My new found love for Open Source has made it's way into my blog. Today I want to take the time to write about two great Open Source programs related to classic gaming.
First on the list is Exult. Exult is a program that allows "Ultima 7: The Black Gate" and "Ultima 7 Part 2: Serpent Isle" to run on modern hardware and operating systems. Exult still requires the original Ultima 7 files, and the programmers encourage purchasing. Personally, I'm inclined to agree even though the Ultima series is now owned by the evil Electronic Arts instead of the beloved Origin. Exult has made leaps and bounds the past few months in terms of playability. Hard core geeks that have kept their Ultima 7 saved game files on floppies for years will be bumed to learn they'll have to start all over using Exult, but that's a small price to pay to bring back such a classic. Exult is more than just a means to play a great game with a funky memory manager on todays PC's. It's also well on its way to becoming the first useful Ultima 7 editor. The programmers have appropriately dubbed this function Exult Studio. According to the studio FAQ it started as an Ultima 7 map editor and has progressed to the point that anyone can create an entirely original game, albeit with a lot of work. Exult Studio even comes with GIMP plug-in's so that original artwork can be added. Exult Studio still needs a bit of refinement, but fifteen minutes changing the familiar Ultima world will have you thinking about creating your own island add-on that gives the Avatar his own horse drawn Airstream...or maybe that's just me. For those of you trying to remember your way around Britannia, or new to the Ultima world I've found a few useful links.
IanAlbert.com has a great map.
The Bards Library has plenty of mood setting music from U7 and SI.
There are also plenty of walkthroughs for all parts of both U7 games.
Next on the list of Open Source classic gaming is The Ur-Quan Masters; basically an Open Source remake of Star Control 2. They had to change the name because an organization known as Toys for Bob made the source code of the EDO version of Star Control 2 available, but they did not own the rights to the name "Star Control." Which is fine because, unlike Exult, you don't have to purchase a thing to play. Down side is there are no cut scenes, like the name, those are still owned by someone. The programmers of The Ur-Quan Masters did think ahead and made it so that owners of the original game can easily place the copy righted material into the remake. Like Exult, this Open Source project brings a classic game to modern computers, so it can be enjoyed by older gamers who remember when this was the bleeding edge of technology and younger gamers alike. Granted I played the PC version back in the day, but in all honesty I cannot see the difference between the PC and EDO version of the game. The Ur-Quan Masters is only at version 0.3 of their developmental stage, so it still has some time before the programmers call it an official release. Even still the game is playable in the Super Melee and story line mode. There are no in game settings to play with yet, but there is plenty of documentation that explains how to change things up. There are also remix packs that can be downloaded in case you get tired of the original repetitive music. Just like with Ultima there is plenty of information on the Internet (mostly put there by fans).
There is a SC2 Wiki known as Ultronomicon.
As usual plenty of walkthroughs too.
Both of these games were released in the early 90's on 5.25" floppies. Even today they are wonderful games because they gave the player the power of choice and freedom. There aren't many games today that don't make you strictly follow a story or some liner path. Both of these games do have plots and many subplots and if some events are over looked there could be problems, but it was this level of detail that brought replay value to games. Something most modern games lack. There is a lot still to be learned from old games such as Ultima & and Star Control 2, and it has nothing to do with graphics, cool effects, 3D physics and modeling, or even sparely dressed women (Syreens excluded of course).