Dino's Ultima Page

The First Anniversary

Today, 27th July 2003, is the first anniversary of Dino's Ultima Page. It has spent six months on Geocities and six months on Shiftedphase, providing news and information to those that sought it.

How it all started

Dino's Ultima Page was not intended to reach its current state when it started. It all began with the fanfiction called "The Lost Vale", which was lost at the time. Natreg Dragon had it saved, and it would have been a good addition, or recovery, to the Dragon Press which hosts all the fanfictions written about Ultima.

Natreg Dragon agreed to host the zipped version of The Lost Vale so that Shadow of Light Dragon, who runs the Dragon Press, could download it and add it to the Dragon Press. He hosted it and I passed on the link to Shadow of Light, and after a couple of weeks, The Lost Vale was on the Dragon Press.

However, due to the size of the graphics and backgrounds of the original fanfiction, only the text of the fanfiction was hosted on the Dragon Press. This was a pity, because the backgrounds and graphics added a lot to the fanfiction's atmosphere. I soon remembered that I had some Geocities webspace, but didn't know how to use it and it took me a couple of attempts before I managed to upload the fanfiction. It took me a whole day, on 27th July 2002, to arrange the links, images and other things in the fanfiction to make it work on my webspace.

After The Lost Vale was uploaded and fixed, I wanted to add more to the site. It was quite barren, having only one fanfiction, so I added a Links page, a Credits page and a link to an external disclaimer. This was when I started mentioning news from other sites on my website, and that tradition has lived on till today.

Milestones

It all started on 27th July 2002 with the uploading of the "Lost Vale" fanfiction. However, after a couple of weeks, the site was quite barren - it had a very plain layout and contained only news, one fanfiction, and some "Credits", "Links" and such pages.

In August, I decided to add some real content to the site. I began working on Ultima Information pages which would provide some information on the site, and deeplink to information on other sites. This information section was not released until 26th August 2002, and still forms a major part of Dino's Ultima Page to this day.

On 15th September 2002, I applied for the Malta Web Awards, after a short period of time adding more flesh to this website. An FAQ was added, as well as a site map and a page about me. The site also had a new design, which consisted of scrolls.

Between September 2002 and January 2003, I learned more about HTML and web design, and Dino's Ultima Page was enhanced. It kept the same layout, but its code changed and it could load faster.

Years before Dino's Ultima Page began, my enjoyment of Ultima led me to collect information about the games. Shortly before the site began, I planned to make complete guides for each game, an enormous task. When I learned web design and had this site, it was the occasion to make the first one. In January 2003, I started my Guide to Ultima VIII - Pagan, and this led to a redesign of the whole site to what it is now. The tables layout was discarded, and a layout using <div>s and CSS was used instead.

On 28th January 2003, Dino's Ultima Page made its First Move after six months on Geocities. Edbgon was kind enough to offer me webspace, and Dino's Ultima Page has spent six months on Shiftedphase now. Many new features were added, and I could use PHP to make scripts such as a guestbook and a forum. The Ultima 8 Guide was released even though it was incomplete at the time, and it still is.

The latest major update on Dino's Ultima Page is the release of my Complete Guide to Ultima: Escape From Mt. Drash on 16th June 2003. Telemachos, leader of Peroxide, had ported Mt. Drash, an old VIC20 game, to the PC on 12th June 2003 and I took the occasion to write another guide - which is the first complete one on Dino's Ultima Page, and took 2 days to write.

Designs

The first layout applied to Dino's Ultima Page was that of a plain page with white text on a black background, and the navigation was separated from the content using tables. When I came to run for the Malta Web Awards, I decided to add more content about the site and change the layout, so scroll images were added to make it look better.

I don't have the old website files of the first design, though I do have those of the second design, which you may check out. However, the links in that page won't work (because I only added the news page for showing), and there are no links back to this article so you'll have to press "Back" in your browser to come back here.

Between September 2002 and January 2003, the site was undergoing many changes in code. Although it looked the same as before (more or less), it would load much faster and used much less code. However, when the new design was complete, it would not look good in the Mozilla browser for some reason or other. This was one of the things that led me to make a further redesign. You can check out this third version as well, and if you know HTML, view its source and compare the code.

In January 2003, when making my Ultima 8 Guide, I made the latest redesign. I based it on the design of another site I was making before, but enhanced it greatly and gave it a dark design just like the old Ultima site. I got rid of the old 'scroll' border images that sat around the navigation and content tables, as well as the tables themselves, and this allowed for a much simpler and cleaner layout, which is what we've got today. You can check out this fourth version as well - even though you can see it throughout the site, I added a demonstration of it anyway because you never know when the design will change again.

Current Status

Dino's Ultima Page now has 16 information pages including 2 guides, one of which is complete. It has home-made scripts that enhance the site, such as a guestbook, a forum and an opinion poster for Ultima 8. It provides news of 17 websites, and still has hundreds of links to information, both internal and external.

The latest design has enhanced the site even further, making it much more user-friendly. Apart from scripts that add some interactivity to the site, pages in Dino's Ultima Page have been structured in such a way to make it easy for visitors to go through them. For example, most pages have a "Contents" section that take you to sections of the page, and things such as quotations are clearly identified (for example, quotations have smaller, grey text with a blue border to the left).

I'm pretty happy with the site's current design, but as time goes by there's always room for improvement. If you think something can be improved, please tell me as soon as possible.

© by Daniel D'Agostino 2002-2019
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