Serpent Isle: Original Design

Courtesy of Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum, the Ultima Codex is pleased to present these sixteen photographs of the surviving maps from the original planning that went in to Ultima 7 Part 2: Serpent Isle, back when the game was supposed to have a more Caribbean flair, with a focus on pirates and voodoo magic.

Some further details on exactly what the original Serpent Isle was supposed to be about can be found atSheri Graner Ray’s blog:

Originally Bill Armintrout and I were doing the initial design on Serpent Isle. The mandate we were given by Richard and Jeff George (the producer at that time) was that it was to be about the conflict between Brittanian magic and VoDun (VooDoo) magic. And that the island was to be called Serpent Isle because it we were suppoesed to make it in the shape of the snake necklace that Richard wore (and still does, I think.) So I spent a month at the UT LIbrary checking out and reading books on VoDun as that was my side of the design. We’d been in design about three or four months when there was a “re-org.” Jeff George quit and the game was given to Warren Specter to produce. We were told to essentially toss everything out and start over. I recently gave the maps and docs from the earliest part of that design to the Origin Museum.

And so the circle is complete: here are those maps.

Now, a few disclaimers.

These are not scans, because the actual maps are too large to simply scan in with your average desktop or office document scanner, and neither Joe Garrity nor I have access to anything larger. As such, these images are edited versions of photographs that Joe took and sent to me. I’ve done what I can in Adobe Lightroom to clean them up and make all the details legible, but obviously there is only so much I can do. Some of the details are not sharp, and some were quite faded to begin with and only barely responded to all my contrast adjustments and touchups.

Also, the images are quite large. They will take a while to load when you click on them. Granted, once you click on them, they will appear in a lightbox formatted to fit your monitor resolution; right-clicking on the lightbox and selecting “View Image” (a feature not available in all browsers) will take you to the full-resolution image.

Finally, enjoy. Pull up the images. Pore over them. Print them and mark them up. Pick apart every little detail you can, and see what you find. This is Ultima history at its finest, and the Ultima Codex is indebted to Joe Garrity, Sheri Graner Ray, and everyone who worked at Origin for it.

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