- 1 About me
- 2 About you
- 3 TODO
- 4 My Baptism in Ultima
- 5 The Future of Ultima
- 6 My priorities for the Codex
- 6.1 1. Have fun!
- 6.2 2. Correction
- 6.3 3. Set policies and standards
- 6.4 4. More resources and templates
- 6.5 5. More content
- 6.6 6. Encourage others to post their priority schedules
- 7 The Ultra-Mind's 7 Deadly Sins
- 8 Haphazard thoughts about the difficulties and contradictions in canon
For some reason when I originally registered at Wikia, I registered as AngusM. Don't ask me why an Ultima fan gave himself an s/n based on what his mother calls him, but when we migrated to Aiera, I took the opportunity to switch to my UDIC dragon name.
Ways in which I incorporate Ultima into my personal life
- Ringtones: For soooo long did I want a cell that could do my own ringtones, and not just those bland multiple choice ones they gave me! Well, in the summer following Garriott getting his Kickstarter thingie going, I finally got one. I play the Ultima VI intro music for an incoming call and the plosive first couple of seconds of Ultima VIII's death sound (when the tombstone appears) for incoming messages. I wanted the first bar of the Ultima VII intro for that, but strangest thing: even when I maximize the volume on it, it's still less noticeable than the death sound.
- Mouse cursors: Micro Dragon wrote this splendid Ultima Win95 theme. I don't have much use for most of it, (which probably doesn't work on most modern OSes) but I love the cursors! I even suped-up the twirling ankh to give it two sides and added a Great Earth Serpent as a link cursor.
- Hanging laminated maps on my walls: I can't believe I'm allowed to do that
- Playing music: I have play lists of the mainline games, except Ultima IX, and the Underworlds.
- Playing music for my unborn: They say music is a good experience for such little folk, so in addition to Beethoven, and lullabies, I've also played Greyson's Tale on my tablet. 'Don't know for how long I'll be able to get away w/that.
- Play Ultima, of course!: Unfortunately, since I got my first computer that could play any, they haven't been able to produce them as fast as I can play them. And not being the Will Rogers of Ultima fans, there are some I don't even like.
- Work with people named after Ultima NPCs: I work for a family business and one of the family members is Gwenn O. Only took me a year to figure that out. I wish I could say she's married to "Iol", but his name is Herb.
- What I do here: Duh!
Ways in which I would like to incorporate Ultima into my personal life
- Buy a door chime that you can upload your stuff onto: My current one can actually play Rule, Britannia! but that's not enough.
- Build a hedge maze: As you might recall, in Ultima IX, beside Castle Britannia, there's a hedge maze, w/a water fountain in the centre and a few trinkets and some hostile beast? along the way. For the past year (starting the spring of 2013) I've meditated on recreating it in my backyard (I'll have to leave the flaming sword as an add-on for later). Unfortunately, I can't get a firm commitment, or even a limp commitment, from the entire household to live on that property for the better part of 20 years, so I'm not about to take on that massive undertaking (and massive it is!) then leave it before the hedge even reaches my shoulders :(
If you can ràd moã of äis, but it's loaded wiä diacritics, you are no Ultima fan. Haâ your hàd in shame. Unless... you are able to ràd äis, but slower äan äe reã of äis page. Äen you are an apex Ultima fan!
I guess it's about time I did this too:
- Complete research tools: that's more than just the page
- U6Text: since U6Edit does not let you search the entire transcript, I'm making a tool that does that
Figure out how the decompression works: Sega381's been a big help here
- Figure out what those non-ASCII bytes in the text are: I'm in the middle of working on the code that does this, but man I hate parsing!
- Work out the GUI issues
- Manuals: there are a bunch of PDFs somewhere
- Text sources
- U6Text: since U6Edit does not let you search the entire transcript, I'm making a tool that does that
- Select pages randomly and fix them: I'll be done doing this when I'm dead
- Complete the style guide: ditto. This also means getting consensus on the talk page. Issues arise faster than consensus is reached
- Learn the mechanics of getting booted from the Abyss in U4: Fenyx strove to furnish me w/a savegame, so it'd only be polite
My Baptism in Ultima
Way back when I was, maybe, 13 years old, my friend and fellow Apple ][+ owner showed me Ultima III: "Ambrosia, ever heard of it?" At the time I was bogged down in Wizardry, which is a game that puts you in a very different frame of mind, wrt CRPGs. So I didn't bite. That's good, because you can only play Ultima III for the first time once, so when you do, you should make it count.
The first Ultima I played was probably Ultima IV. Unfortunately, it was broken, and whenever I entered a shrine, the disk would spin like bald tires in quicksand.
In 1990 I got my first PC. To make a long story about the horribly inadequate hardware it had at the time short, I'll just say that my screen was monochrome. I tried Ultima VI for a while, but why bother?
So up until then, my only proper experiences were with Ultima IV and two before it. The next one I was to try was Ultima VIII! I knew nothing of the Guardian, nor the Ultimas from which he came, and after the goodie two-shoesness of Britannia, the darkness and cynicism of Pagan and the absence of all the familiar Britannian icons were a rude awakening indeed! Needless to say, like all Ultima fans, I hated it.
Eventually the Encore CD-ROM (Ultimas I through VI for the PC) came around, and I got caught up, and learned what was so bogus about Ultima II. Alas, the only music I was to hear was for Ultima VI. If I'd held out until I could run Ultima III to V on an emulator, I would have augmented my experience with an auditory richness–or I would have gone stark raving mad at the tedious FM music.
The Future of Ultima
It looked pretty bleak for a long time, but recently, it's been upgraded to uncertain. I have little hope that EA will be producing anything with the Ultima brand that I'll be spending my gold on (even if Cypress gave me all their gold). But British has recently taken on a project that... sorta, kinda, seems like it could be a good ol' Ultima, or at least something that could be interesting to a purist like me. We'll see.
The Archeology of Ultima
The ancient Egyptians were a magnificent people and empire that lasted 3 millennia (millennia!). So why is it that a scholar can spend all his life studying all the egyptological material out there, then all the works on Egyptology and still have time for lawn bowling before he dies? Because no one was interested in her until almost 2000 years after they died out. The sands of time, and of the dessert, eroded much of that away. Entire reigns by pharaohs are unknown. Much of what is known is by accident. One such accident was Manetho, the ancient historian. Unfortunately, he wasn't very good at it, so much of his work is considered unreliable. The Codex I think to be the best hope of preserving Ultima archeology. Like Manetho, there is much that can be preserved while the preserving's good. Unlike Manetho, it's important that the quality of these recordings be high. One of my countrymen once said...
The Medium is the Message
No one seems to know exactly what this means, but one analysis is that the concrete content of what is being delivered is not as effective as the medium through which it is delivered. What this means for the Codex is that Ultima will only appear as good as the Codex is. Should someone browse the Codex and find it rank with spelling mistakes, poor grammar, inconsistent style, rash language and erroneous information, this will be the only impression that anyone will be able to get about the game. Lately, the mainstream media has given me the impression that Wikipedia is perceived to be the last word on unreliability and poor reference material. This means that coming through the door, we already have a credibility deficit with our readers. But this is also an opportunity for us to stand apart from the crowd. If readers should find a Codex rich with information, and of the best order and quality, who knows? Maybe it'll lead to enough interest to revive the franchise properly!
My priorities for the Codex
Everyone has their own ideas about what the Codex needs the most and the least. Here are mine:
1. Have fun!
Like I said, all the Ultimas have been played out. If I could take a pill that would make me forget them, I'd take it and replay them all over again. Until the drug companies advance that far, I'll just have to relive them through the Codex.
Bad material is far worse than no material at all. Better that 1,000 pages are let go to correct one. There are many aspects of correction also.
The most important in my view, but unfortunately, the hardest one to attend. Misinformation is not just things that are dead wrong, but can take the form of conjecture, speculation, and editorial opinion. Misinformation is, in general, very dangerous, and difficult to control. Psychologist agree (or so I'm told) that when someone is presented with information, the first instinct is to accept it. For instance "the sky is thought to be blue but it is really green." There, for a moment your brain was picturing a green sky, and that's what you believed, until slower thought processes progressed to correct it. Often correcting this information is very expensive, too. Take this tidbit of information:
|“|| Herbert Birdsfoot is a crazy old man, with three fingers, a lion tamer's hat, and sings AC/DC songs all day|
- from Slartibartfast's Wild Adventures, (Ultima VIII)
What are you going to do about that? Well, one thing you can do is check with the copyright holders to see if Origin acquired the rights to use "Herbert Birdsfoot", "Slartibartfast" and AC/DC lyrics. But the only way to be sure is to play the entire game, and when you haven't found Herb, you have to assume that you just didn't find that Easter egg. It's because of this problem that I've found myself being more decisive than with what I'm usually comfortable, assuming I've exercised due diligence in searching for data that aren't there.
b. Grammar and spelling
Very easy for someone with a good command of the language and a browser dictionary, and hides a multitude of sins. This is also in two parts.
i. Small tweaking
This usually amounts to changing things like "was" to "has been" and "Jerry says always that" to "Jerry always says that".
ii. Fundamental rewriting
This is a lot harder than i. which is probably why I didn't get the best grades in English. Entire paragraphs would need their words sifted and changed around. It requires more abstract thinking and patience. So far I've done a lot of i. but very little of this.
c. Smoother wording
Text that has run-on sentences, less than perfect diction, repetitive keywords, and awkward structure losses efficacy, but it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, as bad grammar and spelling do.
3. Set policies and standards
There's too much inconsistency, and editors playing by their own rules. These don't quite qualify for 2., but still aren't too pretty. Right now the biggie is what words to capitalize that aren't obviously proper nouns. But we are making good headway since I first wrote this section. I'm thinking of the noun lexicon and several editors have deigned to involve themselves in the style guide.
4. More resources and templates
Expert-verify was a very good one, which certainly well suits my priority schedule. I'm sure that more could be done, but I can't really think of what right now, so I give this low priority. If someone comes up with a good idea, I'm sure it could be realized pretty quickly, thereby dropping the priority again.
Something else I intend to make a lot of use of, and (at the time of writing) a lot of edits to, would be research tips and resources. I used to be hung up on transcripts, and they certainly are useful, but there are many other kinds of texts and resources that can facilitate research.
5. More content
The Codex could certainly use more content, but it far more needs the content it already has fixed. Except for talk pages and forum pages, the only place you'll see an N beside my name in a history list is in a few pages about music. I figured it was the most underreported part of the Codex. I also rarely add paragraphs to articles, and you'll notice that nearly all my contributions reflect a net loss of bytes to articles. BTW, according to (my own misuse of) the 80-20 rule, for every byte that appears in an article, there should be 4 bytes on the respective discussion pages, and in forums, etc.
6. Encourage others to post their priority schedules
I suppose if they see something this long-winded, though, they'd be too daunted by the task, and give up. So for the lazy editor, use this as a template (derived from the original schedule):
- Complete Notable Ultima: then there'd be nothing we couldn't do!
- Correction: this stuff needs fixed
- Refactualization: there's a lot of stuff that's just wrong
- Grammar and spelling: use your browsers dictionaries!
- Smoother wording: Just spend a couple of minutes finding better ways to say stuff
- Set policies and standards: let's make articles harmonious among each other.
- More content: Once 3. is done, we can deal with more trivial material
- More tools and templates: We need more templates, but I don't know which ones.
- Encourage others to post their priority schedules: this!
The Ultra-Mind's 7 Deadly Sins
These are what I believe to be the greatest pitfalls that tend to ensnare editors, vaguely in order of... something or other. There's a lot of overlap between them, and some of them are identical, and are used based on my mood that day. You can learn of them by meditating at the Shrine of The Ultra-Mind using the mantra 'GNORW GNIHTYNA OD REVEN I THGIR STAHW OD SYAWLA I' which is based on the anti-Virtue of Romper Room.
- Factlessness: Taketh thine time to ensure it verily transpireth in that fashion. Assumeth not it happened in that fashion, nor shalt thou interpolateth betwixt ye right facts. Shouldst thou doubteth thy perceptions, save thyself, and thy companions, a great sum of work with ye expert-verify template.
- Embelishment: When one addeth to ye truth. This practise is a practise where ye practitioner attributeth characteristics to characters, items or whatsoever that simply are unknown to ye games. This mighteth be of ye form of "Lithos was a being a great intelligence." Verily, this is, but only by a fair margin of chance. Verily, Forrest Gump shall maketh a weak and feeble Titan. But no man or machine hast made this clear. I wouldst differentiateth this from "Speculation" by so addressing it "speculation about what ruminations ye developers had".
- Speculation: Shouldst one extrapolateth from ye facts. Verily, Lord British's great power is known to us, and one of ye good guys, and according to our ways and values, good guys chopeth not off ye heads of inconvenient peoples such that they might gain or hold onto power. But we knoweth not that he dideth not, so sayeth not that he dideth not. (Know also that he who sayeth that he dideth, shall incurreth an elevation of ill karma.) Sometimes thou canst getteth away with speculation duly labelleth as speculation, but ye acceptance of unlabelled speculation shall never be.
- Editorialization: "This was the best Ultima" is a favourite example, but of rather exaggerated obviousness, and, verily, sins that obvious are infrequent. "The Guardian is like Santa Claus" is a good but infrequent example. (Fenyx4, I behold in thy direction) More common writings mighteth be "Iolo would have made a fine Avatar" or "New Magincia is nicer than Skara Brae". I.e. injecting thine own opinions into ye text. Moreover, this Sin doth be nothing save Subjectivity. Rarely, whenst thou makest an opinion, thou can inquire of thyself now, couldeth my companion possibly disagreeeth with this? Taketh, for instance, "Pagan is a very bleak and dismal place." I believest ye world is empty of a set of one-liners that can deriveth that conclusion, but verily any who hast ye playing of this game in his past, he should knoweth that this is ye image that ye developers so desired. Ye wording mighteth be improved, but only one who is mad wouldeth be contrary.
- Subjectivity: ye act that supplanteth too much of thy POV into ye text. Maybe thee doth taketh ye game in this fashion, but it goeth not that way for everyone. In fact, some of ye greatest text wouldeth chance to be that which thy teacher of English couldeth not attribute to thee. This canst also taketh ye form of adjectives that are unnecessary. "Britain is a very big towne." How big doth be big? Perchance it be bigger than was it in another Ultima, or bigger still than another towne. But it canst not be absolutely big. Verily, ever since our lord Origin didst away w/ye system of two maps, I findeth that Britannia doth be no bigger than a shopping mall whose size is very large. "This weapon is extremely powerful." Canst it be verily called "powerful", fine, but "extremely" approaches unnecessarily emotional. Invectives dost make this even worse, and readers vexed. If thou wanteth to calleth a diminutive villain or contemptible scoundrel "pathetic", thou wouldst in better chance to calleth attention to thine own Subjectivity. Besides, be it best just to explain why he is pathetic and letteth thy readers maketh up their own minds.
- Overgeneralization: Some features of a towne or spell or item appeared in but one Ultima. And ye number of occurrences that they dost appear in, is one. So talketh not about them like they doth appeareth in every game accompanied by all those attributes.
- Spelling: Be thou akin to me, in thy browser, on thine OS, thy rich text editor hast not spell-as-thee-typeth (there wast a time, and there may again be a time, but doth not now). Switchest thou to source mode, however, and it shall. Be thou unlike me, dost perform that function every time. Be thou careful, though, of variations on spelling amongst ye different lands of Earth, and those between Britannia and Earth.
Haphazard thoughts about the difficulties and contradictions in canon
I used to think "Ultima is always right". Yes, I knew the glaring inconsistencies between the games, but the formula for working around them is fairly easy. Since then I've come to realize that even that is oversimplified. The problems are so confusing, that I'm even having a hard time categorizing them here. So here's a scratchpad for my thinking out loud of the issues I consider when determining canon:
- Ultima is always right: if it happened in the game, it's the way it is. Now all the problems w/that:
- Bugs: there are no bugs. OSI is an infallible organization, and if you thought that you saw bugs, then there's obviously something wrong w/your hardware or media or psychiatric health. So any bugs... I mean, any perception of bugs have no influence on canon whatsoever!
- Intentions: a lot of what should count as canon comes down to what OSI intended for the game. More problems:
- What hacking reveals Sometimes you can hack game code and see what the intentions were. Sometimes something as trivial as text is written in mixed case, but the game displays in uppercase only, so you have to assume that they didn't intend for any case to be perceived, so they didn't take their case variations seriously. Neither should we.
- Plot cuts: oh boy is there a world of difference between what they intended and what we see!
- "All in black and white": some would say that when you sign your name to something, everything else on the paper is your intention. I think most of the people who disagree w/that are not judges. Well, actually, even judges aren't that black and white about what's in black and white. A gun to a signatory's head, intoxication or insanity muddy to waters a little. And so does this entire section.
- Contradictions: almost always between different games, but boy are they many!
- Variations in gameplay: of course it's a game, so it can happen differently. Usually things like unavatarly behaviour and failures (when success is possible) are not considered canon. That leaves plenty of other variations.
- Variations among ports/releases: the code doesn't run exactly the same on everyone's computer, mostly because not everyone has the same type of computer.
- OSI releases: sometimes an OSI employee will give some insight into the in-game universe, which should be taken pretty seriously. So if Richard Garriott says that Katrina once worked as a Warmart greeter, then who cares if it never happened in 1.? It's not like it was every denied in 1.
- Yeah, but not all Ultima is OSI/Garriott: I felt I just had to point out that "Stygian" wasn't pronounced right, even though this was the only pronunciation of the word to date. Part of the reason is that UU was OSI-licensed but not OSI-created.
- In an interview Garriott pointed out that his involvement w/Serpent Isle was something around jack-on-a-stick. The conversation indicated that this issue was a challenge to canon.
- In fact, he has said that there has been some material that made it into final releases that weren't the way he wanted to go (in ways that had nothing to do w/2.).