Rather Infrequent Open Thread


Discuss amongst yourselves.

31 Responses

  1. Bedwyr says:


  2. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    Glad to see the baser instincts of humanity such as tribalism exhibited through the occasional RIOT occasionally manifest themselves in a forum post. The Open thread is back!

    Topic one: Are Stand Your Ground-style laws allowing people to actually defend themselves better, or are they a free pass for clever murderers?

    Topic two: How biased in favor of a genuine Ultima IP are you, independent of game quality? 10-20%?

    Topic three: NPR ran a story about Anonymous taking down the Internet (yes, that’s what they said repeatedly including DNS server explanations) on March 31st. As I was hearing it live I called it an April Fool’s joke, and that was the last thing I heard about it.

    Topic four: Looking at recent racial tensions resulting in violence within the United States, it appears as though a distributed microcosm of Charles Manson’s crazy theory that a race war would erupt is occurring. What is really worrysome is that culture in the U.S. seems to have stagnated on the subject of racial equality. It reminds me of the prejudice and fear in Europe with their recent influx of Muslims. Tribalism is rearing its ugly head once again.

    Topic five: Mitt Romney seems the inevitable candidate for the U.S. Republican nomination for the Presidency. I think Romney is a useless piece of shit, but maybe there’s something I don’t know and someone could shed some light on it? Not that it really matters, as we’re all doomed to the Gears of War.

    • Infinitron says:

      Oh man, no politics on this blog please.

      Besides, you’d get thwomped by Kenneth and myself. 😉

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        Haha, maybe. I’ve no idea about your political leanings, so for all I know we’d be in agreement on many things. Ken’s in Canada anyway, so his only worry is how many of us dirty Americans will be fleeing across the borders when things really get bad here. Maybe Canada could build a fence patrolled by drones and IR cameras?

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        I’m politically Catholic, which means my views do not easily comport with the platforms of any extant Canadian political party.

        Essentially, I’m in favour of limited government, and would probably be considered more socially conservative than not…overall. Marriage, abortion, human sexuality…you can probably guess my views on such topics.

        On the other hand, I believe that a certain standard of healthcare is a basic human right, oppose the death penalty (but not the concept of legitimate personal defense), and generally believe that there is some obligation of a society to provide care and assistance for its poor and infirm.

        So it’s just easier to say I’m politically Catholic, rather than try to split hairs.

    • Deckard says:

      @Sanctimonia “Topic two: How biased in favor of a genuine Ultima IP are you, independent of game quality? 10-20%?”

      I don’t think you can remove the quality from the equation.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Define “quality”.

        I mean, from a quality standpoint, Lord of Ultima is a decent game. It’s an Evony clone, but as such games go, it’s a rather good one. It’s stable, the gameplay is (I gather) enjoyable by the standards of the genre, and the art is quite good. It is, within its space, a quality title.

        Do I give it any bias because it has Ultima in the title? Heck no, except perhaps in the sense that I am biased against it!

        If you want to look at relative quality, Lord of Ultima is probably a higher-quality game within its space than Ultima 8 or Ultima 2 are within the CRPG space. But while there’s vanishingly little question that the latter two are valid Ultima games, the former very clearly is not.

        Now, I’ll play Ultima 8 in preference to Lord of Ultima because the latter is just not the kind of game that appeals to me; my preference for the lower-quality game is a consideration of genre, not IP. And within the CRPG genre, there are any number of games that I will and do prefer to Ultima 8, and would play in preference thereto.

        The Ultima name on the box doesn’t bias me in favour of a game at all. What it does do is set an expectation in my mind which I will expect the game to live up to, and which I will criticize the game for failing to meet should it indeed fail to do so. I’m as likely to try an Ultima-titled game in a genre than interests me as I am any other title in said genre. But I’m likely to expect more from an Ultima than I am from a game in some other series.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        Great point about a game carrying the banner of the Ultima name being held to higher standards. Didn’t consider that, so interestingly a bias could work against what I’d expected. Guess the same principle would apply if Ferrari made a $15,000 car. Might be a nice car for fifteen grand, but Ferrari enthusiasts would probably be disgusted.

        I would be more likely to play a game with the Ultima name than one without, however. There are just too many games to play, and a shiny “Ultima” logo with the right genre attachment would just be too hard to ignore.

      • Sergorn says:

        I’ll go crazy and say that while quality has its importance, it’s more important to keep the IP alive less it’s forgotten.

        As long as the IP is alive even with crappy titles, there’s a chance it can come back to a quality game at some point. When an IP is dead though… bringing life back into it a different matter altogether.

      • Deckard says:

        @Sergorn “I’ll go crazy and say that while quality has its importance, it’s more important to keep the IP alive less it’s forgotten.”

        Technically they are doing it with UO. And not just Stygian Abyss from a few years ago. The current story arc has some items that might be tied to things that didn’t make it into Ultima lore (but written up for an Ultima game), but those things are spawning minions of Exodus, which definitely ties into Ultima lore.


      • Sergorn says:

        Yeah that’s a good point about UO – I tend to forget about it since I’m more into SP Ultima 😛

        But that’s also the point, UO is rather a niche game now, and while it’s known we’re at a point where there are people aware of UO that are oblivious to the fact there were single player Ultima games before, so it’s kinda fading out of memory (altough the Ultima Forever website and the GOG Release have certainly helped reminding people of them over the last year)

  3. Sslaxx says:

    Well yeah, politicians are all the same – corrupt and owned and controlled by big corporations.

    And humanity is tribal. That’s just the way it is, sadly. We can never escape from our baser instincts no matter how much of a pretty veneer we put on top of them.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      We can never escape from our baser instincts no matter how much of a pretty veneer we put on top of them.

      Eh…instinct (and, in the larger sense, genetics) aren’t destiny, just probability.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        I think both of you are correct. The problem, WtF, is that in a world with several billion people (and growing with no signs of slowing down) probability becomes destiny for a large portion of the population for all practical purposes. While it’s true that we have free will and -can- overcome our baser instincts, it is also true that many of us choose not to, often repeatedly. Children then continue the tradition in their parents’ footsteps with the usual exceptions.

        This pattern has gone on since the beginning of man and no amount of religion, philosophy, science or civilization can stop it. Actually science might be able to help if we ever get hip to human genetic engineering and eugenics, but people tend to get painted Nazis when they talk about those sorts of things.

        As far as politicians, they generally are the lowest form of life, which is ironic because they’re supposed to be selfless individuals who represent and serve we, the people, to help create a better society. Imagine if 90% of priests, pastors imams, and rabbi all drank to excess, fucked prostitutes, drank 40’s of malt liquor while snorting cocaine and beat their children and dog when they were in a bad mood. That is the politician.

        I’m voting for Ron Paul if I have to write his name on the voting terminal with a Sharpie.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        While it’s true that we have free will and -can- overcome our baser instincts, it is also true that many of us choose not to, often repeatedly. Children then continue the tradition in their parents’ footsteps with the usual exceptions.

        Quite. This all falls under the banner of what me and mine would call “sin”, and I’m as guilty as anyone. You’re right about the law of averages, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are able to rise above what our genes lay out as a template. Even if we fail to do so seven times seventy times, we are still able.

        This pattern has gone on since the beginning of man and no amount of religion, philosophy, science or civilization can stop it. Actually science might be able to help if we ever get hip to human genetic engineering and eugenics, but people tend to get painted Nazis when they talk about those sorts of things.

        But…whither free will, then?

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        Free will means the ability to choose, that we are not predestined by whatever mechanics govern our being. I think that by definition of physics we don’t actually have free will, but that thankfully physics and our bodies are complex enough that the illusion of free will is inescapable. So as far as I’m concerned, we do possess it. My question is not about the existence but the relevance of free will with respect to the worth of our species.

        Consider this: A man has known violence his entire life. His father was violent, his mother was violent, his friends, his society, his lessons were violent. Despite his ability to choose, will he not be violent, even in humor or failure to intervene if not actually perpetrating violence directly? That’s the cultural aspect.

        Now consider a species such as an alligator, wasp or fire ant. They are easily provoked and prone to respond with violence as a matter of instinct (or genetics as you mentioned). All these creatures have free will. They’re not clever machines as some philosophers ventured with cruel experiments, but living beings like us who make decisions based on many of the same things we do.

        Now imagine humans, who have often unpleasant instincts and culture, the worst of both worlds, with only our intellect and imagination to save us.

        I don’t think that changing the biological nature of a creature necessarily strengthens or weakens free will. If someone calls your mom a whore and you don’t suddenly feel a huge adrenaline rush combined with a sense of duty to defend her honor, is your free will diminished, or are you just more likely to act civilly and not attack them physically? Biologically reducing a species’ impulsive tendencies toward violence and increasing its ability to empathize can only be a good thing, considering our present alternative.

  4. Andy_Panthro says:

    1: Why is there a need for a specific “Stand your ground” law? Surely if you have used reasonable force to defend yourself, the law is on your side. The only problem would be if you used excessive force. Of course I’m in the UK, so don’t know much about US law.

    2: I’m a bit biased for the “Ultima” IP, since it’s more than just a word, it’s a world. It’s the history, the geography, the language. For me, I know my way around Britannia pretty well, I can read the runes, and know the characters I might meet (or hear about). A new IP has to create all of these from scratch, and while it might do that well, I’m always going to compare it to the things I know and remember well.

    3: Not sure, there was a bit of concern over here about Anon DDOSing government websites, but that was all to do with Gary McKinnon.

    4: Can’t really comment (since attitudes to race/social issues vary so much by region), but there’s always someone looking to capitalise (usually for political gain or similar) on people’s fears.

    5: Mitt Romney looked like the best of a bad bunch. None of the republicans candidates looked like they would appeal to the majority of voters, I would fully expect Obama to get a second term. From what I’ve heard, some of the more serious GOP contenders are waiting for 2016.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      Why is there a need for a specific “Stand your ground” law? Surely if you have used reasonable force to defend yourself, the law is on your side.

      From my somewhat limited understanding, it hinges on a concept called “duty to retreat”. In some states, use of lethal force in defense of oneself is only permitted in cases where retreat is impossible; where an escape or attempt at escape can be made, it must be.

      “Stand your ground” laws basically remove the “duty to retreat”, enabling you to escalate to an active defense straightaway, even if an escape route is open to you. Court rulings on this matter have in the past noted that an individual should not be placed under a burden or obligation to abandon to an assailant any location where s/he (the individual) has a legitimate right to be.

  5. Thepal says:

    I’m kinda staying out of the Stand Your Ground situation’s debate. I’ve been following it a bit, and we really don’t know what happened (it was made to seem worse by some creative editing of the police phone call by news channels). We know the guy doing the shooting did get attacked (he had injuries). If I was attacked, and I had a gun, I can’t say I wouldn’t use it. It is way too easy to die or get a serious injury. Someone got punched in a supermarket here a couple of weeks ago and died. The only way to make sure you are safe in that situation is to stop the other person from being able to hurt you (I would probably go for the leg/arm though if needed). Just because the guy was black, it doesn’t make it a hate crime. The recording we’ve heard has the gunman say “He is black” like he thinks that has some baring on the situation. What the news did (I’ve now heard the complete recording) is cut out the operator actually asking “Is he white, hispanic or black?”.

    Anyway, the discussion was meant to be about the law… and I think we should be able to defend ourselves in the best possible way. Whether that is running or standing your ground. If I’m with my wife and we’re attacked by some guys, she wouldn’t be able to outrun them. So I would have to attempt to take them out as fast as possible in order to survive.

    Topic two: I don’t want a new Ultima game unless it is done well. 0%.

    Topic three: A story came out on April 1st saying that Bioware was making a new ending for ME3. It was already April 2nd here, so I was unprepared. Made me sad.

    Topic four: Haven’t seen much about rising racial tensions in the US… apart from the usual stuff over the last decade…

    Topic five: Mitt Romney is the only choice for the Republican party. They’ve known it since the start. The only problem is they really don’t want him (probably mostly because his religion). Personally, as someone who pretty much leans towards socialism, I was hoping Santorum would win. For the lols.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      I can understand Santorum’s reasons for dropping out. It can’t be easy to have a dying toddler at home.

      Romney…yeah, the Mormonism thing is an issue in some parts of the US. That will be an issue. Politically? Romney, as a governor, was not so very different from Obama, and the policies he enacted somewhat align with policies in the same areas that Obama has enacted or pushed for (e.g. health care).

      From my outside perspective, it seems like a Tweedledee/Tweedledum decision, and I can’t say I much envy American voters come November.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        It is a Tweedledee/Tweedledum decision. It’s the first election I’ve had the displeasure of participating in that has truly left me feeling powerless. In another life Romney was a used car salesman, going on about how great the car was, the smoothness of the ride and the interior features, not even considering the car was half useless or that the guy buying it didn’t have much money and really needed a reliable auto. He’s a Glengarry Glen Ross type guy, a chameleon. Fuck it, no use discussing. Sigh…

        I didn’t know Santorum had a kid dying, that’s horrible.

        @Andy_Panthro Excessive force directed at someone who deserves it is what legends are made of. Like if some guy breaks into your house and you toss an incendiary grenade at him, shoot him in the head to make sure he doesn’t burn the whole house down with his aimless running about, then break out the fire extinguisher. Cops beating someone down for not complying fast enough on the other hand is a bit shameful.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        I didn’t know Santorum had a kid dying, that’s horrible.

        Bella Santorum, aged 3, has Trisomy 18. It’s a genetic condition, and usually results in stillbirth.

        Bella has already beaten some incredible odds living as long as she has — less than 10% of trisomy 18 babies live longer than a year. But really, that just means that any day could be her last.

      • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

        +1 for genetic engineering of humans, or at least the resumption of natural evolution.

        Poor Bella. As much as I don’t like people, that makes me terribly sad.

        “Some children have survived to the teenage years, but with serious medical and developmental problems.”

        Maybe some method of gene replacement or whatever will be developed to attack the problem at its root. Otherwise, horrible prognosis.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        +1 for genetic engineering of humans, or at least the resumption of natural evolution.

        Genetic engineering, maybe…I’m not necessarily opposed to that idea, so long as the means by which the techniques are developed are themselves morally licit. But yeah…if in-utero genetic modification could be performed to remove these conditions, I’d generally be for that.

        Evolution, though…evolution is just an unpredictable sonofabitch most of the time, and like as not trisomy 18 is the result of a failed genetic mutation, one of the driving forces behind evolution.

  6. Micro Magic says:

    What is reasonable escape? If some dude comes at you, if they catch you they can basically beat you up and possibly take your gun and kill you? Americans need to buy more guns and I would guarantee people.would act more civilized.

    If you take away rights of the citizen, you give it to the rights of the criminals. I don’t understand, you’d have to run till you were caught up to then shoot them? How can you tell if your assailant is a marathon runner? Duty to escape sounds like run for an hour everyday AND buy a gun for protection.

  7. T. J. Brumfield says:

    Here is a random tangent to discuss.

    As I understand it, some of the Lazarus developers ended up landing jobs on Kingdoms of Amular. I know there are some very talented modders in the Ultima community. Many are split across many projects, some of which appear to be stalled.

    Kickstarter is all the rage. Many old game properties are being revived. EA likely wouldn’t license Ultima rights for anything, even a remake of Ultima I that presumably wouldn’t compete with whatever Mythic is doing.

    However, that doesn’t mean the Ultima community of fans couldn’t band together with a showcase of their work under one banner, and propose a spiritual successor as a Kickstarter project. It wouldn’t bear the Ultima name, nor take place in Britannia.

    But it would blend systems of complex morality (as opposed to good and evil) and complex themes in a traditional fantasy setting.

    You could license a relatively low-cost engine ( http://unigine.com/products/unigine/licensing/ ), use an open source engine, etc.

    You’d need a dedicated team who can deliver in a timely manner. Perhaps set a development time of 18 months for a game.

    But couldn’t this community put together a Kickstarter project?

    If such a thing were to materialize, I’d like to do writing/design work.

    • Deckard says:

      You would need some well-known names and people with experience for such a project, and I include management experience in that, and you would be asking those people to give up their existing jobs to work on it.

      Look at how hard it is to get work done on some of the existing remakes. Those aren’t necessarily delving into new content creation and completely new art.

    • Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

      I think that’s an awesome idea, however I don’t think it’s likely to occur. Some reasons could be: time constraints on individual contributors, egos and in-fighting about the vision for and direction of the game, probable inability to mention the world “Ultima” in its promotion despite that being its main selling point, team members being in physically disparate locations (didn’t stop Linux or many other open source projects) and finally team members having to stop or stall work on their own projects.

      Sorta like the discussion on free will I was having with WtF, it’s possible but not likely. 🙂

      The good news is that there are what seem to be several viable Ultima fan projects in need of real talent and time which anyone may participate in. While it takes a force of will akin to God’s own, it is possible to start your own project and find others to assist you along the way (Kickstarter or no). I’m doing the latter and it’s a bit like shooting yourself in the face with a shotgun, except you take a few years to finally die and just maybe go to heaven.

      What I’ve gleaned from my experiences is that if you’re good at something, do it well and do it frequently. The grail will come eventually, the time when it all becomes worth it and you finally get the glory you’ve been seeking.

      What kind of writing/design stuff do you do? I’m always looking for feedback, new ideas, sounding boards, etc., for my project. Believe me, the community here will soak up whatever talents you may offer.

    • Sergorn says:

      The idea of puting forward a spiritual successor on Kickstarter and involving fan community is awesome… in theory.

      But Deckards summed it up well: anyone involved in such a Kickstarter project would need to do this at a full time job because that’s how you get a game done – you don’t Kickstart a project solely based upon a few hours some fans can invest in their free times. Of course that’s the point of funding the game – actually paying the people behind it to get the work done, but I’m not sure many fans would be willing to quit their day job to work on this, or able to cumulate this with another job.

      And indeed, you need NAMES behind such a project and people with real experience in game making and management. Good management could lead a small team of amateurs to pull through, but you’d still need experienced people at the top to bring things forward and also to get funding. Indeed you also need people who know HOW to break down a funding and figure how much such a project would require.

      Because really if you had sai, Ian Frazier setting up a Kickstarter for say, an old school Ultima type game (imagine say a 2D overhead Ultima VII clone with high quality “HD” art) pushing forward his experience with Big Huge Games and Lazarus – you bet you’d get funding. If errr… you’d have Sergorn Dragon putting a Kickstarter forward, not so much 😛