Tag Archives: Gaming

Remaking Ultima

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When the first Neverwinter Nights was released in 2002 (no, not that first NWN), it came with a very cool mod editor, the Aurora toolset, which allowed users to build and release their own content.  NWN isn’t the first game to come with mod tools, of course, but Bioware and Atari took it further than most other publishers had up to that point by actively promoting community content and even releasing user-created mod packs over the years following the initial release.  I played a handful of these mods, and my favorite had to be the various Ultima IV remakes.  These were basically total conversions aimed at modernizing the Ultima IV experience with the NWN Aurora engine.  While the actual playing experience of the early versions I played was hit-or-miss (the maps and models were great; the NPC dialog not so much), it was a great bit of nostalgia and a chance to replay one of my favorite Apple II games from a totally different perspective.  Development of the mods continued for quite some time – long after I’d moved on to other games – and some made the move to Neverwinter Nights 2 after its release, though I never played any of these.

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This was all brought back to me this morning when I visited Retrogames and saw that a remake of Ultima VI using the Dungeon Siege game engine is available.  Ultima VI, of course, was the final version of the series released for the Apple II line.  Origin took a look at continuing to make new Ultima games for the Apple IIGS, but rightly decided that Apple wasn’t doing enough (or anything, really) to promote the IIGS and that the potential market would be too small to justify investing in development for the platform.

A little bit of Googling revealed that Ultima isn’t the only Apple II adventure title to get the remake treatment using a modern game engine.  The Bard’s Tale also appeared for the Aurora engine.  (I also came across Ultima: The Reconstruction, a page dedicated to tracking every remake effort out there., though it hasn’t been updated since 2007).  This got me thinking about two things: one, that I need to dig out my NWN and NWN 2 discs to give these games a second look; and two, what other Apple II games would be good candidates for the remake treatment?  The first that springs to mind is the unfinished Alternate Reality series.  Not only would it be neat to revisit a couple of my favorite titles (The City and The Dungeon were the only games that were completed), but it might be really great to finish the remaining titles that Philip Price and Paradise Programming were never able to get to.

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Yes, I know that certain Apple II games have already been “remade” in various forms – Wasteland reappeared (sort of) as the Fallout series; The Oregon Trail is starting to show up on modern platforms.  Even The Bard’s Tale got a crappy remake in 2004 and there was talk as recently as a year ago of a possible Choplifter update, though there hasn’t been anything since the Gamespot post.   But it’s really neat to see some of my favorite adventure games redone by fan communities using mod tools.

What about you?  What titles would you like to see again?

Britannia Height Map

The Britannia Height Map from the Britannia Cartography Project