Except that I thought my lockpicking skill wasn't good enough to succeed at that task.
Oh dear. That results in a... less pleasant outcome, as I recall! XD;
It's true that NPCs would sometimes go walkabout and you'd have to track them down (or sleep in their bed until you wake up at 2am and they're patiently standing in front of it waiting to sleep), but I found this an enjoyable bit of (neo)realism.
That's fair! We each have different perceptions of such things, after all. ^_^
The second issue is made much easier with the 'T' hotkey, introduced in Serpent Isle and backported to the Forge of Virtue add-on for the Black Gate. It pauses the game and gives you a targeting cursor for double-clicking on things that might be moving.
I'm currently replaying UVII, with Forge of Virtue, and someone mentioned this hotkey to me. I tried it, but couldn't quite figure out how to use it. (Unless it's bugged under DOSBox, which seems plausible.)
Either way, my preferred solution remains "just not having that feature"! XD;
Hmm, I wouldn't say "bad";
I very much would! XD
I enjoyed the strategic aspect of it much more than the "just click repeatedly until they die" combat mode of Ultima IX.
What I don't like in Ultima VII's combat, I think, is that there's so little control over it. And when one does take direct control over the Avatar, the pacing of the combat (and perhaps the frame-rate and perspective) make the result an awkward, difficult-to-read mess.
The choice of different weapons and different types of weapon felt meaningful, including that giving everyone triple crossbows could sometimes backfire horribly.
That is fair.
Although conversely, the lack of party control means that the party-members can end up doing some really annoying things at times, which can be frustrating. (For me, at least.)
In theory, there was flanking and a few other interesting strategies. It was surprisingly tough really; unless your whole party is kitted out with magical armour and weapons, you can easily be killed with a few hits from a strong enemy (or walking through caltrops, poison gas etc). Healing items were relatively hard to come by, especially earlier in the game, and would only heal a small amount (especially if using bandages).
I think that I could find this rather engaging, indeed--if
the player just had more control over character-actions. Having things turn out badly because the AI companions decided to do something silly gets to be a nuisance, I feel.
One major problem with the Ultima VII combat system was that your party members would often flee (unless set to berserk mode, which meant they would die almost constantly). This would have been okay if they didn't drop random items, including their entire backpack containing critical quest items. A few times I had to reload saves after a battle because Iolo dropped something important behind a wall such that it couldn't be seen or clicked on and was therefore lost forever.
Oh wow, I didn't realise that this happened. That's awful! D:
I did appreciate the physical item mechanics of Ultima IX -- it's worth trying the ridiculous tower-of-bread trick from "Ocean Travel Without a Boat", just for laughs.
That sort of thing was neat, indeed!
Let me add another point of appreciation for Ultima IX: I maintain that it's perhaps the best implementation that I've yet seen of an "open world". It's densely packed with things to stumble upon, and surprisingly varied things in places. A tower with a flying mage here; great carven faces there; a village of giants in another place.
Looked at conversely, it lacks the broad empty spaces or vacuous procedurally-generated features of some other open worlds.