Forgotten World is a project originally founded by Firstknight to improve the plot and scope of Ultima IX and to provide a more complete experience for the player. It has since split into three separate projects with significant overlap in personnel, resources, and intent amongst them.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Ultima IX Patches
- 3 Beautiful Britannia
- 4 Forgotten World
- 5 External Links
Based on the work of Tumbleweed Dragon, the Forgotten World team has expanded the knowledge of the files used by Ultima IX. Over time, the team has developed several individual projects meant to improve Ultima IX. The first project, Ultima IX Patches, is to finish the patching and bug fixing started by the original developers. The plan is to fix all remaining bugs, plot-stoppers, incomplete puzzles, and crashes. The second project, Beautiful Britannia, undertaken by FirstKnight exclusively is to improve the visuals of the Britannian landscape and towns. This project involves adding flora around Britannia, improving terrain and object textures, and adding walls and simple structures to certain towns. The Third and more ambitious project, Forgotten World, will effectively create a remake the game using the original engine reusing as much of scripting and objects as possible. Forgotten World would expand the size of the game, improve the execution of the intended plot, and implement features not used by original developers like NPC scheduling.
Ultima IX Patches
Ultima IX Ascension, a game created by Origin Systems (an Electronic Arts Division) in 1999, featured a game world in full 3D, and it was one of the first games with an implemented physics engine. However, it suffered from numerous bugs, crashes, plot stoppers, and performance issues. In addition, the hardware requirements were too high for the time it was released. Luckily for fans, the Ultima IX programmers and designers worked diligently to remove many of the bugs, crashes, and performance issues that ruined the experience of the game. In addition, time has healed most of the remaining performance issues in the game, and it remains playable to do this day on most modern systems without any emulation. Still, the unofficial patch 1.19f has proven to be a necessity for improvement of performance on modern systems.
Even though Ultima IX has been fairly bug and crash free since version 1.18f and 1.19f, there are a number of issues that remain that need to be fixed for a completely smooth gameplay experience. During the its research phase, the Forgotten World team will attempt to remove these remaining bugs and crashes and improve the overall performance of the vanilla game while it moves forward developing its world-building tools for its primary Forgotten World Project.
Features and Changes to Ultima IX
- Various bugs throughout the game will be fixed.
- Plot-stoppers will be fixed.
- Game crashes will be reduced by correction of implementation errors and removal of offending details.
- Incomplete puzzles will finished.
The vast majority of the patches will focus on fixing bugs that occur due to issues outside of the engine itself. These will primarily consist of errors with triggers, certain objects, and sequences of triggers in the game that result in crashes or misfiring/failed triggers.
Some attempts will be made to improve performance by improving the graphical load of the engine inside the game world and possibly tweaking of the game engine itself.
In addition, certain missing or incomplete sections of the game will be finished, such as Jaana and Mariah inside their respective towns and functioning Shamino statue sequences in other locations. Tweaks to the game's combat and economy might also be developed as add-on mods.
The primary tools that will be used for correction of these bugs and triggers are tools that the team has already developed (though they're currently messy due to holes in the team's knowledge). These tools are the same tools that the team is actively using for its decoding research and will use (with additional features and documentation) in later development of Forgotten World.
The following bugs have been fixed:
- Valoria, Skara Brae, and Minoc all have their positive themes play correctly.
- Jaana and Mariah now appear in Yew and Moonglow, respectively, upon cleansing of the shrines.
- The Runes and Sigils will now appear near the shrine after cleansing.
- The Moonglow Catacomb Televator now works more than once.
- Dermot will actually complete his limited schedules: days in the graveyard and nights in the pub.
- Fixed a potential bug will Vasagralem might not appear at the first trial.
- The Demons in Valoria now die when they should.
There are 101 issues that will be corrected. Primarily these are bugs, incomplete aspects, or balancing issues that will be corrected to make the game a little more polished. In addition, there is a possible fix that will deal with the buggy pathfinding in the game.
Among the many bugs that remain are the following:
- The shipwreck with the War Bow of the Blood sometimes doesn't appear.
- The Avatar faces the wrong way during the Minoc-Blackthorn scene
- Buggy-ness of the Abyss's walls
- Skeletons not rising
- Mayor-Rat-Peg Leg Scene
- Katie staying on the auction block
- Wrong's Hostile guards post cleansing
- A few extra bags throughout the game
- An alchemy set in Moonglow
Beautiful Britannia will be the first release of the Beautiful Britannia series (consisting of 3 parts) and is based on the knowledge and possibilities the team has obtained within the last few years.
It will be created using Firstknight's self-developed ingame-creation methodics, combined with hex editor coding and the usage of an self-written tool for automated code changes. The removal of the monster generators (a necessity in this type of building process) will give the player the possibility make the overworld completely free of enemies. This makes the game something more for adventurers. Because of the fact that no changes will be made to the textfiles, the modification will be compatible with all localized versions of Ultima IX: Ascension.
Beautiful Britannia Demos: One is planned for every year
Beautiful Britannia: TBA 2015 (Even the first release will take some years)
Further releases: TBA (Adding 5 years for every further release is realistic)
Features and Changes to Ultima IX
- Massive upgrade of the existing worldmap, providing lush landscapes full of hidden treasures
- Addition of reused content in the form of "Addin-Maps"
- Removal of monster generators (no respawning of monsters)
- Movement of quest related items and important treasures to new locations
- Replacement of the ruins of Empath Abbey
- Compatible with all localized versions of Ultima IX
- Retexturing of several low-res textures
At first the existing overworld map will get an massive upgrade. No movement or enlargement of buildings is planned with the exception of the ruins of Empath Abbey. They will placed into a location west of Yew and also enlarged in size.
The next is the addition of "Addin-Maps". These are maps which will be included into the game world without changing the overworld itself. This method allows for the expansion of the game with several generic overworld wilderness maps (two for the first release) as well as many free-exploration dungeons, which open fantastic possibilities for adventurers. In addition to using previously unused maps, later releases will include redone versions of existing ones.
Details and Examples for Addin-Maps
- Expansion of the main overworld with two "Addin-Maps" (Old Cove, Old Asylum), allows additional exploration while on the way.
- Several free explorable dungeons can be entered mainly from these new added maps, some even directly from the main worldmap.
Expect many quest related items as well as important weapons and armor to be found at new locations. Examples for moved Items:
Many textures within the game do not use the maximum texture size of 256x256, which the games engine provides. The new texture import tool allows the team to change those textures into new ones with higher resolution, which results in a better look of the whole game.
While testing the actual build the team found out that there are at least 2 major bugs included:
- The "Save the mother" quest (between Britain and Paws) cannot be finished.
- At the beginning of the game, the speech by Aidon, the mayor, fails to occur.
The team will try to fix these bugs. The next release of the series, Beautiful Britannia 2, will be built on the base of the original worldmap using a new developed methodics, and therefore will not have these bugs included.
Forgotten World is a project for Ultima IX: Ascension seeking to remake much of the game using the original engine with some modifications. The team plans to use information from the various released design documents and developer interviews for the final games various elements and plot. Some parts of earlier game versions can still be found in the various Ultima IX files. For example, the bitmap files include gumps from older game versions, and there are still map files for different locations that were not seen in the released game. Other parts - such as summaries of earlier story drafts or screens from cutscenes that had to been cut due to a story change, can be found on the internet. Also, the canon of the main plot and origins of the Guardian as presented by Richard Garriott in a post-release interview provide a clear indication of the true story partially implemented in Ultima IX. In the end, the Forgotten World Team's main goal is to provide an improved implementation of Ultima IX's final plot and make the game more consistent with prior Ultimas while keeping much of its canon intact (the gargoyle Queen for example).
Features and Changes to Ultima IX
- The entire surface world will be rebuilt and made significantly larger with numerous exploration possibilities from animal dens to treasure filled crypts and tombs.
- Most dungeons will receive alterations and significant expansions.
- The main plot will be made less linear and limits on travel will be less obvious.
- Improved and expanded version of the storyline envisioned by Richard Garriott.
- Many gameplay elements such as the magic system, moongates, and special armors amongst others will be explained.
- The game will include better NPC dialog, full schedules, and hopefully more NPCs, larger dialog, and numerous side quests both dialog-centered and otherwise.
- The combat and economy will be improved to increase immersion and interest.
First of all, the following is the team's overarching vision for improving Ultima IX using the released engine, with possible upgrades to components of the engine mainly to reduce graphical issues and crashes.
The main goal of Forgotten World is to improve the execution of and expand the dialog, plot, background, and quest structure of Ultima IX to provide players with a better narrative of the Ultima IX storyline as envisioned by Richard Garriott. In addition, the dialogue will be greatly improved and expanded to take into account previous Ultimas including Ultima VIII.
The game world and quest progression will also see improvement. First, the linearity of the game will be cut back allowing the player the ability to visit more towns and accomplish more quests earlier in the game. The size of the landmass will also be expanded significantly to allow for increased exploration and greater distances between towns. This increased play area will allow for additional quests, NPCs and towns to be included. In addition, attempts will be made toward incorporating a scheduling system to add more life to the world of Britannia.
Finally, the overall gameplay experience will be improved. These improvements will include an improved economy system, more balanced loot and gold gathering, a town economic system where you can trade goods with different NPCs, a complete system of specific enemy weaknesses, tougher combat, traps, and possibly improved spells from damage to function.
It must be noted that the above is what is an ideal goal, but not everything can be improved upon either due to issues of time, inadequacies of the engine or the inability to alter certain aspects of the game.
The creation of Forgotten World is based on a self-developed world editor (developed by Hawkwind, with the support of all the other team members) along with various other tools that have been or will be developed. The editor will be the primary tool for Forgotten World (when it's completed) and will allow full 3D worldbuilding for terrain, all available objects, and incorporation of various new elements including models, NPCs, and art created for Ultima IX.