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Action Adventure Worlds

One step beyond social gaming worlds come the action adventure worlds. Combat, adventure and distant journeys are the main themes here. We will visit two such worlds, Ultima Online and diablo.

Ultima Online

Figure 12.2.1: utl1.jpg
Scene from Ultima Online showing our heroes surrounded by foes at a waterfall

Ultima Online (UO) by Origin comes from a long lineage of role playing games: the Ultima series. Like many other RPGs, UO is medieval fantasy based and supports battles with other players, perilous quests, and chat in a taverns. UO has a functioning virtual ecology which drives monsters to search for food when it becomes scarce. There is also an economic system which allows you to run businesses such as taverns. You can buy a building, furnish it, manufacture a large supply of food and then open for business..

UO is a large world, built on an overhead-view 3D operational model kind of like the birds-eye view in Active Worlds (the techies call this an isometric three-quarter view). You always see your character and the others players and terrain immediately around you. The figure at the beginning of this section shows a typical UO scene, where our character (in the center) is surrounded by hostile men with swords and winged creatures: not our day!

UO distinguishes itself in its skill system. You can study skills from a teacher (a non player character bot or another real person player). The longer you study and practice a skill, the better your character will perform with that skill. There are skills for attack, defense, spells, and artisan workmanship. The challenge in UO is that there are so many skills one could master and that skills not used begin to decrease. Mastering and maintaining UO's skills will keep you on your toes.

Like other gaming worlds, UO allows and encourages the formation of guilds. UO also allows pets on the premises! You can own almost any animal, name it and train it. Training dogs is easy, having a dragon as a pet is a much trickier endeavor.

Getting Ultima Online

Find Origin's Ultima Online at: Currently, Ultima Online is in beta test (as of the writing of this chapter) and you may be able to sign up to receive a beta tester's CD-ROM. By the time you receive this book, Ultima Online may be a released product. This game needs a pretty hefty PC: a Pentium 133 with Windows 95, 16 MB RAM and DirectX installed. You must have at least a 14.4K BPS dial-up connection to the Internet to play.


Figure 12.2.2: diablo1.gif
A trio of adventurers face off against the Skeleton King and his undead warriors (from the Blizzard homepage)

Like Ultima Online, described above, Diablo gives us another fantasy overhead view 3D combat world. Diablo has a more diabolical heart in its sixteen levels of dark dungeons, catacombs, and intriguing plots spelled out in mystical books. Characters move fluidly and die in gruesome realism.

Diablo can be run on a Windows 95/NT 4.0 machine with 16MB RAM and DirectX installed. By the time you have this book, a Macintosh version should be available. Check Blizzard Entertainment's home page at: for information and a free demo download (warning: the demo version is a whopping 50MB). Internet play is supported through Mpath's Mplayer software available free from or Battle Net

Multi-Player Sims

Its time to move beyond medieval fantasy to the more hard core world of simulation games. These games seek to emulate real world situations, from flight simulators, to battle tanks, to Indy 500 races, to the creation of virtual cities. We will take a look at a couple of examples in this section. We encourage you to check out's extensive reviews of Sim games at:

War Birds

War Birds is a World War II combat flight simulator. You can join a squadron and engage in real time dogfights with other teams from all over the Internet. You might tangle with a British 'Ace in a Spitfire or duel with a squadron of Japanese A6M Zeros. You can engage in historically accurate campaigns and use real flight test data. Want to rewrite history, then re-enact the attack on Pearl Harbor as though the U.S. pilots were actually in the air that fateful morning!

War birds is a cockpit-view, six degrees of freedom flight simulator. Find War Birds at iMagic Online's home page: It is currently in free public beta test, and can be downloaded. You must have a Win95 Pentium PC (Macintosh version is being built) with DirectX installed to use War Birds.

X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter

Lucas Arts has provided Star Wars fans, young and old, with a dream come true. With X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter (XWvTF) you can engage in sorties and interplanetary dogfights with up to eight other Internet users in their own ships. Battle can also be engaged with non-human software operators of Empire or Rebel Alliance ships. These bot ships are often every bit as tough as those with human pilots. There are plenty of single player missions you can go on to hone your skills before joining a squadron in the Imperial fleet or the rag tag rebel guerrilla crews.

Order the CD-ROM (about $50) or download a one mission demo version for Windows 95 Pentium PCs from LucasArts at:

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.