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Did DOOM's coverage cause people to miss the better First-Person action game, Ultima Underworld?

Which do you prefer?

  • Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

    Votes: 22 26.2%
  • DOOM

    Votes: 62 73.8%

  • Total voters
    84

Isleofsancroy

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One game has full movement, looking up and down, swimming, numerous mechanics, deep combat, and a rich story, the other you go strafe left and right and occasionally shoot something on screen and that's about it.

Ok, ok, I'm not THAT biased, to your knowledge, but I've always figured that the controversy surrounding DOOM back in the day, amplified but its shareware distribution, caused many PC and even console gamers to 'skip' Ultima Underworld, which arguably is the better and much more influential First-Person action game. So influential in fact, that many modern First person games whether they are shooters or not, use the mechanics introduced from it.

Now DOOM is a fine game, it ran on an engine that was a technical marvel for the time and it had brilliant fast-paced gameplay that set the foundation for FPS games, and not to mention spawning an army of DOOM Clones. But Ultima Underworld was also a technical marvel for it's time, which was only released a year earlier, or less, and offered A LOT MORE in gameplay design.

Ultima Underworld laid the foundation for First-Person games of any genre, it gave you an advanced 3D world, multiple forms of traversal and combat, the ability too look up and down, a large map to explore, and a captivating story. But DOOM received the lions share of coverage due to the controversy about its violence, especially coming off of Wolfenstein 3D which had similar controversy. The first Ultima Underworld, which in my opinion is a vastly superior game on every level, was only enough to keep Looking Glass Studios afloat. If the coverage wasn't so biased, the 2nd Ultima Underworld, which came out the same year as DOOM and was an even greater achievement, would have sold more. This could have meant Looking Glass Studios might have possibly still existed today.

Just to clarify, I don't think DOOM is a bad game, it's a good game, but you had a vastly superior alternative that ended up suffering because of controversial biased coverage grabbing the attention of nearly the entire industry. I feel that Ultima Underworld, its sequel, and Looking Glass Studios suffered due to this. If DOOM and Ultima Underworld were on a more even playingfield, it would be clear that Ultima Underworld was and still is the better game, imo. But it's not just my opinion you need to consider, look at how many more games were influenced by Ultima Underworld than DOOM. Spanning across multiple genres.

Of course, feel free to disagree. I think a discussion comparing the gameplay and influence of both titles would make for an interesting thread.
 
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Lanrutcon

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These games have nothing to do with each other apart from the perspective. You're comparing a hardcore RPG to a shooter. The more accessible of the two won out commercially. Big surprise. And no, Ultima Underworld didn't influence more games than Doom as is pretty obvious by the amount of shooters on the market today.
 
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Isleofsancroy

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These games have nothing to do with each other apart from the perspective. You're comparing a hardcore RPG to a shooter. The more accessible of the two won out commercially. Big surprise. And no, Ultima Underworld didn't influence more games than Doom as is pretty obvious by the amount of shooters on the market today.
I should expect the first couple posts to miss the point, but this isn't an RPG vs. SHOOTER thread, that's simplifying the OP.

And no, Ultima Underworld didn't influence more games than Doom as is pretty obvious by the amount of shooters on the market today.

I'll respond to this part however, yes there are a large amount of shooters out there today, have you considered that many of them were influenced by Ultima Underworld? Many shooters were, there are even FPS-style RPGS.
 
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Bonfires Down

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Did you write this review?

I haven't played Ultima and maybe it's "better" than Doom, but there were more games in that vein and none of them were (afaik) as popular as the more straightforward shooters like Quake, Duke, Half-Life. I really doubt Underworld would be significantly more popular had Doom never existed.
 
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TheGreatMusashi

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I see what you’re saying and partially agree, I just think that Doom was a much more consumer friendly product. Ultima Underworld did have a lot more going for it in terms of gameplay systems and mechanics but I think the simplicity of Doom really helped it reach a wider audience and mass appeal. I think that makes it easier to go back to as well.
 

SF Kosmo

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No. First of all, Underworld came out almost two years earlier. In fact Underworld II had been out for almost a year by the time Doom was out. So I don't know to what meaningful extent Doom really could be responsible for eating into the Underworld games.

And Underworld was fairly successful and gained traction over time, too, probably moreso as gamers became more accustomed to 3D and more widely adopted systems that could support it.

As for why it didn't do better than than it did, a few things:

1) Underworld is not as accessible of a game. It's not a pick up and play run and gun shooter, it's hard and it's complicated and you have to read the manual. It's not as aimed at the mainstream

2) PC gaming was really just at the start of a turning point when Underworld came out in early 1992, and Underworld had pretty high system requirements (a 32-bit processor, VGA card, and 2MB of RAM) at time when there were very few games that did. IBM PCs were still considered more work machines and games on them mostly below what you could play on consoles in 1992. It was just starting to change around then as more people got sound cards and more powerful hardware but a lot of games still targeted 16-color graphics and 640K memory back then because that was the mainstream spec.

3) Doom blew up in part because it was riding the shareware boom, and the first episode was free, so everyone had it. I imagine a pretty small fraction of those converted into full retail sales in the first year or so.
 
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Lanrutcon

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I'll respond to this part however, yes there are a large amount of shooters out there today, have you considered that many of them were influenced by Ultima Underworld? Many shooters were, there are even FPS-style RPGS.

For every FPS with serious RPG elements akin to UU, there's 10 FPS without any that are akin to Doom. The second multiplayer enters into the equation (aka the majority of modern shooters) that's all thanks to Doom's Deathmatch.

We're not exactly swimming in System Shock games, but you can't throw a stick without hitting a dozen FPS games where you sprint around killing other people.
 

Shadowstar39

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I loved ultima underworld .. My family got a 386sx 16mhz pc when i was 12/13 in 1990. It VGA 256 color graphics, a 1x cd rom and soundblaster pro. It was a huge step up from the 8088 8mhz 4 color 256k hand me down i was using at the time. The computer came with a twin game disc of ultima underworld and Wing commander 2 (with full voice acting). I was so amazed by the game. That when wolf 3d came out I had thought it was cool and all but it still wasn't 360degrees of movement like ultima underworld.

I remember playing the game and the mystery behind the levels, and atmosphere was so intense for that time. Falling into a underground river and winding up fighinting a slime to make it to a village which i thought were enemy goblins (or it could of been a different race monster character) and i said the right thing and they offered to trade. Going down the steps to the next level down and not knowing what to expect. This game had it all. It amazes me that how few actually played it.

Now as far as comparing it to doom. They were two different genres and Ultima underworld wasn't fast paced heavy metal gore fest so different style. I know the audience sometimes overlapped though. Many rpg guys like myself were also long haired metal heads at the time who loved doom as well.
Both could co-exist besides each other. Would i have liked UU to have more exposure, you bet.

Speaking of looking glass, they were my favorite studio of all time. The thief and Deus ex games of the late 90s brought a lot of the same magic from UU that we seen there. Will also mention system shock 1 and 2, although I didn't get to play them at release, it wasn't until the mid 2000s that I found out they even existed. It was the freedom to try different things, make your own way and actually roleplay in game with the interaction of objects to manipulate and move. Ultima 7 did this too but that was overhead not 3d perspective.

Good times. I would love for a remake in todays graphics. The closest we have is a 2001 game Arx Fatalis but that doesn't come close.
 
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Hawks Eclipse

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I should expect the first couple posts to miss the point, but this isn't an RPG vs. SHOOTER thread, that's simplifying the OP.
Ehhh, think of it as his payback for your own simplification:
the other you go strafe left and right and occasionally shoot
Funnily enough at the time when I played it I didn't even know what strafing was. I played using the arrow keys (spacebar to shoot, lol!) and the left and right arrows were to turn.

Speaking of controls, you'd have a better point if either UU game established mouselook but I'm fairly certain they didn't; mouselook wasn't even a thing in System Shock back when I tried it at launch.

On the other hand, Doom firmly established the shareware distribution model, introduced the WAD model and the deathmatch model (and I think Romero laid claim to the time attack model with the par times). Whether or not theses influences are felt today, I leave that up to you.

And IMO what you paint as simple in Doom, I call elegance. The arsenal and bestiary is well thought out and the high movement speed allows for its particular style of large, mazey level design and projectile hell.

You can sing the praises of UU (and there ought to be many) without having to drag Doom through the sludge, though I'm not sure you'd get as many responses on here without such an outrageous premise.

Edit: Punctuation.
 
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SlimeGooGoo

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Ultima Underworld inspired a lot of games, including DOOM and Elder Scrolls.

Also:
Reportedly it was a demonstration of the in-development Underworld technology during the 1990 CES that prompted John Carmack to write the Catacomb 3-D (released about six months before Ultima Underworld) engine which uses texture mapping. However, the extent of this influence is not clear due to conflicting statements from the id people.

Source: https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/ultima-underworld-the-stygian-abyss
 

Hawks Eclipse

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I loved ultima underworld .. My family got a 386sx 16mhz pc when i was 12/13 in 1990. It VGA 256 color graphics, a 1x cd rom and soundblaster pro. It was a huge step up from the 8088 8mhz 4 color 256k hand me down i was using at the time. The computer came with a twin game disc of ultima underworld and Wing commander 2 (with full voice acting). I was so amazed by the game. That when wolf 3d came out I had thought it was cool and all but it still wasn't 360degrees of movement like ultima underworld.

I remember playing the game and the mystery behind the levels, and atmosphere was so intense for that time. Falling into a underground river and winding up fighinting a slime to make it to a village which i thought were enemy goblins (or it could of been a different race monster character) and i said the right thing and they offered to trade. Going down the steps to the next level down and not knowing what to expect. This game had it all. It amazes me that how few actually played it.

Now as far as comparing it to doom. They were two different genres and Ultima underworld wasn't fast paced heavy metal gore fest so different style. I know the audience sometimes overlapped though. Many rpg guys like myself were also long haired metal heads at the time who loved doom as well.
Both could co-exist besides each other. Would i have liked UU to have more exposure, you bet.

Speaking of looking glass, they were my favorite studio of all time. The thief and Deus ex games of the late 90s brought a lot of the same magic from UU that we seen there. Will also mention system shock 1 and 2, although I didn't get to play them at release, it wasn't until the mid 2000s that I found out they even existed. It was the freedom to try different things, make your own way and actually roleplay in game with the interaction of objects to manipulate and move. Ultima 7 did this too but that was overhead not 3d perspective.

Good times. I would love for a remake in todays graphics. The closest we have is a 2001 game Arx Fatalis but that doesn't come close.
Since you played it, I wanna ask you to confirm something: at the time could you even play UU in fullscreen? I seem to remember the interface eating up a lot of the screen, with the top left being what you see of the game world.

Oh and, did you try Underworld Ascendant?
 

SlimeGooGoo

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Also, it bogs my mind why EA doesn't use the Ultima IP for something with a high budget.
They don't do anything with it, and also are not interested in licensing it out to others.

 
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I was of course really young when both of these came out and ended up playing through the OG Doom later in life and enjoyed it, I like retro gaming so ill try and see if I can find a way to play ultima...My uncle used to talk about it and say it was a 'good game from back in his day' lol :messenger_tears_of_joy:
 

SF Kosmo

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Ultima Underworld inspired a lot of games, including DOOM and Elder Scrolls.

Also:
Yeah there's some debate as to whether or not they saw the game demonstrated or just had conversations between the two developers. Id had already been playg with MIDI Maze-style raycasting at the time with Hovertank 3-D, but Underworld apparently gave Carmack the idea to apply texture mapping.
 
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Also, it bogs my mind why EA doesn't use the Ultima IP for something with a high budget.
They don't do anything with it, and also are not interested in licensing it out to others.

Damn I didn't realize it was 8 games, they got a whole universe they could just pluck from and they're ignoring it smfh
 

SF Kosmo

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I loved ultima underworld .. My family got a 386sx 16mhz pc when i was 12/13 in 1990. It VGA 256 color graphics, a 1x cd rom and soundblaster pro. It was a huge step up from the 8088 8mhz 4 color 256k hand me down i was using at the time. The computer came with a twin game disc of ultima underworld and Wing commander 2 (with full voice acting). I was so amazed by the game. That when wolf 3d came out I had thought it was cool and all but it still wasn't 360degrees of movement like ultima underworld.
This couldn't have been in 1990. Not only did that game not come out until 1992, but the Sound Blaster Pro didn't come out until 1991, nor did the first CD-ROM games on PC.
 
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AlteredForms

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Ultima Underworld was extremely revered by those who played it back in the day. But it’s an RPG at heart and people preferred the straightforward action of Doom instead.
 

Hawks Eclipse

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Damn I didn't realize it was 8 games, they got a whole universe they could just pluck from and they're ignoring it smfh
My gut feeling tells me you don't realize Ultima Underworld I & II aren't among those 8 games, I say that cause back then I found it easy to get mixed up as well.
 

StreetsofBeige

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UU 2 was even better. But so was Doom 2 over Doom 1. You needed a 486 to make these games shine with silky smooth frames.

Doom is a fast paced shooter with tons of enemies on screen and a much bigger window of gameplay. Impressively done even on a 386.

IMO, UU was better at everything else. So much content and innovative shit for an action RPG. The biggest drawback is the game window was kind of small and if you were looking for RPGs with tons of monsters and fights, UU is a slower paced action/RPG. You arent going to take on a mob of falmer or bandits at a fort like a Skyrim game. No doubt deliberately done as the engine could only do so much.

- Full RPG
- All kinds of of different looking textures from walls to dirt ground
- Primitive lighting and shadows, torches illuminate the caves
- Not just 90 degree turns. You had all kinds of slopes and gradients and angles
- Water, swimming and lurkers
- Map system where you could write notes on the map
- Slash, thrust, chop
- Sprint, walk, jump, swim, fly with spells
- Can look and aim in all directions (not that canned Doom thing where the gun aims and shoots at different elevations for you)

From wiki:

Technology[edit]

Ultima Underworld's game engine was written by a small team.[5][11][12] Chris Green provided the game's texture mapping algorithm,[21] which was applied to walls, floors and ceilings. The engine allowed for transparencies, walls at 45 degree angles, multiple tile heights and inclined surfaces, and other aspects.[5][11] Ultima Underworld was the first video game to implement many of these effects.[28] The game was also the first indoor, real-time, 3D first-person game to allow the player to look up and down, and to jump.[11]

Ultima Underworld uses two-dimensional sprites for characters,[2] but also features 3D objects, as the team believed that it "had to do 3D objects in order to have reasonable visuals".[11] The game uses physics to calculate the motion of thrown objects.[6][8] During the game's alpha testing phase, part of the programming team worked to create a smooth lighting model.[5] The game's advanced technology caused the engine to run slowly,[11] and its system requirements were extremely high.[2][4][15] Doug Church later downplayed the importance of the game's technology, stating that technological advancement "is somewhat inevitable in our field ... [and] sadly, as an industry we seem to know much less about design, and how to continue to extend and grow design capabilities". Instead, he claimed that Ultima Underworld's most important achievement was its incorporation of simulation elements into a role-playing game.
[11]
 
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SF Kosmo

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Oh and, did you try Underworld Ascendant?
I have. I'll say this: It is not nearly as bad as launch reviews would have you think, because it got a LOT of post-release patching. They essentially shipped it in a completely broken and unfinished state, like truly I wouldn't even call it beta, there wasn't even a working save system, it was a fucking mess.

But the patches did a LOT, like not just big fixes but actual restructuring of the game and changes to the level design, like really a lot. And after all the patches, it's playable and it does some interesting things. It's extremely jank, but in a way that is somewhat charming, like nothing really ever "clicks" or feels like the "right" solution, but it's fun to find creative ways to kludge your way through.

What it also isn't that much like Underworld. The RPG and character interaction have been stripped down to the barest minimums, and what you have is a kind of sandbox action adventure game like a less linear Dark Messiah or something.

It goes on sale for like $5-10sometimes, and I think it's worth checking out at that price. I mean it's still like maybe a 6 out of 10 but it's a really interesting 6 out of 10.

At launch, it was a 0/10, like literally not a shippable finished game, and it was rightly savaged for that.
 
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AlteredForms

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Yea this is as dumb as his thread comparing the Dreamcast to the PSP.
I’m aware of the angle he’s coming from as they were both first-person games at a time when that mechanic was in it’s infancy, but Ultima Underworld was influential and respected by those who played role-playing games in the 1980/90s. Warren Spector the designer for Deus Ex was floored by it and I’m surrounded Carmack would have admired the tech.

When it came to PC role-playing games around that time you were either in one of three camps. Ultima, Wizardry or Might & Magic. All three franchises had games which pushed the edge graphics and immersion and were loved by their fans.
 

ManaByte

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UU 2 was even better. But so was Doom 2 over Doom 1. You needed a 486 to make these games shine with silky smooth frames.

Doom is a fast paced shooter with tons of enemies on screen and a much bigger window of gameplay. Impressively done even on a 386.

Both Doom and Doom 2 ran well on most machines. Most people could pop in the disk and get them running without much tweaking.

Both UU games were a completely different story. You needed a beefy machine with a lot of RAM for the day as well as a lot of AutoExec and ConfigSys tweaking to get them to run.
 

Hawks Eclipse

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I have. I'll say this: It is not nearly as bad as launch reviews would have you think, because it got a LOT of post-release patching. They essentially shipped it in a completely broken and unfinished state, like truly I wouldn't even call it beta, there wasn't even a working save system, it was a fucking mess.

But the patches did a LOT, like not just big fixes but actual restructuring of the game and changes to the level design, like really a lot. And after all the patches, it's playable and it does some interesting things. It's extremely jank, but in a way that is somewhat charming, like nothing really ever "clicks" or feels like the "right" solution, but it's fun to find creative ways to kludge your way through.

What it also isn't that much like Underworld. The RPG and character interaction have been stripped down to the barest minimums, and what you have is a kind of sandbox action adventure game like a less linear Dark Messiah or something.

It goes on sale for like $5-10sometimes, and I think it's worth checking out at that price.
Damn, thanks for the detailed response! I'll tag Shadowstar39 Shadowstar39 since my question was sort of addressing the final sentence in his post.

Anyway from what I'm reading, it sounds like it's less RPG and more...immersive sim with plenty of ways to solve the problems?
 

SF Kosmo

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Damn, thanks for the detailed response! I'll tag Shadowstar39 Shadowstar39 since my question was sort of addressing the final sentence in his post.

Anyway from what I'm reading, it sounds like it's less RPG and more...immersive sim with plenty of ways to solve the problems?
Yes, it leans super hard into the immersive sim thing, and strips back the RPG stuff.

In some ways it does it really well because it really does feel like a sandbox of "just figure it out" rather than giving you a few different options all curated by the developers like in most modern immersive sims. But that also means there's a lot of awkward fumbling and trial and error trying to kludge your way through. Like all of these creative solutions "just work" but none of them work super well, if that makes sense.
 

nkarafo

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Ultima Underworld inspired a lot of games, including DOOM
I highly doubt it. iD were already experimenting with FPS games before DOOM anyway. They released Wolfenstein 3D, Catacomb 3D and Hovertank even before that.
 
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Hendrick's

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Loved and played both when they released. Never even considered comparing them though. Just too different.
 

Shadowstar39

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Since you played it, I wanna ask you to confirm something: at the time could you even play UU in fullscreen? I seem to remember the interface eating up a lot of the screen, with the top left being what you see of the game world.

Oh and, did you try Underworld Ascendant?
I don't remember any fullscreen graphics with underworld. Of course I haven't played it in full in almost 30 years.. As for screen ui, yeah it took up the rleft and ight side and bottom if I'm not mistaken there was a screen in the middle. Left side was commands like pickup, look, talk, use , etc... The bottom had a compass a gem (I forget what the gem does) and dialog and dice rolls scroll. The right has your paperdoll and if you flip it around your stats. The middle is your gameplay screen with dragons who i think would do something when danger was near (its been so long).

Yeah at the time i think fullscreen would of been a bad idea. I had a 16mhz 386sx pc though so I wouldn't of been able to run it even if i could try at fullscreen (the sx cpu only had 16bit data bus and no math floating point coprocessor). I remember having to run doom and wolf32 in small screen mode too. The smaller it was the better the performance. Kinda crazy that that is how you changed graphics settings back then. Instead of lowering effects, the effects and textures stay the same you just lower the size of the screen, in essence the resolution really. It made a world of difference though.

NO never played underworld ascendant is that a remake or mod for something?
 
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Shadowstar39

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This couldn't have been in 1990. Not only did that game not come out until 1992, but the Sound Blaster Pro didn't come out until 1991, nor did the first CD-ROM games on PC.
Your probably right, my memory on the year is off, probably more like 1992. I know it was a year or two after I got a tg16 console. As I remember the sherlock holms game on one of the cds and animated Battle Chess. It was also around when Civ1 came out. Might and Magic was at MM3 at the time. Also that would of made me 13/14 not 12.
 
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lame gag1990

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Looking at gameplay footage, I know which I would rather play. I'm not saying Ultima is a bad game because I haven't played it. It certainly doesn't look pick up and play like Doom does though. I can pick Doom up to this day and it still holds up so well.
 

Sejan

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Also, it bogs my mind why EA doesn't use the Ultima IP for something with a high budget.
They don't do anything with it, and also are not interested in licensing it out to others.

It really is sad just how many game IPs EA has locked up in their prison that will never again see the light of day. With MS buying elder scrolls, there has never been a better time for a high budget, open world, fantasy RPG.

There really needs to be an abandoned IP clause in copyright law governing works whose owners refuse to use them.
 
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My gut feeling tells me you don't realize Ultima Underworld I & II aren't among those 8 games, I say that cause back then I found it easy to get mixed up as well.

Actually there are 9 main entries, but people usually pretend 9 never existed.
Wow I didn't realize it was that many games. I been on Wiki reading about this stuff and yeah its insane they're just not touching this stuff
 

SlimeGooGoo

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I highly doubt it. iD were already experimenting with FPS games before DOOM anyway. They released Wolfenstein 3D, Catacomb 3D and Hovertank even before that.
Oh, I meant technologically in the case of DOOM. My bad.
 

SlimeGooGoo

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It really is sad just how many game IPs EA has locked up in their prison that will never again see the light of day. With MS buying elder scrolls, there has never been a better time for a high budget, open world, fantasy RPG.
Yeah, I guess EA is afraid of market cannibalization because they also have Dragon Age as a fantasy RPG.

Which is sad, really.
They're just holding onto that IP just in case it becomes relevant again in the future, so that they can capitalize on it.
 

salamanderjuice

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It really is sad just how many game IPs EA has locked up in their prison that will never again see the light of day. With MS buying elder scrolls, there has never been a better time for a high budget, open world, fantasy RPG.

There really needs to be an abandoned IP clause in copyright law governing works whose owners refuse to use them.
Ultima Online is still up and active if you can believe it. Even had an expansion pack as recently as 2015. Why they haven't had BioWare or someone take a crack at a new single player Ultima? Who knows.
 

Sejan

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Yeah, I guess EA is afraid of market cannibalization because they also have Dragon Age as a fantasy RPG.

Which is sad, really.
They're just holding onto that IP just in case it becomes relevant again in the future, so that they can capitalize on it.
The problem with that thinking is that Ultima becomes less relevant with very passing day.
 
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No. You're comparing the wrong games. Ultima Underworld came out in 1992, shortly before Wolfenstein 3D. Doom came out in 1993 around the same time as Ultima Underworld 2 launched. If you compare Underworld to Wolf 3D, yeah, there's no fucking question that Ultima Underworld is better. Wolfenstein 3D is basically a 2D game that's been jerry-rigged to display in 3D whereas Ultima Underworld is an actual 3D game with realistic physics, the ability to look up and down, fly, interact with NPCs and more. The problem is you're comparing it to Wolf 3D's follow-up, Doom. Which is fucking DOOM. Seriously dude, it's fucking DOOM, a strong contender for being the best game of all time.

Besides, Id software's success didn't doom Looking Glass so much as a bunch of other bullshit. Doom and Doom II did somewhat burry Looking Glass's follow-up System Shock, which many buyers assumed was another Doom clone when it wasn't. But Ultima Underworld was ultimately mildly fucked over by EA, who had just bought Origin. Originally it was gonna be called 'Underworld' and wasn't part of the Ultima series, to boost sales Origin decided to make it an Ultima game but then did absolutely no promotion and launched it a month before Ultima VII - at the time the most expensive game ever made with a huge marketing push to boot. The game eventually sold well thanks to word of mouth and critical praise (famously one magazine gave Underworld 6/5 stars because it was that far ahead of anything else on the market.) However the other problems included the games high system specs compared to Wolf 3D and even Doom and its control scheme and UI. Let's face it, Doom is easy as shit to pick up and play even now while Ultima Underworld and System Shock control like some bastard hybrid of of a flight sim and a point-and-click adventure. For as much as Looking Glass were ahead of their time in so many respects the one thing they didn't think of was mouselook, which wouldn't be invented properly until 1994 with Bungie's Marathon.

Now System Shock did get buried under the Doom II hype machine, but there were other problems. The first being the aforementioned control issues, the second being EA, again. Famously System Shock killed off all its NPCs before the game even starts, leaving you to figure out the story via fully-voiced audio logs, a storytelling method that would end up being ripped off by a million other games since to the point of now being a cliché but System Shock did it first. However EA decided to release the game on floppy disk first, without the fully-voiced audio and this version was what was initially reviewed by magazines and was the first impression that most gamers had. And the game makes no fucking sense without the audio logs or SHODAN's taunts. Ken Levine, who'd go on to make the sequel (and later remake it for consoles as Bioshock) has said that he totally didn't understand what the hell System Shock was the first time he played it, until he later found the CD 'Enhanced' version and it immediately clicked.

Also, the GOG.com version of Ultima Underworld is set-up like shit (the audio and mouse are configured completely wrong and require you to fuck around with a bunch of config files for half an hour until it works properly) and there's no source-ports with options for better controls, unlike Wolfenstein or Doom which are incredibly easy to set up to play like a modern video game and in far higher resolutions.

Look, it's a fucking crying shame that Ultima Underworld's been largely forgotten. It's still a fantastic game, absurdly influential and still forward-thinking in a lot of ways. I mean, Zelda: Breath of the Wild was praised for features like being able to stick food, like an apple, near a fire and watching it burn and cook when 25 fucking years earlier Underworld let you shove a stick of corn into a fire to make popcorn. Shit, most modern games don't do locked doors anywhere near as good as Underworld, forcing you find a key or fuck around with some tedious lockpicking minigame, despite the fact that your character's armed to the teeth with a million different weapons that would surely blow the door off its hinges. And yet, in arguably the first ever real-time 3D, first person RPG, you could totally destroy any locked door in the game if you were powerful enough, or had the right weapons or magic.

But no, Doom did jack shit to bury Ultima Underworld. It's just sad that no one knows what a groundbreaking masterpiece it still is.
 
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Bragr

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Yeah there's some debate as to whether or not they saw the game demonstrated or just had conversations between the two developers. Id had already been playg with MIDI Maze-style raycasting at the time with Hovertank 3-D, but Underworld apparently gave Carmack the idea to apply texture mapping.
I'll respond to this part however, yes there are a large amount of shooters out there today, have you considered that many of them were influenced by Ultima Underworld? Many shooters were, there are even FPS-style RPGS.

I always wondered about how much Ultima Underworld influenced Carmack, and it just so happens that I asked him yesterday on a whim about it on Twitter, and it appears he didn't see it until release. When I asked him if Ultima Underworld inspired him he replied:

"I don’t trust my memory of things that distant, but I believe that hovertank and catacombs 3D were already done when we first heard about underworld, and we didn’t see it until release."
 
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SF Kosmo

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I always wondered about how much Ultima Underworld influenced Carmack, and it just so happens that I asked him yesterday on a whim about it on Twitter, and it appears he didn't see it until release. When I asked him if Ultima Underworld inspired him he replied:

"I don’t trust my memory of things that distant, but I believe that hovertank and catacombs 3D were already done when we first heard about underworld, and we didn’t see it until release."
Paul Neutath's account conflicts with this, he says Carmack saw it at CES in June of 1991, which would have placed it in between Hovertank and Catacomb 3-D.

So if the story is that he was working on raycasting 3D already and Underworld inspired him to add textures to the engine, that makes sense (Hovertank didn't have textures, Catacomb did).

Who really knows at this point, like Carmack said, his memory is fuzzy. Believe it or not, id Software shipped 10 games in 1991, despite only being 5 people at that point, so if some of the timeline seems like a blur, that's pretty understandable.
 
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Shadowstar39

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Ultima Online is still up and active if you can believe it. Even had an expansion pack as recently as 2015. Why they haven't had BioWare or someone take a crack at a new single player Ultima? Who knows.
They hate single player games. Can't monitize it with mini dlcs and gold packs, microtransactions and predetory bullcrap like with all their mp games.
They need to give Garriot his baby back. WTF... That was his passion project for over 2 decades. Im sure he has the cash for it if EA has a price. They aren't using it.
At least Ubisoft does stuff with might and magic (we had a mainline game a few years prior after a decade of nothing).

Id love a new ultima game with it's creator involved.
 
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