Akalabeth (a.k.a. Ultima 0)
Akalabeth (a.k.a. Ultima 0) downloads
The game was made in the summer of 1980 by then-teenaged Garriott in the BASIC programming language for the Apple II while working at a ComputerLand retail store in Clear Lake City, Texas (though many sources say 1979, see "Release date" below).
The name derives from Tolkien's Akallabêth, part of The Silmarillion (though Garriott originally called it "D&D28b", the 28th Dungeons & Dragons-inspired game he made).
Though not explicitly stated, Akalabeth is seen as the first game of the Ultima series, a very popular and influential series of computer role-playing games. It was, therefore, included as part of the 1998 Ultima Collection where it officially picked up the nickname Ultima 0.
Since Akalabeth was written in BASIC, it was a simple matter for users to modify the source code to suit their needs or desires. For example, the game's magic amulet, which occasionally did unpredictable things like turn a player into a high-powered Lizard Man, could be set to do so with every use, progressively increasing the player's strength to the point of virtual indestructability. One could also set the player's statistics (normally randomly generated and fairly weak to start) to any level desired.
Garriott briefly distributed the game himself in Ziploc bags until California Pacific Computer Company bought the rights to it and published it. Akalabeth, based on Garriott's 28th game he produced in his high school years, became his first significant commercial game.
In creating Akalabeth, Garriott was primarily inspired by Dungeons & Dragons and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. The game attempts to bring the gameplay of pen-and-paper role-playing games to the computer platform.
Most sources, including Garriott himself and Origin Systems, say that Akalabeth was created in the summer of 1979 and sold that year in Ziploc bags. However, labels of the first release are clearly marked "© Richard Garriott 1980". The dates of 1980 and 1981 for the California Pacific releases are not disputed.