if you allow it to. Plus, Exult just makes playing it that much easier instead of fucking around with DOSBox (part of the charm back in ye olde DOS days was finding a way to run U7 with your sound card and mouse driver while having enough conventional memory available, along with EMM386 configured right, necessitating several reboots until Origin's Voodoo memory manager decided to let you play your game... ah, nostalgia).

    If you start there you will, however, miss the very cute conceit that the townspeople in U7 have an uncanny resemblance to their forebears in U6, but in the grand scheme of things it's more of a wink and nudge than causing any real level of FOMO. There are, however, several callbacks to things that happened in the previous 'cardinal' entries that you don't necessarily have to know about, but may leave you feeling like there's a gap in your knowledge all the same.

  13. #188
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    I recall several puzzles in Savage Empire that relied on obscure item interactions. Martian Empire was more a matter of taking copious notes, since it might be hours between a puzzle and its relevant clue.

    Ultima VII has a far more intuitive interface than VI and its progeny, but annoyances abound: feeding your party, managing inventory (Exult helps a little with that by consolidating keys), losing a critical item because you didn't quite drag your mouse far enough. The last one happened to Spoony, I believe: while he was reviewing VII 1/2, he lost a plot-critical earring. The combat is bonkers, and monsters respawn the moment their area is offscreen. There's also the problem that Ultima VII presents a corrupted kingdom, but if you've never learned about the Virtues you don't appreciate how it's been corrupted. Finally, this is subjective, but VII felt far more crowded and artificial to me than VI. The latter had large swathes of wilderness and meandering roads, the former crowds everything together, including its absurd mountains whose every inch is filled with space-filling dungeons. (To be fair, people had the same complaint about VI relative to V.)

    Honestly every mainline Ultima game from IV through VII 1/2 is a contender for "best Ultima game," but VII is the only one with an intuitive interface. That does give it quite an edge.

  14. #189
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Now that I think about it, Serpent Isle is the perfect entry point. It has the elegant interface. It doesn't take place on Britannia, so you don't miss out on that world's development. Its lore makes the previous games seem much deeper than they actually were, without actually spoiling them. It has the strongest start out of all the Ultimas. Puzzles are emphasized over combat, which is good because the engine has problems with combat. It even has character development, for the second and final time in Ultima history! (The first time was Captain John, between V and VI.)

  15. #190
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    The only thing about Serpent Isle is that it is literally U7 Part 2 and follows on from the ending of The Black Gate, so for the unaware it's like being dropped into something in medias res. I suppose if this tells us anything, it's that an old series with a rich legacy and a decent amount of continuity is going to have caveats no matter what your entry point is, so we've probably sufficiently deterred anyone who may have been interested from dipping their toe in . Job done, if'n you ask me.

  16. #191
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    In medias res is great! You start with two urgent tasks, and then lightning strikes. By contrast, Ultima VII's plot is "follow the breadcrumbs" if you're playing it for the first time. There's zero urgency, and when you meet Garriott himself a few hours in, in the guise of Lord British, he says "everything seems fine to me, just look around I guess." Ultima VII's ending is so insubstantial that there's little harm in seeing it spoiled, whereas Serpent Isle's ending is cosmic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    ...We've probably sufficiently deterred anyone who may have been interested from dipping their toe in . Job done, if'n you ask me.
    Ultima, man. Much like the Grateful Dead, you had to have been there.

  17. #192
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    My original experience of Ultima was I (and maybe II) on the C64. They really captured my imagination in a big way. There were a few games that had a kind of "open world", but Ultima was the one that was a living world. And I (think I) even remember thinking Ultima IV was already too newfangled from the original pure experience. (I mean I didn't get it because I didn't have money, but that was probably how I felt okay about it.)

    When Ultima Underworld and later Thief & the original Imm Sims came around, I think this was probably true for a lot of us (here) gaming in the '80s, the link was to Origin and the old school Ultimas. There was a way of thinking that came with them.

    Actually this is the first time this is occurring to me, but two of the most memorable experiences I've had playing any game were (1) the first time I confronted the guards in I guess it was even Ultima I, or if I stole something and got the fuzz on my back, and they procedurally did their thing. And then (2) the first time I confronted the guards in the foyer of Bafford's manor in Thief. I never made the link between the two before, but they both evoked that spirit from Origin of a living world, where guards weren't just scripted to do X, but they were just a system that worked naturally. You could avoid them, or you could trigger them and have them come after you like a real guard.

    It feels quaint describing it now, like kids these days won't appreciate the magic those moments had for me. But I think everyone here, of all people, will know what I'm talking about.

  18. #193
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Okay, that's the first time I've seen someone advocate Ultima One.

    My Looking Glass Moment was visiting a friend's house and watching him playing Thief in Cragscleft. I thought, that isn't a level, that's a place.
    Last edited by Anarchic Fox; 5th Feb 2023 at 18:54.

  19. #194
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Well the living system part applied to all of the Ultimas. My thoughts about Ultima I was probably around 1988 when that's the only version I had. I wouldn't say that now! XD

  20. #195
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2020
    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    Okay, that's the first time I've seen someone advocate Ultima One.

    My Looking Glass Moment was visiting a friend's house and watching him playing Thief in Cragscleft. I thought, that isn't a level, that's a place.
    I think when talking about whether interfaces are intuitive or not you need to look at the intended audience.

    Some people play ASCII roguelikes, or boot up the old Gold Box TSR RPGs. Dwarf Fortress is the modern equivalent of that.

    The Worlds of Ultima games are way intuitive if you're used to that stuff.

  21. #196
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Well the living system part applied to all of the Ultimas. My thoughts about Ultima I was probably around 1988 when that's the only version I had. I wouldn't say that now! XD
    Heh, I guess my moment for that with Ultima was around IV/V. You could see the ambition of it all, hobbled by the restrictions of the hardware - but charming, and esoteric, and weird because of it. U7 felt like a revelation because it was so much of what the previous games threatened to do, and now here it was.

    Oddly enough, Thief wasn't the first LGS game that made me feel that way about a place feeling tangible - it was Ultima Underworld 1 (technically Blue Sky and not LGS, but tomayto tomahto), which to this day I have not finished because there's something about its perpetually sunless environs that makes me feel an unpleasantness akin to cold despair. Great that a game can evoke that feeling, not so great to marinate in at length.

  22. #197
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    My first non-Atari gaming memories are of me helping my dad map out the dungeons in Ultima III. The first PC I built was when my dad and I built a system specifically in preparation for Ultima VII and Ultima Underworld. You guys are making me all misty eyed.

    Funny little Twist fact: I didn't game much for a few years in the mid-nineties. It was a time of guitars and girls for me. A couple years out of college, I got back into gaming and built another new system. Some demo disc -- I don't recall if it was from a gaming magazine or if it came with a Voodoo card -- had a demo of Thief: The Dark Project. I fell in love it with it right away, but I had no idea it was made by the same people who had made Ultima Underworld. I only learned the LGS/Blue Sky connection when I went to buy TDP and saw the "from the creators of Underworld" (or whatever it said) on the box.

    Well, looking back, I think it's kinda funny.

  23. #198
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Quote Originally Posted by Cipheron View Post
    Some people play ASCII roguelikes...
    Yes. Some people. Somewhere.

    In my defense, in its latest major update Angband added the Druid class, which can turn into a fox. A fox that shreds orcs like confetti.

    Quote Originally Posted by Twist View Post
    My first non-Atari gaming memories are of me helping my dad map out the dungeons in Ultima III...
    Huh. And here's an Ultima III maven. Now if someone shows up who most loves number two, that will be a miracle.

    Ultima I: Demagogue.
    Ultima III: Twist.
    Ultima IV: Just about everyone who played it first.
    Ultima V: Sulphur, Pyrian.
    Ultima VI: Me.
    Ultima VII/SI: Just about everyone who didn't play IV first.
    Last edited by Anarchic Fox; 6th Feb 2023 at 05:26.

  24. #199
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    No love for Ultima 8?

  25. #200
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Quote Originally Posted by PigLick View Post
    No love for Ultima 8?
    It's my second-favorite. Great characters, fascinating world-building, intense revelations, and godawful gameplay.

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