The Ultima Codex The Ultima Fan Network Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:05:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Ultima Codex 32 32 Underworld Ascendant: Pre-Alpha Prototype Available For Backers Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:05:28 +0000

The pre-alpha prototype of Underworld Ascendant is now available to backers of the game:

Today, we’ve uploaded our new PRE-ALPHA PROTOTYPE for you to test out!
If you already purchased it, it will be uploaded to Steam this afternoon!
If you feel left out and want to take it for a spin:

Go to
Add “Prototype Access” to the cart and click check out
Enter the email address to use; I suggest the same used for Kickstarter or your OtherSide account
Wait until your payment is processed; this is not automatic so can take time (up to 1 week–poor producer does this manually)
Go back to backer kit and retrieve the account, and copy the code in the Digital Reward section. Paste that into Steam.

In it, you’re tasked with discovering what led an Underworld settlement to become overrun by undead. Four story tablets detailing the events are hidden in randomized locations throughout the level, such as inside chests, in sarcophagi, on raised platforms, or behind objects. Runestones (a required component in formulas for spells) and bonus gold bar collectables can also be found, sometimes in spots that require careful thought and skill to reach.

This area is infested with a band of fierce skeleton warriors, who you can battle with a longsword, stealthily evade, or devise other clever ways to deal with them. (Hint: Many objects in the world react to fire, air, earth, and plant spells, allowing for fun experimentation.)

While previous maps features blank, featureless walls and floors, the PRE-ALPHA PROTOTYPE shows progress on the game’s “Authored Look,” which attempts to recreate the look and feel of hand-sculpted fantasy miniatures and tabletop boards.

At the same time, it is an early work-in-progress. The visuals and audio will continue to improve steadily over the balance of this year. Current placeholder elements — such as the player model, the user interface for spell casting, and spell effects — will be greatly refined.

Its look and quality are in no way representative of the final game, so expect to see a few rough edges, but we hope you’ll like the direction it’s headed.

There are evidently a few issues with the prototype at this point, most notably a disappearing mouse cursor bug. Hopefully that gets patched out soon.

You can find complete notes on the prototype’s controls, as well as some spells that are available to players, in this forum post.

(Hat tip: Infinitron Dragon)

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Tales from Sosaria: Episode 4 Cover; Episode 3 Sample Page Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:07:06 +0000

Damien Barban has been hard at work on his Tales from Sosaria series of comics. He recently teased the Ultima Dragons Facebook group with the cover art for the fourth instalment in the series:

Sorry for being a bit slow in the release of the episode III of my Tales from Sosaria comicbook, but it will be ready very soon. I also finalized the cover of the episode IV, here it is…

The cover can be seen above. As Damien notes in his post, work on the third episode of the series is also progressing; he even shared a sample page from that comic:

Still working on the third episode of Tales from Sosaria… Here is the work in progress.

The sample page can also be seen above, on the right. For those of you who are curious about how Damien goes about composing the art for his comics, he also uploaded a video showing some quick sketching he did for a page.

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Byte-Sized Virtue: Season 2, Episode 9 – Reserves of Empathy Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:38:06 +0000

As this second season of Byte-Sized Virtue moves through the Easter season, we have switched the focus of episodes back to topics that relate, in some way, to the Eight Virtues (and Three Principles) of Ultima lore. Specifically, we’ll be talking about the Virtue of Compassion and the Principle of Love, joined this time by Chlorthos Dragon.

Listen to the Episode

In this episode, we talk a bit about parenting, and in particular the need for parents to be able to show empathy to their children…which is sometimes a challenge! We also discuss the idea of self-sacrificing (agape) love, how this is exemplified in the Test of Love in Ultima 7’s expansion, Forge of Virtue, and how through the practice of agape we can transform seeming tragedies into…well…something else. Something better, richer, and meaningful.

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Underworld Ascendant: PAX East Demo Footage & What’s Next Thu, 28 Apr 2016 20:18:43 +0000

OtherSide Entertainment showed off some new demo footage of Underworld Ascendant at PAX East this week, giving us a good idea of how the game’s new authored look…ah…looks:

While at PAX East last weekend, we were able to sit down at the Underworld Ascendant booth to get our first look at the spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld. The first-person RPG reunites much of its original cast, including revered designers Warren Spector and Paul Neurath – both of whom you hear from in the video below.

The video…includes a walkthrough of a test area with art director Nate Wells, who is best known for his work on the Uncharted series. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this game as its development continues, but for now, enjoy this early look at it with its legendary creators

According to the latest Stygian Sentinel update, a number of the game’s backers will soon be getting their own look at the new art style:

Our current “Pre-Alpha Prototype” also includes:

  • Both spells and swordplay are available.
  • Objects in the world are reacting to fire, air, earth, and plant spells, allowing for fun experimentation.
  • New collectables, loot, and runes are hidden throughout the map, often in randomized places. (Some are deviously hard to get to, but we have faith in your abilities.)

Since last month’s screenshots showing of the game’s new “Authored Look,” we’ve made the space a bit darker and moodier and also added areas that are reminiscent of a classic 10×10 corridor dungeon crawl to show the contrast between an open space and a more intimate area. The shader has been tweaked, the reflectivity map has been updated, and much more.

It’s still an early work-in-progress, but it’s starting to feel real and you can begin to get a sense of the physical rules that govern the world around you.

For backers who have Prototype Access, you’ll soon be able to play the Pre-Alpha Prototype yourself. Expect an email when the build is up on Steam later this week.

And the next system they’ll be adding to the game should be a welcome feature indeed, for those of you who were fans of another well-known Looking Glass game:

We won’t be doing a 1:1 version of LookingGlass’ Thief: The Dark Project, but will provide stealth skills that let you short-circuit encounters through avoidance, escape, and trickery. For a thief, the success or failure of a melee encounter is often determined by how it begins. Preparation is hugely important. Stealth skills often call for careful preparation to take advantage of specific circumstances, requiring you to plan ahead in order to make your abilities count.

Of course, AI is a big part of making stealth gameplay work. Tim has already created the basic groundwork of the system, which is following pretty closely the original Thief model: speed matters, light matters, and sound is also important. Many baseline beasties might react like the guards in Thief, but you never know if some of the other fantastic creatures in this world will be fooled by your skulking ways.

Underworld Ascendant proceeds apace, in other words. Or, perhaps, somewhat better than that; this seems to be a rather quick pace of development all things considered.

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Shroud of the Avatar: Release 29 Begins Today (Instructions Posted) Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:18:04 +0000

Starr Long has posted the instructions for Release 29 of Shroud of the Avatar, which just happens to begin today:

Thank you for being a loyal backer and follower of Shroud of the Avatar. Release 29 access for all backers at First Responder level and above begins this Thursday, April 28, at 10:30 AM US Central Daylight Time (15:30 UTC).

As we move ever closer to Final Wipe and Lot Selection, we are rapidly expanding the content and feature set of Shroud of the Avatar. We are also critically appraising our feature set and making sure each and every feature is as it should be for those critical events of Release 32. With those thoughts in mind, we looked at a few key aspects of the game related to housing, crafting, and targeting and made some important changes in Release 29. These changes were not easy, nor were they without controversy, but we believe they are changes that need to be made for the long term health of the project.

The biggest and most obvious change is to targeting which now uses a reticle in the center of the screen and makes interaction modal. Hitting the TAB key or invoking any interface window will cause the game to play almost exactly as before but this is still a VERY big change. For a while now, we have tried to avoid making our game modal. To date, we have solved that by requiring mouselook by holding down the right mouse button. This means that you can always have a cursor but it makes targeting hard, especially for ranged combat, and means you have to constantly hold down a mouse button (which players complain hurts them after playing for long times). Additionally, most modern 3D games use free mouselook and use a modal interface to bring up a cursor for interactions, inventory, etc. So with R29, we decided to make the plunge and moved our game to be Reticle Targeting based and Modal. Please note that you do NOT have to keep the reticle on directly top of the target to hit it. Once you have a target identified you just need to have them in your forward arc and in range to hit them. You do NOT need to have the reticle always on top of the target. We are NOT a shooter. We know that many of you have concerns about this change, and rest assured we are listening. We fully intend to support the play style our loyal backers have become accustomed to while expanding the abilities of the game. We are aware of and looking at solutions for those of you with physical challenges we have not yet solved and those of you who want more mouse-centric options. Please be patient while we work through this which may take more than one release.

The next big change was related to land and housing. Since the addition of Player-Owned Towns (POTs), the amount of “potential” available land has greatly increased and therefore a potential demand for more lot deeds has been created. However that land is only potential, not guaranteed, until the owner puts down lot markers and unlocks the lots. So we still have to be very careful in how we add deeds to the game to make sure those who purchase deeds have a place to use them. So we are adding POT-Only Lot Deeds. As normal Lot Deeds sell out in-game (and in the Add-On Store), Portalarium will sell limited quantities of POT-only Lot Deeds in the game (and in the Add-On Store). These deeds can only be used inside Player-Owned Towns. These will only be sold in the lot sizes that sell out, and will be sold for the exact same price as normal lot deeds. NOTE: At this time that means we have only introduced Village and City sized POT-only Lot Deeds (but only in the Add-On Store since lots are not currently being limited in-game). As with everything with the game, we will carefully monitor the situation and if there is ever a significant shortage of lot deeds and a surplus of land we will release more as needed.

Finally we looked at Crafting, specifically using crafting stations in List Mode, and came to the conclusion that we could add Recipes to the Station interface and therefore remove the need to have the Recipe Book displayed while crafting in List Mode. This should let player explore the new expansions to Alchemy with Tool Engraving and Enchantments much more easily.

Of course, in addition to the above we added a lot of other things including almost 40 more scenes including  the Crypt of the Avatar and the central part of the sprawling capital of Novia; Brittany. The Love Storyline is now playable from start to finish, and many more NPCs have unique stories to tell you. We are testing out Lot Selection Sequencing for the first time in 30 minute windows, and to support that, we added and expanded the number of available housing lots a thousandfold by adding new POTs, new Player-Run Towns (PRTs), and expanding the size of some NPC towns by replacing their source scenes.

Yet again, I want to express a huge amount of gratitude to our Dev+ backers who tested all of the items below on the QA server and uncovered lots of bugs. They also provided editorial feedback on this post. So, they are a big reason that this post actually matches what is in the game, and that it is easy to read.

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.

The most controversial change, which Long discusses above, has to be the implementation of a new reticle targeting and mouselook mode in the game, which seems to have a number of players up in arms. Some additional details on that system appear in the Release 29 change notes accompanying the instructions; have a read:

New Reticle Targeting/Free Mouselook Mode: For a while now, we have tried to avoid making our game modal. To date, we have solved that by requiring mouselook by holding down the right mouse button. This means that you can always have a cursor but it makes targeting hard, especially for ranged combat, and means you have to constantly hold down a mouse button (which players complain hurts them after playing for long times). Additionally most modern 3D games use free mouselook and use a modal interface to bring up a cursor for interactions, inventory, etc. So with R29, we decided to make the plunge and moved our game to be Reticle Targeting based. Please note that you do NOT have to keep the reticle on directly top of the target to hit it. Once you have a target identified you just need to have them in your forward arc and in range to hit them. You do NOT need to have the reticle always on top of the target. We are NOT a shooter. We are continuing to iterate on this new method and we are fully aware it is not quite there yet. We are aware of and looking at solutions for those of you with physical challenges we have not yet solved and those of you who want more mouse-centric options. Please be patient while we work through this which may take more than one release.

  • Interaction is now based on aiming a dynamic reticle at the center of the screen.
    • White reticle indicates nothing selected.
    • Blue Circle reticle indicates a friendly NPC
    • Red X reticle indicates a hostile target in-combat.
    • Green Circle reticle indicates a lootable object.
  • There are now two modes of interaction: default Targeting Mode and Interaction Mode (cursor).
  • Use TAB to manually toggle between the two interaction modes.
  • Bringing up any UI window (ex. inventory) automatically brings up a cursor.
  • Targeting mode is the default state for combat. Entering combat mode will automatically put you in Targeting mode.
  • Housing/Deco system still relies on Interaction/Cursor mode.
  • World Items can still be looted via aim and click, but click-drag looting can only happen in Cursor mode.
    • Interactive world items (books, candles) can be looted by using ALT-click.

I haven’t yet had the chance to try out these particular changes; I’ll offer my impressions once an opportunity to do so presents itself.

You can find complete change notes accompanying Starr’s post; briefer, high-level change notes can be found on the Release 29 calendar entry here.

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U3.5 Pax Britannia: Works Using the R4i DS Firmware Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:08:40 +0000

Andrew Owen released the above image on the Ultima Dragons Facebook group this morning, offering the following explanation of what it depicts:

Updated to latest R4i firmware and latest version of ZXDS. It’s all still working!

R4i, in case you’re curious, is the latest iteration of the Revolution firmware for Nintendo handheld gaming devices.

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GOG’s Bundleopolis Sale Is On Now Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:27:15 +0000

GOG, crazy people that they are, have launched another sale event this week: the Bundleopolis Sale:

Come on, come all! Walk the streets of and take in the sights as we build a Bundleopolis of 20+ bundles from the ground up. Join us in a week-long tour where new landmarks, shaped as irresistible bundles, are going to be revealed every six hours with some of them containing fresh GOG-premieres.

Attend the opening ceremony and visit these locations for the first of many bundles:

Academy of LucasArts, including classics like The Dig, Monkey Island SE 1 & 2 and Outlaws for up to 75% off.

Bit.Trip Street, a complete collection of the rhythmic series making its debut for up to 87% off.

Nightmare Avenue, build your own bundle from a scary selection of games like Amnesia, Outlast, and The Last Door for up to 80% off.

Keep coming back to the expanding Bundleopolis Sale to discover new sights and new releases, or exercise your rights as a citizen with build-your-own bundles. If you live here long enough, you might even get to learn its dark secret, which will be revealed just before the city lights go out.

No Ultima games have been put on sale yet, though they will probably end up in one bundle or another (e.g. alongside other RPGs, or alongside other EA titles, or — who knows? — alongside other Origin titles; that’d be nice to see, actually). You’ll just have to keep checking back with GOG every six hours, won’t you?

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #173 Sun, 24 Apr 2016 19:08:19 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • Male Cloth Armor Revamps
  • Reconnecting with Underground Scenes
  • The Halls of Artifice (A Work In Progress)

Male Cloth Armor Revamps

As part of our rework of the Avatars we are steadily progressing through many of the clothing and armor items to improve their visual quality. We periodically update the progress of this effort.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Fletcher “Skullmuncher34” Kinnear]

Hey everybody! More revamps! This time I worked on cloth outfits.

Here is the Epic Cloth Chest Piece, Gauntlets, Leggings, and Boots:

Shroud_Epic Cloth screenshot

Epic Cloth
by fletcherkinnear
on Sketchfab

Here is the Fortified Cloth Chest Piece and Leggings:

Fortified Cloth

Cloth Outfit
by fletcherkinnear
on Sketchfab

Reconnecting with Underground Scenes

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Keith “Sannio” Quinn]

Hi, all! Every so often, Shroud of the Avatar adds a new underground area to visit: dungeon, sewer, mine, etc. They’ve mostly been stand-alone scenes, seemingly filled with random resources and randomly connecting to other underground scenes. As of this release, the randomness begins to go away as we start embracing a “grand underground plan.”

Below are the core elements of the plan:

  1. Travel Within Underground Sectors: All shared, general-purpose underground areas will be grouped in “small” sectors. Many underground areas within a sector will connect other areas within the same sector. Travel across these connections is free and uninhibited.
  2. Travel Across Underground Sectors: Connection passages between sectors are rare and always behind a locked door. Each door can only be opened by a key obtained from a single “key bearer” somewhere else in the scene. (Currently, these keys are reusable but, eventually, they will be single-use objects.
  3. Cross-Sector Connection Passages: Connection passages will be underground scenes all their own. Although moderately sized, each will have a bounty of resources.
  4. Smarter Resources: Distribution of harvestable resources is important, and what is common in some regions will be rare in others. This is true for both surface and underground areas.

Here are some changes related to our underground areas coming with of Release 29:

  • Two cross-sector connection passages are being added to the game: Spindrift Passage and Paladis Passage. More such passages will be added in future releases.
  • The Rise has moved to its permanent home under the Forsaken Vale in Verdantis. Its temporary connections to the western Novia underground scenes have been replaced with access points in Superstition Canyon, North Varisalla Foothills, Verdantis Mines, and Resolute Sewers.
  • Underground resources have shifted a bit as we improve where resources can be found.

Spindrift Passage (shown below) tracks underneath the vast Spindrift Bay.spindriftpassage

Paladis Passage (shown below) lies just below the surface of the Paladis Plains.paladispassage

Keith Quinn
Level Designer
Shroud of the Avatar

The Halls of Artifice (A Work In Progress)

This is the continuing update on the progress on Artifice, scheduled to go live in Release 31.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Scottie Jones]

Wait! What is this?!?!? Having delved even further into Artifice, and sampled several other (somewhat more heinous) paradises (and the denizens that seem to enjoy them), proceeding through yet another golden doorway has caused you to materialize within a cobweb-covered dungeon corridor filled with the strewn bones of seemingly hundreds of poor, lost souls. The architecture here is confusingly reminiscent of so many of the ancient stone passageways that litter the underworld of the realms of Novia, and as you begin to wander through them you realize that every turn and twist feels like the last, and yet seems to lead to more and more such paths, winding away in every direction like some labyrinthine hell. The only lights here, except perhaps your own, are torches emitting pale blue flames and the ever-present profusion of even more golden doorways that now seem to taunt you, taking you to places you may not wish to go… As if to add to the confusion, tarnished mirrors that provide little in the way of reflection hang forlornly on the walls at every turn, and soon you begin to realize how so many could have come to die here,…alone,…in the perpetual twilight of this haunted place…   Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_01Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_02Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_03Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_04

Just as it seems this torture might never end, you suddenly find yourself back again in a place of relative comfort and refinement. What was that terrible maze,…someone’s twisted paradise? Surely not! Why would such a thing exist in the glorious Halls of Artifice? Perhaps it was just a fevered waking nightmare after all… Merely the result of too much euphoria in so little time. But what does time mean in a place such as Artifice?

Along the periphery of the comfortable chamber before you, chairs are arrayed around small tables, a few books rest on small shelves, and here and there a few bowls of fruit tempt the observer to come, sit, and rest. At the room’s center, beneath a recessed ceiling lit by an ornate chandelier, is a desk littered with books, scrolls, and an inkwell. Beyond the desk another set of bronze doors lay closed before you, but no locks seem to bar your way. Here you will be greeted by a functionary of this mystic place, and an apparent servant of he who occupies the royal hall beyond those waiting doors.Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_05 Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_06Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_07Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_08

As you enter the lavish throne room beyond, you immediately realize something is wrong. Debris from the ceiling above litters the floor, several of the great columns which support that ceiling have fallen to ruin, and cobwebs formed by years of neglect cover almost every surface, creating the look of aged veils that drape the stained glass windows like ghastly shrouds. At the far end of the hall, a figure sits on a regal throne, ancient rot having left nothing behind of him except his very bones. This grand hall was meant to house hundreds of members of this apparent monarch’s court, and yet he sits alone, contemplating the crown that lays on a footstool before him, his empty sockets gazing out at you as you approach. Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_09Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_10Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_11

Regardless of anything else that might transpire in this chamber, you could wonder if this is what becomes of someone’s personal paradise when life has passed you by. Here this once mighty ruler sits, ruminating on the culmination of his reign, and the meaning of such power, for all time,…while the remains of his grand accomplishment rots and crumbles around him. Behind him, at the top of a small flight of stairs, yet another set of doors await, and beyond them, yet another golden portal beckons,…always beckons,…as you travel deeper and deeper into this place of eternal desires fulfilled…Halls-of-Illusion-and-Royalty_12

Ah yes,…glorious Artifice… Why would you EVER want to leave…

I hope this finds you well…

Scottie ^_^

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Byte-Sized Virtue: Season 2, Episode 8 – Virtues and Anti-Virtues, Sheep and Goats Fri, 22 Apr 2016 18:58:28 +0000

As this second season of Byte-Sized Virtue moves from the Lenten season into the Easter season, we will be switching the focus of episodes back to topics that relate, in some way, to the Eight Virtues (and Three Principles) of Ultima lore. Specifically, we’ll be talking about the Virtue of Compassion and the Principle of Love, joined this time by Chlorthos Dragon.

Listen to the Episode

In this episode, we discuss the real-world concepts of mercy and compassion, and how these are exalted as the prime examples of love. We also discuss the corporal works of mercy, actions of charity and care for others that the Catholic Church puts forth as being…well, essentially obligatory for those who profess that particular faith.

The discussion also touches on how charity and works of mercy are depicted in games, including the Ultima series (e.g. the old woman in Ultima 4, Ybarra in Ultima 6) and Divinity: Original Sin. We talk about poverty, and about how the Ultima series doesn’t do a very thorough job of depicting anti-virtues. Not that it does a bad job with the anti-virtues it does depict…but it doesn’t depict enough of them. Which gets us back to Aristotelian philosophy, and the concept of virtue as a golden mean between equal, but opposite, vices.

Finally, we ask: how do we pass our values on to others, especially our children?

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Elderlands: Version 1.04.001 Released Fri, 22 Apr 2016 18:30:08 +0000

A new update for Elderlands has been released:

Version 1.04.001 is now live!

Below are the patch notes. Please leave your feedback.

I won’t excerpt the whole set of notes; let’s look at what new features have been introduced to the game with this update:


  • Inspect Player. Type /inspect <playername> from chat. Inspected player must be within 5 tiles of player. You can inspect equipped gear and stats.
  • Play Area Toggle: From GameMenu/Interface you can now toggle between the small frame or full view play area. We have currently disabled scaling but will re-enable it when it functions properly with both modes.
  • Combat Window Frame: The combat window frame now has a border and can be positioned anywhere on screen. It also can be toggled on/off from GameMenu/Interface.


  • Adjustments to Alchemy.
  • Adjustments to Blacksmithing
  • Leatherworking is now functional.
  • Lumberjacking is now functional.
  • Prototype of Carpentry.

You can find a link to download the Elderlands launcher on the project entry here, or just click on over and grab it from the official website proper.

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You Can Once Again Pre-Order Richard Garriott’s Book, Explore/Create: My Life at the Extremes Fri, 22 Apr 2016 15:50:54 +0000

You may recall that Richard Garriott’s autobiography — Explore/Create: My Life at the Extremes — was slated to be released in mid-September of 2015, before being delayed to early October of that year. It then disappeared entirely from the various storefronts it had previously been available for pre-order at, leading myself and others to wonder whether it had been cancelled.

Well, we got our answer yesterday:



The book has a new release date, obviously: it’s now slated to come out on January 10, 2017. You can pre-order it at Amazon, of course. If, like myself, you’re Canadian, it’s also available for pre-order via Indigo and Kobo.

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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Now Available on the Google Play Podcast Portal Fri, 22 Apr 2016 15:20:58 +0000

Spam Spam Spam Humbug is now available on Google Play’s new podcast portal.

Thought you all might want to know.

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Ultima IX Redemption: More Poll Results and Thoughts Fri, 22 Apr 2016 14:39:12 +0000

Corv has published another article in which he offers his thoughts on the results of the trio of polls he put up earlier this week.

It would seem that the isometric (or let’s just say “top down”, because most Ultimas didn’t actually use an isometric perspective) is the mos popular viewing angle:

I have to admit, when I, without much thinking, imagine Ultima IX or X (how it should have been) I automatically envision a gorgeous isometric 3D landscape full with things to do and stuff to pick up and move around.

However, when I start to think about it more I can see the advantages of a first person view in a game with gorgeous graphics. It’s more impressive, it is, potentially, more immersive too. Correctly done you can also implement a system that allows the manipulation of objects just as well as in an iso game, if not better. I am very torn between those two options.

And nobody seems to like minimaps:

It seems we are (almost) all in agreement here. I think quest goals on a minimap is something that is acceptable in a MMO but should never have been introduced into single player RPGs. It just takes away from the immersion and offers nothing in return aside from being faster playing through the game. But it’s not difficult to design quests in a way that it’s clear what to do without having to have marks on a minimap.

Combat styles, evidently, proved to be more of a mixed bag:

The initial poll showed that combat overall isn’t very important to you. This one shows that there is no clear favorite type of combat. I guess it also depents on the type of view the game would have and if the game would have a party system or not.

Click on through to read the complete article, and to offer any feedback you may have via the comment form thereof.

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Ultima Online: Spring Contest Extended Fri, 22 Apr 2016 14:22:44 +0000

Broadsword Online Games have extended the Spring Contest they are running for Ultima Online:

I wanted to clear something up, if you wish to submit your screenshots to enter the contest please upload them here.  Due to difficulties in the beginning we are extending the contest till May 5.  Don’t miss out on your chance to win one of 2 teeshirts, a 15th year Lithograph or a plot from specific shards from Ter Mur (Human or Gargoyle).

If anyone needs to contact us directly you can email either or

So if you haven’t yet submitted your screenshots for the contest, you’ve got until early next month to get on that.

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Help Make Shards Online: Citadel Studios Needs an Engine Programmer Tue, 19 Apr 2016 21:47:26 +0000

Citadel Studios have posted a job opportunity for an engine programmer. It’s a full-time contract position; here are the details:

Job Title: Engine Programmer

City: Manassas, VA (Remote Candidates Considered)

Citadel Studios is looking for an experienced programmer to join the development efforts for Shards Online as a full-time independent contractor (month-to-month with 30 day notice of contract termination). We are an independent studio with a small team developing a highly anticipated online sandbox RPG. In this role, you will be working on both the server engine code (.NET/C#) and client code (Unity/C#) to implement core features for the game.

Click on through for specific job requirements and duties, and for information on how to apply.

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For The King: The User Experience Tue, 19 Apr 2016 18:42:31 +0000

IronOak Games have released another Kickstarter update, their first in a while. In it, they discuss some of the UI changes that For The King has seen since last we checked in with the project:

Now that most of our core systems are in and functioning, we’ve been gathering feedback from new users in order to tune the user experience (UX) so that first time players are able to understand and enjoy the game. This includes all aspects of the game but is heavily related to the UI presentation. Little things like feedback, tooltips, labels, and bigger things like presentation, clarity, and efficiency are all being addressed.

One of the biggest changes we’ve made is making the menus for things which are optional to interact with (such as towns) non-modal. It now pops up on the side of the screen where you can choose an option from the list or continue moving uninterrupted. It feels really good and is super streamlined.

They’ve also introduced a bunch of new enemies to the game, a screenshot of which can be seen above:

We’ve hired another character artist, Dan Begic, for a couple of months to aid in the final stretch of character creation. Dan, along with Wilson have been cranking out characters and enemies and they’re looking awesome! We now have the base 8 playable characters in game, as well as 95% of the enemies. We have roughly 50 unique enemies and 132 including variations.

The combat system has also seen some tuning:

And what fun are enemies without interesting ways to kill them (or be killed by them)? Another big focus for us has been our combat system. Most notably we’ve added an “active time” slider which shows the combat turn order. Now, quick characters like the Trapper get more turns on average than players like the Blacksmith, which helps make up for their lack of damage output. A Trapper might even get 3 shots in on a Troll before they strike, but when they do…

And, finally, the game’s soundtrack has seen some refinement as well:

The last big thing that has gone in is our soundtrack. Different music for different realms that blends as you traverse the world has added a ton of atmosphere to the world. For those of you who will be receiving the digital soundtrack, you’re in for a treat! John Robert Matz has been orchestrating nothing short of epicness.

Click on through to the update to find more screenshots, and a music sample as well.

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Ultima IX Redemption: Three More Surveys Tue, 19 Apr 2016 18:09:52 +0000

Corv has basically gone mad over the versatility of the new survey widget thing he’s using at the Titans of Ether website, and has published three additional surveys to further gauge just what comprises the optimal Ultima…at least among the community of those who are following Ultima IX: Redemption’s development:

I really enjoyed the input we got for the crafting system in Ultima. This alone made the whole poll idea worth it already.

So on to more detailed questions, like promised. If you are not satisfied with the answers you can choose from, or if you want to elaborate on your choice, then please feel free to comment here or in the forum. Thank you!

Some of those questions won’t be directly related to Redemption, but instead be general questions about how your optimal Ultima should look like. For example the “view “question is not directly relevant for Redemption because we can’t change to an isometric view in that engine, but I am still interested in your opinion about it.

Thus far — in addition to the results of the previous poll, in which the engaging storyline option proved to be the most popular — the survey results suggest that Ultima fans want an isometric RPG with real-time action combat and no mini-map (but, rather, a big map and possibly area-specific treasure maps).

Anyhow, click on through and vote in the new polls.

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Das Tal: Production Budget Has Now Surpassed €300,000 Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:07:33 +0000

Fairytale Distillery put out a press release about a week ago — yes, I’m behind! — announcing that they had secured additional funding to bolster the production budget of their sandbox survival MMORPG, Das Tal:

Munich, Germany – April 13th 2016 – Game investment fund FFF Bayern just announced (in German) that they are increasing their investment in German independent MMORPG Das Tal by €100,000 to a total of €180,000. Together with a recently doubled angel investment and other funds raised by the development studio Fairytale Distillery the full production budget has now surpassed €300,000.
Alexander Zacherl, Managing Director of Fairytale Distillery says: “Thanks so much to the FFF Bayern, the country of Bavaria and our business angel, Christian. Without you we would have never made it as far as we’re now with the production of Das Tal. Now it’s time to give everything we have to get the game ready for a release on Windows, Mac and Linux. We’ve got a ton of work to do – I should actually get back to that …”
FFF Bayern had already supported the development of Das Tal in 2014 with a prototype budget of €80,000. Just as now, the rest of the game’s budget got supplied by a business angel (game producer Christian Dickert) and the founders of Fairytale Distillery.
Zacherl continues: “We’re currently focussed on two massive projects: Increasing long-term motivation for game veterans though the addition of a host of new events, city buildings options and a brand new achievement system. And for new players we’re working on a long overdue tutorial, a mentoring system and many new options that allow for a fast connection with the rest of the Das Tal community.

That’s still something of a shoestring budget for developing a multiplayer sandbox game, it should be noted, but Fairytale Distillery seem to be doing quite well crafting Das Tal even with such relatively limited means.

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Ananias: Version 1.73 Released; iOS Version Now on Testflight Mon, 18 Apr 2016 19:52:25 +0000

Slashing Dragon has — after some delay — released version 1.73 of Ananias, his roguelike for web, PC, and Android devices. Albeit I suppose I can’t describe it as being solely for Android anymore, as this news update does contain a mention of the iOS version of the game. It hasn’t been released yet on Apple’s App Store, but it is evidently now in testing on Testflight. (Similarly, the Steam release is evidently getting closer.)


Standard Edition

Fellowship Edition





Major changes in this version of the game include:

New Feature – Tactics

  • Allow changing tactics: Offensive, Balanced and Defensive, with effects on hit and evade chance, damage and defense.
  • Add tactic bonuses by class.
  • Better commands for pets (Attack, Stay, Retreat). They obey orders based on their tame factor and the tame skills of player


  • Magic expertise (being able to cast spells safely) is now determined based on magic power.

There have also been a number of UI changes, of course; click on through to read the entire changelog.

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Shards Online: Skill System Detailed Mon, 18 Apr 2016 18:38:26 +0000

There’s a lengthy new update at the Shards Online website, in which we get some details about the skill system used in the game will work:

When we finally launch Shards Online later this year, we know there will be a fair amount of people out there who are instantly reminded of a few games – Ultima Online and Neverwinter Nights. That makes sense, especially the former, as our founder and CEO Derek Brinkmann worked for many years on UO. We believe that RPGs are at their best when they reward you for the activities you enjoy doing. And that same rule goes for our character progression system. Crafting, exploring, and looting are all big parts of Shards, but none of it means a lick if you’re not out there building your character through dozens of skills.

How Does Our Skill System Work?

There are no set classes in Shards Online. Instead, there are skills that everyone can learn and use from the word go. However, just because you know how to use a fireball doesn’t mean you’re going to be any good at doing so. The more you use any skill, the better you become at wielding it. It’s that simple. Like anything, practice makes perfect. Some skills are found easily in your opening moments with the game, while others are found through adventuring in Celador.

The Skills of Shards Online

At launch, we’ll have 30 skills for players to train in, each with their own unique uses and effects on gameplay. From swords to fireballs, animal taming to lumberjacking and potion making, we’ve got a whole lot of skills to master. At launch, each one of these skills can be leveled up in effectiveness to level 50. Certain stats boost the effectiveness of each skill too: Throwing is bolstered by Agility, while Bashing is bolstered by Strength and so on.

Each one of these skills have separate abilities ties to them, which you’ll place on your hotbar as well. For instance, in the magic line, Manifestation allows Fireball, Lightning, Heal, Resurrect, Teleport and others. Meanwhile the Animal Ken skill line will grant you Calm, Tame, Shared Existence, and more. Each skill line opens up a whole new way to play the game and fight your enemies. We’ll take a deeper look at each skill line further down the road.

Click on through for a couple more screenshots of some of Shards’ skills and abilities in action, and for additional notes on how the different skills are grouped and categorized.

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