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6/17/2015

Spoony Plays Ultima VII Part 2: the Serpent Isle Bonus: Various odds and ends

Serpent Isle was the first Ultima game produced under Electronic Arts' label.  As you may expect from that fact, the game was released under a rushed development schedule and many aspects of its design were cut down, removed entirely or hastily rewritten to accommodate for heavy time constraints.

Here's a video highlighting some of the normally inaccessible areas in the game:



Unused Dialog Strings

Quite a few characters have dialog strings that are not viewable without using cheats or rooting through the usecode file.  There's a pretty extensive list of them here.  Noteworthy, though, is the fact that Cantra was intended to have dialog after being revived and freed of her madness (though this goes unused due to a bug preventing her from being cured).

There's also more character dialog about the killing of Pomdirgun (which gets very little fanfare in the final game) and more on the subplot about the silk stockings.

A few other oddities I found in the files:

  • "I wager that would work much better if thou wouldst put some liquid in it... Perhaps some BEER for instance. Or mayhaps some WINE...."
  • "last stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff ale beer wine blood water "
  • Zounds, I wager that was right good.... mmmm... I wager that would cure a body's thirst. Why dost thou not wait until dinner to drink that

Some kind of wine bottling minigame or subplot?  No idea.

  • w thine hand and hit someone with it... Someone else, that is.

No idea.  Maybe some kind of combat tutorial.

  • error, somebody stepped on the worm!-

Could refer to the ice worms in the northern reaches, or maybe the worms you have to bop with a hammer in the Test of Order.

Unused Voice Clips

There are also two unused voice clips in the game.  One is the Guardian saying "Pleasant dreams, Avatar." and then following up with a laugh.  Probably supposed to accompany resting (as a similar voice clip did in Ultima VII), or possibly intended for when the Avatar enters the Dream Realm.

The other is a short speech from Arcadion, which he was most likely meant to give once you freed him from the Black Sword.  His dialog in the game is different, notably omitting mention of the Banes.  Maybe he was supposed to stick around longer, and you'd have to release him later on for a different reason?  It's also possible that the Avatar's imprisonment in Freedom was originally intended for later in the game.

Both of these clips can be listened to here.

Unused Portraits



The Black Sword has three unused portraits (with different animations).  Design document notes imply you were to speak with the Banes while they were imprisoned in the sword.


Looks like a wisp. They may have been planned to return for Serpent Isle.  Or this portrait may have been intended for something else entirely; no way to know for sure.


No clue, though I've heard it was intended to replace all of the characters' portraits if you flubbed the copy protection.  Another theory states that it was intended for a Wildman NPC that got the axe.

Original Plot Remnants

Monitor

When the Bane of Wantonness invades Monitor, he would punish the knights for their pride by turning them all into the animal matching their command, though retaining their human intelligence.  There are numerous bears and wolves running around town in the final version, but no real explanation is given for their presence.

However, there is a small fragment of this original idea in the code.  If you bring the Bane Dupre near Caladin, he will transform into a bear.  The game will then crash since it attempts to call an incorrect dialog pointer.

Moonshade

Fedabiblio mentions that the rangers of Moonshade have gone mad.  You see no direct evidence of this in the game itself, but it correlates with the original design documents for Moonshade - once Shamino the Anarch takes over, he would allow a person to commit any crime so long as they received a permit from him (which he gave out freely).  As a result the city would be thrown into civil war, with Julia and the Rangers turning on the mages.

Mortegro's manor was also intended to have been overrun by the ghosts of the dead after this event, including Blackthorn, Elizabeth, Abraham, Hook and numerous dead Gargoyles.  The player would need to get the spectral orb (another artifact stolen by Vasculio) to rid the manor of them.  The orb remains in the game, but there are no other signs of this plot element left.

Ensorcio was also planned to have a larger role in this plot, allying with Shamino the Anarch to get revenge for his exile.

Fawn

Apparently, Iolo the Mad was not intended to simply kill off the inhabitants of Fawn (leaving only Yelinda and Ruggs alive), but was instead planned to unleash vermin and plagues, causing them to grow "uglier" as they succumbed to disease.

A scroll found on Leon's body in the Fellowship camp also implies that he had his tongue cut out by Iolo, forcing him to "lead by example".

Others

Gwenno was apparently supposed to join the Avatar's party, as evidenced by her paperdoll having a head when cheated into the party (whereas most NPCs do not).  This was apparently added in Exult as a feature.

Claw (aka "Cat Isle") is probably the most prominent and famous cut area in the game, taking up a good chunk of real estate on the game's map but being reachable by any means short of cheating (or obscure teleport eggs).  Its size and the elaborateness (yet unfinished state) of its design suggest that it was intended to be an integral part of the game, and comments from the developers confirm this.  There were two separate ideas in mind for this area:

  • The character Yurel was originally planned to be the leader of a cat-like race that inhabited the island and was facing extinction. Unfortunately, there would be nothing the player could do to save them...
  • Continuing the joke from Ultima VII, one would find a crashed Kilrathi ship on this island.  The surviving pilot would have been worshipped by natives as a god due to his fearsome strength and superior intellect.

These ideas both went unimplemented due to time constraints, so Claw just ended up being another "cheat room" akin to Erstam's Isle or the Trinsic chimney, and Yurel ended up getting a smaller role in the Silver Seed add-on.

There are also a few unused objects that would seemingly fit in with this area, including a cat skull, some cat statues and a "cat eye stone" gem.

The island is also home to numerous incomplete fragments of dungeons, as seen in the above video.

Oh, and thanks to TCRF's Serpent Isle Page for a lot of this info!

And here's one more little bonus:


A silly easter egg that occurs if you launch the intro.exe with the arguments "hisss jive". Be sure to turn the sound off in the installer first, or the subtitles won't appear.