Hopes and Dreams: An Undertale AIP

In my last post, I outlined some of the ways I hoped to structure an Undertale collection. Here, I have an actual image of what that might look like. Because there are a number of issues dealing with ownership here, I only have a mock-up with a few files, rather than the whole collection.

Undertale Model Archival Information Package
Undertale Model Archival Information Package

The three main folders are as follows:

  • “Datamined”: Information gathered from datamining, as presented on Mirrawr’s website. This includes a number of HTML pages and at least one PDF.
  • “Videos”: These are videos of Let’s Plays of Undertale. Includes a full Neutral/Pacifist run and a full Genocide run, with selected and compartative clips in the “Consequences” folder.
  • “Wiki”: Contains all pages from the Undertale Wiki.

Aside from the issues I raised in my last post, here are some considerations I made about this material.

File Types and Acquisition

For the purposes of this AIP, I have acquired the files simply by going to the page, right clicking, and hitting “Save Page as…” While this may have its problems (and indeed certain elements like ads broke), it saves the pages quickly and seemingly with a good bit of extra data. Because I am not concerned here with the look of the wiki as much as the text on it, these HTML documents do well even in a text editor to give users/readers the information needed to understand Undertale. Ideally, I think a software like Archive-it would be ideal, but not crucial. PDFs could also be obtained, but I rather like having a bit more of the HTML stuff available for readers, even if that isn’t my purpose in creating this.

A point raised in a number of the other posts was about how often such a website would need to be checked, to make sure the archive had current information. Although the game is still somewhat new, much of it has been rabidly consumed by fans, and so I do not anticipate great changes in coming years. So, perhaps once a year for the next five years, and then once every five years after that, an archivist could check for changes and update if necessary.

For the videos, I used a website to download the .MP4 of a let’s play. While this isn’t the best quality, because the graphics of Undertale are MEANT to be seen as a somewhat low-fi/throwback development, the lack of video quality is not a huge issue. Ideally, getting the original files from a gamer would be most ideal.

Link to Other Places

One great point Amy raised in a comment was how this could be a great opportunity to link from one section of the package to another, and you’ll see I did that here. In the Genocide video folder, I linked to the wiki entry on a Genocide run of the game– that way, some of the materials in the collection can more easily serve as documentation for other bits of the collection without taking up more storage space. Primarily, I see the videos having links to materials from datamining and the wiki, not the other way around. The exception to this would be perhaps videos that show all the fates that could reach one character (put in the “Consequences” folder); those could be linked to the wiki entries on individual characters.

This allows views to see the collection’s connections between different elements, rather than requiring that they make such connections themselves.

Documentation

I have a documentation word document in each folder. This would likely include a few things: an index of sorts, notes on authorship, and dates of access/acquisition of the materials, to start. The last is particularly important for the websites, which could change at any time, and if they did change, the documentation could help archivists keep track of how many versions they have.

This kind of data would be crucial for the videos, which when downloaded in the way I did, lose much of the metadata YouTube stores about them (user who uploaded them, date of upload, etc). Having some idea of when the videos were uploaded to YouTube helps place the LPer within the span of “Undertale’s history” as well: how they play the game depends a bit on how well they know it; if they made the LP in early days, then they might have been shocked/surprised by things, and that can be good data for the user to have, even if the LP does not contain commentary.

The set of items that needs documentation the most is the Mirrawrs datamined materials. While some of this is self explanatory, much is not, and it seems imperative to have a certain level of description about how the data/numbers work presented here. While I do not myself have such information, it might be worth doing a quick interview with Mirrawrs, include it in this section, and use the data from such an interview to inform the use of the documentation on the datamining section.

Conclusion: Is this the final battle?

I think there’s a good bit of room to tweak elements here. I like that this structure allows for users to enter into the videos or wiki section without knowing much about Undertale, and they’ll quickly get a good understanding of the material, but the datamined section is much more challenging to interpret, and even with detailed documentation, I think it would be a challenge. Still, I think this is a place to start documenting the video game known as Undertale, and hopefully additional resources will contribute to popular and scholarly understandings of this game.