Unfatality: Arx Fatalis Source Code/Patch

By Alec Meer on January 14th, 2011 at 7:38 pm.

Arkane are now owned by Zenimax Media, a large multinational corporation – which means the studio’s soul will be crushed, its imagination will be quashed and it will never, ever perform a single kind act for its fans again. THAT’S WHAT CORPORATIONS DO. Flee! Panic! Cower!

Oh. They’ve, uh, just released the source code for its revered 2002 RPG Arx Fatalis (a game they once hoped to call Ultima Underworld III, but were stymied by Dark Powers). Also, a last-ever patch designed to make the game play hot-diggity-damndy-dandy on Windowses Vista and 7. In other words, they just made a dead game live again, for no reason other than that they wanted to. Guess those corporate types are alright after all!

Both downloads are here. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

Needless to say, the source code is not the same as the game assets. It’s the engine they’re offering you for no-pennies, not Arx Fatalis itself – which you can nab from Steam or GoG for around $4.99 and $5.99 respectively, and eBay for whatever luck hands you. And, by all accounts, you really should pick it up. We don’t see the like often these days, etc.

The source code release, meanwhile means you can a) create whole new campaigns or games based on it, theoretically and b) you can tweak, fix and update Arx Fatalis itself by fiddling with it. In Arkane’s own words, “this patch will remain the very last Arx Fatalis update released by Arkane Studios” – so anything from hereon in is you, bucko. Yeah, you with teeth.

The unexpected v1.21 patch will cost you a svelte 7.9MB, and is available in Englisher, Frencher, Spanishee, Germanian, Italitastic , Russih and all of the above flavours.

Here’s the changelog for the new patch in full, which I’m going to directly copy and paste because paraphrasing them would be exceptionally boring and add no new information. To my enduring shame I haven’t played Arx Fatalis, but it’s been in the RPS draft post called “Possible Games To Write Retros About?” for about twelfty years. One day. One day. Maybe tomorrow, actually.

- Improved overall game stability under Microsoft Windows Vista & Windows 7.
- Fixed blinking effect that may happen when starting a new game.
- Fixed HUD scaling when display resolution is higher than 1024×960.
- Fixed EAX option: value is now saved when leaving the option menu.
- Fixed an issue with the game locking-up when opening player inventory.
- Fixed length of cinemascope bars displayed during cinematics.
- Fixed some performance issues with a few Nvidia GPU (see Notes).

Notes:
- If you experience in game framerate drops or stuttering, please give a try to the “Enable Rendering Fix” option in the Video settings.

Thanks, Arkane, Tharkane.

For some excellent insight in the game itself, here’s Kieron’s Making Of piece from centuries ago. Also, here’s the intro, for nostalgiomancy’s sake:

Welcome back, Old Game. Pray tell, lovelies, what do you expect this fine source codey gift to lead to?

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58 Comments »

  1. Dominic White says:

    Can’t say I see the game going far from here, but that’s fine. It’s totally worth playing as-is. Great spellcasting system – it felt so much more like magic than just picking stuff from a menu.

  2. Teddy Leach says:

    But I literally just uninstalled it! Bah! That patch, however, does fix every problem I’ve had with it though.

  3. Bhazor says:

    Yay! Maybe it will actually run now for me.

    Can finally replay my favourite baking sim.

  4. Moni says:

    Didn’t John Walker do that Look Around You joke in the Wireless Show earlier?

    We have to ban it now before it becomes just another irritating meme.

  5. alexanderwales says:

    I don’t believe that any discussion of this game is complete without a link to this hilariously sequence-breaking walkthrough.

  6. Teronfel says:

    Cool, i wanted to buy this on steam but i wasn’t sure if it would play on win 7

  7. stele says:

    Wow, never even knew this existed, but I loved the Underworld games. Installing now from Steam… yay!

    • Urthman says:

      I hate to drag this game into everything, but when I play Minecraft, I’m constantly getting flashbacks to the Ultima Underworld series. I don’t know if it’s the graphics or the feel of the dungeons. I think maybe it’s the item icons and sprites in the world that most remind me of UW.

      That feeling of UW nostalgia is probably a big part of why I have such strong affection for Minecraft.

      I haven’t tried Arx, but it’s definitely on my list.

    • dadioflex says:

      Are the old Ultima/UUW games on download anywhere legal?

      The only Ultima game I ever played was Ascension, so yeah… not really getting a feel for the series. Oh and Ultima Online, which was an exercise in paranoia at the time.

  8. dancingcrab says:

    I managed to beat this on Vista, t’was glorious. A fun game, but not quite UUW; it does have the most important feature of the Underworlds, however: atmosphere. It is literally bleeding atmosphere – you can see it dripping from your monitor.

    • Tacroy says:

      …. I thought that was baking bread?

      I remember camping out in an Orcish structure of some sort, desperately making loaf after loaf out of their unending supplies of water and flour (with a couple of pies thrown in, from the apples I had) – I was out of healing items, there were (as a rough estimate) a billion orcs between me and the exit, and I hadn’t found a good way of sneaking around them yet. Eventually it was all for naught because I realized I could make it up into the rafters and sneak through their dining hall that way, finding a new rune stone in the process…

      Good times. Then the game glitched so hard I couldn’t finish it.

  9. Kryopsis says:

    I may not like Bethesda’s games, but Zenimax has an impeccable taste in terms of acquisitions. Just looking at the publisher’s catalogue fills me with optimism. We might have a new Interplay here (but hopefully without the later years).

    • Bhazor says:

      Indeed, hiring the Dark Messiah guys to work on Skyrim is pretty inspired.

    • Hides-His-Eyes says:

      Bhazor; that’s the only good bit of news about Skyrim I’ve heard yet.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Oooh, did they? Dark Messiah style combat in Tamriel would work a treat; hopefully they go that route.

    • Bhazor says:

      From a August 2010 press release by Arkane
      “Founded in 1999, Arkane has offices in Lyon, France and Austin, Texas and is led by co-creative directors Raphael Colantonio, Arkane’s founder and CEO who will also serve as president of Arkane, and Harvey Smith, lead designer on Deus Ex. Arkane’s first title, Arx Fatalis, was released in 2002 and became a fan favorite with its highly detailed environments and innovative gameplay. In addition, Arkane developed Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (PC version), and has collaborated on a number of high profile game projects, including Bioshock 2. Arkane is currently working on an unannounced project with Bethesda Softworks.”

      I doubt Bethesda would be working on anything other than Skyrim when it’s still a year from release, so yeah. The mention of crafting by “hammering a red hot iron” also sounds very familiar to the crafting in Dark Messiah. Basically between this and iD co-writing the engine I’m very excited. I mean it’ll be badly written and glitchy as all hell but it should have great combat and shadows that work proper.

    • Kryopsis says:

      While this is a rather vague quote, the important thing is to remember that Harvey Smith works at Arkane. Whatever the studio is working on, it should be promising.

  10. Arathain says:

    It’s a game in which you can bake apple pie. What could make it bad after that?

    It’s a game I got a ways into years ago, but never really gave it the time it deserved before being sidetracked by… oo, shiny!

    Wait, where was I? I remember it having a fantastic amount of interactivity and the aforementioned atmosphere. Also, you can actually look down and see your own body, after which most FPSs seem very odd for some time, as you realise you are a merely a floating eye and gun.

    • Kryopsis says:

      Better: it’s a game where you bake apple pies and then poison them to get through a particular area in a non-violent fashion. How many other games do you know where you can bake poisoned apple pies?

    • Bhazor says:

      Not the same thing but one Tenchu mission had you killing a dude poisoning the dude’s soup.

    • drewski says:

      There’s a mission in Morrowind where you get to poison someone’s stew.

  11. Mistabashi says:

    “so anything from hereon in is you, bucko.”

    Gotta love that hereon, although it is really moreish…

  12. Davie says:

    …all of this makes me very angry that I only own the bloody ECKSBAWKS version.

    • Dominic White says:

      Ugh. I rented and tried the Xbox version. It was terrible – Arkane had a pretty bad track record with console ports. The 360 version of Dark Messiah was a trainwreck, too. Dropped most of the character customization stuff, too.

    • Renzatic says:

      Just plunk down the cash for the PC version. It’s only $5 or $6 depending on if you want to get it on Steam or GOG. That’ll net you the far superior version of a great game easily worth four times as much even now.

      Six bucks. Hell, that’s less than what I paid for my really horrible Taco Bell lunch I forced myself to eat half an hour ago.

    • N'Al says:

      You wot? Seriously?

      I knew the port was bad, but I thought it was mostly framerate and control issues. Didn’t realise they’d cut content. In fact, I believe they even added a new level to the start of the game.

    • Fede says:

      Also on D2D for $4.95 (available worldwide).

    • Chaz says:

      @ N’Al

      I played Dark Messiah on the PC and liked it and so when I got my 360 I thought I’d give the demo a spin on it to see what the difference was on the console. Well in a word the 360 port was dreadful by comparison. The graphics were poor and it lacked the atmosphere of the PC version, the controls felt stiff and lacked the fluidity of the PC version, and as has already been mentioned, what was already a fairly simple character customisation system was made even simpler to the point of non existance, where I just think you picked whether you wanted to be a mage, warrior or thief. It may as well have been a different game made by a different company.

  13. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Do my ears deceive me, or is that Stephen Russell doing the voiceover? Squee!

    • Towercap says:

      It is. According to IMDB, he voiced Fallan Orbiplanax, Undead Creatures, Goblins, Enoill Calpale and the Sacred Dagger (was that the Black-Goat-of-the-Woods cultist fellow?).

      Arx is one the very few games I’ve finished more than once. Fantastic atmosphere.

  14. Mman says:

    I was playing through this a while ago and reached a point a little way in where the game crashed so regularly (varying, but sometimes only minutes apart), along with randomly corrupting saves, I had to stop and wait for some sort of solution because it was ruining the game for me; hopefully this is the solution I was waiting for.

  15. Flint says:

    Ooh, pretty awesome. I’ve been wanting to snag this from Steam for a while now but the fact that the demo was a complete mess technically on my W7 ruined that for me. So hoorah for the new patch!

  16. Bungle says:

    There is still something fundamentally flawed about the way corporations work. It’s crazy how a bunch of people “just doing their jobs” can so consistently turn evil. Check out a free Canadian documentary called “The Corporation” for an interesting look on the subject.

  17. noom says:

    This is indeed a lovely game. I played a ways into it, then stopped, then picked it up again a few months later, then stopped again. I fully intend to pick it up again at some point. It does have a very engrossing ambience to it.

    Now if only some evil/lovely megacorporation would acquire the Wizardy Licence and make Wizardry 9.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Not if they make it into a Facebook game. Wait, I just reminded myself and everyone of Lords of Ultima. Eeeeeuuuurgh…

  18. Tuco says:

    It’s a very good game, terribly overlooked.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Agreed, and this is fantastic news, but…

      Arx spent very little time being a dungeon crawler, and more an “underground city conversing with trolls and occasionally crawling-crawler”.

      And it’s 2011 and I still see almost no first-person dungeon crawlers being made outside of a couple of mobile titles.

      No System Shock 2 campaigns, and nothing for Arx, Morrowind or Oblivion (which had annoyingly repetitive copy-paste dungeons anyway).

      Oh heck, I’m just going to have to play Underworld 1 and 2 through again. And probably ruin them, this time. *Desperation sets in*

  19. sinister agent says:

    Pro tip for new players: Don’t bother going the archery/stealth route. Archery is slow and useless – you can get a similar effect with magicalness, which gives you more options anyway.

    Minor complaint, though. I do like Arx Fatalis, although I got to a point not too far in where I had no idea where I was supposed to go or what to do next, and got a bit tired of trudging around.

    Brilliant voice acting, though. The goblin chef is one of my favourite game characters ever. “Our Keeeng, he looove kehk! Nobody bother eeeeem! Eere are deeleecious kehks, majesteeeh!”

    • mcnostril says:

      Love the game, but that was my major complaint as well. There were a few points in the game where you’re not sure what to do, and there aren’t really many hints, leaving you to run all over the place for quite a bit before you figure it out or quit out of boredom.

      I haven’t gone back yet. I recall running in circles for quite a bit wondering what to do and just giving up. I’m sure I’ll go back and find out I missed some passage behind a pillar or something, but it is pretty irritating at times.

      I’m wondering how that remake is going. This is a game that could use some fancier graphics (still looks quite decent though, I was surprised).

  20. mbp says:

    Played it, finished it back in the good old days.

    Very enjoyable game if I recall. Had quite a unique atmosphere and spell casting system (you draw patterns with the mouse to cast spells). It was brutally hard in places though – I doubt if I could have finished it without some help from the good folks at the now defunct rpgdot forums.

  21. Casimir's Blake says:

    Sorry chaps, RPS was playing silly buggers.

  22. Casimir's Blake says:

    RPS comments system should be shot.

  23. WJonathan says:

    Unfortunately I still don’t see a fix for the clockspeed problem, which allowed the game to run at uncontrolled framerates (too fast) on dual core or faster CPUs. I tried everything, disabling a core, installing the older patches, all the fixes I could find. Never could get it to run right.

  24. Navagon says:

    Not sure what to expect from this, but it does add weight to my reasons to buy it. Now about all those other RPGs I’ve yet to complete…

  25. Inverness says:

    Now if only Bethesda would release the Morrowind source code. There would be a revolution.

  26. Bhazor says:

    Shoes forking? I’m afraid if you want any of that you’ll need to go to Thai land

  27. trillex says:

    Maybe they might fix the damn speed issues I have with my GOG copy. :(

    • bill says:

      Not sure, but I think the GOG copy already included this patch. I know it had one later patch that other versions seemed to be missing.

    • iDragon says:

      GoG did have a newer patch revision than anyone else, but this one is still newer than that too.

  28. Muzman says:

    I saw some speculation recently that Zenimax might stand in the way of id releasing the Doom 3 source. I gues this is a good sign for that as well.

    • Navagon says:

      What id wanted to do was release the Doom 3 engine for all to use freely. But with games like Brink using it and being one of the best looking games ever Zenimax seem to have concluded that it would be better if only games published by them (not necessarily by developers owned by them).

      Unfortunately this seems like a pretty logical stance so I doubt it will be changing.

    • iDragon says:

      As I recall it, id announced that doom 3 code would be released, but only after last game using it had been released and been out a reasonable while, this game is presumably brink. So probably 2012 at earliest.

    • Muzman says:

      Interesting. I didn’t even notice Brink was D3. I assumed it was some flavour of Unreal like everyone and his dog seems to use. That or custom. I should read better.
      Still it’s good Zeni are still going to let them release it and not be all ‘Protect any IP of any theoretical value until the end of time’ (although I doubt id would have gone with them if they were)

  29. Dreamhacker says:

    Loved Arx Fatalis back when I got it, loved Dark Messiah all the way. Arkane Studios are THE masters of building inspirational environments and moods.

    As for the source code… They’re using K&R formatting!!! AAAIIIEEE! :P

  30. Sunjammer says:

    I reinstalled Arx Fatalis recently. I absolutely love the setting and the atmosphere, but I’m less enamored with the combat, which is just frustrating throughout. The story is also disappointingly mundane nearing its conclusion. I was always hoping for a sequel though, perhaps one that lets you travel the surface for a bit, or at least peek at it? Apocalyptic fantasy is so damn interesting

  31. Jason Moyer says:

    Arx Fatalis is fabulous. I don’t think I’ve seen that trailer before – Arkane’s habit of having Garrett narrate their trailers is sort of creepy.

    Edit: Erm, trailer? Maybe I should stop immediately skipping intro videos.

  32. WJonathan says:

    Just tried the patch. Gamespeed problem…NOT FIXED. Oh well.