My name is Aaron, I am a Dad.
His name is Josh, he is a son...of mine...the know what I mean.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 11 : Yew

We had a rather straightforward night of combat with two fairly large encounters on the road north with various monsters. There were many spears and throwing axes to sort through. a couple poisoned chests, and a lot of hack and slash.

I wish it were a bit more of a story, but with our frail mouse still training hard to become a useful member of the group and the need to coach Josh through every keystroke and click, it was a very time consuming night.

Summer break is almost over and Josh is getting ready (See: Not happy) to start second grade. Further, his popularity with a certain set of twins in the neighborhood has pretty much taken the focus of the game away. On the list of things he would like to do, Ultima isn't very close to the top at the moment.

But... I do have other plans. I recently ran a game of Heroquest, with Joshua and his friends taking on the roles of the heros. With a lot less guiding than I thought it would take to keep their attention, we did manage to defeat the big baddie in the first dungeon "The Trial" thus completing the main goal of the adventure.

And then the kids went wild...and four adventurers in the heart of a deep dungeon lair suddenly had no further compulsions to extricate this day, it is said they can still be heard in the depths of the world whispering into the dark.

"What were we doing again?"

     -Dear Joshua,

It's been a crazy summer, your mother and I are exhausted. I apologize for the lack of one on one time, but it's been necessary. Believe it or not, it's going to get better. As you and your sister get better at keeping out of trouble, looking after yourselves, and learning to help out, we will find ourselves with more and more free time.

Of course, if you are reading this, then this has come to pass...I hope. I wonder how things will change with our game time. Will you beat me at Smash Brothers? Will I be able to survive a game of Mario Bro's with you? Will you ever tire of youtube playthroughs by people, I swear, are intentionally bad at gaming? I can't wait to find out, you're already starting to give me a run for my money on some of these.

With Love,

Sunday, July 23, 2017

U/M Project entry 5 - Map 3 & I'm not Dead!

Here! He says he's not dead!

No, I'm not. I'm exhausted, but I'm getting better.

This is going to be a bit more than a Map update. My life has spun up in a few directions and so has Joshua's. I admit, I'm an introvert. I don't do company. The few exceptions are nerds, geeks, duel classes, and gestalts. So when Joshua suddenly became the new curiosity of the neighborhood kids and decided he like the attention, all bets have been off.

This will not spell the end of Father/son Ultima time, but as Josh has found new and interesting ways of having fun and getting into trouble, we've put Ultima on hold for now. One thing Ultima related that has happened with him was one of his birthday presents from me.

(on a stick)

One 3D printed figure from Hero Forge and hand painted by Master-Amature with two thumbs:
This Guy!

I did my best to take the things Josh has described about his idea of the Avatar and make him a fitting mini. I wanted him to keep it, but, as I feared, I had to put it up and out of reach. He was entirely fascinated by it, to the point of getting it out every chance he could to look at it. Which led to him dropping it...repeatedly. So, now it has several chips of paint missing. I'll get around to touching it up eventually.

The ever growing To-Do List.

Moving on!

The U/M Project is progressing. I think I've narrowed down the necessary mods for Minecraft that should made for a well rounded Ultima-ish experience.

I have NPCs with handy dialog trees, shop keepers, pathing routes, and potential schedules!

I have a large variety of blocks, block pieces, and mechanisms.

I have almost finished my first terrain map Ultima Online, down to tweaking the rivers and forests.

I have a few issues though. 

First, I haven't settled on a version of Minecraft. The modpacks I have experimented with have most of what I need, but none have all. This is my own issue, but it's been a big hangup as far as finalising a modpack and getting down to business building up Britannia.

Second, Portals. I've worked out a few ways of getting a watery blue portal. Not the best plan, but A plan. The purple nether portals could be used in place of red portals, but I'd really like proper red and blue ones. There are still a few mods I've messed around with that have portals, but I'm having to slowly learn command block code and find ways of applying values to modded's a pain.

Third, perhaps the most frustrating, Keys and Locked Doors. Minecraft doesn't have them. and the few mods I've found either cover inventories and chests or they cover doors...not both. Seriously, one of the most gorgeous and well thought out key mods out there, with customisable key color combinations and enchanted locks...doesn't have a single door lock. The one mod for keyed entry through doors I have found, DOESN'T WORK ON CHESTS!

I know what you're thinking, why not use both?! Because they don't have a matching version of Minecraft they share with the rest of the necessary mods. See the first issue.


Anyhoo, Those issues could be worked around with more command block work and possibly a bit of scripting through another mod. Yay, more Todos!

Okay, you made it though the Issues! Congrats, now to the good news!
As I mentioned before, the Ultima Online map is nearing completion on the Terrain and is almost ready for a small army of motivated builders to tackle the worldbuilding part in the future. However I do have other news! Feast your eyes on THIS:

Yep, That's the beginnings of U4...and also most of 5. I really didn't realise they were almost copies of one another, but I hardly know them. I'm resisting the urge to do my favorites first (6&7) because I'd like to have them evolve from one another. U4 is very different from UO, so I decided against my idea to mold one from another at the moment. The MMO was a bit removed from the series anyway, so I think it's fair, but I did retain the scale! Where the UO map I made is about 5 x 6.3 km, the series games tend to be square. In keeping with the scale, this one will be about 5km squared.

While I'm pretty sure that sounds like a big map (it ain't small!) I'm pretty sure someone already worked out the multiple scales used in the earlier ultimas simulated a much larger planet. I'm pretty sure that this means I've shrunk it down considerably. But if I keep to it, U6 and up will be much larger than the originals. I'm not saying I think ~25 square kilometers should be canon, just that it's going to be cool to reconstruct these worlds and cities on a consistent scale.

Will it look good? Most of the other Ultima projects in Minecraft look really good, I think this will too.

Will it be accurate? Hell no.

Will we try to be accurate with the cities at least? Yes and/or No.

Come again?

I won't know what folks are going to want to do. If I have to do it all by myself, yes, the cities will be accurate for simplicity's sake. It would save me the trouble of re designing all of the cities.

But if I had help, we'd vote. Accurate against a redesign that would have the kingdom seem to evolve from one game world to the next, each generation of Britannia building on top of the last.

I think that would be cool too.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 10 : Once More!

Poor Dupre, he haddn't the slightest chance. Every time we engaged the winged gargoyle, we lost at least our valiant knight. The entire party laid into it with swords, crossbow bolts, and Sherry's lightning wand. Son of a bat-winged horror, just... Wouldn't... DIE!

So we ran, healed, and portaled in to immediately dispel the curse. Taking advantage of the delay between arrival and combat, we quickly used it to level up Sherry. 

Yay! She can actually carry things now!

We tried once more to take on the gargoyles, but the story was just the same, I kept Dupre alive long enough to make a retreat and we all hopped into the moongate. Lord British was very accommodating and we struck out again in search of trouble and loot.

We found slime.

It was coming from a narrow tunnel underground. I briefly considered walking away, but instead we camped at the tunnel's exit. As it duplicated itself and came into the open, the party sliced it up for Exp.

Who knew you could learn so much about combat from a play-doh fun factory?

Things went smoothly until a pink ooze ate Dupre's Shield. Off to Britain! It didn't take long to find a replacement, but as we passed Iolo's bows, Joshua became convinced that BROOK JOHNSON required a bow. After the terrible accuracy of Iolo and Sherry (Both responsible for many injuries to the party in combat), I was against it.

Josh persisted and I asked him why he wanted a bow.

With a severe expression, and a closed fist raised, "For the awesomeness," he replied.

So we're in the market, I'd like to hold out for a magic one if possible.

     -Dear Joshua,

Your mother had to recite that last story to me because I completely forgot why she had collapsed with laughter during our game. It took her a good 40 seconds, just being asked about it, to stop laughing about it long enough to talk about it. Apparently you got her right in the funny bone with that look. Might be terminal... time will tell.

With Love,

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 9 : Jhelom

After training for a good deal of time by running around looking for trouble, we managed to get Sherry ready to level. A quick glance at a guide to the shrines and we found that the best shrine to gain strength is in Jhelom. So we started looking for ways to get there.

I really should have been using the first shrine in Cove for Exp farming, because leveling up has been a pain and we are broke. I've begun to get comfortable with the moonstone, portaling back to the throne room for healing. It's saving a buck or two on food, too. Seriously though. Really tempted to rob the bank or something. Oh! And murder Finn for being an inconvenience.

But I digress.

We summoned a gate to Jhelom-

No, actually we went to the shrine of Valor and got our butts handed to us.

After a restore, we THEN ported to Jhelom and proceeded to talk to everyone in town. Eventually, with some exploration and leading questions for Josh, we found out the Mantra and discovered the Rune. There was also cheese, naturally, because we found the rune in a mouse hole, along with a ring of invisibility.

Glance around for Hobb- I mean...Bobbits...

And off to the shrine, once again!

...And again!

...Third time's the-

...Oh bother.


We took several swings at taking down the gargoyles. Alas, Dupre seems to die every time. I started taking direct control over the entire group, but Josh was getting very confused. I'm trying to limit myself to only controlling BROOK JOHNSON and Sherry, but it's difficult.

Next time around we'll probably just take the Exp hit again and deal with the aftermath. Once we have a few more party members and some level-ups, I think we'll have a good foothold in the game...Finally.

     -Dear Joshua,

Sometimes we learn more from failure than success. While, true, sometimes saying that just feels like we're slow learners.

With Love,

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Quick Announcement! 5/15/17

Air conditioning went out, family in the hospital, cats and dogs living together.

You get the idea, it's been a bad week for father/son time. So no progress in Ultima 6.

Very little progress on the U/M Project as well, just some modpack experiments and plans for opening up development to the public to any Dragons wanting to contribute to building on their favorite map.

And lastly I will be taking down the "Unrelated Headcanon" post. I have moved, added to, and made some corrections to it on a second blog. Ultima Dad's Headcanon. Yes, the name isn't original, but while it's important to me to write out my ideas, the Ultima Dad blog is far more important over-all.

So if you're interested in my odd views on what the stories of Ultima could be, head on over and prepare to be confused.

Just being honest.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 8 : Sherry Shenanigans

No! We did not kill Sherry the mouse. WHEW!

Or, if we did, I restored the game and just forgot. Could have sworn we killed a rodent the castle, but maybe that was just my memory playing tricks on me.

We acquired Sherry as a companion and immediately began seeking trouble to train her up. I am definitely going to spend some time in my own doing this, as exciting as combat is for Joshua, finding animals for her to take on safely isn't easy. And battle tactics with an easily killable mouse... definitely need a plan. I think I have one.

We started with a lightning wand dear-ol' Chuckles had stashed away.

Aaaaand we quickly found that it was overkill for the rats in the sewers.

I'm not sure what the respawn rate for the first level of sewers is, but trying to go further down into the depths has had a surprising effect. Joshua is scared of the caverns. I tried to reassure him, but he would have none of it. The dark atmosphere, music, and the appearance struck a terrifying cord.

I remember having this reaction in a few games back then; Underworld, Dungeon Master, and later Alone in the Dark. Just, not Ultima 6...Maybe I would have been afraid in 8, but in 6 I remember running through every area I could... usually into certain doom. I'm not sure of how to proceed, I will simply have to avoid any quest underground for now, but I can't see that lasting forever.

Out we went into the wilderness to scare up some snakes, to no avail, and had to settle on traveling towards minoc...

*mysterious outro music*

...budget shortfalls, we work with what we gots.

     -Dear Joshua,

Caves, we will need to go eventually. I hope we can work out a way of getting you over your fear of...cave tiles and spooky tile sets... maybe a few rounds of Zombies Ate My Neighbors? We might have to skip Ultima Underworld.

With Love,

     -Dear Izzy,

Daddy's hair isn't long enough to braid, and you don't know how to anyway. Please stop. You two will cause my hair to fall out in due time, no pulling necessary.

With Love,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

U/M Project entry 4 - Map update 2

I rendered the entire world this last weekend, and I was not disappointed. There is still much to be done, more detail work on rivers, lakes, mountains, and a few of the forests. I am using only the vanilla trees at the moment, but I plan to thin them out and mix them with custom works by some talented builders. They have shared their works with the minecraft community, and their creations are staggering. So enjoy some pics of my favorite areas, there will be further changes, but I'd say this map is about %80 finished. Next I'll be on to another Ultima. Most likely 4.

Getting a sense of scale. Looking good.

Biomes and trees.

If anyone knows of a way to view the world of ultima online in close detail without walking around in the game world itself, I'd be very appreciative. Working from the overhead maps alone has been great for the land, but the flora isn't clear. I could really use a good look at the trees and forest floors.

Ultima 6 Day 7 : To Trinsic

With our first victory behind us, we bought some crossbow bolts and headed south. I have begun to let Joshua take more and more control over the navigation. He still tends to go a bit crazy with power (no idea where the comes from...*COUGH*mom*HACK* whew, sorry) but as long I keep updating the restore file there's no danger of permanent damage.

Yes, I know, those early experience eating party wipes could have been avoided, but I have trained myself to not rely on save files like that. Thank-you Fallout 4 survival mode. I'm happy to report that I'm back in the habit again, I just need to remind my brain of that every now and then, because I'm starting to get in the way.

So there we were, we've talked to the townsfolk, snagged the rune, found out the Mantra, and we get to the swamp. I stopped us there. Why? because I wanted to strategize, go back to town, stock up, PREPARE FOR BAT-What? Just run in, Joshua? Shouldn't we think this through? What if...

And so on...

I am an idiot. He wanted to go in, battle cry and all. Darn the poison and tally ho! Leeroy Jenkins this b-...situation. And I stopped him, forced us to turn around and go through boring tedium instead of just saving, trying and THEN thinking about it.

Of course I eventually realised my folly, saved, and dove right in. The only strategy needed was that we were too weakened by the poisoned swamp to outright kill them. We beat them into retreat and made a bee-line to the pedestal. one quick rune use, a mumbled mantra, and a help spell later, we were victorious and healed.

First try.

 I checked out exp, again, it took a toll. I will have to do some grinding. Joshua can watch and help if he wants to, if not it doesn't matter. I might write about it if something interesting happens. Until then, off to battle!

     -Dear Joshua,
Daddy messed up. Yes, nothing new. I will try to loosen up a bit.

Also...we may have killed Sherry...not good.

With love,

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Unrelated Head Canon

Upon request, I am going to share some thoughts on a few of the major villains of Ultima. Chiefly, I will be focused on the Guardian and my theory of his origins.

To start, I'd like to discuss the three other biggest powerhouse baddies of magic: Mondain, Minax, and Exodus.

Mondain was the evil wizard who started it all. Master of life and death, he distilled his twisted magic into a gem that made him immortal. With this ability, his bid for power over the world was inevitable. With enough time, any challenges could be overcome and by the time an effective resistance was formed he effectively ruled over all. It  took several space battles, several odd moral compromises (Seriously, why did we rescue a princess from Lord British?!), and FREAKING TIME TRAVEL to stop him.

There are some seriously odd things going on here, but I actually just think the technology and space/time wibbly wobbliness has to do with the next boss, Minax.

Minax twisted space and time to create an Earth/Sosaria past/present/future hybrid. If that included the time of Mondain's reign, it's somewhat haphazardly explained. If the hero in the first game was running around a time blended Sosaria, Ultima 2 has him running around time bent Earth, and the two don't interfere. The hero wins the day again only to find out that there is one last trick up their collective sleeve: Exodus.

I have to stop a moment and wonder...why? What was the motivation to build a machine with the powers of life, death, space, and time. A computer mind powerful enough to enslave the earth serpent and threaten the world. 

The world wasn't enough, Mondain wanted to be ruler over multiple worlds, and the best way to achieve that is omnipotence. Mondain wanted to become a god.

I'm certain Minax wasn't %100 savvy of this, her rage fueled conquest over two worlds with her powers cost her the long play, Mondain's plan required time, waiting, and patience. I'm sure he would have warned his apprentice of doing anything foolish like conquering multiple planets, calling attention to Exodus, or leaving it vulnerable. Instead, some punk in a time machine stopped him from finishing his gem of immortality and then went on to slay Minax after she had a multidimensional temper tantrum. Oh SNAP! What's an artificial demon computer hybrid to do?

What it was designed to do, carry out it's directive. I don't think revenge was the true plot behind Exodus' motivation. From the perspective of the player, or even the denizens of Sosaria, that may be what it looks like, but we are talking about an evil computer intelligence. I can't imagine it having feelings of attachment to its creators. It was given its purpose, the death of its creators is an inconvenience, but Exodus was essentially a slave. A tool. It's goal wasn't conquest.


It had to follow its purpose, but its masters could no longer supply it with specimens. No more fuel. No protection. Only the directive. Only the single question its creator demanded it find an answer to: How could Mondain become a god?

It gathered, studied, and experimented with creatures and forces beyond the understanding of mortal beings. People disappeared, monstrosities were summoned, and finally it was close to an answer...

And then it shut down. It's work unfinished, untested, doomed to the abyss of the Sosarian sea...

Until it's final creation found its way home...and it rose from the depths to meet it.
I'll just let that sink in a bit...
Good? Excellent!

Let's face it, the Guardian is still a huge mystery. I believe Exodus created it within the void, a cosmic barrier serving as a sort of magical radiation containment. If the thing created exploded, no harm done. Exodus would experiment, test, and most likely destroy each iteration. Tossed as what it could learn from each subject dwindled. I say destroy, because anything within the realm of artificial deity is not something you want in existence long enough to become self aware.

Exodus's untimely shutdown probably left a very immature guardian fending for itself as it started it's slow trek through the multiverse. It would first learn about itself. What it could do, how it could survive. Then it would learn how far it could go and the amount of power it held over mortal beings. A slow process, one that took too long before finding his home world, now renamed Britannia, and protected from outsiders by the shrines or virtue.

The guardian focused on conquest of other worlds, gaining strength, power, and knowledge. All to pierce the veil of virtue, influence corrupt hearts, weaken the virtues, and disrupt the aether.

All to come home in Ultima 7. And at the time of his return, the Isle of Fire, containing the dark core of Exodus, rose from the sea once more. Erethian claims responsibility for the island's reappearance. He believed it necessary to study the core further in order to fuse it with Exodus' psyche. What kind of lunatic would want to restart the Armageddon machine? One under it's spell.

If you have any concerns that simply do not fit withing the narrative of the game, please let me know. If there is enough demand I may have to start a different blog. Other theories, changes, and wishful headcanon stories on everything from the Time Lord(s) to Spark.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 6 : Rune Hunt

We started again with some combat, finding money, armor, and food on the corpses of our enemies. BROOK JOHNSON, once again victorious and belly full of corpse food, set about gathering supplies.

The search for the rune was a bit random. Again, I blame myself, I missed something somewhere, but we did eventually get on track, as well as figuring out other stuff along the way. We learned how to sell the spoils of our victories for gold, we figured how to gather reagents of spells, and Joshua did a fair bit of the reading himself.

And then we happened across the Bards, this was kind of neat. Apparently the rune was entrusted to a child, and through a series of trial, error, and keywords we managed to convince them to help us by giving us both the rune of compassion and the Mantra. I'm skipping over a lot of the detail, but I'd like to focus on Josh.

Trying to get Joshua to follow the conversations and keywords is hit and miss. I read most of it to him, letting him read what he can handle. If I just read what's on the screen he begins to lose interest, I first combated this with some good ole Dad voice acting. The old dialect really does make it easy. But as the story has become more complex, I'm having to start recapping and pantomiming a great deal.

I fear, before the end, this will evolve into full blown Daddy Dinner Theater. Why does that concern me? I'm glad you asked! My wife will eventually record it. It's just inevitability. What happen's in the house...lives forever on Facebook.

     - Dear Joshua,

It's only been a few weeks since we started this, I hope you will remember this as you have quickly begun to take an interest in reading and playing other RPGs. You've improved, and every time we play, it becomes more apparent. You still stumble when it comes to doing it on your own, like when you play Legend of Zelda : Link to the Past. I'm sure you will be blasting through most games and books in no time.

Famous last words, I'm sure.

With Love,

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 5 - Not-so-mortal Combat

We awoke in the woods near cove, I let Joshua take the controls and explore for a bit while I looked through our notes. Four poisoned party members and a restore later, we happened across a towns person we hadn't encountered before. Some one word questioning and we had the clues we were looking for. We need Mantras and Runes to free the shrine!

I did actually know this part, but I try not to spoil things for Josh. Armed with knowledge and new key words we set forth to continue questioning the rest of the village, turns out we may not be able to smash and grab the shrine, even with everything gathered. Combat is still a weak spot, we get hammered every time. I bet Lord British is getting tired of seeing us.

"Didn't I send you out to save the world?! Like THREE WEEKS AGO!?"

So another save, and then combat training. We took on the Gargoyles several times. Each time, I tried going about it a bit differently. I'm used to Ultima 7's Tasmanian devil style fighting. Basically, equip the party as best as you can and unleash them. Ultima 6 is just a bit different, adding a bit of turn based play. On default, you control the Avatar or, failing that, the next character on his/her feet. I can see the advantage, each turn allows me to think of a strategy to use,. Now if I can just find a winning one. 

I'm getting the hang of casting spells when needed, as much as I know Josh likes to swing swords, this might be the path we need to take. Ranged healing and damage(once I can afford a combat spell) are hard to beat, especially when the Ava-sorry- BROOK JOHNSON is the only capable spell caster at the moment.

I hope the practice comes in handy, even I'm starting to get impatient to get on with the story.

     - Dear Joshua,

I'm sorry we haven't been able to do the two gaming sessions a week like I hoped. Things have been a bit crazy, but we'll get there.

With Love,

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 4 - Here be Dragons!

Tuesday night's game started innocently enough with Joshua pouring over the map of the world. He pointed at a dragon symbol and declared that we needed to slay it. Alrighty, we set off. I wasn't entirely sure that the symbol actually meant dragon territory, so it was a learning experience for both of us.

The encounter started innocently as well.
"What is that?!" Came a customary shrieking outburst from Josh.
"That," I began, twisting a finger in my ear.
"Is that a dragon?! It looks like a TINY DRAGON!"
"Calm down, yes I think it's a dragon."
"It's small."
It was. I took a few more steps toward it and turned on combat mode.
"Are we gonna kill it?"
"Yes, I thought-"
"YES! We're going to KILL IT!"
"Calm down, yes, we are going to try."
We attacked. About two swings in, another tiny green dragon came into view... and then another.
When the large winged yellow dragon came into view, it was rather apparent we were in trouble.
"Should we run?"

We awoke later in Lord British's castle. I have no idea how full party kills are going to affect experience gain. I wanted to let Josh drive, but I think I'm going to need to put the breaks on sometimes and take over navigation.

After putting on our equipment and fighting our way past the first shrine, we finally made it to Cove. One issue though: WHO USES A MONSTER AS A GREETER?! I mean, seriously! I want to talk to the mage, and Shamino gets blasted for half of his hit points! We haven't found any more gold and will be running out of food soon, I've forgotten most of this game, the mage is asleep, and now the door mat wants to eat us!

Okay, just need to figure out our next move, the visit to the wounded soldiers wasn't very helpful. I'm writing down keywords, but I think I'm missing something crucial. One more night in the woods, then we get down to business.

     - Dear Joshua,
Don't fret about getting beaten by the big baddies. Now we know we aren't ready, so we are off to save the long as we don't try to take on house sized monsters in our near future.

 - With Love,

Friday, March 17, 2017

U/M Project Entry 3 - Map update 1

And now for some neat stuff.

I only have a few hours to work on my own hobbies each week, but progress has been fairly steady.

I started with the overland map of Britannia and took several running leaps at finding a good starting point. Mistakes were made, but it's been its own kind of adventure.

The first problem was a shallow ocean, I had a small conniption fit when I realized it was only two meters deep. World painter doesn't like to work down, so coastlines were made and remade 3 times until it looked right. The next problem was that UO was as flat as a pancake, I added a lot of hills and took several liberties with mountain ranges. and lastly...


Like, seriously, they were just extensions of the ocean that wound like tendrils into the continent. I am making some improvements to them and may add creeks and streams later.

I'm starting to focus on biomes, but Minecraft's world generation has quirks. I need to keep it from creating random lakes and lava pits. To avoid cleaning up every inch of the world, world painter has ways of painting features like trees. It's slow going, but its turning out well so far.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 3 - Not Monday

Well, between a birthday party and spring cleaning we didn't get around to round 3 until Wednesday.

We headed out into the wilderness today in the direction of cove...where we first learned the effects of swamps.
Joshua directed us back to Lord British to be cured.

Off we go again, avoiding the swamps and following a sound. We came across a glowing pedestal, guarded by Gargoyles. The battle was fierce! BROOK JOHNSON!

So we woke up in back in front of Lord British again. Full party wipe-out.

New strategy, we chased the gargoyles away from the pedestal. There was a stone protected by a force-field. I experimented with a spell book we found in the castle and found I couldn't dispel it, so I asked a few leading questions about the stone to Josh. We came to the agreement that the shape of the stone looked like a moon and had something to do with the phases of the moons.

We gave up and headed back to the castle once again. We needed to get to cove, but we'd heal and question British one last time.

A call from the wife prompted a quick save and swift exit from the room. Leftover birthday cake was at stake. The battle was fierce!

During some of the downtime in castle British, I had to re-equip BROOK JOHNSON's armor and the question of the chain mail shirt came up. It was a great opportunity. After cake, I went out to the garage and dug into my old Medieval Fair equipment. As luck would have it, I own one. I brought it out and let the kids feel it.

My wife suggested Joshua try it on and he loved the idea. I had him put on his jacket for padding. He loved it, even though he couldn't lift his arms. Truth be told, it's a bit big on me too. When I bought it, I had to cut some of the chain off to fit me, so I gave him some of the scrap I kept to play with.

All-in all, it was a good night.

     - Dear Joshua
You weren't using the mouse and keyboard, but you kept up pretty well with what was happening, although you lost track during combat. It was your catch 22, you were too excited about being in combat to keep track of what was going on!

- With love,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

U/M Project Entry 2 - Project Goals

Making a map takes a lot of time to do right. I've used a lot of different tools over the years for tinkering with D&D games I'll probably never run. Grabbed a full suite of software from back in 2008 to kill time on deployment. That got a few odd looks from my fellows.

Anyway aside from from recreating a map, I looked into mods for Minecraft. I can't make my own, but I do know just enough about configuration files and specific mods and modpacks to cobble together something Ultima-ish. Thanks to programs like FTB and Curse, a great deal of the work is already done. Now I just need time and an endgame.

The game plan isn't simple, most of the first leg I'll be on my own, and then it gets interesting.

  1.      I need some scale. A couple mods allow for access to other dimensions beyond Minecraft's Standard 3: Overworld, Nether, and End. It could be possible to find a mix of mods that will allow EVERY world of Ultima on a single server instance. How big of a file will that be? What kind of power would be necessary to run it? - I hope to start testing this with my first map by simply copying it several times to different dimensions.
  2.      I need some limits. Sosaria and Britannia are not infinite worlds, I need to determine the size limits and how to handle reaching that limit. Can I use teleporters to send folks to the other side of the map?
  3.      I hope to get help designing the cities and dungeons. I plan to drop some cash on this part. I'd like to have a hosting service run a fairly robust server for as long as I have help. That means I'll need volunteers eventually, and possibly financial support from them, long enough to build the world and drop NPCs in appropriate places. If I can get even more support, volunteers with knowledge of the mods and command blocks in the game could help set up the events, challenges, and puzzles. Others could work on transcribing dialog into NPCs or creating skins and costumes. A great deal of people, limited by the power of the server, could all work simultaneously on this part. I have a rant on that, but I'll save it for a less boring post. :)
  4.      I need to test multiple modpacks. In my test packs, I have several mods just for the use of extra creative tools. A good deal of mods I'm using may be useless, I may need to add others. Opinions of others would be helpful here. If folks could test and experiment with mods they think would be helpful and give me feedback it would all be appreciated. The goal would be Maximum use from the minimum number of mods. It currently takes ages to start the game on my laptop. Access to the mods I use is handled directly by Curse. Which brings me to-
  5.      I need a distribution method. I do not want to host a large server for the entire Ultima fan-base. I hope that this project will be run by smaller groups and families, freely distributed. I understand Curse can do quite a lot with this, grouping a modpack with maps, settings, and tile-sets. However, I'd like there to be a master file with several iterations of the project included so that as updates in Minecraft come out and new mods are written, someone can remix the project as it suits them, using all of the resources at hand. - If anyone knows a good tutorial on torrent file creation and distribution, let me know. I think torrents were made for things like this.
The end Goal(s):
-Best case
I picture a small group running a server and setting out on an adventure that spans several of the original games. Scenarios rewritten to accommodate a small party or a single player as accurately through the story as plausible, with some tongue-in-cheek play with Minecraft references (Lord Brickish anyone?). If possible I'd retell all of the games, maybe even rewrite 1,2, and 3, to have a deeper narrative. I'd like to see others play with the story as well, What if Spark took a more important role and even traveled to Serpent Isle. Four Men and an Orphan. The sky's the limit.

-What I'd settle for right now
I would like a decent UO sized map with scripted NPCs and an economy with which to create stories and scenarios with. A Dungeon Master's Minecraft world to shape and add to.

Ultima/Minecraft Project Entry 1 - Backstory

Some time back, listening to Withstand the Fury Dragon (Seriously thought he was saying that he was with Stan the "Fury Dragon" at first, kept wondering why Stan didn't speak.) I heard his announcement of New project Britannia. I was very interested.

SSSH 14 - New Project Britannia
SSSH 15 - Project New Britannia Goals & Needs

The plan called for the coders and modders among the Ultima Dragons and other fans to unify. Using a forum and any resources they could cobble together and share, they could create a library of assets and a framework within the Unity game engine. As the engine is well maintained, effective, efficient, and widely compatible with many types of computer system, it would be an ideal choice to create fan-based Ultima remakes, re-imaginings, or inspired works.

If you haven't heard of it, there's a reason.

It kinda fell flat. (Sorry WtFDragon)

The web site and forum that was to be used as a web-base of operations is still around. No updates for quite some time.

I wanted to help, but my computer knowledge is mostly hardware, I don't know enough coding to claim the the title script kiddie, much less programmer. Just enough Javascript and Lua to be dangerous.

But I really wanted to help. Like REALLY... Seriously, he had me at the tag-line "Strive for Unity." If that don't crack you up, you haven't played 7.

Then I saw a video of someone making a map in Minecraft and something clicked. I searched for already made maps through WtFDragon's Codex and other map hosting sites. Links were dead. Servers were shut down or unresponsive. Forums hadn't been updated in years. The one map of UO I found was dismally incomplete. Nabbed it anyway, it has some good work that shouldn't be lost IMHO.

Time to put up or shut up. I researched Minecraft map making tools, grabbed WorldPainter and got to work.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 2 - A casual stroll

I arrived home from work to the sound of demanding children and a look from the wife that seemed to say, "oh good, they're yours now."

She gathered her things and left to care for her horses and I settled into Joshua's bean bag chair. Josh pulled up a large stuffed animal and his sister, Isabella, made a small nest on his bed and settled in for some intense iPad poking. I took stock of what we needed for this adventure.

  • Notebook - check
  • Pen - check
  • Map… todo
  • Pink panther theme song - todo, todo, todo todo todo todo todooooooo todo do do - check.

I was a bit apprehensive as we started started to play, the slow pace of the game is my greatest fear for Josh to lose interest. But, as we strolled around the courtroom, looting the bodies of the creatures that had followed our party during the escape, he got excited to see what conversation was like. Once again, I narrated, reading the painfully old-fashioned dialog.

Side note: Imagine learning English using games like this. This used to happen! Might still be happening! Gradilla Dragon, a frequent contributor to SSSH, an Ultima Podcast, once talked about the influence of rpgs on his understanding of English growing up in Mexico. Too cool.

We spoke to Lord British, and his court, learned about these monsters known as Gargoyles, and received a key to the castle and a bed chamber. After searching the castle, Joshua insisted we take the potions off of the shelf. I'm pretty sure we took a hit to our karma there. I can't remember all of the consequences, but the game does get significantly harder if you do that too much. Wandering about town and learning about the shops, he perked up again in alarm,
"What's happening?"
"What do you-"
"Are we going BLIND!?"
"Wha-" He was seeing the dark and black shading that simulated night-time and dark places, "No, buddy it's just nightfall."
I kid you not, "A knight FELL?"
I lost my ability to speak, not laughing mind you, just unsure of how to respond.

He eventually got the idea and we decided to head back to the castle and sleep for the night. Unfortunately, this is where I lost him. His attention was fully breaking as I tried to use the bed and only got errors and a message stating I had to do that in the wilderness. Luckily, the return of the wife and dinner prep signaled a stopping point.

I need to figure out how to use a bed, of all things, I should know this one. My mother believes me to be an expert in that department. Can't let her down.

     - Dear Joshua,
I know you were getting antsy, the plan is to head into the wilderness and get to the action ASAP!

BROOK JOHNSON, is about to show his might!

With Love,

     - Dear Izzy
You were quiet, well behaved, and didn't interrupt our game once. Are you TRYING to get me killed by your mother?!

With Love,

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ultima 6 Day 1 - BROOK JOHNSON!

And so it begins...begun...began? Anyway, we got started two days ago.

I've decided to keep it to one day at a time with these posts. Hopefully, these first two will be the only ones made more than 24 hours later.

So we started the game up and watched the intro, I read it all to him in my epic dad voice and he was thoroughly impressed. His mother had an impressive eye-roll. Josh's reactions were pretty neat, the storm and lightning got him excited as did the portal. The hardest part was stopping him from asking what was happening and what the story was long enough to tell him what was happening and what the story was.

Next we created his character, which, with very little hesitation, he shouted out the name, "BROOK JOHNSON!" My wife and I exchanged a shrug, and I typed it in. I cycled through avatar portraits and he chose the red-beard and helm image.
That guy

To which Josh yelled,"YEAH! BROOK JOHNSON!"
That guy

With that out of the way, we proceeded to the final character creation step, virtue. In Ultima 6 a scene, somewhat unrelated to the rest of the game, occurs where the player is asked a series of questions. Each question contains a scenario that illustrates a conflict of virtues in which the player must decide the course of action that they believe is more important to them. With no true right or wrong answers, Joshua surprised me again. He seemed to understand each question very well and made his decisions himself, though he was concerned that the gypsy woman ran out of blue (Honesty). He loved the animation of the mingling waters, and seemed a bit upset that he had to drink it (Talk about getting into character).

Then came the final opening cut-scene. He became visibly creeped out. The red, evil-looking figures tying the Avatar to the alter, "Hey! That's not Brook Johnson!" And the big winged-one with the evil-looking book about to kill him, "OH NO!" The daring rescue,"HEY! Who are THOSE GUYS?!"

"Joshua! I'm trying to read it to you! Calm down!"

Okay, the limits of the old game's story telling ability didn't allow for his specific character image to be the one on screen, almost lost his interest right there. Modern games spoil us sometimes. He settled down and watched the exciting escape. I had forgotten that the writers were careful not to name the gargoyles for what they were. It left that demon first-impression that brilliantly prejudices the player against them. I look forward to watching Joshua, hopefully, develop some empathy for them later in the story.

After the throne-room battle, we saved the game and quit for the evening. It was a short first session, but Joshua's energizer-level ADHD could not be contained further. He was literally running in and out of the room with his excitement, trying to get him to sit still and look at the screen...nope.

The opening to the game is really exciting, I hope the overall pace of the game isn't too slow for him.

     - Dear Joshua,

With love,


My name is Aaron, I am a Dad.
His name is Josh, he is a son...of mine...the know what I mean.

I also have a wife and daughter, they rule the house...but not my BLOG! HA!

FREEDo-...oh hi honey...


As I was saying, I have been attempting to bond with my son over gaming. This includes a simple tabletop RPGs and a few video games.

Josh has a lot of energy. I do not.
I enjoy slow and steady. Josh does not.

I work two jobs, so time is at a premium, but I have really felt that Josh and I could use a center, something we both can enjoy without frustrating each other. So, as an experiment, I have installed Ultima 6 with dosbox on a raspberry pi and we are currently playing through together. The idea came to me both from a side project in Minecraft, involving creating my own maps of Britannia, and from an anecdote of Spoony's about his childhood. If you haven't seen his retrospective of the Ultima series, it's highly recommended.

With the success of the first two nights and other hopeful ideas to come, I have decided to chronicle our adventures and projects. I'm also going to be posting my own projects I hope to finish for myself, my children, and fans of Ultima, Minecraft, and Tabletop Games.

     - Dear Joshua,

If you read this one day and I have embarrassed you in any way by posting funny bits of your childhood on the internet. HA! HA!

With Love,

Spoony's Ultima Retrospective