The Ultima Codex The Ultima Fan Network Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:10:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Shroud of the Avatar – Update of teh Avatar #122 Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:10:46 +0000

Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

  • PaxLair: SotA’s First Player Owned Town
  • Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings Comic
  • Summon Phoenix Skill
  • Abe’s Solace Bridge Upgrades
  • Release 17 Dev+ QA Server is Live
  • More Fences Galore
  • AmbushedGamer Live twitch Interview with Lord British
  • Get Your Red Fez Hat!
  • Send Gift Function Added to Account Page


PaxLair: SotA’s First Player Owned Town

Dallas writes:

I found myself having an emotional moment last night when I logged into the R17 Dev+ QA servers to get some screenshots of PaxLair for this update. I found 20 or so other backers when I arrived, some of them long-time citizens of PaxLair from Ultima Online days, and others just visiting. PaxLair is the first Player Owned Town (PoT) in SotA, and we’re using it to help us work out the construction process for all PoTs.

The concept of PoTs in SotA goes all the way back to our Kickstarter campaign, when some of us on the team discussed the notion of “Guild Towns”, places that guilds could call their own. These discussions were mostly internal to the team, as it wasn’t something we felt we could include in the design of SotA for budgetary reasons.

But over the course of the first year of our development, Richard and Winfield, the Governor of PaxLair, discussed how PaxLair could find a home in SotA. PaxLair has been operating in Ultima Online since 1998, and is considered the oldest, continuously operating Player Town in UO. PaxLair was established in SotA during Pre-Alpha Release 5 in April 2014 with the first PaxLair Town Hall. Lord British visited their first SotA “homestead” and declared it to be SotA’s first Player Town.

Starting with Pre-Alpha Release 6 in May 2014, PaxLair established itself in the the SotA town of Valemark, meticulously rebuilding their town between every data wipe (which was happening every month until just recently). PaxLair wasn’t alone in these endeavors. There were several other “homestead” towns that re-built themselves every release, including Dara Brae – The Celtic Holdfast (established in Northshire), Vengeance (established in The Brave Coast), Beran’s Reach (established in The Brave Coast), and Port Phoenix (established in Holtrot, then Kingsport).

Discussions between Richard and Winfield about player towns continued, and due to the success of our ongoing crowdfunding, it was decided in June 2104 to make Player Owned Towns an official feature of Episode 1. Player Owned Towns were added to our website store, and PaxLair was the very first to purchase our largest PoT, deemed a “Player Owned City“.

We were not prepared for how popular PoTs were going to be. Backers were purchasing more towns than we anticipated. In fact, many backers wanted even larger towns, so we made a “Metropolis” available, which PaxLair (among others) immediately upgraded to. PoTs weren’t scheduled for development until Q1-2015, so PoT owners have been excitedly waiting until we could deliver their towns to them. Last month we were finally able to start that process.

As described in our PoT Store, all PoTs will be based on a collection of pre-designed templates that can be varied by lot placements, NPC home placement, and type of biome. We are just beginning the process of designing those templates. Because of PaxLair’s unique and long-running history in the worlds of Britannia (and New Britannia), our ongoing discussions with them over the past two years, and the fact they were the first to purchase our largest PoT (a City which became a Metropolis), we chose them to be the “guinea pig” for our first test template.

Like most PoT owners, they had a very specific vision for their PoT. However, they had to greatly revise their vision to accommodate the constraints of our world building technology and the further constraints of operating as a template. Our goal has been to have this first template we use for PaxLair be one of the several templates all PoT owners will be able to select from. Under those conditions, the design of PaxLair needed to conform to the many template-based constraints our development process imposed.


It has been almost a year since the first PoTs were purchased, and now, with Release 17, all backers will be able to experience SotA’s first player owned town, PaxLair. It is still a work-in-progress, while we collaborate with the owners of PaxLair to sort through the issues of template-based town development. But even given all these constraints, once we were able to walk through this first iteration of a player owned town, it was a moving experience.

I started this article by saying I found myself having an emotional moment last night when I logged into the R17 Dev+ QA servers to get some screenshots of PaxLair for this update. I specifically wanted a screenshot of Wody’s Tavern, the location for the FireLotus Release 17 Party scheduled for next Friday, May 1, at 2:00 pm CST. I initially zoned to Amber Raine for directions, but she was AFK. Sean Silverfoot was nearby and he graciously volunteered to escort me to Wody’s Tavern, and stood by while I grabbed some screenshots. Sean suggested I also check out the Stage that Themo Lock has been building, as it more decorated out than Wody’s Tavern was at the moment.

I chatted with Sean, and several of the PaxLair citizens, and I was moved by their excitement and passion for finally being able to settle into their own town. It caused me to reflect upon how momentous an event these Player Owned Towns represent in the realm of RPG virtual worlds, and the impact they are going to have on all of us. This fact was driven home for me when Sean expressed his deep gratitude to all of us on the SotA dev team for helping them live an experience that many of them have been waiting 17 years for (yeah, I got a little misty-eyed when he said that).

We, the development team, cannot take credit for what PaxLair, and all other PoTs, are to become. We have simply provided the canvas upon which the communities of these towns will paint their masterpieces. The wealth of community-generated content, community-run events, and community-driven social connectivity, are the well-spring of the deep and lasting sense of belongingness they will bring to each of our lives.



PaxLair’s town marker on the in-game Overworld map of Novia:



Umm, are these yellow flowers supposed to be PaxLair? (okay, okay, we’ll get some buildings there soon):



Wody’s Tavern (the location of the FireLotus Release 17 Party next Friday at 2:00 pm CST) is housed in the Greenhouse building located in the town square near the base of the tall Moon Tower:


Themo Lock is busily decorating the theatrical stage area in preparation for The New Britannia Theater Troupe presentation of Aurum Berries at 9:00 am CST, Sunday, May 3:



PaxLair is organizing several community events for their inaugural weekend May 1 thru May 3. Those events will be reflected in the community calendars here and here as they are scheduled. Stay tuned to next week’s update for more information on those events.

Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings Comic


Portalarium and myself are excited to announce the availability of the first officially licensed SotA comic from Tortoise & Hare Creations, Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings!

Created by W.O. Billman II (plot, script, and editing) and Indi Martin (pencils, inks, colors, and lettering), New Beginnings tells the story of a corrupt land, where a young farmer and his wife find themselves embroiled in a lethal powerplay with local constables, and seek a fabled escape to a legendary world.

New Beginnings is available now in both print and digital copies, including signed print copies:

Unsigned Print on Demand & Digital Copies:

Signed Print Copies:

Here are a few sample panels from New Beginnings to whet your appetite:





Become a Tortoise & Hare Creations Patron

If you enjoy Indi and William’s work then check out their Patreon page and if you like what you see become a Tortoise & Hare Creations Patron!  I am a proud backer myself.  Indi and I enjoy some simlilar things and as a fellow artist and writer, this couple is a joy to have gotten to know.

Summon Phoenix Skill

The Summon Phoenix skill has been added to the Sun skill group for Release 17, and Wow, it looks pretty awesome! Check out these images that Finn Staber captured:




Here are a few images of the Phoenix inside the new Soltown Sewers, also coming in Release 17 next week:



Abe’s Solace Bridge Upgrades

Abe Robertson recently turned his attention to the combat-ravaged version of Solace Bridge used in the starting area. Here are a few samples of his work that you’ll find in Release 17:




Release 17 Dev+ QA Server is Live

For Release 17 and all future releases, the dev team is going to make an effort to get the QA server up sooner for Dev+ backers and patch it more often during the release cycle. Starting with R18 they plan on publishing at least once a week so we can give earlier feedback on the new features and to give them more time to balance changes before launching a release to all backers.

The Release 17 QA version was launched yesterday to all backers at the Developer pledge tier and above. Here is the Dev+ Forum post from BurningToad with instructions for accessing the R17 QA version:

We will be starting Dev+ testing early this release! The QA version of SotA has been updated to version 202, which is available through the Launcher or through Steam (follow instructions below.)

Dev+ Access is now enabled. I don’t yet know if it will be up continuously until R17 or if we will take it up and down.

The test set up is like the R16 Dev+ test, with the test happening on a separate server, known as the “QA Server.” You will be able to play through Steam or through a new SotA Launcher install.

If you want to play through Steam:

WARNING: Participating in this could use up to 2 GB+ of data download via steam each time you move back and forth between versions.

To participate follow these instructions:

  1. Right click on the game in your game library
  2. Go to Properties
  3. Click on the tab at the top that says BETAS
  4. Enter the beta access code “DevPlusOnly1″ and hit Check Code.
  5. Select “devplustest” from the dropdown menu
  6. Steam will switch the install to the new branch

To return to playing in normal follow these instructions:

  • Go back to the properties beta tab and select “none – opt out of all beta programs” and it will switch you back to the normal install.

If you want to play through the Launcher:

WARNING: If you have not downloaded a QA installer before, you will have to download another copy of the game, which is currently about 3.3GB of data. However, you won’t have to do this each time you switch back and forth.

You have to download a separate copy of the game. For Windows users, you can download and install this new installer, which will install the QA version of the game. It exists independently from the regular live version of the game and installs to a separate folder.



Mac: of the Avatar – Installer(QA).pkg

More Fences Galore

We’re adding sixteen new fence styles to Release 17 which launches on April 30. Some of the fences will be available in-game and some in the Add-On Store, and some will even be added to basic pledge rewards (stay tuned for that info in an upcoming Update). Last week we showcased seven of the new fences, and here are the remaining nine that’ll be available in R17:

Hedge Fence (add-on)


Floral Hedge Fence (add-on)


Rough Wooden Fence (in-game)


Tall Hedge Fence (add-on)


Tall Floral Hedge Fence (add-on)


Tall Ivy Covered Stone Fence (add-on)


Ornate Wooden Fence (add-on)


Ornate Stone Fence (add-on)


Tall Rough Stone Fence (in-game)


Be sure and check out the Release 16 Events thread in the SotA forums for additional events that may not be included here.AmbushedGamer Live twitch Interview with Richard “Lord British” GarriottThe Ambushed Gaming Network is already hard at work streaming SotA live at all hours with audiences both large and small. Join Kevin “Beetlebear” during the live broadcast of his interview with Richard Garriott at 2:00pm CST on April 28th at


Get Your Red Fez Hat!

This Red Fez Hat is now available in the Add-On Store (and will be available in-game with Release 17 starting April 30).


Send Gift Function Added to Account Page

The ability to send un-claimed Add-On items as gifts has been added to your SotA Account Page. This makes it easy to send Add-On items you’ve already purchased as a gift. Just go to your Account page and you’ll see the new “Send as Gift” button along side the “Convert to Credits” button for any of your un-claimed Add-On items.


]]> 0
Hearth of Britannia: Theme for Rabbling Fri, 24 Apr 2015 19:05:39 +0000 So this would be the surprise that Rustic Dragon teased yesterday:

You can find lyrics for the tune at the Hearth of Britannia website. Here’s the chorus:

So we toast to our triumphs, and we drink with our dragons,
Where the fire warms our asses, and mead fills our flagons
When it seems like the whole bloody world can’t stand ya
You’ll always have a home at the Hearth of Britannia
Oh you’ll always have a home at the Hearth of Britannia!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Space Bards contributed the music for the tune. And yes, that is Rustic Dragon himself on the penny whistle.

]]> 0
Hearth of Britannia Returns…Tomorrow? Fri, 24 Apr 2015 03:53:55 +0000

Missing The Hearth of Britannia? Well, prepare thine anus for tomorrow will be an excellent day indeed! #stayTuned

— Rustic Dragon (@RusticDragon) April 23, 2015

Rustic Dragon sent out the tweet above a few hours prior to this post being written, and it would seem to tease that the Hearth of Britannia will have something big on the go tomorrow. Whether this means that the Hearth website will be updated with news that Rustic Dragon is pursuing the project’s original goal (a cookbook of Britannian fare, essentially), or whether this means that we can expect to enjoy another Dragonsmeet, is still up in the air.

But…this is a Rustic Dragon project, so whatever it is, it’s sure to be entertaining.

]]> 0
Ultima 4 Remastered: Version 2.2 Released Fri, 24 Apr 2015 03:47:52 +0000 MagerValp has released version 2.2 of Ultima 4 Remastered, his near-complete reworking of the Commodore 64 port of Ultima 4:

A few more bugs were reported (thank you!), and I really wanted to get my list of known bugs down to zero. Unless people discover even more bugs this is likely to be the final release.

Atari & Apple II ports

Users from the other 6502 platforms have also shown some interest in remastered versions. I don’t have any contacts in the Apple or Atari cracking scene, so I thought I’d put a note in here. If you’re interested let me know and I can help you navigate the project.

What’s New in v2.2

  • The game no longer hangs when playing the 1541 version and answering questions wrong in the codex.
  • Attacking static NPCs such as Ankhs, castle lords & ladies, the water in Castle Britannia, or the camp fire in Yew no longer leads to a glitching enemy in combat. Attacking chests dropped by townespeople is no longer possible.
  • Fixed stack handling for main menu, when being attacked by monsters, when dying, and the end game. This hopefully eliminates any crashes to the ready prompt.
  • The avoid combat trainer now works in dungeons too.

As per usual, you can grab Ultima 4 Remastered from either its CSDb entry, or its project entry here at the Codex.

]]> 0
Shroud of the Avatar: Last Early Concept Art Pieces From Denis Loubet Fri, 24 Apr 2015 03:35:05 +0000 Denis Loubet has posted the last pieces from his collection of early Shroud of the Avatar character concept art to the Ultima Dragons Facebook group. The first is a full-colour image of a character type called the Dignitary:

I’ve been saving the best for last.

Here is my absolute favorite of the early Shroud of the Avatar character concepts. This gentleman has all the steampunk cool rolled into one outfit.

He’s got the self-satisfied expression and casual stance that all empire-builders should have, in addition to the long coat and leather spats. And The Hat. The Hat is to die for.


The second expands upon the same character set with a pair of sketches:

Last of the early Shroud of the Avatar character concept art. I like how the radiant shirt is continued on his Jacket, and how the peacock-like gown creates an interesting silhouette.


In his second post, Loubet also teased what his next series of Shroud of the Avatar-related images will comprise:

I’ll start posting the few architectural concepts I did next. Stay tuned.

As always, you can get early access to this material — and other Denis Loubet-created artwork — by supporting him on Patreon.

]]> 0
Ultima Journeys: Caverns Deep, Dungeons Old (Ultima 5) Fri, 24 Apr 2015 03:20:34 +0000 Linguistic Dragon managed to defeat the two remaining Shadowlords in yet another foray into the depths of Ultima 5:

With the defeat of Faulinei at the end of my last session, I realized that I’m hurtling pretty quickly toward the endgame of Ultima V, and I’m… surprised at how smooth the ride has been, really. I’ve mentioned before my difficulties in getting into the game on my previous attempts, but they haven’t really been an issue this time around. I’m not exactly sure why, either. Maybe it’s because I have more reason to see the game through to its end, what with a blog to “hold me accountable” to a degree. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken the time to really process the game, think through my impressions and the game design so I have something interesting to say. Or maybe it’s just because I’m finally becoming ‘fluent’ in Ultima V – I’m so used to doing everything the way Ultima IV does, there’s been some ‘translation’ issues. For example, to mix, say, a Tremor spell in Ultima IV, my fingers go on autopilot and hit M-T-E-A-H-Enter, and poof, one Tremor spell all mixed and ready to go. It’s muscle memory in action, I don’t even have to think about what those individual keystrokes represent, I just know that’s the sequence that gets me a Tremor spell. Here, I have to remember the incantation, look up which reagents go with it. Sometimes I forget the sextant is something I have to (U)se now instead of (L)ocate with, and that I can only do so at night. These sorts of things used to be an impediment – not so anymore.

As such, I’m finding it difficult to stop playing long enough to write up a synopsis of the session!

In the end, though, it meant that the three Shadowlords were all defeated. I had the Crown Jewels in my possession as well, which meant it was time to prepare for my last sojourn into the depths, this time through Shame. Dungeon delving had given Jaana, Johne and Shamino the experience they needed to reach level five. Yew and Cove provided the stock of reagents I needed, and I prepared several high-level spells for use. I set sail for Buccaneer’s Den to make sure I didn’t run out of gems like I had on my way through Wrong. I poked around Serpent’s Spine in the hopes of finding the glass swords I’d been hearing about, and did eventually find a few of them. I would need every advantage I could get in the trials to come, so best to make sure I collected as many as possible.

When all was said and done, though, we set sail one last time. We docked our ship, set out through the waterways in our skiff, and as Shame came into view, we remembered the words of the Codex:

That which the world has lost awaits thy coming.

The paragraphs above are just the beginning and almost-end of the post, which is much longer than what has been excerpted here. As always, do yourself a favour and click on through to read the whole thing.

And don’t miss Linguistic’s follow-up commentary, either:

…the story of the Ultima series appeals to me in another manner, namely because it doesn’t exposit all the details. It’s true, yes, that much of the effectiveness of a story, and indeed any creative endeavor, lies in the detail work, so you don’t want to forgo them entirely, and Ultima certainly doesn’t ignore the minutiae. At the same time, though, its story leaves the player with a lot to interpret for themselves – it trusts the player to fill in the blanks on their own. It’s more the framework of a story, a series of plot points and motivations set before the player which they can then thread together and interpret with as much or as little import as they want to give it. Granted, I think a good deal of this is, in part, a product of its time – there just wasn’t the ability to include the grand, lavish cutscenes or several novels’ worth of meticulously crafted writing back in the 80s. Even so, allowing a player to do some of the work in crafting the dramatics, if only in their imagination, can be just as conducive to crafting an excellent story as anything else.

And yes, there’s more of that to read, as well.

]]> 0
Ultima Online: New Player Event Coordinator for Japanese Shards Thu, 23 Apr 2015 04:22:36 +0000 Broadsword Online Games announced, today, that another Player Event Coordinator has been brought on board for Ultima Online’s Japanese shards (AsukaHokutoIzumoMizuhoMugenSakuraWakoku, and Yamato):

We are happy to announce the addition of another Player Event Coordinator to work with the Japanese shards. He will start the first of May to help any players with their events. His name is Naniwa and you can contact him at The same rules apply, please contact him 2 weeks in advance so he can schedule his time to assist everyone.

(Image credit: Ultima Online on Facebook)

]]> 0
Crowfall: Job Openings; Wyvern Concept Art Thu, 23 Apr 2015 04:12:07 +0000 The first job openings have been posted at the Crowfall website:

We’ve just posted our first open positions for Crowfall on our brand-new Jobs page: Achieving the stretch goal for “Replace Eric” means we’re looking for a first-class particle artist, and we also are looking for an excellent UI/UX artist. These positions are our first available jobs here at ArtCraft. If you have the listed skills and experience and live in (or are willing to move to) beautiful Austin, Texas, please apply for the appropriate job.

There are currently two positions open:


ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. is looking for a UI/UX Artist for our MMO game development. The ideal candidate will have at least 2+ years using Unity3D in the video games industry as UI/UX artist and at least 4+ years overall game development experience and multiple shipped titles.


ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. is looking for a VFX Artist for our MMO game development. The ideal candidate will have at least two years using Unity3D in the video games industry as an effects artist and at least four years overall game development experience and multiple shipped titles.

Additionally, concept art for the Wyvern, one of the more powerful enemies in the game, has been released…along with some more lore explaining the role of Wyverns in the Crowfall mythos. Wyverns being affected by the degradation that plagues all the worlds of Crowfall, there were of course four different concept pieces created, each depicting a different state of its gradual decay. Here, for example, is the Wyvern in the Fall stage of a campaign:


Finally, there’s the video above, in which ArtCraft’s Lead UX/UI Artist, Billy Garretsen, chats with Senior Concept Artist Allison Theus (who created the Wyvern concept above, by the way) about the creative process, and how the concept art for Crowfall is evolving. Theus also offers some advice for aspiring game artists; it might be worth a listen if you count that among your aspirations.

]]> 0
Ananias Roguelike: Version 1.58 Released; Coming to Desura Next Month Thu, 23 Apr 2015 03:54:27 +0000 Slashing Dragon has released version 1.58 of Ananias Roguelike, which corrects a number of issues experienced by early testers of the game’s desktop versions.

…you can now download the game for PC, Mac and Linux…just be sure to keep up to date (the game will remind you :)). The downloads are free, and just for the standard edition for now. You can download them from or GameJolt.

If you download from you have the option of contributing some money for development, which you will promptly do.

And as usual, you can play online or download for android

Slash has also taken a couple of major steps to further expand the availability of Ananias:

We got word from Desura and we will go live there on May 26 :D, meanwhile we are waiting for word from GoG…

You can find Ananias on Desura right now (Desura being another digital distribution service for games, not unlike Origin or Steam), and you can even pre-install the game files. It won’t be playable until next month, though.

However, this expansion in platforms comes at a cost:

As more platforms get supported, releasing the game becomes a very time consuming job. This means it’s likely for releases to take a bit longer from now on… next massive release will likely be 2.0

Only iOS remains pending, but I have not forgotten you, my iPhone-loving friends

Don’t forget to vote for Ananias Roguelike on Steam Greenlight, if you haven’t already done so.

]]> 0
80 level Interviews Richard Garriott; Shroud of the Avatar Release Window Discussed Thu, 23 Apr 2015 03:37:24 +0000 There’s a short interview with Richard Garriott over at 80 level, in which the development state of Shroud of the Avatar — and the contributions of the fan community — are discussed in some detail.

What stage of development is Shroud of the Avatar on?

We are now on the home stretch we think. We’re at release 15, which mean for 15 months now we’ve been releasing every month for every 3rd week of the month the latest and greatest version. For the last four months, we’ve actually kept the servers live and operational 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We think that we’re about 80% systems complete. All the major systems are in but a lot of them need to be finished out. Maybe half the spells are in, half the skills are in, and a similar amount of the recipes have been plugged into the crafting system. But all those systems are now present (well most of them). The things that’s going to take us the longest, close to the end of the year, are creating maps and the NPCs that advance the story throughout the game. Technically since all the systems still aren’t present and all the maps aren’t present, we aren’t even at the alpha but we are close.

The player base of the game also comes up:

How many players do you have right now?

So we have 150,000 people who signed up, 50,000 people who’ve already made their purchase, and the number of people who are actively playing at any moment is already at the hundreds even on work days during alpha.

Unity and the advantages it has brought, both in terms of cost reduction and in terms of the development pace that Portalarium has been able to maintain, is also discussed. And the big question — which has been on the minds of many, of late — also gets asked:

The game will be released around this year or next year?

Right at the cusp of the end of the year, we’re not sure if it’s in the year or out of the year but right around the end of the year is when it will go completely final.

Okay, it’s not the most…definitive answer, although it does kind of give us a window; “the cusp of the end of the year” strongly implies December or January, at least to my mind. This roughly lines up with what the International Business Times claimed Garriott had said about Shroud’s release date back in February.

]]> 1
Did You Catch Richard Garriott on Axe of the Blood God’s Second Episode? Thu, 23 Apr 2015 03:27:02 +0000 For those of you who weren’t aware — this includes me, by the way, until about ten minutes ago — Axe of the Blood God is the name of US Gamer’s podcast. Not unlike our own Spam Spam Spam Humbug, their podcast is a fairly recent addition to their site; the second episode was recorded during GDC 2015 (which was held at the beginning of March).

And in that second episode, podcaster Kat Bailey had the chance to speak with Richard Garriott about Shroud of the Avatar, his game design philosophy, and the challenges that exist for a team that is trying to make an MMORPG* on a small budget.

* Yes, I know that Shroud of the Avatar isn’t really an MMORPG.

Bailey also chats with Shadowrun Chronicles producer Jan Wagner over the course of the episode’s 74 minute length, so if that game is also to your interest, do give the whole thing a listen.

]]> 0
Richard Garriott Discusses Luna 21 and Lunokhod 2 Thu, 23 Apr 2015 03:14:44 +0000 Those of you who have been following the Codex and its predecessor for a while now will recall that, back in 2013, it was revealed that Richard Garriott had become the owner of two objects on the surface of the Moon: the Luna 21 lander and the Lunokhod 2 rover.

Evidently, though, the people who run the Space Archaeology blog weren’t aware of this, and thus had a spirited conversation with Richard Garriott via Twitter — about his ownership of the lander and rover, and the politics and economics surrounding ownership of objects on the Moon — back in January.

It’s worth a read in full, but here are a couple choice quotes from Lord British:

It’s that last one, I think, that’s particularly interesting.

]]> 1
Ultima 7, Wing Commander 3 & 4 Added to Humble Origin Bundle Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:20:04 +0000 We all knew this was coming after it was leaked last week that Ultima 7, Wing Commander 3, and Wing Commmander 4 (oh, and SimCity 2000) were slated to be added to the Humble Origin Bundle (Origin in the sense of EA’s digital storefront, not the game development company we all know and love).

But now it’s official:

We are seven days into the Humble Origin Bundle 2, and are already blown away by the amazing generosity from the gaming community all over the Globe. So far, gamers have picked up 395,000 bundles, and raised $1.9 million for charity! You’re all amazing, and together we’re well on our way to raising a ton of money for Girls Who Code, The V-Foundation, and buildOn.

As amazing as the first week has been, we’re not done yet. It’s time to sweeten the deal: As of today, we’ve added four more games to the Humble Origin Bundle 2, bringing the bundle up to 13 awesome games! To see the full bundle (and to get one for yourself!), head on over to

New to the bundle are the space sim epics Wing Commander III and IV, the legendary city-builder SimCity 2000, and the classic Richard Garriott RPG Ultima VII. If you previously purchased the beat the average tier of Humble Origin Bundle 2, these titles are automatically yours at no additional cost!

You need only pay any amount in excess of the current $4.94 USD average to score Ultima 7, the Wing Commander games, and SimCity, and for that amount you’ll also get Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age 2, and a couple other games.

]]> 0
Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 6 – The Manuals Were Beautiful Wed, 22 Apr 2015 13:31:26 +0000
Episode 6 – The Manuals Were Beautiful

In which SSSH discusses the attention and detail that were put into the manuals and reference books that accompanied the Ultima games.

The sixth episode of Spam Spam Spam Humbug is now live, and is also available for download here. In this session, the SSSH team discusses the attention and detail that were put into the manuals and reference books that accompanied the Ultima games.

The catalyst for the discussion, by the way, was this Kotaku article about The Beauty of the Game Instruction Manual. Not that it’s a bad article; it offers up some pretty excellent examples of beautiful game manuals, and it touches on how an information-rich, artistically detailed manual can add to the experience of playing a game. But in both the article proper and in the ensuing comments, no mention of any Ultima manual is made…which is an unfortunate oversight given the sheer volume of detail and artistry that went into the creation of the books that were included with every title in the series.

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

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

Finally, there’s the Ultima Codex Patreon. A $10 pledge will get you access to Spam Spam Spam Humbug episodes the day before they go live here on the site, and you’ll be helping me both maintain and — with sufficient funding — expand the server infrastructure of the Codex to better deliver all the things you come looking for thereat.

]]> 0
Check Out the Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings Comic Book Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:59:40 +0000 The latest news posted to the Shroud of the Avatar website announces the release of a new comic book, set in the Shroud of the Avatar universe:

We are excited to announce the availability of the first officially licensed SotA comic from Tortoise & Hare Creations, Shroud of the Avatar: New Beginnings!

Created by W.O. Billman II (plot, script, and editing) and Indi Martin (pencils, inks, colors, and lettering), New Beginnings tells the story of a corrupt land, where a young farmer and his wife find themselves embroiled in a lethal powerplay with local constables, and seek a fabled escape to a legendary world.

New Beginnings is available now in both print and digital copies, including signed print copies:

The Etsy link is to the Tortoise & Hare Creations storefront; if you want to order the New Beginnings comic specifically, you’ll want to click here instead.

Tortoise & Hare are also the ones who made this excellent creature art for Goldenflame Dragon’s The Dark Unknown, by the way. You can also back them on Patreon, if you feel so inclined.

You can see a few samples of the comic above, and there are a couple more samples to be found in Dallas Snell’s post on the Shroud of the Avatar website. The artwork is great (obviously), and the story seems interesting, at least based on what’s revealed in the samples. Signed physical copies go for a fairly reasonable rate ($12.59 CAD, so around the $10 mark in USD), and the digital copies are available for half that or less.

]]> 3
Check Out the Shroud of the Avatar Companion Apps Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:22:09 +0000 In keeping with a trend that has seen similar applications released for other MMORPGs, there are a couple of community-developed companion applications in the works for Shroud of the Avatar, one of which was given a shout-out in a recent Update of the Avatar.

That app, created by one Brenton, is in development for iOS at present (and will thereafter be ported to Android). Beta version 6.1 of it has just been released, and I can say (as one who has it installed) that it seems to be fairly stable, and about as comprehensive as one could reasonably expect a companion app for a still-in-development game to be.

More of a community focus.

More of a community focus.

The other companion app is being developed by a team led by one Matterio, and is targeting both iOS and Android from the get-go.

The apps have different focuses: Brenton’s app is very much about Shroud of the Avatar, and contains lots of information about information relevant to those playing the game. You’ll find maps, crafting recipes, a bestiary, and an adventuring guide therein, along with the ability to take notes about creatures and characters.

Matterio’s app, on the other hand, focuses on the community surrounding Shroud; it connects to the Avatar’s Radio stream and the official IRC channel, pulls Shroud-related news from a handful of fansites, and offers a calendar of community events. Planned features include a view of SotAWiki, and also maps of Novia and its points of interest.

Neither app is available on an app store (iTunes or Google Play) yet; both are still in beta. But the developers will happily add you to their respective beta programs if you send them an email address.

]]> 0
Ultima Journeys: Storming the Castle (Ultima 5) Tue, 21 Apr 2015 04:50:41 +0000 Linguistic Dragon continues romping through Ultima 5:

…by the time I decided we’d all gained enough experience to move onward and make some progress, Aric had climbed his way to level seven, while Dupre and Jaana were just over the edge of level five. Shamino, Iolo and Johne all were holding strong at level four themselves, and some pit stops at Yew and Trinsic to sell off unnecessary equipment earned me enough cash to outfit everyone with a magic axe, a shield, and the best armor I could find for everyone – scale for Johne, chain mail for Jaana, and full plate for the rest of us.

And on that note, this seems like an ideal time to bring up the subject of loot gained during combat. No longer is it just a reward of gold – monsters now also occasionally leave behind equipment, and the tougher the enemy, the better it’s likely to be. I haven’t bought a single torch, gem, or key (save for skull keys, of course), subsisting entirely on what’s been left behind by enemies and what can be scrounged up in dungeons. Combat feels a bit more rewarding in this respect, especially with the hard fights – it’s satisfying to pummel a few dragons into submission and find myself a few In Mani Corp scrolls richer for it. With the addition of potions, scrolls, and magic rings into the mix as well, I feel like I’ve got a lot of options for dealing with the situations in front of me, though I’m not sure how many of them I’ll actually think to make use of. Just the fact that it is available is something, though.

And that’s just the beginning of the latest Ultima Journeys entry. At the outcome of the (lengthy!) tale, Linguistic Dragon was able to banish the Shadowlord of Falsehood, but not before taking a perilous and lengthy journey through the Underworld.

As usual, you should click on through and read the whole thing; Linguistic amped up the narrative element in this installment, and gives a suitably dramatic air to just about all the events chronicled therein.

This comment, made toward the end of the post, is worth highlighting, because it’s something that came up during the recording session for the next Spam Spam Spam Humbug episode:

I had a rip-roaring good time with this session. I’ve never been this far in Ultima V before, and man, have I been missing out. Charting out Lord British’s path in the Underworld and following in his footsteps, seeing the sign and the abandoned skiff and the graves – I don’t get that kind of feeling from many games even now. And people talk about those gaming moments that they’re somewhat sad they’ll never get to experience for the first time again… I think I can add ‘destroying a Shadowlord’ to my own. Even though I have two more to hunt down and defeat, I know what to expect now, and that shake of the screen just won’t hold the same effect now that I know it’s coming.

If that isn’t excellent game design, then it’s quite possible that nothing is.

]]> 0
Ananias Roguelike: Version 1.57 Released; Page; Windows and OS X Test Builds Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:03:53 +0000 Slashing Dragon released version 1.57 of Ananias Roguelike last week, which introduced two new playable classes to the Fellowship Edition of the game:

  • Barbarian
    • Charge: Double attack if attacking when running towards an enemy
    • Rage: Gets melee attack bonus the lower its hitpoints
    • Courage: Recovers hp for killing enemies
    • Cannot read spells, Cannot use heavy armor, Can block attacks (but not parry)
  • Slayer
    • Assault: Jump attack on enemies while running toward them
    • Slash: Cut through enemies while moving
    • Throwing weapons bonus
    • Cannot use heavy armor

There’s no word on when/if these classes will find their way into the standard version of the game. That being said, Slash also made numerous bugfixes and adjustments to both versions of the game, so if you play Ananias for free, you’ll still find a few new things in both the online and Android builds thereof. Slash has also set up an page for Ananias, whereat you can both play and contribute financially to the development of the game.

And don’t forget: Ananias Roguelike is on Steam Greenlight. Vote for it!

Additionally, and more recently, Slash has released test builds of the desktop version of Ananias for Windows and OS X:

I have released downloadable builds for Windows, Mac and Linux, built using node-webkit-builder + nw.js.

You can download them at

Please let me know how they work so I can make them public :)

Two areas require testing:

  • Since this is the first downloadable build, we need to know that everything works well generally speaking. So just play around and get the ring of Ananias.
  • Also, there was a subtle but important change on the items interaction code, so if you could pick, drop, throw, use and mess around with items and see everything works fine, that’d be great!

It occurs to me that I really need to update the Ananias project entry with links to its current downloads, and with some notes on its new features.

]]> 0
Wallpaper for the Week (Views of Britannia: The Cape of Heroes) Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:18:31 +0000 big_2efa2a4362e10c0dd781f4c6fe46243bf03abdf4

For whatever reason — probably because of the various notable shipwrecks that occurred there — I have always imagined that the Cape of Heroes, and the islands that stretch out from it, would look something like this. (Image via The Paper Wall.)

]]> 0
Crowfall: Pledge Upgrades Available; Myrmidon Archetype Revealed Mon, 20 Apr 2015 03:34:31 +0000 There have been a couple new updates posted to the Crowfall website over the last couple of days. One announces the availability of pledge upgrades for all backers. The pledge upgrade process is straightforward enough:

First, you have to have a account, and you have to have your Kickstarter package merged with that account (or have purchased a package directly at which is on your account).

Now, if you are on the site and logged into your account you’ll see a “Upgrade Pledge” button at the top of most pages.  Click on that and you’ll end up at the packages page and it will show you your upgrade options.

For Kickstarter folks (including those who purchased during the Kickstarter period at, you can upgrade from your current Kickstarter package to a higher package for the difference in price.

For folks that pledged after 7am on March 26th on our website, you can both upgrade from your current package to larger packages for the price differential, and can also purchase multiple packages if you want.  We’ll be adding a gifting mechanism so if you want to buy a package for a friend and transfer it to them in the future you can do so.

The second bit of news announces the reveal of the Myrmidon archetype, which is the new name for the Minotaur archetype that was unlocked when the game raised $1.5 million. For the artistically curious, there’s also a video demonstrating the creation of the female Confessor archetype base model in ZBrush.

]]> 0