Ultima Underworld source code release?


First of all, congratulations on the great start of your kickstarter campaign. It’s good to know that, after such a long time, there are still so many people remembering and appreciating the Ultima Underworld games.

Is it true that Otherside Entertainment has access to the source code of these? Because I would very much like to see it released to the public. Is that a possibility?


I doubt it would be released publicly. It’s possible it might be given to a conservation service to preserve it, but generally such things are not released to the wild.

If you are looking for source code, Arx Fatalis released their code a few years back. http://ultimacodex.com/2011/01/arx-fatalis-updated-source-code-released/


Unfortunately you are right; it’s not the norm. But I think it should be. Arx Fatalis is a good example for the benefits. The Arx Libertatis source port (http://arx-libertatis.org/) came out of that.

Thief is another one. Although the source wasn’t officially released, the NewDark patches (which are basically source ports) are only possible because someone got ahold of the leaked game code.


The same goes for System Shock 2. Someone got hold of the source code and patched it to work not only on Windows 9x, but also on Windows XP and newer. It works on Windows 7 too, although in compatibility mode and has issues with multi processor systems.

As for Ultima Underworld: there have been a couple of attempts to recreate the engine for modern operating systems – Linux 8) – but none of these projects made it out of alpha status.


I once tried to get uwadv running, but it didn’t work. http://uwadv.sourceforge.net/index.php?page=links

For all of these recreation projects you needed the original game files, which is exactly how it should be: update the engine, but keep the game original!


I’d love to see a full source release because I know the community would make something out of it.

That being said, even if they are in possession of the source, I’m not sure if they have the legal right to release it. The publisher (EA in this case who bought out Origin) may own it.


Can they use the code? If so I’d love a way to play the originals inside this game all manic mansion in day of the tentacle.


They wouldn’t need the code for that to do. The originals already run on modern systems using Dosbox.

Regarding my original question about the sources, I hope one of the developers finds the time to give an answer. I know it can be a complicated legal issue and it’s not their priority right now but i’d like to hear their thoughts about it.


Yeah, getting the rights to the IP in regards to future projects may not include rights to the old materials and code.



Is there any news regarding this? I still think the source code release would be a great thing.


I think Paul addressed this, at least in part in the RPG codex interview, didn’t he?

Edit: Hrm I remember mindx2 asking. Either my memory is faulty or it didn’t make it into the final article… or I’m just blind :slight_smile:


This was also answered (and evaded) in the Reddit AmA.

NashMuhandes Do the source codes to UW and UW2 still exist? Is there any chance of those ever being released so that people can make modern source ports?

We do in fact have the source code. We’re actually offering digital PC copies of the original Underworld 1 and 2 also, on pledge tiers $75+


I`m asking for a GPL release of the source code to the public. That has never been answered anywhere as far as i know.


This post is complete and utter nonsence. It adds no value to the original topic of this thread, and
honestly, is just a total waste of time to bother reading…

You know what would be totally awesome?

(Given the source is A: Available B: You are allowed to release it)

Include the original UUW source inside the game as an easteregg.
Maybe a silly quest-line that leads to a download of it.

Or maybe, even more disturbing, sprinkle pages of the source around the game as scrolls the player
can pickup…
Then you add a quest(or such) once a player is “stupid” enough to actually bother collecting all these
scrolls, that leads them to an NPC(or whatever) that gives them a “reward”.
It could be a really nice and usefull reward, but it would be more fun if its totally useless.

Anyway, as stated above, this is just silly, im probably the only one who would find this “feature” fun.


Paul never discussed the specific terms of our license from EA other than to say that we have full rights to use all of the Underworld IP and assets but not Ultima IP. I believe that the specific terms of the license from EA are under an NDA so I doubt Paul can or would want to address them any more specifically than he has already done.


Releasing the source would be great. It would prolong the life of the game and introduce Underworld to new players.
And as it has been so long since the game was published I cannot see any cons to releasing it. The actual game data would still be copyrighted. DooM is prime example of what an open source release does to a game. It still has a lot of active players and people make quality levels for it (see the yearly Cacowards).

But of course if there’s an NDA it just sucks.


That’s unfortunate, but thanks.

If you can’t talk about it I can only ask you to consider it and leave it at that.


I’d be surprised if Paul didn’t want that choice under his own control, and if he hadn’t already more than considered it. It’s his baby, and gaining rights to conclude what he started, fighting for it all these years, how would he not want all the choices he can get on his side?

And since it’s been touched on, it should be restated for anyone coming to the news through this thread, that anything Ultima had that wasn’t specific to Ultima, isn’t Ultima’s IP, so the rights or public domain are open for Underworld to approach or apply.


There is a Ultima Source Code Offline Archive Project (USCOAP) at the codex and it would be neat if the sources for the two old games were archived there http://ultimacodex.com/tag/uscoap/

Mind that the project is for archiving, not for making it publicly available!


Actually, the only fun idea I can think of would be to have a special and rare poison type, like in a very unique mushroom, that completely disturbs the vision of the player in such a way, that it gets all pixelated – and amazingly makes everything look just like in the original Ultima Underworld game… :smiley:

Or something similar.

Anyone played Monkey Island 3?
(sorry, it’s not of good quality… start at 2:12)


This topic caught my eye because I’ve been looking at the reverse-engineered file format documentation for UW and writing file viewers/converters for a lot of the formats.

I’ve been looking at the game’s structure as a Model-View-Controller pattern. “Model” is the computer’s internal understanding of the current state of the game world (player+item locations, statuses, HP/MP, etc). “View” is how the information in the Model is rendered onto the screen (graphics, audio, music), and “Controller” is the actual game logic, which decides how the Model (i.e. the game state) gets modified when the player does things, AI moves an NPC, music changes when you get attacked, all that stuff.

So, the Model is mostly stored in the map and some files that store game variables. Most of those are mostly documented, so we’ve got a decent idea of the “Model” part, minus some details that would need worked out.
The View is comparatively simple to imitate based on screen shots, since the file formats for textures, sprites, 3D models, cutscenes, and various miscellaneous bitmaps have been mostly documented. For example, I wrote an OpenGL level viewer (extremely inefficiently, and I’m working on rewriting it), so I can walk around the levels (missing doors and some other things), see where items and characters are, etc.
The Controller is almost completely contained in the main game binary, which is a few hundred kilobytes of binary code, with some data structures (like the models) stored in the middle. Things like AI for the NPCs would need to be reverse-engineered from that code (not easy, because disassembled code is nasty and uncommented, and the game uses binary overlays that make it less straightforward to analyze).

Still, if we had documentation of the data structures in the various game files, some info on what data is contained in the binary itself and how it’s represented, that would be cool, because it might give more insight to the “Controller” part of the system. I think that some AI behavioral data is contained in a separate file, for instance. If EA actually owns the source, though…I wouldn’t really expect any kind of release (although I’d still wish for it!)