N. Evan Van Zelfden, of GameDaily, recently caught up with Richard Garriott (creator of the Ultima franchise, Ultima Online, Tabula Rasa, and many other game titles) at the Game Business Law Summit in Dallas, Texas... for some questions and answers about Garriott and what his plans may be in the future. Here is a reprint of N. Evan's article:
The Game Business Law summit is co-chaired by Richard Garriott, and Dr. Peter E. Raad, the dean of Southern Methodist University's game program, the Guildhall. During last night's founders dinner in a small hotel ballroom in Dallas, Garriott (who resigned from NCsoft
in November) regaled an enthralled audience of game executives, academics, and attorneys with tales of his recent voyage to the International Space Station.
Fresh off the trip -- he'd only spent two weeks in his own bed since returning to earth -- the gentleman explorer joked during his talk that he'd spent all of his money on the space trip, and would need got get another job in order to go to space again. Afterwards, GameDaily BIZ took a moment to chat with Garriott about his inevitable return to games.
GameDaily BIZ: What was your reaction to the closure of Tabula Rasa?
Garriott: Of course, I wish it had continued. I also, personally, think it should have continued -- in the sense of, it was a game that was hitting its stride enough where it could keep what I'll call a critical fan base, and had the opportunity to continue to be grown.
If I were in charge, I would continue to grow it, because MMOs are long-term plays, and that's what you should do with them. That being said, we had already lost a fair number of critical team members. And while Tabula Rasa definitely had a rocky start, it did have a core fan base, and the team was motivated to continue to grow it. So I wish it had continued.
But I'm also not what I'll call terribly surprised, either, that the company would choose this path. I think NCsoft looks at it as an opportunity cost issue -- where they put those resources and people on that, or something new. They chose something new.
BIZ: We've seen things like Conan go from a very strong start to tapering off. Warhammer never got off the ground. Do you think there may not be as much demand for the big MMO?
Garriott: Oh, no! I actually think the demand is still there for the big MMO. I just think we continue to get further and further into a hit-based business. And so you'll have a few big games like World of Warcraft. But when you've got something that's that dominant in the space, there's a few others that will become strong, and the rest will be fighting over what's left over.
But I think that's just the nature of the growth of the industry -- it's getting more and more competitive over time, and everyone just has to deal with it.
BIZ: So are you ever going to make another game?
Garriott: If I was guessing, yes. Do I have a plan that I can tell you now? No. I'm still finishing my space flight. I am literally still in the middle of NASA and ESA medical experiments. I am literally still in the middle of my earth observation analysis, as well as the particle crystal growth stuff we're wrapping up. And that's going to take me some weeks and months to wrap up.
But, some day in the future, it's hard not to assume I will get back into gaming. I still personally believe I have lots of great ideas and desire to build games. It's just today, it's space. BIZ: If you did return to games, would it definitely be an online game?
Garriott: I wouldn't use the word definitely. I think that if it were today, it's most probable. That's just what I find the most interesting, still. That being said, I am still a huge fan of solo-player games as both a player, and as a storyteller. I just think there's an intimacy in solo-player games that is much easier to do in a solo-player environment than it is to shoehorn it into a multiplayer environment. One of the things we were trying with Tabula Rasa was to offer more storytelling in an MMO setting. And we made some strides in that direction. But I still don't think it was nearly to the level that the middle Ultimas did.
BIZ: If Electronic Arts wanted you to return and author a single-player Ultima for the consoles, would you do that?
Garriott: Conceptually? Sure. The property Ultima is still very near and dear to my heart. I think that if, by hook or by crook, I had access to that property, either in solo-player or multiplayer, I would absolutely love to continue to play in the Ultima universe.
BIZ: Thanks for your time.
Click here to read the Richard Garriott Talks Games After Space article at GameDaily.