The Ultima Collection

Discussion about old PC hardware.

The Ultima Collection

Postby rumbadumba » 2008-11-28 @ 00:00

I have the Ultima Collection CD - contains Akabaleth, Ultima 1-8 and seemingly Ultima 9 (though I recall seeing that the cd only had a bit of U9 really).

Been playing around with it on my k6/3 machine in Windows 98, but I'm not always getting sound and for example Utima 8 simply refuses to run, DOS mode or otherwise.

Rather than fiddle with the setup of that particular PC which, subject to needing a complete reinstall and solving a few other issues, is pretty much "there" as far as I am concerned, I am wondering about putting together another box to run Ultima (and maybe other things too). So my question is: what would be good hardware to run the Ultima collection?

I'm not convinced it wouldnt just be a complete waste of time to build something specifically for Ultima - I am not an Ultima fan, it just looked interesting - and there are other projects I could use the hardware for. So my second question is, if I was to go for Dosbox instead, what sort of hardware would I need to run Ultima 1-8?
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2008-11-28 @ 03:21

rumbadumba wrote:if I was to go for Dosbox instead, what sort of hardware would I need to run Ultima 1-8?

DOSBOX ain't pretty demanding for non-3D, non-SVGA DOS games. Ultima 8 runs pretty smooth on my old Pentium M notebook. Even Wing Commander Armada runs very smooth on the same notebook, and it's 3D (albeit it's a low-res VGA game).
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby Great Hierophant » 2008-11-28 @ 05:23

rumbadumba wrote:I have the Ultima Collection CD - contains Akabaleth, Ultima 1-8 and seemingly Ultima 9 (though I recall seeing that the cd only had a bit of U9 really).

Been playing around with it on my k6/3 machine in Windows 98, but I'm not always getting sound and for example Utima 8 simply refuses to run, DOS mode or otherwise.

Rather than fiddle with the setup of that particular PC which, subject to needing a complete reinstall and solving a few other issues, is pretty much "there" as far as I am concerned, I am wondering about putting together another box to run Ultima (and maybe other things too). So my question is: what would be good hardware to run the Ultima collection?

I'm not convinced it wouldnt just be a complete waste of time to build something specifically for Ultima - I am not an Ultima fan, it just looked interesting - and there are other projects I could use the hardware for. So my second question is, if I was to go for Dosbox instead, what sort of hardware would I need to run Ultima 1-8?


I would say that your best bet for running the games on real hawould be something in the 486DX2 @ 66mHz range. Anything later is too fast for Ultima 1-7, anything much slower and 8 will not run well. Even at that speed, a turbo function would be highly recommended to slow down Ultima 1-6, which run fast on high 286 processors. Serpent Isle and Ultima 8 are the only series Ultimas that aren't particularly sensitive to processor speed.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby wildweasel » 2008-11-28 @ 07:42

If all you want to play is Ultima VII or Serpent Isle, though, you won't even need DOSBox or even DOS for that matter - Exult is a complete rewrite of the Ultima VII engine for most platforms, and that should run the game just perfect with not a lot of configuration.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby rumbadumba » 2008-11-28 @ 09:07

Thanks for these replies!

DOSBOX ain't pretty demanding for non-3D, non-SVGA DOS games.


I hadn't realised this - so I can run Ultima 1-8 using Dosbox on my k6/3 maybe. Think that's where I'll start then.

I would say that your best bet for running the games on real hawould be something in the 486DX2 @ 66mHz range.


Ah, that is what I was afraid of. I happen to have a couple of spare 486 PCI/ISA boards but I am not sure I want to go to the trouble of building a system with one (at least, not without more reasons to use a 486 rather than a PII BX board or a socket 7, which are my main alternatives).

Exult is a complete rewrite of the Ultima VII engine for most platforms, and that should run the game just perfect with not a lot of configuration.


Sounds interesting, I'll have a look at that some time.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby dh4rm4 » 2008-11-29 @ 03:47

The cool things about Exult:-

1. Runs any of the Ultima VII games in Windows as DirectX/OpenGL apps which will use Windows Midi and Wave output for audio (including support for the Speech Packs).

2. Lets you set your viewable are around the avatar as far as you'd like - makes for great fun when you can communicate with NPCs and grab things/toggle switches way over the other side of maps and do other gamebreaking things.

3. Includes a really versatile editor.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby Great Hierophant » 2008-11-29 @ 07:00

DOSBox gives a more authentic experience of Ultima VII. Although all the limitations are part of the technology, the engine need not be recrear. ted either.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby dh4rm4 » 2008-11-29 @ 07:14

Oh no doubt, if you want the authentic experience DOSBox is a better choice, but Exult is still an extremely attractive and nice alternative. I especially liked the in engine map and warp-to features.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby Dominus » 2008-11-29 @ 16:32

In a real Ultima Collection there is no Ultima 9 included at all, especially since U9 came with two CDs.
And the others are correct, Dosbox runs them all very nicely. Especially Ultima 7 which was a nightmare to get to run on a real system since it had need for especially much conventional memory (those 640 KB or what it was called) which made adding other programs to the autoexec/config (like mouse program) a big problem.
And yes, Exult is always worth a try but then I'm very biased :)
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby Amigaz » 2008-11-29 @ 17:03

Dominus wrote:In a real Ultima Collection there is no Ultima 9 included at all, especially since U9 came with two CDs.
And the others are correct, Dosbox runs them all very nicely. Especially Ultima 7 which was a nightmare to get to run on a real system since it had need for especially much conventional memory (those 640 KB or what it was called) which made adding other programs to the autoexec/config (like mouse program) a big problem.
And yes, Exult is always worth a try but then I'm very biased :)


imho U7 isn't a nightmare to run, on anything faster than a 486DX 33mhz it will be.
It doesn't want to run with any EMS just plain XMS (himem.sys)
Not sure when you ran a real dosbox last time since today a DOS mouse driver is about 4k, on my DOS boxes with cd-rom drivers, mouse driver etc loaded I have around 600-605k free conventional memory.
With free-dos DOS drivers and other newer made DOS drivers it's very easy to get alot of free conventional memory
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby Great Hierophant » 2008-11-29 @ 17:12

Especially Ultima 7 which was a nightmare to get to run on a real system since it had need for especially much conventional memory (those 640 KB or what it was called) which made adding other programs to the autoexec/config (like mouse program) a big problem.


There is no single system that will really run all the main series Ultimas at the proper speed. Once upon a time ago, I suggested that it would be very difficult to run Ultima 7 or especially SI with the Roland & SB option and a CD-ROM loaded at the same time. The conventional memory requirements are very high (something like 590K free) and you need to load separate drivers for a mouse (mouse.com) and a CD-ROM drive (MSCDEX). You cannot load an expanded memory manager, which makes access to the upper memory area difficult. Using MS-DOS and Microsoft drivers, it would be difficult.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby dh4rm4 » 2008-11-29 @ 17:58

Not to mention that UMB loading sometimes makes the Speech Pack effects not play or causes wierd glitches in the Roland music.
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Re: The Ultima Collection

Postby Dominus » 2008-11-29 @ 18:03

I had good experiences back in the days with UMBPCI (an alternative to emm386.exe) that enabled me to put a lot of stuff into higher memory. I *think* I got that to work with U7 quite well, along with smartdrv and such stuff, but then again, it has been ages since then :)
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