The Ultima Codex The Ultima Fan Network Wed, 02 Sep 2015 19:38:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Ultima Codex 32 32 UDICraft: Yet Another Update; Guide API Added Wed, 02 Sep 2015 19:38:15 +0000 Darkling Dragon has released another update for UDICraft:

Actual update this week!

About a dozen mods updated, as well as one added (Guide API).

As always, remove your existing configs and mods folders prior to install.

Password has not changed, nor has the Forge version.


As always, you can grab the updated collection of mods needed to enjoy UDICraft from Darkling’s site, or from the project entry here at the Codex.

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The Ultima 6 Nitpicker’s Delight Patch: Solving Quenton’s Murder Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:54:11 +0000 Sir John has been investigating adding a solution to Quenton’s murder in his Nitpicker’s Delight patch for Ultima 6:

The Quenton murder not being solvable was always nagging me. The somewhat inconsistent clues in the game as to who is the culprit didn’t make it any better – but from all bugs there are: this was the most obivious and the most obnoxious for me.

Well, it might be a far stretch, but I may have found a way to make the murder of Quenton solvable in the original game after all.

I have been fiddling around with cheats and the code in my spare time and tested various approaches to set flags where they had been forgotten.
(“Setting flags” in this context can only mean: an in-game way to check for a certain status, of course.)

This led me to checking for items being there or not, i.e. the Seance spell in order to trigger another (not yet existing) block of conversation with Quenton if the Avatar was to talk to him after casting the spell.

My tests so far are prpomising (otherwise I wouldn’t post about it ;-))
1. I can check for the Seance spell being present (item 58 quality 72) easily. It can be either be the scroll itself as well as the spell inscribed in the magic book.
2. I can check the required reagents and substract them from the inventory if the player decides to cast the spell
3. I can check for the players magic level, but I have to figure out the code yet

What I will never be able to achive is to make use the regular spellcast method. Casting Seance regularily simply does not set the in-game flag required – which is why the bug is said to be unsolvable.

But I do think I have come up with a workaround that is good enough so one can enjoy it.

Indeed, he has even begun planning how to implement his workaround.

Now, having read Sir John’s plans, I think he’s got a rather excellent solution lined up, one that will — fittingly — offer multiple outcomes (e.g. Michael will attack the Avatar and have to be killed if confronted, or carted off to the jail in Yew if the Avatar brings the matter to Lenora). Indeed, his proposed solution is very like the way the Ultima 6 Project handled the matter.

But, Sir John would still like any input that Ultima fans have to offer. So if you have any thoughts to share, head on over to his site and speak your mind.

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Lord British Was Killed in Shroud of the Avatar Last Night Tue, 01 Sep 2015 21:14:04 +0000 As part of the Shroud of the Avatar End of Summer Telethon, Richard Garriott took part in a PVP match with a number of other Portalarium developers and game backers.

He was certainly having fun at the start of the event, making his way through the stands slaughtering innocent spectators with a flaming sword. But the crowd turned on him, and after a lengthy battle the good-turned-bad king was felled by…well, actually, it would appear that a number of players were registered as having struck the killing blow:





If you want to skip ahead to the action, Lord British succumbs to his wounds at around 51:35 or so.

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Underworld Ascendant: 25 Years On Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:24:22 +0000 Paul Neurath waxes nostalgic — and comments on the quantum shifts that have happened in the gaming and computing industries — in the latest Stygian Sentinel update on the Underworld Ascendant website:

The original Underworlds were designed to run on 20mhz 386 processor class PC’s. The smartphone in your pocket would crush a PC of that era without breaking a sweat.

These PC’s also lacked any sort of graphics card. You had to do all the rendering in software. That was a huge hurdle to doing real-time 3D texture mapping. Even with some super clever code running in optimized assembly language, we could barely achieve a playable framerate.

In some ways having these performance constraints was helpful, as it compelled us to find creative work-arounds. For instance, there was no way to render fast enough an over-the-shoulder view that would show the player’s character in the foreground and world beyond that. Solution was first-person view, which ended up working well for us, and many games to follow.

Today’s PC’s are ludicrously powerful in comparison. Graphics cards and modern game engines now provide all the building blocks to do sophisticated 3D rendering. The focus has moved from simply trying to get 3D to run, to tweaking the higher end bits of the rendering pipeline to achieve refinements on advanced visual effects. Like getting the fur on that creature to look even more natural than it did in a game from a couple of years ago.

Ultima Underworld fit on 6MB of floppy disk space. For a modern PC game 6GB is not uncommon, 1000x bigger.

Where nearly all of the extra space has gone is into making dramatically higher fidelity visuals and audio. Supporting 4K visuals takes a LOT of pixels, as do high-polygon 3D creature models that have fluid animations.

These levels of fidelity facilitate creating beautiful and immersive 3D worlds. But it can take massive effort to build the assets. A modern big-budget 3D game can readily allocate 150 or more person years just to craft the visual assets. That’s on par with the effort it took to build a medieval castle!

He also shares some thoughts on what is required for a game to succeed in today’s massive, but also very crowded, gaming market:

The best way to stack the odds that you’ll deliver a great game is to have a great team building it. A great team is not some collection of ‘super stars’. A great team will have:

  • A shared, deep passion for making the game, along with a dogged determination to make the game great. If you set the bar at less than great, nearly always you’ll deliver less than great.
  • The skills to pull off the particular game they are building. Genius helps, but no team is filled with super stars. It’s more about having the right mix of competence and creativity among the team members.
  • A team that can learn and grow. Making a great games means regularly encountering new challenges thrown your way. To tackle the challenges you frequently need to stretch and try new solutions.

It’s certainly well worth spending a few minutes reading the entire post. Included in it is a small, heavily cropped image of…something. If you can guess what that something is (answers can be submitted here), you might even win an Underworld Ascendant t-shirt.

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Ultima IX Redemption: Crafting System Video Released Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:02:56 +0000 The Titans of Ether have released a new video this week. In this one, Corv shows off the crafting systems that have been built for Ultima IX: Redemption:

In this video I explain part of the crafting system. You will see the Alchemy and Ranger systems in action. The goal was to create something that fits Ultima. You actually need to combine items to create things like potions, bows etc. It’s close to the Ultima 8 earth magic system or something like an Adventure game “item combination system”. You need to know “recipes” to craft something. You either learn it from a NPC, find scrolls with instructions or, if you feel lucky, you just try various combinations. I hope you enjoy what you see! Please forgive awkward pauses in the video. I recorded it late and in one go.

Concerning the systems, Corv also had this to add on the video’s YouTube page:

I scripted those systems from scratch – those are not systems used in the original Morrowind. The goal was to create a system that fits Ultima.

Do give the video a watch; I think Corv certainly pulled off his stated goal. The systems look spectacular in action.

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For the King: Weather System Detailed Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:03:28 +0000 Colby Young has posted some information, on the IronOak Games website, about how the weather systems in For the King will impact gameplay:

We pride ourselves on For The King’s procedural game system, the world is randomly generated, all locations are placed unpredictably so having a dynamic weather system with it’s own agenda is another procedural element that can add to the chaos. A rain storm isn’t just a visual element but it comes with it’s own set of mechanics. For example it will wash away the accumulating poison in the overworld, it will put out fires or scare away some types of enemies. Not all effects are beneficial though, both rain and sandstorms will make your characters awareness rolls more difficult. Awareness is a crucial stat that prevents enemies from ambushing you. On the flip side some weather can aid the player when trying to get the jump on enemies as well.

Moving throughout the overworld is done by rolling action points and weather will affect the result of these values. Nice days are pleasant on the senses and they also aid the player by granting bonus action points which can offer additional strategy options while on your adventure. Bad weather will hinder you and alter your plans. it might be a better idea to set up camp and wait for the sun to come out instead of risking your safety in the middle of a vicious storm.

For the King continues to impress, both in terms of its visual design and in terms of the depth of gameplay it aims to feature.

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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 18 – And Art Thou Male or Female? Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:24:05 +0000

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So this is kind of a big deal, as episodes go, because this is the first episode for which the topic has been determined via an outside suggestion. You’ll recall, back in Episode 14, before we got to talking about New Project Britannia, we gave a shout-out to Juliet (a friend of Linguistic Dragon), who sent in a great suggestion: she asked if we’d consider doing an episode on how the Ultima series handled the subject(s?) of masculinity and femininity, and how these are explored in different characters and/or the Virtues.

At least at first glance, it would seem that the Eight Virtues of the Ultima series could be divided along these lines. On the side of the masculine/active/outward-directed, we could probably array such virtues as Valor, Honor, Justice, and Sacrifice. Meanwhile, on the feminine/passive/inward-directed side, we could line up Compassion, Honesty, Spirituality, and Humility. Again, this is just an at first glance thing; the Virtues do split evenly into these framing categories, and then easily; we really don’t have to think about it that much.

But of course it’s not that simple, is it? Looking at the Companions, especially, we see that there’s a good representation of the Virtues among both genders, including e.g. a male companion being the embodiment of Compassion, and a female companion being the embodiment of Justice. But are there differences there, too? Does, say, sacrifice as demonstrated by a man manifest in different ways than it does as demonstrated by a woman, in the series?

Listen to the Episode

Always remember: if you’d like to recommend anyone for a shout-out, send us an email…which you can also use to suggest podcast topics, offer commentary or criticism about podcast episodes, and/or to volunteer your time as either an occasional or regular contributor to podcast sessions.

As well, if you haven’t already, you should totally sign on with the Ultima Dragons group on Facebook, or with the Ultima Dragons community on Google+ . The Facebook group is easily the larger and more lively, but that just means that the Google+ one needs a few more members posting content there on a more regular basis. Also, don’t forget to contribute to the #udic hashtag if you’re on Twitter.

As well, please consider Liking the Facebook page for The Ultima Series, following the Ultima Codex on Twitter, or encircling the Ultima Codex on Google+. And whatever social network you favour, please also consider sharing any content posted to those social media profiles with your own followers and friends; spread the word, spread the Ultima.

And if you like Spam Spam Spam Humbug, think about leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher, Podbean, or anywhere else you listen to us.

Finally, there’s the Ultima Codex Patreon. A $1 pledge will get you access to Spam Spam Spam Humbug episodes the day before they go live here on the site, and you’ll be helping me both maintain and — with sufficient funding — expand the server infrastructure of the Codex to better deliver all the things you come looking for thereat.

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GameInformer: The History And Evolution Of First-Person Melee Combat Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:51:19 +0000 GameInformer has published a new multi-page feature entitled Knife In A Gunfight: The History And Evolution Of First-Person Melee Combat. And with a title like that, you just know they have to begin with Ultima Underworld:

Ultima, Nazis, and Demons

Almost 20 years after Maze War and Spasim pioneered first-person gaming, Blue Sky Productions (later known as Looking Glass Studios) released Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss. This 1992 dungeon crawler is one of the most important 3D first-person games, inspiring foundational works like The Elder Scrolls and Deus Ex. Underworld famously replaced the previous tile-based environments of games like Wizardry with a true 3D world to explore. Most interactions played out through your character’s eyes, from exploring shadowy labyrinths to fighting goblins.

If not for id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, computer RPGs might have ruled the first-person genre unopposed. Wolfenstein 3D set the stage in 1992 and then id unleashed Doom a year later. Full of macabre imagery and graphic violence, Doom’s runaway success caused a moral panic and established first-person shooters as a dominant genre.

I still haven’t gotten over the fact that Wolfenstein, in particular, supplanted Ultima Underworld as the dominant exemplar of 3D first-person action gaming. I still earnestly believe that 3D engine technology was set back a number of years by that turn of events.

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Crowfall: Pre-Alpha News; Hunger Dome Combat Chat Mon, 31 Aug 2015 18:46:40 +0000 ArtCraft Entertainment have posted their initial plans for how Crowfall’s first pre-alpha test will be handled:

We’re currently doing daily team internal testing and polishing of the Pre-Alpha Combat Test.  We’re going to start introducing backers with the Pre-Alpha reward into this same process, which means you’ll be playing alongside the development team.

We will likely do multiple rounds of Pre-Alpha Combat Testing with the backers that have the Pre-Alpha reward. This will take at least a week – we won’t know exactly how long, because it depends on how well the tests go. When we see that the Pre-Alpha Combat test version is solid, and we are ready to scale up participation, we’ll start inviting the backers with an Alpha 1 reward to join in!

Expanding the test to include Alpha 1 players will happen in groups (of 50 to 100, most likely). Access will be granted in (chronological) pledge order.  You will get an email with the details you need at least 24 hours in advance of your first test. Everyone with an Alpha 1 reward will get multiple opportunities to test! 

There isn’t a pre-set schedule for exactly how many players we will add to any given test, or exactlywhen we’ll invite the next group.  We will add players as we need to, and as we can, until all Alpha 1 backers have gotten access.

Test servers will typically be open for an hour or so at a time, at least a few days every week.  Everyone authorized and enabled for the test will be emailed the schedule of tests so that they can try and participate. You will not receive an email until we are ready to add your backer account to a test, after that you will receive test schedules as they are created.

And if you’re curious what the subject of this first pre-alpha test will be, here’s their list of planned features:

The features that we specifically wanted to test:

  • Patching, login and authentication
  • Character lobby (and lobby chat)
  • Simplified character creation
  • First pass versions of the Knight, Confessor and Legionnaire
  • Avatar customization (equipment and color)
  • Grouping/teams (up to 16 teams, three people per team)
  • God crests
  • Group/team chat
  • Environmental effects (i.e. the Hunger)
  • Inventory and equipment
  • Containers (chests, corpses and looting)
  • Loot spawners (weapons and armor)
  • Powers & combo chains for all three archetypes (with sound FX and particles)
  • Melee and ranged combat
  • Stat pools (Health, Stamina, Energy, Rage)
  • Healing (time and radius-based)

Additionally, there’s a new installment in their Combat Chat series, in which designers Thomas Blair and Tully Auckland discuss Hunger Dome, a last man standing-style tournament gameplay mode.

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Ultima Journeys: Pieces of Eight (Ultima 6’s Pirate Map Quest) Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:28:42 +0000 Linguistic Dragon found time in his busy schedule to play through a big more of Ultima 6 and then write about it. In his latest outing, he actually managed to recover all of the pieces of the pirate map:

As nice as it would have been to kick back for some much-needed – and arguably well-deserved – R&R on the lovely banks of scenic Dagger Isle, I only had a scant half of the map in my pockets, and four other pieces yet to seek out. Two lay in Britannia’s dungeons, one in Shame, another in Wrong, and after my harrowing experience in Destard, I wasn’t yet sure of the wisdom of chasing after those two yet.

Once we pieced the map back together, it wasn’t hard to find the island in question, and following Homer’s directions and fighting off another hydra, we dug just to the south of a dead tree and found an entrance to another cavern.

It turned out that this was the cavern I should have been worried about, over Shame or Wrong. Hawkins’ grave was the first thing we found, along with a few supplies, including a sextant, which would certainly come in handy. The pirate captain clearly was not well liked at all – even his epitaph read “He died a hard death and he deserved it.” It wasn’t hard to see why, if he went to the lengths to hide his treasure in such a dangerous place. Lava everywhere, demons and drakes hiding out on it, poison fields, traps everywhere, signs that outright lied to us, numerous slimes – this place threw everything it had at us, and we did not back down. Once again, I was glad I’d stocked up on reagents, as several spells came in handy during the trip. Vanish spells dealt with the traps we came across, fields were dispelled, and the Chain Lightning spell Aric had just gained access to just tore through the hordes of enemies hanging out in the lava. It was also an Explosion spell that blew down the door that led to the stash itself, and once we cleaned up the slimes crawling all over it, we claimed our prizes. Gold coins, gold nuggets, gems, invisibility rings, a magic fan which I suspected to be similar to the one (if not the same) that Utomo had mentioned back in Yew – to say nothing of the storm cloak Homer wanted so badly, and the object of this whole excursion in the first place, the silver tablet.

And having found the treasure of the hated pirate Hawkins, he was able to better understand — with Mariah’s help — just why the Gargoyles hated him so:

Suddenly everything came into focus. I was that False Prophet. I had taken their sacred texts, desecrated their holiest place, shattered their world, and for that they had determined that I must die. And so they called up a moongate of their own, snatching up to sacrifice me in the name of saving their way of life.

This was not going to be something easily fixed.

And after offering some praise for the pacing of the game’s story, he also had this to say about how its plot refers back to what has come before:

This bit of the game also brought up something that I really appreciated about Ultima VI, the fact that it ties in not just to its immediate predecessor, but everything that’s come before it. Granted, it does so by way of a few retcons and such, but I don’t find them particular obtrusive, and moreover, it’s not necessarily done in a way that makes it impenetrable for newcomers to the series. The Book of Prophecy basically interprets all of the Avatar’s deeds during the Age of Enlightenment from another angle, and the Age of Darkness gets its time in the spotlight later in the game too. But at the same time, the game doesn’t expect you to know everything that it’s talking about, either – Mariah spells out that she thinks it’s fairly clear the book is referring to your deeds, saving new players from both an infodump and confusion as to how in the world any of that relates to you. It’s a nod to the series as a whole without being so hamhanded as to alienate anybody unfamiliar with canon in its entirety, and it’s the way I think a series is best handled.

This being Linguistic Dragon, there is of course much, much more that he has written, which you should go and read. So…go, and read.

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So…Who Knew SoundBlaster Made Keyboards? Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:21:32 +0000 So in the midst of a conversation I was having on Twitter with Josh Nielsen about Zencastr and some troubles we were having with a Spam Spam Spam Humbug recording session (which all got ironed out, by the way), he dropped this on me:



It’s well worth a watch of the video (embedded above), especially because they play some Ultima music to show off what the keyboard can do.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #140 Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:33:00 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Play Release 21 Now!
  • R21 Patch Notes
  • New Dev Team Members
  • Very Large Creatures: Dragons (Work-in-Progress)
  • Highlights of New Use Based System


Play Release 21 Now!

Release 21 successfully launched yesterday, August 27, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to explore, including:

  • New Use Based Skill System
  • 38 new Player Owned Towns, including the Syndicate’s Arx Draconis
  • Snowy Mountain Template and NPC Homes Added to Dynamic Lot Placement Tool for Player Owned Towns
  • New Creatures, including Boss Phoenix and Under Dwellers
  • Scene Polishing and new underground scene, The Epitaph
  • Crafting Skills Coming Online
  • …and more!

Check out the Release 21 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new R21 content.

The Grand Tour Quest
Just as in the last several releases, the team have included a Grand Tour Quest designed to guide you through all the new content. You will be able to get the Highwayman Hat by completing the Release 21 Grand Tour Quest. This reward can only be unlocked during Release 21 (did someone say rares?), so be sure to log in soon and talk to all the Tour Guides!

We need all your help with testing the new patches, putting more stress on our multiplayer servers, and testing the new game content, so please join us in playing Release 21!

If you have not backed the game yet, you will need to register and login at, select the “Pledge or Send Gift!” button in the right side-bar, and purchase a pledge at the $45 Adventurer level or above. The basic Adventurer level pledge is also available on Steam Early Access.

Release 21 Player Instructions

Release 21 Known Issues

Avatars Radio FireLotus Release 21 Party hosted at Darkstarr’s Queen of Chaos Airship, currently located in Hometown.



Check out more screenshots in the Release 21 Screenshot Gallery.

R21 Patch Notes

Thanks to all the community members that jumped right into this Release and started reporting bugs. the dev team already fixed quite a few of them and pushed out several patches. Click here for the most up-to-date Patch Notes.

August 28, 2015   6:00PM

Build Number 315: 


  • Fix for null exception in combat code.
  • Removing the entrance to Dragon caves from the sewers as the dragon caves have been removed…for now!
  • Tap soul was not giving focus, now changed to give a fixed amount of focus and then reduce damage based on level
  • Myra in Owl’s Head now correctly responds to all standard variations of “goodbye”
  • Fixes for mail delivery quest/tasks
  • Distraught after seeing so much death and suffering around it, the tour guide in Wynton’s Folly has moved to a very slightly safer spot
  • The Oracle is no longer silent about your progress along the path of virtues.
  • Small build process improvement
  • Fixing issue with being unable to loot some kobolds
  • Added log message for teleporters that point to invalid scenes and skipping going to black screen
  • Reverting creature speeds to R20 values
  • Baron Benefactor City home bugs fixed
  • Hopefully fixed getting stuck in a certain spot in The Epitaph
  • Clicking noise whenever walking around fixed
  • Fix initial zoom for camera
  • Since we can no longer salvage an item with 0 value, then it is ok to give back a low value item upon a bad roll. Salvage dice rolls resulting in a 0 value result will be adjusted to 1 to give back a very small value instead of nothing
  • White Hart Player Owned Town, changed template from Forest to Alpine
  • Obsidian Town Tower doors updated
  • Malus Player Owned Town, changed to PvP
  • Vengeance Player Owned Town, reactivated exits
  • Anomalous graphics on woodworking crafting table possible fix
  • Snowy Mountain Player Owned Town, added collision wall
  • New skies in more Novia maps
  • Bag mode now has tooltips! Yay!
  • Bodan Koren in Braemar once again giving a reward for killing wolfpack leaders
  • Toned down the difficulty of entrance crocs in The Epitaph, they shouldn’t be the toughest creatures in the place!
  • Addressed environmental lighting issues in Grunvald and Verdantis Shardfall maps
  • Set troll pathing surfaces – removing playlots, water, etc…
  • Rat’s Nest exit changed to nearby shoreline in Norgard
  • All pets take damage when they should now
  • Queen of Chaos visual bug fixes
  • Player Owned Town NPC buildings, added signs to the Weapon Shop and Bank
  • Citizen Benefactor Village home bugs fixed
  • Iron Gate Player Owned Town, added new town into Novia
  • Wizard’s Rest Player Owned Town data updated.
  • Performance drain fixed, no longer updating tiny radio at distance of more than 20
  • Prevent damage from unreachable targets
  • Prevent experience gain for using combos without hitting anything
  • Ornate Wood Streetlamp has a working light
  • Serpent’s Watch Player Owned Town, moved floating town to ground level (but it still inaccessible, will be addressed in a future patch.)
  • Fixed taming focus drain to be less than non-combat focus regen-fixed issue with taming effect subtracting base regen-set value to 0.4 focus per tick
  • Removed Grunvald Shardfall access from incorrect hexes
  • Ornate Iron Streetlamp has a working light
  • Blackrock Cove Player Owned Town information updated.
  • Don’t apply experience for interrupted skill
  • Allow player lots surfaces for gustballing
  • [Enter] key opens chat after rebind

Known Issues:

  • We do not yet officially support Windows 10. If you have upgraded to Windows 10 you may experience instability
  • Flame Fist DoT effect expires too quickly
  • Verdantis Shardfall light and sky settings are wrong
  • Adding a Gem to a weapon will break crafting, forcing a relog
  • Fireball DoT does not work
  • Lighting and fog levels are still being tuned to work with the new weather system, expect anomalies
  • Weather has not been propagated to all scenes yet so there may be mismatches
  • Zooming into First Person camera leaves floating hair in view
  • Two-handed swords cannot be crafted
  • Round Rugs cannot be placed
  • Some skills have not been fully adjusted to work properly with the new use based system
  • Phoenix flight movements are not working correctly in some cases
  • Sound effects are not always playing properly
  • Players in the same scene will sometimes be invisible to each other, usually leaving the scene and returning will fix
  • Death and Resurrection do not work properly in the team arena
  • Crafting Recipe book is not opening when you use a crafting station
  • Water lots in Dynamic Player Owned Towns can currently only be placed along shorelines, not on docks
  • If you upgrade from a property owning pledge between data wipes you will receive extra lot deeds.
  • Troll does not have all visual effects
  • Not all Player Owned Towns in the list are in the game yet
  • Some objects and NPCs in game are missing textures and show up bright pink
  • Time is not in synchronized between scenes that have the new sky vs. the old sky
  • Red crystal nodes in Etceter Crag Mines are all yielding blue crystals.
  • If your video drivers are out of date characters will appear as if they are covered in triangles.
  • Some cities are experiencing performance spikes
  • Some assets create flash bulb like sparks on screen
  • Many pledge, add on, and stretch goal items have not yet been built and/or do not yet have tech support. These will not be complete until later this year
  • The update to Unity 5 caused a host of general texture and lighting related issues, and not all of these have been resolved.
  • Distant tree billboards may have a white outline that is especially noticeable at night, and some trees may shimmer with white at night.
  • Skin tone will sometimes not match properly on different parts of the body
  • Unity 5 engine bug: Terrain is not accepting shadow casting lights and terrain lighting shows up on grid vs. radius
  • ALT key can no longer be bound. This was necessary to re-enable quick self cast with ALT
  • Unity 5 Engine Bug: Objects in the foreground sort incorrectly against objects in the distance like trees and the horizon

[Complete Patch Notes…]

New Dev Team Members

Please join us in welcoming Matthew Nowacki and Michael Dameron to the SotA Dev Team!

Matthew Nowacki joined Portalarium a few weeks ago as a World Builder/Level Designer. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Matthew has wanted to make games since he received a Game Boy for his 11th birthday. He attended college at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX, where he studied Computer Science and Japanese. In 2010, he entered the game industry as an Associate Designer at Junction Point Studios, working on Disney Epic Mickey 1 & 2 through 2013. After the studio’s closure, he switched tracks from design to programming and joined Hellfire Games, an independent studio in Austin specializing in games and apps for PlayStation platforms.  Most recently, he completed a 9-month stint at UT Austin’s new post-baccalaureate leadership and management program, the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. When Matthew isn’t designing game systems and levels, he enjoys going to the symphony, playing  fantasy football, and watching arthouse films.

Michael Dameron joined the Portalarium Tribe a few months ago as a Quality Assurance Tester and Customer Service Account Specialist. He is a recent Game Design graduate from ACC’s Game Development Institute, and Lead Designer on the 1st place team in the 2014 Captivate Conference’s student game competition. While completing his degree he interned at Virtuix as a technical designer aiding electrical engineers in the development of the Omni. Upon completion of his internship, Michael worked as an independent Unity Developer for Chaotic Moon Studios here in Austin programming an interactive motion sensing experience and UI for a mobile app.

When Michael is not working, he spends time with his wife, preparing for their first child.

Very Large Creatures: Dragons (Work-in-Progress)

Here is the latest work-in-progress image of our next Very Large Creature: Dragons (for Release 22), by Geoff Mellon (character artist), Kevin Wells (character artist), and Bren Wilson (animator):


Highlights of New Use Based System

[Excerpt from a Public Forum Post by Chris “Dippy Dragon” Spears]

Last week I made a few posts to the Dev plus forums for feedback on the use based systems. As we get closer to release 21 [now launched] I wanted to share these with everyone. First I’ll go with the stuff for people who don’t care about the math and just want to play:

  • You only have to train a skill once now to unlock it which will give you a 1 in the skill
  • Skills can be set to train or not train on the upper left corner of the skill in the tree
  • A small green bar on the bottom of each skill shows current progression on the current skill point
  • Using an active skill set to train will slowly increase the skill
  • Passive skills that are set to train will increase slowly as related active skills are used
  • Players will be able to artificially train skills by using them in pointless ways but these gains will be rapidly diminishing until the player goes and uses the skills in real world settings
  • In game terms we refer to skill level 40 as competent, 80 as master, and 100+ as grandmaster
  • Skills will very slowly decay over the period of a month or more real time so you should not stop training a skill until you have a bit of a buffer on the level you want to keep
  • Most skills require a 10 skill level in the parent skill before they can be trained
  • Those who leveled more in R20 will find that they more quickly learn skills to a higher level than those who did not level up in R20
  • For those who play with deck mode, glyphs are gained at 1,10,20,40, and 80

Now for those that aren’t afraid of the details:

  • Underneath the covers, experience is still earned from adventuring and goes into a pool. A tiny percentage is applied to skills when they are used. Without earning exps, this pool will empty out over time
  • For R21 only, that experience pool is set to the amount of experience players earned in R20
  • Passives divide experience gained among all related passives set to train so they will level slower if all are set to train
  • Most skills increase in effectiveness based on square root curve. So a 100 vs a 50 is not 100% more effective but rather 41% more effective.
  • Parent skills that decay below the minimum level will auto train back up to the min level
  • Decay is currently set to lose 1 full point every 40 days of accumulated loss
  • Decay is only applied on death or skill advancement
  • Decay only accumulates up to a maximum of 2 days worth of loss
  • Behind the scenes there are still player levels but they are only used as a small modifier on hp and focus pools and for modifying attack chances on NPCs that are significantly higher level
  • The curve for experience is exponential so every 10 points more than doubles the exps needed. So going from 90 -100 is more effort than 1-90
  • No matter how powerful a target is or how many defensive skills they have, players will always have a chance equal to their critical hit chance to land a regular hit

This was obviously a HUGE switch for us to make so not everything is quite in place for this release. The following are some future features we plan on adding but are not in R21:

  • In future releases there will be ways to stop decay (likely through the Oracle)
  • Through the use of special crafted books, grandmasters will be able to create books that will let others use them and learn a skill up to a certain point
  • Achievements and titles will be added for those who reach Grandmaster status
  • Grouping with a player with grandmaster skills will allow party members to more quickly advance in those skills
  • We are considering exposing more of the numbers behind the scenes
  • Trainers will allow players to get a lesson in a skill that will give the player a buff that increases training speed in a specific skill for some amount of time
  • Not all skills will be available at all trainers and prices will be adjusted to be more varied
  • Some skills will not yet scale with skill level in R21

Chris “Dippy Dragon” Spears


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Shroud of the Avatar: $7 Million Raised Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:52:10 +0000 I missed reporting on this when it happened, because it actually happened last Saturday. Be that as it may; if you check the Shroud of the Avatar website, their current crowdfunding total is $7,078,209 (as of this writing). This is actually rather impressive, as the expanded stats show, since it means that $5,159,959 has been raised since the Kickstarter campaign ended.

Okay, granted, it’s not nearly as impressive as Star Citizen’s numbers…but compared to other Kickstarted RPGs, it’s certainly an impressive statistic, that few (if any) other games can boast.

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Stretch Goals Announced for Divinity: Original Sin 2’s Kickstarter Campaign Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:50:54 +0000 Larian Studios have announced the first few stretch goals for Divinity: Original Sin 2’s ongoing Kickstarter campaign. The first one had already been met by the time they revealed them, and the second one is (as of this writing) only about $2,300 away from being realized.

Here are the goals:

You can find out more details about each goal in this post on the game’s Kickstarter page. Honestly, I don’t find any of these goals particularly interesting, but they mileage may vary.

Larian have also announced a few new rewards for some of the pledge tiers:

Due to the high demand for some of the tiers, we’ve introduced a few more to give more folks a shot at the rewards they’re after!

Because of this, every backer who already pledged $125 or more (i.e. the “Kickstarter Collectors Edition” tier, or any higher tier) will ALSO receive downloads of our Digital Developer’s Diary materials, including design documents, notes on story and world-building, and an art pack.

And that’s not all! Every backer who pledges more than $200 (i.e. the “Signed Kickstarter Collector’s Edition” tier, or any higher tier) will ALSO receive a signed piece of concept art delivered to their door!

Signed concept art…now that might be of interest to some.

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Ultima Online: Publish 90 Part 1 (Time of Legends) Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:52:28 +0000 Big-ish news from Broadsword Online Games and Ultima Online this morning: the first part of the Time of Legends expansion will be released on the Test Center shard (TC1) this evening:

We are excited for the first TC1 release of the Time of Legends! This is only part one of what you can expect to see in Pub 90 and can expect to see part two in the next week. Make sure you patch your client before testing anything on TC1. We look forward to seeing you on TC1, if you have any feedback please send it to We will be pushing this tonight so expect TC1 to go down for a short period of time.

Please remember this client is not manditory as of yet, but if you wish to check out all the new and exciting features please make sure you patch up completely.

This Publish is a significant one, and it brings a number of changes and additions to Ultima Online. Here, for example, are the changes related to just two Virtues:

Humility & Spirituality

  • This feature does not require the Time of Legends expansion entitlement.
  • Humility & Spirituality Virtues are now available via the virtue menu.
  • Humility
    • Method of Gain
      • To begin the Humility Hunt, say the words “lum lum lum”.
      • During the Humility Hunt players, pets, and summons receive a -70 resist debuff to all resists.
      • Hiding via hiding skill, spells, potions, or turkey feathers is prohibited while on a Humility Hunt.
      • Players receive Humility points for killing evil aligned creatures while on the hunt.
      • To end the hunt a player can speak, “lum lum lum.” After 30 seconds resists return to normal. There is a 60 second cooldown to re-initiate the hunt.
    • Using Humility
      • Through the virtue menu, double click the Humility virtue to bring up a targeting cursor.
      • Targeting a pet will provide that pet with a 20 minute Hit Point Regeneration buff based on Humility path and consume some Humility points,
        • Seeker: +10 HPR
        • Follower: +20 HPR
        • Knight: +30 HPR
  • Spirituality
    • Method of Gain
      • Spirituality is gained by using targeted heals and resurrections on other players including bandages, close wounds, heal, greater heal, gift of renewal, cleansing winds, and rejuvenate.
    • Using Spirituality
      • Through the virtue menu, double click the humility virtue to bring up a targeting cursor.
      • Targeting a living player or pet will grant a Spirituality shield that will absorb incoming damage based on Spirituality path and consume some Spirituality points,
        • Seeker: 5% shield, with 50 shield HP
        • Follower: 10% shield, with 100 shield HP
        • Knight: 20% shield, with 200 shield HP

Significant changes or expansions have also been made to Ultima Online’s currency conversion, skill masteries, housing craftables, and housing tiles.

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The CRPG Book: Savage Empire and Martian Dreans Reviews Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:04:27 +0000 crpg-book-savage-martian-layout

In remarking on Felipe Pepe’s recent release of an image of the Savage Empire review that will appear in The CRPG Book, I commented on the fact that the review was only a one-page piece, in contrast to the other Ultima reviews we have seen to date. I might have suspected, then, that the other page of the two-page layout would be devoted to Martian Dreams.



So that all makes sense now.

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 Won’t Have Day/Night Cycles? Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:41:08 +0000 Apparently not, if commenter Thirith speaks true:

For those interested: I had a quick PM exchange with Larian, and there won’t be a day/night cycle in D:OS 2 either. Not a deciding factor, but something that would’ve got them closer to their self-avowed goal of making a worthy spiritual successor of Ultima VII.

I believe my only response to this is:

Or possibly:

For what it’s worth, I’ve not asked Thirith for any sort of proof that this conversation took place, and for what it’s worth Larian still have the Day & Night Cycle suggestion on their Game Ideas survey forum.

That said, one of the commenters there did explain in some detail just what level of work would be involved to fully implement NPC schedules (which Larian have said, in the past, that they’d want to include for sure if they did implement day/night cycles; having the latter without the former is, in their thinking, immersion-breaking), so I could see why Larian might once again choose to sidestep these features. I really hope they don’t, and I’d be disappointed if they did, but…I can see why they might.

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So I Guess You All Like the Podcast Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:35:18 +0000 Spam Spam Spam Humbug is currently listed on the first page of Popular Podcasts results on Podbean, under the Games & Hobbies category.

I am floored. Speechless, even. Thank you everyone for tuning in!

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Shroud of the Avatar: Release 21 Begins Today; Instructions and Change Notes Posted Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:51:52 +0000 Since it’s launch day for Shroud of the Avatar’s 21st pre-alpha test release — Release 21 — Starr Long has (of course) posted instructions and change notes for it to the game’s website:

Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 21 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, August 27 at 10:30 AM Central Time (16:30 UTC).

It has been a truly amazing and humbling month. Our community believes in us so much that we have managed to raise over seven million dollars to date! To celebrate, we are having an all-day telethon on Monday August 31 from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Central Time (16:00 UTC to 04:00 UTC). The telethon will be hosted by members of our community and include deep dives, Devs vs. Players PVP, Devs vs. Players Gustball, and hourly prize giveaways! We will be posting a detailed schedule this Friday, so stay tuned.

Release 21 contains a lot of new content, but the largest change is a fundamental shift in how advancement works. After many hours of gameplay, more hours of internal discussions, even more hours of digesting player feedback, and even more hours of design, we have decided to move to a Use-Based System for advancement; which replaces our current leveling and skill point allocation system. Trainers must still be visited to unlock abilities, and abilities are still arranged in skill trees, but all skill advancement now comes from use. The more you mine, the better you become at mining… and the more you swing your sword, the better you become at sword swinging. We did not make this decision lightly and it came at the cost of slightly delaying some other features, but we firmly believe this makes the game fundamentally better and more in line with our statements of this game being a spiritual successor to the Ultima games. Please note that the next several releases will involve a lot of rework and balancing to get this working properly with all of our skills. Also expect us to rearrange skill trees multiple times to make them work better with this new system. For now, expect some oddness and skill arrangements that might not make sense in the current system (although they made sense previously). Also we know that we need to better deliver information in the game about the way the system is working. You can find and discuss more details about our current design thinking about the Use-Based System implementation in this forum topic here.

While we are getting closer to launch, we are still in a constant state of change, and we do not yet have in-game systems to inform players of these changes, or to share ways to help them to explore new content and systems. This means we rely entirely on this message, and the linked instructionsand known issues to convey the current game state. We regularly have to answer questions or filter bug reports because some players elect not to read this valuable information. By taking a few moments to read through this information, a great deal of our time and efforts can be redirected to focus on new “unanswered” questions, and addressing critical issues impacting each release. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this post, and for all the truly valuable feedback you continue to provide.

Also, remember that while we are providing new content with each release, our community is working overtime to make new events for you to enjoy. So, be sure to check out a couple of the Community Events Calendars run by our community members (via in-game book or the player run websites Avatars Circle Community Events and Events of the Avatars calendar).

If you want to read a bit more about the use-based skill system, I’d suggest checking out this review of Release 21 at, which explains how the changes play out in-game. And, of course, please do read the rest of Long’s update to see the complete set of change notes.

As well, and apropos of the most recent podcast episode (and my criticism of Shroud of the Avatar’s combat therein), it sounds like Release 21 brings about a number of significant changes to combat in Shroud of the Avatar. The combat system in the game has always been a blocker for me, but I’ll have to give it another go in the wake of the revisions it has seen.

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 Fully Funded In Under 12 Hours Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:26:16 +0000

I think those two tweets perfectly summarize Larian Studios’ joy and surprise at the fact that the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Kickstarter campaign reached and exceeded its fundraising goal in just half a day. (As of this writing, it has raised $659,616, whereas its initial goal was $500,000.) It’s also a testament to just how many people enjoyed Divinity: Original Sin, I think; this success is very clearly built upon the success and reputation of the first game in this series (and it’s certainly a very well-deserved success and reputation, at that).

Larian Studios haven’t announced any stretch goals as yet (after all, it has only been a day), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the project had already reached some of the stretch goal tiers by the time they do get a list up (if it hasn’t done so already). Indeed, Larian are so busy at the moment, they haven’t even had a chance to update the Divinity: Original Sin 2 website with news of the Kickstarter campaign’s launch.

Still, congratulations are in order for everyone at Larian Studios. They built a solid game with Original Sin, and it’s very apparent that people want to see a sequel to it.

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