Booklet - USA - 1st edition.
Fellowship is video game manual for Ultima VII: The Black Gate written and published by Origin Systems on 1992-04-16. The book was included in the game box alongside the Install Guide, which included instructions for getting the game to run, and the Player Reference Guide, which details the play controls of the game. Fellowship is designed as though it is a book that exists within the game world and is written to function like a religious tract for the Fellowship, complete with parables, pushing their worldview, and rewriting history.
My friend Kevin who introduced me to Ultima VII: The Black Gate had this game and manual. One day while we were playing the game, I began leafing through it, and he said he had already read it, and that it was boring, but I found it interesting and would flip through it when he was playing the game. After I bought the game from him in 1998, I took the time to read through the entire booklet and found it to be quite enjoyable, certainly the most interesting video game manual I had read up until that point, and still one of my favorites.
- Deciding to write the manual as though it existed in the game world helps with immersion. This isn't a new idea, as most of the previous Ultima titles did this as well, but it's still fantastic.
- The book is deftly written in the style of a religious tract. It's extremely personable and familiar, promotes its own worldview, and claims to promote an existing worldview, while at the same time denigrating and replacing it (both the virtues and the Avatar). It follows many common tropes including the hero's journey, a re-writing of history, a desire to make Britannia great again, teaching people that they are flawed and can only be fixed through help from the Fellowship. Even the cover looks very similar to an old bible.
- There are over 70 drawings which beautifully illustrate the topics of the manual.
- Thankfully, the manual doesn't describe any of the technical aspects of the game, like the controls or troubleshooting, because they would break the manual's theme. Instead, they have been put into separate manuals.
- The graphic layout is neat and clean.
- I would have preferred to see the manual in color, but understand that this would have greatly increased costs.
The game doesn't directly credit the writers and illustrators of the manual, but includes their names with the writers and artists of the game. However, by comparing the work of other games released by Origin around the same time, I think I was able to figure them out.
|Writers (not directly credited)
|Andrew Morris, John Watson
|Illustrations (not directly credited)
|Legacy Illustrations (not directly credited)
|Package & Manual Design
|David Ladyman (probably the editor), Deborah Nettingham