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Richard Garriot Reflects on Development Career and Talks About His Ultimate RPG

Posted Thu, Nov 10, 2011 by Martuk

The story that led Richard Garriott from a simple fan of fantasy fiction to crafting virtual RPG worlds is a long one, one that Garriott shares in a new lengthy post to his Facebook page. In the post, Garriott explains how he first became enthralled with the fantasy genre with a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and later with the pen & paper Dungeons & Dragons games. All this led Garriott to pursue learning to program at his school and eventually creating his first game that was mainly for friends but ended up being published nationwide with Akalabeth.

The success of Akalabeth led Garriott to begin work on his Ultimatum game, which later evolved into Ultima through publisher California Pacific, but once that publisher went collapsed, Garriott explained that several others were anxious to publish the next Ultima title given the popularity of the series, but they bulked at the idea of including specific components that Garriott wanted shipped with the game such as a box, printed manuals and a map. So Garriott later published it through his newfound company of Origin and that led to the first time Garriott had an exchange with the players of his Ultima series of games.

Ultima ]I[ was the first game we published through my own firm, Origin. This created another important opportunity in the quest for the Ultimate RPG. For the first time I received letters directly from you, the players. We began to form a relationship. I knew what you liked, hated and/or disagreed with or even missed what I had intended in a particular design. This created a deep personal introspection about my work, its content and its meaning.

Garriott reflects further on the entire series of Ultima games in the post and then arrives at the next step in evolution of the series with Ultima Online. Garriott discusses how beneficial the expansion of MMORPGs has been but he also notes some of the drawbacks and complaints that players have about more modern games explaining that, “most MMOs, like solo player games, are not Ultimate RPGs, they have devolved into level grinds in beautiful but generic fantasy or sci-fi settings.”

One thing that clear from Garriott’s post is that he is not entirely thrilled with the direction that Ultima Online has gone since he was “pushed out” of the game’s development over a decade ago.

Since I am no longer at the helm of UO, let’s look at where it has gone in my absence. Elves and ninjas have been added into the game, things I specifically had banned. This is only a small example of why and how Ultima has drifted away from Richard Garriott, but I have not drifted away from Ultima. Overused, irrelevant & reused RPG elements are not the essence of my Ultimate RPG.

But Garriott does feel that if EA were to work with him, Ultima could be reborn better than ever.

It is clear to me that I, Richard Garriott, am an essential ingredient of at least the Ultimate Ultima, if not more broadly the Ultimate RPG. Perhaps one day, now that the people who pushed me out of EA more than a decade ago are long since gone, EA will recognize that together, we could rebuild that franchise in a way that they have failed to do in the intervening years. Richard Garriott is an essential ingredient in the Ultimate Ultima!

Garriott also touched on his intentions with the failed Tabula Rasa MMOG and his goals for his new social game development company, Portalarium. While Garriott may not have the option of rebuilding the Ultima series, he isn’t abandoning the online RPG front and is working to create a new experience for his fans by forging a New Britannia. What that new game will be called is something that we’ll have to wait to find out.

Here is what I feel is safe to say: Lord British’s Ultimate Role Playing Game, which may be called “Akalabeth” or may be called “New Britannia” or may be called “a name I cannot yet say as it describes the setting I am considering and think I should keep secret at least until I know if it’s likely true,” will be an Ultimate RPG.

You can read Richard Garriott’s very lengthy post on his Facebook page.

Sources:
via Eurogamer
Richard Garriott’s Facebook Page

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