The Ultima Codex The Ultima Fan Network Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:39:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Ultima Codex 32 32 Shards Online: September Newsletter Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:37:46 +0000

Citadel Studios have released the September newsletter to those who have subscribed to the Shards Online mailing list, chronicling the latest developments in their ongoing work on that game. As always, the opening remarks from Derek Brinkmann handily summarize the information in the newsletter:

September was a great month for us because of the success of our Pre-Alpha 3 Preview event. Over 100 people participated in the event and we received some great feedback on the current state of the game. If there was one thing those survey results told us, it was that you guys think we are on the right track to make Shards Online a massive success.

This month and the next we are continuing to focus on features and polish that directly improve the player experience. We are getting close to finishing up the core UI improvements and we are shifting our focus towards player progression and goals. We will be extending the new player experience to include combat, crafting, and player housing while also tweaking the controls to make movement and targeting more intuitive. Our goal is to make Pre-Alpha 3 as fun as possible and to get you guys coming back to Celador every day to find something new.

I’ve updated our Development Roadmap to reflect our recent changes to the development schedule. Above all, we are committed to delivering releases when they are ready and we are working hard to make sure we get them to you as quickly as possible. Don’t forget that when Pre-Alpha 3 launches, the doors will be opening to all of you 40$ Alpha backers. We can’t wait to get all of you into the game and get your feedback. The single most important thing you can do as a supporter of this project is jump into the game and let us know how you think we are doing.

Some of those UI improvements include the shiny new character screen, which can be seen above. There’s also an interesting section in the newsletter from designer Bruce Bonnick, in which he discusses the difficulty in finding balance between allowing open PvP and ensuring that new players — and/or players who aren’t combat-oriented, in general — aren’t turned off by the depredations of player-killers (PKs).

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Ultima Online: Time of Legends Released Worldwide Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:58:50 +0000

Big news from Broadsword Online Games this morning: the Time of Legends expansion for Ultima Online has been — or will shortly be — released worldwide!

We are pleased to announce that Publish 90, The Time of Legends, will be available after maintenance on Thursday, October 8, 2015.  Character transfer will be turned off tonight (10/7/2015) and will be turned back on after 11am ET on Friday, October 9, 2015.

You can check out all the exciting new features in the Time of Legends here.

Don’t forget you have until October 31, 2015 to take advantage of our special offer, subscribe any account during the month of October and you will receive the Time of Legends for free!

For those that miss the offer, the Time of Legends will be available for sale on the Origin store starting November 2, 2015.

We would like to thank all of our focus group testers as well as those players who dedicated some time on TC1, Origin & Izumo to make the Time of Legends a success!

Have fun, and see you in the Valley of Eodon!

Okay, the headline might be slightly premature; the maintenance cycles for all the various shards are staggered, so Time of Legends (Publish 90) will become available on an increasing number of shards as the day goes on.

Still…hopefully some of you are able to check out this new expansion for Ultima Online. I’d be keen to hear your impressions of it, if so! And if you want to share any screenshots of Eodon, hit up the contact form and we’ll arrange something.

The First Age of Update: There’s also a new piece of fiction/lore — entitled Voices — on the game’s official website. Written by (as usual) EM Malachi, its main focus is on Hawkwind as he struggles against Anon, evidently a servant of Minax conjuring dark powers from deep within the fortress of Shadowguard.

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Ultima Online: Publish 90 (Time of Legends) Updates on Origin & Izumo Shards Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:30:39 +0000

Broadsword Online Games deployed a number of updates for Publish 90 — the vehicle for Ultima Online’s Time of Legends expansion — to the Origin and Izumo shards over the weekend:

A big thank you to everyone that has taken the first steps in the Time of Legends!  The following updates have been deployed to Origin & Izumo,

  • Tweaked stats and AIs for the Dragon Turtle.
  • Fixed an issue where players who had consumed a mastery primer before completing the Mastery Quest were not receiving the mastery book.
  • Adjusted the loot on the Dragon Turtle.
  • Tweaked stats on tribe NPCs.
  • Peerless encounters now have a chance at being an objective in the Mastery Quest.
  • Treasures of Doom is now active on Origin & Izumo.
  • The Mastery Quest will now update objectives every hour and will remain the same for each player during that time based on account entitlements and VvV status.
  • Fixed issue where Hawkwind’s Mastery quest was delivering cards instead of a Mastery Book on completion.
  • Any cards received in error have been converted into Mastery Books.

In case you aren’t familiar with the history of Ultima Online content releases, it is traditional for the Origin and Izumo shards to receive new content first, before it is pushed to any of the other production servers. Only the Test Center shard receives new content prior to Origin and Izumo, for reasons that should be obvious.

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Underworld Ascendant: First Glimpse of Gameplay at PC Gamer Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:58:02 +0000


The most recent episode of The PC Gamer Show — PC Gamer’s weekly podcast — featured Paul Neurath and Joe Fielder of OtherSide Entertainment. They actually covered a few different topics over the course of the podcast, which runs for more than an hour:

This week we’re be joined by legendary game designer Paul Neurath, one of the founders of Looking Glass Studios and a creative mind behind Ultima Underworld, Thief (the original), System Shock 2, and many more classic RPGs. We were also joined by Joe Fielder, Design Director at Neurath’s current studio, OtherSide Entertainment.

The topics:

  1. What makes a great stealth game?
  2. The recently announced Far Cry Primal.
  3. The rampant cRPG revival we’ve seen lately.
  4. Undertale and its incredible Metacritic ranking.
  5. Viewer questions from Twitch chat.
  6. Audio problems galore.

The highlight of the YouTube stream, however, is the Underworld Ascendant gameplay footage that begins almost eighty minutes into the thing. While it’s obvious that the game is still in a very early state, it’s nice to actually see something playable; the last few Stygian Sentinel updates haven’t really shown us anything of the sort.

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For The King: Final Days on Kickstarter; Pick Your Stretch Goal Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:12:50 +0000

IronOak Games have begun what they are calling The Final Countdown in the For The King Kickstarter campaign, which now has under ten days remaining in it:

10 days remain on the For The King campaign, time has really flown by! If you are on the fence about pledging, the window is closing. If you are thinking of upping your pledge to get in on some of the awesome rewards be sure to do so soon! The “Dead Shall Rise” undead skins and Kickstarter Backpacks/Hats skins are exclusive, they will not be available to anyone else after October 16, 2015.

In the same update, they also give some details about a couple of points of interest in Fahrul, the world in which For The King is set:

Stone Table

The Stone Table is an infamous cult device that predates the recorded history of Fahrul. It is still worshipped today by tribal zealots living in the marshlands and bringing them a Shard Of Omus will grant the option of focusing the power of death on a targeted being on the overworld. Learning more about the table allows for substantially more powerful enemies to be targeted, but beware, releasing the power of Omus into the world will cause the chaos spectrum to swell.

Gladiator Arena

This old colosseum is still in use by brave combatants looking to test their might against Fahrul’s most ferocious. Citizens from all across the land flock to the Gladiator Arena to witness the thrill of combat and cheer on their favorite warriors. If a player decides to step into the ring, they will be the center of attention and will be given the opportunity to climb the ranks as a gladiator. The victor is always rewarded handsomely.

As well, in their penultimate Kickstarter update, they expanded upon the $155,000 stretch goal in the campaign (which hasn’t been reached yet; as of this writing, For The King has raised $107,533):

You can find some details about each stretch goal option, and what it will add to the game, in the update proper. And you can vote for your favourite of the three options in this survey.

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Ultima 5 Dungeon Wallpapers: Now With Dungeon Doom Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:59:13 +0000

Graham White sent me a corrected version of the wallpaper for Dungeon Doom (which, in this collection of Ultima 5 dungeon wallpapers, had been mislabelled as the Abyss).

You can grab the full-size wallpaper in PNG format, as well as the BMP original, in the gallery.

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Explore/Create: Has Richard Garriott’s Autobiography Release Been Cancelled by HarperCollins? Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:22:39 +0000

Yofa Dragon had pre-ordered Richard Garriott’s autogiobraphy, Explore/Create: My Life at the Extremes. This morning, however, he received a most unfortunate email from Amazon:

And…. I just got this email:

Hello David Youd,

The release of the item in the order below has been canceled by the publisher and we have canceled your pre-order. You won’t be charged for items that are canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The release date for the book had already been moved back a couple of times, and now it would seem that the book won’t be coming out at all. I’ll reach out to Lord British for additional information after I publish this.

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Ultima 5 Was Released Twenty Seven Years Ago Mon, 05 Oct 2015 15:52:00 +0000

Soryu Dragon, as always, helpfully informs us of an Ultima anniversary:


Since it’s not a major anniversary — that is still, thankfully, three years out — I don’t have anything lined up in the way of special content to post today. That said, Graham White did send me an updated version of the desktop-sized map of Doom (not the Abyss!) created by Badger, which I’ll be adding to that particular gallery entry later today.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #145 Sat, 03 Oct 2015 17:19:34 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

  • New Single Player Scene: Highvale Village Battle
  • The Fortress at Hilt in Nightshade Pass – Part 2
  • Invitation To Combat/Skills/Spells Video Chat
  • Invitation to Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 22 Postmortem
  • Jack-o-Lantern 6-Pack
  • Grim Reaper Statue
  • Spider Web 6-Pack

New Single Player Scene: Highvale Village Battle

Esteben “Steve” Zaldivar (level designer) is working on a new single player scene for R23 called Highvale Village Battle.

The Highvale Village is a fortified garrison located just south of Resolute, nestled between mountainous peaks and surrounded by wooded pine. Tensions have been on the rise as recent expansions by the Paladins of Resolute into the northern ends of the Forsaken Vale have not gone unnoticed by the Verdantis Elves. In a retaliatory raid, the Verdantis Elves mounted an all-out siege on the garrison in defense, with both sides suffering heavy casualties.

In this new single-player scene, the avatar will step foot on the recent battle grounds of the aftermath of the attack. When the smoke clears, and the dust settles, who will lay claim to the village of Highvale?






The Fortress at Hilt in Nightshade Pass – Part 2

[Continuation of A Dev+ Forum Post by Scottie Jones]

OK! Here we have a bit more progress in “Phase II” of the Hilt outdoor map… Now that I’ve sculpted the terrain and painted it generally to my tastes, I’ve moved on to hand-placement and painting of grass, trees, bushes, rocks, and huge boulders,…which is what this world-building phase is all about! Once again, I’ll start off with an image seen from the view of someone entering through the pass from the west, and gazing down into the natural bowl of the valley itself. You can see the lush vegetation near and far now filling what was once bare terrain, as lower-altitude deciduous trees, ferns and grasses give way to hardier conifers and higher-altitude shrubs… Boulders and rock-faces protrude from steeper angles and merge with the terrain with the help of attendant flora and smaller stones.

Looking back the way we came you can start to appreciate the amount of added flora necessary to create the feeling I generally associate with my trips to Colorado and to the mountains around where I once lived in the southern Ozarks. If you compare this image to some of the earlier screenshots of the same bleak slopes, you’ll get a sense of the kind of time it takes to get a scene like this looking right (thanks to Hutch for being generous with his pro-tips on flora placement).


Approaching the lower entrance of the fortress walls, and the first of the switchback ramps leading upward, you can see one of the waterfalls now in place draining from the cascade winding its way down through the fortress walls from the upper slopes. Tucked away in the shadowed recesses of the cleft to its left, just beyond a gnarled old tree, are some crumbling ruins of a tower built long after the sturdier, more ancient ruins of the fortress itself.


As I work my way through the building process of this map, my goal is to create a number of “beautiful corners” and other scenic areas for players to discover as they travel. In this next image we get an even closer view of that same cleft at the base of Hilt, as I make my way up the first switch-back ramp and into the fortress proper… The bridge you see is one of the few places travelers could have forded the deep, cold stream flowing into the lake, putting them easily in range of attack from the terraced walls above.


There’s still a ways to go with this map, and since it’s my first “from scratch” outdoor scene made in Unity for the game, I’m sure I’ll be taking a bit more time than I’d like. But honestly, it’s a learning process, and one that will greatly benefit any future outdoor maps put on my plate….

Enjoy the progress for now… More to come later!

Scottie ^_^

Invitation To Combat/Skills/Spells Video Chat

[From a public form post by Chris Spears]


Tuesday, October 6th at 4PM Central time.

There is really just too much stuff to talk about in our usual monthly postmortem video chat. Time for me to do a long overdue video chat where I answer your combat/skill/spell questions. Since I have the attention span of a hamster, I’m only going to answer questions posted in this thread or on the post I’ll make on the front page. I too easily get lost when I try to answer live chat stuff and then I just end up looking like an idiot. :)

Ask me about skills, use based math, chaos magic, balance, PVP, or whatever you want. Don’t ask me about crafting stuff as I expect we’ll have a big talk on that next release! I’ll do at least 60 minutes but longer if there are still questions that need answering!

See you next week and I’m looking forward to your questions! Post them here!

– Chris “Dippy Dragon” Spears


Invitation to Hangout of the Avatar ~ Release 22 Postmortem

Drop your fishing pole, put up your lute, and please join the dev team Thursday, October 8th at 3:00 PM Central (20:00 GMT) for the next Hangout of the Avatar! Richard, Starr, and Chris will be chatting about the highlights of Release 22 and giving everyone a sneak peek at what to expect for Release 23. And, of course, FireLotus will be taking your questions and feedback live in the chat-room and also in advance right here in the OP comments section.*


The team will be giving out some really awesome prizes during the 90 minute extended Hangout, and all you have to do to qualify for one is to come hang out with us in the IRC chatroom during the broadcast. As always, the link to the hangout will be provided in the OP directly before the hangout begins.

*Please keep in mind that questions and feedback related to Release 22 specific topics will be given priority and really verbose questions may be skipped, as they can be a challenge to shorten and summarize live on the air. In brief… please keep your questions… brief. 

Jack-o-Lantern 6-Pack

Just in time for Halloween is this 6-pack of spooky, glowing Jack-o-Lanterns, available in the Add-On Store until November 30, 2015.


Grim Reaper Statue

Decorate your yard or home with this special Halloween Edition Grim Reaper Statue, available in the Add-On Store until November 30, 2015.


Spider Web 6-Pack

Dress up your basement, cemetery, or even your front room (if you are so inclined) with this set of spider web wall and floor decorations. Includes three different sizes each of the wall and floor spider webs. Available now in the Add-On Store.


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Remember That Centaur Poster in Ultima 6’s Intro? I Found the Sketch It Was Based On. Fri, 02 Oct 2015 18:29:33 +0000

Rustic Dragon posed an intriguing question in the Ultima Dragons Facebook group yesterday, concerning the image (from the Ultima 6 introductory sequence) above…or, rather, the curious poster in the background thereof:

Has anyone else ever wondered about the unusual image hanging in your living room in the intro to U6?

To me, it looks like a pole-dancing zebra centaur with unicorn hair, jean jacket, and a saddle (or is that a whip?). Does anyone know the story behind this?

The discussion was initially pretty speculative, until former Origin Systems artist Manda offered up the following bit of information:

That is a print by Houston airbrush artist Keith Berdak.

What Manda didn’t mention is that Berdak was also an artist at Origin Systems; he has numerous art-related credits on several games in the Ultima and Wing Commander series (among others).

Armed with the name, I did a Google Images search…from which I learned that searching for Berdak’s work isn’t the wisest decision one could make at one’s workplace, even with Safe Search turned on. That being said, after paging past a few dozen results, I ended up at this blog post, which features scans of the program from SoonerCon 2 (which Berdak also did the cover art for, it should be noted). And there, on about the 18th page of the program, was this sketch:


Hobbit Dragon then chimed in with some history about the inclusion of the Berdak piece in the intro:

I seem to recall a story regarding that picture.

I believe originally (in the demo) it was a Nagel painting, but before the game was released, Origin could not get legal rights so the picture had to be changed to what you see above.

And Eric Fry, of the Nuvie team, then pointed out that the Nagel print is still visible in a screenshot on the Ultima 6 box:


So there, apparently, is the history behind why the Avatar in Ultima 6 has a poster of what appears to be a pole-dancing centaur stripper in his living room: it was originally supposed to be Patrick Nagel’s Woman in Jacket (I think), but after Origin couldn’t secure the rights to the piece, they swapped it out for an adaptation of a 1986 sketch by one of their own in-house artists.

The First Age of Update: And it turns out that Berdak uploaded a coloured version of the image to his Facebook profile a while back:


So I guess the name of the piece is…Zebra, Too?

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Important Security Notice from Patreon Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:23:20 +0000

Patreon have released an important security notice which, yes, brings unwelcome news of a database breach:

Yesterday I learned that there was unauthorized access to a Patreon database containing user information. Our engineering team has since blocked this access and taken immediate measures to prevent future breaches. I am so sorry to our creators and their patrons for this breach of trust. The Patreon team and I are working especially hard right now to ensure the safety of the community.

There was unauthorized access to registered names, email addresses, posts, and some shipping addresses. Additionally, some billing addresses that were added prior to 2014 were also accessed. We do not store full credit card numbers on our servers and no credit card numbers were compromised. Although accessed, all passwords, social security numbers and tax form information remain safely encrypted with a 2048-bit RSA key.  No specific action is required of our users, but as a precaution I recommend that all users update their passwords on Patreon.

Here are some technical details of the incident:

  • The unauthorized access was confirmed to have taken place on September 28th via a debug version of our website that was visible to the public. Once we identified this, we shut down the server and moved all of our non-production servers behind our firewall.
  • There was no unauthorized access of our production servers. The development server included a snapshot of our production database, which included encrypted data.
  • The development server did not have any private keys that would allow login access to any other server. We verified our authorization logs on our production servers to ensure that there was not any unauthorized access.
  • As a precaution, we have rotated our private keys and API keys that would allow access to third-party services that we use.
  • We protect our users’ passwords with a hashing scheme called ‘bcrypt’ and randomly salt each individual password. Bcrypt is non-reversible, so passwords cannot be “decrypted.” We do not store plaintext passwords anywhere.

As soon as we discovered this issue, our engineering team immediately prevented further access and is now conducting a rigorous investigation of our security systems. We are also engaging a 3rd party security firm to do a comprehensive internal security audit and will be implementing new tools and practices to ensure industry-leading security for our users and their data.

I take our creators’ and patrons’ privacy very seriously. It is our team’s mission to help creators get paid for the immeasurable value they provide to all of us, and earning your trust to provide that service in a safe and secure way is Patreon’s highest priority. Again, I sincerely apologize for this breach, and the team and I are making every effort to prevent something like this from happening in the future.

Jack Conte, CEO/Co-founder, Patreon

So that sucks.

To change your Patreon password, hit up your settings page on the site and avail yourself of the Change Password link. On the plus side, Patreon seem to have taken all the right steps, both in terms of responding to the breach and in terms of how they went about securing user data in the first place (e.g. using non-reversible encryption; hello, Adobe!).

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Ultima Journeys: Ultima 6 Closing Thoughts Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:45:47 +0000

Linguistic Dragon has published his final thoughts on Ultima 6, wrapping up his coverage of what is still my favourite entry in the Ultima series. Albeit Linguistic disagrees with that assessment:

I enjoyed the game a lot more than I expected to as a result, though it still hasn’t surpassed Ultima IV as my favorite (sorry, WtF). Frankly, I’m still undecided if it overtakes Ultima V, either. And I can’t quite put my finger on why, either. i think some of it has to do with the combat curve in the game.

…I spent most of the first act of the game starved for combat, only brushing up against the occasional small band of brigands or unusually feisty rats along the roads of Britannia, apart from the battles to retake the Shrines. Though part of the reason I actually took the time to fight the Gargoyles at the Shrines was for narrative purposes (the reveal that comes with translating the tablet feels more poignant to me if there’s actually been confrontations where death is on the line), I can’t deny a good portion of it was also just for the experience. The majority of the fights I had up until seeking out the pirate map were with Gargoyles at the Shrines, or at least it certainly felt like it. And though they were no cakewalk, I don’t feel they quite prepared me for the resource management that I needed to deal with when it came to the dungeons. I can only imagine how much moreso I would have felt if I hadn’t transferred my character over, with the boosted stats and experience that came with the action. Maybe this was by design – the game is about resolving matters peacefully, after all, and admittedly, the fact that there’s only one fight that I can think of that’s strictly necessary (the hydra blocking the secret door in Sutek’s castle) is a point in the game’s favor in my mind. Still, the learning curve feels a bit sharp in this respect, and skewed a bit.

However, he does heap praise on the game’s characters:

…Ultima VI’s NPCs are the most memorable yet, and not just due to their unique portraits. Each and every one of them has a personality, even those who don’t really have much to contribute to the plot, or even much to say at all. Blind, mute, injured, drunk, helpful, abrasive, energetic, lethargic – Ultima VI’s cast runs the gamut, and every piece of dialogue they have to say color them further. And this includes their ‘I don’t know about that’ responses when they’re asked about something they don’t have a response for – they’re all unique, and they serve to give each character that much more flavor. Some ignore the question, some don’t hear it, some dismiss it as unimportant, some apologize for not being of more help, but whatever they do, it’s a telling portion of their character that future games in the series just can’t really capture, on account of having switched over to the keyword system by them.

And also its story:

while I normally separate my discussion of the game’s story into the story on its own and the story as it relates and fits into the story of the series as a whole, I’m not so sure I can make that separation as cleanly this time around. So much of Ultima VI’s story leans on themes and ideas from previous games, after all. And perhaps partly because of that – the fact that it built upon the foundation the previous five games left for it – it’s an extremely strong and well-woven story. In fact, despite my love for Ultima IV, I’m going to go as far as to say that Ultima VI is the pinnacle of storytelling in the entirety of the series.

Yes, I did really just make that claim.

…If Ultima IV was about personal virtue, and Ultima V was about the dangers of mandating it by law, then Ultima VI is ultimately about virtue colliding with virtue. It’s a story of culture clash, of what happens when differing viewpoints run up against each other, of the friction that can come out of it and of the fact that reconciliation can happen. Ultima IV established personal virtue, culminating in the precept of Infinity, the countless potential that flows out of personal application of the virtues, but Ultima VI brought in a system that culminated in Singularity, the upholding of unity and cooperation – and by means of its ending, recognizes both the importance of the individual and of a society. Ultima V explored the other side of the coin and revealed it to be dark and unpleasant, but Ultima VI proved that sometimes the other side is simply a different sort of virtue, that sometimes, both sides can be in the right, and that one side of a situation being good and reasonable does not always preclude the other side from being so as well. It introduces other virtues, suggests more nuance to the virtues of Ultima IV, and in so doing sets the stage for the theme of balance that permeates Serpent Isle. And it didn’t always bludgeon a player upside the head with these, either – there’s a lot of little hints at them from conversations the player may not even necessarily have. It’s a tight narrative, it’s unique in both theme and execution, and it’s brilliant.

Also, he has a really mind-blowingly excellent suggestion for a fan project:

…a fan-made game from the Gargoyles’ perspective would be utterly intriguing, if you ask me, running around the collapsing Gargoyle Realm to find an Orb of the Moons, figure out how it works, capture the Britannian Shrines, and ultimately figure out how to draw out the False Prophet…

Anyhow, do click on through to read the rest (because, yes, there’s more).

Linguistic won’t be jumping into Ultima 7 straightaway, it should be noted; he’ll be journeying through Savage Empire and Martian Dreams first. And possibly Ultima Underworld; I can’t recall if he had included those games in his playlist or not.

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Ultima Online: October Is Here! Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:16:38 +0000

Broadsword Online Games have announced Ultima Online’s October events and in-game features:

Visit a pumpkin patch to find a Jack o’ Lantern. Beware that picking Jack o’ Lanterns can summon the vicious Grimm! Defeat the grim and you may be lucky enough to find a carvable pumpkin. Visit a cemetery to find the Butchers, defeat them and you may find a Jack o’ Lantern carving kit. Using a Jack o’ Lantern carving kit on a carvable pumpkin will give you a random Carved Pumpkin design that will illuminate when double clicked. Jack o’ Lanterns and Butcher’s can be found now throughout the month of October.

Throughout Britannia NPCs will also respond to “Trick or Treat” which will give you a treat, or a nasty trick! NPCs will respond to “Trick or Treat” now throughout the month of October.

The Treasures of Doom returns! Venture deep into the depths of Dungeon Doom to recover Artifacts of Doom that can be exchanged for rewards at the Professor outside the dungeon entrance. Treasures of Doom will be active when Publish 90 goes World Wide (assuming no issues, 10/8/2015) through November 8, 2015.

Also, the issue with missing Time of Legends entitlements should be resolved by now. Currently on the Origin and Izumo shards, Publish 90 should be available on all shards by the 8th of the month.

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Crowfall: Hunger Dome Changes; Mike McShaffry Interview; New Combat Chat Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:56:05 +0000

There have been a number of updates posted to the Crowfall website over the last week-and-a-few-days. For those of you who’ve been engaging in the Hunger Dome combat testing, version 1.0 of that is slated to end tomorrow for North American players, with the final test taking place on the US and Singapore game servers between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM Central Time.

Hunger Dome 1.1 and 2.0 were also announced; version 1.1 should be arriving in early November. This round of testing will feature two new character archetypes:

The Champion

…is our front-line, damage dealing powerhouse.  He isn’t as defensive as the Knight, or as mobile as theLegionnaire – but what he doesn’t have in defense, he more than makes up for in his raw ability to chew through his opponents. If you are looking for a straightforward, unapologetic skull-crusher, the Champion is the archetype for you.

And, pictured above, we have:

The Ranger

The Ranger is our first stealth class!  We decided to include the Ranger in the test because she gives us twodifferent (and very complementary) features to test: stealth (and the corresponding anti-stealth) activities and ranged physical combat powers. This archetype has a unique gameplay style as she is well-suited for scouting, laying traps, sniper combat and leans a bit closer to solo play (…though, to be clear, she will still likely need a great team to survive in the Hunger Dome!)

Crowfall also managed to reach another stretch goal in its ongoing crowdfunding efforts, meaning that the half-breed male Assassin archetype has been added to the game. At that same link, you can also find a link to a video interview with a pink-haired Mike McShaffry.

There is also a new combat chat video, in which Thomas Blair and Tully Auckland discuss lessons learned from the Hunger Dome combat tests.

Finally, there have been two new Founders Updates that have gone live. The first announces, among other things, expanded European support:

Expanding in Europe
Yesterday, we announced a significant addition to our Crowfall team, the rollout of our German website and our server support of the EU.  As promised with past stretch goals, we are starting to focus more on our EU customers by bringing in Andreas Weidenhaupt to drive our business in this region. He has significant experience and shares our values so we are thrilled to have him working on Crowfall.  Andreas can’t do this alone; we know it will be the Crowfall backers in the EU who determine our traction there, so I hope all of you will lend him your support.

The second update, building off the news above, announced one last Hunger Dome test to be held on the European server on October 4th, making that the true end date for that round of combat testing.

As well, ArtCraft will be changing how they go about presenting news beginning next week:

Starting next week, we will be adjusting our cadence of web updates.  Since the Kickstarter ended in March, we have been putting out about four updates per week (game content on Tuesday and Thursday, a Founders’ Update most Wednesdays plus a new issue each Tuesday of As the Crow Flies…, our weekly newsletter).

Rather than doling it out in pieces, we’re going to consolidate everything into one weekly web update each Tuesday; the newsletter will be published on Thursdays. You’ll still be seeing the same amount of information each week, it will simply be concentrated into a tidy all-in-one package.

That will hopefully make it easier to keep tabs on the project!

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Dr. Dungeon Releases MADMAN! Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:02:18 +0000

Dr. Dungeon, the creator of the Ultizurk series of games (which are hosted in a project entry here, along with numerous other titles of his creation), has released a new version of MADMAN!, which makes use of the game engine that was also supposed to power the (as yet unreleased) fourth entry in the Ultizurk series.

Classic computer role-playing with a modern touch, Madman is released!

An incredibly interactive world, intuitive interface, turn-based combat and a unique twist on role-playing conventions.

You are the Madman, or Madwoman, destined to restore your sense of lost honor at all costs.

Exiled from your own land, you are stranded in a new, unknown country. Nothing is as it seems.

There’s also a trailer:

At present, the PC version is available (the OS X version will be arriving soon); a demo can be obtained on Dr. Dungeon’s new website: MACH GRYPHON CASTLE. The full version can also be purchased there, via the Humble Store, for $14.99 USD. As well, the game is up on Steam Greenlight; your vote for it there could be the one needed to get the game listed on Steam.

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Shards Online: September Community Roundtable Highlights Wed, 30 Sep 2015 19:10:35 +0000 Citadel Studios have posted the highlight video from their recent September Community Roundtable event.

This weekend we had our Pre-alpha 3 Preview weekend stress test and it was a smashing hit! Over 100 people participated with a combined total of 196 hours played. The surveys are going out to those of you who participated now so we can gather your feedback.

You can check out some of what went on above.

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Underworld Ascendant: Curious Conversations Wed, 30 Sep 2015 16:02:32 +0000
A Shambler...Dwelling?

The latest Stygian Sentinel update from OtherSide Entertainment gives us a bit of a look at some of the pressing issues that the designers of Underworld Ascendant discuss over lunch:

There are lots of great things about working at a game development studio, especially a small scrappy studio like OtherSide Entertainment. Cool people, casual dress, the chance to build the game of your dreams…

One of the best perks is the quirky discussions you find yourself in on a regular basis. From conversations about the latest movies to recent scientific discoveries to which fantasy author is the best of all time, these discussions are an entertaining hotbed of nerdy fanboy fun. Especially when the group starts talking about whacky design directions for the game they are making. Things start to get weird and quick!

For example:

“How do you tell time in the Underworld?”

Since the Underworld exists underground, how would its inhabitants know what time of day it was without a sun, moon or stars to go by? When this question was casually asked one afternoon it immediately spawned a slew of responses ranging from reasonable to …unorthodox. And before we concluded that this wasn’t necessarily an issue we needed to solve (after all, people got by perfectly fine in the real world for thousands of years without watches, even on cloudy days!) we went down so many design rabbit-holes we started growing cotton tails.

The first solution was to have a character, likely a dwarf, be the “Time Keeper” of the Underworld. His sole job, day in and day out, would be to watch the one functioning hourglass in the Abyss and to turn it over immediately when its sands ran their course. All other people in the Underworld would rely upon this esteemed figure to determine when to pull their bread out of the oven, or how long they had been on guard duty.

Reasonable but perhaps a little boring. So, someone brought up flatulence.

Yeah. It gets a bit weirder from there.

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Ultima Online: Publish 90 (Time of Legends) Comes to Origin & Izumo; Database Maintenance Today Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:59:02 +0000

Big news from Broadsword Online Games today (or, well, yesterday evening) — Publish 90 for Ultima Online, the vehicle for the Time of Legends expansion, has been pushed to the Origin and Izumo shards:

We are excited for the Origin & Izumo release of the Time of Legends!  You will need to patch your client to the latest version to log in to the game. We’ll also be updating TC1 to the latest version.  If you have any feedback please send it to We will be pushing this afternoon so expect Origin, Izumo, and TC1 to go down for a short period.  Please keep in mind that until Publish 90 is deployed world wide character transfers on Origin and Izumo are limited to only those two shards.  Character transfers between all other shards will function as expected.

You can check out all the details here!

There will also be some database maintenance taking place today; certain features will be unavailable for around an hour. Broadsword have also discovered that some (non-trial) accounts won’t be receiving the entitlement for Time of Legends, and are working on a fix for that.

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For The King: $95,000 Raised on Kickstarter; Minstrel Character Class Unlocked (Also: T-Shirts) Tue, 29 Sep 2015 20:12:09 +0000 There hasn’t been an update posted by the IronOak Games team as yet, but as of just a few minutes ago, the For The King Kickstarter campaign reached and exceeded the $95,000 CAD threshold, which means that the Minstrel character class will be added to the game.

For a reminder of what that entails, here’s how Minstrels were explained in the penultimate update posted to the For The King Kickstarter page:

The Sound of Music will add musicians and musical instruments to the game along with some potentially awesome mechanics. Primarily a support class, musicians make everyone around them better through their inspiring songs and ballads.

We’ll be experimenting with some unique mechanics for this class like having them guarantee a successful slot for other party members if they successfully play an inspiring ballad. However if they miss a few notes it may have the opposite effect, so you’ll have to use this ability wisely. They can potentially use the reverse of this ability against their enemies, forcing them to fail a slot. In this manner they can neutralize enemy special attacks and critical strikes if they’re on key.

Different instruments will allow for different abilities so the option will also be there for them to play ballads of destruction doing AOE type damage to groups of enemies. Think Fire Lutes! We’re really excited about this class and can’t wait to share our ideas and progress on it with you.

The First Age of Update: As one might expect, the stretch goals list on the Kickstarter page has been updated:

As well, do be sure to check out today’s update from Colby, which discusses what the gameplay experience is like, and also announces that there are a couple new pledge add-ons available:

(In case you haven’t been following the campaign, the T-shirts and physical Adventuring Guide are the new additions here.)

Congratulations, again, to the IronOak team.

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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 22 – For The King Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:55:53 +0000
Support FTK on Kickstarter

The Black Gate Board Game, an attempt to adapt Ultima 7 as a board game, first came to light in July of 2013. For a while, there was a lot of promise in the project; Colby Young (the designer) posted fairly regular updates about it. A few months later, with some help from his friend Gord Moran, Colby even began working on a Unity-based version of the game, as a way of addressing issues surrounding how to distribute the game when and if it was finished.

The board game was put on indefinite hold in February of 2014 (along with the Unity version). Some months later, Colby and Gord (and a few others) re-emerged as IronOak Games, and announced that the fledgling company’s first game would be called For The KingFor The King is now in the middle of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign; it has raised over $90,000 CAD (from a base goal of just $40,000 CAD) to support its development, succeeding beyond the wildest dreams of its small development team.

In this episode of Spam Spam Spam Humbug, then, I sat down with Colby and Gord, and we talked about how For The King came to be, how the transition between The Black Gate Board Game and For The King actually happened, and what the future holds for IronOak’s inaugural title.

Listen to the Episode

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Full Disclosure: I’m a backer of For The King on Kickstarter.

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