Plot Cuts in Ultima VIII
Due to the deadline issued by Electronic Arts, Origin had to rush Ultima VIII. In the process, they had to cut the plot in numerous way to keep the time table. It created plot holes and unsatisfying sections of the game. The fragments found indicate that they had plots that were not finished. Numerous things can be found in the usecode of the game, while others have to be reconstructed from the remnants. And some things never even had time to get into the game at all.
- 1 Undead invasion
- 2 Underground cavern
- 3 Underwater city
- 4 Lost school of magic: Tempestry
- 5 Vengeance Bay
- 6 Sorcerers help with Hydros
- 7 Birthplace of Moriens
- 8 Becoming the Necromancer
- 9 Palace of the Guardian
- 10 Haunted Grove
- 11 Hydros wanting to kill Devon
- 12 The Skull of Quakes
- 13 The Lost Vale
The usecode reveals that Lithos was angered by the removal of the Heart of Earth, so he would start earthquakes and would send his undead army against Tenebrae. Also, Vividos would openly accuse the Avatar of treachery.
All this, except for the quakes, is in the usecode. However, it can't be activated the normal way. To activate, cheats have to be enabled. Press F9, click on View/Edit and then on Usecode Flags and type ‘hasHeart’ (it’s case sensitive). Change its value to 1. Note that you must have enabled change Usecode Flags earlier. Everyone in Tenebrae, but especially Vividos and Mythran, will react to it.
Interview with one of the programmers reveals a cavernous area with deep blue walls had been cut during the production. This may or not have been part of the sunken underwater city.
Numerous times throughout the game, an underwater city of Hydros is mentioned, and the book about the Blackrock fragments explicitly states that Hydros has stored her fragment, the Tear of Seas in said underwater city.
However, all of this is ignored and Devon just by chance had once fished the Tear out of the sea one day. It could be that this was added later, as the team had been unable to finish the underwater city in which the search for the Tear of Seas could be implemented properly.
Lost school of magic: Tempestry
The Avatar learns all the schools of magic in Pagan except Tempestry. Hydros double-crosses the Avatar and won't bestow the powers of Tempestry. This probably cuts many places/areas from the game, like finding the Blackrock fragment from the underwater city (see previous section). It is possible that Hydros would have acted originally in different manner. Also, removal of Tempestry would basically hang the game due the Ancient Ones telling the Avatar needing to learn all the Titanic magics in order to leave Pagan. But this is totally circumvented by using the Titan powered Blackrock fragments to recreate the Blackrock Obelisk.
Despite appearing on the cloth map and mentioned in the manual, the area can't be found in the released game. The Bay along with anything else included with it is another victim of plot cuts. The cloth map also shows two caves on the coast, one of them possibly being the entrance to the Bay.
Sorcerers help with Hydros
After Hydros is freed, Devon tasks the Avatar with the mission to find the Sorcerers and ask them for assistance to find ways to stop Hydros from attempting to drown the land in her rainstorms. However, the Avatar never mentions any of this to the Sorcerers, nor does Devon ever again asks if the Sorcerers were able to help.
This could be another cut, and in the complete plot the Sorcerers either somehow could have gotten involved in trying to stop Hydros (their enemy Titan) or at least would have denied the Avatar their help. Also, becoming a Sorcerer to then be allowed to ask for help is also a possible plot development.
Birthplace of Moriens
The Birthplace of Moriens is a well known plot hole. In the unpatched version, it didn't exist at all and in the patched version, the programmers simply changed a sign and the place is very sparse. However, there is a line in the unpatched version that is more revealing:
- Avatar: "Where is this place?" (about the Pilgrimage)
- Vividos: "You must return to the catacombs. First go into the Upper Catacombs. Once there, seek out the signs that mark the way. I would think that you have already seen them. There are signs which guide you to many places. The Pit of Death is one of those places."
That suggests that in the original plans, the Birthplace would have been in the Pit of Death. And indeed, there is a caved-in passage that strongly hints that it was to have a use. Additionally, a map provided by the Pentology shows two small chambers further west from the cave-in, giving further evidence that the passage would have been used.
Becoming the Necromancer
When looking through the program files, there is an item in the GFX-files: the Key of the Necromancer. This object does not appear in the release but can be created with the cheat program. However, its properties are broken and it only has the same use as the Key of the Caretaker.
Such a key might have been passed to Vividos, when he became the Necromancer, and then to the Avatar when Vividos somehow died. Lithos' parting words that the Avatar shouldn't meet him again until becoming the Necromancer amounts to nothing in the release. Under this scenario, it might have.
Palace of the Guardian
In Ultima Underworld II, Mors Gotha speaks of a Guardian's Palace on the world of Pagan. However, no mention of such a place can be found in Ultima VIII.
There is some dialogue with Mythran in the usecode that cannot be triggered in-game:
- Avatar: "Is there a haunted grove?"
- Mythran: "A haunted grove of trees? Well, I have heard such rumors applied to a circle of dead trees here on the plateau, though I will not confirm the existence of undead there."
Hydros wanting to kill Devon
The Skull of Quakes
During the game, the Avatar finds two letters, one right at the start by the docks, in which Mordea and Lieutenant Vittek hold correspondence about the missing Skull of Quakes. The discussion suggests that it is an important artifact. However, the topic is ignored until the Avatar finds the Skull in a chest in the Shrine of the Ancient Ones. After that, no hint is given to its originally intended use. This can only be discovered by trial and error.
All of this points to the Skull originally having a bigger role, but after cutting out plot threads, it was reduced to freeing a Recall Pad.
The Lost Vale
- Main article: The Lost Vale
The Lost Vale is an add-on to the game that was never released. It was finished, when Electronic Arts decided to abandon it.