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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:05 pm

Quick update on my Ultima IV progress, which has been slow (IMO) but fairly steady.

In the beginning, learning how the moon gates worked was massive for me. But relatively soon after that, acquiring a ship took things to a whole new level. It took me ages to lure one and "steal" it, but once that was behind me I had an enormous amount of freedom. Prior to that I was entirely landlocked, with the exception of using moon gates. And even those can only get you so far.

So, to get around this massive world, my progression has been like this:
- on foot
- on a horse (kinda nifty)
- by moongate
- by ship

To get to some really obscure areas I had to learn a Blink spell. This is a really creative bit of magic that allows to you teleport in a given direction several "squares" to get to hidden areas on the map - especially hidden coves not accessible by normal travel. I've had to use it at least twice, and it's always via trial and error. Like, to the top of a mountain (and you can't walk on mountain tiles).

Everything in this game revolves around the number 8. As someone who goes by the moniker 'intric8' this made me smile. At first.

You need to find 8 runes, and earn 8 virtues, and finally find 8 colored stones. And everything is strewn all over the damned place. You can also have a party of 8 characters, each being a unique class (with 8 different classes out there).

This post isn't a review, but I've been wanting to talk about this game a bit. I have a friend who is also playing it, so comparing notes with him has been a lot of fun, no doubt. Reminds me of when I was playing Legacy of the Ancients in 9th grade, and each day my then-best friend and I would compare notes. Good times.

Ultima's backstory is actually very cool, and the game mechanics of requiring us to be virtuous the whole way through a game is kind of mind blowing. It would be like playing Legend of Zelda, and slashing your sword at a chicken and realizing (eventually) that you've been penalized for doing so. I can't think of another game out there that follows this model.

I wonder if it was intended to make a bunch of teenagers in the 1980s better people or something (and it may actually have done so!). The concept is so deeply woven into the game it's beyond impressive.

That being said, the spells in the game are weak. Other than healing and curing poison, I bet I could finish this game without ever using anything else. Part of that is how spells are implemented in the combat sequences, which is also a really weak part of the game. I don't think I've encountered a single battle that has made me worry about a character dying. Well, there was one time... a pirate ship started firing its canon at my ship, and my ship is far less strong than my party (ironically), and so I nearly got blown out of the water. The solution? Attack the pirate ship directly. Pirates are very weak enemies. Heck, they all are!

But besides that one instance, so far the main challenge of this game is learning and understanding the vast world and its quests, the hidden items and puzzles to solve, and gleaning hints from NPCs in a very impressive (if usually repetitive) communication system, which I'll talk more about later.

In any case, the dungeons are now where I'm really focusing, and while tiny, they are not easy. I easily get confused in them.

Current stats:
4 characters (2 6th level, 2 4th) -- can you guess what level I need to get to? Yep! 8th.
3 stones (5 to go)
8 runes found
6 virtues earned (Sigh!! How was I supposed to know in the earliest days not to run away from battles?)

I quickly learned that adding characters to my party was a bad idea, too, but I didn't figure that out until it was too late. If I could go back in time, I'd remove one of my characters - the painfully useless shepherd. I wish I could boot her out of the party and swap her with a fighter or paladin. I'm not sure if I need all 8 characters to finish this game or not... the more you add, the more cumbersome and mind-numbing the battles, especially in the dungeons. The battles are kinda boring half of the time. There are some interesting tactics I've employed (I use my shepherd as a human shield in front of my ranged weapon character. Hah!), but they aren't as deep as the Gold Box offerings. If only they'd made the spells more than 1:1 combat, it could have been far more interesting.

In any case, I'm enjoying things. The travel from place to place, food/spell reagent management and battles can be a bit of a drag, but it's part of the experience. And overall, it's pretty enjoyable. Finding something of value is a complete and total thrill - feels like finding a needle in a haystack. Or winning the lottery!

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Posted Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:41 am


the progress you rings a distant bell from my past. I highly enjoy reading this and remembering the time back then. And to your remark - yes the game did have an impact on me back then.

Without giving too much of a hint, it could be worth it to reflect a bit about the goal of the game. You are on the right track there already. That would give you an idea about your party and the members.

Combat will become challenging as you go deep into the dungeons. Indeed not necessarily the individual ones but the sheer number. You’ll be glad for any help (Shepard ;) ) you can get.

From what you’re describing the game might require you to pay much more attention to the dialogues and asking all people about all kind of topics.

There is a lot to find in the game if you listen carefully :) .

Let me know if I can help by e.g. giving more general directions or specific hints.

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:45 pm

Well. Well well. That was brutal! My left eye (no joke) is bloodshot after finishing this game today. It's been an obsession!
Getting through the Pirate's Bay was tough. It taught me - almost by accident - that I could X-it my damaged ship and board the ones I beat in battle, though. Had I not tripped onto that I don't know how I would have made it to the entrance of the Stygian Abyss.

And oh my god the Abyss was a b****! Level 6 and 8 nearly made me call it quits. Especially Level 6.

And then, the crazy test at the end! I was so nervous, I accidentally double-tapped the Return key once and it booted me to Jhelom! Total accident! Thank god it didn't write that failure to my Play Disk, or I seriously would have quit. On my second attempt I accidentally misspelled the final text's password! Argh!! Idiot!

Third time was a charm, and thank goodness there was no time limit in my answers. I had to scour all of my notes and it damn near made me a complete and nervous wreck every time I entered an answer (double-checking my spelling each time, too).

Good god, that game nearly killed me.

I can't even begin to write the review for that game yet. I have to go have a beer and relax and collect my thoughts. For a game this legendary and historic (1985!) it's no small task. I think I'll take my time with this one. And continue to read those books I bought.

They're actually quite informative and entertaining. Some of the stuff I learned about Richard Garriott, I think others will find very interesting, too.

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Posted Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:32 pm


It’s a big success you have achieved!

Unfortunately Origin won’t send you a note any more after reporting to them that you did it. Too bad I only learned about that years after completing Ultima IV. Or maybe they do, why don’t you try ;) .

Just keep in mind what the game told you. Take what you learned back to your own world ...

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Detroit, MI, USA

Posted Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:26 pm

Actually, in terms of reporting the high score to Origin... Well, no, EA don't give a f... However, I'm pretty sure that I've seen Richard Garriott acknowledge people in some way, if they post shots on Twitter of their score. Might just be a like, but I'm almost certain I've seen him do some bad "English English" responses.

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:30 pm

I'm not sure which game I'm going to deep-dive into next.

I'm kind of leaning towards the one and only Wizardry game that ever made it to the Amiga (which just seems so wrong...).

I've not made up my mind, but I did go ahead and install it. Heart-in-my-mouth my drive choked on the floppies twice during the installation, but when I told it to "Retry" it worked on the 2nd attempt both times. Whew!

Anyway - check this out. In the original box is a tiny pad of usable graph paper on one side, character sheets you can fill in on the other. Never seen that before! Pretty nifty.
The graphics don't seem to be the kind to impress - they are a bit rough and something about them kind of reminds me of the original Dungeon Master. Maybe it's because they're a bit basic, I'm not sure. But they aren't unpleasant.

Regardless, this intro-screen's typography layout leaves a little to be desired. Hah!
I also went and installed Phantasie III, a really early RPG and on its face quite basic. I'm not familiar with the series, but I picked it up last year. It claims in the docs that it has to be played off the floppy. I dragged the contents to a folder on the HDD and so far, it seems to work just fine that way. I guess I'll find out later whenever I decide to give it a go. Anyhoo... I'm about to take a short vaycay for the next few days so I suppose I can decide at the end of the week where I might focus my efforts.

I also re-installed Elvira and Star Control, as those two games got wiped out last year accidentally and I never finished them. I have a few other SSI options, too. Sucky my Gold Box games all got wiped out; no character forwarding to be done there. : /

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Zippy Zapp

Posted Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:58 pm

Cool. I don't think I have ever played a Wizardry game. I have played Phantasie games on the C64, they were always fun to me. I wish they had brought Legacy of the Ancients and the sequel Legend of Black Silver to the Amiga. Many great RPGs in the Ultima style though.

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Lexington VA

Posted Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:42 pm

I cant stand wizardry, the direction they took the storylines is ridonkulous :lol:

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:45 pm

I think the next game I may deep-dive isn't going to be Wizardry 6 (not yet, but soon). I bought a book that has an interview with the creator of the game and it conservatively predicts W6 to be a 200-hour game.


After just completing Ultima IV, where I logged well over 80, I need to come up for some air.


I have been playing some GREAT C64 games with my son, which I'll talk more about soon. But my next deep-dive will probably be the Secret of the Silver Blades, which is the 3rd installment of the Forgotten Realms series that begins with Pool of Radiance then Curse of the Azure Bonds.

I really enjoyed Azure Bonds (and read the novels that originally launched with PoR and CotAB, too). So Silver Blades I think should be a fun diversion as a continuation of the series. It'll be 100% comfortable, understood, and intermediate/hard brain power but not crushing, which I think I'm due as Ultima IV and some of my other recent games have just been brutal.

I wish my Azure Bonds characters were still alive, but that hard drive got wiped out unexpectedly so I have to recreate things from scratch (which totally sucks!). I'm half-tempted to replay Azure Bonds, which is pretty fun, just to get some of my stuff back.

But I started making new characters tonight and they appear to be launching into 8th level (!!) - granted, with no weapons or armor.

So tempted to start over with Curse...

My newest addition to the Tetralogy:

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Lexington VA

Posted Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:06 am

Silverblades is teeeeeeerrible. omg. its the worst of the quadrilogy. The first map terrible. (I hand mapped it). The rest of the story + dungeons are massively uninspiring. Its a total 180 from Pool + Curse. Its really nothing but combat after combat strung together in a never ending grind. Its such a shame too. I think this was the point they realised everything was too over leveled with power creep.

Worst. Goldbox. Game. Ever.

honestly I'd suggest skipping and going to Gateway to Savage Frontier or Champions of Krynn. Gateway + Treasures make a great duology.

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