Author Topic: 2021/06: Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC) - FlyingArmor & Zerker  (Read 893 times)

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Offline JonLeung

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For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to FlyingArmor's and Zerker's Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC) maps.

On a stormy night, a red moongate appears before the hero known as the Avatar.  Entering it and expecting to be taken back to Britannia, the Avatar is instead captured and bound to be sacrificed by demon-like creatures.  Rescued at the last moment by his friends, Dupre, Shamino and Iolo, they escape to Lord British's throne room, where the Avatar learns of attacks from the Gargoyles, who have captured the shrines of Virtue.  Though initially setting out on a quest to stop the invaders, might there be another side to this story?

Building on and improving on previous Ultima adventures, the whole world is now set to the same scale, with no "zooming-in" on towns, and no more first-person perspective in dungeons, providing a seamless, continuous journey across this open world.  While Zerker provided the original 15-megabyte, 16384 x 16384 map of Britannia (he'd also mapped out Ultima VII), FlyingArmor has taken a deep dive by taking on all of the dungeons - and a whole other world beyond Britannia.  But what is even more impressive than putting up all of these beautiful, colourful VGA pixels is marking every single item in the game!  There are literally thousands of objects - and whether they're out in the open, or within containers - FlyingArmor has put it all out there for your perusal, so you should have no problem finding anything you want or need.  (Though remember, a person who abides by the Virtues shouldn't steal...)  Such detail is appreciated in any set of maps, but much more so in a huge, open world like Britannia, where there are just so many things to take and use!

So to recognize the effort put into thoroughly mapping this open-world classic, FlyingArmor's and Zerker's Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2021.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2021, 10:54:53 AM by JonLeung »

Offline FlyingArmor

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Re: 2021/06: Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC) - FlyingArmor & Zerker
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2021, 01:05:29 PM »
Now that the PC version of the game is fully mapped, comparisons between the PC and SNES versions can be made much more easily. While I at first sided more towards the SNES version, after mapping out the PC version, I've taken a better liking to its colour scheme, even the extremely iron-rich soil that is pervasive across all of Britannia! ;D

As I was getting closer to completing this map set, I kept on discovering more items that can be picked up! Namely the crosses in cemeteries as well as pennants being two examples. I think I had simply looked at them in-game and surprisingly discovered that they weighed a certain amount in stones. I don't think I included those two things in the map legends, because I would have had to amend a number of other maps I had already finished working on, and I simply wanted to get the maps to Jon as soon as I possibly could. So whenever I find some spare time, I'll add those items to the appropriate maps.

Offline JonLeung

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Re: 2021/06: Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC) - FlyingArmor & Zerker
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2021, 02:12:44 PM »
Since we're a decent chunk into the month, I should probably say something about this choice, which, admittedly, is a nostalgic one for me personally, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that sees VI and VII the peak of this series (funnily enough, also another series or two).

I've likely recalled this before on these forums, but Ultima VI: The False Prophet is way above and beyond my favourite Ultima game (even though VII is pretty good, and I have sort-of fond memories of VIII, despite getting a lot of hate for being so different).  Well, admittedly, I haven't played many... but still!  And as I've said, I don't know that I've actually finished Ultima VI without cheating... always tempted to do the Iolo "spam" cheat... maybe I'll try again one day, and these maps will certainly help!

A lot of what makes this my favourite is just that I equate this to our first computer.  Well, the first PC.  I mean, we had a Coleco Adam computer when I was really young... sort of regret getting rid of that... but at best, that was just a ColecoVision with a word processor (plus the cassette reader just to play the included Buck Rogers game, which was the only tape I had for it).  I'd dabbled with Apple II computers in elementary school (who my age hadn't done that, really?) but as I was soon to be in junior high, I needed a real, modern computer, an IBM PC or compatible.  I guess it wasn't an actual necessity for school quite yet, not for another few years, anyway, but it was something I really wanted, being a bit of a nerd back then, and I remember visiting a bunch of computer stores with my brother and dad and I guess it was not an easy decision because it seemed to take a while.

I think my dad ended up buying a used computer from somebody.  This PC was a 286, though I believe 386s were already out at the time.  I think, anyway, don't quote me on that.  Anyway, it would feel outdated soon enough, but I still remember how it sounded to boot it up and how it felt to use that thing.  Since it was a used computer, that wasn't bothered to be formatted, there was some pre-installed software, and just before bedtime on one of the first evenings with the machine, I stumbled upon a folder (or "directory", as it was called in MS-DOS) containing Ultima VI.  I didn't have much time that night to really try it out, but as I walked around Lord British's Castle, I remember being amazed at all the items that could be picked up; I especially remember being at awe at the room in the southwest with all those coloured potions, thinking "this is the greatest thing ever".  I knew some computer games could be more complex than console games, and even though I ironically play more console-style games on my PC nowadays, at the time, it was really cool to me.  It just felt different, more sophisticated.  Whatever the case, I knew this was something I could get into.  I'm guessing this was in 1991 or 1992, so the game wasn't that old.

I don't remember how I came about it, but whoever sold my dad the computer had also included a bunch of documentation, including photocopies of the Ultima VI manual and all the other extra stuff, like the lorebooks and reference cards, and I remember perusing the bestiary and reading about all the different spells.  (Thankfully on GOG Galaxy you can get the game and scans of all those extras, so that might be worth looking at when I'm done writing this.)  Someone at school told me about the cheat where in the game, you can talk to your friend Iolo, and say "spam" "spam" "spam" "humbug" which opens up a debug/cheat menu.  In those pre-Internet days, that was how you learned cheats, and it was always cool to learn something and being excited for the school day to end to get home and try it out.  I loved the "Get item" cheat especially, and I remember, writing out by hand, what numbers to use to get what items (basically this item list).

The cheat changed the game dramatically, I spent more time just mucking about than actually playing properly.  Though I did get the gist of the story and did see the ending, albeit probably with some sequence breaking, or venturing into areas before I should have been strong enough to, it's a game that has stuck with me in a special way.  When talking about morality, I have referenced the quiz at the start of Ultima VI that determines what virtues you're aligned with, you know, like "you are delivering an uncounted bag of gold.  On the way, you see a child begging for money.  Do you give them a coin from the bag, knowing that it won't be missed?" and the answer determining whether you are honest or compassionate, you know, that sort of thing.  Actually, that's the only question I remember at the moment, but I'm sure if I replay it, the others will come back to me.

I did get and enjoyed Ultima VII and VIII, but to me, VI is something really special.  It could be that I'm an old fogey (okay, middle-aged, but still) that I miss the days when the idea of something new in the house, like a new computer, which really would change the course of my life (I can't imagine NOT using computers now), and that first one including something on it that I really enjoyed.  I can't even imagine what the equivalent would be... getting the Internet in 1995 was cool, but it felt like an extension of having a computer, plus it felt like a gradual change as I used text-only "freenet" for a few years - and getting my first smartphone was cool at the time but even having that constant connectivity didn't feel as amazing as having my own bulky desktop that's probably a million times weaker than my phone today but when I was 10 or 11 or 12 or whatever... man, good times.  I wonder if there would be anything like that that could blow me away now.  But I guess back when I was a pre-teen, it's easier to be amazed - in retrospect, I probably could have been more amazed at my first PC, if I'd known I would be constantly using computers then on, and not just because it was like a fancy toy to play games on, which was probably more my sentiment at the time.

In any case, I love Ultima VI, not going to apologize for that being the reason for this to be Maps Of The Month (though thankfully it's a good-looking game even besides my own opinion), and I'm glad that this is mapped in both Super NES and PC forms now.  Thanks again, Zerker, for the world map, and FlyingArmor, who I am sure I had pestered (or not-so-subtly-hinted) about doing PC maps for a while, LOL.