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Editorial The Digital Antiquarian on Ultima VIII

Discussion in 'News & Content Feedback' started by Infinitron, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    After the patch, the jumping wasn't very skill-dependent, you could pick where you wanted to land iirc.
     
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  2. Zer0wing Cipher

    Zer0wing
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    And that makes the whole jumping thing a tedious time waster.
     
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  3. Fishy Savant

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    What a fucking disconnected condescending piece of shit...
     
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  4. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    This is such an edgy and poor read... Ultima VIII had a bunch of flaws, but was trying to push RPGs in a new direction. If they did an Ultima FPS to ride on Doom's success, yeah, you could call it derivative. Instead, it tried to improve the action-RPG formula and basically made a proto-Diablo (similar to games like Veil of Darkness, but still novel). I don't like the game, but Garriott was right, things like the Diablo-ish combat and the shift towards a single character were all smart choices at the time, they were just done poorly.

    Ultima IX would be the same. Part of why it was crap is because Garriott was obsessed about making the ultimate 3D world, where every single fucking bird had a nest & its own flight pattern. There's a lot to criticize about him, but every thing in his career shows him playing with new tech to achieve new things, to paint him as a guy afraid of the future and playing safe is just... wow.
     
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  5. karnak Arcane Patron

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    While I may agree that U8 had terrible mechanics I think it took the devs some big balls to do what they did.
    Completely inverting what had been a trend in RPGs for so many years: "generic-heroic-fantasy-fairytale" setting; party based; etc etc...
    The game begins with a public execution, where a poor sod's head rolls and is eaten by a sea monster. The first minutes of the game state immediately that this isn't your regular family-friendly RPG.
    U8 was several years ahead of its time with its "grimdark" setting and its nihilism. The Avatar is no longer a blonde bodybuilder loved by the people who will save the universe and the Virtues. It's just a Joe with his head inside a bucket who's willing to do anything to save his skin. Even if that includes necromancy and summoning demons. Until that time I had only seen Dark Sun try something different, with its "dying earth" setting.

    Gotta agree with felipepepe: if the game's mechanics and UI had worked, the game would still be seen as a classic and would've changed the concept of RPGs. As it is, we had to wait for Diablo for some things to change (not for the best, in my opinion, but that's a different story).
     
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  6. Dayyālu Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Dayyālu
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    One can admire the will of throwing out something novel, but Ultima VIII has to live in the same world of Ultima Underworld, that succesfully managed to push RPGs in a novel direction without screwing the pooch. Or building on crunch time a half-done monstrosity.

    If they wanted to build an action RPG they would have made the combat engaging and not focus so much on crappy jumping. How many RPGs focus extensively on jumping death pits? The engine, as we know, even supported reactive combat, we have Crusader. I don't remember all the jumping in Diablo. Maybe my memory is faulty.

    Pepe, we live in a post Tabula Rasa and Shroud of the Avatar world. The take that Garriott was overtaken by the gaming world and had problems in adapting and throwing out good ideas isn't particularly novel nor particularly difficult to defend. The times passed him by.

    You could argue that early 90ies Garriott wasn't the jaded "taking the money and run" 00ies and 10ies Garriott, but hey, bar UO what else he worked on that wasn't a half-assed disaster full of promises and little else?
     
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  7. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    Diablo came out AFTER Ultima VIII showed that the combat had potential but that the jumping was a mistake. That's how it always goes, video games are always iterating one over another, you can't expect games to always get right on the first try.

    My point is not that it succeeded, but that it tried.

    Are you seriously saying that Richard Garrett never worked on a good game besides Ultima Online? FFS...
     
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  8. Dayyālu Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Dayyālu
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    I'd need to refresh my memory on Diablo's development, but as far as I remember Diablo started as a turn-based dungeon crawl before mutating into what it is nowadays, contra VIII being a half-assed death pit simulator. Thinking that Ultima VIII was an "inspiration" for Diablo would need proof: you have written a book on the subject, so feel free to correct me and I'll be glad to hear some Blizzard sources on the role of VIII as inspiration.

    Considering the reception of VIII as an abject failure, devs should have been careful about taking inspiration from it. We see the theoretical genetic link (decades later), a link that may or may not be.

    You call the article "edgy", but indeed it asks (and tries to find an answer, maybe without much success) a good question: why Ultima VIII has gameplay elements that have no reason to be in an Ultima game? From where the jumping comes from? It's an attempt, maybe not well-researched as we like.

    Don't grasp at straws. No one is saying that before VIII Garriott&Co didn't throw out great games (even if I have to argue that VII isn't mechanically that good, but that's a personal opinion). I'm specifically talking 90ies-00ies era Garriott. Remember Tabula Rasa's promises? I do.
     
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  9. mondblut Arcane

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    What about, uh, party or stats? You know, the actual RPG shit.

    I never cared about muh avatar and muh virtues either, but that won't make a pretty-looking platformer any less of a puddle of diarrhea.
     
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  10. KeighnMcDeath RPG Codex Boomer

    KeighnMcDeath
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    Did Richard ever play and finish his own games?
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]
    Show Spoiler


    I'd like to think we all remember Tabula Rasa.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    It was only years (nigh decade later) I learned of the massive parties and spending (not like a trip to space wan't spending).
     
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  11. SerratedBiz Arcane

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    Pagan had the atmosphere, the world, the lore to make a great game. The game is genuinely interesting in its premise and even exploring the town and talking to people has a great feel to it. Of course, the game does fall short in its gameplay (as everyone knows). Improving your stats through use is a good idea in theory but you just end up grinding crap by hitting it with a knife.

    If only U8 had been fun to play.
     
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  12. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    Ultima Underworld 1 & 2 had jumping, no one was saying it was a poor fit to the series or calling them "first-person Mario".

    Ultima 8 is from 1994. Tabula Rasa is from 2007. They are THIRTEEN YEARS APART, the same time between Ultima 1 and 8, yet you say I'm the one gasping at straws... and your argument doesn't even make sense, the article is saying Garriott was bad for playing safe and afraid of the future, you are saying Tabula Rasa was bad because he overpromised. Like the antiquarian, sounds like you're just very butthurt about all this.
     
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  13. Dreed Bremsstrahlunged Patron

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  14. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    It did have (light) stats and a sense of progress (you acquire new unique skills). Call it action adventure with RPG elements :D
     
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  15. Dayyālu Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    felipepepe , your position is unclear (and you overestimate a lot my emotional engagement, I am not the biggest Ultima fan and I merely found the article a worthwhile approach). You say that the article is "edgy and a poor read", because Garriott despite making a shit game had vision. He wanted to try something different you see. You also claim that VIII pre-dated and "inspired" the gameplay shift we see in Diablo. On that, we need proof.

    The article, despite having several problems in research, tries an interesting thing: What were the inspiration for Ultima VIII's unholy mutations and peculiar setup? Why it changed from the previews we had in Ultima VII to what we see? It's all the fault of the EA suits, as the "common knowledge" says? Was Robert's success an element in the change of gears?

    They're all interesting questions, and we get some responses that may or may not be correct (and a good amount of people adding info on the comment section, that corrected some wrong information I had on the years, like Zurovec's employment history).

    Do I need to share the article's opinion to find his analysis interesting? God forbid. I do think that Garriott was overtaken by the times and tried to overcompensate promising big and delivering little, but I'm no authority. TR and SoA are a proof in more recent times.

    I don't, on the other hand, find your position that VIII was a misunderstood work of a designer trying to INNOVATE that inspired others to follow particularly convincing. That's it. Peace.
     
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  16. V_K Arcane

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    Mainline Ultimas have always been extremely RPG-light though. One could even argue that U8 was a little more mechanically complex than U7 since you actually had some control over combat in the former.
     
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  17. Bumvelcrow Bellator Sempervirens Patron Dumbfuck

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    Yes, I certainly remember the hours of fun I had hammering away at the mouse button while my character bopped some orange eye monster over the head with a mace at 2 frames per second, whilst telling myself I was playing a role playing game.
     
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  18. mondblut Arcane

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    Even more of a reason to set it on fire and piss into the flames.

    He is a poser who hates proper RPGs.
     
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  19. mondblut Arcane

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    Not an excuse to ditch what little they still had. We are in the "RPG discussion" section still.

    So were Mario and Prince of Persia.
     
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  20. V_K Arcane

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    But it didn't. It has the exact same number of stats that Ultima series had since U4 at least. And it's not like previous games had so much variety in party composition that losing the party had a significant effect on game complexity.
     
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  21. Excommunicator Arcane

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    Is this a retrospective on the game or the development process? There's almost no discussion about the game itself in this piece and absolutely no mention of any of its positives.

    I'm going to assume he didn't revisit the game again in order to write this piece. Pretty disingenuous if so. It reads like someone who read wikipedia and some forum posts and then reminisced bitterly about his memories playing the game 25 years ago.

    Still, I'm not surprised after reading the Ultima 7 one.
     
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  22. Unorus Janco Lurker

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    I don't think this game was supposed to be a platformer at first but a more immersive sim inspired game instead, which was the direction the series was already taking: Ultima VII had combat where you can only control the main character in real-time, object manipulation puzzles, pretty advanced physics for an isometric game, and so on, and that's ignoring the Underworld spin-offs. But then, for some unknown reason, things didn't work out as intended, and they ended up with only an empty and half-baked world, too much money invested in fancy sprite graphics, and an incoming deadline... So they just filled their world with platforms to waste players' time with silly arcade action and called it a day hoping for the best. At least that's my humble hypothesis.

    Also, Garriott was just too dumb to realize that the future was in the Underworld game, then Bethesda just filled the void that Origin created.
     
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  23. Tweed Professional Kobold Patron

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    Biggest thing this game had going for it was the soundtrack which was beyond good, such a waste. I liked it so much I swapped out a lot of midi tracks from UO with tracks from U8 which really seemed to fit the "kill or be killed" environment a lot better anyway.
     
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  24. Burning Bridges Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

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    I can still remember this debacle.

    2 friends and me had gathered together to play Ultima VIII: Jump&Run Avatar for the first time and had to quickly conclude they had thrown the entire franchise in the trash.

    Something died inside me that evening. It was a big fuck you! from Origin for pirating their previous games.

    In fact I cannot remember anything coming close to the bliss that was playing Ultima VII or Underworld for the first time. They had just shortly dipped into rpg greatness and then abandoned it for good.
     
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  25. 0sacred Literate

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    Newer looks back at U8 still can't avoid the mistake of conflating disappointed fans' grumbles with actual shortcomings of the game. The darker elements of U8 are what actually still makes it interesting; DA observes correctly that the rehashing of Ultima's cozy little worldbuilding was doing the series a disservice.
     
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