The Ultima Codex The Ultima Fan Network Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:28:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Ultima Codex 32 32 33386326 Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #233 Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:28:55 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

Isle of Storms Polish

Since this is the very first scene players encounter the devs put in some additional visual polish this release, making various improvements to lighting, terrain, visual effects, and flora.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski]

Hello Avatars!

We’ve been busy with lots of improvements and updates this release. We keep improving visual tools and assets to build scenes with, and so it’s fun to re-visit some of the older existing maps and touch them up with our new toys.

Hutch, Damon, and I have been touching up Isle of Storms recently (as well as an update to Arabella from the character team!). Here’s some of our progress:










After! (The Mirror Area will get some additional love beyond this)









More changes are coming about to the Lunar Rift area, the Oracle Confirmatory and more! Thanks for following our progress!

Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski
Level Designer

Crypt of the Avatar Before & After Polish

The Crypt of the Avatar went live originally in Release 29 but the focal point of this scene, the actual Crypt and Sarcophagus of the Avatar, have been placeholders until now. In Release 43 the devs created the actual Sarcophagus as described in The Sword of Midras and redecorated the interior of the Crypt to also match.

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Scott “Scottie” Jones]

Hello all!

I had a bit of fun recently designing the very-specifically-described sarcophagus-like tomb near the entrance to the Crypt of the Avatar scene… From the dashing, bearded, single-braided figure in ornamental armor carved on the lid, to the ancient engraved symbol of the Principles, to the bed of flowers carved in dark granite and inlaid with gold, jewels, and jade,…this fancy tomb definitely had to be a step up from the original generic tomb design I created so, so long ago… I wonder who that mysterious figure is supposed to resemble? ^_^

I actually started with the old tomb model I made, got rid of the kinda clunky geometry of the effigy in that earlier design (based on an actual Irish tomb of the Medieval period), and then worked on creating the best image I could to represent the description in “The Sword of Midras”. After applying the new texture map to the essentially flat lid, I then carefully cut out and sculpted the topology to help make it into a believable bas-relief so it could be achieved in as few polygons as possible….

As you can see, what mostly makes it look fairly good is the painted texture itself, as opposed to the polys. This helped reduce the overhead compared to what would have happened had I used an existing character mesh and tried to alter the series of textures used to make them look accurate… Using the base texture you see below I was able to use existing materials, create only one new material, and get away with a really low poly-count for everything!

You can see this chamber from above-ground while exploring one of the temple-like structures in the Midras Ruins (created by our own SorcerousSteve) found just beyond an enormous old tree as described in the book! Through a debris-clogged hole from which feeble light shines down, a lone sarcophagus can be glimpsed. A hatch nearby leads down into those same depths, and after a short walk through ruined halls whose ancient splendor surely inspired later Obsidian architects, the Crypt chamber can be seen from the room’s upper gallery, though the surrounding edifice itself lay in terrible ruin…

This chamber and adjoining dungeon were put together by Richard Matey who worked with us awhile back, and of course since our goal is to re-purpose as many of our specially-made resources as we can, the Crypt chamber itself was assembled using bits and pieces of architecture I made for both Hilt as well as Desolis. As a world-builder with limited access to actually changing the geometry of these pieces, he did his best to mask off specific Obsidian symbology, alter the materials here and there, and add a variety of details that help differentiate it from those other locations, and to bring it closer to the general description of this as seen in the book. His addition of the wonderfully-lit hole broken in the ceiling really sells the idea of it, in my opinion, and of course the passage leading off from this early chamber reveals completely different layouts of rooms, halls, and adventure spaces (one can assume that the other two exits described in the book have been sealed off by the fallen rubble)…

Having made the new sarcophagus, I was able to create appliques of that same symbol, an ancient Midras representation of the Principals and associated Virtues, to be used throughout this primary chamber to further capture the spirit of the room described in the “Sword of Midras”. These symbols can first be seen adorning the entry hall leading to the upper balcony of the Crypt, as well as the gallery beyond.

Making one’s way down to approach the tomb itself, my hope is that it will now evoke more closely the feeling you may have had when this same area was revealed to our protagonists in the novel. I truly tried to replicate its descriptions of the tomb and its lid bearing the effigy as closely as I could (even down to the little rat-tail braid of hair draped over the shoulder above the symbol on the chest… ^_^). Of course, in the novel the tomb was empty, and the incredible sword was actually to be found held in the hands of the tomb-lid effigy. The legendary sword has long since been taken hundreds of years ago, and the primary difference you may notice is that the tomb is no longer empty. In the intervening centuries, someone has taken it upon themselves to lay some other forgotten soul to rest there, and left an offering of a flower and a book describing the Principles themselves.

And here’s that Principles symbol again! Since the book describes it appearing again and again all over the walls of the chamber, I figured that decorating freely with it was a reasonable way to tip my hat to the theme. I even placed it on the armored chest of the huge stone sentinel standing guard nearby! ^_^

Hopefully you enjoyed this little diversion. At some point we might do a polish pass on the rest of this dungeon, but for now, at least this chamber matches the source inspiration to a better extent… My next task is to make a loving pass on the town of Etceter to see what I can do about adding more details and points of interest to help link it to the “Sword of Midras” as well!

Wish me luck!

Fondest regards,
Scottie ^_^

Graff Gem Mines New Cavern Area

The devs have expanded the mines by adding a large cavern area that is infested with Kobolds and Water Elementals, and also encrusted with tons of crystal nodes. The rest of the mines remain identical except where they have opened up connection to the large cavern.

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Chris “Sea Wolf” Wolf]

Hey Folks, today I have a few screenshots of some updates I made for the Graff Gem Mines. Rather than edit the existing dungeon, I’ve added a new section to the mines for players to explore. The new area is a flooded cavern, which is occupied by a handful of Kobolds and Water Elementals who are defending a large deposit of crystals. The rest of a mines remain untouched, so players should still be familiar with them.

The Flooded Cavern

One of the entrances to The Flooded Cavern

Chris Wolf
Level Designer

The Making of Celestis (update)

This wealthy city in the Perennial Coast region was completely rebuilt in Release 43 to give it a unique appearance and at the same time make it match the Asian-inspired architectural, costume, and flora themes of the region. As with all unclones all locations of player housing, scene exits, major services, and NPC shops remain identical after the change..

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Chris “Sea Wolf” Wolf]

Here are a few updated screenshots of my progress on Celestis!

Theater Lounge

Kabuki Stage at Night

Pagoda and Mountains



Chris Wolf
Level Designer

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The Ultima 6 Nitpicker’s Delight Patch: Quenton’s Murder Now Solvable Tue, 20 Jun 2017 21:42:57 +0000

Sir John has released an update to his Nitpicker’s Delight Patch for Ultima 6. There’s only one major change in this release of the patch, but it’s a significant change indeed:

Only one more bug fixed (that makes 22 in total) … but this time it’s a rather large one

The „Quenton Murder“ Sidequest is now playable. If you feel like giving it a go, feedback if it works – and more importantly: what doesn’t work – would be much appreciated!

You can find the patch available for download at Sir John’s website, or at the patch’s project entry here at the Codex.

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Corven: Dialogue Portraits Preview Tue, 20 Jun 2017 19:27:15 +0000

Corv has posted some news to the Titans of Ether (yes, they’re still going by that name, for now) website, announcing that he and the team have settled on a solution for how character portraits will be handled in Corven – Path of Redemption:

I decided to go with actual painted portraits in conversations instead of pictures of the NPC models. So now Rune Johansson, a freenlance artist, is creating them for Corven! I am extremely happy with her work. Here you can see for yourself…

You can see both portraits above, or you can click on through and find them on the Titans of Ether site.

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New Ultima-Inspired Game: Lowlander II Available for iOS Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:44:37 +0000

Flat Black Films released Lowlander for iOS and Android back in 2015. It was a tile-based, exceedingly retro RPG that was basically a homage to Ultima 2: Revenge of the Enchantress. Lowlander II: Lowlander is a follow-up to that game, and builds on the same excellent formula that made the first game so enjoyable.

And, like its predecessor, this game homages Ultima 2 rather heavily. Indeed, if anything, it is positioning itself as the Ultima 2 to Lowlander’s Ultima 1, as the game’s synopsis will make clear:

Generations have passed since the infamous deeds of the mighty Lowlander. Now the realm needs another hero — will you be the one?

The evil enchantress, Yarak, means business. She ain’t got time for you! Get that armor on – there’s adventuring to be done!

Flat Black Films boasts that Lowlander II features about sixteen hours in its main story, with a huge world to explore and expansive dungeons to delve into. In a refreshing break from current market trends, Lowlander II also features no in-app purchases; once you buy it once (it retails for $3.99 USD), that’s all you’ll pay to experience the game in its entirety.

I’ve created a project entry for Lowlander II, and I’ve just realized that I completely forgot to do so for Lowlander; I’ll have to set up an entry for that game in the near future. At any rate, you can pick up Lowlander II via the iOS App Store if you have an Apple mobile device; ports for Android and OS X are coming soon.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #232 Mon, 19 Jun 2017 13:04:29 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars! I hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend.  I wont be covering the Reddit AMA happening tomorrow or the SeedInvest Webinar I already attended, but if you have any questions about them, please leave a comment below.  I am however quiet pleased to share info on the Arabella NPC this time around.   Enjoy!

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

A New Look to Celestis Scene

Celestis is an NPC town currently in the game, but is being uncloned for Release 43. Changes are being made to make the scene look more like other nearby Perennial Coast scenes. In Celestis you will find an outdoor theater, beautiful rock garden, and much more!

Text by Chris “SeaWolf” Wolf:

Hey Folks, Sea Wolf here with an update on my current project, the uncloning of Celestis. Celestis is receiving the Perennial Coast makeover. The terrain is heavily influenced by Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China, while the cultural decor is influenced by feudal Japan. It will feature a new town center and harbor, several gardens including a rock garden, several koi fish ponds, and a Noh/Kabuki stage which can also double as a dance floor. There are also a few Easter-eggs throughout the scene which pay tribute to some of my favorite chambara (classic samurai films).

Please keep in mind that this is still a work in progress, but feel free to leave some feedback. I would especially love to hear from the folks who live here. I will continue to post updates as the scene progresses


Town Center


Lord of the Manor Entrance


Zen Rock Garden

Koi Pond

After the scene changes go live in Release 43, we have even more content, including quests, you can look forward to in future releases!

Chris “Seawolf” Wolf
Level Designer

The Making of Arabella NPC

[From a Dev+ Forum Post Update by Kevin “UglyFist” Wells]

Hello again everyone!

I’m posting this time to show off our new Arabella NPC. This release I had a bit more time than usual so I wanted to show off a bit of my process of how I usually create a character from scratch – all the way from concept to in-game asset, enjoy!

So we’ve had this great concept for me to refer to…

Looking at this I block-out all my low poly geo in my favorite tool: ZBrush…

From here, I’ll subdivide this geo into literally millions of poly’s, and begin the process of sculpting the high-res detail…

Then I’ll UV the geo and run it all through another favorite tool called Substance Painter to get my base textures (for example, Arabella’s armor normal and albedo texture maps)…

Finally, I hook up all the textures in-game and tweak and polish until I’m happy with how the NPC looks in our environment (this is how she will look to you guys in the game)…

So anyway, there is a quick look into how I tend to make characters when I have a good concept to go off of. I hope you guys love it. Have fun and I’ll see you guys in game!

Kevin “UglyFist” Quinn
Lead Character Artist

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Unknown Realm: June Update – Monsters, Megafounder and Music Preview! Thu, 15 Jun 2017 18:14:40 +0000

Stirring Dragon Games have posted their June Kickstarter update to let us know what progress has been made on Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous since May. One thing they’ve been working on has been in-game backer rewards:

We’re ramping up production on some of the in-game content rewards. We’ve sent out surveys for backers who have basic NPC portraits and we’re impressed with the photos we’ve received from them so far. You guys are going to make some great characters in the game! Plus it’s really fun for us to put faces with names for at least some of our backers. 🙂

We decided to offer our NPC portrait backers some extra customization options besides just creating a portrait in their likeness. Now they also get to participate a little more in the design process by selecting from a list of possible occupation choices and suggesting a name for their NPC. In case you are curious, here is the list of possible occupations for our NPC portrait backers…

Surveys for those of you with mountains and tombstones will be sent out later this month, followed by surveys for backers with more detailed in-game content (mercenaries, tavern owners, etc) later this summer.

As well, they’re closing out the game’s Megafounder campaign in a couple of weeks; they’ve opened up a few new rewards for backers to pledge for until then.

Back on the production side of things, manual art has seen some work lately:

For our pen and ink bestiary, Bruce and Raf are working hard to bring back that old school monster manual feel. Some of you guys may know exactly what we’re talking about. 😉 Our goal is to create a bestiary that strikes the right balance between familiar monsters we all know and love and new monsters you haven’t seen before.

Be sure to click on through for a sample of the monster art.

Finally, they’ve got a couple preview tracks for us, to show off what Unknown Realm’s music can be expected to sound like:

Saving the best for last – we wanted to share with you a special sneak preview of some of the all-new music being created by Chris Huelsbeck for Unknown Realm!

Below are two chiptune samples: the first is a sample of the music that plays during the 80’s intro cutscene sequence, and the second is an in-game sailing tune. (The usual disclaimer applies: these are works in progress and not necessarily final.)

Again, you’ll want to click on through.

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For The King: Mid Early Access Update Thu, 15 Jun 2017 15:07:15 +0000

It has been a while since we last heard from IronOak Games, but they recently broke radio silence over on the For The King Kickstarter page, to deliver another production update:

So why have we been so silent? Well, we were taken aback by the volume of new players and bugs for one. In particular we were surprised how popular online play was and the majority of bugs centered around this mode. Many new players also means many new PC configurations, which introduces a bunch of unforeseen issues that are particularly difficult to track down. We even brought on a new team member, Nic, specifically to help deal with bug reporting, QA, and community management. He has been an amazing addition to the team so far and has allowed us to get back to focusing on the game proper.

The overall response to For The King has been extremely positive, but one thing that keeps coming up is the dreaded Chaos system. While the community is mixed on the Chaos system, our challenge was to improve it for those who disliked it while not alienating those who enjoyed it as is. We’ve had some ideas for how this could be achieved and finally got some time to implement our plan.

The key to the new system is maintaining some of the pressure that the old timer had, but giving more options to the player for dealing with it. Chaos now increases at a steady rate at all times throughout the game, and in this way behaves more like a food mechanic in a survival game. We’ve decoupled “lives” with the Chaos so now the two systems must be managed independently from one another which in turn opens the door for more strategies and even more interesting decisions/trade offs.

As a result of the new chaos system, more time is now available, especially for the Apprentice (Easy) difficulty level. There are plenty of other subtleties which have been included to make this change work and in our limited playthroughs and testing the response has been superb. We’re really excited about this change and hope to get some of your early eyes on it to help us polish the rough edges and give feedback on difficulty.

They’ve also got a Discord channel now; you can check in with the team and the burgeoning community that is forming around For The King there.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #231 Tue, 13 Jun 2017 12:43:48 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars! More Scene Updates this week along with a little bit of story info.  Enjoy!

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

New Libris Ruins Screenshots & Video!

[From a Dev+ Forum Post Update by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

Hey guys! SorcerousSteve here to give you an update on Libris Ruins!

I am approaching completion of the the worldbuilding phase and now with all the major POI’s in place I will begin spawning the map with lots of bad guys and yes, traps.

Looking to the North the ruins of the ancient courthouse are dwarfed by rugged cliffs in the background. To the lower right we can catch a glimpse of the Sanctus River flowing by.

The presence of shards has cause an overgrowth of alien plants near the prison grounds.

Bear traps lay obscured outside the prison grounds ready to snatch at unsuspecting wanderers. Watch your step! Shoutout to ReidtheRollo for his support in making this trap come to life!

A panoramic of Libris Ruins with the ruined courthouse in the far left, and the prison in the far back built on to the cliffs.

Hope you guys are excited to visit Libris Ruins this R43!

Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar
Level Designer

New Boreas Colossus Screenshots

[From a Dev+ Forum Post Update by Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski]

Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski
Level Designer

Story: What “Colossus” and “Titan” Terms Mean

You might see us refer to a scene as having things in it like the “Oracle Colossus” or a “Titan Colossus”, and there may be moments of confusion either because of the ambiguous nature of words like “colossal” and “titanic”, or because the Oracle Colossus doesn’t actually look like the Oracle as often portrayed in our game… so allow me to illuminate!

As for colussus, we have been using that term in the standard way, to refer to any huge statue that is much, much larger than a human being. Any gigantic statue can be referred to as a colossus, but we’ve primarily been reserving the term as capitalized when using it as a proper name, such as “Colossus of Grannus” or “Oracle Colossus”, and then primarily when referring to the largest primary giant statue used as a main point of interest in a scene.

Now, as to why the “Oracle Colossus” found in Hellfire Rift doesn’t look like the Oracle device found in Confirmatories across the world, the explanation is simple! The colossus found in the Rift, based on what is described in “The Sword of Midras”, was a remnant of the ancient world built long before the Cataclysm of the Sundered Moon and the terrible forces that tore the Hellfire Rift itself open…

That enormous statue had once been at the heart of a great city, and the remnants of that place have long since subsided down toward the center of the channel of lava since the rift was opened many, many centuries ago. The craft with which it was made, and its qualities of divine femininity, so impressed the Titans that they were inspired to draw upon the essence of these qualities when setting to the task of creating the Oracle herself, according to legend…

And so, to this day, those who know of this mighty colossus refer to it as the “Oracle Colossus” because of these legends, though it was set into place long before the Oracle was even a gleam in its builder’s eye…

Scott “Scottie” Jones
Senior Environmental Artist


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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 82 – First Fan Projects Wed, 07 Jun 2017 12:38:20 +0000

Since many of the regular (and irregular) Spam Spam Spam Humbug participants are currently developing — or have attempted to develop, in the past — projects that are in some way based on (or inspired by) Ultima, we thought it might be fun to talk about our first forays into the fan project scene. Or our first experiences with game modding, programming, and other suchlike things.

Listen to the Episode

Support Spam Spam Spam Humbug

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Join the Ultima Community | Ultima Dragons on Facebook | Ultima Dragons on Google+ | Follow the Ultima Dragons on Twitter | Ultima Dragons on Slack | The Weyrmount | Ultima Dragons on Discord

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GOG Have Kicked Off Their 2017 Summer Sale Tue, 06 Jun 2017 19:37:25 +0000

GOG have kicked off their annual Summer Sale for 2017:

Exotic adventures. Intriguing mysteries. A free game. If you enjoy any of the above then you’re in for a treat: The biggest sale of the year begins on! You will embark on a thrilling journey through Mystery Island while expanding your GOG collection thanks to fantastic deals, additions to GOG Connect and a FREE game with your first purchase.

Kick off your Summer Sale adventure with your first purchase and you will be rewarded with a FREE copy of Rebel Galaxy. What to buy, you ask? With more than 1500 games on sale, plus delicious releases regularly pouring in, you’re constantly one click away from a good choice. Oh and keep in mind this offer also applies if you make a GWENT purchase while the Summer Sale is running!

Also, that service of GOG’s that lets you link your GOG library to your Steam library is back:

GOG Connect is back – this time giving you the opportunity to redeem 40 titles from your Steam account and grow your DRM-free collection on Available games include Dropsy, Not a Hero, The Walking Dead Season 1, Brutal Legend, Frozen Synapse, and Deponia, among others. To add them to your GOG collection, just go to, connect your Steam account, and enjoy the DRM-free copies of your games!

This Summer Sale will last for two whole weeks and it features more than 1500 games. Highlights include: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GOTY (-50%), Pillars of Eternity (-60%), Dragon’s Dogma (-60%), SWAT 4 (-40%), Stardew Valley (-33%), Night in the Woods (-15%), Shadow Warrior 2 (-33%), Dragon Age Origins (-80%), and hundreds more.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? To make it easier for you, we’ve teamed up with our friends and partners and created sets of influencer and media collections, hand-picked by some of the biggest brands and names in the gaming world.

The Summer Sale will continue for another two weeks:

The Summer Sale will last until Tuesday, June 20, 12:59 PM UTC / 5:59 AM PDT / 8:59 AM EDT / 2:59 PM CEST.

I took a quick browse through the GOG front page, and I did notice that the Ultima games are on sale at present, for 74% off or thereabouts.

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Nuvie: Support for Exporting and Importing Tilesets Added Tue, 06 Jun 2017 18:45:03 +0000

There’s a bit of a story behind this news, which begins with Sergorn Dragon complaining — not for the first time — about the reddish tone of the dirt tiles in Ultima 6. His criticism is not without some merit; the Nintendo port of the game features brown dirt. After some discussion about this, Dominus Dragon got in touch with Nuvie developer Eric Fry about the possibility of adding support for new tilesets to the Nuvie engine.

This, in turn, led Eric to make some changes to the way Nuvie references image files:

+2017-05-30 Eric Fry
+ * moved custom actor tiles from data/images/actors/U6 to
+ data/images/tiles/U6
+ * Added support for replacing all tiles. Just put a bmp file called
+ custom_tiles.bmp into data/images/tiles/U6/
+ * More work on MD dreamworld. Use dreamstuff. use spray gun.
+ * Allow MD usecode to target actors.

Shortly thereafter, he added a new feature to the engine:

+2017-05-31 Eric Fry
+ * Added new altcode alt-914 This dumps out the current tileset
+ to a file called 'custom_tiles.bmp' in the savegame directory.

Now, if you were reading carefully, you’ll notice that in the update from May 30th, Eric also added the ability to import a new tileset into Nuvie. However, the additional command that he added to the engine on May 31st — the ability to export the current tileset to an appropriately-named file — is key, because Ultima 6 (and therefore Nuvie) uses indexed bitmaps to store the tiles and sprites that are used to realize the game. That is to say: the tiles and sprites have a very particular colour palette that can be used; colours from outside this palette will not render properly when brought into Nuvie.

However, if you’re mindful of this — tools like Photoshop and Gimp can show you the palette a bitmap is indexed to, making it easier to edit safely — you can do some great things. So, for example, Eric was able to quickly hack together (his words!) a version of the Ultima 6 tileset that used brown dirt, instead of red. And with a little bit of effort — and some help from Dominus, who was a second pair of eyes for me — I was able to do likewise:

And, when Sergorn Dragon asked if it would be possible to come up with some Avatar sprites that were more accurate to the depiction of the character that graced the Ultima 6 box art, I was able to do that rather quickly, as well:

Eric should be including the Avatar sprites, above, into the default set of custom Avatar sprites that is included with Nuvie, so expect to find them in future nightly snapshot builds of the engine (which are available either from the project entry here at the Codex, or from the Nuvie page at Sourceforge). My custom tileset, meanwhile, is available here:

WtF Dragon’s Custom Nuvie Tileset

A custom tileset for Ultima 6 (for use with Nuvie) that replaces the red dirt with brown dirt using a straightforward colour-swap method; the dirt textures are largely unchanged, except for their colour.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #230 Mon, 05 Jun 2017 15:38:48 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars! Now while I will not be discussing or talking about the “equity crowdfunding”, that Portalarium is pursuing, I will say this. Review their financials and business plan,  and set aside all emotions you have. We do however have 2 scene updates for you. Please enjoy.

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

Boreas Colossus Scene (Unclone)

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski]

We continue our development of the Colossus scenes with a sneak peek of the second scene, Boreas Colossus! Currently in-game is the Oracle Colossus scene we covered in a recent video in last week’s Update #227. We hope to have the following Boreas Colossus scene in Release 43:

Once again, having taken to the field, I, Earl Greyhot, bring you a first hand account of my extensive travels. This journey has brought me to the site of the Colossus of Boreas. A sleepy fog has taken hold of the mountainside and it begins to rain as I make my way through the many trials necessary to reach the giant statue itself.

I came across strange architecture and flora around every corner…
Boreas Colossus

Today I caught a glimpse of the Colossus itself!
Boreas Colossus

I made camp by the edge of the valley and prepared myself for the trials to come tomorrow…
Boreas Colossus

We hope to have Boreas Colossus introduced into the game in Release 43. I will continue to document my progress of the scene up to the statue!

Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski
Level Designer

Libris Ruins Scene Update

[From a Dev+ Forum Post Update by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

Hey guys! SorcerousSteve here to give you an update on the Making of Libris Ruins. We first introduced this scene in last week’s Update #229.

To start, here is a look at the ancient prison which consists of three cell blocks and numerous enclosures, torture chambers, and of course traps:
Libris Ruins Update

Looking West, in the background the prison can be seen under the morning mist while to the left the ruined court building now lays overgrown.
Libris Ruins Update

As the ancient seat of Justice. Libris Ruins was once the site of a prestigious court.
Libris Ruins Update

Sky cells are located high up on the cliffs overlooking the Libris Ruins where the most notorious criminals would be brought.
Libris Ruins Update

A full view of the prison with the sky cells in the background.
Libris Ruins Update

Stay tuned for more progress on Libris Ruins!

Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar
Level Designer

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Underworld Ascendant: New Screenshots; Voiceover Samples Fri, 02 Jun 2017 19:15:56 +0000

Otherside Entertainment have published a content-heavy news update about Underworld Ascendant, which — among other things — give us a look at how the Lizardmen will appear in-game:

In terms of actual development progress on the game, game director Joe Fielder had this to share:

We’ve been focusing…on upping our visual bar and proving out our core gameplay — for combat, stealth, magic, and combining them with seemingly mundane objects in the environment to craft creative solutions.

In recent weeks, we’ve been adding additional interactive elements like sticky glue and fire, randomized caches of objects (some clearly useful from the start, some requiring… experimentation), and working out exactly how to reward the player for creativity.

Back during the start of development, we said that we wanted you to come up with ways of solving challenges that we hadn’t even thought of yet and that the game would reward you for it. We’ve made solid strides in this area, which we believe to be essential in unlocking the player’s creativity so they experiment and explore the deep interactive possibilities in the game. We’ll share more about this in the future when this feature is more complete.

The Challenge of Ishtass will be featured in the Pre-Alpha Backer Demo, which we appreciate all of you (who pledged at the ADVENTURER reward tier and above) waiting for so patiently.

We’re finally reaching a critical mass about what’s great about this game — what makes it the next step in Looking Glass-style, player-authored gameplay. So, that’s positive news. We’re holding back the Pre-Alpha Backer Demo and our next video footage a little longer so we can implement additional elements to further round out the core gameplay and get more meaningful feedback from backers on refining it further.

The main portion of the update, however, concerns voice actor Stephen Russell, who will be voicing Sir Cabirus in Underworld Ascendant. There’s a lengthy interview with him, as well as samples of the voice work he has contributed for the character of Cabirus; click on through to have a listen.

And also click on through if you’re curious about the state of backer rewards; those are also discussed briefly as well.

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Correction: Shroud of the Avatar’s Full Release Isn’t This July Fri, 02 Jun 2017 16:09:40 +0000

It would appear that some incorrect information was conveyed, both by myself and by Portalarium, regarding the release date of Shroud of the Avatar. In a comment on yesterday’s news, Richard Garriott himself sets the record straight:

SORRY, there is an important mis-communication / understanding in what is being interpreted from our docs. We are releasing the STORY content in July. The shipping of the full game is expected LATER in the year, TBD.

Sorry for the confusion!
– Richard Garriott

And, indeed, the SeedInvest page has been edited a bit to better reflect the expected release timeline for Shroud of the Avatar:

We believe that our prior earnings and cash flows are not indicative of future earnings and cash flows. The software is currently in development and expected to launch between July and November 2017 at which point sales are expected to increase.

So, there you have it: the story of Shroud of the Avatar should be essentially complete by July of this year, but there will be several additional months of work put into the game thereafter; Portalarium appear to be targeting November as the actual release date.

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Richard Garriott and Warren Spector Discuss Mentoring Members of Arkane Studios Fri, 02 Jun 2017 15:44:50 +0000

Gamespot has a video feature up — the second part, it would seem, of a documentary about Arkane Studios — in which Richard Garriott and Warren Spector discuss their role in mentoring members of the Arkane team.

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Slashing Dragon is Crowfunding an Ultima 6-Like Game Engine Fri, 02 Jun 2017 13:42:14 +0000

No, that’s not a screenshot from some long-lost part of Ultima 6. Rather, it’s a screenshot from a newly-announced project that Slashing Dragon and Exodus Destiny Dragon are attempting to raise funding for – the OpenArthurianX6 Classic RPG Engine:

We are slashie and jucarave (a.k.a Slashing Dragon and Exodus Destiny Dragon from the Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter UDIC). We are two game developers who love classic RPGs and we have quite a bit of indie game development experience behind, including Ananias Roguelike (a game available on Steam, iOS and Android with over 100.000 installs), a gamedev youtube channel with over 1700 subscribers and many other game projects done for the past 10 years or so.

In the past, we have worked together in a couple of fan projects including a 3D dungeon crawler remake of Ultima 4 (Stygian Abyss), and a demake of Ultima VIII into an even more classic engine. (Morgaelin)

For a long time, we have wanted to create a tool which allows fans from classic game franchises to bring their reconstruction and fan projects into reality. With your help this can be a reality!

We are planning to create an open source game engine from scratch with which you’ll be able to create your own adventures. It will come packed with ready to use content based on Denzi’s cc-by-sa  3.0 oblique tileset, so you can jump straight into map making, NPC design and scripting to develop your game.

You can see demonstrations of the engine here (we’ll be posting more as development goes onward with your contributions)

They are attempting to raise at least $2,000 USD via Indiegogo, for which sum they feel they can do the following:

We will deliver a free, open source game engine which you can readily use for your project including a content pack (Medieval Fantasy). This version of the engine would not include any tools to manage your game data (characters, monsters, object definitions), everything would be done at code level using data files and Tiled.

If they can raise more than just $2,000, however, they have a few additional goals in mind:

  • $3.000 – Game editor including Objects and Monsters managers
  • $4.000 – Full game editor including Character and Magic System managers.
  • Beyond – each 500$ will be used to create a new themed content pack (Space, Modern, Futuristic, Western, Steampunk, etc.)

You can back OpenArthurianX6 on Indiegogo right now; $5 USD will ensure you get your name in the credits, while $50 USD is the minimum spend to gain access to beta versions of the engine.

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Shroud of the Avatar: Launch Target Now July 2017; New Equity Crowdfunding Pitch Thu, 01 Jun 2017 16:44:08 +0000

Portalarium dropped a pretty big bit of news during yesterday’s Telethon of the Avatar: the company has begun a new equity crowdfunding campaign to raise additional funding for Shroud of the Avatar, using SeedInvest:

Videogame development company Portalarium is preparing to release Shroud of the Avatar, the spiritual successor to Richard Garriott’s Ultima series. Players that seek to unravel the mysteries of Shroud of the Avatar will find themselves immersed in a deep narrative, co-written by Richard Garriott and New York Times bestselling fantasy author Tracy Hickman, replete with ethical dilemmas and moral consequences that will follow players’ characters throughout the game. Whether as the ruler of a player-owned town with hundreds of real players as residents, a dragon-slaying adventurer, or a master craftsman sought by fellow players across the world of New Britannia, the Shroud of the Avatar sandbox provides players with the next leap in the evolution of massively multiplayer games, a key segment of the games market pioneered by Portalarium founder Richard Garriott in the 1990s. The MMO market has since grown to over $20 billion in annual revenues.

Because the use of SeedInvest requires financial disclosure, we now also have a glimpse into Portalarium’s revenue streams, licensing agreements, and cash on hand:

Can you talk more about revenue streams?
We have one such contract with a Russian company that has already paid us a license fee as an advance against additional future royalties. We may sign additional territorial agreements.
Why is monthly influx of cash in your cash flow so high in July and August 2016?
Prior to July & August 2016, we erased players in our database approximately every quarter as the game data structures changed. In July 2016, we did our final player data wipe, which allowed played to claim goods and real estate permanently. While players still retained deeds they paid for previous to the final wipe, the specific property claims were all erased and everyone had to find new lots. This really motivated beta players to go online and claim properties that became newly available to the public. We will have a similar purge of storyline game state in Summer 2017 at the start of SoTA official story release launch to incentivize new players from our 200K registrations and others in the network, such as Ultima players, into SoTA.
What is the current cash position?
As of May 17th our current cash position is $528k, and we have one of our periodic telethons coming up which commonly net us in excess of $100k additional funds.

And, perhaps even more surprisingly, the SeedInvest page gives us a release date (well, at least a month and year):

The software is currently in development and expected to launch in July 2017 at which point sales are expected to increase.

Massively Overpowered also notes some other findings from the SeedInvest page:

It’s sent Reddit and the official forums into a tizzy as players and detractors question the game’s $25M valuation, its plans to fully launch in July 2017, the story wipe apparently coming, and some of the features touted in the investment briefing that aren’t in the game, like trade routes, a fully player-driven economy, town capture, and console/mobile functionality.

I’m not sure what to make of all of this, apart from the most obvious conclusion: Portalarium is looking to expand their coffers using a similar sort of equity funding option to what Crowfall rather successfully employed. If successful, it’ll give the company a leg up not only on fine-tuning Shroud of the Avatar for its initial release, but also for future development of later episodes in its planned storyline.

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New on GOG – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas Thu, 01 Jun 2017 13:36:07 +0000

Exciting news from GOG today: they’ve added three more games to their catalogue of Bethesda Softworks titles. Specifically, they’ve added Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and — yes — The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:

Oblivion®, the critically acclaimed open-world RPG that solidified Elder Scrolls as a household name, is now available, DRM-free on, with a 50% launch discount.

The Elder Scrolls are all about freedom, breathtaking locations, engaging exploration, and an abundance of quests to tackle at your own pace. Side with different factions, trust your instincts and adapt your playstyle to the challenges ahead as you explore the near-limitless content packed inside its definitive GOTY edition. Don’t worry about getting lost, every corner of this massive world is as fascinating as the next…

The 50% discount will last until June 6, 1PM UTC.

You can grab all three games for 50% off their list price, actually; the discount mentioned above applies to all three.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #229 Wed, 31 May 2017 13:22:28 +0000 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

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

Play Release 42 Now!

Release 42  launched  May 25 with some new content to explore, including:

  • New Mail System!
  • Path of Truth First Pass Playable
  • Path of the Oracle Playable
  • Oracle Colossus Final Polish
  • Battle of Solace Bridge, Battle of Highvale, and Bloodriver Massacre Tutorial Polish
  • Solace Bridge Outskirts Improvements
  • Starting Scene Polish
  • POT Signpost Teleport Networks
  • Decoration Additions and Improvements
  • Advanced Skill Training
  • Combat and Skill Balance
  • Enemy AI and Pathing Tweaked
  • New Crafting Recipes
  • New NPC Building Decorations
  • New Equipable Decorations
  • Weapon Decorations Now Wall AND Floor Placeable
  • New Items, Both Craftable and Store
  • Numerous Scene Fixes
  • General Performance Improvements
  • …and much more!

Check out the Release 42 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new content.

New Mail System and Player Town Teleporter Signpost Networks!
New Mail System:

So after constant and countless feature requests, the devs decided to do a mail system.

With Release 42, players will be able to receive mail notifications based on vendor transactions. When a vendor item is sold, expired, or removed, players will receive mail that notifies them of the event. The mail will also include the proceeds or refund from the transaction. Mail can be accessed at mailboxes, which are located at all banks throughout New Britannia. Mailboxes can also be crafted and placed at your house.

Work is ongoing to eventually allow players to send mail to each other in future iterations.
Player Town Teleporter Signpost Networks:

All Player Owned Towns and Player Towns now feature a network of “local destinations” signposts!

These interactive teleporters can be found at each major entrance/exit, as well as the main docks and central bridge/crossroads locations of these scenes. Interaction brings up a list of local destinations, which includes the locations of all other signposts in the scene. Simply select a location from the list to fast-travel to that location!

“Note that these signposts cannot be used while in combat…”


Libris Ruins Scene First Look

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

Hey guys SorcerousSteve here to give you an early sneak peak into Libris Ruins! The images below are currently a work in progress.

Libris Ruins is located in North Paladis along the Sanctus River. It is the old seat of Justice and will feature a ruined prison alongside the ruins of an ancient court. From this angle looking North we can catch sight of the prison built along the cliffs overlooking the Sanctus River while on the upper right hand corner we can spot some skycells meant to house prisoners at high altitudes.

Various cells and enclosures once meant to house Novia’s most dangerous criminals will fill this ancient prison.

Dead leaves and pine cover the outskirts of the ancient prison.

Inside one of the prison blocks.

Stay tuned for more as I continue to flesh out Libris Ruins!

Level Designer
Esteben Zaldivar

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Ultima Dad: New Headcanon Blog; Reaching Jhelom in Ultima 6 Fri, 26 May 2017 18:12:06 +0000

Save vs. Dragon hasn’t posted a lot of updates to his Ultima Dad blog recently, for reasons that he (briefly) explains in this post from a bit over a week ago:

Air conditioning went out, family in the hospital, cats and dogs living together.

You get the idea, it’s been a bad week for father/son time. So no progress in Ultima 6.

Very little progress on the U/M Project as well, just some modpack experiments and plans for opening up development to the public to any Dragons wanting to contribute to building on their favorite map.

However, he did take the time to spin up a new blog — Ultima Dad’s Headcanon — and he explained the reasoning behind doing so in his update post as well:

I will be taking down the “Unrelated Headcanon” post. I have moved, added to, and made some corrections to it on a second blog. Ultima Dad’s Headcanon. Yes, the name isn’t original, but while it’s important to me to write out my ideas, the Ultima Dad blog is far more important over-all.

Hopefully, in the intervening week or so, his family’s health issues have cleared right up. At the very least, he and his son did find time since then to play a bit more Ultima 6:

I really should have been using the first shrine in Cove for Exp farming, because leveling up has been a pain and we are broke. I’ve begun to get comfortable with the moonstone, portaling back to the throne room for healing. It’s saving a buck or two on food, too. Seriously though. Really tempted to rob the bank or something. Oh! And murder Finn for being an inconvenience.

But I digress.

We summoned a gate to Jhelom-

No, actually we went to the shrine of Valor and got our butts handed to us.

After a restore, we THEN ported to Jhelom and proceeded to talk to everyone in town. Eventually, with some exploration and leading questions for Josh, we found out the Mantra and discovered the Rune. There was also cheese, naturally, because we found the rune in a mouse hole, along with a ring of invisibility.

Haven’t we all wanted to murder Finn from time to time?