Ultima IX Ascension, a game created by Origin Systems (an Electronics Arts Division) in 1999, was an outstanding game for its time, featuring a game world in full 3D, and one of the first games ever released with an implemented physics engine. Even though Ultima IX was a milestone in the history of computer games, it suffered from numerous bugs, crashes, plot stoppers, and performance issues. In addition, the hardware requirements were too high for the time it was released. In fact, the early release played no small part in these horrendous state version 1.0 of the game. Luckily for fans, the Ultima IX programmers and designers worked diligiently to remove many of the bugs, crashes, and performance issues that ruined the experience of the game. In addition, time has healed most of the remaining performance issues in the game, and amazing enough it remains playable to do this day on most modern systems without any emulation. Still, the unofficial patch 1.19f has proven to be a necessity for improvement of performance on modern systems.
Even though, Ultima IX has been fairly bug and crash free since version 1.18f and 1.19f, there are a number of issues that remain that need to be fixed for a completely smooth gameplay experience. During our pre-Unity development and research phases, the Forgotten World team created multiple tools to alter external files. These tools are being used to correct these remaining bugs and crashes and improve the overall performance of the vanilla game.
The our patches focus on fixing bugs that occur due to issues outside of the engine itself. These will primarily consist of errors with triggers, certain objects, and sequences of triggers in the game that result in crashes or misfiring/failed triggers..
This effort is split into two phases. Phase 1 involves the correction of all serious bugs and most major and minor issues to provide a reasonably bug free and complete version of Ultima IX. Phase 2 involves a fixing all remaining minor bugs, giving Ultima IX a certain degree of polish, and the creation of basic pseudo-schedules for all NPCs. These pseudo-schedules involve some worldbuilding to add homes/work areas for NPCs and the creation of time-triggered teleports to move NPCs throughout the day.
What are the details for the patching process?
The primary tools we will be using for correction of these bugs and triggers are tools that we already have developed. These tools are the same tools that we actively used for our decoding research.
What bugs have you fixed already?
Quite a few of the bugs have been fixed already. Below are just the most significant ones that we have corrected.
- Valoria, Skara Brae, and Minoc all have their positive themes play correctly
- Jaana and Mariah now appear in Yew and Moonglow, respectively, upon cleansing of the shrines
- The Runes and Sigils will now appear near the shrine after cleansing
- The Moonglow Catacomb Televator now works more than once.
- Dermot will actually complete his limited schedules: days in the graveyard and nights in the pub
- Fixed a potential bug will Vasagralem might not appear at the first trial.
- Sometimes one of the Valoria demons won't die at the right time.
What bugs are left to be squashed?
There are quite a few left, but these are some of more significant or apparent ones left to correct.
- The shipwreck with the War Bow of the Blood sometimes doesn't appear.
- The Avatar faces the wrong way during the Minoc-Blackthorn scene
- The Moonglow-Tydus camera event crashes sometimes; this one may be inherent with the engine.
- Bugy-ness of the Abyss's walls
- Molly keeps disappearing into the sky for too many players.