Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale
The Lost Vale was the original homeland of the Zealans. During the Zealan-Pagan wars, the Titans attacked the Zealans and their gods during one of their Great Councils. The Titans were able to trap three of the Zealan gods, Felicitar, Doloras and Timyra, inside their cloud city high on top of a mountain in the vale. They also broke the Shield of the Ancients, which was used by the Zelans to communicate with their gods. Lithos and Hydros then physically sealed off the entire valley in order to isolate the Zealan warriors that were fighting out of the vale from their communities. All the Titans then joined forces to create a hidden dungeon where magical seals where placed, which would further prevent any movements to or from the valley.
The Zealans did not understand the attack of the Titans, and thought their gods were angry with them and had abandoned them. The High Priestesses of the Zealans, Ezrakel, tried in vain to join the two parts of the Shield of the Ancients, necessary to talk to the gods. Without anybody knowing, two boys stole the Shield parts and traveled to the cloud city to get help from the gods. However, they died in the process, and the Zealans never heard back from them. The boys' families accused each other of the boys disappearance, which created a rift that split the Zealans into two separate communities. Ezrakel was shunned by both communities for failing to communicate with the gods and for losing the Shield. With time, the communities grew further apart and got weaker, and the isolated valley became barren and desolate.
The start of the game occurs when the Avatar receives a magical message from Lord British, sent with help from Nystul, telling about people on Pagan who can help the Avatar to defeat the Titans and escape Pagan. The Avatar is then told to visit Mythran for more information about the people of the Lost Vale. Mythran tells the Avatar about the possible location of the dungeon that holds the seals to the Lost Vale. The entry point to this dungeon was the double doors in a cave on the Plateau (in the standard game, these doors cannot be opened). An explorer called Galjeron had died trying to reach the vale, but the Avatar is able to get information from his ghost in order to access the vale. The area behind the double doors contained a dungeon divided into four parts, each part corresponding to a different elemental theme. The actual entrance to the Lost Vale was blocked by four pillars, one for each element:Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Magical gems found from the four points of the dungeon were needed to destroy the elemental pillars.
The Avatar would have the duty of releasing these three Gods, so that they help him on his quest to defeat the Titans and leave Pagan. Healing the schism between the two sides and repairing the Shield of Ancients were required of the Avatar to succeed. The Zealan priestess Ezrakel would have joined with the Avatar at certain point to free the lost Gods. To do this, the player had to ascend to the very cloud city where the Ancient Gods were believed to live. The player had to figure out how to release them.
The Lost Vale was produced in four months, between April and August of 1994. The team designers were Brian Martin and Sheri Graner Ray, and the team was composed of around 7 people. However, even though the game had been finished, the lower than expected sales of Ultima VIII and of the expansions created for Ultima VII and Ultima VII Part 2 (Forge of Virtue and The Silver Seed, respectively) made the executives decide not to distribute the game, as there probably wouldn't be substantial earnings.
The project was not archived and its data was eventually lost. Only some screenshots, plot documents and the box design, which was later confirmed as genuine, survived.
- According to the box, a "bag of reagents" was supposed to appear, ending the need for finding reagents (like the Ring of Reagents did in Ultima VII: Part 2). It would have become available either from Mythran early on or as a reward from the three Zealan Gods, after being released.
- A new spell, called Tiny-tar, was also developed for the Lost Vale. The Avatar would require it while in the cloud city to get through a small crack and solve a particular puzzle.
- Ray, Sheri Graner. "Looking Back on 20 years – The Lost Vale". FEM IRL. Retrieved 2010-10-05.
- "The Lost Vale Plot Documents". The Ultima Codex. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- BuckGB. "Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale/Arthurian Legends RPG Interview - Page 1 of 3". GameBanshee. 2013-03-03.
- Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale Plot Documents
- The Lost Vale's entry at "PC Games That Weren't"
- Mocked up screenshots