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Technical Infomation

The Arx Engine

Inhouse Real time 3D engine
Progressive mesh for NPCs and monsters

Highly detailed monsters with large textures and 1500 polygons

Real time physics, breakable items

Amazing AI, thanks to a very flexible script language that enables very complex behaviours for NPCs

32 bit graphics

Vertex lighting

Dynamic lighting

Set things on fire, destroy some of the settings

Lots of special effects: gore when fighting, severed members, cloths, magic effects, etc…

3D sound

This infomation was taken from the official Arkane Studios site. To see more of the engine in action then pay a visit to our Gallery section!

System Requirements

Minimum requirements:
300 MHz PentiumŪ II
Windows 95/98/2000
64 MB RAM
128 MB RAM for network server
DirectX 7.0 or higher
DirectX 7.0 compatible soundcard
3D graphics card with 8 MB RAM
4x CD-ROM Drive
300 MB harddisk space
Recommended:
600 MHz PentiumŪ III
256 MB RAM
3D graphics card with 32 MB RAM
8x CD-ROM Drive
600 MB harddisk space

Gameplay and Interface


The First Person Perspective

The majority of Arx Fatalis will be played from a 1st person view. The reasoning behind this decision is a far greater sense of immersion for the player. Arkane Studios will use the 1st person view to help bring an atmosphere of fear, claustrophobia and dread to the underground realm of Arx. Again the immersion will also be helped simply by having a view that gives a greater sense of realism. The team knew from the very beginning that playing from a 3rd person, or isometric view would only serve to disparage the illusion of the dark, alternate reality they were creating.
That being said, the game will also contain a number of in-game cinematics at various points in the story, these will switch the view to a third person perspective, allowing you to see your character in all his glory and watch the story unfold.

Interface

To further aid player immersion it was also decided that the game needs a simple, easy to use and relatively hidden interface. The idea is to allow the players to perform the many complex “in game” actions, with minimum “out of game” complexity and without flooding the player with statistical information. This means that the skills were made as generic as possible – For example the Mechanics skill combines picklocking, trap disarming, repairing and other mechanical based actions into one generic skill. Simple mouse actions will allow players to quickly perform tasks such as giving items, combining items, activating objects and communicating with NPCs.
This combines with a clear, easy to read, in-game book that serves as an inventory system and statistical data screen. You can find some shots of the interface in our screenshot archive.
Skills and Attributes

Although simplified, stats are by no means forgotten and play a very important role in Arx. As a player kills monsters and solves quests he is rewarded with experience points, after a certain number of experience points are gained the character raises to the next level. Each time the character raises a level he is given a number of skill points with which to increase his skills. Depending on the character’s attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Constitution) the amount of skill points required to raise a particular skill will vary. For example a warrior type character with high strength and low intelligence will be able to raise combat skills for considerably less points than he would magic skills. This also prevents characters from mastering every available skill and requires more specialization.
Thanks to the TTLG interview with Raphael Colantonio we currently know of 10 skills that are in the game: Mechanics (combines lockpicking, trap disarming, repair), Object Knowledge (lore, trading, repair weapons, weapons id), Stealth, Casting, Backstab, Awareness (shows hidden objects, warns in case of monsters), Projectile Weapons, One Handed Weapons, Two Handed Weapons and Parry (a defensive skill).

Combat and Stealth System

Arx uses an action based combat system that is similar to the one used in the Ultima Underworld games. Holding down the attack button prepares the strike and releasing then swings the weapon, the longer the button is held the more power will be put into the blow and thus the more damaging the attack will be. Damage is also affected by your weapon skills, strength, opponents defense and the stats of the weapon that you’re wielding. The action based combat enables a variety of options, creeping around behind an opponent to get in a backstab, running to avoid blows as you attempt to prepare your spell or maneuvering to get in that fatal blow. Equipping a shield also gives you the option of trying to block your enemies’ attacks.
All monsters in the game have realistic sight and hearing, this introduces some stealth elements as seen in games like Deus Ex and the Thief series. Make too much noise and monsters will hear you, hide in the darkness and they will have difficulty seeing you. This means you can actually hide from monsters and attempt to sneak around them without notice, making stealth and darkness every thief’s best friend. Sneak past monsters to avoid combat, or perhaps place your dagger in their back with the Backstab skill.

Magic System

One of the most anticipated features of Arx Fatalis is the unique magic system that the game offers. Magic in the world of Arx is a ritualistic art form; to incorporate this into the game all spells are cast with a series of hand gestures by drawing a series of unique runes on screen with the mouse. Once a correct combination of runes is traced then the spell can be cast. Each rune has a unique meaning and represents a word, allowing clever players to discover the combinations for some spells by themselves. All this is done to help bring playing the role of a spell caster to life.
In total the game will contain more than 50 different spells!

Interaction with NPCs and Objects

Interaction is a key part of Arx. Objects can be manipulated and NPCs (Non-Player Characters) can be dealt with in a variety of ways. Before charging straight into combat you might want to try talking or dealing with the creature. That troll might have some information you find very useful… Though there is a large amount of dialogue in Arx, it is never unnecessary. A good example of this is buying objects from a store; instead of entering a dialogue mode you simple need to drag the items from the shelves and onto your belt, if you can afford the item then you can do the deal!
Objects can also be combined and used both together and with the environment in many different ways. Like the interaction seen in Ultima 7, only much more of it and on a larger scale! From something as minor as using flower together with water to create dough and then with a nice, hot fire creating some delicious bread. Add an apple into the mix and you can make apple pie, which in turn can be eaten by the character or even sold to NPCs!
To something bigger like using a narcotic to poison a water supply in order to take out a guard. Simply place the substance in the water and then watch and wait as the thirsty guard comes to take a drink of the water and then falls unconscious to the floor!

Another example demonstrated recently at the 2001 E3 showed the character listening to a conversation between two Goblin guards. One of the guards is complaining about another Goblin named Zuk, who keeps leaving dirty plates on the table. The Goblin guard boasts that if Zuk leaves another dirty plate on the table then he will punch his lights out. On hearing this the player took his character to find Zuk, who just so happened to have left a dirty plate on the table beside him. The player then picked up the dirty plate, carried it back to the guardroom and placed it on the table. Once the complaining guard noticed the plate, he stomped out of the room to find Zuk and true to his words proceeded to punch his lights out! (thanks to Fafhrd for being at E3 to see this and then tell us about it!)

Arx Fatalis

Flickering shadows array the iridescent tome which beckons to be opened by the proper triggers, but it is no illusion that writhing tendrils squirm around the canvas seeking to impart their horrors upon less fortunate beings. Bring order to chaos, percieve truth from the darkness, and most importantly: learn to survive.

Learn from the Tome…

UTTM Help

This help page is for getting both games to run with sound, mice and CD-ROM, through the use of a boot-disk. The advantage of using a boot-disk is that it is safe to use and you don’t have to worry about the memory problems associated with running certain DOS games in Windows.

The first thing you need to do is to grab yourself a blank floppy disk. To make a bootable disk with only the necessary system files on it, go to the section below which lists you’re current operating system. For Windows 2000 users, go here first.

Windows 9x
In Windows, open up a DOS box. At the prompt type:
format a: /s

Windows ME
Unfortunately Microsoft makes it a little harder to make a boot-disk through ME as the one that is produced via Add/Remove Programs isn’t sufficient for running the underworld games. To get around this, you can make a boot-disk on a W9x machine and use it on your Me machine. If you don’t have access to a W98 machine then download this zip file (13k). Simply format a floppy disk and unzip the files into it. Windows will complain a little about incorrect DOS version, but you can safely ignore this message.

The next thing you will need is a workable version of config.sys. Open up Notepad (or some other basic text editor) and cut and paste the following:

Config.sys
FILES=20
BUFFERS=20
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\EMM386.EXE 1024 RAM
DOS=UMB
DOS=HIGH
SHELL=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND.COM /P
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\EBD\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:MSCD001 /M:10 /L:G
Save this file as config.sys to you’re A: drive. On the last line I have loaded up a generic CD-ROM driver that will work with most CD-ROMs, both old and new. If you have a DOS driver for your CD-ROM that you wish to use instead of oakcdrom.sys, then change the last line to

Devicehigh=x:/ /D:MSCD001 /M:10 /L:G
Change X: to whatever drive that your driver is found on. However, the beauty of using the oakcdrom.sys is that it is already available on your system and it won’t read your CD too quickly, as is a common problem in Windows with old games.

Now, before we create autoexec.bat file, we should set up our soundcard to work in DOS. The one that we will look at here is the SB-Live card (I will add others later). Many cards today feature legacy emulation which provide drivers which emulate the early cards such as the SB16 and Adlib cards, so please check your soundcards’ documentation. If your card features legacy emulation but is not a SB-Live card, all you will have to do is to modify the paths and parameters listed in the following autoexec.bat file. But more of that later.

To check whether you have already got your dos drivers set up for your SB-Live,
right click My Computer
Choose Properties
Go to the Device Manager tab
Expand the Creative Miscellaneous Devices entry and look for Creative SB16 Emulation
If this is here, then double-click it and check Device Status to make sure that it’s working properly.
Go to the settings tab and copy down the following info: SB Port; IRQ; and 8 bit DMA
If your DOS drivers have not been installed then put in your original installation disk, this time choosing a custom install and only selecting DOS drivers from the selection list.

The other thing that you should do is to check that the necessary utilities are available on your system. On a default installation to the C: drive the path will be as follows:

C:\Program Files\Creative\SBLive\DOSDrv
Here you should find some programs such as SBEMIXER.EXE, SBEINIT.COM, SBELOAD.EXE, SBECFG.EXE, SBESET.EXE and SBEGO.EXE amongst others. These files are mostly necessary and we will use some of these tools later.

Okay, its back to good old notepad. The following information will work on most machines. If you have a different soundcard then you will need to modify the appropriate lines. Also, if you have installed your SB-Live DOS drivers into a different path then you will have to point the path in autoexec.bat to the relevant directory (just make sure that you follow the DOS restrictions about not allowing any file/folder names to be longer than 8 characters). Otherwise just cut and paste the following.

Autoexec.bat
SET PATH=A:\;C:\WINDOWS;C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND;C:\PROGRA~1\CREATIVE\SBLIVE\DOSDRV;
SET TMP=C:\WINDOWS\TEMP
SET TEMP=C:\WINDOWS\TEMP
SET TMP=C:\WINDOWS\TEMP
SET PROMPT=$P$G
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6
SET CTSYN=C:\WINDOWS
SBMIXER /P /Q
C:\PROGRA~1\CREATIVE\SBLIVE\DOSDRV\SBEINIT.COM
SET COMSPEC=A:\COMMAND.COM
lh C:\dos\mouse
c:
Save this to you’re a: drive as autoexec.bat and your almost done. The other thing that we now need to look at is getting your mouse to work in DOS. If you don’t have a DOS driver for your mouse, then you can download this generic mouse driver (21k). I have tried it on a wide variety of mice, including USB and optical mice and have not had any problem with any of them.

What you need to do now is to create a folder called DOS on your C: drive and place mouse.com in it. Or, if your mouse driver is located somewhere else, point the path above to where your driver resides (just keep in mind that the windows drivers for your mouse will not work in DOS).

The other thing that you need to take into consideration is the SB configuration line:

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6
The three parameters of interest here are the A220, I5 and D1 parameters. They relate to your cards’ setting for legacy emulation. You can check the parameters for Creative SB16 Emulation by going to the relevant section in step 3 and by modifying the autoexec.bat line accordingly. However, keep in mind that this may be different to the actual settings in DOS, which we will look into in Step 5.

If you’ve got this far then you should already have a working boot-disk, and are now ready to face the perils of the Underworld. However, before installing either game, you might like to run a few utilities in DOS to check on the success and configuration of your SB.

Make sure that your system is enabled to boot from a floppy and restart your system with a floppy
At the prompt type: sbego. This will check whether or not your card is working and what parameters have been chosen for port, DMA and IRQ setting.
If you need to change any of these, then you can exit sbego and type sbeset -? at the prompt to see available flags (the ones that your most likely to be interested in are –A , –I and –D). You may also prefer to use the same settings that are used within Windows. To do this type sbeset –w0
Then, if you have made any changes, make sure that you update the data in your autoexec.bat.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING FAQ

Q. I’ve tried everything but I still can’t get my CD-ROM to work in dos. Can I play off the HD instead?

A. Yes. You will need to go back into windows and at a DOS prompt type in:

For UW1 type: xcopy d:\uw c:\uw /e/s

For UW2 type: xcopy d:\uw2 c:\uw2 /e/s

If any of the above drive letters are incorrect for your system then you will need to replace the d: above with whatever letter your CD-ROM happens to be and replace the c: to whatever drive that you wish to install the games to.

Q. My USB mouse occasionally spins my characters’ direction into a wild-spin. Can this be fixed?

A. I’ve only ever experienced this a few times but it usually goes away if you try to move backwards whilst holding the forward key on your keyboard. If this problem persists for more than a few seconds, save your game, exit UW and reload your saved game. If your using a joystick press ctrl+j to configure it.

Q. I’ve changed some of the paths in either config.sys or autoexec.bat to reflect my personal driver set-up, but they don’t seem to be working in DOS. Have I done something wrong?

Probably! One of the main reasons why people have trouble making a useable boot-disk is because they have not set up paths to point at the correct place or they are pointing to windows? drivers, not DOS ones. Keep in mind that DOS can only handle 8 character length names for Folders and an 8.3 format for file-names. The way to get around the problem of using folders with longer names is to truncate them and add a tilde (~) symbol and number in sequential order. For example, you will notice that in the autoexec.bat file that you created the Program Files folder has been reduced to PROGRA~1. For example, if there was also a folder in you C: drive called Program Twisty then this would be truncated to PROGRA~2 as T comes after F in the alphabet.

Q. Where else can I get help?

You can always try the rather excellent ARX Fatalis and Underworld forum at TTLG

If you have any suggestions, questions, information, alcohol or comments please let me know. twisty@ttlg.com

Arx Fatalis art dump

What is posted here tonight is nothing new. People have had access to it all since the game was released. But, I thought it appropriate to also have it here. The cutscene art is available to anyone who owns the game. Though it takes some downloading of utilities and search work to find the files buried in the game’s archives, anyone who owns the game could have potentially found these themselves. The concept art comes from the bonus disc that was included in the UK edition of the game. The promotional art only has two pieces, both of which are not new, but are rather rare. It’s all included here as a tribute to the artistic talent of Arkane, for nostalgia, and because many people would never have seen these any other way. So, enjoy the Arx Fatalis Art Dump. Oh, if you’ve not played or won the game yet, beware of spoilers.