Ultima IV

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Comments (16)
Ben - 08/11/2021
If you're having green water and blue vegetation, press ctrl-x while booting the program disk. It will display two bars, one blue, the other green. It will ask if if the top bar is a certain color with a Y or N question. If the top color isn't as described, press N and it will reverse the colors. You'll then get green vegetation and blue water.
rave.N - 01/11/2015
Artifacting from within emulators I think I spotted another fault. During the Atari OS built in Screensaver mode aka Color Rotation, the display spends a portion of its color shifts in error with the 2 main artifact colors swapped in reverse. My belief is changes to background color do slightly modify the color of artifacts, but aren't capable of outright reversing their position on screen. You guys with real Ataris and CRT'S can say for sure.
rave.N - 01/11/2015
Part 2 list other games and artifacting

Learning With Leeper
Ultima III - Blue water and Brown terrain
Ultima II, and Ultima 1?
Ogre - untested
The Halley Project
Tower Toppler
Vegas Poker

...in other news,
I, being of sound mind, shall restrain from overanalyzing and commenting upon the genuineness of the emulators' Random Number Generator. Honestly I don't see a problem, random looks good at least on the surface.
rave.N - 07/10/2015
Sorting out what went wrong with artifacting has made a little mess of comments here, thanx for being understanding. I want to tag Ultima here with a good list of other "High Resolution" programs having artifacting, not a complete list.

First there are hi res program not meant to be seen with any artifacting, often made recently in our post-CRT era, or they intentionally draw hi res in such a laborious way as to minimize any artifacting. ATASCII Character Set is one such example!

hi res with no artifacting:
ATASCII Character Set
Asteroids Emulator
Music Construction Set (in Utilities section)
Chess "Colossus 4.0"
Galaxian by "XXL" (an Apple II conversion)

AE or A.E. - color unimportant
Threshold - color unimportant
Ultima IV - blue water and brown terrain
Ultima V - screenshots ok
Choplifter! 1982 (not 1988 XEGS)
Drol - screenshots ok
Super Bunny - screenshots ok
Autoduel - untested
Hard Hat Mack - reversed programming & screenshots
Lode Runner, Championship Lode Runner - reversed?
Pinball Construction Set & files created by PCS
Stellar Shuttle - bugs in emulators
Death By Solitaire - bugs in emulators
hi res card games notoriously want reddish suites

There, it's a start...
rave.N - 06/09/2015
Finally figured it out. Emulator "Atari800MacX" beginning in 2006 wrongly attributes Blue/Brown to XL/XE and attributes Green/Purple to models 400/800 pre-XL, when I experienced it the other way around. I gamed on my 800 and saw Blue/Brown all the time while only infrequently saw artifacting on my work model 800XL and it was Green/Purple, I did write in an earlier post that "Blue can range into purple, and, the terrain can range into" a lime color. Atari800MacX began in 2006 to call Blue Water in Ultima IV "reverse" so trust me they also got the model numbers reversed. Or the rules that specific models always draw the same way, are too rigid. There easily may be instances of all 4 models coloring artifacts in each of the 4 ways. Those 4 ways are: Blue/Brown, revs. Blue/Brown, Green/Purple, revs. Green/Purple.
rave.N - 06/09/2015
Before 2006, emulator "Atari800MacX" named its default artifact colors "Blue/Brown" and Ultima IV got blue water. 2006 and beyond saw the name change to "XL/XE" artifacting and then Blue Terrain!, the mode which draws Blue water in U4 is now called Reverse, and this is why Reverse XL/XE is listed first and so-called normal XL/XE colors is listed 2nd, because the list didn't change, only the names did. Why is Blue water (in Ultima IV) now termed a Reverse mode, and what's special about the date 2006 relative to Atari 8 bit for such a profound change to be made. There's so many draw errors in pre 2006 artifacting that rather than patch things the author made "new" artifacting but with silly pastel colors, and introduced new bugs which never got fixed (see Stellar Shuttle).

The oldest most primitive emulator I have from 1998-99 has only one color scheme: blue and rich red, Ultima IV gets red water and blue terrain. Its author may have been an Englishman who needed to research how to draw, and what he read might still be online today. Wikipedia has an article named "Composite Artifact Colors", subheading "Hardware", Atari 8bit gets one paragraph, the last paragraph, and it says to expect "blue and red" colors.

Of course the various video generators in Atari can be phase tuned to make different artifact colors. The Green and Purple scheme results from a generator phase shift of half a pixel. I simply have no memory of it. My 800XL was reserved for Work, and I solved Ultima IV on my model 800. Now I'm hopelessly Not Sure (about green and purple artifacts emitting from One of my Ataris). Don't blame me, I'm just a Comment from a Guest User.
rave.N - 27/08/2015
I must correct my previous post, the artifacted colors you should see in Ultima IV are Blue water, but the other isn't quite Green forest, it's more of a Brown earth tone that's hard to describe in one word that I know, any suggestions? Atarimania screenshots attached to "Ultima V" (unfinished, unreleased) show this color well.

Not pure brown, this color is like a brown mixed from paints green and orange. It can fool you into sensing Green like the trees should be (100 color remakes of U4 depicted with Green caused me to write this mistake) and it also fools you into sensing Orange like the fire breathing dragon at top right in Ultima IV title screen. It's the same color as the ground you walk on but because we expect the fire to look orange we can believe it is orange. I swear this dragon never breathed green fire on my Ataris in the 80s. With the help of bad artifacting in Atari 8-bit emulators, NTSC will go down in history as an acronym meaning Never Twice the Same Color.

Not found any good examples of Solitaire with artifacting, yet, but I did happen upon "Vegas Poker" do read about it.

Moral of the story is there was only one right way to color artifacting, Ultima IV (and 5) get Blue water and "Brown" terrain. I know the Solitaire game I have in mind will exploit the orangey tint of this brown to draw Hearts and Diamonds. Why isn't this the default colors on emulators? It's Even # pixels like 0,n 2,n 4,n produce blue while odd # pixels like 1,n 3,n 5,n produce "brown" confirm this in just a couple of lines of BASIC commands Graphics 8 Plot Drawto. Artifacting only happens in hi resolution 320 width not in color 160 width, and only across the X axis never the Y. Some of the older emulators mess up artifacting as they scale the screen size up into a modern window resolution 2x 3x 4x...they can behave better at 1x scaling. Rant's end.
rave.N - 13/08/2015
Artifacting: search on "Solitaire" games, omit screenshots not being drawn in hi-res 320x192 and I had one back in the day that drew White playing cards and then used the odd/even numbered pixel two color artifacting effect to approximate the red and black colors of the suits for playing cards Heart and Diamonds red, Clubs and Spades black. Whatever two colors you get through artifacting depends upon the chosen color for your "Background".

I owned both 800 and 800XL models (at the same time, one did not replace the other) and both computers artifacted identically. So why do the Atari800MacX emulators have differing settings for pre-XL vs. XL/XE artifacting??? Just because you stumble across some old CRT generating different colors doesn't mean you should program a new artifacting mode into an emulator to reproduce those colors. BTW I'm not sure I see the Solitaire I had, here yet. The one I'm remembering was maybe written in BASIC, drew slow back then, but could be sped up as much as 5-fold on mine the fastest Apple PPC ever G4 MDD with top secret dual channel "DDR" RAM over clocked and AGP-8x graphics slot which I'm the only one in the World saying the slot itself is not limited to AGP-4x. It's a G4 case with a G5 motherboard and a 155nm (non 180nm) G4 CPU. I also have a 130nm CPU that was rigged in 2002 to pretend it stops at 1.0 GHZ instead of 2.0 GHZ by forcing the limitations of its synchronous Cache chips to inhibit the CPU. My world.
rave.N - 13/08/2015
Solved back in the day. Considering one of the ten best games but I think I'll let it slide to #11. Not something everyone can play. Not even a native Atari game? The code appears compiled and/or emulated. No music is how I remember it, can't forget the crackly explosion for game name on title page. Being Virtuous was awesome. The 8 virtues were arranged like Binary, 2 to 3rd power 8 virtues constructed from 3 principles of Truth Love and Courage. "Spirituality" was the embodiment of all 3, and "Humility" the lack of any TLC right?

Ultima IV is the best Atari program in the world for Testing your Artifacting, because, the water is supposed to look Blue and the forest is Green. Period. Pink is stupid and never happened. What's everyone's Idiocracy about artifacting??? Artifacting had everything to do with your monitor or TV and so little to do with the Atari! A monitor which was Too Good could show you no artifacting, just black & white. Drawing with only Odd numbered pixels created one color, and drawing with only Even numbered pixels created one other color. The blue might range into purple and the green might range into limey, but never pink on a black background. My current emulators have like 16 different artifacting modes, only one looks okay and the emu refuses to remember its setting maybe because they're saying the one looking best is "non standard"? Artifacting was ALL about the display unit and not the atari. Wise up Y'all.
Avalon - 23/03/2014
I don't understand the b/w, no music like the other poster either. I played Ultima III out of the box with full color and music on a 48K machine. Ultima IV also had full color and music too; strange...
Mike - 30/01/2009
The game had sound just no music (no matter how much memory you had). Also, artifacting was used to produce color.
Kris - 29/12/2008
You probably had an 800 with 64K for sound to be included with Ultima IV; I certainly did not and therefore this game doesn't have the same lasting memory for me as did Ultima III. Still, this was an awesome game; trying to find Magencia in the middle of that huge ocean was a monumental task; such a vast landscape to explore was entirely unheard of in this era.
Auntie Pastie - 27/12/2008
Direwolf; I don't know about the sound, but judging by the screenshots above, I'd guess this game used "artifacted" colour. This was a trick which exploited a limitation of the NTSC TV signal to get colour in the supposedly monochrome hi-res mode. It did this by using certain patterns of black and white pixels which gave colour interference (similar to the type you got on TV when someone wore a finely-patterned jacket or whatever).

Unfortunately, a "perfect" emulator display doesn't suffer from this "problem", so you don't get the colour. Fortunately, most emulators now include an option to simulate the effect, but you may have to turn it on.

BTW, the patterns required to generate colour on NTSC Ataris didn't work on our European PAL ones, so all American games that relied on the technique looked lousy on our systems. :(
Direwolf - 26/12/2008
I don't understand.. I played this on an Atari 800 back in the day and it had color AND sound. Plus the sound was superior to the PC version. What gives?
Jonny EOL - 11/11/2006
I eventually completed this game on the PC version (the 3rd platform I'd played it on). This game was arguably the first great open-ended RPG (the previous Ultimas led up to it), with a huge area to explore and all sorts of things to find out, not to mention the unusual aim of being a 'virtuous' person. Chatting to townspeople, exploring dungeons, hunting for artifacts, searching for spell reagents....I played Morrowind recently and was constantly reminded of this game. The Atari 8-bit version is sadly not the best (the lack of music hurts the 'mood' somewhat) but the essence of the game is still intact.
FastRobPlus - 19/10/2006
Lack of music hurts this installment of the Ultima franchise. It would have been nice to see them support music on 64K or 128K machines. That said, the game does look and play as well as the other 8-bit versions.


Ultima IV atari screenshot
Ultima IV atari screenshot
Ultima IV atari screenshot
Ultima IV atari screenshot
Ultima IV atari screenshot
Ultima IV atari screenshot
Ultima IV atari screenshot
Ultima IV atari screenshot


GenreAdventure - RPG (2-D)Year1985
LanguageMachine LanguagePublisherOrigin Systems

Lubar, David R. / Bueche, Chuck
Meuse, Steve

Graphic Artist(s)

Hunter, Patricia / Meuse, Marsha

Medium Disk
Cover Artist(s)Loubet, Denis R.Serial
Dumpdownload atari Ultima IV Download

Additional Comments

Other version with the same title:

US Gold.


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