How did Forgotten World get started and what have been the major developments thus far?

In 2002, John Larcombe (aka "TumbleWeed Dragon") published his set of file format specifications for Ultima Ascension. He had found out the purpose of various different UIX files and described how to read some of them such as bitmaps and the terrain and object files.  These file format specifications enabled Firstknight to create his first modification for Ultima IX known as the Freedom Mod released on June 28th of 2004 at ultima-ascension.de. He changed many parts of the original map to make the whole world accessible from the beginning. This patch can still be found at Ultima Codex site. (see the Beautiful Britannia Downloads page).

An interesting aspect of Ultima IX Ascension was the fact that its game world was originally intended to be much larger than the final release's one. The worldmap was sized down during the development onto one map, but some unused maps were released with the game, maybe to demonstrate the original plans. The biggest one of these unused maps was map5, which was supposed to be Cove. It was a very detailed overworld map, mainly a mountain area. Asylum, Trinsic and Valoria maps are also fairly detailed.  The quality of this remnant encouraged Firstknight to integrate map5 into the game. His intention was to replace the prison of LB Castle with map5 that he now called FORGOTTEN WORLD.  Therefore, he wanted to fix the map, modify the terrain and add many objects (vegetation, animals, monsters, treasures) to the game world.

His second goal was to update the Britannia world map by adding many additional objects (vegetation and animals) to it.  He also wanted to crate a "freedom" version of the Britannia map (not the same as in the freedom mod) which enabled traveling around from the beginning.

Near the end of 2005, Nimdraug had returned to reverse engineering Ultima IX on his own.  "This is something I have been working on since my QB45 days. I have writen several apps that decode the flx files and found quite alot of stuff. This all started thanks to TumbleWeed Dragon (aka John Larcombe) and his Ultima 9 fileformat files. After I had a long break from my reasearch I returned to discover that those files where gone and where not to be found anywhere on the net. Luckily I had them tucked nicely away in some old folder on my computer. So I started anew and get really serious this time. So why decode the fileformats of Ultima 9. Why not, I say. First of all, I am very fond of the Ultima series and wanted to contribute to it. Ultima 9: Assention being somewhat of a black sheep almost noone has botherd to look at how it was made. And when I found that there was traces of the old engines and maps inside the game, my curiocity just grew. If there is something I love it is hidden stuff of old stuff in games. So I set out to give the comunity a view of how Ultima 9 might have looked like had they it not been given the deadline of horror and unforgettfull doom."

In the middle of May 2006, Iceblade (at the time, only an Ultima IX fan with big ideas) saw an opportunity for drastic improvements in Ultima IX and put forth the idea of a larger effort combining Firstknight's and Nimdraug's efforts with his own story ideas.  On May 22, 2006, Firstknight moved forward with the idea and over the course of the next few days, team "Forgotten World" was established with Firstknight, Nimdraug, Iceblade, and Hawkwind as founding members.  On the May 25, 2006, the team had an official website and development forum.  Unfortunately, shortly after the formation of the team, Firstknight - team lead and founder of the project - had to stop his work on the mod. The remaining part of the team took the mantle of co-leadership and continued his work with his instruction "to make Ascension a better Ultima."  On October 30, 2006, Splat joined the team to assist with reserve engineering and design work.

In early January 2007, Kristian (an Ogre3D programmer) joined the team and helped us transition from Blender to Ogre3D as the code base for our primary model viewer/world editor.  In October of 2008, Firstknight rejoined the team to make sure that both his original plans, now called BEAUTIFUL BRITANNIA, and the now grown up FORGOTTEN WORLD got a release someday.

Several important "Real Life" Events forced Firstknight to leave the Team again in early Feb of 2009 with the promise to slowly continue working on "Beautiful Britannia", which at the time was intended as a simple upgrade to UIX without story changes and other major improvements. In addition, real life events in the lives of other members of the original team had resulted in the loss of Nimdraug as an active member and reduced involvement by Hawkwind over the next several years. At this time, Iceblade took over full leadership of Forgotten World and became the primary web master.

By October 2010, advancements in trigger research as well as the understanding of Ultima IX file formats brought back several members to the project (notably Hawkwind and Splat).  In addition, Firstknight returned to Beautiful Britannia under the Forgotten World umbrella upon releasing the benefits that a bug-free and decoded Ultima IX could have as a base for both FW and BB.  These efforts continued resulting in near total reverse engineering of all external Ultima IX files as well the development to partial functionality of multiple tools.  Efforts to alter the engine, however, never came to fruition.  As a result, Forgotten World Team decided during the Summer of 2015 that Forgotten World should be developed as a Unity project alongside other developers contributing to Project Britannia 2.0.

Over the years, members have come and gone, but several members of note have joined since then:  Rorscharch joined on Dec. 17, 2010 as a programmer working on a dedicated model and animation viewer/exporter/importer tool; and Blu3Vib3 joined on March 16, 2012, as a book/dialogue writer as well a story designer.

 

What are the expected system requirements for Beautiful Britannia and Forgotten World

Ultima IX patched to version 1.19f.

 

Ultima IX System Requirements (absolute minimum)

Pentium II 400 MHz+

128+ MB RAM

16+ MB Video Memory

1+ Gigabyte Hard Drive

 

Due to the drastic increase in the number of viewable objects we suggest that you at least have the following system to avoid significant performance issues.

Pentium IV (Single Core) 1.66 GHz+

512+ MB RAM

256+ MB Video Card Memory (version 1.19f fixed most of the Directx issues, so most any graphics card made today should work fine)

2+ GB Hard Drive Space.

 

What have you released thus far? What are the expected dates for coming releases?

The various projects will have different release periods.  The Ultima IX Patch project (now combined with Beautiful Britannia) has had several releases thus far. The main project of Forgotten World will be released in multiple milestones. There are currently no dates for release of any of these milestones. The Beautiful Britannia, which has already made several releases in the past (available on its own Downloads page), has a planned full release sometime in 2015. 

 

Ultima IX Patches to Ultima 9 version 1.19:

  • The first patch is a fix applied on top of patch 1.19f that corrects the positive theme music bugs in Minoc, Valoria, and Skara Brae. This patch was released on October 24, 2010.
  • The second patch, which includes the first patch, adds Mariah and Jaana post shrine cleansing to their respective towns.  This patch was released on December 24, 2010.
  • The third and final patch, fixed a number of issues with Ultima IX including the shrine cleansing bug.  This patch was released on August 26, 2012 shortly after the GOG re-release of Ultima IX.

 

Beautiful Britannia:

  • The release that started a dream, the Freedom Mod, was created by FirstKnight to break the landscape-enforced linearity of Ultima IX and allow players to visit all towns at the beginning of the game.  This revised version of the Main World of Britannia was released way on June 28, 2004.
  • Since then there was a demo release of Beautiful Britannia that provided players with a more lush landscape to explore and access to several additional maps (with lots of beautiful landscape) never before visited directly by players in Ultima IX.  This demo was released December 1, 2009.
  • Another demo for Beautiful Britannia was released providing some improved textures, plenty of flora and fauna, and some additional structures without bugs preventing certain events from completing or starting properly.  This demo was released December 1, 2010. 

 

Holiday-themed and miscellaneous maps:

  • Forgotten Hallows Rise 2010 is our first Holiday themed map and it makes changes to the Avatar's House map.  This map was released on October 30, 2010.