Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ultima IV: A Fairly Good Start. Sort Of.

A badly cropped image of the Ultima IV intro screen

SLIGHT UPDATE: Before bed I happened across Ultima IV Gold, which is a fan update that fixes the long loads times and a score of other bugs for the original C64 release.  While this kind of sounds cool (plus I really like the C64), I really feel the need to commit to one platform, which will be the IBM port.  If anyone has any compelling arguments as to why I should go for the C64 Gold fix, I would love to hear about it.

So after installing the GoG game through Wine (I use Linux), I was greeted by the DOSbox emulator.  Also, there was silence, outside of the burping/flatulent sound from the PC beeper.   I should have been ready for that, as I am not completely without historical knowledge of the PC (and I did watch some intro videos).  Okay, I'm done with the sound thing, I promise.

I really like the whole intro, how the Avatar appears from the moongate, wages a battle,  takes over a ship, then proceeds to blow up a bunch of monsters with it.  Seems contrary to what I've heard about this game, but still cool.  What I'm trying to do is to put myself in the mind of someone playing this game back in '85.  So while I was kind of disappointed for reasons mentioned in the second paragraph, the whole intro really kind of drew me in.  Actually getting pretty stoked to play this game.

Okay, before I begin I have one more tiny tangent.  Moongates, right?  According to the reference card the appearance and destination of the moongates have to do with the time and phase of the moon, which is something I've seen before.  See, back in 1998 I purchased both Ultima Online and the Prima strategy guide, which was about six months to a year before I actually had a computer to play it on.  I purchased it based solely on an article in a magazine.  Because of this I spent a great deal of time pouring over the strategy guide in preparation for playing the game, some of which happened to do with traveling using moongates.  Now when I finally got to play the game I was disappointed to learn that moongate travel has nothing to do with time or moon phase, but rather running through it without getting ganked by another player (hopefully).  Okay, tangent over.

So my first hour in game was rather uneventful.  After answering questions to the gypsy woman I ended up with a tinker.  The game started me outside of the city of Minoc (due to my class?).  I blundered around and came to terms with the controls, talking to people here and there.  While the keywords of the conversation are not highlighted, I believe this is the same conversation mechanic from The Real Texas, which if I understand borrowed it (in turn) from Ultima VI.  I've also been taking notes, which the manual recommended.  So far this is mostly about the people I meet, such as this:

  • Mike Ward, a ranger, says that the rune of the Skara Brae (his home town) is missing.  He is also trying to get a room for some reason, but I don't know how to help him with this (might not be able to).  Join?

I thought it seemed random that a ranger would be named, Mike Ward.  Something to expect more of later on?  Another:

  • Gimble is going to die soon from a tsetse "byte."  I originally thought the spelling was due to the use of old English, but this does not appear to be so.  A pun, perhaps?
I ended up spending ten minutes reading up on tsetse flies from a website that appears to be written for English speaking Africans and people living in tsetse infested areas.

I learned something important today.  Remember that "culture" shock I mentioned when I first started this?  How my console RPG upbringing hasn't prepared me?  Today, while wandering around Minoc looking for NPCs to talk to I stepped on some sort of poison ground (poison swamp?), which poisoned me, shortly after which I died while looking for some soft of cure.  I think I was a bit disappointed that it didn't wear off on its own, but whatever.  Lesson learned.

After I died I expected to have to start over again, but instead I awoke in the court of Lord British.  I think I will be looking over that map after all.

I think that is enough for now.  Until next time.

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