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Thank you for the nice responses to my 20 years post. I figured I'd go ahead and post some more. This one will probably have mostly to do with Ultima VIII and Lost Vale.

I'm always amazed at the responses I get when I mention Lost Vale. So many fans want to know all about uit! Yet.. at the time.. it was such an unpopular product at Origin plus the environment it was being produced in was atrocious.

We has just come off the Ultima 8's death march, crunch. It had been 10 months of mandatory 12 hour minimum days, 7 days a week. Only in the last month or two did they start to give us a Sunday off every other week or so.. so we could do laundry.

They would bring dinner in for us so we wouldn't leave, cuz they knew if we did, we would likely not come back. Toward the end I was pulled in to my lead's office and told that I needed to find someone else to go to my house each night to feed my dogs - because it was taking me away from the office way too long in the evenings after dinner. ....but.. enough bad memories...

Anyway... Lost Vale.. let's see.

* It was after Ultima 8 shipped and we were exhausted. Warren Spector called me, Lisa Smith, Rob Corell into his office to tell us we were on the U8 add on. I will be honest and say we were NOT thrilled. We'd all had just about enough of U VIII and wanted to move on. But, it was a chance to do stuff, so we did it.

* the premise behind Lost Vale was a group of people had been locked away from the rest of Pagan and were still following the "old gods." These gods , the villagers believed, lived in a city at the top of a cloud shrouded mountain. It was forbidden to attempt to climb the mountains to see the gods. Two young boys, however, decided to see if they could do it, and attempted to climb the mountain. They fell to their deaths. At the same time, the Gods seemed to stop answering the prayers and withdraw their support for the people of the valley - taking away the seasons and causing crops to wither. The two families each blamed each other and a schism occured with the two sides blaming each other for the absense of the gods. They abandoned their town and seperated into small villages on either side of the valley..and a cold war was begun. Into this the Avatar arrives.

* I can't remember the name of the two "tribes" but I think they were based around the boys' names. One of the tribes, we (and ... actually I'll admit it.. it was my idea.. ) decided to make them talk like Yoda. This seemed like SUCH a funny, good idea ... in the beginning. After three months of writing the dialog.. Lisa gave up and said "Here.. YOU translate it..." so I ended up having to go through all the conversations for that tribe and making them all sound like Yoda.. OMG.. SUCH a bad idea!!!!!!

* One of the characters was a long time veteran of this war and we decided he was a PTSD victim. He had nightmares and flashbacks and was uable to work... one of the Avatar's quests was to help him.

* There was a woman who was the "wise woman" of one of the tribes. She wanted you to help fix this problem ... she's the one who sends you to "wake up the gods" and climb to the top of the mountain. But.. before she does that.. she sends you to get a particular plant from her garden. When you walked in to the garden. When you entered the garden, the gates slammed behind you and the plants attacked. They were also very poisonous. You were poisoned.. on a timer... and only had so long to get the antidote (which.. unfortuantely.. escapes me at the moment.) Come to find out.. she didn't trust you would actually help the people of the valley and so to make sure you will, she holds the antidote as a way to ensure you will finish what you start.

* When you finally work your way up the mountain (a jumping game) you find the cloud city is actually abandoned. There are no sleeping gods. The player must try to figure out what happens. Now. .. when you first entered the city.. you were hit by a magic spell. This magic spell pulls ALL your equipment from your body and sticks it to an obelisk in the center of the city. You have to figure out how to get it loose. The answer was in a room full of candlesticks. You had to light the candlesticks in the shape of an ankh to get it to release your equipment. (And.. I might add.. that was my work.. and probably the LAMEST design I've EVER done!!! LOL!) ANyway.. you finall figure out that the gods aren't asleep.. and they aren't gone.. they've been trapped.

* there were a ton of small side plots that I don't specifically remember.. but I do remember that to get to the room where the gods were sealed in amber, you had to use the TinyTar spell.. a spell which shrunk the avatar down to a tiny little miniature version of himself. This started as a joke. John Watson figured out how to do it and showed it to us. We all thought it was really funny.. so decided to make it an important part of the plot for Lost Vale. You had to cast it and enter the ruins of the temple there in protest. Seems to me you had to reassemble the two halves of a shield there to free the gods.

* Lost Vale was finaled and gold mastered. The eve of it being sent to the publisher to be reproduced, Warren told us the decision had been made to not release it because U8 had just not sold enough copies. We were also told at that time that they didn't really have anything else for us to go to and that we had better start talking to other projects to see who might want to pick us up.

Some of the Lost Vale memories.. more from 20 years of games in future posts!


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 24th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Don't suppose the bits for Lost Vale exist somewhere do they?
Nov. 25th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
Nope. Not that I'm aware of at all. Because U8 was SUCH a disaster... poor little Lost Vale was a project that I think all the execs wished had never happened. I didn't archive anything and I'm not aware of anyone else archiving anything. At the time Origins back up system over all was sketchy. Remember, this was the early 90's. We were still, to some extent, sneaker net.

Still makes me shake my head to realize that I have more storage space on ONE of the three thumb drives I carry in my briefcase than we had in ALL of Origin Systems!!
Dec. 4th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Lost Vale-Lead Archaeologist
I have been searching for the code to The Lost Vale for years (since 2002), and have exhausted almost every avenue to find it. How diligent have I been? Well, During our work at the ol' Origin Museum, EA/Mythic was kind enough to allow us and the Wing Commander News guys (after a little gentle prodding)to archive *ALL* of the remaining Origin assets still held by Electronic Arts. While we gathered nearly 1 Terabyte of data (half of which were photographs and video), we found almost NO source code in the backups/CDs/DAT tapes/floppies we archived--and no Lost Vale.
My super-secret-inside-information-network at EA tells me that there *is* still a server backup of the Origin files circa 1995 at EA (and still on one of their live servers), but alas, there is nothing still existing from Lost Vale.
The good news is, in my travels scouring the globe looking for rare Origin artifacts, it always seems that when I finally give up the search, *that* is the moment that it falls in my lap!
Keep the faith!

Joe Garrity
Origin Museum
Dec. 2nd, 2009 11:24 am (UTC)
Lost Vale
It's nice to finally see some detailed info about the Lost Vale. It's sad that no one did archive it. I would love to play that expansion.
Dec. 9th, 2009 09:35 am (UTC)
Woah, so a finished expansion was just shelved, never to be heard from again. After all that work....nothing but scraps remain. That is just said.
Dec. 17th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you again, Sheri, for the information. Hearing something about Ultima VIII, especially from The Lost Vale, is not only nostalgic, as you may think, but, also, the game was actually a master-piece, only without some of the pieces... I know, and, still, my favorite Ultima (this is not a particular case... I know many Ultima fans who share the same opinion as mine). Ultima VIII may have not pleased the hardcore fans of Ultima, but the atmosphere of the game really put you inside the heart of Pagan.

About the broken Zealan Shield, I suppose you could have contacted Korick in Tenebrae to help reassembling the two parts of the shield, since the Shield is made of wrought metal and Korick is a blacksmith with strong faith in the Zealan Deities. Source: game, manual and unused USECODE dialogues.

What about the outcome of the quest?

1- In order to free the gods, you had only but use the Shield?
2- Who had trapped the gods? What they tell you?
3- How these events tie up with the deaths of the two children (by the way, these children are the small ghosts in the released screenshots, aren't them)?
4- How does the Gods help you end the schism between the two parties?
5- Improvements to the outside world (enhanced stats, new magic, bag of reagents, etc.)?
6- The environment above the clouds is noticeably brighter than on the surface of Pagan. Could you reach the Sun, like Stellos did (and learn the Resurrection spell)?
7- What's the Guardian's and the Titans' role behind this plot? What was the Guardian's plans for you?

And how the quest begins?

8- Is the Lost Vale directly behind the the double-doors on the Plateau or these doors only hide some sort of secret to get to the Lost Vale?
9- Who gives you the Key to the double-doors (or you use magic to open them)?
10- What's Mythran's role behind all this Zealan mess? Why does he like to hide some information?
11- Is Shaana (the executioner) important during this plot?

Other questions (not necessarily regargin the Lost Vale):

12- The USECODE mentions some sort of circle of dead trees on the Plateau. Do you know something about this?
13- Can you tell me if the events in The Lost Vale influenced anything in the outside world (or vice-versa)? I mean, for example, did you encounter some of the NPCs who had died swallowed by the sea? Or could you acquire somehow the powers of Tempestry or Resurrection?
14- Were there plans to include a plot in a lost city beneath the seas?
15- Are the stories behind the books in Bentic's library in the add-on (like the Ship of Doom... which left Tenebrae during a terrible winter with lots of treasure)?
16- Is the Vengeance Bay, which is listed as a location in the official manual, included in the add-on?

Thank you again, Sheri. Sorry if I'm bothering you too much.

- Kobra Kai Dragon (UDIC)
Dec. 21st, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Hi Sheri - Even now the Lost Vale is something i would love to play! It is a real shame that is never got released. Thanks for sharing your memories from the past, pretty interesting to get some inside info on the politics and day to day event of Origin. Take care
Oct. 8th, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
This is nothing short of amazing, hearing some hard facts about Lost Vale. You must've been screaming to have worked so hard only to be told that it was being scrapped right as it was done.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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