The Ultima Codex The Ultima Fan Network Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:55:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Shacknews’ Chatty Community’s Top 100 Games List Includes Two Ultimas, One Wing Commander Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:35:04 +0000 Ultima-Underworld-The-Stygian-Abyss-3 UltimaVII WingCommanderPrivateer

The Chatty Community over at Shacknews has, over the last few weeks, been tallying votes for their Top 100 PC Games of All Time, and the list thereof was published just recently. Naturally, a few titles produced or published by Origin Systems are on the list, beginning with Ultima Underworld at #87:

The Ultima games stand as one of the best RPG series ever made. But there were also a few spinoffs of Richard Garriott’s great tale. This one combined the great talents of Bethesda and Id Software to create one of the first instances of first-person action on a 3D map. It may not be a main Ultima entry, but it’s still one of the greatest.

“To say this is the best dungeon game we’ve ever played is quite an understatement”
-Dragon Magazine

Meanwhile, Ultima 7: The Black Gate captures a respectable, if somewhat underwhelming, position at #29:

This is considered by many to be the peak of the Ultima series and the last of the truly great games before Ultima VIII began the series’ downward spiral. Little things like removing the visual tile grids was just the beginning. Ultima VII is beloved for its shift to real-time, its brilliant AI companions, and the game world’s interactivity. Britannia never felt more alive.

“Ultima 7 is the crowning achievement of Richard Garriott and Origin. The open world, character development, and sophisticated environment interaction set a bar that in some ways hasn’t been matched to this day.”

“Best RPG Ever Made”

“Deep, highly interactive world. It felt like I was transported to another place. I have never experienced this sense of exploration since.”

“Origin creates worlds, and the mystery of Britannia, starting with a grisly murder, launches into one of the most interesting story lines in RPG history. I remember how much of a quantum leap the graphics were in this game, and how you could bake bread (or use a bucket of blood to make “blood bread”). I think this game broke my 386 and my parents bought me a 486 to replace it (yay!!!). The Fellowship and the Guardian were great adversaries, and the Blackrock sword is pretty much the best weapon ever next to the Hoe of Destruction! RPG gaming at its finest!”

“After submitting my first top15 I rethought the order. Ultima 7 IS my favourite game but part 1 and 2 have to be judged seperately. This one deserves all the praise and probably will be the one ending up in the top 100. It’s one of the most important and maybe also influencial RPGs. This needs to be at the top, but I had to honor Serpent Isle here as well.”

Half Life and Half Life 2, confusingly, managed to capture the #2 and #1 spots, respectively, which…is what it is. It should also be mentioned, however, that Wing Commander: Privateer earned a nod at #74 on the list:

Wing Commander is one of the most highly-praised PC gaming franchises out there and 1993’s Privateer stands out as one of the best. Controller a privateer, players now had the option to choose their occupation, adding the potential to create their own unique adventures. Toss in the acclaimed Wing Commander gameplay style and Privateer proves to be one of the better games in the series.

“Playing in the Wing Commander universe gave this game a strong background to pull from. What is not to love about going from dogfights with space cats to smuggling slaves and drugs.”

“It’s goddamn Privateer!”

All in all, a reasonable showing by Origin Systems; it’s a testament to the longevity and excellence of their games that they are still routinely making appearances on lists of this nature, twenty (or more, in some cases!) years after their initial releases.

]]> 0
Ultima 1: One of The Escapist’s “8 Sandbox Games That Will Leave You Wandering” Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:16:23 +0000 u1title

The Escapist has published a short, gallery-style article entitled 8 Sandbox Games That Will Leave You Wandering. And Ultima 1 is the very first game listed thereupon:

Richard Garriott’s now classic Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness is considered by many to be the first sandbox video game. What Ultima I allowed you to do was to experience the world on your own terms, you could go wherever you pleased and encounter whatever you discovered over there.

And, of course, the successive entries in the Ultima series continued to improve upon and refine that openness. But certainly, Ultima 1 provided the foundation upon which that game design paradigm was built. And arguably, the very idea of open world gameplay owes much — if not everything — to this earliest Ultima title.

]]> 0
Ananias: Version 1.34 Released Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:10:04 +0000 ananias-v134-backgrounds ananias-v134-potions

Slashing Dragon, in keeping with the incredible development pace he has been demonstrating for months now, has released yet another update for Ananias, his mobile roguelike.

The major additions in this version are scrolls (such as can be used for weapon and armour enchantment) and potions (such as can be used to buff or otherwise augment abilities and stats). However, there have also been numerous other, more subtle changes. Columns can now be seen in temple rooms, and rooms can now be circular in shape. The UI has (of course!) been tweaked and adjusted still yet more, and pet combat AI has been tweaked to adjust for the case where pets become cornered by a foe. Oh, and shepherds can now no longer equip non-staff weapons.

As always, you can check Ananias out online, or on your Android device.

]]> 0
Forgotten World: Back At It! Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:00:17 +0000 forgotten-world

Those of you who have been following the comments on the Ultima 9 in Widescreen Resolutions article may have noticed Iceblade, from the Forgotten World team, contributing to the very fruitful discussion taking place there. Indeed, he and Kirinn made some very interesting discoveries about how Ultima 9 handles field-of-view, and about how it displays the in-game journal and other books to screen.

Because, you see…by default, on higher-resolution monitors, the journal and other books scale up too much, and all but block out the entirety of the interface. What Kirinn and Iceblade worked out was a way to correct this. Like so:


It was delightful to see a fruitful, lengthy comments thread here at the Codex again; these were fairly commonplace at Old Aiera, but haven’t been quite as prevalent here. Iceblade, too, seems to have been quite positively affected by the event; he recently posted a news update to the long-dormant Forgotten World website, announcing that work had resumed on that project:

…I did my rewriting/reorganizing of the activity editor back in March and it is effectively finished apart from a bit of polishing and maybe a minor side feature or two.

More recently, I’ve attempted to do some reverse engineering with the executable and I helped Kirinn a bit with widescreen corrections. We ended up finding a few bytes in the executable (largely by coincidence) that govern the scale of all book GUMPs in the game. Pretty useful; especially for those that find the spellbook overlaps with the toolbar. For more details, check out the comments section below this post at the Codex.

Unfortunately, I’ve not had much luck in finding other useful bytes; however, I did find out that savegames store snapshots of various on-going in-game processes. These are largely spells, animation, and movement controller processes as well as a few special trigger processes like fade-in. This might prove somewhat useful at some point, but the processes are largely about stuff we don’t intend to change. I’ll probably do some more executable reverse engineering over the next few months.

On the programming front, I’m slowly advancing the triggers editor; reusing much of my GUI interface and internal code from the activity editor. Unfortunately, filling in the necessary details for 150 trigger commands will be quite time consuming even with the modular code I wrote for the activity editor, so it will be a little while before I’ll have more news about this editor.

And finally, I’ve decided to start work on the types editor. The groundwork for this will help with the trigger editor’s target type field (a parameter that selects the trigger target based on Usecode ID) by allowing me to quickly generate a drop-down list via the types database and typename flex file. At this point, I have created the code to read in and write out the types database. Typename is next on my list; followed by an editor for these two files.

He also suggests that we might possibly expect to hear some news about Beautiful Britannia next month.

]]> 1
Ultima Online: Remembering the Past, Lord British’s Return, and Publish 86 Notes Tue, 30 Sep 2014 03:44:20 +0000 The return of Lord British! Exodus on a rampage. Minax, looking rather vampy. And even Rainz showed up.

Well, it certainly looks like the 17th anniversary celebration for Ultima Online was a smashing success. Richard Garriott turned up in the persona of Lord British, marking the first time in many, many years that Lord British has officially been seen in Britannia.

Of course, Exodus appeared partway through the celebrations, turning the celebration in the throne room at Blackthorn’s Castle into something more like a massacre. Things weren’t helped with Minax — decked out in a bikini and pink sunglasses, for some reason — also turned in an appearance. And it would even seem that Lord British’s old nemesis, Rainz, was present for the festivities…although I don’t think Lord British forgot to activate his invulnerability this time (nor, I suspect, did Rainz throw out a fire field).

There’s also a new chapter of the story surrounding Lord British’s return to the game available on the Ultima Online website, for those of you who take an interest in such things. Minax is also mentioned briefly within it; perhaps the tale being woven by EM Drosselmeyer will soon explain just what transpired to result in the massacre aforementioned.

On a more mundane front, Broadsword Online Games have posted a lengthy set of patch notes for Publish 86, detailing all the various changes and updates made thereto in recent days. They also had to pull the Legends shard offline recently for emergency maintenance, although I would assume it is back up by now.

]]> 0
Nuvie: Cold and Hypoxia, Berries, Tends, and More Martian Dreams Goodness Sat, 27 Sep 2014 04:01:12 +0000 nuvie-md6

The Nuvie team have been hard at work on their cross-platform engine for Ultima 6, Savage Empire, and (most relevant to this news) Martian Dreams. It has been a little over a month since we last checked in with the project, and in that time they’ve accomplished quite a bit:

2014-08-26 Eric Fry r1962
* Added search logic to MD when looking at containers.
* Added player_is_in_solo_mode() script function.
* More coverity bug fixes.

2014-08-28 Eric Fry r1963
* Started to document the Lua script API with LDoc.
* More work on use tent.
* Documented more lua script functions.
* Added generated ldoc html page for script API documentation.

2014-08-29 Eric Fry r1965
* Documented some more lua script functions.

2014-08-31 Eric Fry r1966
* Finished documenting lua functions in Script.cpp

2014-09-01 Eric Fry r1967
* Documenting ScriptActor.cpp lua functions

2014-09-02 Eric Fry r1968
* Finished documenting ScriptActor lua functions.

Okay, okay…most of the above is script and code documentation. However, note that in the first update, some work was done on container logic and the implementation of the game’s “solo mode” control scheme.

And yes, there’s more! Here, we get to the good stuff.

2014-09-10 Eric Fry r1969
* Added script functions party_hide_all() party_show_all()
* Added script functions objlist_write1() objlist_read1()
* More work on MD use tent logic
* Moved U6Actor::set_poisoned() into Actor class.
* Update ambience and view manager in script_wait() function.

2014-09-11 Eric Fry r1970
* Added actor leveling up logic to MD rest code.

2014-09-16 Eric Fry r1971
* Added MD ready/unready lua usecode script.
* Added the ability to call ready/unready lua script.
* Added poison hp update to the MD rest logic.

2014-09-20 Eric Fry r1972
* Updated lua from 5.1 to 5.2.3
* Added MD Radiation check.

2014-09-22 Eric Fry r1973
* Added MD berry counters.
* Added MD blue berry logic.
* Added MD eat berry usecode logic.
* Fixed bug with inventory view not updating properly in original mode.
* Added MD berry logic to tent usecode.

2014-09-25 Eric Fry r1974
* Added MD cold and hypoxia flags to script Actor object.
* Added more logic to MD advance_time() script function.
* Added generic Actor getter/setters for status_flags/ obj_flags.
* Load/save MD dream_mode flag in script.
* Cap max MD berry loading at 10 as per the original game.

Here we see some more significant bits of support for Martian Dreams being worked on, including the cold and hypoxia effects, support and systems for the blue berries, object readying and unreadying, support for poisoning, and even the leveling system.

An impressive body of work, in other words. Though, we’ve certainly come to expect that from Eric and the rest of Nuvie’s contributors.

]]> 2
The Dark Unknown: Now Being Produced by Tapestry of Ages Games Sat, 27 Sep 2014 02:23:38 +0000 the-dark-unknown

Goldenflame Dragon made a very big announcement a couple of days ago, concerning The Dark Unknown and the future of its development:

I have a big announcement to make! I am no longer just some dude making a game- I have filled out some paperwork, paid some money, did some chores, and am now:


I’m working on a logo and a website, but I decided not to wait on this announcement until I had them. I’m excited! I wanted to do it so I could have continuity with any future project — any later games I make can also be a “part of the Tapestry of Ages”. It manages to be an Ultima reference without being one to something so central to the series that it will be stepping on toes, especially EA’s toes. Plus, I already had the domain name, as it was the name of my POL shard back in the day. So wish me luck with this new endeavor!

Which, I daresay, is awesome news. No doubt we’ll hear more about Tapestry of Ages Games in the near future.

Of course, Goldenflame has also been hard at work on The Dark Unknown; he has been working on persistent world features recently:

The current project involves memory in adventure sites and cities. You may remember how in U5 once you completely cleared out a room in a dungeon, the game remembered forever that that room was clear. I’m working on setting something similar up- I will have the option of putting a flag on any given chest so it only gives good loot once, so people can’t just farm some of the dungeons. (The chests will still be there on future runs, but their contents will just be a small handful of gold.) I will have to be careful about chests that contain quest items, as the flag will set when it’s opened, not when the stuff inside is taken, but otherwise it seems solid.

I can separately set flags to determine whether or not monsters should respawn, but I’m honestly more worried about loot. I initially thought of it for purposes of finding, say, a nice scroll on someone’s bookshelf in a town. No risk, so I wanted the reward to only exist the once. With this, I can.

After this I should probably make save/load so it can matter.

And he has squashed at least one significant bug, and also made some font choice changes to ensure that he isn’t using anything in The Dark Unknown that would be prohibited for his use thereof by licensing terms.

]]> 2
Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #92 Fri, 26 Sep 2014 23:15:06 +0000 Greetings Friends and Avatars!

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

  • Play Release 10 Now and Get Your Cavalier’s Hat
  • Release 10 In-game Community Events
  • Chris Spears’ Video Guide to Release 10
  • SotA Quick Reference Card by Stile Teckel
  • SotA Greenlit for Steam in Record Time
  • Navigator Pledge Reward: Novia Map Atlas
  • Citizen Pledge Reward: Windmill Power Generator
  • Lord British and Blackthorn Celebrate UO’s 17th Anniversary
  • Galactic Inquiry Interview Part 2: Lord British Talks Space!
  • Pen of the Avatar
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events


Thanks to community member Aartemis for sharing this image of Vertas Pass on the Release 10 Screenshot Gallery forum

Play Release 10 Now and Get Your Cavalier’s Hat

Release 10 successfully launched yesterday, September 26, with thousands of backers downloading, patching, logging in, and checking out the new changes! Lots of new content to check out, including:

  • Combat/PvP: Challenge anyone to a duel anywhere, spectator mode in arenas, auto-deck and starting deck revamp, universal cool-down abolished, hot swap decks during combat, new combat visual effects
  • New/Improved Scenes: Ardoris Castle areas are open, Oracle Confirmatory enhanced, New Vertas Pass, plains/hills/road scenes polished
  • Challenge Dungeon: New dungeon that gets increasingly difficult the deeper in (your gonna need help with this one!). Located near the starting point in Braemar (rumor has it this dungeon may be the path to Lich Mountain).
  • Creatures: Lich Mage & Lich Archer (below Owl’s Head and Kingsport), New AI Agro System, New Slime behaviors, etc.
  • Overworld: The Overworld map has become a real scene with your avatar animating on it and navigable with WASD keys.
  • Character Customization: Modify cheeks/jaw, much improved hair, bigger beards.
  • Summoned Pet Commands: Attack, dismiss, stay, follow, teleport (to owner), defensive, aggressive, passive
  • …and more!

The Grand Tour Quest

Starting with R10, we have a new type of quest, called the Grand Tour. You can talk to any Tour Guide (one is near where new players appear, in Braemar) to begin the quest. Visiting all the Tour Guides (who are stationed near the new content introduced with that release) will earn a reward for your account (for R10, a Cavalier’s Hat). This reward can only be unlocked during that release (did someone say rares?), so be sure to complete the Grand Tour before the release is over!

Community member (The Mad Hermit) created a How-To Video Guide describing how to complete the Grand Tour and get your Cavalier’s Hat:

Release 10 In-game Community Events

Our community has another lineup of in-game events planned for Release 10. If you missed out on these player events during the previous Releases, you can always check out some this weekend. Here is the latest schedule of player events from the Avatar’s Circle Community Events calendar (

Friday, September 26
2:00pm CST – DJ FireLotus Release 10 Party / Bday party, at Port Phoenix (Holtrot)
4:00pm CST – PaxLair Gathering – Valemark Entrance
8:00pm CST – PvP Tournament – Order of Vengeance (details)

Saturday, September 27
9:00am CST – PaxLair Working Hours – host Winfield, PaxLair – Valemark
10:30am CST – Irish Ceili at Dara Brae, The Celtic Holdfast (Story time and dancing)  (NorthShire)
12:00pm CST – Welcome Quest starts in Dara Brae (NorthShire) (details)
12:00pm CST – Bear Tavern Brawl 1v1 (details)
3:00pm CST – Bear Tavern Brawl 2v2 (details)
5:00pm CST – Storytelling event at Port Phoenix (Holtrot)
8:00pm CST – PvP Tournament – Order of Vengeance (details)

Sunday, September 28
8:00am CST – PaxLair Meeting – Valemark
9:30am CST – PaxLair Trial
1:00pm CST – The Power of Chaos (Church of the Dark Star, PaxLair – Valemark)
2:00pm CST – All Player Towns Gathering (PaxLair – Valemark)
7:00pm CST – PaxLair Meeting – Valemark
8:00pm CST – PvP Tournament – Order of Vengeance (details)

Chris Spears’ Video Guide to Release 10

Check out this video guide that Chris Spears put together to help you get the most out of your Release 10 experience!

SotA Quick Reference Card by Stile Teckel

Community Member Sir Stile Teckel created a handy Quick Reference Card for SotA, including some great game resource links. He put this together for Release 9 but most of the game controls stayed the same for Release 10:


[Here's the link to the original, 2-page document]


SotA Greenlit for Steam in Record Time

In less than 3 days after SotA was entered in Steam’s Greenlight process, it was approved! That is the fastest Greenlight approval times that I have heard of! Thanks to all for their votes. By the time it was Greenlit we had 84% ‘Yes’ votes:


The dev team already started planning the Steam integration process, so if all goes well you might find Release 11 available on the Steam Early Access platform as an alternative to normal Release distribution!

Navigator Pledge Reward: Novia Map Atlas

Included in the rewards for the Navigator Pledge is the Novia Map Atlas, a special item that holds all of the minimaps in a single compendium without having to first collect them in-game. This item is GORGEOUS!!!! I love it.


Citizen Pledge Reward: Windmill Power Generator

This Wind Power home decoration is one of the basic rewards of the Citizen Pledge:


Lord British and Blackthorn Celebrate UO’s 17th Anniversary

Starr Long, who was known as Lord Blackthorn during his Ultima Online days, reprised his role as Blackthorn in Ultima Online last night. He was joined by Richard Garriott who brought Lord British back to UO for the first time in many years. While Lord British has been away many things have changed in Britannia including the crowning of Blackthorn who is now known as King Blackthorn!

British and Blackthorn of course resumed their friendly rivalry as soon as they appeared in the throne room. During their banter Minax showed up and made many a threat before she was chased sway by King Blackthorn and the guards (or so they thought!). She returned and this time she brought Exodus with her who then proceeded to slay just about every citizen in the castle! They eventually beat Exodus and during the celebrations the infamous Rainz was about and British had Minax dispatch him as revenge for the slaying many years ago during UO Beta.


Thanks to community member Duke Gréagóir for sharing the above image and video of the event

Galactic Inquiry Interview Part 2: Lord British Talks Space!



Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]

Upcoming Events

          NOW – Release 10 Access
2014.09.26 – Community Hangout – Skills
2014.10.01 – Monthly Video Hangout: R10 & R11 Discussion
2014.10.07 – Stephen Daniele’s Pen of the Avatar: Character Armor Variations Part 2!
2014.10.09 – NAAEE Conference
2014.10.23 – Release 11 Access
2014.10.24 – SotA at Captivate
2014.10.29 – Monthly Video Hangout: R11 & R12 Discussion
2014.11.03 – SotA at GDC Next
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access

]]> 0
UO’s Anniversary + State of the UO, Part 1 Thu, 25 Sep 2014 17:08:22 +0000 UO

Quite a bit happening or has been discussed this month, which marks UO’s 17th Anniversary. Lord British, King Blackthorn, Counselors (I mean advisors) are all returning, with Lord British and King Blackthorn returning today, September 25th, 2014.

Advisor(4)First up: Counselors Advisors are coming back to Ultima Online.

For those of you not playing in UO’s early years, Counselors were other players who were able to help their fellow players in a limited capacity, meant to help relieve the pressure on GMs, and provide a friendly/informative introduction for new (and now returning) players. A summary was provided on

Please keep in mind Advisors are NOT GM’s they do not have the powers to help you like a GM does. Advisors can move monsters that spawn out of reach, move corpses that die in out of reach locations, help new and returning players with information about the game that they don’t know or might have forgotten, and direct players to information sites that might be helpful. If an Advisor gets a call that she/he can’t handle they will forward it to a GM to keep the player from having to place two pages.

Next up, Lord British and King Blackthorn are returning to UO as well, today as a matter of fact (September 25, 2014). This was promoted on both and on the Shroud of the Avatar websites. This is something that might have been more difficult when EA controlled UO rather than Broadsword Online Games, although Blackthorn did make an appearance in recent years.

Last week there was a “State of the UO” address from the UO Producer and several team members, and below are some of the highlights (other aspects will be covered in more detail in their own posts).

  • The UO team is happy with the EM program, and no major changes are planned.
  • There is an in-game messaging system for leaving messages for offline characters that is sort of in the works (the “backbone” of it is in place). It comes down to priorities/player demand as to when it will be finished (editorial note: Players have been wanting/asking for it for years, especially role-players and those who are into vendors, but many others as well – begin forced to use third party apps is very annoying, takes you out of the game, and represents a bit of a security risk).
  • UO has an actual dedicated web designer (who is also a player), which is something that it has not had in many, many years. A major reworking of the website is planned, complete with a wiki and player guide. The website will also be translated into other languages. (editorial note: desperately needs a lot of work – it does not inspire confidence in new or returning players when the official website is sparse, and players are told to go look at fan sites for information).
  • There is a desire to add a new player guild area on the website, of trusted guilds for new or returning players.
  • The high-resolution artwork is still being worked on, it’s being called “Enhanced Art”. They have hired a player to work on it, and still have Q&A to do on it.
  • There will be a pet revamp.
  • They are considering streamlining areas of the High Seas expansion, including the crafting of cannons.
  • There is talk of expanding Stygian Abyss, but that is all it is at this time.
  • The login information screen/window is being updated with information from
  • The account management website will be rebuilt and unified/simplified.
  • There is a focus on improving the Enhanced Client (more on that in another post).
  • There is still an effort of making gold “account wide”, and remove gold checks completely.
  • There is a plan for improving the book system.
  • Return to Britannia is coming.

That is just a brief glimpse at some of the current things going on.

]]> 0
Shroud of the Avatar: Pre-Alpha Release 10 Starts Tomorrow; Instructions Posted Thu, 25 Sep 2014 02:35:04 +0000 SotA_Ardoris_Castle_exterior1

With Shroud of the Avatar’s tenth pre-alpha test release — colloquially known as Release 10 (or simply R10) — beginning tomorrow, Portalarium’s Starr Long has posted a set of instructions to help backers get in and try out this latest iteration of the game.

Greetings Avatars,

Thank you to our loyal backers of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 10 access for all backers at First Responder level and above (as well as those who signed up at PAX Prime and DragonCon*) begins this Thursday, September 25 at 10:30 AM Central Time. Release 10 access will end on Monday, September 29 at 10:00 AM Central Time. Starting today, you can begin installing and patching (see instructions below), but login will not be enabled until Thursday morning.

*Reminder that if you signed up via PAX, Dragoncon, Plantronics, Alienware, or you MUST register on our website with the same email you entered for those promotions or you will not be able to play the game. You will NOT be receiving a key nor a separate email from this one.

We are very excited for all of you to get into this release and start giving us feedback. As a reminder, approximately every three months we focus a release mostly on polish and that is what Release 10 was focused on. Despite that focus, we did manage to get quite a bit of new content in as well.

We also made changes to increase player population densities in the game because we observed players becoming more and more spread out as we added more scenes; especially scenes with player housing. Speaking of player housing, we also noticed many people claiming houses, but not actually using nor decorating them. To address both these issues, we reduced the number of scenes with player housing and we introduced costs to lot claiming and house deed purchases (deeds can be purchased from the bartender in Owl’s Head). We also reduced the number of PVP arenas to only two. Hopefully this will concentrate the players in fewer areas, and increase the number of decorated buildings. See below for more details on these changes.

We have also seen a slight decline in participation in each release, only offset by newcomers from partner promotions (E3, Alienware,, etc.). So we are introducing a unique hat that can only be obtained by playing in each release and completing a quest.

For full details on what is new and different in Release 10, either hit up our event entry for it here, or check out Starr Long’s original post at the Shroud of the Avatar website.

]]> 0
Ultima Online: Publish 86 on Origin and Izumo (Also: Advisors Return to the Game!) Wed, 24 Sep 2014 04:40:16 +0000 uo-kingdom-reborn

There’s more Ultima Online news today than that Richard Garriott will be returning to play Lord British in the game later this week! Broadsword Online Games have — or will soon have — released Publish 86.3 onto the Origin and Izumo shards. They’ve made a few changes to the Publish versus the version that was pushed to TC1 recently; hit up their news article about the Publish for details.

And speaking of TC1, those of you who frequent that shard may also want to review these patch notes, which detail changes that were made, again quite recently, to the Test Center shard.

Finally, in what’s probably the most exciting bit of news covered here, Broadsword have also announced that with Publish 86, Advisors will be added in to Ultima Online. The Advisors are really the 2.0 version of the old Counselor program that was featured in Ultima Online between 1997 and 2000. Like the old Counselors, Advisors will be dressed in blue robes, and will serve a similar in-game function:

If an Advisor is logged in you will be able to open your paperdoll and click on the help button, at the top you should see Contact an Advisor, click on this and write up the issue you wish the Advisor to help you with. Please keep in mind Advisors are NOT GM’s they do not have the powers to help you like a GM does. Advisors can move monsters that spawn out of reach, move corpses that die in out of reach locations, help new and returning players with information about the game that they don’t know or might have forgotten, and direct players to information sites that might be helpful. If an Advisor gets a call that she/he can’t handle they will forward it to a GM to keep the player from having to place two pages.

This is a welcome feature to see return, and it bodes well (I think) for the vision Broadsword has for Ultima Online’s future.

]]> 0
Ananias: Version 1.33 Released Wed, 24 Sep 2014 04:17:40 +0000 ananias-version-1.33

Slashing Dragon has released yet another update for Ananias, bringing the game’s version to 1.33. It can be played online or on your Android device, if you have one.

Major changes in this version include new victory and defeat (game over) screens, additional code to prevent identically-sized rooms within a dungeon from ending up looking the same, and some adjustments to the way equipment drops when players die.

As well, there’s this:

We have hit 10.000 downloads on Google Play!

That’s a significant milestone, for which congratulations are in order!

]]> 0
The Ultima Forever Forums Are Offline…Basically Wed, 24 Sep 2014 04:02:04 +0000 u4e-forum-maintenance-mode

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and to be fair I’m not quite sure when it did happen. But all the same, the Ultima Forever forums have been put into permanent maintenance mode. Now, only a perfunctory farewell message greets those who browse there:

U4E ceased live operations on Aug 29, 2014. To all our players and forum participants: we thank you for your patronage, and for your contributions to the game. From the Gypsy, Lady British, and all the other citizens of Ultima Forever’s Britannia: Thank you for your time spent in our world; we’re going to miss you very much!

So that’s that, then. I’ll note, though, that for the time being, Mythic’s website is still up, and still advertises Ultima Forever. I should really grab copies of the media there, if at all possible…

]]> 0
Ultima Online: Lord British Returns to the Lore Wed, 24 Sep 2014 02:48:34 +0000 uo-kingdom-reborn

Last week, a story was posted to the Ultima Online website, a new piece of lore that will presumably serve as backstory for future in-game events (or so I assume) written by EM Drosselmeyer.

It’s a fairly good read, but the really significant portion of it comes at the end. Consider this a spoiler alert, but I’m sure that those of you who don’t pay much attention to Ultima Online won’t mind. (And if you do mind, stop reading now and avail yourself of the link above.)

Softly and with a chuckle a rich voice echoed inside as Blackthorn’s words faltered, staring at the seeming apparition before him. “Before a friend could return to take their move on the board that was still waiting for your own when you appeared?”

Blackthorn stood motionless for a long time, staring at the broad smile along the other man’s face, before they both stepped towards each other and embraced tightly, pulling apart a moment later with identically broad grins. “I suppose it was only fair that when I returned after you had thought me lost that I should be under the impression you would never return to these lands…Cantabrigian.”

Lord British’s grin burst into a chuckle. “You should know it best yourself…in Sosaria, an infinite number of things are possible.”

Cue the Veggies:


Now, whether this presages any sort of return, to Ultima Online, by Richard Garriott in the persona of Lord British, I have no idea. It’s certainly a fun thought to entertain, though my own preference would be that it is the first hint of several that lead, eventually and inevitably, to the revelation that the Portalarium team have been granted the right to use the Ultima license and will be developing Shroud of the Avatar as an official Ultima sequel.

No, that isn’t happening. At least, not that I know. It’s pure speculative fantasy…so don’t go spreading any rumours.

The First Age of Update: Browncoat Jayson reminds me that I need to read the Shroud of the Avatar Updates of the Avatar more closely. For, had I read the most recent one, I would have noticed something:

And, indeed, it would seem that both Richard Garriott and Starr Long will be appearing in Ultima Online, in the personas of Lord British and King Blackthorn respectively, later this week to celebrate the 17th anniversary of Ultima Online.

Well then.

]]> 0
Shroud of the Avatar: Greenlit! Mon, 22 Sep 2014 19:37:18 +0000 Greenlight_logo_large

Well, that certainly didn’t take long! On Friday afternoon, as part of the Update of the Avatar, Portalarium announced that Shroud of the Avatar had been put up on Steam Greenlight, so as to get the game into Steam’s Early Access program before the end of the year.

And if you look at the game’s Greenlight page today, you’ll see that wonderful green banner splashed across the top of it:


You know, around this time last year, a game called SuperHot captured the record for the quickest Greenlight to date; it took just five days to be approved by the Steam community. Shroud of the Avatar has certainly beat that record, although whether that means it is the current record-holder is something I can’t be sure of.

]]> 0
Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #91 Sat, 20 Sep 2014 01:45:55 +0000 Greetings Friends and Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Help Us Greenlight SotA on Steam
  • SotA Weekly Schedule Status
  • Celebrate UO’s 17th Anniversary with Lord British and King Blackthorn
  • Baron’s Talking Mirror
  • Clockwork Pets: Raven
  • Galactic Inquiry: Lord British Talks Games!
  • Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon
  • Upcoming Events

Help Us Greenlight SotA on Steam


The Dev team created a Steam Greenlight page for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues in an effort to get Shroud into Steam Early Access, hopefully by the end of this year. They believe this is a great way for us to both reach a wider audience while at the same time offering our existing backers who use Steam a way to play Shroud in that ecosystem of friends, achievements, etc.

This will NOT be a replacement for direct download and play of Shroud, but instead it is an option. Players will still be able to directly download and play the game through our website, patcher, etc. if they so wish.

They have yet to work out the details with Steam but the plan would be to give backers Steam Keys to play the game on Steam if they request it so that they won’t have to repurchase the product on Steam. Several other products have done this so we know there should not be an issue with this plan.

If SotA passes the Greenlight process and becomes available on Steam, the current thinking is to offer a version of the game priced at the low end of our current pledges, that includes:

  • Digital download of the game (Episode 1)
  • Alpha + Beta access

SotA’s long-term success depends upon reaching as wide an audience as possible, and Steam is a great way to do that. So please help us out by going to the Shroud of the Avatar Steam Greenlight page and voting yes to make SotA available on Steam!



SotA Weekly Schedule Status

Normally, Potalarium will publish the schedule status once per month on the week of our monthly release. They decided to split that up into weekly installments so you have more advance notice of what our progress is. As they continue to make steady progress towards the Release 10 goals, here is a brief list of where they are so far:

  • Ardoris Castles: Are now built out and are populated with NPCs
  • Overworld: The overworld is now a real scene and therefore has your avatar on it and you navigate with WASD just like in “regular” scenes
  • Death Screen Effect: When you die the screen changes to black and white
  • Duels: Players can now duel one on one anywhere in the game (this was originally an R12 task!)
  • Context Sensitive Cursors: your mouse cursor shape and color will now change based on context. For instance when you are in combat the cursor becomes a sword
  • Auto Deck & Starting Decks: We completely revamped the starting decks so they are much more like starting decks instead of expert type decks. We also matched your starting gear to the decks so that you won’t get as many slugs. Additionally everyone starts now in fully locked mode so we can transition people to the new system more gradually. Finally we have the Auto Deck working now so you can just add/subtract skill points to automatically build a deck.
  • Challenge Dungeon: The Challenge Dungeon is now up and running and it is living up to its name by presenting quite a challenge near the end
  • Universal Cool Down Abolished: The much hated universal cool down is no more! Yay!
  • Spell School Names: After much feedback from our backers and our own internal debate we are keeping the spell school names in the skill trees to their original names because they are much more intuitive. We will still use the fancier names in lore and NPC dialogue.
  • Hair & Facial Hair: We have updated all the hair to the new layered/transparent/animated version and it is looking much better. We also added a few bigger and longer beard styles.
  • Vertas Pass: Our newest map is shaping up quite nicely and will be updated in R11 to be our first fully functional Control Point.
  • AI Agro System: AI are now on a functioning Agro system which we plan to refine and iterate on in R11

Ardoris Castle








Death Screen Effect


PvP Duels


Challenge Dungeon Activation Trigger



R11 planning started this week and here’s a sneak peek:

  • Character Advancement: First pass at advancement will go in
  • Death Magic: Death Magic will expand to include summoning skeletons (formerly zombies) and liches (formerly ghouls)
  • Basements: Players will finally be able to attach basements to their houses
  • Wearables as Deco: Players will be able to use armor as decorative items in their homes
  • Cooking / Alchemy: A first pass at cooking and alchemy will come online
  • Durability / Repair: Gear will now take damage and will be repairable
  • New Maps: Solace Bridge (one of the three starting maps that is the aftermath of a village defending itself against an undead army), Kobold Battle Camp (one of three battle camps in the game), and a Swamp scene

Celebrate UO’s 17th Anniversary with Lord British and King Blackthorn

In celebration of Ultima Online’s 17th Anniversary, join Richard “Lord British” Garriott and Starr “King Blackthorn” Long at Castle Blackthorn for a live, in-game event on TC1, September 25, 2014.

[From an Ultima Online article]

uo_logo_live[1]“The King frowned from his seat, staring at the chess table as Sir Dupre spoke to him. He idly moved a single piece back and forth. The table was clearly set mid match, and he always moved the piece between the same two spots…a legal move, but with no opponent to make the next one.

“It would seem that the Council of Mages has dissolved…after Anon’s vanishing, those few who remained quickly fell to infighting. A few of them have sought entrance into the True Britannians, but I am unsure if they are disciplined enough to fight alongside my troops in a way that will…”

“Sir Dupre, what do you make of the rumors that Anon has defected?”

Sir Dupre shook his head. “The man may have been mad, but he fought for Britannia all this time. I make it the ravings of a madman.” Dupre’s words were strong…but his voice lacked conviction.

“Perhaps we have lost one of the strongest mages remaining in this land to a well-orchestrated attack…or maybe our greatest enemy has converted him to her cause. I am not sure which I would rather believe; Minax being powerful enough to have outright destroyed him, or Anon being bitter enough to have gone over to the other side.”

Sir Dupre stood in silence for a long moment, fingering the pommel of the black longsword at his waist, searching for the words to reassure his regent or even himself. They were nowhere to be found.

“I have been called many things by those who I am doing my best to serve rightfully as their King, Sir Dupre. I have been called a tyrant…usurper…traitor…and many state openly that they believe me to be evil. And yet…” He sighed at length, standing from the table and moving out to the balcony, leaving it behind him. He did not finish the thought, and Sir Dupre was too prudent to pry further.

Dim moonlight peeked through the clouds upon the beleaguered king as he stared out over the moat, and Dupre’s voice broke the silence once more. “My liege, even I doubted you at first…but in time they will see. And even if they do not, Honor is its own reward. We have done our best to do what is right, and we know that even if no others do.”

“Dupre…we will need to have a call to arms. I know that your soldiers are strong, well trained, and a capable unit…but if Minax is powerful enough to defeat Anon herself, or worse if he has joined her…I do not believe even you and they can fight them and win. We will have to…find another way.”

Dupre nodded and bowed his head slightly. “Then I shall inform them at once.” Dupre left through the doors of the castle and King Blackthorn stood in the light for a long moment, the full moon revealing itself as the clouds passed by. The gentle moonlight illuminated him fully, his cloak rustling ever so slightly in the soft breeze. The light gleamed off of his crown and armor, and the obsidian chest that lay just inside the balcony’s opening. He was not quite sure how long he had been there before he heard footsteps, ignoring Heckles’ approach.

It was the soft clack of a chess piece being moved on a board that drew him from his thoughts with a bit of irritation. “Heckles, I am not in the mood for your taunts and jests…and you know that I want nobody to touch that board, not until…”

Softly and with a chuckle a rich voice echoed inside as Blackthorn’s words faltered, staring at the seeming apparition before him. “Before a friend could return to take their move on the board that was still waiting for your own when you appeared?”

Blackthorn stood motionless for a long time, staring at the broad smile along the other man’s face, before they both stepped towards each other and embraced tightly, pulling apart a moment later with identically broad grins. “I suppose it was only fair that when I returned after you had thought me lost that I should be under the impression you would never return to these lands…Cantabrigian.”

Lord British’s grin burst into a chuckle. “You should know it best yourself…in Sosaria, an infinite number of things are possible.”

Read the exciting conclusion and join us for a live, in-game event on TC1 September 25th 2014 at 7pm ET! Meet Richard “Lord British” Garriot and Starr “King Blackthorn” Long at Castle Blackthorn to celebrate Ultima Online’s 17th Anniversary!

[Link to original Ultima Online article]

Baron’s Talking Mirror

Included in the Baron pledge rewards is this magical talking mirror! It’s powers are still a mystery so we are all anxiously waiting to hear what it has to say!


Clockwork Pets: Raven

This non-combat, clockwork raven pet is one of the rewards contained in the Royal Artisan, Explorer, and Patron pledge tier, which includes your choice of one of three non-combat, clockwork pets: cat, dog, or raven:


Galactic Inquiry: Lord British Talks Games!


Alienware Sponsors $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon

Alienware’s powerful gaming rigs are a perfect match for Shroud of the Avatar! To show their support, Alienware is sponsoring $20 SotA Pledge Upgrade Coupons to members of their Alienware Arena community!

These coupons can be used to start a SotA pledge account (for new backers), or to add $20 to an existing pledge account. If, for example, you have a $90 Royal Artisan Pledge, you can use the Alienware coupon to bump you up to a $110 Virtual Collector Pledge.

Pretty sweet deal, right? So, hurry over to the Alienware Arena website and get your $20 Pledge Upgrade Coupon now!

[NOTE: Only one Alienware Pledge Upgrade Coupon can be used per account. Coupon does not apply to Add-On Store items]

Upcoming Events

2014.09.25 – Release 10 Access
2014.10.01 – Monthly Video Hangout: R10 & R11 Discussion
2014.10.23 – Release 11 Access
2014.10.24 – SotA at Captivate
2014.10.29 – Monthly Video Hangout: R11 & R12 Discussion
2014.11.03 – SotA at GDC Next
2014.11.14 – Duke & Lord of the Manor VIP Design Roundtable with Lord British and Portalarium Studio Tour
2014.11.15 – HoBLotH II: Legends of the Hearth
2014.11.20 – Release 12 Access
2014.11.26 – Monthly Video Hangout: R12 & R13 Discussion
2014.12.18 – Release 13 Access

]]> 5
Hearth of Britannia: HoBTotA Prizes Update (Some Good News, Some Bad) Fri, 19 Sep 2014 02:05:34 +0000 hearth-of-britannia-new

Rustic Dragon has posted an update concerning the prizes for the Hearth of Britannia’s Telethon of the Avatar event. It isn’t all good news, but neither is it all bad:

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. As you know, there has been delay after delay in getting these prizes out due to having to spend money prepping for cooking for Lord British, prepping for the first HoBLotH, moving to Austin, and now having been laid off. This last event brings news both good and bad. The bad news is that I simply cannot afford the extra money it will cost to order the shirts. Custom printing singles and small runs of shirts is very expensive and it’s not something I can do without guaranteed steady income. This brings us to the good news which is that without having to order shirts, I already have everything I need in order to start shipping rewards. I’m going to start assembling packages this weekend. I want to have everything out the door so I can focus fully on HoBLotH II prep. Please make sure that I have your current address!

I understand that some of you were *really* wanting a shirt and I apologize. If this disappoints you to the point of anger, please contact me and we can work something out. Thank you for your understanding.

You heard the man; get in touch and be sure he has your current mailing address. If, that is, you’re expecting prizes from him.

]]> 0
Ultima Online: Origin and Izumo Will Have to Wait A Bit For the Latest Publish Fri, 19 Sep 2014 01:49:52 +0000 uo-kingdom-reborn

It looks like the latest Publish — 86.3, I think — will be a bit delayed in reaching the Origin and Izumo shards:

Due to the fact some last minutes changes were made to Vice vs Virture from player feedback we will not be able to publish to Origin and Izumo today. Since we do not publish on Fridays we will be manually publishing this on Monday afternoon.

Sorry for the delay but we wanted to make sure we got all your feedback in before we put them out to the public. This does not change our targetted release date of September 24th.

You know, we have a rule against major system changes on Fridays where I work, too. Seems to be a sound policy.

]]> 0
Check Out The cRPG Player’s Handbook (And Contribute To It!) Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:36:23 +0000 the-crpg-players-handbook-01

Felipe Pepe, a regular at the RPG Codex, has undertaken a massive project to compile a digital tome that reviews nearly 300 computer RPGs, providing a comprehensive snapshot at the genre in all of its history:

This guy is compiling a digital book that will review over 280 computer RPGs—and when it’s done, you can get it for free. Developers like Obsidian’s Chris Avellone have already agreed to participate. “The book is going well, but I need some spotlight to travel into the far reaches of the internet and reach fans with stories to tell,” curator Felipe Pepe tells Kotaku. You can see some sample reviews here, and keep track of his progress on Google Docs.

You’ll note the mention of Chris Avellone, above. That’s certainly a significant glimpse into the…quality of game reviewers that Felipe has been attempting to bring on board to the project. I’ve no idea which game — or games — Obsidian’s creative director will be reviewing, but I do know that Felipe has found very worthy reviewers for Ultima 2, Ultima 4 and Ultima 5 (I won’t say who; wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.) But it’s probably safe to tell you that I’ll be reviewing Ultima 6, and that Sergorn Dragon and myself will be splitting the task of reviewing Ultima 9.

And if you check out Felipe’s list of titles the book will cover, you’ll see that a number of games have yet to be assigned. In particular, Savage Empire and Ultima 8 don’t yet have reviewers assigned. He’s accepting volunteers; you can find his email address in the spreadsheet.

As well, you can find some sample images of review layouts here and here. Here’s a couple such samples, including the Ultima 4 review; this is a pretty high-quality production:

Company profiles, too. See if you can guess who wrote this!

Felipe is also maintaining progress report threads at both RPGWatch and the RPG Codex; you can follow either or both of them for details about his progress on compiling the book.

]]> 1
Britannian Underworld: Short News; Engine Now WebGL-Powered Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:00:13 +0000 britannian-underworld-2014-09-17-at-7-47-05-am

Slashing Dragon has posted a news update about the Britannian Underworld project, which has slowed down lately due to the lack of a pixel artist and the attending need for art. The team are still maintaining a list of art they need, if you’re interested in contributing.

The biggest news in the update, though, likely pertains to an improvement in the engine’s technology:

Exodus Destiny has completely remade the engine using WebGL instead of the hand made raycasting software rendering he was using on the first version of the engine (which was pretty impressive from the technical POV), in his mind he’s achieved what he wanted to do with it in, learning a lot in the process of making it and pushing it to its limits; however the game still ran a bit slow on low-end machines, and that was his main motivation to do the new one.

Along with improved performance, this will allow several new things like:

  • Easily support different height terrain, as can be seen in the current demo
  • We could eventually incorporate some 3D models (UW did it with the rocks :P)
  • Rendering stuff is simplified, leveraging ED’s development power to work on more things directly related to the game

Of course, we are keeping with the initial idea of following the original Ultima Underworld style, so we won’t be using all the power put at our disposal with WebGL. The only drawback is that now you’ll need a browser that supports WebGL.

You can find the latest playable build online here, if you want to give it a try.

There are some other updates, especially concerning the music that will be featured in Britannian Underworld; hit up Slash’s news post for all the details.

]]> 0