“And now for something completely different!”
–Monty Python’s Flying Circus
It is April 9th, 2019. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, Neo Atlas 1469, Shovel Knight Showdown, and Zanki Zero: Last Beginning hit the shelves on their respective platforms. “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus is at the top of the US charts. Shazam! remains No.1 at the US box office. Actor Dennis Quaid turns 65. And in Sheffield, England, Alex Sigsworth delivers an oration outlining the entire history of The Well-Red Mage, from inception to present.[
You might not be able to hear this, but I am applauding real hard right now. The Purple Prose Mage was invited to speak about TWRM at a WordPress Meetup in Sheffield and he actually created an entire presentation, then spoke in front of a group of people! Not many would be so willing. This required an immense amount of dedication and research, and it marks the most comprehensive explanation of this community’s history available!
It is with great pride that I present Purple’s Presentation to you, and I’ll allow him to do the honors of introducing it as well as discuss his thoughts behind it and what it was like to create such a presentation. You’ll find the video of the presentation at the end of this article.
Thank you, Alex, for voluntarily putting this together! Thank you also to @wpsheff for featuring us.
After agreeing to give a presentation about the Well-Red Mage, I had a month to prepare it. There was no way of knowing what proportion of attendees would be gamers, so I knew I had to keep it accessible, that’s why certain information – particularly about the environment and various approaches to online games criticism – is simplified or generalised. Overall, I think that helped keep a brisk pace and avoided overcomplication. That’s also why I decided to structure everything into a story, telling of how the Well-Red Mage came to exist and building from there… systematically, you might say. That provided a logical structure that would also create an emotional connection.
One challenge was explaining how being a Mage has impacted my life without making it all about me, as well as avoiding making it into a hagiography. I like to think I overcame both of these challenges.
The actual construction of the presentation involved the consultation of various articles of significance that cover the topics I touch upon. After that, I added other elements that I thought would help ease the flow from one subject to the next, before sorting everything into mostly chronological order, with a few jumps here and there for clarity when needed. After that, I personally showed the slides and speaker notes to the Well-Red Mage, who provided feedback, which I then acted-upon before rehearsing it to some other people in the house. That’s how I avoided a technical difficulty when it mattered. This gave me the opportunity to ask the Well-Red Mage the kind of questions that would usually seem strange to ask for no reason. Not every question was relavent in the end, but I found myself editing my mental transcript as I was delivering it in order to ommit information I realised no longer needed to be included.
Before the presentation started, I met the attendees and one of them told me that he’d already checked-out the site in advance and found that we really do go in-depth. That was a confidence boost. I was also told that I was the first speaker to create a sizeable turnout, so that was also a confidence boost – well, sort of.
On the whole, I’m surprised how well it seemed to go. The sound distorts for a moment in a few places for unexplainable reasons. But apart from that, I more or less delivered the presentation fluidly and it actually looks like I knew what I was doing. I’d only memorised half of it, so that I wouldn’t be relying completely on my own ability to recall it all from memory but was still able to cover the important details.
Some minor points:
- The auto-lighting doesn’t show this, but I was wearing purple. It would have just been inappropriate to wear any other colour.
- The website that I refer to as “Sprocket Frogs” is actually Skirmish Frogs. I couldn’t remember its name so I gave it my best shot when I could have not taken the risk. But I did, and I got it wrong. It doesn’t matter now, though, because they’re closing down soon.
- Not all sprites were custom created by Red’s wife, as implied.
- Showing the Mages Page was my way of making sure every Mage was included at least somewhat, but that slide became out-of-date a few hours before it was shown when, shortly before I departed for the meeting, we were informed of the enrolment into the Academy of the Thunder Mage.
- The flow chart took a long time to get right. I just want you to know that.
- It was weird for me to refer to the Well-Red Mage and the White Out Mage by their people names. Please understand, I wouldn’t do so were I not discussing us with outsiders.
- The Mage Cast and Side Quests extracts were selected personally by the Well-Red Mage and the ABXY Mage.
- The video captions are auto-generated and are mostly accurate but I intend to fully correct them soon (any polyglot viewers, feel free to submit translations).
- The thumbnail was originally posted on Twitter by Shehla Ali:
-The Purple Prose Mage