Ultima Underworld’s Auto-mapping Feature

Toward the end of our interview with Dan Schmidt, he remarked that the auto-mapping feature of Ultima Underworld was something which deserved more praise than it got:

The biggest feature I wish we had gotten more credit for: the automap. It was gorgeous by 1992 standards, and let you take notes anywhere. I don’t think people seeing the game in 2012 can realize how amazing the automap was for the time.

The in-game map was one of its strongest, and yet most subtle, features, and the maps for each level are beautiful works of art in and of themselves:

But in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the maps were, as Dan notes above, immensely functional. They did indeed allow the player to mark them up essentially at whim; notes about each level and its features could be placed almost anywhere on each map, and the map would automatically trace out each corner and corridor of the Great Stygian Abyss as the player explored it. We here at the Ultima Codex cannot think of another game (apart from, of course, the second Underworld game) that has featured an in-game map quite as full-featured as Underworld’s.

Image credit: Sir Cabirus Dragon

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