So much for playing this, that or the other Ultima.

Well, Flash Ultima 4 turned out to not last half as long as I expected... Back in '86, a release with the best graphics & music available to consumers ran well on computers even 2-3 years old.  Upgrade it to VGA (i.e. graphics for 1990), same music, convert into Flash, and combat is unplayably slow on a 1.6GHz/512MB machine. Lest you forget, that's the same speed as a current netbook.

I looked into the updated version of Ultima IV for modern operating systems, which is called xu4.  It appears to be one of the many projects that began as a Linux conversion that gained a lot of steam in Windows. Unfortunately, they stopped updating the binaries for Linux five fucking years ago (though they find the time for OS X).

So I tried the Windows release in Wine... DOSBox happily let me set up the old music/graphics upgrade, and running the old (updated) DOS version went well.  However, hitting any key during the xu4 startup sequence crashes it, and even if I do get all the way into the game, there's no fucking sound.  I triple-checked my audio settings, but no luck.

I decided on a whim to head for Ultima VI instead, and after very little DOSBox tinkering, had it running really well.  I soon found, annoyingly, that it won't let me start a new game or delete my ancient one.  It wants me to create a new player disk, which is difficult considering it's all based on files, and I haven't sorted out how to do that.  Tried an old utility for the purpose, but being based in DOS, it wanted a hard drive, I don't want to do that much setup.

So I'm going to fucking make Ultima V run; so far I have the game in DOS, plus sound -- just no music.  Just not going to get all the way now, because after a night of increasingly hating people and computers, it's now fucking time for bed. AARRGH.

Hopefully this will obsess me

Unable to stop thinking about the string of (hopefully non-ongoing) disasters this year, I started wandering the Web in search of a distraction. I was originally figuring that I'd find the quote wiki that has almost no Garriott quotes and update it, but I couldn't track it down and forgot that I (probably) have it in my bookmarks. Eventually, I looked for an online Flash version of an Ultima game, and found Phi Psi Software's rewritten/enhanced Ultima 4: Flash Version.

It seems stable (though having my laptop's fan going constantly might drive me batty), but I'm slowly building a list of tiny things that aren't quite as they should be, in hope the developer doesn't mind me sending them to him. For example, the inability to control capitalization or use a space in creating the player's name...

Long ago in fourth-grade, my teacher began the tradition of calling me by my initials (D.D.) rather than my actual first name; since everyone adored the guy, I spent the next year referred to that way, and thought it was the coolest thing ever. When I started playing Ultima V the following summer, I needed a name that would sound a bit more mature & medieval than that, so Lady D.D. came into existence. I spent the next school year on home study, which meant a lot of hours exploring Britannia as my more powerful alter-ego. I wasn't happy that I had to change it to Lady DD for Ultima IV, but it wasn't intolerable.

So I wasn't terribly happy to discover that not only can I not be Lady D.D. for this new Flash version, I also can't be Lady DD as it won't allow for a space, or LadyDD since I can't capitalize some letters. Sigh. I'm playing as Xyzzy instead, but plan on writing the poor developer.

Still, I was thrilled to see the huge improvement in graphics, and that there was music -- I knew that there was an enhanced copy or patch for DOS, but never made myself actually try it. I seem to recall that the Apple II version I played had the moongate in the intro actually sound high-pitched, however... I'll have to download an emulated copy and try it; I'm not about to set up my Apple IIGS and ancient Ultima IV up in this mess just to find out.

Hopefully the game will keep my interest and give me something new to be excited about, even if "excited" means "keeping track of the tiny things that could be improved upon with hopefully minimal effort for anyone capable of programming"!