Tuesday, January 10, 2012

W101 Not Linux Friendly

Ok, so I have finally found something I really don't like about Wizard 101.
It's not Linux-Friendly! The software for the game only works on Windows operating systems.

Since I had a computer crash in late 2011, got fed up with Windows (all the updating, upgrading, cost, proprietary details, virus vulnerability, etc) and finally switched to using Linux as my operating system, I haven't been able to run the Wizard 101 game on my desktop computer. Have no fear... I access the game via my laptop but gameplay isn't the same using the mousePAD, smaller screen, longer screen load times/screen lag. Since gameplay isn't as seamless on my laptop, I'm not playing very often at all - perhaps once per week for an hour. So much for goals for character levelling prior to my computer crash.

I'm not sure if I am more upset about the W101 site/game software or with the Linux developers/program that is supposed to act as a converter to allow gameplay of Windows games on Linux systems. I have tried the latter, the WINe (Windows emulator) program with little success beyond getting the game to load. Beyond that, I can't access the options area of the screen to do anything, select a character, etc.

Of course, a third possibility exists beyond Wiz101 developers needing to create software that works with Linux OR the WINe/Linux getting tweaked to run Wiz101 better...

The third possibility might be that I need to learn to use Linux better! LOL

Perhaps I don't have my settings right for the WINe to convert Wiz101 in the best possible way. Being a Windows user up until recently, I am not very experienced with using Linux terminal to load and tweak how my software works... (Windows is set up to never allow users to tweak the operating system, commands or any software via terminal/system level, so Windows users usually never learn to do this with their computers).

If there are any readers using Linux and WINe successfully to play Wizard 101, I would love to hear from them! I'm using Lucid Lynx. I've searched message boards in Linux/Ubuntu forums for "the fix" to the problem I am having but the solutions have been written by seasoned Linux users and consist of instructions that seem executable only by other seasoned Linux users! Honestly, the fixes I've come across appear like instructions for writing a new computer program...

Things that are difficult to do on Wizard101 via laptop:

  • The silver chest game
  • Chat during battle (I keep de-selecting my spell to cast if I try to answer a battle partner in chat, so I end up being a burden on other players)

I don't know how many times (too many!) I've selected a spell, selected the target, then waited a couple of seconds in order to engage in chat with a battle partner... only to have my spell cancelled and "our side" start to cast, leaving me as "passing" on casting. Basically, if I try to chat, my partner(s) end up casting all the spells and trying to win battles with a spare person who appears to be passing and doing nothing to help all the time.

It looks REALLY BAD, especially for a LIFE WIZARD, to be passing all the time.

This post has been a definite gripe session, in general, but I figure some other readers might respond with some suggestions that might help me get back to playing from my desktop computer. (I would rather get back to using my laptop for school and biz stuff, too. I didn't get it to play games on, so it's not filled with the right stuff for gaming). As well, I paid for a 6mo membership in the game a couple of weeks before my computer crashed, so I haven't gotten much gameplay yet for the money I put out.

For now, unless I hear some reader tips or suggestions, I will try tweaking my display settings before loading Wizard 101 and see if this makes options button/menu and other gameplay selection buttons visible when I load the game. This will mean I'll have to always tweak the display settings both entering and after I exit the game - in order to view everything else properly on my screen, but if this makes the game work properly, I'll be happy for this for a while until I figure out something less drastic! lol

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Is Merle Ambrose Merlin From Arthurian Legend? Part 2 of 2

A set of writings Geoffrey of Monmouth started putting together well before the Historia Regum Britanniae happened to be Prophetiae Merlini - Prophecies of Merlin! Now - although and AGAIN - the scholarship of Geoffrey of Monmouth and accuracy of his text is disputed (what's new, eh? scholars seem to love to disagree, don't you think?) - in his earlier works, Prophetiae Merlini, some of the prophecies attributed to Merlin point to real events that did happen and that are documented in other works that are considered "valid," and not so questionable as Geoffrey of Monmouth's literature.

At least part of Geoffrey of Monmouth's earlier writings matches up with reasonable soundness where events are concerned... so we are left again with his assertion that a man named Merlin prophesied these events ahead of time...

Alight, I know I know you're thinking, "You're just running around in circles here!" I know this is frustrating...

And you're RIGHT! I'm running around in absolutely circular, curved, all-the-way-around circles!

But this is how all the attempted searches for Merlin end up - including the search for Headmaster Merle Ambrose's origins.

Here's my latest opinion on the whole Geoffrey of Monmouth thing thus far..... The cleric was putting together his text by interpreting a lot of other texts, including folklore of his day! These were all oral tales, literature and various texts that came before him. In that bundle of literature and lore, there were stories of a King Arthur and of a Myrddin fellow. These individuals may have ALWAYS BEEN made up characters that people prior to Geoffrey of Monmouth talked about.

But what if they weren't just stories?

What if they weren't just story characters but were, instead, real people that nobody took the time to write about properly before Geoffrey of Monmouth came along? What if what was supposed to be the record of their existence was so overlooked until the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth that we can only have the Historia Regum Britanniae and Prophetiae Merlini as a reference - works that scholars desperately debate about time and time again?

And what of our Headmaster, Merle Ambrose?

Don't you think it's obvious? Of COURSE he's Merlin! He, TOO, existed since an ancient time before things were written down properly and before good historical records were kept! Heck, he was studying magic centuries ago... if he was studying and honing his wizardly spells "for a few centuries" as he said, then he's very old and had to have been around before Geoffrey of Monmouth!

Okay - now I have to "fess up" - 'cos Geoffrey of Monmouth actually and finally fessed up, to a certain extent in his lifetime, too. A piece of work he wrote AFTER both Prophetiae Merlini AND Historia Regum Britanniae was called Vita Merlini (The Life of Merlin). Unfortunately, when he put that out, nobody would really believe, in full, what he asserted - and they stuck with the information from his previous texts, calling these "versions of truth."

Geoffrey of Monmouth actually wasn't as bumbling as critics of his day made him out to be and he seems to have attempted to set things a-right in the much later piece of writing about Merlin's life. He also made statements to say what he had done with weaving in folklore with historical truths concerning events, etc.

Technically, he was writing as a "Chronicler" or in a literary style known as "Chronicles." Remember in the last post, the phrase "Literary Work of National Myth"? (the texts have all been properly classified now, in our day - we're just not accustomed to some of the old styles such as "written in the Chronicle Tradition/Style").

There WAS a man named Myrddin Wyllt but he didn't live during the time when a person who might have been King Arthur (Artur Pendragon) lived. Myrddin lived during later years... and Geoffrey of Monmouth conveniently implanted Myrddin into a time and into more exciting events that happened before his time of existence. Sort of a "Back To The Future" kind of thing.

In Geoffrey of Monmouth's defense, I think it should be said that it is very possible that some of his material was intended to be literary art (hint again: he wrote in the tradition of Chronicler) but was taken, instead, to be an attempt to seriously fudge with historical documentation of real persons. It is entirely likely that while Geoffrey of Monmouth may have placed some value on the existence of "folklore," his contemporaries were only concerned with acquiring old records of history and with recording history.

An argument on the side of "some works as literary arts": examine the language Geoffrey of Monmouth uses when writing. He writes and publishes in Latin - a language of definite form. The language of the region, however, is Saxon language/Britain wording - moving toward "English" - a sort of language 'in the making' at the time; with strange form and rules, exceptions to rules. Basically the language is all in a state of flux, all messed up. The language of Britain isn't standardized yet in this time frame while Latin has had standard spelling and form for hundreds of years already. Language and written works WERE serious matters back in Geoffrey of Monmouth's day - but so were The Arts! (and - gasp - the Chronicle tradition is a form of literary art!). Geoffrey of Monmouth as a cleric would have been schooled in some formal "forms and figures" and it seems he fell back on form and figures, for sure, in his published works. His last piece, Vita Merlini, is in Latin, in a form that is supposed to be taken as poetic (it uses figures of speech-poetics and form/structure of wording, word count, line count, line appearance - form-poetics). Translated into English, it's not really poetic or flashy at all - tho' it is a great story (and easier for us to read)!

Take a look at the Latin verson: Vita Merlini at Sacred Texts online

And the same, translated into English: Life of Merlin (Sacred Texts online). (BTW, if you have extra time, READ the whole English version - it's awesome adventure story stuff... and you'll see some hints of our Headmaster in there, too! Bookmark that page).

Here are some tidbits just to let you know how different "academia" and recording of historical records was several hundred years ago verses how we know it:

People like William of Newbury (oh! another CHRONICLER - but this one is a literal/serious chronicler, not an figurative/artistic one), one of Geoffrey of Monmouth's most tenacious critics - wrote about REVENANTS for gosh sakes - and these writings were attempts to write down important data and preserve "history" of births, marriages, deaths, celebrations, plagues, etc. Those Revenants would be like "Rotting Fodders" or zombies, ghosts or possibly even vampires (Yes, I SAID VAMPIRES)... if you didn't go read the article from the link above. William of Newbury recorded incidents of the appearance of Revenants as facts in a history document of his own! ie: a newlywed wife was found to be cheating on her newlywed husband. He got suspicious, hid in the rafters and soon after, viewed his new bride "in the act" with another guy...he freaked out, fell from the rafters and died! He then came back as a revenant and tried to harm his widowed wife. All recorded as history by the Chronicler, William of Newbury. Yet he called Geoffrey of Monmouth out on the way HIS (Geoffrey of Monmouth's) writings were presented.

The strangest thing, however, is that we are still talking about Revenants and Merlin now today, aren't we?

Some individuals that Geoffrey of Monmouth inserted in his history documents - these belong with our good Headmaster, Merle Ambrose! If not connected by realm and time, the names definitely belong together!

From Arthurian legend, Uther Pendragon was said to have lived during ancient times before the records and histories of the world were written down properly. Geoffrey of Monmouth didn't make the character of Uther Pendragon up... Pendragon was on the lips of the people well before Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote about him. He's in several folk-poetic verses, in songs of the common folk before Geoffrey of Monmouth ever did any story-weaving. Uther Pendragon's name and story is found in poetic form (in the tenth century) - complete with some rather complex references to Uther's son Madoc (yes, Arthur had a brother), Uther's son, Arthur (Artur), and Uther's own brother - named "Ambrosius Aurelianus"!

By the way, in the world of folklore, fairy tales and legends - no version of legend is "more right" or "more valid" - these are perspectives and reiterations of versions of the histories of heroes and legendary folk.

Here, Geoffrey of Monmouth probably started to weave in some of his own "arts." It seems he placed Myrddin into the same time period as Uther, Madoc, Artur and Ambrosius Aurelianus. Furthermore, the stories weave together in a really COOL way now (in a way we don't want to take them apart again - it's just COOL and it makes sense)... Somehow, Ambrosius dies and the custom way back when was for the other family members to adopt the "head" name after the death of a significant family member. The name Pendragon means "Head Dragon" (Geoffrey of Monmouth actually translated this wrong at one point as "Dragon Head"). So the Head Dragon died and the next in line took the name - Uther died pretty soon after and Artur would be the logical next person to assume the name, right?

WRONG - because our buddy "G of Monmouth" is weaving here! We have this Myrrdin character that got stuffed into the wrong time period, remember? Now the only way this would make sense is if he is closely attached to the Pendragon family. Well ya can't just RUIN good folksongs by slapping a weird Myrrdin guy into nice heroic, semi-Royal families like the Pendragon family... so Myrrdin becomes less Welsh-sounding, more fitting to the tale - Merlin. Mr. Merlin still can't BE a Pendragon but he can be a mentor/friend of the family, right? This spins out as an alternate version of the tale/history of the Pendragons... and then when the story is re-told and Ambrosius dies - then Uther dies, someone of the proper AGE has to assume the name AND look after the family, right?

In most versions of Arthurian Legend, who is Merlin to Arthur? His Mentor/teacher, right? Or a peer to Arthur's father and a keeper of sorts toward Arthur, right? Have you counted the versions of Arthurian Legend out there that haven't even been TOUCHED by our literary friend, Geoffrey of Monmouth? (there are tons of stranger stories about Merlin and King Arthur than the ones Geoffrey of Monmouth promoted).

What are versions of Merlin's name? (They're closely related to the Pendragon family terms).

Known names for Merlin - Name Associations:
  • Merlinus Sylvestris
  • Merlinus Caledonensis
  • Myrddin Wyllt
  • Merlin Ambrosius 
  • Myrddin Emrys
  • The Bard - Myrddin Wyllt
  • Merlinus
  • Plain old "Merlin"

Anyhow - I think we've found out who our Headmaster is now! Indeed, he IS Merlin from the Arthurian Legend! Merle/Merlin/Merlinus + Ambrose/Ambrosius/Ambro-whatever-ya-wanna-put-here.

What's YOUR favourite version of Arthurian Legend - and what role does Merlin have in it?

Is Merle Ambrose Merlin From Arthurian Legend? Part 1 of 2

According to some storytellers and scholars, the source of the character of Merlin can be traced back to Welsh legend from way - WAAAAY Back before the 12th Century. Scholars aren't sure whether our fine and mystical Merlin guy was an archetype/prototype or whether he lived as an actual person hundreds of years ago. Despite not being able to pinpoint facts with complete certainty, for hundreds of years, people have loved to talk about Arthurian characters, tell tales and versions of history, telling about everyone from Merlin to King Arthur to The Lady of the Lake, Sir Lancelot and Guinevere, Sir Gawain, and m..... oh wait.

We were discussing Merlin, weren't we? And is Merle Ambrose the Arthurian Legend "Merlin?"
Ah yes...
Now we'll just have to figure out who the ancient Arthurian Merlin was first now, eh?

Merlin may have been Myrddin Wyllt - who was a historical person with some actual records written about him. He was said to be of Welsh origin and to have been a prophet. As well, he was called a madman (not angry=mad, but Crazy=Mad). It is said that a man with this name, probably born/existing in the late sixth century was some manner of fighter, warrior or knight but that after one particular battle, he went mad and went running into the forest to escape - for what exact reason, nobody really knows - he went mad, remember? Anyway, legend has it that he lived with the animals for a while and in so doing, found his gift of prophecy. This is how he came to be known as both "prophet" and "madman."

Now nothing was really written about Myrddin until a while later (a few hundred years later, according to some sources). We can access documents by a cleric named, Geoffrey of Monmouth, who wrote Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain) and resided in Wales for a time (scholars have been arguing as to his origins for a long time, many say he wasn't actually of Welsh origin and was more likely a Breton but just lived in Wales a long time... hmmm more mystery). In his Historia Regum Britanniae, Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote some details about King Arthur and also a Myrddin Myllt. Geoffrey of Monmouth asserts that his information came from an ancient text that needed to be translated from British language "[...] that told in orderly fashion the deeds of all the kings of Britain." The ancient text was translated into Latin. The text, Geoffrey of Monmouth said, came from an Archdeacon of Oxford named Walter (or, "Walter, The Archdeacon of Oxford"). It is highly unlikely that Geoffrey of Monmouth fabricated everything said to be informational in the ancient texts but it is also just as highly likely that he blended alleged histories from other texts about the history of kings and of Britain and Wales. Most scholars believe that Geoffrey of Monmouth did embellish upon the stories and writings he was studying from time to time - where gaps made linear historical storylines difficult to navigate....

Hey nobody said history had to be boring, right? And shouldn't the details be COMPLETE now, the accounts not filled with holes? Hmmm?

Now, because it is obvious that Geoffrey of Monmouth embellished in at least some parts of his work, we have to declare his Historia Regum Britanniae as a literary work of national myth.

Does this mean that Geoffrey of Monmouth's documents are garbage, false, not valuable?


Here's why: It is most likely that the writing of the history undertaken by Geoffrey of Monmouth began as a somewhat serious affair. The sources HE read from and studied were questionable - and nobody had documented the history of kings in Britain very well before he attempted to do so. PLUS - all of this questionable information gave people in Geoffrey of Monmouth's time - as well as our own time - something to think about and endless research to do!

In our day, after looking at the older texts and arguments as well, we know a lot more about documenting history, working with spoken narratives, cultural perspectives, and other things. We can understand that in the time when people were trying to understand the histories of lineage of Kings in Britain, the ideas that filled the minds of mankind centuries ago were of mysticism, the possibility of unexplained, magical things - codes of honour, supernatural happenings, sometimes horrible but sometimes beneficial beasts, and a whole lot more. The world was a mysterious, sometimes violent and frightening place.

Some of the best legends and also the best REAL HEROES come out of dangerous, mysterious times, situations and places... so is it really impossible that Geoffrey of Monmouth's tales have some truth to them?

And we still haven't answered the question "Is Merle Ambrose actually Merlin From Arthurian Legend?"

Let's examine this just one step further - on to the next post - I promise I will wrap this up over there.

Wizard City: Merle Ambrose

The Headmaster of Ravenwood School of Magic is Merle Ambrose. According to the storyline, Merle Ambrose dislikes having anyone fuss over his birthday. Perhaps this is because he was around ages and ages ago - even before Wizard City existed as we know it.

headmaster ambrose,merle ambrose,wizard,wizard 101

According to Headmaster Ambrose, himself, he is hundreds and hundreds of years old:

"At various times I have spent a few centuries devoting myself to the study of each of the different magic schools. Currently I am studying the Astral magics, [...]"     --Merle Ambrose

(posted by the headmaster at forum/ravenwood at the Wizard101 site).

In my interactions with the Headmaster, I have found him to be a little bit forgetful and distracted when I am speaking with him. It must be that the Headmaster has a great deal on his mind all the time. Being the Headmaster of Ravenwood School of Magic must be a role filled with responsibilities - especially with all the fledgling wizards running around at different stages of wizardry development!

If you're new to the game, Wizard 101, you'll want to stop in and see the headmaster from time to time, just for the heck of it. Sometimes you'll get side-tracked on quests and end up forgetting to "turn a quest in" to have it counted as finished/gain your next task. A lot of the questing is run through Merle Ambrose and he gives the rewards for quest completion.

Here's a map of The Commons in Wizard City. Merle's location is close to Gamma The Owl.


If you get lost, return to The Commons and regain your bearings.

There has been some speculation in the forums that "Merle" is actually Merlin The Magician. The connection, of course, is visible in the wording - "Merle" is short for "Merlin" from Arthurian legend.  If you tend to believe this, then let me give you a few details as I know them - about Merlin from Arthurian legend - and then you can decide what you believe...

On to the next post!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Surprised About Gender Preferences

I do research into urban legends, mythology, folklore, etc., so I am highly aware of archetypes and roles in storytelling, games, etc.. Consequently, two of my first characters were male ones. It just seemed natural to me to try creating a boy character when I started as my first impressions of the Wizard101 game included notions of "battle," "quests," "defeats or wins in battle," and to me, these seemed like "boy" things. Also, since I tend to get wrapped up in gaming, I wanted to make sure I created an opposite gender character to distance myself by identity - from the gameplay persona. I suppose the choice of a boy character and associating "battle" with the masculine gender has to do with North American gender role conditioning that has been going on for hundreds of years as well...

... so with all the above, I was completely shocked with kid-player reaction to my character creation choices!

I have literally been scolded by children online at Wizard101!

What an experience! or two - or three...

Needless to say, since this is a family arena for game play and children are a special demographic group this site is dedicated to, I took a step back and reconsidered my ideas surrounding character creation.

I can only guess that child players who chided me earlier felt uncomfortable with my interactions knowing I was a different gender than my character and an adult, to boot! Since this (cause of discomfort) was never my intent and I want to promote myself in a safe way online at Wizard101, I felt I should return to character creation and start again in a different way.

It may be that with the game requiring quite a lot of thinking (some of the Krokotopia puzzles, remembering locations, where books and reagents, where portals and such are) at times, younger people don't want to mess with figuring out who is behind the character and just want to assume that when they meet a boy character, it's a boy behind the mask. Same ditto for girl characters and females behind those personas.

I was very quickly taken off a friends list early in my Wiz101 gaming experience - when a female player and I battled a few rounds together and ended up on the same quest-line for a little while. Later in questing when we were doing some reagent gathering and had more time to chat, she started flirting with the male persona I created for the game. When I told her I was a female adult, the player got very upset. Needless to say, we are not on each others' friends lists and that game-relationship lasted only about a half hour!


I am not LOL-ing because this is terribly funny...but more out of a slight discomfort resulting from this experience because 1 - I had never intended to misrepresent myself as a person but thought most players are highly aware of the persona/role-play details of this game and 2 - I got quite the "talking to" by this player for a little while before we went our separate ways... mostly it was apparent that the player's feelings were quite hurt. I had to come to the realization that in particular - TEENS - are a huge demographic group who are playing Wizard 101 and THEY CAN BE VERY EMOTIONAL!


It's not that a particular GENDER is favoured, either male or female, as best to use during game play - it's that your real GENDER used for game play seems to be a preference - especially for adults playing Wizard 101.

Character Looks - Adult Grey Hair

I don't know if this is important or not and I don't know if other game players notice or not but since I am an adult player of the game, Wizard 101, I decided to make sure to give my characters grey hair. I didn't start this until I gained a little bit of experience with navigating and playing the game, so I have a couple of characters from my "noob" days that are not gray-haired but that I have caused to be mainly inactive. I don't want to lose the resources and items I gained from these first characters so I am gradually sending these resources to my newer, grey-haired characters and will delete the former personas pretty soon. I may keep the strongest original character for gathering resources and keep the friend list feature shut off when using this character in game play. I haven't quite decided yet...

I am in very strong agreement with The KingsIsle/Wizard 101 concept of safe play online and the efforts of this gaming community to look after the best interests of our youngest game players. Since I am behind a monitor and relatively anonymous during gameplay, I felt it best to attempt to display at least one signature feature that might be interpreted as an adult one... the grey hair.

Additionally, I keep my "add friends" feature TURNED OFF most of the time so that players have to chat a bit with me before adding me on a friend list. I try to let people who are interested in befriending me know  that I AM NOT A KID... and I hope other adult players have thought of similar ways to let gamers know a little about themselves beyond the restrictive and anonymous environment we are all in when we play Wizard101.

I just wanted to put these concepts "out there" for people to think about.

I really enjoy this game and wish KingsIsle/Wizard101 developers, creators, promoters much success and longevity so that I can keep playing and having a blast with this game. I think that anything players can do to increase safety, alleviate gameplay and character interaction confusion is good for the longevity and experiences at Wizard101. In fact, for adults of the game - who are supposed to be the responsible people - I think we have a duty to ensure that we are doing everything possible to maintain or even increase safety during game interactions.

Now, this isn't to suggest I mean to say all adult players need to turn off their befriending list feature and make their characters have grey hair all the time... I am just mentioning what I am doing to help promote a safe gaming experience around my characters for those who play and are at vulnerable ages.

Any thoughts on this matter from readers?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wizard 101 Safe Chatting

I'm no kid and I find Wizard 101 both entertaining and challenging. The graphics are decent eye-candy and the questing is difficult enough to keep kids, teens and adults all engaged and in wonder.

There are enough features in settings to make Wizard 101 one of the most safe multi-player online role playing games on the net right now. Parents who wish to limit how online players of all ages interact with their kids can put settings on chat menu only, along with a few other safety settings - then password protect the account so it cannot be changed.

The restricted chat menu will restrict communication from both sides, the user and to those interacting with the player who is using restricted chat. If you want safety, this is awesome, however and quite naturally, some kids/players using restricted settings will complain about the limits of chat... Regardless, it's better to be safe than sorry, right?

Most common questions, sayings, comments and responses are put into the restricted chat menu so that communication is quite reasonable even with restricted settings. Things like "Please May I Join?" (a battle, chat, player versus player match, etc), "Yes," "No," "Thank You," "You're Welcome," "OK," are supplemented by a reasonably wide range of other menu-text so that quite a lot of communication is possible.

Players with lower restrictions will still need to use text wisely and respectfully and be aware that KingsIsle Entertainment (KI for short) has gone to great lengths to make Wizard 101 as safe for players (of all ages) as possible. There are filters in place to restrict numbers (so that phone numbers cannot be exchanged easily), cuss words and even some name places and spelling which might mean people are typing personal addresses via game chat on the internet. In my opinion - AWESOME - great job, KingsIsle!

Here is a screenshot of some of the menu-only chat options:

I created a brand new character (Fallon ShadowSmith) in order to provide illustrations of some aspects, options and features of the Wizard 101 game on my blog so you will see a very empty "Friends List" for quite a while.

In keeping with KingsIsle Entertainment's brand of safety online, I will try to keep other player names out of my screenshots whenever possible - just in case...