Chris Launius’ Origin Artwork Photos

Chris Launius has posted a large number of photos of the original artwork for various Origin games on Facebook. I’d normally leave news like this for other sites but this is too good to pass up with the cover art for Ring Quest, the Times Of Lore map, Ultima 5, Ultima 1 and many others. One of the most interesting items is a hand-drawn box art mockup for Knights Of Legend which is very different to the final version. Head on over to Chris’s Facebook album to have a look at the rest.


If that isn’t enough, he’s also got an older archive with drawings from Martian Dreams, Quest For Clues books and some early drawings of the Ultima 5 cover. Chris apparently saved all of this stuff and much more when it was going to be thrown out after Origin were closed down. All of it going into landfill is unthinkable but this sort of thing is hardly an uncommon story. Good to know it’s all in safe hands now although I inevitably wish they were mine.

On those lines, I agreed to buy most of the remainder of Rhea Shelley’s hoard of Origin memorabilia a couple of nights back. There isn’t so much left now so it’s not quite the bank account crippling expense of last time but it’s enough that I’m certainly going to notice it. There isn’t much documentation but there are some cool Origin nik-naks which I had to have. Expect photos in due course but I’m not even close to going through everything I got the first time around yet. If anyone wants a Crusader poster by the way, I should soon have far more than I could ever need.

Day 7

Out at the west end of the world is a large chasm, if you get down to the bottom and travel along it, theres a cave with a dead ranger in it. He’s got an animal trap and an arrow in there with him which I pilfer.

In the forest, at the start of the game, there was a rock with a load of animal marks round it. I take my trap there and set it up, then wander off for a bit. When I get back I’ve caught a wild boar.

Out to the NW was a chained up starving manticore, which I figure needs the food so I go give him the boar and he lets me past on the bridge (note that I don’t actually release him). There is a desert with a giant rock nest in the middle. I take some feathers from here and then head back out of the desert. This brings me to a set of mountains which Gorn tells me are climbable. I can take a hint so I climb them. Cue arcade game…


This is a fairly awful little subgame where I have to move my little man to the top right of the screen while avoiding falling rocks and snakes. Since I’m playing this on an emulator and can save at any time, this is easy enough. After the arcade games, the emulator will crash for some reason but thankfully you get time to save beforehand. When I restored it was working ok again.

At the top of the cave is a spider in a bubble. By saying the strange words from before, its replaced by another orb which I touch with my ring again and it loses its power.  Its now back to the middle of the map and I head off southwest and find a ferry.

Unfortunately, the rope for it has been stolen. I tie the rope to my arrow, shoot it across and its good as new. On the other side of the river is a load of quicksand which I ignore and also a giant falcons head house. Against my better judgement, I climb in through in the mouth.

There is a guy inside who makes me some wings from the feathers but says we don’t look like we will fly too well so only to use it where there is an updraft. There is a firey chasm at the north end of the map so I head straight there and fly off the edge. Cue another even worse arcade game…

This game plays a bit like lander. I have to get to the little pad while avoiding fireballs and arrows on the way down. This would have been quite difficult without savestates but isn’t too hard with them.

At the bottom is a fiery snake. This looks like another time to use the three words and sure enough it turns into an orb and I power it down. That turns out to be the last orb. When I head to Lisa’s fortress, I can walk through the forcefield and straight in the front door. As soon a I enter I fall down into hell (aka a maze).

I really hate mazes in adventure games yet they seem to be almost obligatory. This one is made worse by having to wait for loading every time I make a move. Thankfully the walkthrough gets me through it so I’m saved the tedious process of mapping it out.

At the end of the fortress is Lisa herself. I approach her, the two rings both vanish, she doesn’t want to steal my water any more and better still she’s no longer green.

Gorn gets the girl and I get sent back to Earth. Ah well, who needs women when I’ve got 50 origin games to play through? Overall this wasn’t a bad game for its time, but if you are looking for a text adventure there are plenty of better ones out there.

Next up: Caverns of Callisto.

Day 6 – Ring Quest

Ring Quest Cover Art 

This is a game I know next to nothing about before I play it. It was originally published by PenguinSoft around 1983 and I think brought over to Origin by its main author Dallas Snell when he joined the company. The game itself is a text adventure with graphic screens for all the locations. Some of these screens are also animated.The plot is set by an illustrated game-book style manual that works just like the old fighting fantasy books I loved when I was a kid. All routes end at the same place but theres a dozen different ways of getting there. It doesn’t serve any purpose as such but its a good idea. Theres also a map, that basically has nothing on it and I’ve ignored since.

The plot in the manual is a bit tricky to summarise since there are loads of ways of getting there but basically goes as follows. You are on a beach and run into an old man who wants to tell you a story about the rings of power. There are two such rings, the ring of order and the ring of chaos. The ring of chaos has the power to change the world but the ring of order only has the power to control chaos, which is infact true power. At this point the story branches, but one way or another you wake up not on earth, retrieve the ring of order and then get transported away again to meet a wizard and warrior (Gorn) who give you the games actual plot. Lisa the enchantress (yes, really) has been possessed by the ring of chaos and you must go and save her with Gorn. The ring then teleports you both off and the game begins.

I do own the apple 2 version of this game but I’ve no way of getting the disk onto my pc to run in an emulator. I searched the web for a rom but the only versions I’ve found have a PenguinSoft brand in the intro – I’m thinking the intro will have been different in the Origin release but since this is all I’ve got, I’ll play this version. I think my patience for a 25 year old text adventure game, may be short so I’ll probably make liberal use of a walkthrough.

The game starts with an intro screen, which I guess looks better than anything in the Ultima games so far, then even though I’ve not done anything yet I have to swap disks to get into the game proper, which starts at an 8 way crossroads. The picture draws a polygon a a time and takes quite a while – I’m immediately put in mind of playing the hobbit on the spectrum although the graphics here are probably better. The speed they draw at is a bit frustating – by pressing enter again I can swap just to text mode or back again.


Theres a forest to the east so I head for that, the game pauses while it loads off the disk every time you move(I’m going to have to get used to waiting). I find a spring in the forest which on closer examination contains a dagger which I take as well as refilling my waterskin. Rather than a static screen the spring actually bubbles which is a nice touch. I carry on through the forest and eventually come across a boat with an ogress in front of it – rather than attacking us she hugs Gorn. I’ve no idea what this is about so head off again.

  Suddenly I’m paid a visit by Lisa herself. Shes described in the text as a beautiful woman but looks more like David Dickinsons wife in lime green instead of mahogany. She casts a spell which takes all my water so I have to trek back to the spring to refill. She seems to keep paying me random visits throughout the game. Today  shes nicked my water, confused Gorn so we go in the wrong direction, and once stopped him being able to understand me. These effects (apart from the water) wear off after a while so its no great hardship.I found a man in a hut who offered to help me for cash – I give him 100 gold and he tells me my more about my quest. Lisa has used the chaos ring to create a forcefield around her fortess. This field has separate power sources which must be destroyed before I can gain access. He also gives me three funny words to remember.


I ran into a werewolf who Gorn finished off with the dagger, and also a timber wolf. By saying the three odd words to the timberwolf, he vanished and was replaced by a glowing orb, which is apparently one of the power sources. By touching it with my ring it stops glowing so thats one of them gone.

Elsewhere I find a very stoned looking troll. In the game his eyes flash which adds to the effect. He nicks my stuff if I go past him, but by dropping everything before I go past except my gold I can hold onto the important things and get them when I come back later. On the other side of his bridge is an ogre who looked like he was going to attack me then apparently smelled Gorn and followed us instead. Gorns body odour obviously has some sort of effect on ogres. I take the ogre back to the ogress, they both disappear off together and the way is cleared for me to get into the boat. In here I picked up a rope and a ruby, then headed back to the cross roads. I’ve still not tried out half the directions from here so will explore more tommorow.

I’m not sure what I think of this game so far – with a couple of exceptions text adventures were never really my thing – I was more into the Sierra games and the like. The speed of the graphics are quite frustrating here and I’m tending to stick to text mode if I’ve seen somewhere once. There haven’t really been many puzzles yet, and if theres only 100 locations I must have seen at least 1/3 of the game. The box does say something about arcade sequences but theres no sign of any.  As text adventures of the time that I remember go, its above average. Its definitely better than Zork (which I never liked) but not exactly up there with A Mind Forever Voyaging.