About myself and everyone else.
After reminiscing over the lack of depth in the games of today I thought it’s worthwhile to write a post about a game series I particularly enjoyed.
Games and The Ultima Series.
Being from Africa and somewhat not exposed to the great media monster I didn’t really get into computers the conventional way. We had a dx2 computer with and that was good enough, I remembered playing the 720k games such as California games. It covered a number of sports and used all of 6 keys at most, the cursors and space bar being 5 of them. This then followed by Montezuma’s revenge and Eagles Nest.
It was great but it didn’t really grab hold of me.
The closest I got to programming and the IT world at that stage was writing a config file which gives you the option to select the game and then play it. I honestly had enough of the repetition when computer time was limited so you needed to load your game as fast as possible , it didn’t help that the computer took some time to start-up.
Then the family computer got upgraded to a 386. It was a giant leap in terms of my personal gaming experience. At this stage there was still no CD-ROM, We relied heavily on piracy to get games, I honestly didn’t know where to get them. I just knew that the next time my cousin came to visit I better have a couple of packs of stiffies available for a new cracked version. Our computers didn’t have big space at the time so I heavily used those 1.2mb and 1.4mb stiffies and I remember the curse of piracy as your .arj stiffy corrupts on disk 39/43. Those were the days.
I think in a big way piracy was never a problem as we grew up with it I suppose. It’s still bad (I guess).
Those were the great days of C&C and Warcraft.
I can still hum the tune of that warcraft , blizzard deserves a major big credit for that title .
Then I went to the city one holiday, I saw a computer shop with games stacked as high as you could reach. Granted that I was not the tallest. I found the little box. Ultima 6, the false prophet. It would be the first original I’d buy. It came with a manual and a map. This blew my mind. I couldn’t play it til we got home from holiday. hmmpt Laptop what? .
By the time we got home I literally knew most of the spells and most of the reagents. In-Jux-Kal-Ort, In-Kal-lor all kinds of funny occult type words of magic. This was great. Without any hassle like the pirated stuff this installed from 2 disks the first time. I had some issues getting the sound to work but you that was always the issue with some IRQ settings .
This game had a large amount of magic lore. This hooked me. The world was massive and beautiful and you could interact with everything. There were so many side quests that you would lose track of the real quest at times. There was plenty of open ended content to explore. Aside from fighting I only learned at a later stage that you could progress by meditating at the shrines. This is required in order to use higher levels of magic. I only discovered this later in the game! (I obviously skipped that part of the manual). The game not only had great dungeons which with the use of gems I had drawn my own maps and secret places and steps to get to the various levels or where ladders are located. Not only did this game have an extensive cave system it allowed you to travel on water, own a skiff or a raft or boat! the boat even had a canon if I remember correctly. Not only could you extensively modify your character with different types of weapons and armour you could get members to join your party and you could control them and kit them too!
This was great fun, it was also the first game I finished after much struggle getting the other half of the silver fragment and replying it because I had killed all the gargoyles so I have been fighting them the whole time and suddenly you’re in the village. ATTACK!!
At this point an interesting fact was the books in the libraries, you could read most of it. Some of them also contained a lot of philosophies on “religion”. At this stage I thought it’s just creative writing for a game…
Some time passed… and a few games in between and there it was – Ultima 8 , pagan. The only problem was that you couldn’t buy it separate. You could only buy it along with creative’s CD-Blaster! This included a CD ROM and a sound blaster sound card. I think this was 16bit (I’m not 100%, it might have been 8). I dug deep in the piggy bank and bought it. This was great because I now owned a CD ROM, this was awesome and I could even listen to music on the computer. THe game also opened a completely new avenue in sounds. Pagan had very little open content but this is part and parcel due to Origin begin acquired by EA. The books in here had very little reference to magic or religious opinion but the general theme of the game introduced theurgy which is relatively old magic tradition and the believe in the ether and manipulation there of has stuck to the series. This was a great game and I enjoyed exploring the world, you could fall through the world in many places but the game is somewhat known for a lot of bugs. There also seems to be a lot of side quests that got abandoned thus the game was very linear. The game wasn’t as accurate at producing time and weather and some of the mechanics didn’t always work but I finished it and the series stuck.
After this the Ultima collection was released, I never really spend a lot of time on the underworld series. (I really should).
It was years (felt like more) for the final release of Ultima. Again , this was very linear, I constantly find my self comparing it to U6. The effects looked great as it was using a 3D engine. I had to upgrade my computer to play it. I remember that I had it lying brand new in a box for months before I could play it because I had to upgrade my computer. At the time I obviously didn’t have the savvy to upgrade just a GFX card so you had to buy a whole new computer to play a new game. Ultima IX again had plenty of books referencing opinion of all kinds of systems of philosophy which I found out later isn’t just creative writing. It covers the real world and a real change of thought.
This is not the only game I played during that time. I think Duke Nukem was released somewhere during the time before I upgraded to a pentium. 100mhtz … But what made this series different from others are the change of thought in the philosophy of what is VS what could be. It introduced virtue but in the end balance , a balance very relevant today that there is no such thing as bad. All is part of the same creation and it is because of the disorder created by power-hungry individuals who strive for control that we are in the illusion of a lacking world.
In a sense we are the avatar and as long as we fight evil it will exist. We are part of the same universe and only by accepting and increasing the total awareness of the true power that lies in us can we change. We won’t need to fight evil because in love and truth there is no such thing as the good and bad polarity we know.