I’ve been replaying Ultima VII. Well, that, and compiling Exult, an engine that runs Ultima VII. Exult 1.4 isn’t stable, at least, my compiled version definitely isn’t, but learning to save very often is a skill itself.
I ported Exult3D to 1.4, I made a patch here (only download if you want to patch the 1.4 source. I checked out sometime in early June.) The camera controls are infinitely better than the original. You actually can see a lot of 2d elements now (they were very very screwed up in old 1.2) I had assumed Exult3D was abandoned but the author actually still idles in the exult IRC channel. That was fairly annoying to discover – but at least he shared his source code so others could pick up on it some day. My favorite hack of this code is the walk code. I rotate the 2D mouse coordinates by the same value the 3d camera is rotated, before passing them to the game logic, which somewhat makes the 3d angles + walking make sense. However, a new problem came out of that – you’ll need a compass to find out what direction you are going. Har Har.
Well that was nerdy enough. I have reverted to just playing the game through, since that’s kind of what I wanted to do to start with.
Ultima VII is a game my oldest brother bought while I was at scout camp, must have been 1992 or 1993. It is also the first game I played that was really, really, really open ended, and ridiculously immersive. My son says it doesn’t have very good graphics.
I think Ultima VII is why I’m a computer nerd. Oh I loves me some consoles, but the little trainers and shape viewers for Ultima VII made me realize that there were guts inside the games. And guts are fun.
I broke my dad’s PC trying to make Ultima VII work. I must have been 12 or 13. He got fed up pouring over the DOS manual and gave it to me and said that since I broke it, I had to fix it. I read the manual, I knew where to look because I had payed attention to what I was doing when I broke it. Anyway, I got it fixed and learned that DOS 6 is waaaaaaaay better than Windows 95 (which was forked from DOS 5 – some features from DOS 6 didn’t come back until Windows 98.) We had to do some config.sys and autoexec.bat wrangling to get Ultima VII to work, while not breaking the core uses of the PC.
I digress, it was learning about how the guts work that made using the PC truly enjoyable. Even today, I still spend way more time playing with code than I do playing games.