I think over the next few days I’ll tranfer some of my old fidlet.com pages into posts — otherwise I think that they will forever float in cyberspace limbo. I shall start with my tribute to Ultima IV:
For those of you not familiar with the masterpiece that is Ultima IV: it is a computer role-playing game that came out in the mid 80’s, produced by the Origin software company (now owned by Electronic Arts). Although primitive by today’s standards, it was revolutionary at the time: instead of the traditional where you fight some big bad evil at the end, your ultimate quest was a moral one.
You had to master eight virtues (like valor, compassion, honesty, etc.) in order to become an Avatar — a paradigm of virtue — so that you could be a shining example of all that is good and fine for the land of Brittannia. So, in the game, all of your actions had moral consequences — if you killed non-evil creatures, lied, stole, etc. — your progress in the game would suffer. This was a far cry from most computer role-playing games at the time, where morally questionable acts (like stealing) were rewarded (or, at the very least, not punished).
I played this game when I was just a little one — around nine years old — on my Commodore 64. Truth be told, I never did finish it (I mostly just diddled around on it for a few years). But, I do think it played some role in fashioning my moral character. To this day I romanticize this game, and, indeed, it did have something that today’s games lack. Besides the deeper moral quest, games of that day had to make up for a lack of fancy graphics with exquisite packaging: Ultima IV came with a cloth map, two “pleather”-bound books (one on magic, one on history), and a metal ankh. There was nothing more delicious than slowly unfolding the cloth map for the first time in my trembling hands on Christmas Eve.
Well, enough with my romantic babbling. The reason I put this on my “good things” list is mostly because I had discovered remakes of this game. Besides myself, there are other die-hard fans of the game who have gone through the pains of making this wonderful game available to today’s masses. There are several different remakes (although I think some of them are still in the works). One of them is a faithful remake of the original (in fact, I don’t think that it is a “remake” at all — I believe that it uses the original program but somehow makes it playable on today’s machines) — the others give the game a complete makeover utilizing today’s sophisticated technologies. So, here is a list of the remakes I have found: