The Cover to Ultima VII That Never Was

It's hard to believe that it has been nearly 25 years since I first laid eyes on the jet black cover of Ultima VII: The Black Gate, but perhaps the odd cover somehow helped to cement the RPG's significant place in video game history. Or maybe not, and it would have been even more successful had it sported the cover that was originally intended (Patreon contributors only) by artist Denis Loubet. We'll never know, but it's certainly cool to check out the cover that was proposed rather than the one that Origin ended up shipping the game with:

This is my cover to Ultima 7:The Black Gate from an alternate timeline where Origin Systems decided to go with an illustrative cover rather than a flat black, high-concept, box.

Here we have the Avatar with his companions, standing in a river of blood as the Guardian pulls the strings of the Fellowship in the background. The blood, of course, represents the gruesome murders which the Avatar and his party must investigate. This is all in a grim and somber color palette to highlight the melancholy nature of the plot. The Avatar's downcast eyes search for clues to end the bloody doings of Batlin and his zealots. (Sorry about the spoiler!)

As you can see, I've got The Avatar in front, Iolo with a crossbow on the right, Dupre on the left, with Jaana just behind him. You will also notice that the Guardian has ears. This is because when I did the animation of the Guardian poking his head through the screen and talking to the player, he didn't poke his head all the way through the screen. He simply did not push his face through far enough to reveal his ears. A happy "coincidence" of this rationale is that I did not have to model the Guardian's ears in 3D with the crappy tools I had available at the time. You'll notice the Guardian's face in that animation is made up of very simple shapes that overlap; This was by design. I knew I couldn't do a realistic face at that time, so I went for simple and cartoony.

So there you have it! The Cover to Ultima 7 that never was.