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Default Richard Garriott Interviews @ Eurogamer

December 15th, 2011, 02:01
Richard Garriott (yes, again) has spoken with Eurogamer about his failures with Ultima 8 and Tabula Rasa. For the record, I don't intend to cover his latest social MMO thing but the inclusion of Ultima 8 was worth a post:
"In the case of Ultima 8, that was the first game I did as part of Electronic Arts," Garriott said, "and Electronic Arts, their whole success formula is based upon yearly releases of sports franchises just before the beginning of the sports season. Since their whole success and sales and marketing comes from accurately timed seasonal launches, the pressure was very heavy to accurately time a seasonal launch for Ultima 8.
"We shipped Ultima 8 more or less on time, but the only way we got there was by really cutting out huge swathes of the game all the way to the point where the cloth map was completely unrelated to the map of the real game because we threw out so many bits and pieces of it. So Ultima 8 was, frankly, unfinished - I mean dramatically unfinished. And in hindsight I look at it and go, if we'd really just finished it properly - even the movement, the jumping that was in the game - had we done it less hacked and more accurately, we would have had a Diablo-style success a year or so before Diablo.
"Too bad, spilt milk," he rued, "I get the blame - I get the appropriate blame, I'm the top of the food chain. It was my decisions. But that's my excuse or rationalisation."
For those who want to catch up his Portalarium stuff, Eurogamer has some comments about that from a few days back. The headline suggests he could team up with EA and the Ultima property again but, frankly, it sounded like an attempt to sway EA rather than a reality to me.
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December 15th, 2011, 02:01
So, after releasing "dramatically unfinished" Ultima VIII and pissing off many (in not all) in Ultima community, he than goes on to release equally unfinished Ulima IX?
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December 15th, 2011, 10:22
A Diablo-style success?

He seems to be completely oblivious to why Diablo was a success. Here's a hint: It's not because it was a cRPG that - in any way whatsoever - resembled an Ultima game.
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December 15th, 2011, 10:25
Indeed, there was nothing Diablo-style in U8. Completely different style of game. That said, while I wasn't particularly fond of U8, it did not strike me as particularly unfinished either - but admittedly it was a long time ago that I played it.
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December 15th, 2011, 10:41
U8 was my first Ultima. Well, I tried everything from U2 - U6 - but I never got into them on the Amiga, and most of them weren't cracked properly - which was all I had access to as a kid.

But I really liked U8 - and the jumping thing was something you got over very easily if you were used to playing Amiga games
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December 15th, 2011, 12:18
He seems to be completely oblivious to why Diablo was a success. Here's a hint: It's not because it was a cRPG that - in any way whatsoever - resembled an Ultima game.
Some would argue Ultima VIII didn't ressemble an Ultima game either

In all seriousness though, Diablo always reminded me as some form of mix between Ultima VIII and Rogue actually - they're not exactly the same kind of game but there is some parrallels to be made (isometric views, focus on dungeon crawling and action-ish clickfest combat and so on). I recall a few reviews making the comparison as well when Diablo was released actually. So why I wouldn't put them in the same category, there is some relation IMO.

Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
So, after releasing "dramatically unfinished" Ultima VIII and pissing off many (in not all) in Ultima community, he than goes on to release equally unfinished Ulima IX?
It's not like he had a choice with Ultima IX though.

For Ultima VIII he probably could have pushed EA to have the game delayed if he wanted but didn't because it was his first Ultima produced under EA and he didn't want OSI as a company to look "bad" (keeping in mind that the game had already been pushed back a first time from its Xmas 93 deadline). For Ultima IX though, the game had a "ship or kill" for November 1999 and that was it. Basically he could have remedied the U8 situation at the time and regrets he hasn't, but U9 was out of his hands altogether and he had to fight bit and nails to get it released (both EA *and* OSI were pushing to have the game canceled when it was decided to turn OSI into an online game company) - that's where the nuance is between the two games for him I think.

That being said he does seem a bit oblivious to what the actual issue with Ultima VIII was : yeah it suffered from some cut contents due to its deadline which created some plotholes and such… but a couple more month wouldn't have change anything since the issues with fans was not the state the game was released in (indeed while there was that wood reagent issue and the missing Birthplace of Moriens bit - the game was hardly buggy, much less so than Ultima VII even!) but the game design itself. And an Ultima VIII with a few more month of development would still have been the exact same game: meaning a glorified hack'n slash game with a focus on dungeon crawling and a lot of platforming rather than a traditionnal Ultima game. So fans would have been pissed either way.

It's actually odd how he never brings up Ultima IX in these interviews about his "evil overlords" because you'd think having a game which is one of the RPGs that was releaseed in the sorriest state of all time because the publishers enforced a shipping date would be a good exemple to bring.

-Sergorn
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December 15th, 2011, 15:13
What am I missing? Both of those links go to the Ultimate RPG as UO 2 article and I didn't see a single mention of U8 there (or the quote shown here).

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December 15th, 2011, 15:28
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
What am I missing? Both of those links go to the Ultimate RPG as UO 2 article and I didn't see a single mention of U8 there (or the quote shown here).
This is the link to the quoted article:
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/20…th-tabula-rasa

There is a link in the second one to this one, so I didn't bother commenting on it.
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December 15th, 2011, 16:44
"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."

Poor guy, thats what happens when you quit.

"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!"

Again no original thought here. Richard if you want to stay relevant, just think up something new for christ's sake. Hell, i just came up with one, come out with a JESUS MMO.
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December 15th, 2011, 16:52
Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
So, after releasing "dramatically unfinished" Ultima VIII and pissing off many (in not all) in Ultima community, he than goes on to release equally unfinished Ulima IX?
From what I remember, Garriot wasn't involved with U9.

If I'm right but there is no wife around to acknowledge it, am I still right?
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December 15th, 2011, 16:53
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
From what I remember, Garriot wasn't involved with U9.
You remember wrong.
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December 15th, 2011, 18:23
His star burned out "A" long long time ago…
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December 15th, 2011, 18:34
I understand what you are saying Sargorn and I agree with what you have said. What I was trying to say was that Ultima IX was a "last chance saloon" for Garriot and Ultima team. If he did have any integrity he should have pulled the plug on the game rather than let it be released in a state it was in!
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December 15th, 2011, 18:51
Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
It's actually odd how he never brings up Ultima IX in these interviews about his "evil overlords" because you'd think having a game which is one of the RPGs that was releaseed in the sorriest state of all time because the publishers enforced a shipping date would be a good exemple to bring.

-Sergorn
AFAIK, Garriot was relatively happy with Ultima IX and has defended it in previous interviews.

He railed on Ultima VIII because its "guts had been ripped out". However, he maintained that Ultima IX turned out quite well (even if a few things could've been improved), despite the lack of publisher support.
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December 15th, 2011, 19:17
From what I remember, Garriot wasn't involved with U9.
He directed him and wrote the basic plotline so…

The only Ultima Garriott had no involvement whatsoever were Underworld 2 and Silver Seed.

Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
I understand what you are saying Sargorn and I agree with what you have said. What I was trying to say was that Ultima IX was a "last chance saloon" for Garriot and Ultima team. If he did have any integrity he should have pulled the plug on the game rather than let it be released in a state it was in!
I disagree. I think he was too attached on the game and had worked too hard against everyone to make the game to just let it be cancelled. Nevermind that it was still awaited by fans after five years, and he probably felt he owed it to them to get the game done and out. Frankly even if the result was judged dissapointing by many, I think Garriott would have been ripped even more had the game been cancelled and fans had been left with no ending at all.

Perhaps you would have been okay with Ultima IX cancelled rather that released in such a shoddy state. I would not, many other fans would not have been either. And while U9 was controversial and many fans disliked it or thought it was a terrible game, there were also many people who did enjoyed it and though it was a good game beyond the obvious technical issue (you just need to look at user reviews, or comments of U9 videos at youtube and such. It's just extremely ambivalent and you usually get both people who go on about it being the worst game ever and people saying it's one of their favorite game ever).

So yeah no I can't agree with that, especially since in the end the major issues *were* patched out.

That's not to say I condome having games (and often RPGs geez) released in such a poor state… but I can be forgiving if I feel the game behind the issues is enjoyable. I thought U9 was personally.

AFAIK, Garriot was relatively happy with Ultima IX and has defended it in previous interviews.

He railed on Ultima VIII because its "guts had been ripped out". However, he maintained that Ultima IX turned out quite well (even if a few things could've been improved), despite the lack of publisher support.
Yeah, the last time he mentionned U9 that I recall was near a decade ago, just after he opened Destination Games. It went something like this (paraphrasing) "Ultima IX was at its core a great game but was made with very little support both from within EA and Origin itself, and in the end could only be released thanks to the dedication of small set of people. I'm aware of its shortcoming but I'm proud of what we accomplished".

Which sounds to me like "We did the best in the crappy conditions we had, so it's not all we aimed to accomplish but not too shabby all things considered" which is why we probably won't ever see him bash the game. Now I doubt he is happy about the state the game was released in, and all the cuts that had to be done to get it out - but in the end it was still the game and story he wanted to tell on the whole and he probably put too much of his sweat and blood in it to criticize it like UVIII.

But… that wouldn't prevent it to criticize the rushed deadline bit, so it's odd he never brings it up in that specific aspect.

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December 15th, 2011, 20:00
Originally Posted by CKSqua View Post
AFAIK, Garriot was relatively happy with Ultima IX and has defended it in previous interviews.

He railed on Ultima VIII because its "guts had been ripped out". However, he maintained that Ultima IX turned out quite well (even if a few things could've been improved), despite the lack of publisher support.
If he honestly believes that, he lives in cloud cuckoo land…
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December 15th, 2011, 20:50
Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
If he honestly believes that, he lives in cloud cuckoo landů
I lived in Austin for four years in the 90's. I knew several people that worked at Origin and/or volunteered on his big Halloween haunted house thing. Pretty much everyone of them said he had more than a few screws loose.

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December 15th, 2011, 22:26
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I lived in Austin for four years in the 90's. I knew several people that worked at Origin and/or volunteered on his big Halloween haunted house thing. Pretty much everyone of them said he had more than a few screws loose.
I worked with a coworker who was an origin developer back in the wing commander days, and confirmed this as well.

I did see him once in person driving a red land rover with a license plate of AVATAR.

I have more direct experience with my cousin who about 4 years ago attended a lively sex party at his castle as well.


not a nice guy in my book on several fronts, but he knows how to spend his money.
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December 16th, 2011, 00:43
You should remember that the Origin employees were pulled from Ultima IX part way through development so pretty much by the end Ultima IX wasn't really Richard Garriott's project anymore.
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December 16th, 2011, 08:32
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
You should remember that the Origin employees were pulled from Ultima IX part way through development so pretty much by the end Ultima IX wasn't really Richard Garriott's project anymore.
Quite the contrary - while Garriott has always had a major involvement in Ultima IX once the original U8-like version was discarded (he co-wrote the so called "Bob White") his involvement became stronger with the final iteration since he took back the director's seat in Summer '98 after the whole Del Castillo debacle.

As he put it himself, U9 was the Ultima he was the most involved in since the Black Gate. This definitly was his project through and through.

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