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Taking all the mystery out of Ultima

AngusM October 3, 2010 User blog:AngusM

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I'm thinking of formally taking up this concern in a public forum, but the reason I'm so tentative is that this is a very fundamental issue, and could only be resolved with the vaguest of guidelines.

What I thought I wanted for the Codex

I think we are all here for just about the same reason, and that's the reason I outline on my user page. That view is that the goodness that is Ultima should be perpetuated in the Codex, and it should be made attractive. At that time I had the naive view that whatever made the Codex look good, made Ultima look good, but I've come to develop a more refined view of this, which is that we can make the Codex look good, and in doing so, poison Ultima.

What I think we're doing to the Codex

The problem, I think, is that we might be giving away too much information sometimes, thereby taking all the mystery out. This leaves less for the player who plays the game for the first time to find out, and learn in a natural way. Take the recent interest in posting computer-drawn maps of Ultima V cities. That kind of information is very verbose, and lets the reader explore every non-occulted nook and cranny of the townes before even starting the game. This takes away from the adventure of exploration that Origin intended, and the magic of playing an Ultima game. There's a reason why Origin released imprecise, artistic maps, rather than maps that have a lot of detail, and this is it.

The maps are just one example. Any visual or textual (or audio: I guess that covers all of it) media in any article could be a problem. Having said that, I would think that visual media would be a bigger problem, since it says 1000 words, and in only a few seconds too.

It's not quite a spoiler

A spoiler is a crass giveaway of some really cool secret, such as "Lord British is the Avatar's father", if that were true. No, taking the mystery out isn't a spoiler, I'd called it... "TATMO", and is much less spectacular, much more subtle, and therefore, harder to notice and prevent. It's even very hard to identify. Need I say "more dangerous"?

So what do we do about it?

Forgetting the obvious problem of determining what counts as TATMO: obviously we aren't about limiting Codex material to what Origin delivers. If that were so, we could only post the manuals, and artistic maps, and that'd be it. Maybe what we should be doing is finding a balance between what's useful to the reader, and TATMO. Now, what's useful to the reader is also an unanswered question. With what are we hoping to furnish the reader? For what does a reader come here seeking, and with what do we furnish him for the betterment of Ultima?

Speaking of what's on the readers' minds, obviously when they come here, they should be aware of the kinds of information they will get, and they know what they want. Perhaps a warning on the main page making readers understand that they will get information here that might otherwise be best earned by playing the games. This wouldn't have done me any good, since I learned about this place from Google hitting on specific articles, not from surfing into http://ultima.wikia.com, you can bet.

Another thing we might do is link TATMO material, rather than hosting it. We certainly aren't going to be able to prevent people from looking into spoilers, walkthroughs, and details maps of all kinds out there, and if they want it, that's up to them. But if we can add a degree of separation from it here, that might be better for Ultima.

Conclusion

If I had one, I wouldn't be blogging about it. I don't want to poison Ultima, and the only ones who come around here that do, are vandals. But if I am poisoning her, it's not obvious how to avoid that, or how to turn this very abstract ideal into concrete edits.

Edit:

Before anyone leaves anymore comments, please take a look at the next day's blog, for a look into more mature thinking.

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