Playing Ultima VIII on a Modern PC

Continuing our quest to play all of the Ultima games on a modern PC, today we tackle Ultima VIII.  This will be the twelfth post in my series of how to play all 14 Ultima games on a modern PC.  Once again we will be using DOSBox to get the job done and I won’t get into acquiring the game files, installing DOSBox 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: Underworld II, Underworld, Savage Empire & Martian Dreams, Ultima IX, Ultima VI, Ultima V, Ultima IV, Ultima III, Ultima II, Ultima I and Akalabeth.

Acquiring the Manuals & Maps

The High-Resolution Ultima Map Project is the best place to get most Ultima maps and here is the link for the Ultima VIII map.  Next is the manuals.  Ultima VIII comes with only two pieces of documentation: The Chronicles of Pagan and the Install Guide.  The Chronicles of Pagan  can be found at here.  Oddly enough I couldn’t find the Install Guide at, but I did find it here.

Installing the Game

Like most of the newer Ultimas (minus 9) installation is pretty simple.  Copy all the game files to your machine.  Choosing a path that only contains folders with less than 8 characters and contains no spaces will make your life easier in the next step.  For reference, I always choose “C:\Games\ultima8”.  Next we need to setup the game.  Launch DOSBox and execute the following commands:

mount C C:\games\ultima8

Choose ‘Sound Blaster Pro, 16/16ASP’ on Port 0x0220, IRQ 7 and DMA 1 for the Sound Card and ‘Sound Blaster Pro’ on Port 0x220 for the Music Card.  Hit ‘Install.’

Patching the Game

There is almost a 100% chance you do not need the official Ultima VIII patch.  The only reason you would need it is if your Ultima VIII files came from an original set of floppy disks.  Most people are going to get their Ultima VIII files from a CD re-release of the game, which all come pre-patched.  However, here is a link to the patch in case you fall into a small fraction of a percent of people.  And if you are in that small fraction of a percent of people you are going to want to track down and install the Ultima VIII Speech Pack also!

Playing the Game

Fire up DOSBox and execute the following commands:

mount C C:\games\ultima8

My version of DOSBox actually does away with the integer cycles for Ultima 8 and runs at “Cpu speed: max” and “100% cycles” by default.  This is actually a little fast and you can slow it down and speed it up via Ctrl-F11 and Ctrl-F12, respectively.  If your version of DOSBox doesn’t default to max CPU speed, you are going to need more cycles than the default 3000 for this one.  I find somewhere around 10 thousand cycles to be enough.  To increase your cycles use control F-12.  As always Alt-Enter puts DOSBox into fullscreen mode.

Wrapping Up

Now to summarize when you want to play the game from now on, just do one of the following in DOSBox

mount C C:\games\ultima8\
You can use either "Cpu speed: max" or hit Control-F12 until Cycles is around 10000

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.