Playing Ultima IX on a Modern PC

Again, its been a while!  I have been working on other projects, but back to this project!  It is a universally held opinion that Ultima IX sucks.  I am going out of order, skipping from 6 to 9, because I somehow got it in my head that I wanted to play through it again.  I actually want to play through the fan-made Dialogue Patch, found here, which changes the story to better fit with Ultima canon, but its been so long since (probably 15 years) I have played through the original version that I figured I should play it so I can compare the two versions.  This game actually installs and runs in Windows, so no complicated installation, but we are going to add a few patches to improve the playability of the game.  I won’t get into acquiring the game files or justifying why do this myself when I could just get the games via GOG.  See my first post, on Akalabeth, for comments on such things.  For previous posts in the series see: Ultima VI,Ultima V, Ultima IV, Ultima III, Ultima II, Ultima I and Akalabeth.

Acquiring the Manuals & Maps

The High-Resolution Ultima Map Project doesn’t actually contain the Ultima IX map and doesn’t appear to have it either, so I had to find it here.  Ultima IX comes with 3 pieces of documentation: a Journal, a Spellbook and a Player Reference card, which can be found here, here and here.  This is the only Ultima game I will say this about, but you really don’t need any of the documentation to understand and play this game, but there are the links if you are interested.

Installing the Game

Put the Install Disc in your drive or mount the CD image however you so desire.  It may autorun, but probably not.  Just open the disc and run setup.exe manually….and nothing fucking happens. Ok this is going to be harder than I thought.  Ok, I am not going to go into the gory details on what was wrong because I don’t think it is something that will happen to most people (my machine is a place of nightmares).  In most cases it will just work.  If you run setup.exe and nothing happens you will need to “Analyze wait chain” on the 32-bit Installer process that launched but for some reason got hung up waiting for another process to do something.  No idea why this would be the case, but once you kill everything the installer is waiting on the installer starts up fine.  You may have analyze wait chain more than once to get it unstuck.  If this is a huge problem I can expand on the process in a later update.  Now the installer should start running.  It does some auto-detection stuff.  I just mostly left the defaults, it all depends on your hardware.  Most new machines intended for gaming will run this at the maximum settings with no problem.  In this regards I shut off “Compressed For D3D” textures.  Another note, I have never seen this game stable, in general, but it seems to be really bad on any resolution above 1024x768x32.  Make sure do a “Custom” install and check “Music, Speech, and Movies” unless you want to keep the CDs handy in order to play to see the cut scenes.  Once the installer completes there is one last thing that needs to be done.  You need to right-click C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\u9.exe and go to “Properties”.  In the Compatibility tab check “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and choose “Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” in the drop down box.  Click “OK”.

Patching the Game

There are two required patches in order to play Ultima IX.  They are the official 1.18f patch, which is found here, and the unofficial 1.19f patch, which is found here.  Download and run the 1.18f patch.  All it requires is for you to give it the path of the game.  Download the 1.19f patch and open the .zip file.  Extract u9patch119.exe and execute it.

At this point the game is playable in its original form, but I highly recommend installing the fan made Monster/Economy Patch, found here.  Make copies of the original C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\static\books-en.flx and C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\runtime\npc.flx files.  Next, download the zip file, copy static\books-en.flx into C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\static and copy runtime\npc.flc to C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\runtime.

One last decision must be made.  Do you want to play the original storyline or a fan-made improved storyline?  If you have never played the game I recommend doing the original storyline at least once, but if you have done it before I would recommend the patch.  It can be found here.  Download and open the .zip file.  Make copies of the original C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\static\books-en.flx, C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\runtime\npc.flx, C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\static\text.flx and C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\static\typename.flx.  Rename “book” to “books-en.flx” and copy it into C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\static\.  Copy “text.flx” and “typename.flx” into C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\static\ and “npc.flx” into C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\runtime.  Copy “u9name.exe” and “u9name.ini” into c:\Program Files\Origin Systems\Ultima IX\. Run “u9name.exe” from the Ultima IX directory and select the name by which you will be known in Britannia. (If you decide you want to change your name again, repeat step 5 before running “u9name.exe”).  When you start the game be sure that you disable all voices since the voice and dialog will no longer match up.

Playing the Game

Its a Windows game, so find it in the Start Menu and go for it!  Its called “Play Ultima IX”. If you do not see the intro movie, but just a silent black screen, it is very likely do to the K-Lite Codec pack being installed.  You have two options, uninstall the codec pack OR open the Codec Tweak Tool and change the Win7DSFilterTweaker->Preferred decoders->32-bit decoders->H.264 to Microsoft.

Wrapping Up

Any questions or comments just let know.  Thanks!


Something witty! I'm a full-time software engineer, part-time streamer, PhD, RetroSpy developer, bipolar, Ultima fanboy and a video game hardware collector.

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