Friday, November 23, 2007

Where I got my "Strong Moral Center"


I was over at my parents' home for Thanksgiving, and was trying to get my son Turbo to take a nap. I took him up to my old room, which was up in the attic (it has since been converted into an actual attic). There, looking for a story to read him (a book on UFOs, or Ann Nocenti and John Romita, Jr.'s sweet run on Daredevil, maybe) I stumbled upon my old Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar disks. This game taught me a lot, brothers and sisters. In the game, you're not fighting to kill some fat evil boss or anything like that. Instead, you're trying to reach this weird state of moral perfection, by behaving 'properly' in all of eight virtues: Honesty, Valor, Justice, Honor, Spirituality, Compassion, Sacrifice, and Humility (of those, I had to look up Sacrifice and Humility). Reach a certain level in one virtue, and you get the equivalent of a trivial pursuit pie wedge for that virtue. You lose the wedge if you blow it later on, like if you lie to get out of getting beaten up or something, your honesty points go down, and your wedge goes pop.

There's more to the game than this. It's a bad world, and dudes are always trying to beat you up, so you fight a lot, and gain experience and weapons and gold, all of which make you stronger and huger. This might be a flaw in the central message of the game, actually, since it's really a whole lot easier to be a centered person guided by morality when you're really freaking powerful.

All that notwithstanding, I consider this game to be one of my formative experiences, up there with Benjamin Parker's power and responsibility thing and Paul Atreides' "A storm is coming" speech. Astute readers will notice that I played with a pirated copy of the game.

Oh, apparently, you can download Ultima IV here.

2 comments:

Mr. Pony said...

P.S. Turbo did not sleep.

galspanic said...

Dude, all I remember from the ultima series are those three beautiful theme music pieces I downloaded.
Hey wasn't Litcube's Thanksgiving like three weeks ago?