I thought I'd share a hack I've been working on in the past week or so.
Ultima: Exodus on NES was definitely the best version of Ultima 3 back in the day, but still has its shortcomings. So I decided to do a QoL hack, but I will likely upgrade the graphics too.
Update 22 Feb. 2020
Version 1.00 has finally been released! http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4949/
These are my goals, and my progress so far...
- [DONE] Allow using the Start button as well as Select to finish party creation
- [DONE] Add an option to "set camp and save" when Start button is pressed (only allow camping outside of towns)
Don't allow monsters to attack diagonally, since the player can't While this would be easy to implement, it would allow cheap battle tactics
- [DONE] During combat, allow another action after one has been cancelled via B button (still pass if B is pressed before selecting an action)
- [DONE] Also, don't end turn when accidentally trying to cast spells with a non-caster, or opening the Tools menu when the character has nothing
- [DONE] Reduce the duration of the screen flashes that happen when casting certain spells
- [DONE] Make the "hit" sprite disappear more quickly to speed up combat
- [DONE] Change NPC dialogue to better reflect the computer version and replace some useless banter with useful clues on how to progress the story
- [WIP] Speed up the game engine. The NMI handler routine takes way too long
- [DONE] Reduce the intro credits to two screens instead of five
- [DONE] Improve and speed up enemy's combat AI
- [DONE] Allow the best character to try and disarm a trap in dungeons, instead of just testing the party leader
- [DONE] Adjust the town maps so that they are not as redundant (e.g. duplicated shops / NPCs)
- [DONE] Make horses useful (they allowed outrunning monsters in the computer versions)
- [DONE] Fix the REPEL and UNDEAD spell behaviour, also make them more useful past level 2 but less overpowered
- [DONE] Make enemy abilities more in line with the computer versions (e.g. Gargoyles and Manes should have magic attacks)
- [DONE] Add some variety to loot chests by allowing weapons and armour to be found in addition to just gold
- [DONE] Reintroduce enemies that were in the computer versions but not in the NES one
- [DONE] Change the way Max MP is assigned depending on profession, to make casters other than Wizards and Clerics more useful
- [DONE] Have different HP values depending on race and profession instead of it being the same for everyone
- [DONE] Award attribute points to each profession's main stats upon levelling up
- [DONE] Make loot scale with the level of the character who opens the chest
- [DONE] Tweak HP/MP regeneration rate and food consumption
- [DONE] Improve the enemy's battle AI
- [DONE] Rebalance combat to make player characters more effective as they level up
GFX / UI improvements
- [DONE] Change intro text palettes for smoother transition
- [DONE] Change the text when a character is hit in battle so that it fits in the notification area at the bottom-right instead of being cut off
- [DONE] During combat, add a marker next to the active character's name to indicate whose turn it is
- [DONE] Also show what weapon is currently equipped when attacking, to avoid accidentally throwing your only dagger or wasting a turn trying to attack at range with a mace
- [DONE] Replace status, gender and class letters with symbols (custom tiles, maybe replace unused Japanese characters)
- [DONE] Replace health, magic and food letters with symbols
- [DONE] Change "profession" graphics and palettes (e.g. status menu / character creation)
- [DONE] Change all character / NPC sprites (maybe using Ultima IV ones)
- [DONE] Allow NPC and monster graphics to use two different palettes (top sprites / bottom sprites)
- [DONE] Restore Chuckles' jester outfit (he's wearing woman's clothes for some reason, but the ROM contains an unused jester sprite)
- [DONE] Redo the "cutscenes" graphics (Lord British and Time Lord)
- [DONE] Change fonts to something more fitting a fantasy game (something like the Pool of Radiance fonts)
- [DONE] Upgrade all tiles
- [DONE] Possibly add some new map tiles (e.g. different types of grass, ankh...)
- [DONE] Upgrade dungeon graphics and allow a different palette for each dungeon
- [DONE] Add character names on dialogue frames (if there is room for that in ROM)
Add some colour or graphics to the status screen There isn't much room left, and I prefer to use it for gameplay/QoL improvements
The UI can definitely use some love: the "party info" panel is unreadable, especially if your characters have 5-letter names.
I was initially thinking of including part of Ludmeister's excellent hack. As sadly I had no reply from him, I've started doing my own rebalancing.
********************** PROGRESS SCREENSHOTS
Note that these are outdated and kept for historic reasons only!
|Saving in the wilderness:||Status screen:||Battle UI (WIP):||Weapon Display:|
I appreciate all comments, suggestions and criticism.