Announcing: The Ultima Codex

Announcing: The Ultima Codex

The what, now?

The Ultima Codex is a collaboration between several members of the Ultima and Ultima Online fan communities. And in a way, it represents something that has been a dream of mine for some time now: an opportunity to create a single online space where fans from both sides of the legacy of Origin Systems’ amazing RPG series can come to find content that is of interest to them.

When I began Ultima Aiera several years ago, I initially intended it to mirror the role of Voyager Dragon’s Ultima: The Reconstruction, a website that tracked both the official and unofficial patches for, and fan remakes of, the single-player Ultima games. Over the course of the next few years, Aiera became the primary place for Ultima fans to go for that sort of information, as Voyager was sadly unable to continue keeping his site up to date.

In recent years, Aiera has grown both in terms of what news it covers and in terms of its readership. As I began to widen the focus of the site to include news about past Origin Systems personalities, the legacy and influence of Ultima, and even other games entirely, I was surprised at the emergence — it seemed to be an almost “overnight” thing — of a rather sizeable community in the comment forms of the site. Indeed, Aiera even became a site that many Ultima fans checked daily…and for a few, it was the first site they checked every time they went online. That was surprising to me, and humbling…and Aiera was totally unprepared for it.

Aiera was also unprepared for the likes of The Origin Museum content, and the somewhat more “official” interest from the Ultima franchise team at BioWare Mythic, both of which only served to boost the readership and community of the site even more. And yet, Aiera itself — though it generally was able to serve the needs of the people that frequented it — was, behind the scenes, cracking under the strain. It had never been designed with a large community in mind, and I had added needed components and functionality to it in a very ad hoc kind of way as it had grown. It was becoming difficult to manage effectively, both in general and as a one-man show.

The idea for The Ultima Codex was born in late 2011, when Deckard (who runs UO Journal and the Ultima Online Portal here) offered to hand over the domain name to me. Initially, my plan had been to hand over the domain name to the people at The Codex of Ultima Wisdom, but over the course of a few weeks the plan grew rather more ambitious, and plans for a new online nexus for Ultima fans were hatched.

Currently, in addition to the main Codex site and Aiera’s new home, you can also find the Ultima Underworld tribute website (which marks the game’s 20th anniversary) and the nascent Origin Gallery. In the near future, an Ultima Online portal will be added to the network of sites, as will the Codex of Ultima Wisdom and the Digital Lycaeum. And more sites will follow in the wake of these! The websites all, or for the most part, use what are called “responsive” themes, that dynamically adjust to the size of the screen on which they are being viewed. This eliminates the need for mobile-specific plugins that change the look of the site for browsers on handheld devices; the sites will have the same aesthetic feel (and nearly the same functionality) on small screens and large screens alike, by design.

The Ultima Codex, then, is the next phase in Ultima fandom online. The same content that drew everyone to Aiera is already, or will soon be, moved over to subdomains of the Codex. Aiera users will be migrated over and given access to all of the sites that make up the Codex. A new forum has been set up, as well as various other user interaction and social features. This will, by the Virtues, be the place to come for Ultima fans.

What this means, in the most immediate sense, is that I will no longer be posting news updates to this website. However, this site will remain online for the foreseeable future, both for reasons of posterity and as the home for the various project, utility, and patch downloads that were its beginning and which form its core. In time, these too will be moved over to The Ultima Codex, though it’s likely you’ll find them here for a long time to come as well.