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f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  PC/Console Gaming  |  The f13 Radicalthon  |  Topic: Ultima: Quest of the Avatard 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
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Author Topic: Ultima: Quest of the Avatard  (Read 4422 times)
Kail
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2756


Reply #70 on: March 09, 2017, 03:39:28 AM

Next stop on the fun bus is grinding for orbs in Covetous.  This is fairly straightforward, but more tedious than the last time since moving the party around the cramped dungeon is more time consuming with a larger party.  For example, there's that one room that with the Liches that was gated off with a sleep field that everybody has to move through single file to get to the next room, right?  Let's say that each person in that field falls asleep for five turns.  Before, that was about twenty turns of standing around hitting space.  Well, now that I've got eight people, not only does that mean I have to now wait for forty turns, but each turn of waiting ALSO takes longer since I'm waiting through seven other character's turns rather than just three.

Hmm, that's odd.  I went to sleep in the inn, and my boat is gone.  My OTHER boat is still here, from back when I was first grinding my original party, but the one I snagged on the Isle of the Abyss is gone.  This is getting alarming.  I remember at one point I had a ton of boats scattered around the shores of the continent, but now I think I'm on the last one, and I don't know what is happening to the others.

Got jumped on my boat by demons and the new employees are unable to deal with it, while the old ones are all holding mystic swords now and have to wait until the demons fly in to range before wrecking them.  It really doesn't feel like this is how the game is supposed to be played.  It's like playing Civilization: the first hundred turns, every decision you make is important and engaging, and then the mid game happens and you have to worry about strategy and how all your little decisions have impacted the overall picture... and then you get to the late game and at some point every single thing that pops up on to your screen is just an annoyance.  Like every time your advisor shows up with one more thing for you to deal with when you just want to click "next turn" a few dozen more times to win a science victory, and then Gandhi rolls up to your border whining about some city you took in the bronze age and declares war with an army that couldn't conquer a shopping mall, and now you've got to divert stacks of units and spend half an hour dealing with THAT nonsense and then you'll have to optimize all the cities you just conquered and it's all just a whole tedious ordeal.  In Ultima, everything is getting easier as my guys get more powered up, but also more cumbersome and awkward to maneuver.  I'm still fighting the same orcs and skeletons that my mage was soloing at level one with a stick (there's harder monsters too, but the rats and spiders don't stop spawning), and probably about 90% of my time "in combat" is spent walking towards the enemy.  It's weird how much difference a change in weaponry can make: when I was using ranged weapons, it felt like I was gunning down hordes of enemies as they charged at us.  Now, that I'm using melee weapons, it feels more sinister, like my guys are this slowly advancing force of grim murderers, this creeping doom that spreads across the map scouring it of all life.  I assume that these orcs and things are doing evil stuff elsewhere in the world, I just never see it, but it does kind of bruise the whole "champion of compassion" vibe when I feel less like the Fellowship of the Ring and more like the Black Riders, kicking down the door, walking in to a room, killing everyone in it, and hunting down fleeing survivors so I don't lose courage points by leaving the screen with enemies alive.

I think I may have discovered what keeps happening to my boats.  When I exited Minoc after healing, I noticed one of those triangle looking mobs floating around the area.  I mentioned seeing one before, and I thought it was a whirlpool, but I guess that's not the case because it can go over land.  It's not a monster, though, it just hurts you if you touch it, I guess maybe it's a tornado or something.  But when it moved over my boat, which was docked nearby, it just straight up deleted it.

So, now I have no boat.  Again.

That means I can't get back to the dungeon to finish grinding at the moment.  Not sure if I'll bother.  Everyone is at the max of 50 except for Katrina who's at 49 and 47 for STR and DEX.  I still haven't found a way to raise INT, maybe another dungeon or something, but I'm not so worried about that since I can probably handle the spell casting myself.

I may as well hit up the sacrifice shrine since I'm near Minoc.  You do indeed get different messages if you meditate for one or two cycles.  One cycle gave me the hot tip that sacrifice can be raised by donating gold, which I thought was a compassion thing but whatever.  The two cycle version was that fleeing combat and leaving companions is selfish and cowardly.  So, does that mean my main character has to be the last one off the screen or what?  You can't meditate twice in a row, by the way, so you have to wait a whole bunch of turns.  Not such a big deal at the shrine of sacrifice, since it's basically protected by a moat, but I can see monsters wandering around and I don't know if it'll go as smoothly at the other shrines.

Heading over to the shrine of compassion, I have to walk through swamp tiles and now everyone is poisoned.  This was annoying when it was four people, but with eight it is maddening.  Every time you try to take a step the game stops, ticks the poison on every party member individually and plays a little static burst and THEN moves.  It takes, no joke, maybe a second, maybe a second and a half to take ONE STEP like this.  And, obviously, it then takes seven or eight cure spells to restore the party, as opposed to the three or four it used to.

The vision at the shrine says "kill not the non-evil beasts of the land, and attack not the fair people!"  Well, that wouldst be a lot easier if thee wouldst tell THEM to extend the same courtesy unto ME.  Damn snakes leaping at eye height towards Iolo, I'm not going to start singing about the circle of life as he's on the ground wrestling with the thing's fangs buried in him.  I mean, it's not like I can just live and let live here, these fuckers chase me across the continent like goddamn terriers or something. Not once or twice, either, they do this CONSTANTLY, enemies show up like every ten steps or something ridiculous like that.  I have a train of them following me most of the time.  I'm not fighting these guys because I'm some mean jerk who wants to beat up weak defenseless monsters, I'm fighting them because they are always chasing me down and WILL NOT LEAVE ME ALONE.  Trust me, I would LOVE to be able to wander around without having to hurt anyone, but these idiots literally come running the second I step foot outside, like surely my number is up NOW, and the previous eight million identical encounters that ended in utter devastation for their side were just flukes.  Argh.  It's just a bit frustrating, is all!  The two cycle meditation is just another "give poor people money" quote.  These are not turning out to be super useful.  And if it is what that magic talking seahorse meant, then it's still not giving me any more insight to how to enter the Abyss.

Onward to Trinsic, to chat with Virgil.  I think last update I mistakenly wrote down Virgil when I meant Calumny.  Calumny is in Yew and knows about mandrake, Virgil is in Trinsic and knows about nightshade.  It turns out he's that guy sitting in the middle of a ring of poison fields, so I get to have some more fun with poison.  Virgil tells me that Nightshade can be found at J'F" C'O" on the darkest nights.

Meditating at the shrine of Honor again gives me the advice to not steal from people and not attack non-evil characters.  Yeah, these are pointless.  I'm probably going to check the one at Yew since I'm headed there anyway, but otherwise these are just a waste of time at this point.

Searching J'F" C'O" on the new moon gives me... eight nightshade.  And it doesn't come back next time there's a full moon, either.  Either it regrows very slowly over time, or I'll only be able to ever cast eight spells that use nightshade.  Continuing on to Yew, Calumny says mandrake grows on the Fens of the Dead or the Blood Plains, but only where the ground is always damp.  Does that mean swamp tiles?  I have to stand on swamp tiles, don't I.  Ugh.



The Shrine of Compassion is another bust.  "Don't steal" and "don't attack the innocent".  Yeah, I'm thinking I'm done with these.  That seahorse is full of shit.

Well, that is officially it, I think.  I have nothing left to do.  I've visited all the towns in the game, talked to everybody in the world as far as I know, and got all eight companions up to a decent level.  I think it may finally be time to hijack another unlucky pirate ship... and head to the Abyss.
Kail
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2756


Reply #71 on: March 11, 2017, 10:00:50 PM

All right, who's ready to go on the ULTIMATE ADVENTURE!

...

[three hours pass]

Okay, so pirate ships do not spawn very frequently.  Not like, say, (and I'm just pulling names at random) goddamn orcs and skeletons, for example.  I swear, if every orc I met was carrying a single wooden plank, I could have built a damn BRIDGE to the Abyss by now.

This is probably a good time to hunt down some mandrake.  The Bloody Plains are nearby, so I head over there to check out the swamp.  I managed to finally grab a sample, three doses worth, eventually.  However, Calumny neglected to mention that like Nightshade, Mandrake can ALSO only be harvested on a double new moon, so I ended up going over a few different areas before I got it.  Because this involved swamp tiles, it meant I got poisoned.  Because I have eight people in my party, this meant I ended up going through something like thirty or forty cure spells, so now I'll have to restock before I head to the Abyss.

Or IF I ever head to the Abyss.  Still no sign of any ships.  It takes about five hundred more turns of holding down the space bar for someone to show up.  I take their ship and am, of course, attacked by two more pirate ships almost immediately after.  Sigh.

Step one is to restock.  I head to Buccaneer's Den to grab some reagents, and the weapon shop there has something called a magic wand.  It costs 5,000 gold, but I maxed out my gold when I was grinding, so I can afford one (the max gold is 9,999 and I've already spent a bunch on more food and weapons).  I can't say no to new ways to end orcs so I grab one.  There are also magic bows here, but the wand already basically zeroed my purse and I'm not sure I'll even be able to use these weapons once I get to the Abyss.

And, finally, it's off to the Isle.

The bay packed with pirate ships is still there, and it's still probably the hardest part of the game so far.  The ship can only take 5 hits by default before it sinks, and bear in mind that it takes a full turn to change your direction and there's a pretty good chance whenever you're sailing of just not moving at all because of the wind, so it's easy for the enemy to get some cheap shots in as you're trying to close with them.  Once you can board them, the fight is basically over, since the enemy crew is all melee and have to board your ship across narrow gangplanks which makes it pretty simple to win every fight without taking any damage.  It's getting to them which is complicated, because you either have to sail in to cannon fire or stay at range, and while their shots do 10 HP every time, the efficiency of your shots seem to vary highly.  One complication is that sometimes you'll have to fight phantom ships, and phantom ships don't move or attack, they just float in the water.  My first trip, I thought they were free XP bags, but now, suddenly, they have a nasty tendency to spawn somewhere I can't reach, up in some corner of the screen that I don't have an angle on from any tile on the surface of my boat.  I can't attack diagonally, as far as I know, and the ship doesn't fill up the entire screen, and my party can't walk on the water.  I have no idea how to win the fight when they spawn somewhere outside the length of the ship.  I can't kill them, they can't kill me, we just spend the combat waiting for something to happen but nothing ever does.  Since we're on a ship, we can't even flee, because we can't leave the deck.  I assume this is a glitch or something, and I haven't found a way past it aside from closing the game when I get in to one of those situations.

But eventually, I made my way through.  I still have no idea how to get in to the Abyss.

After futzing around for a while, I do find there's a square in the middle of the caldera where I can use the bell, book, and candle.  After that, I draw some dicks on the Skull of Mondain and cast it in to the Abyss.  I hope that was the right thing to do?  I still don't see a door or anything.



Took me seriously about five minutes of banging on my keyboard like a monkey to figure out what I was doing wrong.  The one tile on the middle of the lava IS the entrance to the Abyss, it's just that the entrance is invisible.  You're just supposed to know it's there.  Which I kind of did since that's the only tile where you can use the bell, book, and candle, but what I tried first was to (d)escend in to the Abyss, like you do at Hythloth.  But you enter Hythloth from Castle Britain, and when you enter a town or dungeon from the overworld map you don't (d)escend in to it (even though you do (k)limb to get back out) you (e)nter it.  Once I figured that out, I made it in to the evilest pit on Britannia: The Stygian Abyss.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2017, 10:23:11 PM by Kail »
Slayerik
Terracotta Army
Posts: 4819

Victim: Sirius Maximus


Reply #72 on: March 13, 2017, 07:29:22 AM

Good luck! You seem well prepared, Avatar.

"I have more qualifications than Jesus and earn more than this whole board put together.  My ego is huge and my modesty non-existant." -Ironwood
Slayerik
Terracotta Army
Posts: 4819

Victim: Sirius Maximus


Reply #73 on: March 15, 2017, 06:56:37 AM

The suspense...its killing me. :)

"I have more qualifications than Jesus and earn more than this whole board put together.  My ego is huge and my modesty non-existant." -Ironwood
Raph
Developers
Posts: 1362

Title delayed while we "find the fun."


WWW
Reply #74 on: March 15, 2017, 11:48:27 PM

He didn't make it back.

Time to roll up a new f13 poster and try again.
Kail
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2756


Reply #75 on: March 16, 2017, 02:40:58 AM

Heh, sorry.  I actually had this done on Sunday but have been too busy to upload it.

All right, the Abyss.  Not sure what the difficulty is going to be like here.  Honestly, it's going to have to be a pretty huge spike to even slow down my party at this point, but then, a massive spike in difficulty would not be a particularly shocking twist.  I have killed, I think, every enemy in the bestiary already, so unless there are different monsters specific to the Abyss this is going to be pretty straightforward.

Checking a gem, the first floor looks pretty straightforward.  A single hallway down to what looks like a huge room with an altar in the middle?  Weird.  Are there more stones in the Abyss?  Even here, at the end of worlds, thy collect-a-thons haunt me.  There's a pair of fountains there, too, I still don't know what the purpose of fountains is.  But before we get there, there are two series of four encounter rooms each, looks like.

The first series of encounter rooms is a bunch of rooms paved with lava and defended by lava lizards and hydra.  These monsters can spit fire which, if it hits you, does a bunch of damage, and if it MISSES you, it creates a lava tile on the floor, which deals damage.  Normally these guys are a nuisance, but here, for some reason, I can't hit them with any attacks.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't expect this: you have to equip the mystic weapons to damage anything here.  Because reasons.  In other dungeons, I have killed these guys with a rock and a piece of string, but here, no.  I assume any armor other than the mystic armor would likewise result in you getting wrecked with every attack, but I don't have a reason to wear anything but mystic armor. I would like the range that my non-mystic weapons give me, especially when the enemies are sitting on lava, though.  But at least with the mystic sword they die pretty quick once you reach them.  For some reason, the magic wand still seems to hit enemies fairly well, I notice, which is kind of surprising.  Another glitch?  Well, I think it's probably too late to go back and grind four times as much gold as I can carry just to outfit everyone with wands, plus I'm not even sure who all can equip them.

Once I hand out swords to everyone, the enemies are not much of a threat, but I do end up taking a stupid amount of damage from the lava.  There are sections where I don't think you can avoid walking on it, you HAVE to just march across active magma flows.  But, we get through it without any casualties.

The theme for the second series of rooms is "demons with sleep and lightning fields".  That reminds me, I need to prepare some more dispels.  If I had a dozen of those to throw around, I could just blow a hole through these rooms and march through, but instead I have to wait for people to walk in to the sleep fields blocking us, fall asleep, wake up, and then move out of the way for the next person.  The duration of a sleep effect is random, as far as I know.  The final room in this series has a gap one tile wide covered by a sleep field, so I figured I'd cover the rest of the party as they went through but Shamino, the second person through, fell asleep for about twenty five turns, so Dupre, the only person to make it through, had to fight every demon in the room by himself.  Fortunately, they aren't too threatening, it's more of a frustration watching Dupre getting mobbed by demons and knowing that there's a half dozen heavily armed badasses here who could help but we can't get around Shamino's sleeping bag.

On the other side, we make it to the altar.  It looks like the engine can't really render big rooms that well, so it puts walls at every tile corner, but it's a wall that's always parallel to you so it doesn't block off the paths.  So, getting to the altar is no problem, but what to DO with the altar I have no idea.  Searching it just gives me the unhelpful "you don't find anything" message, not a "you need the hex crank" or something.  The fountains just poison or damage whoever drinks from them, so I still don't know if they have an actual purpose.  The three part key doesn't work, so I ended up going through my inventory Space Quest style, rubbing every item on the altar to see if it does something.  Finally, turns out I can use the virtue stones on it.  Phew, was getting worried there for a minute.  The altar asks me which virtue corresponds to truth, and I think that's honesty, the mage virtue.  Then it asks me to use a stone, and gives me an option to select which color.  Well, blue is the color for honesty, so presumably that's the answer here.  Holding up the blue stone, the altar changes in to a ladder down to the next level.  That's one down, who knows how many to go.

Level two is another looping floor, starting with us in a huge 3 x 3 grid of encounter rooms.  These encounter rooms are mostly styled after water themes, with giant sea serpents, nixies, and hydra.  This is actually fairly easy.  I can't actually enter the water to fight these guys, but they are pretty weak once you lure them to the shore, and there aren't any super annoying lava or magical field hazards to deal with.  Once I clear those rooms, I get out in to the main hallway for this level.  The gem shows the altars behind a secret wall, but on the way I find the staircase down.  I suppose I could just descend, but I suspect I should check out the altars first.  They're secured behind a wall of poison fields (grr) but otherwise easy to reach.  The first altar asks me what virtue stems from love, and when I answer compassion, asks me for a stone again, and the yellow stone changes it in to a ladder down.  The second altar, weirdly, does the same thing: same question, same stone.  So, there's two altars and one normal ladder down, meaning three ways down total.  I may as well try one of the altars to start.

Each of the dungeons in the game so far, except for this one, have been eight floors deep.  And if this dungeon has one virtue for each floor, then presumably it's going to be eight floors deep, also.  Possibly nine, if they decide to "turn it up to eleven" for the last dungeon and give us one final level that represents all the virtues combined or something.  So I'm hoping for eight floors, and budgeting supplies for nine.

Using the gem, this level looks like a small cross shape around a central room.  There are two ladders up, so I'm guessing that either of the altar ladders would take us here, while the other one leads to a dead end somewhere.  The encounter rooms here are... weird as heck.  The first one is just empty, the second one contains two demons embedded in the walls, Cask of Amontillado style.  They can't attack and I don't see a way to let them out, I just hope I don't get dinged as a coward for letting them live their sinful lifestyle for the rest of eternity in a 3x3 foot brick cube.  Actually, judging by how many attacks I'm hearing, there's like seven or eight demons in there, all piled on top of each other.  Weird.  Wait, actually, once I pass the middle of the room, a hidden switch removes the walls and the demons come pouring out.  I guess this is what inspired Doom 3's level design.  You know you're playing kind of a weird game when hordes of demons leap out of a trap and you breathe a sigh of relief.  At least I know I won't lose any valor.

The altar room is just beyond and asks for the stone of valor.  Ladder down appears, and we're off to the fourth floor.

A glance at a map gem shows that this is a tricky one.  Obvious exit to the south, takes us to a series of encounter rooms... leading to a dead end.  The rest of the level is off to the east through a hidden passage.  Hmm.  Going to assume the east path is the way to go.  It leads to a branch with a fire field that enters in to an encounter room with a bunch of ghosts and liches, after which is another encounter in tight corridors with a bunch of gremlins and demons and gazers, which is tricky because with my lack of ranged weapons, if a gremlin isn't killed in one hit, that means I'm losing tons of food, and since the corridors are so narrow it means I can't surround enemies or focus my attacks.



On the other side of that, though, is the altar, which asks for the stone of truth and love, the green stone of justice.  So with that, it turns in to a ladder, and we're through level 4 and on to level 5.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 02:46:14 AM by Kail »
Sir T
Terracotta Army
Posts: 10188


Reply #76 on: March 16, 2017, 12:44:24 PM

Yeah, dont want to disturb the guys sleep

Whats that sound? *sound of one guy screaming and hillish roaring*

Dunno, if it was too bad it would disturb Brians rest.

Yeah best leave him to it. Lord knows he could do with the beauty sleep.

Is that a severed arm? Naaa...

Be principled, but not too principled.
Kail
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2756


Reply #77 on: March 18, 2017, 10:02:15 AM

Floor five looks pretty straightforward from the gem.  One big room at the start, a bottleneck with encounter rooms in the middle, and two altars on the other side.  Hopefully they'll both lead to viable staircases, but since they're not separated by any hazards it shouldn't be a problem if they're not.

The first room encounter room is kind of a pain.  Looks like a dead end, so there's obviously a switch somewhere, probably behind those lightning fields.  But casting dispel magic on the lightning fields fails.  Took me a while to figure out why: there's a Zorn behind the fields, and they can negate magic, but only magic spells that are being cast, not magic fields that are already present.  Apparently.  They can also phase through walls like ghosts, so the only way to get through here is to lure the Zorn through the wall (it can't pass through the lightning fields), kill it, and then dispel the fields.

The next room has nine reapers, four gazers, and four phantoms in it.  Man, FUCK this dungeon design.  Nothing in here is even remotely capable of putting up a decent fight so it's all just cheesy bullshit like this.  Your party starts in a big area gated off by a one tile wide choke point so unless you can get everyone through single file resisting eight sleep spells every turn, the person you have in the front is going to get destroyed while the rest of your party can't reach anything.  This is the kind of encounter I would have designed for D&D when I was like seven years old.  I mean, there's no defense against this, no strategy.  The only way I know of to resist sleep spells is to get another status effect, like poison, and you can't poison your entire party before every room just in the off chance that the designers will pull this bullshit, because then you'll have to cure poison AFTER every room.  The party has eight members in it, and I can't hold more than 99 reagents, so mathematically you can't do this more than 12 times before you go from completely 100% stocked up to completely broke.  And that assumes you don't need the reagents for anything else.  Garlic, for example, is used for both cure and dispel, and if you have, say, some bullshit room with magic nullifying enemies that cancel out your dispels without saying why or what's going on, you might need to mix a few of those.  I'm already down to 20 garlic, and I'm maybe halfway through this thing. MAYBE.  

So, yeah, we lost Julia in there, and almost lost Iolo too (he was the unlucky bastard who got caught in the choke point).  I think I have the reagents to resurrect her, but I only have three casts, so I'd like to hold off for a few levels.  With the way these fights are going, having more party members is not really important.  My guys can one or two shot everything they see, it's just the bullshit like lava tiles or full room sleep spells that are doing anything, the actual enemies are basically a formality at this point. I'll maybe aim to get her back on her feet at the end of level 7.  I'm not sure if this dungeon is only eight floors long, but I don't want to walk in to the final room by accident and get disintegrated (or whatever the penalty is) for not having enough friends.

The next and final room looks empty until we get to the halfway mark at which point a line of poison fields appears across the room.  Kind of a parting "fuck you" to the player.  So now I have to antidote everyone anyways.

The stone for this floor is sacrifice, fittingly enough.  Sacrifice is the virtue associated with tinkers, and Julia the Tinker certainly embodied that.

Level 6 looks basically the same as level 4: a series of encounter rooms between your starting point and the altar.  But it doesn't take long to get lost; this series of encounter rooms is less about the fighting and more about being a maze.  The "rooms" are mostly corridors which lead to other encounter rooms.  There's really nothing tricky here, the enemies are mostly easy, the only thing is that there's a few branches that are secret paths (meaning you have to walk on specific tiles to open them up) so after every fight I have to comb the battlegrounds and make sure I've stood on every tile.  They like to throw balrons behind lightning fields and put the switches back there, so I blew through a bunch of dispels, too.  Towards the end of the maze, there's a narrow hallway that forces everybody to get poisoned with reapers at the end which would have been infuriating (though still less infuriating than the one on level 6, since this one only had four reapers) except that because of the poison fields I could just walk right up to them and punch them in their stupid goddamn faces.  Spent a lot of spells, but in the end I made it out OK.  The virtue for this floor is honor.  If there's some connection between the encounters on a floor and the virtue it corresponds to, it's not obvious to me.

Anyways, floor 7.  A look at the gems is not promising.  The path to the altar is set up on a diagonal, with encounter rooms along the middle, but since I can't move on a diagonal I'll have to hit every one of those rooms.  Actually, on getting in to them, they're pretty straightforward encounters.  There's a bunch of stuff with disappearing walls, but otherwise not a huge challenge.  The game does lean on one interesting quirk here: since monsters can attack on diagonals but your party can't, it's possible to build a set of walls around a monster that will allow it to shoot out diagonally but not allow any of us to attack it.  But overall, this level was pretty straightforward and we got to the altar with little trouble.  The stone here was the white stone of spirituality.

That done, it's time to resurrect Julia and move on to level 8.  The resurrection works OK, but Julia comes back at 0 HP, and when we rest to heal, we're ambushed immediately, so if she gets tapped once she's done and that's one valuable resurrection spell down the drain.  Fortunately, the monsters attack from the other side and we're on to the next level.

Level 8 looks like kind of a pain.  Two sets of encounter rooms: one by the entrance, and a second by the altar.  The first one is another big maze, like on level 6, except instead of dumping me back to the hallway, it just loops in around itself with this room in the middle where there's a big wall in the middle, and touching the north side opens a north/south passage, while touching the west side opens an east/west passage, so you end up doing a figure eight through this thing.  The switch to open the door out is actually in the lava, and the exit is over some more lava, so thanks for that.  Julia is still weak, and only has 48 hp by the time we're back in to the hallway.

It's a short jog to the second set of encounter rooms.  The first one is... weird.  Staring at us from across a pond are mirror images of the party.  Are we supposed to see ourselves as our foes see us?  Have we been the monsters all along?  Perhaps violence is not the answer andACK nope, violence it is, then.  For such a cool, unique fight, they all go down really easily.  After that is another room with demons and gazers and stuff, and after THAT is hell.

Whoever designed this shit needs to be kicked in the balls.  Room is partitioned down the middle with a bunch of magical fields that would take forever to dispel, and on the other side of that is TEN FUCKING BALRONS.  Every turn, there's up to ten full screen sleep spells.  There's also a few gazers chucking sleep rays and stuff, but who cares about that when we've got a whole ROOM FULL OF FUN.  Remember that thing they did on level 7 with monsters attacking diagonally through walls?  Well, that's this room also.  It took me literally about forty five minutes to get through this one, most of it tabbed in another window watching a video as monsters beat the shit out of my unconscious party.  Geoffrey died on the last turn, got caught by a sleep spell in the line of fire of one of the diagonals after everyone else had already left the room and wouldn't wake up.  Interesting tidbit: in this game, waking up takes up your entire turn, so when you do wake up, you can't act right away, you have to wait through the rest of your companions and then the enemies get another shot before you can move.  So, if you're in a room with, say, ten fucking balrons in it, you have to make ten consecutive savings throws to even be able to take one step or else it's back to sleep.   Next up on the fun tour is a room with a bunch of dragons, and again, a balron in the middle of the map encased in brick that we can't get to but which can sit there casting full room sleep spells.  God damn, you know they KNEW how fucking annoying this was, entire rooms here are built with the sole purpose of abusing this full room sleep spell.  It's not enough that the spell itself is complete bullshit and the enemies can cast it at will and there's no counter to it, but on TOP of that EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY CAST IT we get the sound effect that accompanies it, this shrill PC Speaker screech that sounds like a cross between a beep and the sound of ultimate suffering.  The way out of this room is one of those bits where you have to find a secret tile hidden in the wall (across some lava, naturally) which makes another tile passable (letting us finally murder that balron) to let us get to another hidden switch which makes another tile passable which masks another hidden switch which opens the door (which, again, across some more lava).

FINALLY made it out the other side of that, blow another resurrect on Geoffrey, and it's time to hit the last altar.  It's the black stone of humility, and everything goes black, and I'm alone in a dark room.  



I can see a socket to use the three part key, so I do that, and then a voice asks for the word of passage.  Once I answer, it gives me a series of questions about the eight virtues.  Fortunately, it's not a big deal to answer wrong, because I messed up a few of them... questions like "what should apply to Nobles and Serfs alike" are pretty ambiguous, in my opinion.  After that, it moves on to asking about the three principles, and eventually, it asks for the one axiom, and then... the codex of ultimate wisdom.

« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 10:23:39 AM by Kail »
Raph
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Reply #78 on: March 18, 2017, 03:37:09 PM

Congratulations! If you tell him on Twitter, he'll actually answer and congratulate you too :)
Selby
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Reply #79 on: March 18, 2017, 03:40:16 PM

There's definitely a rewarding feeling for solving these older games.  Like, you put up with some complete BS that most kids would have said "I'd rather go play outside than deal with this again" yet you persevered!  This is almost making me think of digging out my old U0-8 CD and playing through these again... *almost*
Father mike
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Reply #80 on: March 18, 2017, 04:31:22 PM

Congratulations, man! Awesome work finishing that.

Off to U5 now?   DRILLING AND MANLINESS

In all seriousness, I'm impressed with your perseverance.  I was inspired  by your first entry to fire up Ultima 7 (EXULT), and I never made it out of the starting city.

I would like to thank Vladimir Putin for ensuring that every member of the NPR news staff has had to say "Pussy Riot" on the air multiple times.
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Reply #81 on: March 19, 2017, 04:49:21 AM

Congrats Kail  Thumbs up!

Heh, the ending might be cheesy and kinda paternalistic, but surely quite unique for its time. Anyway, left me quite impressed as my father read (and translated it) aloud to me back in the day. Game and series as a whole, no matter the overall quality judged in hindsight, still holds a special place in my gaming memories, as my forum avatar shows :)

So, now rest AVATARD, Britannia might be in need of his champion once again...

" He's so impatient, it's like watching a teenager fuck a glorious older woman." - Ironwood on J.J. Abrams
Jade Falcon
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Reply #82 on: March 19, 2017, 11:27:11 AM

Congrats!

 It's almost like the devs back then were pissed they didn't have games like these growing up so punished the players as cruelly as humanly possible. You can almost picture them gathered around the break room cackling about what they coded as others were  looking on saying " No,you didn't really do that did you? "
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Reply #83 on: March 20, 2017, 03:50:21 AM

Congratulations! If you tell him on Twitter, he'll actually answer and congratulate you too :)

Haha, that's pretty awesome.  I think that's probably my favorite thing about these old games: they feel like they were made by people who actually wanted to do things or say things even if they weren't always super polished or anything.  There's something really charming about that kind of feeling that even most modern indie games don't really bring.

There's definitely a rewarding feeling for solving these older games.  Like, you put up with some complete BS that most kids would have said "I'd rather go play outside than deal with this again" yet you persevered!  This is almost making me think of digging out my old U0-8 CD and playing through these again... *almost*

Yeah, I'm not sure my younger self would have finished this game.  Mapping the dungeons probably would have broken me, if I even got that far.  The fact that leveling up doesn't raise your attributes would have REALLY thrown me off.

Off to U5 now?   DRILLING AND MANLINESS

I'm not sure what I'm doing for U5 yet...  The reaction to this thread has been amazing, way better than I was expecting, and while it's really encouraging, I also don't want to sour that.  Part of the success I think was due to Ultima 4 being a really great game to do this with, difficult enough to make finding information difficult but also easy enough to be possible without needing a copy of Nintendo Power.  And, on the other hand, having people to tell me when I'm about to make a trip to the final dungeon without having done all the prerequisites (cough, thanks for that, by the way) saves a lot of frustration, too.  So I'm not sure if I should do another one of these for Ultima 5, if people would still want to read that or if that would just bring the whole thing down and get boring, I'll have to think about it.  Either way, I will probably at least play through U5, so this isn't the end for me. 

Heh, the ending might be cheesy and kinda paternalistic, but surely quite unique for its time. Anyway, left me quite impressed as my father read (and translated it) aloud to me back in the day. Game and series as a whole, no matter the overall quality judged in hindsight, still holds a special place in my gaming memories, as my forum avatar shows :)

I kind of like the call back to the idea of virtue: that learning to cast fireballs or pilot giant mecha aren't exactly skills with real world applicability, but being kind and honest and so on are all things that do apply to life outside the game.  On the other hand, aside from some extremely basic morality about lying and so on, I guess a lot of the "Quest of the Avatar" is tied up in collecting magical runes and fighting demons and other stuff that doesn't have much to do with real life.  I suppose that it makes sense for a game aimed at children, sometimes just telling a kid that "lying is bad" is important, but from an adult point of view, it's kind of difficult to go deeper than that with what the game gives us.  It also sets up nicely for a sequel, in a lot of RPGs it's kind of contrived how characters go from high level badasses at the end of one game to green newbies at the beginning of the next game, but it makes more sense when it comes to virtue that this is an ongoing thing, it's not just a matter of continuing to eat right and exercise.

It's almost like the devs back then were pissed they didn't have games like these growing up so punished the players as cruelly as humanly possible. You can almost picture them gathered around the break room cackling about what they coded as others were  looking on saying " No,you didn't really do that did you? "

It really feels a lot like the games my friends and I used to code for each other in grade school.  We weren't selling them or anything, just trading them among each other, so it's not like we had to worry about the player being pissed off, so we ended up making them SUPER impossible just due to A) knowing that as a programmer you don't have to suffer through the bullshit encounters you write, you can just cheat, B) it being easier to make something really unfairly difficult than a genuinely engaging challenge and C) being funny and annoying to each other was more interesting than being kind of average and boring.  People talked about infuriating unfairness more than they talked about someone being competent.



So, at the end, I really liked this game.  The first three Ultimas, I kind of got the impression that the series was so well liked mainly because it was so old, but U4 has a lot of genuinely interesting elements that I'm surprised haven't been picked up on much in modern games.  Mainly: the fact that gathering and cataloguing information is really important, and the fact that the game isn't about saving the world by defeating some powerful evil character in a fight, it's about improving yourself. 

LONG WINDED RANT ABOUT GAME MECHANICS


FINAL STATS
Game finished in 84,494 steps
/played = 88h 49m (may be a bit misleading since that includes a lot of time paused while typing up entries or fiddling with screenshots)
Real time: 3 months, 2 weeks, 5 days (unless my math is off)
Total Party Wipes: 3 (all due to boats sinking, I Xed out immediately so I'm not actually sure what happens when you game over come to think of it)
Notes: 8 pages of paper, 284 MB of data (hmm, for a 11MB game, I guess that may have been a bit excessive)
Total character deaths: 3
   Kail (killed by touching balls in a dungeon)
   Julia (killed by reapers in level 5 of the abyss)
   Gregory (killed by balrons in level 8 of the abyss)





I really had a ton of fun with this game, thanks a lot for the support, everyone!

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Reply #84 on: March 20, 2017, 10:12:12 AM

Quote
I think that's probably my favorite thing about these old games: they feel like they were made by people who actually wanted to do things or say things even if they weren't always super polished or anything.

U4 really was Richard's direct response to people accusing him of corrupting youth. The way he tells it, he started thinking about the fact that the RPGs at the time -- his included -- really were just about wholesale slaughter and looting, with a veneer of "get the bad guy."

Quote
I guess a lot of the "Quest of the Avatar" is tied up in collecting magical runes and fighting demons and other stuff that doesn't have much to do with real life.  I suppose that it makes sense for a game aimed at children, sometimes just telling a kid that "lying is bad" is important, but from an adult point of view, it's kind of difficult to go deeper than that with what the game gives us.

It wasn't particularly aimed at children. Quite a lot of the computer game market (I typed "PC game" and had to correct it, heh) back then was grownup hobbyists because computers cost a fortune. The Apple IIe was $1395 when it launched in '83. That's $3380 in today's dollars. (The Apple III was out by 85, actually... but I don't know anyone who had one. It was even more egregiously expensive. And the original Mac launched in 84 at a today price of basically $6000.

When I went to user group meetings back in those days, it was all grownup hobbyists, with some of their kids.

Quote
the fact that the game isn't about saving the world by defeating some powerful evil character in a fight, it's about improving yourself. 

Don't forget, it was pretty much the FIRST morality system. Historically, that's what really made U4 special. The biggest reason to continue on is that the series basically escalates that. Where 4 is about having amorality system at all, the others are about
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Reply #85 on: March 21, 2017, 11:33:16 AM

Excellent work!

I don't remember playing U5. The rest I do remember though.
Father mike
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Reply #86 on: March 21, 2017, 12:11:37 PM

U5 was very similar to U4, graphically -- just a few new tiles and tweaks to existing tiles.  Was somewhat of a return to the 'get powerful enough to kill the big bad' trope, but it ties into the existing world nicely.  It's the one with the Shadowlords.

Looking back across the entire series, I think Garriot's greatest strength as a designer was the ability to figure out what the current technology would allow him to get away with, then build a compelling experience within that framework.  Later on, when he had no technological limits to be clever about, his designs suffered.

I would like to thank Vladimir Putin for ensuring that every member of the NPR news staff has had to say "Pussy Riot" on the air multiple times.
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Reply #87 on: March 21, 2017, 01:39:21 PM

Ultima V is usually regarded as the most difficult Ultima game and probably the "darkest" one (yeah, also because of that frickin'  day/night system they implemented: I HATED it back in the day) along with Ultima VIII. From an historical point of view, the fifth chapter might also be considered the last, almost entirely "Garriott's Ultima", at least when it comes to design. Afterwards, Warren Spector arrived and, thanks to him and  others, we got Ultima VI-VII and the Underworlds. 'nuff said  awesome, for real

If and whenever you feel like giving it a try, Kail, be sure to:

- Read the "Book of Lore" (along with the expedition journal)  manual, because, like the previous one, it's a nice in-lore introduction to the game; it also includes details about the backstory of Britannia and Lord British not mentioned in previous or subsequent books;

- Patch in the music via Pix's Ultima patcher: soundtrack is great.
http://www.pixsoriginadventures.co.uk/category/ultima-patcher/
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 01:47:40 PM by Lucas »

" He's so impatient, it's like watching a teenager fuck a glorious older woman." - Ironwood on J.J. Abrams
Druzil
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Reply #88 on: March 22, 2017, 09:55:13 AM

Awesome Kail! Congrats!

This has been a fun read.  I remember resolving to finish Ultima 4 because my friend said it was impossible.  I'm pretty sure I never finished it  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly? 

Without looking it up I'm not sure how closely Dragon Quest 3 and Ultima 5 lined up, but when DQ3 added the day/night system I loved it.  At the time, getting different NPCs and dialog at night and only being able to finish certain 'quests' at night seemed like this revolutionary thing that I wanted all RPGs to do going forward.  I'm not sure how well that actually played out over time.
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Reply #89 on: March 22, 2017, 10:39:23 AM

That probably influence Morrowinds infamous "Its night so the stores are locked but the NPC is still standing there" thing.

I've been thinking about the whole Morality thing since I read Kalis rant (congrats on finishing the game btw) And I think I prefer this to the more modern "light/dark, Paragon/Renegade" think that are in vouge now. Because the modern things are not a choice, really. If you want to get the best results, you HAVE to do the Paragon thing all the way through, even if you actually think its stupid. It's actually the oppposite of choice. its actually forcing you to play the gane twice to see what happens when you push the OTHER button. It would actually be more honest just to sat at the stare "always chise light/always chose dark/make choices" at the beginning. becasue frankly you are not actually making choices through the game.

And the other thing is that the game has to be designed so that doing ether choices will not actually affect the story at all, as the story has to proceed regardless of your choices. So aside from a few dialogue choices the message is "Your morality and action matters pretty much jack all and wont affect the world long term whatsoever."

Whee. What a message. Clap. Clap.

Be principled, but not too principled.
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Reply #90 on: March 24, 2017, 12:07:51 PM

Yeah, the NPC schedules in Ultima V were quite revolutionary, and of course they actually pre-date the much more touted (and still unparalleled in any 3D world to this day) Ultima VII ones; I was referring to the inconvenient representation of night time in Ultima V. Sure, there is "ignite torch" or "hole up & camp", but whenever your vision was reduced to one square away, I always thought "well, fuck this, why the game is telling me  I should stop having fun right now, even if for just a couple minutes?".

" He's so impatient, it's like watching a teenager fuck a glorious older woman." - Ironwood on J.J. Abrams
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Reply #91 on: March 26, 2017, 10:52:10 AM

We had NPC schedules tied to day/night in UO. Players rebelled and demanded that shops be open at night. :(
Lucas
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Reply #92 on: March 26, 2017, 11:02:52 AM

We had NPC schedules tied to day/night in UO. Players rebelled and demanded that shops be open at night. :(

Yep, I remember that debate during...late beta? (I got into it around July '97 and I vaguely remember shops being closed from time to time) Or schedules made it into the initial release stages?

Personally I wasn't against the concept 'cause I like the world to be immersive and, for that kind of sandbox, I didn't need to have the "GET TO THE FUN NAO!!" mentality. But yeah, putting it into the MMOG history context, it must have been quite tricky to balance day/night in-game vs. the permanent access of players (at one point, weren't you considering to reflect real time day/night like WoW did years later? I also remember something about it as well).

" He's so impatient, it's like watching a teenager fuck a glorious older woman." - Ironwood on J.J. Abrams
Reg
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Reply #93 on: March 26, 2017, 12:50:45 PM

Origin did their best to keep UO as unfun as they could make it for years after release.
Torinak
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Reply #94 on: March 26, 2017, 01:08:21 PM

There were a lot of interesting ideas in UO that showed how "realism" can make a game unfun. NPC schedules and the wildlife spawning/population dynamics thing come to mind.

It was still a magical experience, at least until the combination of bugs and exploits (especially exploiting PKs) ground me down. I still look fondly on my Collector's Edition box and remember what UO was, and dream of what it could have been.
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Reply #95 on: March 27, 2017, 09:47:06 AM

I personally loved UO for what it was. I never played a minute of EQ. It was a dream come true for me, despite any of its flaws it was an revolutionary experience that sported my favorite PVP of all time. Nothing got your heart pumping like red names popping up in a dungeon, and that rare occasion when you beat the odds and took a head of a red. As an anti-PK, the odds were against me but I loved it. Even played on a free server about a year ago, and the PVP is still excellent.

I even remember the name of the first PK to slaughter me while I was farming random mobs south of Trinsic. David Killmore. Corp Por, what the .... OoooOoOoooOOO

Thanks for the good times Raph :)

"I have more qualifications than Jesus and earn more than this whole board put together.  My ego is huge and my modesty non-existant." -Ironwood
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Reply #96 on: March 28, 2017, 04:33:01 PM

putting it into the MMOG history context, it must have been quite tricky to balance day/night in-game vs. the permanent access of players (at one point, weren't you considering to reflect real time day/night like WoW did years later? I also remember something about it as well).

No... actually we (I?) carefully did the math so that the day/night cycle would happen at an oddball rate so that someone who always logged in at 8pm would not always get the same in-game time of day.

I still think stuff like NPC schedules, and yes, the ecology, can work. Stuff like Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress show that a rich enough system can be a really compelling playground. It just needs to be designed to be more resistant to players mucking with the cycles.
Lucas
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Reply #97 on: May 04, 2017, 03:19:26 AM

AVATAARD!! Where art thou?  (no pressure tho,  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?)

" He's so impatient, it's like watching a teenager fuck a glorious older woman." - Ironwood on J.J. Abrams
Kail
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Reply #98 on: May 07, 2017, 10:07:58 AM

AVATAARD!! Where art thou?  (no pressure tho,  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?)

Working for the moment.  I will probably be unemployed in a month or so, which on the up side means more time for video games, hopefully I can get started then.
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