William Chandler is both a strong supporter of both Ultima and Shroud of the Avatar with his roots going back to the early days of Ultima.
His writing projects capture much of himself and his real life experiences to Ultima, going over their history and at the same time telling a fantastic story. You won’t want to miss his work!
Here is a self-introduction piece from William.
First of all, I would like to thank Stile for such a kind introduction, as well as the ability to put my first real published work on display. I have to say, this project is as frightening as it is rewarding, and so far, the many positive responses I have received are pushing me on further.
Now, before we begin, I will warn you at the outset – I am wordy. I try to be as brief as possible, but it often ends up doubling as something you would find as the commencement speech at a college graduation. So I apologize in advance if you just now started reading this and ended up finishing it sometime in the next week.
It occurs to me that I never had a chance to relate my story of my love of the game known as Ultima as well as my utmost respect for the man known as Lord British (A.K.A Richard Garriott), aside from my faith in Christ, and my love of the game of chess, this series of games had as much of an impact on me as anything.
Why would that be? As someone born with cerebral palsy, although very mild, I was not able to do any sort of physical activity or even go out and play with friends. I could not do all those things other kids did, but every day when I fired up that computer I could forget the pain in my legs or my back, and the fact that I couldn’t talk right, and just lose myself as the great hero, saving the land, at least until bedtime. The kids at school that made fun of my disability didn’t matter, they weren’t doing what I was doing.
From my love of Ultima came my love for things such as Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and Tom Clancy – as well as a love of writing, what my voice could not do, my words could convey on screen. As Ultima V would show me later in life, anything could be accomplished if you just sit down and keep working at it, don’t give up, don’t ever give up (and yes, that phrase was borrowed from a more important speech by “Jimmy V”, and if you haven’t done so I suggest you go onto YouTube and see it … truly inspiring).
To me, it wasn’t the virtues of the Avatar that drove me, although they were, and still are, compatible with my faith and upbringing. It was the fact that I finally found something that made me mentally stronger. I credit Lord British for indirectly assisting me in my chess tournaments to the point where I am currently in the top 20% of all rated players in the United States.
My parents bought me one of the first Apple ][+ computers on the market, and I remember my first games being “Space Invaders” and “DOS BreakOut”. It was my second Christmas with that machine (I believe in 1982) that was fateful.
I had already received another game – “Snapper” in my pile of gifts when my father hands me this thin book-sized gift. I ripped it open and noticed a sky-blue background with a man dressed in a space suit and a gun stepping through a doorway to escape this big huge grey winged thing, and the name “Ultima II” on top.
I didn’t even stop to open the box. I thought it was a board game. After all, I got my Apple game for the year, until I read the “DOS 3.3 Compatible” on the box. “Oh! Another one!” Dad smiled at me, everyone else frowned. I opened the box … this had TWO disks. Nothing ever had TWO disks … and it was a map of the world … not really accurate like my atlas, but it was a map, but … what kind of writing was this? I kinda could make it out, but not really. I then read the manual that came with it. All of a sudden, I couldn’t wait. I was nine, this was COOL!
I seem to remember the words “Mom, I wanted to get him a game to make him think.” and that was the end of the conversation. I didn’t care, I was still in my bathrobe … TO THE DEN! Lets see, you have to read the instructions … Come on hurry up, I wanna play this! Done. Copied. Fine. Flip over the master disk and play.
The first thing I do when I see the screen is jump out of my seat, not because of what I saw, but because of what I heard. The sound, weird, almost like singing, followed by this big “Ultima” logo with this big dragon coming up with the rest coming out of his mouth.
I was a fighter. I don’t remember his name, but he was big and strong … nothing else mattered, until I figured out I only had 90 skill points and I couldn’t put 0 into all the rest of the stats.
I remember not moving from that seat much during that Christmas vacation, and even sneaking down to the machine in the middle of the night … the only problem was, time doors could be heard through closed room doors, along with sword swings and hits, so the room got locked so they didn’t hear “SCHWEEEE!” at two in the morning.
I never completed Ultima II, but always wanted to. Next year, a classmate gave me Ultima III, because his mom didn’t want it in the house, and this was BETTER. I had four people to go around killing stuff with and it had a separate screen for fighting and all this great new stuff like chests … oh crap, ACID TRAP, why am I dead? Didn’t finish that either … school, other things.
Several years pass … seven of them. I continue to try to beat two and three, but I had schoolwork and chess I was kinda good at. By this time I was in high school and a somebody with a mohawk and rainbow hair says to his buddy “Yeah, I finally beat Ultima V.”
Immediately, next time I see the guy, I walk up to him, walking cane and all and I say “You beat Ultima five?” You must understand, I can’t get up the nerve to talk to anybody and here I am talking to someone with blue and red hair and a leather jacket. Kids, even in high school, would look at me, smile just to be nice and go on with their little cliques.
Didn’t know his name … didn’t care. “Want $20 for it?” … “Sure. You got an Apple, right?” …“Yup.”
Next day, this guy actually walks into my American History class before the bell, hands me the box and before I can dig into my pocket to pay him, he says “Keep your money dude. Enjoy.”
This was the fall of 1990. I hadn’t completed two, or three, because I had done something I wouldn’t do later: I had given up, because I was 9, 10, 11, and other things had caught my time. Yet, I was determined to complete five. Two virtues Richard does not tell you that he teaches you in Ultima games are patience and perseverance. You learn about diligence and control in 6, but since I never got a PC till I went off to college in 1992, I never got there until I had the Ultima collection CD sometime later.
From the fall of 1990 till the summer of 1991, and I would estimate a good three to four hundred game play hours, coupled with a three ring binder that held all my notes, some of which I had to re-write – August 1, 1991 … I rescued Lord British. SUCCESS!!
I graduated high school in 1992. What came out in 1992? Ultima VII. This one was a bit easier to con grandma into buying … it was a graduation gift, and the box was black, no scary things on it. (I convinced her that the figure on the box of Ultima III was a bug and I played Mr. Exterminator). My cousin also brought me a copy of Ultima IV for my apple, and although it was damaged, I was still able to play most of it.
I didn’t finish two years in college, and was home by winter of 1993. Even though I was tredging through Ultima VII, other issues going on in my life at that time forced me to put the game on hold. I never touched Ultima again until I was out on my own about 1999. I bought the Ultima 9 Collectors Edition, with all 10 games on one cd. By this time my original disks were gone, having succumbed to a ‘religious accident’. I don’t start with 9, I start with Akalabeth, and start playing in order, one by one until I get them done. I was able to get through Serpent Isle and start on Ultima VIII when I tell myself “This isn’t right. This isn’t an Ultima.” I stopped when I had to kill the necromancer. I tried Ultima IX, but again, couldn’t force myself to play outside of Britain. All the games I enjoyed were from Origin. All the games I didn’t enjoy were from EA. This wasn’t Lord British’s fault, this was EA’s fault. I knew that long before there was a “Spoony.”
So, what am I doing, and why am I doing this? More importantly why am I changing things? Hell. What am I changing? Who are these women that are replacing the companions?
So many questions! The answers are coming … but not now. They are explained in the story, and … you’re just going to have to read it, aren’t you (evil grin) … but yes, I will certain explain things as I write them. Suffice it to say my ‘fanboydom’ of our dear Lord British now has its limitations, and certain things will meet NUCLEAR BOMBS. To give you a hint at one of the things that is being EXPLODED … these seven ladies have nineteen (shortly twenty) children between them that I know of. So you know what’s coming! And if you read this entry carefully, you have a clue on what else is meeting the rewriting axe of death.
Have a nice day
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