Ultima VIII: Pagan
Ultima VIII: Pagan is the ninth installment of the main series and the thirteenth in the entire series (if the Worlds of Ultima and Ultima Underworld games are counted). It was released and published by Origin for the IBM-PC in 1994.
The game has some technical advantages over Ultima VII Part Two, and features full digital sound, detailed graphics and a simple physics engine. The Avatar, however, travels alone without the benefit of party, and the game world is smaller than the settings in previous installments, with fewer characters and less dialogue. The game is also much more action-oriented than other Ultimas, and features numerous long dungeon sequences and jumping puzzles.
The narrative of the game is decidedly dark, and features the Avatar taking questionable actions for the sake of securing their return to Britannia. Many of the characters in the course of the story meet tragic ends, and it is unclear as to whether the ultimate impact the player has on the world of Pagan is a positive one.
 The Story
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The Avatar is abducted by the Guardian at the end of Ultima VII Part Two and brought to this world, Pagan. Declaring that the Avatar would never manage to escape from it, the Guardian gloats that Britannia would be his very soon, then drops the Avatar into the sea.
Pagan is an inhospitable world. The Guardian had mostly destroyed it many centuries ago with four of his underlings, Elemental Titans. But the people have no idea that the Guardian is responsible together with the Titans and actually see them as saviours! The Avatar learns that the four Titans hold an iron grip over the world. In order to escape, he learns all the magic schools, after consulting the Gods of Old. Gathering five special pieces of Blackrock, the Avatar uses them to destroy the Titans and unlock enormous powers in himself. Using the fragments, a Black Gate opens, allowing him to return to Britannia.
Upon arriving in Britannia however, he is shocked to see that the Guardian seems to have already conquered the land.
Spoilers end here.
 Development and Releases
Ultima VIII: Pagan was exclusively produced for the IBM-PC, and was subject to numerous plot and content cuts due to the strict deadline set for the project by Electronic Arts. Richard Garriott admitted that the game suffered due to the ensuing crunch, and claimed that the development team would have required another three months to finish it as it was originally intended. Despite its rushed production, Ultima VIII was the most successful game in the Ultima series in term of sales.
While it was never released, an enhanced CD-ROM edition was planned for the game, which was to provide, among other features, full recorded speech for every character.
Ultima VIII was later re-released as part of the Ultima Collection in 1998.
The soundtrack for Ultima VIII was composed by Nenad Vugrinec (credited as Neno Vugrinec), a previous musical collaborator on Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Strike Commander, and Wing Commander: Privateer (the former two of which saw him working with Ultima VII and Ultima VII Part Two lead composer, Dana Glover). It is Vugrinec's only musical contribution to an Ultima title.
For the eighth chapter, the Roland MT-32 platform favored by Origin in previous years was retired and music was instead scored under the relatively new General MIDI standard, with MPU-401 compliant devices such as the Roland Sound Canvas series intended to be the ideal playback medium. With the introduction of recorded performances by a live orchestra in Ultima IX, it is the last Ultima to make use of the MIDI specification.
Underscoring the grim atmosphere pervading the game, Vugrinec's compositions for Pagan are a distinct stylistic departure for the series, abandoning minstrelsy and chamber music in favor of dissonant, minor-key arrangements for strings and choir, punctuated by a prevalent use of timpani and tubular bells. These characteristics lend much of the score an ominous and frequently eerie quality akin to what might be heard in a horror film, such as The Omen. In addition, certain parts of Vugrinec's work are reminiscent of French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns' The Carnival of the Animals—specifically its seventh movement, Aquarium. With this more elaborate approach, individual pieces also often span up to several minutes, in contrast with the comparatively brief themes of previous installments.
As a reflection of the Avatar's isolation from Lord British's kingdom in the title's desolate, unfamiliar world, the soundtrack of Ultima VIII is the only in the series to omit "Rule Britannia," and the first since Ultima IV in which "Stones" does not appear.
- Main article: Translations of Ultima VIII
Ultima VIII was translated to several languages, including German, French and Spanish.
 Included with the game
The release of Ultima VIII included the following
 Speech Pack
- Main article: Speech Pack
While Ultima VIII had initially been slated to include voice acting for the Titans, Zealan Deities, and the Guardian, spoken dialogue was limited in the initial release of the game due to the size constraints of floppy disks. A Speech Pack was sold separately to reinstate the missing voices, although it performed below sales expectations. The CD-ROM version of Ultima VIII included the voice acting that the Speech Pack added, and retailed for twenty dollars less than the basic floppy disk release.
 The Lost Vale
- Main article: The Lost Vale
It was planned that there would be an expansion for Ultima VIII known The Lost Vale, which would feature an adventure in which the Avatar discovered the last remnants of Zealan civilization on Pagan. However, Electronic Arts, disappointed with the sales of Ultima VIII, decided not to release the expansion, although the add-on was completed.
 Fan Utilities
Ultima VIII is very difficult to run on modern computers. Some fan-made upgrades try to address this problem.
Pentagram, a project still in development, is attempting to solve all the problems Ultima VIII has to be played on modern systems. This would make the game fully playable under various operating systems, namely Windows, GNU/Linux and MacOS X.
 Ultima 8 for Windows
Ron Windeyer (aka Gaseous Dragon) has written a utility to run Ultima VIII on Windows operating systems. See his website for more information.
- For bugs in this game, see Ultima VIII Bugs.
- For cheating in this game, see Cheating in Ultima VIII.
- For easter eggs and real-life references in this game, see Ultima VIII Real-life references and easter eggs.
- For a Walkthrough, see Ultima VIII Walkthrough.
- For technical details, see World Model of Ultima VIII.
- For calendar information, see Pagan Calendar.
- For detailed equipment information, see Weapon Values and Armour Values.
- For monster data, see Ultima VIII Monster Data.
- The pentagrams which featured throughout Ultima VIII were deemed offensive by some consumers, and Origin added a small explanatory write-up regarding the meaning of the pentagram in the game's documentation.
- Ultima VIII was the last game to provide players with competition certificates. These certificates hinted that the Avatar didn't return to Britannia at the game's conclusion, and the cluebook Pentology confirms that it was marginally intended that the Avatar would have stepped through the Black Obelisk into the homeworld of the Guardian.
- "The GAMERS' Forum's Ultima VIII: Pagan Conference". April 27, 1994. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
- New Releases Catalog. Origin Systems, Inc.: 1994.
 External Links
- Ultima 8 for Windows
- Pentagram website
- The collectible Ultima-Ultima VIII
- Nitpicks for Ultima VIII
- The Other Codex-Ultima VIII
- Ultima Aiera Ultima VIII resources
- The Complete Guide to Ultima VIII: Pagan