Ultima VII: Paint by numbers

(This is part of my journey playing through Ultima VII. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

After interrogating Petre, the stables caretaker, about the murder (and finding out little), I decide to take my time and tour around the town.  I know I’m spoiled from modern CRPGs and MMOs because I’m slightly frustrated by the lack of a town map that I can pull up.

Oh hey, thanks internet!

Trinsicu7I guess I’ll work my way counter-clockwise through the town then, shall I?

aq1Next to the stables is the “Fellowship Hall” — which looks a lot like a church or chapel.  I start chatting up a lady named Ellen, who has the unfortunate luck to have married a guy named “Klog.”  Did she know that 20 years later, he husband would be the maker of a hit line of tacky shoes?

Ellen says that the Fellowship meets to promote something called “sanguine cognition” in people.  Sanguine?  As in blood-red?  As in THE BLOOD OF A MURDERED MAN AND GARGOYLE?  Is it too early for the Avatar to just start hacking up people on a brief suspicion?

No?  Well… fine.  I was sure “psychopathic mass-murder” was one of the virtues, but maybe I’m wrong about that.  I still have my eye on you, Ellen.  She tries to recruit me, but that’s a no go.  I’m not joining an organization that sounds like they have Tom Cruise for a spokesperson.

aq2Speaking with Klog reveals that Christopher was a part of the Fellowship and had wanted to leave, a move that made the Fellowship none too happy.  They got into an argument last week and Klog blames Christopher’s bad choices for his ultimate fate.  Yeah, that’s really absolving you of all suspicion here, dude.

Klog talks more about the Fellowship, glorifying some guy named Batlin who’s become the spiritual leader of the people following the Avatar’s (my) absence.  So this country worshiped me?  I am not quite comfortable with that.  I am also not quite comfortable with Klog or his hippy-dippy cult, either.  Darn it, Ultima VII, where’s the kill ten rats quest already?  (Just kidding!)

Enough of that creepy place.  I let myself out, scooping up a Fellowship staff and 100 gold from the poor box on the way.  What?  I’m under no obligation to be virtuous here!

aq3“Casual thievery” quickly becomes a running theme for me.  Nobody seems to object as I loot their homes and places of business.  Check out my stash!  Also, how awesome is it that the save icon is an old 5 1/4″ floppy disc?  That takes me back.

aq4I want to pause for a minute to mention the look of the game.  It’s got this weird combination of top-down and isometric viewpoint that kind of works to give it a slight 3D look.  It’s not 3/4ths isometric like Fallout, but I like it.  There’s just a remarkable amount of detail here, from the shadows of the clouds passing overhead to all of the stuff in every building.  And with all of the retro-pixelated games these days, it feels remarkably fresh.

aq5I’m less thrilled with inventory and object usage, however.  All of your junk goes into your backpack, which is presented as a jumbled mess of teeny-tiny icons instead of being organized as a list or on a grid.  More immersive?  More frustrating, honestly.

I found this little artist’s hovel where blank canvas and paintbrushes awaited me.  Iolo even urged me to paint, so I picked up the brush and pigments and… couldn’t figure it out.  Double-clicking on the brush turned the cursor into a “use” cursor, but it didn’t do anything when I clicked on the easel or pigments.  What am I missing?  I almost went mad standing there, clicking all around like a madman, trying to figure this out.  Never before in my life have I wanted anything as bad as to make my little character paint a picture.  WHYYYYY.

aq6OK.  Whew.  Think I figured it out.  I had to double-click the brush, single-click the paint, and then click on the easel several times in a row.  Gradually, a portrait takes shape.  Dang, I’m awesome!  And I’m apparently painting the same thing over and over again.  Iolo makes some crack about painting by numbers, but that makes sense.

Behold!  My creation, zoomed in and enhanced for your enjoyment:

aq7That?  That was pretty neat.  The game let me paint!  I’m beside myself with amusement.

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3 thoughts on “Ultima VII: Paint by numbers

  1. Man,this takes me back. I haven’t played this game in almost 20 years and I still remember almost everything you’ve mentioned in the articles so far. Thanks for the nostalgia.

  2. Ahhh! Ultima is awesome! :D Just look out for that kilrathi fighter in the farm fields or you’ll be attacked by wing commander music (it’s probably hunting Ace Acerton)! :P

  3. “Casual thievery”… whenever I play a new RPG the first thing I do, if possible, is snag something out from in front of an NPC. If they don’t react, I assume they actually DO want me to save the world and are willing to help me succeed in any way I deem necessary… by going and opening the chest and taking the items I’m saving them from having to go to that trouble themselves. Even though I’m a future hero, I’m selfless that way, willing to go the extra mile.

    If they react poorly then I realize that, while they would of course prefer to have the world saved, they’d in the process like to end up as high on the food chain as possible regardless of their current circumstances. This, naturally, moves them down on my personal “give a shit” list and if given the opportunity I’ll make them regret that selfish life choice.

    But that’s just me…

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