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I own far too many games and consoles, and I have just about enough free time to play about one third of one game at a time.
All time favourite system: Megadrive/Genesis
Favourite current system: PC
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
The Myst Series
Broken Sword: Shadow Of The Templars
Max Payne 1 & 2
Final Fantasy VII and X
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl and its spin-offs
Burnout 3: Takedown
Race Driver: Grid
Silent Hill 2
If you read my first blog about Ultima VII you may remember that I finished it with the Avatar having just left the gates of Trinsic, ready to venture out into the world of Britannia...
I decided to head North, and before long I came across a stage at the side of the road. It seemed a bit strange having a stage set up pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but there were a few characters strutting back and forth across it so I decided to approach them and start up a conversation. It turns out they were members of "The Fellowship", a group that I had met a couple of members of in Trinsic. After I paid them a handful of gold they proceeded to act out a "passion play" for me which I think was supposed to demonstrate the philosophical ideals of The Fellowship, but as my companions pointed out once the play was finished the whole thing was quite confusing and ever so slightly sinister.
Without any further ado I continued on my journey. Not too far beyond encountering The Fellowship performance I entered a swamp. Luckily there was a natural roadway that cut through the middle of the swamp, and it was on this roadway that I experienced my first taste of combat in Ultima VII. It was over almost before it even began. Because the game is running in DosBox, GOG have obviously had to mess around with the speed of the game to make it run close to normal but it still seems like everything moves a bit faster than it should. Before I even knew what was happening a crocodile rocketed out of the swamp beside me and was insta-killed by myself and my companions. I didn't even have time to move the mouse on to the crocodile to try and attack it. After this brief encounter I am left none the wiser as to how combat works in Ultima VII, but I'm sure I'll have more chances later on to get the hang of it.
Upon leaving the swamp I entered the small village of Paws, home to a bunch of filthy beggars and poor farmers. I explored around a bit and eventually came across the local branch of The Fellowship. A seemingly friendly couple were running a shelter where they took in those less fortunate than themselves, but after talking to a couple of the tenants I discovered that they were only allowed to stay there if they agreed to join The Fellowship. In fact, one poor lady called Alina had to move in to the shelter after her husband travelled north to Britain to try to get some food for her and her child. Once in Britain he was accused by a Fellowship member of stealing fruit from the royal orchards. Now The Fellowship are trying to force Alina to join their group. If she does they say they'll attempt to clear her husband's name. If she doesn't she'll have to leave the shelter. Okay, so The Fellowship definitely are a sinister organisation.
I left Paws and continued North. Not far beyond the village I discovered the capital, Britain, and I was met with a charming digitised rendition of "Rule Britannia". I quickly discovered that Britain is pretty massive, with an almost overwhelming array of shops and buildings to explore. In one of the houses I met an actor named Jesse. He was very excited about his upcoming role playing The Avatar in a new play that had just been written.
Jesse. He actually looks quite hideous, doesn't he?
I mentioned in my first post about the clever dialogue the game presents you with, and Jesse really epitomises that. In a wonderful display of fourth wall breaking, he proudly boasts that the play is over 100 hours long, and his biggest lines are "Name!" "Job!" and "Bye!". This actually made me laugh out loud, because those three lines are what you are presented with whenever you double click on somebody to interact with them in the game.
I'll leave it there for now. I'm still exploring Britain, and I haven't even encountered Lord British yet. It really feels like I'm only just starting my adventure.
My friend Stephen has just teamed up with a mate of his to form a company called Broken Planet, and they're in the process of developing their first game called "The Broken Planet". Here's their website: http://brokenplanet.co.nz/blog/welcome/
As well as documenting the progress of their game, they'll also be posting tutorials on the development process. They're using the Unreal UDK to program the game with, so if any of you out there have been interested in using this engine you might learn along with them as they discover the quirks of the engine.
There's no catch here. You won't be asked to donate money, it's not a Kickstarter or anything. It's just two guys who are passionate about gaming and who want to share their experiences with like-minded people.
Okay, that's my public service over for the day. Oh, actually, here's a promo poster from their game:
It's funny what random things can spark video game memories. Yesterday my wife and I went to a barbecue out at a friend's place in the countryside. It's about 30 minutes outside of Nelson and the drive is filled with beautiful scenery.
Anyway, I won't bore you with details of the barbecue, but it was dark by the time we started driving home. My wife was driving and I'd had a few drinks so I had a nice buzz going on. We were traveling along a relatively straight piece of highway and up ahead in the distance there was a crossroads. A white car was stopped on the left side of the crossroads, and you could tell that they were judging whether or not they had time to cross before we reached them. They made a decision and accelerated across the road in front of us with plenty of room to spare, and I watched as the car receded into the darkness off to our right. Watching all of this immediately made something click in my head, and after thinking about it for a moment I realised that it reminded me of Road Rash! Somewhere in the depths of my brain I related the image of that car accelerating through the crossroads with the crossroads in Road Rash where cars would accelerate in front of you, quite often causing you to smash into them and go head over heels down the road. All of a sudden I was overcome with the urge to play the game, but it was pretty late by the time we got home so common sense won out and I went to bed.
Incidentally, searching up "Road Rash" images on Google is quite horrific and I wouldn't recommend it
When I woke up this morning, however, I brewed some coffee and loaded up the Megadrive emulator on my Wii. The remainder of the morning was filled with Road Rash goodness, and weaving my way through those crossroads (sometimes successfully and sometimes not) is just as thrilling as I remembered. I can honestly say that the game still holds up. It really is one of the most fun racers ever made, and it's made me hungry for a new Road Rash game.
How about all of you out there? What type of random things have reminded you of video games?
Last night, as is traditional for me on a Friday night, I stayed up once my wife had gone to bed so that I could get some game time in. I was at a loss for what to play, so I had a scroll through my games that I'd downloaded from PSN and came across Journey. I hadn't played Journey for quite a while, and the idea of taking a trip through its world appealed to me so I loaded it up.
It wasn't long before I was totally engrossed in the game. It really is an incredibly beautiful game, both visually and aurally. One of my favourite aspects of Journey is the multi-player, and sure enough I encountered a fellow traveler before ten minutes had past. This traveler was different, though. He/She had a white cloak and an incredibly long scarf streaming out behind them. I had heard about the white cloaked travelers but this was the first time I had met one.
We greeted each other with the traditional bleeps and bloops and chimes, and then set off. I let my companion lead the way and they proceeded to show me all the secret places and glowing glyphs that I hadn't yet discovered on my earlier journeys. We developed a language where they would stop moving, chime three times, I would chime once, and then we'd both jump and fly off. We spent the majority of the game airborne, which is something I hadn't experienced before. By staying close to each other we constantly replenished our flight time which meant we rarely had to return to the ground. I honestly had the biggest grin on my face throughout the whole experience.
Each time we completed a stage I expected that my companion might leave and I would meet up with another traveler, as had happened on my earlier journeys, but each time I entered a new area the same companion was there with me leading the way. It was totally awesome. We stuck together right to the end. Just before entering the final canyon which leads to the ending cinematic we both drew shapes in the snow. The first thing that occurred to me to draw was a smiley face. I drew a big circle and a mouth and my companion realised what I was doing and proceeded to draw the two eyes. It was the perfect ending to what was the best multi-player experience that I've ever had.
Upon returning to the title screen I immediately closed the game and sent a message to my companion thanking them for the great experience, and they replied straight away with a similar message. I'll say again, now, thank you to pleiades6 for such a fantastic Journey.
I donít really have much of a history with the Ultima series of games. Other than vague memories of my older brother playing the games on his Amiga 500 when I was a kid, and a brief stint playing Ultima Online around 1999, I havenít played any other games in the series. With that admission out of the way, I can honestly say that I have always been interested in the series. Iím aware of the importance the games have in Western RPG history, and if thereís ever an article in a magazine or online about the games then Iíll happily read it. Iíve always found the idea of the fictional world of Britannia, and the long lived ruler Lord British, to be fascinating. I also think itís neat that the aforementioned Lord British is the alter-ego of the creator of the series, Richard Garriott. Thereís something cool about the creator of the game youíre playing being a character in the game, in a weird sort of way.
Richard Garriott as his alter ego, Lord British
So, now that Iíve established my brief and tenuous history with the series, Iíll move on to the meat of this post. Yesterday I purchased Ultima VII from GOG, as part of their weekend EA game promo. I was in the mood for some retro gaming and the sale struck at just the right time, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to re-introduce myself to Ultima. I knew, in a vague kind of way, that Ultima VII had a good reputation as one of the best in the series and a quick Google search for opinions quickly confirmed this. Without any further ado I clicked back on GOG and purchased the Ultima VII Complete pack.
If any of you out there have ever purchased games from GOG youíll know that they go the extra mile with the added extras you get. With Ultima VII you get a multitude of manuals, guides, hint books, a perfect scan of the original cloth map from the boxed version, a black and white version of the same map, and a huge collection of design documents from the development of the game. All in all itís a pretty awesome package for only $2.39 I spent on it.
After skim-reading the (very well written) manual I dove straight into the game. I was greeted by a red-faced ape like creature with a booming voice advising me that he was keen on becoming the new ruler of Britannia. He actually seemed quite genial and friendly, but I got the impression that he was supposed to be the bad guy. I guess Iíd learn more as I went along.
Stepping through a Moongate, I entered the world of Britannia and appeared in the town of Trinsic. Rather conveniently I immediately bumped into a guy called Iolo, who I gathered was an old friend of the Avatar (the character you play). He explains that a brutal murder has just taken place in town and that you should investigate. Iolo joins your party, a green arrow appears on screen, and youíre now in control. I was initially worried that, like a lot of older PC games, I would be overwhelmed by the control scheme. I was very happily surprised to discover that pretty much the entire game is controlled using only the mouse, making it a very accessible game. Movement is achieved by moving the cursor to where you want to go on screen and holding down the right mouse button. Opening up your character screen is achieved by simply double left clicking on the character, and likewise for your party members. I walked into the stables where the murder has taken place, which is right next to where you start, and was confronted with a rather grisly scene. The town blacksmith has been torn apart and his mutilated body is lying on the ground. I should mention here how the game is presented graphically. You view proceedings from overhead camera angle. Youíre not directly above the scene, you view things from a slightly lower angle. Buildings appear solid when youíre outside, but once you walk inside the roof disappears to allow you to move around. Overall it is an odd perspective, but I quickly got used to it.
The grisly murder scene that greets you when you start the game
Back to the stables, and I decided to experiment with the control scheme. After clicking about on every object I could find I quickly discovered that you can pick up and move pretty much every item in the game. Like the look of that bucket? Pick it up and put it in your pack. See some tasty bread sitting on somebodyís shelf? Steal it and have a bread feast later on. I picked up a couple of clues from the scene, a key and some gargoyle jewellery (a gargoyle was also murdered, stuck to the stable wall with a pitchfork), and then decided to heed Ioloís advice to talk about the murder with every townsperson I encountered. Talking to people is as easy as double clicking on them and following the dialogue trees. I must say, the dialogue in the game so far is very well written and entertaining. Every character definitely has a distinct personality. In particular the town armourer, and his constant demands for you to either buy something or get out of his shop, made me smile.
Trinsic is a walled town and you canít leave without getting the password from the mayor. In order to do this you need to gather clues and then make a report to the mayor about the murder. If he is satisfied with your progress he then asks you some questions about locations around the world of Britannia to confirm that you truly are the Avatar. I imagine that playing the game back in 1992 this part would have been quite a treat, because it requires you to refer to the cloth map in order to give the mayor exact longitude and latitude locations. Iíll admit that for this section I simply used the included guide which gave the answers. Now satisfied that you are the Avatar of legend, the mayor gives you the town password and sends you on your way to continue investigating the murder. He mentions that crime is very reminiscent of a murder that happened a few years ago in the capital, Britain. With that tidbit of information fresh in my mind, I travelled to the town gate, gave the guard the password, and stepped outside into the land of Britannia...
The gate through which I left Trinsic
I plan to continue with these blogs detailing my journey through Ultima VII. I realise that theyíre probably only going to be of interest to a pretty small group of gamers, but Iím really looking forward to exploring the game further and documenting my adventure. I hope you enjoy journeying along beside me.
I bought a three day pass to PAX Australia! This is kind of a big deal. Living at the ass-end of the world (New Zealand) I always dreamed of one day attending a big gaming show like PAX or E3, but in reality I realised it probably was never going to happen due to dumb real life issues such as money, distance, job, wife etc.....actually, my wife's not dumb. Sorry, honey!
I'm pretty excited about the show. I have a good idea of what to expect from looking at coverage of previous PAX events on Destructoid, but I'm sure the actual event will be kind of overwhelming. Three days of gaming goodness will most likely fry my brain. I'm looking forward to the experience, though, even if I do end up a shrivelled husk of a man by the end of day three. As long as I see this guy at the event I'll be happy:
As well as the event, I'm really looking forward to visting Melbourne again. My wife and I lived there for a year in 2008. It's a very cool city, the only reason we moved back to New Zealand was because we were homesick and missed our friends too much. It's kind of a shame that the event is in July, right in the middle of Winter. Melbourne is a great city and all, but just like any city it can be a bit miserable smack dab in the heart of Winter. It doesn't ever get really cold, but it'll be a shame if the weather is shitty.
Going back to what I said at the start of this post, I've been looking forward to attending a big event like this for a long time. Honestly, the fact that it's a PAX event isn't really a selling point. It could have been a totally new gaming expo and I still would have signed up. I've only visited the Penny Arcade site a handful of times, so I'm definitely not what you would call a fan. I know that there will be some attractions at PAX Australia which will cater towards long time fans of Penny Arcade, but I'm not worried about missing out on these. I'm sure there will be more than enough to capture my attention over the three days.
Is anyone else out there going, or thinking of going? It'd be cool to meet up with some fellow Dtoiders. I'm sure we could get up to all kinds of mischief...