DGC Ep 102: Ultima Underworld (part two)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We discuss the specifics of levels two and three a bit, but also tackle inventory, encumbrance, taking notes on paper, and the delightful map and how those have changed over the years. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Levels 2 and 3

Podcast breakdown:
0:43    UU Discussion
48:46  Break
49:12  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett learns some Lizardman, chatting with goblins and the many civilizations, relationships between factions, killing a she-spider, being fully engaged, the mystery of Sir Cabirus, Tim falls down a hole, leveling up quickly, Brett loses some chain mail, taking paper notes as you play, making lists of details like clues and mantras, physical keys vs logical keys and design trade-offs, imagining player stories, keeping track of key rules, attributing influences to this game vs prior games, annotating the map, drawing a dungeon as you went, automapping and writing on the map, writing a legend, player agency on the map, some map games, the shadow of the map pin, handling inventory, bags within bags, putting inventory responsibility on the player, respecting the player's intelligence, anxiety from previous play-throughs of losing objects, having help from viewers, needing encumbrance space and dropping objects to make room, asking a lot from the player, return of older styles of gameplay to support usability, jankiness of erasing, adapting map to a controller, rules that you discover along the way: leeches and spiking doors, using player tools in Bethesda games, game developer view on objects that you have, dwarf section: beginning middle and end, sense of place, the gazer shooting a beam at you, looking for Shak, repair skills, potential for overspecialization, level cap of 16, the eight virtues and corresponding classes, Joy to the Underworld, playing music on stream, being a completionist and hoarding everything in the hoard room, fixing the audio, podcasts/interviews, level design as a discipline, level design for stealth gameplay, onboarding stealth mechanics and their combination, avoiding overwhelming player (and designer), fantasy fulfillment in Thief, a little goes a long way, designing from moments and working backwards, having vignettes to implement towards, client-facing programming, merging geometry and systems and mechanics, tension in Thief II.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons and Dragons, Eye of the Beholder, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, UbiSoft, The Witcher, Far Cry 2, Miasmata, Joe and Bob Johnson, LOST, Etrian Odyssey, Nintendo, Brian Taylor, Mark Eldridge, Dark Souls, Looking Glass Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Ultima Underworld 2, System Shock 2, Ultima series and classes, Final Fantasy (series), JohnCaboose/Bjorn, Makendi, MaasNeotekProto, Tom Francis, Heat Signature, Floating Point, Gunpoint, PCGamer podcast, Crate and Crowbar, Aaron Evers, Thief, Paul Neurath, Mark Allen Garcia, Metal Gear Solid, Chris Mead, GAMBIT/MIT, Irrational Games, Bioshock, Phillip Staffetius, Final Fantasy IX, Kotaku, MSXII, Gamemaker, Game Developers Conference, Metal Gear Solid 4, John LeCarre, Mark of the Ninja, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Nels Anderson, Thief II, Alien: Isolation.

Tom Francis on emergent narrative

GOG forum link for audio care of Mark Eldridge

Paul Neurath on Thief  c/o Aaron Evers

GAMBIT/MIT on Looking Glass c/o Chris Mead

Next time:
Levels 4, 5, and 6

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub