Games & Hobbies:Video Games
Spam Spam Spam Humbug 33 - 2015 In Review: Ultima Fan Projects (Part 1)
Ultima VI Gates of Creation by OC ReMix
A shout-out to the guys at the Open Apple podcast, who discussed Ultima 4's 30th anniversary in their end-of-September episode, and linked to the Codex's article about that.
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Ultima Dragons on Facebook: Charlie, Steve, John, William, John, Terry, Charles, Matthew, George, Allanon, Reginald, Wesley, Chris, Jay, Scott, Joel, Ikbel, Chad, Jorge, Andrew, Jean-Luc, Jeremy, Gavan, Jason, Jeffery, Bart, Gary
UDIC.org: Itchy Dragon
This isn't really follow-up from any previous episode, but I need to take a moment to rant about an unfortunate revelation that just took place in the Shroud of the Avatar community.
For a couple of years now, there's been a particularly pervasive troll plaguing the Shroud of the Avatar community (which, full disclosure, I continue to be involved with; I am a moderator, though not an exceedingly active one at present, on the official SotA forums, and I am — as of this morning — an admin of the Shroud of the Avatar fan group on Facebook). Posting and blogging under the handle Insane Membrain, this guy has been doing his level best to play the role of Derek Smart to Shroud of the Avatar's Star Citizen...albeit he has been doing it for longer, and with far less visibility.
Well, today, the troll unmasked himself...sort of. Really, all he did was trade one moniker for another, but it's still a significant revelation. I mean, I know this person's real name (I think; one can never be 100% certain on the Internet), but to the wider Ultima fandom he has been known as AvatarAcid for a number of years now.
And unfortunately, as he relates it, I was materially involved in the genesis of the Insane Membrain persona:
The big cratering came for me came in an incident where Owain had told moderator UltimaCodex (WtF Dragon) that he can’t have an opinion. I would bet good money nobody out there, not even some of the people involved in creating the Ultima Series, know as much about Ultima as WtF Dragon and the Ultima Codex site contributors do. I had always followed Ultima Aiera then the UC and appreciated all the work they put in to keep the Ultima Series legacy alive and well. WtF Dragon has the right to his opinion and it matters not what his status in the community is and that goes for everyone else in the community as well, yet that sentiment was not seemingly accepted or encouraged. I chimed in and told Owain he could “GTFO” if he didn’t like that someone else had an opinion.
WtF being a moderator correctly informed me that speaking like that is probably going a bit too far which told me all I needed to know, and that is that the most powerful and in your face voices had already gained a beachhead in the community. This problem wasn’t going to be solved without help, but what could I do about it? Should I speak out as AvatarAcid and have my ass handed to me with my account hanging over my head if they decided to ban me? Mind you nothing quite like that had just yet happened to my knowledge but I could still envision it taking place due to how everything was starting to shape up there, the writing was on the wall. Why should I risk my account which was now linked to a thousand dollar donation in order to deal with things that already shouldn’t have been allowed to establish prominence there?
It soon became more. The game development was going astray, forum personalities including moderators were insulting and driving out the typically quiet and more non-aggressive people like me(usually!) to the point where even Developers fear posting, telling them they are useless and stupid, and then there is the question I still ask myself now; What is Shroud of the Avatar actually trying to be and how do I get my feedback out in an environment as confrontational and unguided as that which exists on the Shroud of the Avatar forum? Well I did exactly the same thing Richard Garriott did with the Avatar and created a schism in my personality, my own little personal Guardian! Meet the InsaneMembrane.
Now, there's a reason that AvatarAcid has chosen to unmask his alter-ego, and it's a serious reason that merits some mention:
...for the longest time I felt pretty alone in doing this. Statistics sure told me that people were reading here, but I didn’t know who they were a lot of the time or what they thought. Eventually comments started to come in though and I was certainly not alone. The Shroud Unlimited Forum was created by suggestion of a commenter to facilitate even more conversation with the Orphans of Shroud. More and more information was then exchanged and noticed by the many more eyes that were now on the SotA forum personalities and Developer team. Some of them, really, really, didn’t like it this.
Some of them really didn’t like it to the point of committing serious crimes to get at me, going above and beyond the call of duty. To the best of my knowledge on or around August 22nd 2015 someone paid to gather information about me and my family and began sending it to people that InsaneMembrane has “insulted.” I know of at least three people who have seen this information now and one of them indicated it was being “put out there to certain folks” and with the amount of people InsaneMembrane has parodied, you can bet there is more! This included everything from my name, my spouse’s name, our kids names, addresses, work places, phone numbers, passport numbers. I was away for the weekend and at first I pulled back to think, then after about a month of reflection I came to the conclusion that I would sell my Shroud of the Avatar account for whatever I could get for it.
Now, I'm already on the record as being profoundly against doxxing. Indeed, as I said in Byte-Sized Virtue 3 - Social Justice, doxxing is not justice; it isn't born of virtue, and it doesn't have the dignity of any person as its ultimate end. I condemn the practice whole-heartedly. And it's profoundly unfortunate that Avatar Acid has been the victim of doxxing. There is no justification for that.
At the same time, I'm also really — profoundly — hurt by his revelation. Just...why? I mean, in all fairness, I share some of the same concerns that Insane Membrain has articulated with regard to the development direction Shroud of the Avatar has taken. I too could care less about multiplayer (I actually find it ruins the game for me if I'm too cognizant of other players being in the world with me), and I really just want a legitimate Ultima successor that offers a near-Ultima 7-like world simulation experience (albeit with better combat and a more evocative story). And that isn't quite what we seem to be getting, and...you know, I could talk about that at some length.
But actually going to the effort of creating a new online persona for the express purpose of trolling the project? I can't even fathom that. And it's seriously frustrating that not only did someone I had a great deal of respect for do just that, but that he lists me as being part of his raison d'etre. It's beyond frustrating.
Welcome back to another year of Spam Spam Spam Humbug. This year, to ring in 2016, episodes for the month of January will mostly be focused on re-capping the news pertaining to Ultima, including Ultima Online (which, at least for now, is the only game still in active development that is carrying on the Ultima namesake), various Ultima fan projects, and also different games that have been inspired by Ultima (including Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant, as well as — possibly — Shards Online and Crowfall).
This week, we will be looking at what has transpired with various Ultima fan projects over the course of 2015. You can kind of think of this as a supplement to the poll that's currently under way at the Ultima Codex, in which you can vote for your favourite fan project of 2015.
The Ultima 6 Remake
The Dark Unknown
U3.5: Pax Britannia
Pagan in Minecraft
Dungeons of Chaos
Eight Virtues Games (Sanctimonia, Sylph)
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Ultima VI Gates of Creation by OC ReMix
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