U3 World Guide

One thing that I’ve felt the earlier Ultima’s are often missing is a world guide.  Ultima IV and later have it – a description of the world, including its regions, its cities and a little bit of history.  It’s a very big part of why Britannia had a more consistent and coherent world lore.  Since I’m aiming for a similar thing in Sosaria Mod, why not put one together for Ultima III?


Easy Upgrade

During the SosariaMod beta, one of the key pieces of feedback I received was that the upgrades are still fairly difficult to install.  While I’ve tried to streamline the install process with each iteration since v3.0, including providing Windows, Linux, and DOS versions of install tools, there is still a step or two that requires a command line.  Hopefully, the next version will change that.

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Start a New Game

One of the new features coming in U3 patch 3.3 is the addition of a “Start a New Game” option. This option is added directly to the in-game main menu, and will reset your party, register, and all saved progress on the sosaria map (which included monsters, ships, moon state, and whirlpool location).

The reason why this is even a thing in Ultima’s 2 and 3 is that these early 1980’s games were designed to save your game state to “player” floppy disks. When you wanted to start a new game, you simply used a clean player disk.

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Bug found in U3 Upgrade 3.2

Well looks like there’s a nasty bug in patch 3.2. It turns out that the invalid action and invalid command sound effects both fail to clean up after themselves which could result in the game crashing.  The way I’ve been able to trigger it was to use an alt-command (like Alt-X) when entering an “other” command, or backspacing beyond the start of the command prompt.

I already have a fix checked in and it’ll be released in 3.3.

Site Updates

Not much to report on the Upgrade front today, but the site has changed quite a bit.  I’ve transitioned it to a more modern content-managed solution.  The roots of this site are pretty old (circa late 90’s) and it was beginning to get somewhat tiring to hand-craft HTML around every post or version update.  Blog tech has changed quite a bit since the last redesign ~10 years ago.  But thanks to WordPress, this site has several new features:

  • You can now comment on news posts!
  • You can now search for content in posts/pages.
  • The site is responsive, so it should look good on mobile devices.
  • And for me – It’s easier to make site updates as everything is now CMS-driven.

U3 Upgrade v3.2 – Sound Effects!

One of the most common requests I’ve received over the years has been for improved PC-speaker sound effects. I’ve now published Release 3.2 which contains this update. You can also check out the release notes or read more about the technical details of how it works.

For transparency, I started this project shortly after releasing v3.1 and had a working and tested driver, but hadn’t yet integrated it with the game. I had to put some extra crunch time in at work shortly after, and of course by the time I had the availability again my focus was elsewhere, thus the 2+ year gap. But I’ve had some renewed interest recently in getting this going again and wanted to get this wrapped up. I have a few ideas of other improvements to make, so I’m hoping I can put some time into them.

Moved to Bitbucket & U4 Music

Hey folks, looks like it’s been just over a year since my last update.

First off, I’ve moved the project source code from Sourceforge to Bitbucket. I had been considering this move for a while what with all of Bitbucket’s great features and Sourceforge’s ceaseless and often deceitful ads, but recent events with Sourceforge have pretty much forced the issue. First was Sourceforge’s hijacking of popular opensource projects and bundling them with malware. And second is the ongoing and disastrous storage fault. I have some SVN projects there (including an experimental map viewer and wannabe Ultima game engine) that I still cannot access. I’m sure their engineers are working tirelessly and thanklessly to restore everything, but I just can’t rationalize staying with them any longer. This of course left both Bitbucket and Github as potential new repo services. While the latter is certainly the more popular, I preferred the former for their free usage of private repos (whereas Github wants you to pay) as well as support for Mercurial in addition to Git.

Next, I’ve added some new downloads to the site for Ultima IV. While the U4 Upgrade and xu4 are both excellent, I was never quite satisfied with how the MIDI music sounded. I once (long ago) modified the MIDI music, did some minor resequencing, and chose a set of alternate instruments for each of the songs. It was personal preference, so I never quite released it, but I figured it’s about time I hosted them here for others’ consumption in case folks were interested. The U4 Alternate Music package works with BOTH the U4 Upgrade and xu4. The music for all the upgrade projects can also be downloaded as MIDI’s or MP3’s from the download page.

And last, I started work on one of the most popularly requested features: improving the quality and speed of the sound effects. I have an initial sound driver that works pretty well in Ultima III, but I’m currently optimizing for some performance edge cases. Once I have that straightened out I’ll publish another release.

That’s all the news I have for today!