Ultima 7 Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

I was looking in the Exult forums recently when I spotted a thread with a very interesting (if grammatically dubious) title: Rotate graphics 45 degrees to be upright? The opening comment from the original author of the thread was interesting:

I’ve never played Ultima, but looking at the screenshots, it seems like the obvious mod to make would be one to rotate the game world 45 degrees clockwise, such that characters stand upright, etc. The present perspective is somewhat nauseating.

I have not seen screenshots of such a mod. Does such a mod exist? How complicated would it be to do such a thing with the existing Exult code?

What resulted was a lengthy and interesting discussion about the technical elements that would be required to make Exult’s renderer rotate the graphics of Ultima 7. Colourless Dragon, in particular, provided some keen insights as to what would be required to actually effect such a rotation (with Marzo Sette Torres Jr. and someone called TDI chipping in ideas as well). Someone else, going by the handle cma, took all the provided advice and…

…did some hacking of Excult 1.4.9rc1 in Windows and render a bigger map, rotate and copy it to screen.

And after a few more issues were identified and solutions proposed, cma…

Did what Colourless Dragon said: render map to a new window and scale and rotate it 45 degree. then composite it with the gump with alpha background. I could not find alpha channel support in any scaler so I modified PointScaler x2 to make it support alpha (index 255, had to change the palette code to reserved it). The map graphics look much better now IMHO.

I also had the basic mouse navigation and mouse/object interaction working. I am sure I still missed some special mouse event handling cases. At least I can work around Trinsic and interact with things now.

You can see the results of his efforts above; it is indeed a very different perspective on the Ultima 7 game world…and frankly I think I like it a bit more. Hopefully, cma releases his mod in the near future so we can all experience Ultima 7 in this new and aesthetically pleasing way. I also agree with Kalos Dragon, who commented thusly:

Anyone who has played Ultima Online will feel fully at home in Exult, now, for a new sun has risen, and it is but half of a right angle from prior times.

There is a…significant block of UO players who have minimal experience with other Ultimas. Giving them the option to experience one of the best games in the series from a more familiar perspective could be a very good means of kindling their interest in the single-player side of the franchise.