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Ultima Revived 241

Posted by michael
from the sulphurous-ash-and-black-pearls dept.
Sierpinski writes: "Wired.com has an article about a group of people who are trying to bring back some of the classic (older) games. I don't know what a lot of you gamers are into now... personally I'm into Max Payne and the like, but I still remember those old favorites. Thought some of you slashdotters would like to know." We've mentioned one of these games already, but I see The Bard's Tale is coming back from the dead too.
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Ultima Revived

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  • How about bringing back Master of Magic or X-Com with updated graphics? There are so many *other* games I would rather see get remade. I could care less about either of the two game smentioned in the articles...
    • Damn, you beat me to the obligitory "Master of Magic Rules" post. Agreed, though, I would love to see MOM remade with updates graphics, engine and such. What would be even better, though, would be MOM2, but seeing how Microprose has been buried under about 3 buyouts since it's glory days, probably not going to happen.
    • How about Colonization? Or better yet, Pirates!
  • Cool mmorpg.

    Space combat simulator.

    It was released a month ago with NONE of the problems associated with the other games.

    jumpgate.3do.com

    planetjumpgate.net
    • Should have said, it is like the old Elite and Privateer games except multiplayer.

      gamespot gave it a 8.6: http://gamespot.com/gamespot/stories/reviews/0,108 67,2819087,00.html
  • If you're into MUDs, MOOs, or just wanna relive BBS days, I run a web based game of LORD [nuklear.org].

    It's powered by linux, dosemu, and perl. Gotta love open source software :)
  • some are still on old BBSs waiting for players, and I still enjoy a fast game of DooM or Heretic over the network
  • From the Wired article:

    Such is the case for The Bard's Tale and Ultima, two classic games from the 1980s that fans are recreating with a modern look and feel.

    A lot of the fun was the old-fashioned "tile-game" approach. Updating the games will almost be like a different game entirely.
    • I agree .. I am thinking of starting a project to build an Ultima III style game, but I wasn't sure if there would be much interest in it.. Anybody wanna get involved in something like this? I'm thinking pluggable modules (each module is a complete adventure), a good module editor, network play, etc.
    • A lot of the fun was the old-fashioned "tile-game" approach.


      Agreed. I loved playing Ult. 2 on my C64, because I liked the tile movement, the colors (man, apple version was UGLY!) and it was a game I could play in a couple hours.


      Favorite tactic to generate monsters was get a pirate ship, lure and kill pirates into a 3x3 grid, then sit in the center ship and jam a Pop-Sicle stick in the keyboard (holding down whatever key passed time) and then go find something to do for about 5 minutes. Come back and the sea and landmasses visible are covered with monsters. Kill em and collect gold, repeat until you have all the gold and levels you need. It was a fun time waster, and I'd only finish the game when I became bored.


      FWIW, I'm working on M.U.L.E., but no dates yet. Too early for status updates.

  • Wait a second, wait a second...

    Why don't they bring back Smurfs, the Atari 2600 game?
    It consisted of about 5 scenes that you got put into randomly, and sometimes they moved faster..
    Damn, that's quality gaming..
  • All the Ultima crew did was talk to Richard Garriot (aka Lord British) and he OK'd it... as long as they don't profit from it.
    Unfortunately, Origin holds the rights to the games, don't they? No clearance from EA for The Bard's Tale means that they'll at least have to change the names of the games, the people and places. Still, an interesting enough idea.
    Oh well. As long as they're updating old games, howsabout Wasteland and the good ol' SSI RPGs?
    • Origin doesn't own the rights to anything... they aren't even a seperate company anymore.. (And really haven't been for 10 years or so)

      All ip for all licenses/products/properties for any game produced by any company owned by EA is owned by EA directly..

      Richard Garriott retains the rights to Lord British, but sold the rights to Ultima and everything else Origin had produced when the company was sold in the early 90's..

      Which makes the quote from the article even more amusing :

      ""EA owns the rights to Ultima and all of its characters, and in this case, no permission was requested or granted," said Jeff Brown, an Electronic Arts spokesman. "As for Richard Garriott's approval, that's like getting permission from Toto to remake The Wizard of Oz.""

      I'd love to see the rereleases(and maybe one for M.U.L.E. but I get the feeling EA will fox them pretty quickly.. (Fox is the term coined after the shutdown of Aliens Doom by the fox movie studio)
    • I don't think there will be a problem with the clearance, since Electronic Arts purchased Origin Systems a while back. Here is an excerpt from the Jones Multimedia Encyclopedia webpage:

      "In 1992, it acquired Origin Systems Inc, a pubblisher of fantasy and action simulation games for CD-ROM,including Ultima and Wing Commander."

      The above webpage can be found here [digitalcentury.com].
    • You could just play Fallout, which is really close to an updated version of Wasteland
  • how about a niftier version of wasteland?

    i wish we could get better thought out RPG's ... the last one that i REALLY likes was Torment...

    • You know what would absolutely rock? Wasteland on my ipaq. That would mean the end of all productivity as we know it.

      Hmm...what does it take to port to winCE?
  • I brought back Ladder [ostermiller.org], a Donkey Kong like game that was played on old CPM machines. Graphics are way too new for my taste, let alone 3D graphics.
  • How about reviving the Zork series? No graphics, text only...
  • If we are tlalking about reviving games, and we are, all I want for Christmas is a GBA port of classic 80's space trading game Elite.

    Thats not asking for too much, is it?

  • as most know they are updating wolfenstein... I like what I see, but it just isnt wolfenstein anymore
  • By far the most creative and original game I've ever played. I recently tried to ressurect my old Apple II just to play it, and even tried an Atari ST emulator to no avail. My hat is off to the remenants of FTL games and the original designers.

    If someone wants to ressurect Sundog, they've got my vote. ;)
  • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @10:12AM (#2465574) Homepage
    I think what appeals to me about these updates is the reduction in associated stress. These chaps wouldn't be half as popular if they tried to recreate the 'fun' of loading from tape, LensLock security, broken keyboard membranes/joysticks, etc etc?

    A disgruntled Spectrum user. Bring back YS. And Crash.
    • Ah, but this is /. and they didn't call it a spectrum in the US, it was the TIMEX (IIRC). :)

      Your TIMEX - it's crap! (in a funky skillo sort of way).

      Doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Still, wouldn't have stopped me wasting my youth playing Dark Star / Mission Omega / Southern Belle / How to be a Complete Bastard / and so on.

      *sigh*
    • YS! Hurrah! Quick google turned up the Your Sinclair Rock and Roll Years [ysrnry.co.uk] - great website!

      You can go through all the back issues online!

      Did anyone else not buy the issue of YS that had a semi naked chick on the front [ysrnry.co.uk].

      I've still got a stack of these in the loft! I should eBay them!

    • These chaps wouldn't be half as popular if they tried to recreate the 'fun' of loading from tape

      Awww man...that brings back memories of loading ADVENTURE off tape onto a...I think it was a TI/994A. Maybe an early Atari computer though. I think even the 2600 had games you loaded off tape (the cord went into the cartridge).
  • ... 3d dig dug gunna see the light of day?

    • by Magumbo (414471)
      Heh. Yeah a first person version would rule. You would just see your feet, some dirt, and a shovel.

      Dig. Dig. Dig.

  • I think we need to keep the "old" games going so our kids and their kids will have something to look back on and say "that's where games used to be." I'd personally like to see an open source version of Tank Wars, remember that old ATARI game? There were like 100 different possible games and I remember playing them for hours... of course that was back when video games were something the adults did after dinner, they wouldn't let the kids play because we beat them too badly. Anyway, kudos to whoever is doing this, and EA: kiss my ass! (referring to the following)

    Trouble is, rights for the games are held by one of the biggest companies in the industry, Electronic Arts, which isn't too happy about grassroots revivals.
  • What?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Happy Monkey (183927) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @10:18AM (#2465603) Homepage
    "EA owns the rights to Ultima and all of its characters, and in this case, no permission was requested or granted," said Jeff Brown, an Electronic Arts spokesman. "As for Richard Garriott's approval, that's like getting permission from Toto to remake The Wizard of Oz."

    Richard Garriott was a minor character with no lines in Ultima? I think that L. Frank Baum (were he still alive) might be a better example. It would still not be legal, since MGM owns the movie rights, but comparing Garriott to Toto is bizarre...
    • I dont think EA thinks much of Richard Garriot, this spells it out pretty plainly..

      I also liked when they were talking about that Bards Tale game, how the guy from EA said that they (the game developers redoing bards tale) "should at least call us up and tell us about it"

      Hah.. if they do they get shut down, plain and simple..

  • by Shwang_Shwing (514910) <fredgarvin@@@freewebemail...com> on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @10:18AM (#2465608)
    "EA owns the rights to Ultima and all of its characters, and in this case, no permission was requested or granted," said Jeff Brown, an Electronic Arts spokesman. "As for Richard Garriott's approval, that's like getting permission from Toto to remake The Wizard of Oz."

    Nice quote. What's the deal with publishers these days being hostile to everyone including developers? Look at Bioware and Interplay.
    • EA's never been good to the fan community.
      They release quite frankly the worst Ultima ever and feel their intellectual property is being compromised by people wanting to enjoy what Ultima was.

      EA has taken over sooo many game companies it's stupid, something to watch out for.

      But maybe I'm just bitter cause Ultima9 was such a crap game.
  • One classic remake I'm really looking forward to is StarFlight III [starflight3.com]. The original StarFlight, and StarFlight II, were the predecessors to games such as Masters of Orion and Star Control, and an inspiration for later games like Ascension.

    StarFlight contained a HUGE static universe (i.e., every time you play, all the systems are the same). While a lot of people like random maps nowadays, StarFlight worked really well because the universe was so large and rich that each game is almost guaranteed to be different. It had all the essential elements for a fun space strategy game: exploration, mining, colonization, alien interaction, intrigue. You can find artifacts with odd or incomplete messages, but sometimes would find some coordinates. It was fun jotting down all these coordinates and clues and exploring from there. Sometimes it would end up being a series of messages detailing the next location, sometimes they just ended (or so it seemed). And let's not forget the eerie feeling of finding a blue-green planet, slowly realizing that the shapes of the continents look familiar (it's Earth!).

    I have a huge pile of notes saved up from my first StarFlight game. Only problem is that it's on 5.25" floppies. I found a copy of it online, but then I realized how archaic the savegame system is. It saves your game state into the game executable. If you don't exit the game properly, or get stuck between a rock and a hard place, your main game executable is history. This is the main reason why I haven't played StarFlight that much in the past couple of years. It's a major pain in the butt to contend with.

    Now I'm eagerly awaiting StarFlight III. It's a "volunteer" project, and they've got two of the original StarFlight programmers consulting for the game.

    • I would have to agree with you on this game. I loved playing starflight back in the day and recently downloaded it again to play. Starflight was the first game that actually captured me and kept me playing until I finished it.
  • HUNT THE WuMPuS!
  • From the article: "EA owns the rights to Ultima and all of its characters, and in this case, no permission was requested or granted," said Jeff Brown, an Electronic Arts spokesman. "As for Richard Garriott's approval, that's like getting permission from Toto to remake The Wizard of Oz." I'm not sure I understand this remark. Didn't Garriott sort of, you know, CREATE Ultima? ::searches core for memories of his old NES so many years ago:: I'm pretty sure that's what the credits said. Perhaps I was mistaken. Or was Mr. Brown implying that Toto did indeed write the script to the Wizard Of Oz, and should be blamed for all the plot wholes and shoddy songs therein? ::scratches his head and sings Existential Blues to anyone near enough to be tortured by it::
  • I remember saving my allowance up for weeks to buy The Bard's Tale.

    Everyone here may be like 'what is that Crap' but all the old-school game geeks will remember that when BT came out .. it totally revamped how the industry thought about games.

    its as much a classic as Ultima I .. regardless of the spaceships.

    I want to know why no company ever remade a network version of Mail Order Monsters (another EA game for the c64) you got to fight monsnters, save up $$ .. and buy genetic enhancements for them like stingers, or lobster claws (more damage) or photosynthysis .. (they regained energy via the sun)

    that could be a nice FSP online now .. with a lOT of environmental factors.
    • I agree about the Bard's Tale. My eyes lit up at the mention of this old classic. I dare not say how many hours of my life have been invested/wasted on that game, but it was great stuff.

      The Bard's Legacy site [bardslegacy.com] has some neat screen shots & such, but at this time it isn't clear what platform it runs on. Details are a little sketchy, but it looks like a noble effort.

  • I am constantly amazed by how much games have changed, but the habits behind a good game have yet to change. I played games way into the night with old Atari games, and I still do it now with PC games. My rating system for games has always been how long do I play it into the night. If I lose all track of time, its a good one.

    I currently play strategy/tactics games, and Dune: Emperor is my current late night sleep-destroyer. At least now I'm only killing my sleep rather my GPA like I did in college.

    Bringing back old games is a trend I've seen with more and more platforms. Gauntlet has come back to PS2 as Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. Wolfenstein 3D will be back some time next year, and Civ III will come as well. Look how the Dune series has gone, from the almost role-playing "Dune" to its current incarnation. If a game was good enough to be remembered fondly, or at least spark a few sequel games, it will probably come back eventually. I've seen the same trend with toys and food. Toys and food go out of style, but then they come back 10 years later based on the idea that new folks are around who think the old is quite new. Also, the persons who have nostaligic memories for these items will buy them as well.

    If there is one Microprose game I'd love to see come back, it would be Darklands. But, it never spawned a sequel and only a few people seemed to have liked it, so I doubt it will.

    • selling daggers was the way to make $$ :P

      that game was cool .. you were Mercanaries right? I remember playing it late into the night .. and anoying the CRAP out of everyone with that tinny music it endlessly repeated.

      it seemed to me to be the first 'realistic' adventuring game (as in you needed supplies and everything had value)
  • I go to Slashdot, I see a story at the top about Apple's new supposed PDA, the "iWalk" and link to SpyMac.com. I hit back, then reload 3 or 4 times to make sure, and the story is gone! Ultima is the top story now. This is damn weird.
  • I figured a free game based on Ultima I and given new 3d life.....then I saw what the sys recs were......DirectX 8!!! you would think that since it is a free game, they would want to use a platform independant set of Libs like Loki....then perhaps, they could port the game to many diffrent platforms since Ultima fans exist everywhere. I guess even non-comercial hobbiests can sell out ;-)
  • Personally, I'm anticipating the release of The Last Ninja 4 [lemon64.com]. oooh...
  • Like I keep sayiing.... go back and play the original adventure [xyzzy.net]game.
  • "EA owns the rights to Ultima and all of its characters, and in this case, no permission was requested or granted," said Jeff Brown, an Electronic Arts spokesman. "As for Richard Garriott's approval, that's like getting permission from Toto to remake The Wizard of Oz."

    I don't recall Toto having been the creative force behind The Wizard of Oz, but perhaps I'm missing something. Or perhaps this guy is just using an obnoxious simile.

    joedoe


  • Who's with me? I'd love to see M.U.L.E. brought back from the dead. What a great FUN game.

    Unfortunately, I predict most of these attempts to re-create old games will be FOXed as soon as they get off the ground.
  • I use to love the good old adventure games, Leisure Suit, Police Quest, Tex Murphy

  • I grew up on ultima.. I actually one ultima I,2, and 3.. Loved exploring all the levels and caves and towns...

    Its nice to have retro games redone when there redone right. Ambrosia software had a game calles :Mallstrom that was an asteriods rip off with better graphics and new features. It is great.
    Because if MAME and hooking up my old intellivision has taught me anything the games of the past were great but the graphics stank..

    (back in my day humans were shown on screen with 6 rectangles and one color, none of this namby pamby 3d vector shaded triangle stuff.. and We LIKED it...)

    Old games can be found on abandonware sites and most still run on "modern" OSs(at least shufflepuck does .. although without sound..) But its nice to see the best games comming back with better graphics..

  • Studio 3 (former System 3) is working on Last Ninja 4 since 1999! It will be released for XBox and probably also PS2 and Windoze. They have been working VERY hard on research and they have been active in Last Ninja-fan-mailinglists. The Last Ninja-series is IMHO the best games ever released on any platform, together with Monkey Island 1+2 (Disclaimer: You may think otherwise) Check this page for more info (and screenshots):
    http://lastninja.lemon64.com/ln4.htm [lemon64.com]
  • Anyone remember the game Mimi and the Mites? One of the greats, in my opinion - unfortunately it was never really very popular.

    A google search will reveal that the demo of it is quite easy to find - however, it's absolutely *impossible* to get the full version. The company has long since vanished and I've been unable to locate a full version of this game anywhere. Anyone familiar with this game? Got any spare copies lying around?
  • I remember long hours infront of my fathers computer while playing F29 Retaliator (F29?).

    Those old games had a certain feeling that just does'nt exist anymore. I'll rather listen to some beeps from my PC-speaker that those new all-to-commercial intros.

    BTW - Does anyone know where I can get hold of a copy of retaliator nowdays? :)
  • I liked the Ultima games, played II, IV, VII, VIII, and tried to play IX, but it was sooo buggy! But, does the world need to rehash Ultima I, Bard's Tale, Wolfenstein? Wouldn't these efforts be better directed at creating new, original games, and not recycling old, been there done that plots?

    Reminds me of Hollywood dredging up Planet of the Apes, Flintstones, Lost in Space, and any other old movie/TV show that someone has found a way to wring a few more dollars from.

    Focus on new and original, rather than rehashes of the past.
  • by thomkt (59664)
    I've been on a big X-Com kick recently.

    I learned more about squad-based tactics from playing this game, then I did in the four years I was in the Marine Corps.

    You never forget the first time you have your squad set to rush an alien ship, only to have a sectiod step out, drop a granade and walk back into the ship.
    • You never forget the first time you have your squad set to rush an alien ship, only to have a sectiod step out, drop a granade and walk back into the ship.

      I always hated it when that happens, or when, out of the corner of your eye, you see some shambling beast move and then disappear -- knowing that it would soon be ripping the squad apart.

      XCom will always have a special little corner of my hard drive. Anybody know if it works well under emulation?

      -schussat

  • If you were to remake an Ultima game, why pick I?
    Wouldn't most people choose IV?

    The PC Gamer article linked to on their site says that the boys at Paradox wouldn't mind redoing all the games. Interesting resume...
  • The big reason a lot of these old, quality games are not being reproduced and retooled for newer platforms, (Win32, GTK, etc...) is because they are still under copyright. Many of them (Like the old Ultima games) are owned by companies who never sold them and never really plan to.

    The answer to this is limiting duration of copyright on software. I mean, how much can you sell a game for even 3 years after its initial release? The last time I went to Walmart, they had a consolodated 'Starcraft' package for 19.95, but the Starcraft CD was in the bargin bin for 4.95. How about after five years? Seven? If software copyrights just simply expired after seven years with no chance of renewal, the companies who owned those games would have extracted all the revenue they could from them, and then the pulic would profit by getting older, quality games (and preferrable their source code) into the public domain.

    Mind you, I think that copyright is wrong to begin with, but if there is a good compromise to be found, don't you think it would be something like this?
    • Hey, it's not only old video games that run into the ol' "this hasn't been sold by anyone for years, yet it's still illegal to distribute it yourself" problem. I frequent a (pencil, paper and dice) RPG board where someone was carrying on and threatening to call the FBI because some folks were distributing Star Frontiers in PDF form. Star Frontiers is an old RPG that hasn't been in print for over a decade, and the company that owns the rights to it is currently selling the Star Wars RPG, so it's unlikely they're going to decide to revive Star Frontiers anytime soon.

      Also, there's a certain cult classic series of sci-fi novels that I wanted to buy (I've forgotten the name now) but since they're long out of print, my only option is to buy them from some collectors for a few hundred dollars.

      It's ridiculous. This isn't what copyrights were intended for. Protecting someone's right to make money off their own creative property is one thing. Locking something away because the owner is a corporation that has other intellectual property it wants to focus on exploiting ... that's just wrong.
      • Hey, it's not only old video games that run into the ol' "this hasn't been sold by anyone for years, yet it's still illegal to distribute it yourself" problem.

        I agree totally. This same problem applies to authors, many of which hold on to copyrights for decades after their book has ceased to make them any money. What's the point?
  • Mixed feelings. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jinx90277 (517785)
    First of all, before the inspiration leaves me, someone ought to make a 3-D version of Archon. Heck, if you wanted to really jazz it up, you could go to a semi-FPS mode (like Max Payne) when your pieces were fighting -- you could use terrain to hide from the opposition and even out some of those mismatches. Plus, it would be great to see your wizard missing a basilisk with a fireball and accidentally torching a tree... Of course, it's another Electronic Arts game, so I can imagine the enthusiastic support the project would get.

    That temporary fantasy aside, though, I'm not sure how much I support remaking classic games. I will always remember playing Archon against my sister on the PCjr for hours -- she got the joystick, and I got the keyboard, in an attempt to level the playing field -- with the crappy chirpy sound and the ugly CGA graphics. That was the game, and it was great despite all of that. The same goes for Bard's Tale, Lode Runner, Thexder, King's Quest, and all the other games that I remember from my youth -- the games are fixed in a personal and technological context that I can't remove.

    Classic games, like classic movies, books, music, or any other kind of art, have both a timeless relevance and a historical context. The former explains why they have earned the appellation of "classic" -- they continue to find an audience. However, the latter is just as important, and it's inseparable from the other half. Can you imagine someone trying to rewrite The Catcher In The Rye because the language is dated, and Holden Caulfield doesn't sound like the kids these days? Or remaking Romeo and Juliet with guns and rock music? (Oops -- too late on that last one.)

    I would like my kids (someday, when I have kids) to play the games that I played as a kid, both because they were fun, and also to get a sense of history. I don't want them thinking that technology started at a 1.4 GHz Athlon and went up from there -- I wish I could start them off with a TRS-80 Model I. I think that emulation projects are wonderful work, and wish that game publishers would legitimize abandonware and old ROM sets for the standup arcade games. But remakes, as impressive as they may be, will always leave me a little cold.

  • Another group doing remakes which specialises in ZX Spectrum titles is Retrospec. Their website is www.retrospec.co.uk [retrospec.co.uk]
  • Appearently, this is similar to a group of slashdot posters who are trying to bring back some of the classic (older) Slashdot Articles [slashdot.org].

    I guess if it's here twice, it's a really good thing...
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:40AM (#2465841) Homepage
    After actually reading the article, I notice a few things in passing.

    One of the companies demanded contact from the developers because, in some way, shape, or form the game resembled one of "theirs". A passing resemblance is enough to trigger a lawyer.

    The companies seemed to think that a non-profit independent venture using some of "their" ideas is under their purvue -- ie, no Fair Use for anyone. No parody or tribute allowed.

    These companies did not create these franchises (mostly) -- they didn't design them, or write the code, or even have the original developers on hand. They just bought the "property". Lord British was referred to as "Toto" to their lordly Frank Baum.

    Kicker: they have refused to do anything with these "properties" for years. Even though fans begged them to. There was not enough profit, and they let them lie fallow.

    That is an ample demostration of why current copyright and IP is a perversion of what Jefferson et al created copyright for -- to encourage the creation of new art for the good of all, not to only profit the holder of the mark. By converting "Bard's Tale" and other games to the status of paperclip inventory on a shelf, the art it engendered lies dead, hostage to greed for property.

    As for my opinion, if the mark holders are letting it lie in an intellectual property grave, a non-profit knock-off is an expression of democratic disapproval. The PROPER course of action for these IP holders is to hire these people and release the new games, and sheepishly admit that they should have done it long ago.
    • What's really wrong with this is that they own our childhood memories of the games we played. We were too young to consent to filling our minds with proprietary stories. Same situation with TSR/online modules and WotC/Apprentice. These people are heartless bastards if they understand this and don't care.

      Intellectual property may be ok for consenting adults, but I say no more ip for unsuspecting children. I can't believe I'm actually saying we have to do it for the children!

      Bryguy
  • Those old games were great, no question, at least for their time. I can certainly understand how some people are tired of where games have been headed (toward pseudo-realism), and want to play something else. But is remaking those old games really the direction to go in? It's like a director saying "I think movies have gotten too glitzy, so I'm only going to do remakes of great films from the 1950s." That's a cop out. Surely there is somewhere else to go to advance the creation of games? If you don't like modern-style games, then take things in your own direction.
    • Several of us have been working on another Ultima remake, Exult [sourceforge.net], for nearly three years. But my ultimate goal is to end up with a game engine and tools for making new games in the same style.
  • Just my opinion, but I'd love to see remakes of Pirates! (Pirates Gold, which was a lovely pile of toss, doesn't count) and Stunts (pc racing game).

    Pirates! just had a fantastically simple interface for a game with as much open-ended play as it had. And Stunts had a great track editor (especially for the time, around '89 or '90 IIRC).

    I know this is getting off-topic, but has anyone besides me ever imagined Pirates! in an online, persistant world (MMORPG, like Everquest)? Man, if you could just figure out a good time scaling for ocean travel, that game might just rock. :)

  • by DrCode (95839) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:08PM (#2466032)
    Fortunately, since the copyright laws hadn't been extended to ridiculous lengths, you don't need Toto's, or anyone's, permission to distribute or rewrite L. F. Baum's Oz stories, as they started going into the public domain in the 1950's.
  • Go check out Nuklear Lord [nuklear.org], a kick ass game of Legend of the Red Dragon running under Linux on DOSemu with a cool Perl BBS gateway. You can also telnet to port 31337 on that server to play.
  • Max Payne is cool - a brilliant, beautiful game, and a lot of fun - the first time you play through.

    Unfortunately it's saddled with such a linear storyline that once you're through it, it's not much fun anymore. This one's a definite renter if anything is; you can easily play it out in a weekend.

  • by squaretorus (459130) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:17PM (#2466096) Homepage Journal
    While IP laws are intended to protect the holder, there is a good arguement for changes to protect the consumers interests.

    Wherever a significant consumer group is NOT being served by an IP holder there should be a legal process by which the IP defaults AWAY from the holder following a period of non-exploitation.

    Scenario: Publisher X withdraws GameX from the market, and stops supporting players. A player registers this fact with a register for a small fee (call it $30, just to stop the jokers, to make sure it matters). Following a period, perhaps 2 years, if the company has made no significant moves to make the IP available to the paying public it defaults out to the public domain. Simple.

    Company X will argue that it could be working on the new version during those 2 years and this sucks. But, any decent games company will continue to support its user base while the new game is coming along - drip feeding us patches, upgrade packs, new terrains.

    Similarly, any other software that starts to die could be openned up after a couple of years of non-exploitation or when the company went bust. Doesn't mean they have to release the code - just that they cant sue your arse if you copy them / take inspiration.

    • I'd say 5 years, and add if any later or derived versions still exist, its still under IP protection. Else, open it up for non-profit use.


      Thus windows, linux, and a ton of apps wouldn't fall in the public domain. (Unless you want to see MS Linux that's based off a 5 year old kernal). However, the old dead games will still be around, and emulation of traditional consoles and games wouldn't be illegal (to hold the roms).


      This would create a legal state of abandonware, with well defined boundries. With the quickly aging property of software, such a law would be in the best interests of what IP was meant to be: Giving temporary rights to an individual to encourage the creation of works that will benefit the entire public when the limited rights of the original IP holder expire.


      Just my $.02

  • Ah the memories....

    I have so many fond memories of The Bards Tale, the first game I learned to hack ;-) I actually had pages of notes on the savegame files and could practically create a new character in a hex editor.

    I was also a huge fan of the Starcon and Starflight series, but have never been able to get ahold of a copy of Starcontrol 3. I've only seen it available on mac format, which is really frustrating.

    As for the Ultima games, my favorite would be Ultima VI, the last of the pure tile games. It was the first, and still on of very few, games that I have played where you can interact with just about anything. I loved pushing cannons around and firing at whatever I could find. It was also fun carying around a few powder kegs and an invisibility ring for a good old fashioned dragon hunt... I had so many notes for that game, with maps of nearly every dungeon and town. Thank god for extra large graph paper...

    One of my favorite games, though, I can't even remember the title of. I played that one so much that I didn't have to refer to the manual for the copy protection. It was a space exploration type game, where your homebase was a triangular formation of starbases. Outside this safe area you had pirate, insect, and robot ships that would attack as you went on misions. One of my favorite aspects is that you could board their ships and tow them back for salvage. I wish I could remember the name, I'd love a chance to play it again.

    Looks like I've got some web searching to do...

    • For Starcon 3 you might want to check the disco bins. I got mine from a disco bin at an Office Depot of all things for like $5.99. That said it was no where near the game Starcon 2 was. Although I did like the new ships in versus mode.

      It's also worth checking out some abandonware sites, one of them may have it for download.

      Best place to start looking for abandonware, that I've found, is the Abandonware ring [abandonwarering.com]. Maybe you'll find starcon 3. But I would say it is skipable.
  • ... is that they either did something nobody else was doing at the time, or they did it better than everybody else. In other words, they were damn cool when they were current. The problem is, playing modernized versions of classic games often is about the same as hanging around your old high school at the age of 30 - you know you had good times there 14 years ago, but you can't for the life of you figure out WTF is going on now.

    Every now and then a remake of a classic (be it a game, movie or TV show) does the legacy justice, but far too often the remake fails miserably because modernization destroys everything that made it a classic. Anybody remember Return to Zork? They decided to update the venerable series by making a graphical adventure that was fun for the 5 minutes it took to realize that whatever it said on the box, this most certainly was not Zork.

    I'm not saying these projects are doomed to failure, I'm just saying that anybody modernizing a classic needs to be very careful about evaluating new features in the context of the original game. If the original had an isometric view, for God's sake don't remake it into a first person viewpoint just to demonstrate that you too can license a 3D engine. Keep the remakes true to the spirit of the original, and maybe we'll see something of note come of it.
  • by kdgarris (91435)

    A similar project is Exult [sourceforge.net], which is a rewrite of the Ultima 7/Serpent Isle engine. EA may not mind this one su much, however, since it still requires the original U7/SI data files to run.

  • by Fjord (99230)
    Following a recent /. article [slashdot.org], I've reinstalled and started playing FreeCiv [freeciv.org].
  • The bottom line is that this wouldn't be happening if Electronic Arts hadn't run Ultima into the ground.

    It's been nearly ten years since the last good Ultimas came out (U7, and Underworld 2). Since then we've gotten the half-hearted Ultima 8, an un-Ultima Ultima Online, a vastly flawed Ultima 9, and an ambitious but canned Ultima Online 2 (cancelled a week before beta testing was to begin).

    The only current choice from EA for ultima right now is to play Ultima Online, which has traditionally been comepletely void of "Ultimaness". This could change [slownewsday.net], but it's still a four year old game on it's last legs.

    Alternatively you could play Ultima 7 via Exult [sourceforge.net] on Linux or Windows.

    Or you could wait a bit for remakes like the article mentions, if EA ever lets them see the light of day.

    But don't expect any new Ultima from EA. I hear things aren't going well [slownewsday.net] for them as it is.
  • by Jagasian (129329) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @04:15PM (#2468269)
    Star Control 2 is another all-time great computer game, and it too has a community trying to bring the game back (it never died in my opinion). These guys [classicgaming.com] are making a sequal to the Star Control 2 universe... the game that Star Control should have been. There is also Freeciv, an open source Civilization clone. Anyway, the early Ultimas are classics, but I had to throw in a link about Star Con revival efforts. Its slightly on topic ;-)
  • Spiderweb Software (Score:3, Informative)

    by CaptainCarrot (84625) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @09:53PM (#2469996)
    Old-fashioned Ultima-style games with a more modern interface and look-&-feel are being produced right now! Check out Spiderweb Software [spiderwebsoftware.com]. The games are all shareware -- crippleware, actually -- that let you get through about 1/3 of the way through play before you're forced to register to continue. But at $25, it's not all that painful to register.

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