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[S][W][R]Decoding U1; Virtue of Humility returns; fate of web directory

24th March 2007 by Dino

Recently I've been toying with the idea of 'reverse engineering' some old game, to learn a bit about both the file formats of old games and the reverse engineering process itself. Now reverse engineering is a vast subject, and something like Exult is more akin to it. For now I've been content with trying to decode the savegame format of Ultima 1.

I chose Ultima 1 for a variety of reasons. One is that it's a very old game, and is thus simple enough to decode (learn to walk before you can run). Another is that no documentation seems to exist about the file formats of Ultima 1, although Xenerkes Dragon seems to have cracked them before me. So far I know the general layout of the savegame files, and I can tamper with just about anything in the stats and inventory. I've also located locations where coordinates, the player name, and a move count are saved.

Something very interesting to note is that at a specific location (FF 10, FF 10) you are taken to a bizarre place which I'm calling 'La La Land' [screenshot]. This doesn't seem to be a mess you encounter at very large out-of-range coordinates, because if you vary the coordinates by one, you end up in the sea in the normal world.

Now for some news from the Ultima community...

Petrell has managed to locate the Virtue of Humility website, which was thought lost when its domain, www.wizardportal.com, stopped working. The project has seen a couple of updates since the loss of the domain:

U4 version 7.0317

U4 version 7.0308

Lost Sosaria, which was recently brought back into the light, is now seeking to recruit some new team members.

In a recent discussion at Aiera, the fate of the Web Directory on Dino's Ultima Page has been revealed. Everything remake-related (including resources that survived the demise of particular projects) will be moved to Aiera where they belong, while the Web Directory will handle other Ultima sites.

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