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Ultima III Non-Mockingboard Version

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Ultima III was supposedly released in three versions for the Apple II.  The first was without Mockingboard support, the second added Mockingboard support and the third was released with the Ultima Trilogy and weirdly adds joystick support.  Ultima III requires you to save characters to a scenario disk, a copy of the Player Master disk.  None of the Player Master disks are compatible which each other. 


The only available disk image for the Non-Mockingboard version, from Asimov or elsewhere, is a pirated version with an animated skull on the title screen :



This version has a few differences from the Mockingboard versions.  First, you cannot bypass any part of the four title screen animations by pressing a key.  Second, once the animation is over, the pirate version displays a "Insert Game Disk-1,2" message.  The Mockingboard versions display "Insert Scenario Disk".  The available scan Players Reference Card, https://www.mocagh.org/loadpage.php?getgame=u3, identifies the behavior of the Mockingboard version.  But the box and its scans are not the earliest as shown by the references to the Apple //c, a computer from 1984.  This game was released in 1983.  


One thing I noticed is that with this pirated version, characters start out with 100/100/100 HP/Food/Gold whereas Mockingboard and Trilogy and all versions for other systems give you 150/150/150 HP/Food/Gold.  Was this something Origin changed early on to slightly ease the starting difficulty or was this a byproduct of the crack or some damage to the disk?

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Actually, I found a Mockingboard version which behaves like the pirate crack but doesn't have the pirate skull animation.  So there may be four versions of this game, unless the pirate version is just a crippled hack of this Mockingboard version.  I am inclined to think that the pirate version is because the scenario disk used by it is interchangeable with the scenario disk used by the Mockingboard version which behaves like it (non-skippable intro, 100 starting stats).  


A handy program is called Exodus Construction Set, which can edit maps and characters and such.  It identifies two versions of Ultima III, and if the game starts you off with 100 stats, its Version 1 and if 150 stats, its version 2.  The 100 stats version may have faster monster spawning rates on the Sosaria map.


So in short, there may never have been a non-Mockingboard version of this game.  Moreover, AppleWin has a bug where .dsk and .woz/.nib images do not work well with each other.  The trilogy version is only in .dsk format and the later Mockingboard version is only in .nib/.woz format, so their incompatibility may be solely due to an emulator and they may be just two dumps of the same version.  


Finally, there is no joystick support in any version of Ultima III for the Apple II.  My information was mistaken.

Edited by Great Hierophant
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hmm, I would have thought that the Ultima Trilogy would have surfaced by now, but I guess 4am (and whomever else is putting out fresh WOZ images) is too busy with other things (that guy is a machine :), and yes, I saw the pix of the hundreds of pounds of floppy disks at KansasFest).  So here's a version I made a while back, and I'm pretty sure they all work.  Don't know who did the original A2Rs, as they didn't put their name in the contributor field.  :(  They're in WOZ1 format, as these were done before there was a realization of the need for a WOZ2.  :D


N.B.: If the emulator you use doesn't detect a Mockingboard in Ultima III, you can force the MB configuration screen to come up by pressing CTRL-M when booting up. 


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My guess is that these images most likely (since they're about 4x larger than typical) have each quarter track from their source A2Rs represented in their respective WOZ files.  The WOZ images could probably be reduced in size as it's very likely that there are duplicates among those quarter tracks.  As far as AppleWin is concerned, I wouldn't take anything coming from that emulator seriously as it doesn't seem to properly support WOZ images of any kind (it would seem they're making some kind of assumption in their WOZ handling that is incorrect--what would they do with an image where each quarter track is actually unique?).


TL;DR: There's nothing wrong with these images, though it's very likely they could be shrunk down in size because of duplicate quarter tracks.

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  • 1 year later...

I did a byte comparison between the skull and crossbones version of Ultima III on Asimov and the defective Mockingboard detection version of Ultima III on Asimov.  There is exactly nine bytes difference between the two versions.  And those bytes are spread out across the image.  There is no way that a Mockingboard music routine, or even the animated skull drawing routine fits into nine bytes.  Both "versions" can use each other's Player Master disk images but no others.


My conclusion is that someone found the skull and crossbones version and decided to fix it to come as close to the original game as he or she could.  Therefore, I do not believe that there ever was a non-Mockingboard version of this game.  There is no evidence of such a version.  Unfortunately this also means that there is no clean copy of Version 1's Player Master disk.  The Exodus Construction Set shows that there were monsters already generated on the Sosaria map and even an unopened treasure map.  It also may have shown some erroneous tiles on the map which I had to fix by hand with reference to the Secrets of Sosaria Clue Book.  The Monster Roster must also be wiped for the map.  No other maps appeared to have issues.

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