Floppy Disks and Collecting

I initially intended to start Longbow 2 straight after finishing Super Wing Commander but it’s taken me a while to get going in the end. I’ve been distracted by other things as always happens but I’ve also been put off by the sheer size of the manual which is possibly the largest I’ve ever seen. I’d more or less decided I was going to try out the California Pacific version of Ultima 1 first as I’ve recently purchased a usb floppy disk reader from http://www.kryoflux.com and I quite like the idea of being able to read my Apple II disk with it and actually play my own copy of the game, rather than getting a copy which has probably been altered off an emulation site. This is assuming that the disk is still readable, of course. However, despite being one of the first to order (within 30 mins of the store opening), it appears I was one of the last to get my order shipped so I’m still waiting for it to arrive…

I’m sure it will be worth the wait. Kryoflux is an interesting looking product for anyone who wants to back up their game collection. I especially like the fact that it will read any format of disk from any platform. Usually I would just download a game from an abandonware site but playing cracked/altered versions of games is something that always bugs me slightly and this is the perfect solution. At around 100 Euros, it’s very much a product for enthusiasts only but I seem to often find myself wanting to use an old floppy drive for one reason or another and getting it working is so much grief that this is easily worth the money for me. I’ve also got loads of games which I’ve not been able to previously attempt to back up due to copy protection. If you fancy one of these boards for yourself, the bad news is that they sold out almost immediately and you will probably have to wait until the next batch arrives at the end of December. I expect with a product like this that there will be a load of people like myself, who have been waiting for something like this for years and will buy it immediately but that once these people all own one the demand will be extremely limited. I doubt whether it will be viable to keep producing them after this demand has died down but I hope I’m wrong about that.

I’ve also been busy finishing off my Origin collection. I still haven’t found a copy of the long sought after Caverns Of Callisto, other than the one copy on Ebay for a frankly ludicrous $2500. The same guy is/was trying to get $2000 for a shrink wrapped copy of U9 Dragon Edition on Amazon and I could go on with more examples. I know that I don’t (and under no circumstances will) have to pay these insane prices myself, but I don’t like it when someone who is a collector themselves and knows the true value is attempting to rip people off. I find it offensive that anyone would end up paying this much and presumably people do or he wouldn’t do it. I’ve always found that the collecting community is all too willing to help each other out and this sort of profiteering rubs me up the wrong way. It’s a far cry from the likes of C. E. Forman over at Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe, who offers a real service to collectors.

I may be unwilling to spend $2500 on a game but I have decided that all the UO games are now cheap enough that I’m going to buy them even though I’ve never had any real interest in Ultima Online. Buying games you have no intention of playing is as sure a sign that you are a true collector as anything I can think of. I’m only picking up the ones with the Origin logo on and got the lot for less than the price of a new game so it’s not broken the bank. On similar lines, I’ve also picked up the 5 action figures that were based on the Ultima Online 2 game which never got released. I’m glad to say that I’ve never been into action figures, which are dolls for geeks in my eyes and now I’ve got some I’m less that sure what to do with the things. I expect they will end up on the tops of my bookcases “decorating” the games room. They are being all but given away on Ebay and Amazon or I wouldn’t have bought them – the demand for figures based on a game that never happened must be extremely low.

I remember all the Ultima fans being up in arms around the time Ultima Online 2 was being developed about the technology element being mixed into the world and looking at some of these figures, I can see where they were coming from. A cyborg Blackthorn is not something I ever expected to see. On the other hand, a series should evolve and I felt that Ultima got too stuck around the virtues in it’s later episodes. It’s not like advanced technology in Ultima games is unprecedented with Ultima 1 containing phasers, light sabers, space combat etc…
That said, I’d probably side with the people who hated the idea as it feels grossly disrespectful to the series. I’ll be able to decide better once I’ve read the trilogy of novels, that I’ve also bought. These “Technocrat Wars” novels were again intended to be released alongside Ultima Online 2 but then re-branded to Ultima Online and released anyway when UO2 was cancelled. I was half expecting these to be rare and therefore expensive but I picked them all up very cheaply. It’s curious that all this merchandise is available for a game that never existed but I gather it was contractual. It must all have been much to the bemusement of anyone who bought this stuff at the time, expecting something related to Ultima Online. The fact that I can pick up the action figures new and sealed so easily for 99p 10 years later, suggests that someone lost a lot of money on these things. It’s kind of like the situation the British government finds itself in at the moment where after recent budget cuts they are stuck building an aircraft carrier even though they won’t have any aircraft to put in it. I may well write reviews of the books anyway when I’ve read them. Reviews of all of Origin’s books was something I talked about doing a long time ago in this blog, but have yet to get around to.

To get back on topic, I’ve got a bit of time on my hands this weekend so while I’m waiting for my Kryoflux board, it must be time to get started on Longbow 2. This post was originally going to be an intro to that but since I’ve managed to ramble on at such length, I’ll file this under off topic and start a new one.

4 thoughts on “Floppy Disks and Collecting

  1. I for one would be more than a bit interested in you playing/blogging about trying out Ultima Online. Even if you only play for your free month (assuming it isn’t a “used” copy) I would bet there would be some interesting reading!

  2. Even if you don’t have a free month, as long as you get an account you can play for free sometime. They usually give 2 free weeks per year.

    It would be interesting reading about the origin books. I have read both Ultima books by Lynn Abbey which I got very cheap (just 2€ both of them and in good condition). They are interesting because they work as prequels to Ultima V

  3. Paying for a month of UO would be no big deal if if comes to it. There are dozens of other games that I’d rather play first though.

    I read those same 2 Ultima novels a long time back but it would be before I’d played all the games. They would mean more to me now so I’d like to give them another go. They were fairly good as I remember without being anything too special. I’m liking the idea of doing some book reviews actually. I’ve not got all of them by any means but I’ve still managed to pick up a large number of Origin cluebooks and novels over the years and it would be a good excuse to read through them all.

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