Friday, December 6, 2013

Greetings, Traveler!

Good morning to thee, gentle friend and traveller! No matter what time of day it might be... I say good morning to thee because this very moment brings to thee the coming of the dawn... I call thee "traveller" no matter if thou hast never left thy home town, no matter if thou wilst never again leave thy room, because all of us are travellers. I call thee traveller for truly all of us--

Wait, hold up a second. Something tells me this may not be the most auspicious way to start this thing out. Let me start again.

*deep breath*

Welp, here goes nothing.

I am the relatively-newly christened Linguistic Dragon, and this is the record of my attempt to play my way through the Ultima series of computer games. I've been meaning to do this for quite some time, and in the grand tradition of other Ultima Dragons, I've decided to blog my efforts in the process.

I'm something on the young side for an Ultima fan, and I came into the game rather late, so to speak. I'm about as old as Ultima V, and by the time I actually was introduced to the series, all but Ultima IX had been released (though I didn't realize anything past IV existed until I was in college). I was about ten when my cousin first introduced me to Ultima IV (and Ultimas I-III, but they didn't stick with me the way IV did). It was the first game I really got into besides the 'edutainment' games that I played at the time, and was what introduced me to the RPG genre as a whole - and I've never looked back.

So, a bit of laying out the groundwork here in my first post:

What games do I intend to play? My intent is to play the fifteen "core" Ultima games - Akalabeth, the ten main series games, the Worlds of Ultima games, and the Underworlds. I'd also like to give a few of the remakes a playthrough (specifically the two Neverwinter Nights remakes of Ultima IV, Ultima V: Lazarus, and the Ultima 6 Project) to see how they compare to the originals, but I'm not going to commit myself to those juuuust yet. We'll see how I'm feeling once Ultima IX's over and done with. I don't intend to play Mt. Drash or the Runes of Virtue games (although I may give the Runes of Virtue games a runthrough eventually) as part of this Grand Adventure.

What versions will I play? Apple II version of Akalabeth, PC versions of everything else (i.e. the versions available via I'll probably patch the graphics for II and III (the original four-color scheme grates on me), and patch in the music as well (because what's an Ultima game without the music?) but I'll be going as vanilla as possible on these. This means I don't intend on using Exult for Ultima VII or Serpent Isle - though I did the first time I went through both of those games, and I highly recommend it, I want this time around to be as close to 'original' as I can get.

How many have I played before? Well, depends on how you define that. I've played all fifteen games to some degree, some considerably more than others, but I've only actually finished a third of them - Akalabeth; Ultimas I, IV and VII; and Serpent Isle. I came close to finishing Ultima VIII too, but then I discovered Morrowind and never got back to it. That's part of why I'm giving this wacky project a shot - I want to actually finish up the other ten! I'll be playing them as if it's my first time, though - so I won't be going after plot points unless I've been told about them in-game. I expect this will only come into play in Ultima IV, as I've played and replayed it so often I know it backwards and forwards - no grabbing the wheel and bell as soon as I get a ship!

How will this blog work? How I'm picturing this going isn't necessarily how it's going to go, but I'll probably have an introductory post for each game with my pre-playthrough thoughts, followed my gameplaying, with a wrap-up post with my final thoughts on each game. I'll also probably sprinkle a few posts of my thoughts on other Ultima-related topics - the music, the runes, Gargish, that sort of thing - here and there as they become relevant.

This has been done before, you know. Yes yes yes, I know, didn't you see my links up above? Ophidian and Sergorn Dragon's blogs on the subject are great reading (as is the CRPG Addict's thoughts on Ultimas I-V), and I've read through their adventures several times myself. Me, I'm a writer and storyteller first and foremost, so I expect my thoughts will be a bit more focused on the narrative, both of each individual game and the series as a whole. Hopefully I'll have something interesting to add to the discussions their blogs have already started!

Why Ultima Journeys? I'm a writer, and I see story as a journey. (Not necessarily The Hero's Journey, though it's a concept I've studied extensively.) When it comes to games, I feel that each game tells the tale of three journeys - the journey of the game/series itself as it makes its way through development, the journey of the characters in the game as the game's narrative proceeds, and the journey of the player himself as he makes his way through the game. With this blog, I'm hoping to weave all three of those journeys during my own adventures through Britannia and beyond into at least somewhat interesting reading!

 I suppose that covers it for now. I'll be doing a more in-depth post on why I enjoy the Ultima series and its story, and then it's off to the races for me! I hope you'll join me on this grand adventure through the Moongate.

1 comment:

  1. I finally got around to checking out this blog and man is this going to be good! Thank you for taking the time to play through and write about each of these remarkable games. They have changed the life of many people around the world and I'm one of them. I've always wanted to go back and play through all the Ultima's, so this will be a nice adventure to walk through.
    Hopefully your time spent in the Ultima world will push me to try and accomplish the same feat!
    Congratulations on taking your first big step on an incredible adventure! Enjoy and happy blogging!