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The Latest On Lord British 103

Posted by chrisd
from the who-doesn't-want-a-moat-after-all dept.
Our friends at Salon have an article "The Return of Lord British" about what Richard Garriot has been up to in the last year since he's left Origin. It is mostly about Lineage (a mmporpg ? ), but it touches on EA mismanagement (new tagline "We create write-offs").
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The Latest On Lord British

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  • EA's mismanagement? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rimbo (139781)
    If I recall correctly, EA was the savior of Origin Systems, bailing Origin out of its own mismanagement. An AC above said, "Who cares, everything past Ultima 6 sucked." Well, in my opinion, it's because Garriott was more involved with running the company at that point than he was with designing games. His gifts lie with the latter, not the former.
    • by Moofie (22272) <lee AT ringofsaturn DOT com> on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @04:01AM (#2652932) Homepage
      They saved the village, by destroying it. I worked at Origin during the Wing Commander IV era, and EA's revolving door management, and utter intolerance for any new ideas out of Austin, made certain that Origin would never do anything innovative again. All EA wanted to hear from Origin was "Yes, Master, the new Ultima/Wing Commander/Crusader game is on schedule and under budget. May we please refrain from laying off our staff this year?"

      With the possible exception of UO, which I personally didn't enjoy very much, but other people apparently groove to. And don't get me started about Ultima:Ascention.

      I can't speak to Mr. Garriott's company management skills. Hell, I certainly wouldn't have the first idea how to run a company like that...I don't think anybody really does. He did, at one point, have a unique gift for storytelling in the medium of computer games. Unfortunately, that got buried under creeping featuritis. Hopefully, he'll be able to start with a clean slate (or a Tabula Rasa...wonder if that name is more than just coincidental? : ) and get back to his unique visionary roots.

      I sure hope so. U6 is one of my favourite games ever.
      • Is it me, or did Wing Commander go rapidly downhill after 3 anyway?
        • There were parts of IV that I rather liked. Those parts went away quickly after about the nine zillionth playthrough. Now, I loathe that game with the loathing of one thousand loathes.

          Catscratch...that whiny ass little punk bitch...
      • by The Cat (19816)
        I worked at Origin during the Wing Commander IV era, and EA's revolving door management, and utter intolerance for any new ideas out of Austin, made certain that Origin would never do anything innovative again. All EA wanted to hear from Origin was "Yes, Master, the new Ultima/Wing Commander/Crusader game is on schedule and under budget. May we please refrain from laying off our staff this year?"

        A big company stopping innovation and insisting on clones and sequels for constant, growing revenue and unattainable profits? Say it isn't so!

        Sigh... what wonders have been lost but for the crushing weight of dull, grey, uninspired, witless corporate bureaucracy.
        • I'm not saying it's Wrong, I'm not even saying that given the current climate it's not good business...but it does NOT make good video games.

          Of course, making good video games is a great way to go out of business or get bought out. I wish that were not so, but that's the way it seems to be.
        • EA made SSX, and thus can do no wrong. Well, at least not until my thumbs heal.

          I'd call SSX pretty inspired and even innovative, despite its debt to Tony Hawk.

          • SSX was a great game...lots and lots of fun. I was surprised how much I liked it. However, EA also makes Madden NFL 2001. And Madden NFL 2000. And Madden NFL 99. And Madden NFL 98. And Madden NFL 97. Same for all the other sports licenses...they just refine and rehash the same game, adding bells and whistles and chrome, and only very rarely reward a truly innovative, engaging game concept with development funds.
  • one [imanewbie.com]

    two [imanewbie.com]

    Tribute- [imanewbie.com]

    I just think the way the company mismanaged its projects(U7-10), basicly sabotaging them, is a shame. Origin had tons of kewl games, I'm just glad R.G. has found something productive.
  • I had a look at it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jeti (105266)
    Several weeks ago, I read in a forum
    that Lineage would be the most popular
    MMPORG in asia. So I downloaded the free
    trial version (>200MB) and had a look.

    Well - the graphics were ok. But there
    really wasn't too much to do. Also there
    were a lot of players on the server
    complaining that they'd de facto beta-
    test the game for $15 per month. It seems
    like the free trial had just been introduced.

    I now consider the message about the
    popularity a plant. Hopefully things have
    improved.
    • by Hadean (32319)
      Well, if you actually read anything about the game, you'd have realized that the popularity talked about is for Asia, which is currently at around 3 million players. Lord British and the gang are creating a whole new universe (ie new players) for non-Asian areas (in Garriott's own words, more or less, Asian players are too good at cooperating, and would destroy North American players in this type of game). So yeah, this version of the game isn't massively populated at the moment, but no, you're not beta testing... it's been through the ringer already.
      • In case anyone doubts what I just said, I might as well back it up (mostly because I'm bored):
        In the United States the cooperation is not as well orchestrated as it is in Korea. It only takes a guild of 20 or 30 people to really take and hold a castle so it doesn't take a gigantic group.
        http://pc.ign.com/news/40083.html [ign.com]
    • I was simply reporting what a lot of players, who obviously had spent quite a while on the servers, where saying. They were definitely very unhappy with the game.
      But as I said this was a while ago and a free trial was introduced even shortly before I played.

      Maybe the post hadn't been a plant and the game really is popular in asia. But all I could see was a game that looked unfinished and a few unhappy players.
      And the game did not even have pathing implemented!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    His games were stellar when the platform didn't have all the bells and whistles, today they are nothing compared to Neverwinter etc. (just imagine playing something like Never on an Apple II ... woulda creamed your jeans ). He was a pioneer in the day (god bless the man for distractions in grade 5 [ultima I]) but sadly I think there is little he'll do that will seem as great as it did back then.
    • by sittius (227744)
      Well, we can hope that maybe he'll come up with something new and innovative.

      I do remember meeting him in the early '80s at a computer software store in Georgia. I agree that he was a pioneer and obviously very dedicated to what he was doing. What struck me, was that even though he was quite well known and successful, at that point he possessed a quality I've rarely seen in programmers : Humility

      I imagine he's grown up and lost that quality, but that's the way I remember him...

      And I still remember the original Ultima ( the C-64) version with fondness.

      Sittius
      • What struck me, was that even though he was quite well known and successful, at that point he possessed a quality I've rarely seen in programmers : Humility


        I imagine he's grown up and lost that quality, but that's the way I remember him...

        A couple years ago - during my honeymoon of all things - I ended up standing in a line at DisneyWorld next to him. I couldn't help myself, so I started pestering him and talking about his games, having played them since grade school and recently finished one of them.

        He was in fact a real polite, friendly guy. Tolerated the dumb questions with good humor, and seemed quite happy to talk about his games. This was after he bought his castle, so I guess it hadn't gone to his head then either :)
    • The Play's the Thing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by epepke (462220) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @01:19PM (#2654373)

      A few years ago, I saw the late Douglas Adams give the keynote address at Siggraph. He was just designing Starship Titanic at the time. He said one thing that has stuck with me: "Use your limitations, before they are denied you." By that I think he meant that computing power and graphics cards would advance to the point where it would become tempting to rely on flash and adrenaline for the success of a game and neglect thought.

      I think that time has come. There is a dreadful sameness to the games that are being produced today. Consider Alice. The art and texture are marvelous, as is the potential of the idea: the internal world of a madwoman. Yet the play reduces to running around and shooting, with a few Donkey Kong skills thrown in. All the big tasks consist of defeating bosses, a la Duke Nukem. A good play, no doubt, but it could have been so much more.

      On the other hand, consider Deus Ex. The reasonably modern first-person graphics are very good, but it also weaves in RPG elements, interaction with characters, and a multipath plot.

      Are older game designers extinct dinosaurs, useless in an age where form is king? Or are they, instead, people who remember when flashy graphics were not enough to ensure satisfactory Christmas sales? Are they, in fact, the descendents of dinosaurs: soaring birds?

      I hope to see computer games emerge from the current state, which is like movies in 1910, and come into their own as a real art form. To do this, I think that we need art that does more than show off the technology. I think that the skills of the pioneers are still needed.

      • by DrCode (95839)
        I think your post should have been modded higher.

        I keep thinking about how the computer games industry compares to fiction publishing. Imagine walking into a book store and only finding 100 titles on the shelves. Suppose you bought the latest Steven King novel, and found that it was filled with 80 pages of full-color pictures, but only 10 pages of text, and cost $50?

  • Some more links (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hadean (32319) <hadean,dragon+slashdot&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @03:43AM (#2652915)
    Just wanted to add some more links for anyone who's interested - and for the lazy (although this article isn't too shabby):

    1. IGN PC: (really good) Lineage: The Blood Pledge Interview [ign.com]

    2. RPG Vault: Richard Garriott Destination Games Interview [ign.com]

    3. RPG Vault: Carly Staehlin (NCsoft/Destination Games) Interview [ign.com]

    4. Voodoo Extreme - Destination Games [voodooextreme.com]

    5. Intelgamer: Review of Lineage [intelgamer.com]

    6. Wired: Audio interview [wired.com]

    7. Gamesmania: Garrott and Long Interview [gamesmania.com]
  • A short history (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gusnz (455113) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @03:48AM (#2652920) Homepage
    Lineage has been mentioned on Slashdot [slashdot.org] previously, as part of a furore over violence in games resulting to aggression in the real world.

    For anyone who doesn't want to load that page up, it linked a very interesting TIME article here [time.com]. I suggest reading it -- in the Western world, the whole dollars-for-Diablo-items routine is normally as bad as this gets, but this is (if true) several steps beyond that entirely.
    • Re:A short history (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kefabi (178403) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:06AM (#2653142) Journal
      Video Gaming is serious in Korea.

      They have televised StarCraft matches, complete with announcers, play by play analysis, and strategy talk. I've seen some shows go as far as have the players wear "futuristic" type wear while playing each other.

      Diablo II is big too. I've seen televised duels between players.

      Lineage gets a good amount of screen time too with talk about the world and items and skills and such.

      There are entire channels devoted to computer games.

      The fact is, they have PC rooms open 24 hours a day where you can use PC's for less than a dollar and hours. They almost always have people in them too playing one of the above games, or Go, or a game called Fortress 2 (Expanded Worms-like game), or whatever else. At 3 in the morning there are still plenty of males and females still playing games.

      I've seen arcades take up three floors, people have made livings playign Video Games there. It's not something loser kids with no time do, it's part of the culture.

      Now the sorry thing is some culturally insensitive prick's gonna mod this +1 Funny...
  • Last days at Origin (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nsample (261457) <nsample@@@stanford...edu> on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @03:52AM (#2652924) Homepage
    I had the pleasure of visiting EA/Origin's Austin facility before the Garriott + team exodus. It was a neat place to be, but there was a real feeling that people were being stifled, not getting to do what they wanted creatively, and being slaves to the visions of other...

    And I saw Richard's car in the parking lot. Hella cool. =)

    Anyway, now they're off on their own, striking out! With a new company and new ideas... "destination games." They were going to lead us back to their roots (which are our roots), back to greatness...

    But now, even their email addresses are at NC... the makers of Bloodpledge. The reason is, for apparently financial reasons, they're porting games. Hardly a creative process. I can only hope they pick it up and get back on track after they're done with Bloodpledge. Otherwise, they changed the name of the masters from "EA" to "NC" and the game from "Ultima Online" to "Bloodpledge."

    Someone else's ideas and blood, sweat and tears. We hope to see yours again, Garriot! All your fans are hoping you find the path again.
  • by Proud Geek (260376) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @03:54AM (#2652925) Homepage Journal
    "And it occurs to me that Garriott is standing here on 19th and Mission, a street corner caked with garbage and human poo, as one more refugee of that receding tide."

    What an inspiring read. I mean, if I had a chance to interview one of the premiere game designers around, poop is obviously what I'd talk about.

    And gender exploration by pretending to be a burly male warrior or a female wizard with 3 foot long breasts. I mean, having a picture like that and saying it's me teaches me exactly what it is like to be a woman. Oh, those lousy androgenous graphics are going to squish my budding transexuality.

    Come on, you've got a good subject, and some interesting dirt (what is this Tabula Rasa of which you speak?). Why can't you make something good of it????

    Oh, I forgot. It's on Salon.com.
  • Starting on the Ultima 7 and the Serpent Island shit. I was a tools programmers, which is pretty significant in the whole scheme of things (binding icons to the executable, world editor, and file formats, that sort of thing) but little focus was spent on it. Whoever said everything after Ultima 6 was absolutely right.

    Its obvious that Garriott has incredible programming talents and innovative game design ideas, but with the Ultima 7 project he spent most of the time diddling with project numbers, budgets, the latest of his many bosses, etc. Most of the time he was trying to please EA which was not an easy task.

    At any rate, about half way through the original project timeline (games weren't as late back then, but this one missed its milestones by a lot in many cases), it was apparent that the game was going to suck. People sort of stopped caring about not only Ultima 7 but the entire series from then on it. EA constantly bitching at programmers who have little to no ability to change anything didn't help better.

    The end result: a buggy, incomplete game. Whoop!
    • Utter crap... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      U7 and SI were probably the -best- ultimas in the final series. Ultima VI was clumsy and incomplete by comparison (the whole Scara Brae "bug", for example).

      U7 and SI saw the involvement of Warren Spector (who later went to Looking Glass where the true spirit of Origin was kept alive), and had probably the best storylines of the entire series. The only -good- to come out of Ultima VI were the highly underrated spin-offs, the Worlds of Ultima games (Martian Dreams and Savage Empire, both based on the U6 engine).

      Crap? Hardly. These were classics. Why do you think the outrage against the horrid Ultima: Ascension was so great? U:A didn't even come close to living up to the standard set by U7.

      And have you forgotten the Ultima Underworlds? They were post U7 and are legendary. Ultima Underworld 1 was the -first- 3D engine on the market (beating Wolf3d by two months), and was a joy to play. UU2 had probably the most intricate story in a 3D RPG I've ever encountered. These games were the spiritual predecessors of Thief: The Dark Project, System Shock and Deus Ex.

      These games were -not- crap. They were great IN SPITE of Electronic Arts' meddling. Things went downhill with Ultima 8 simply because they wanted to "expand the userbase" by dumbing the game down into a Super Avatar Brothers-style game. Even the U8 engine wasn't wasted in the end: it was successfully used to create another fantastic game called Crusader: No Remorse/Regret.
      • Well said! Ultima 7/BG was the first RPG I played (not counting Rogue), and I was amazed at the size and interactivity of its world. Many of us have worked countless hours [exult.sourceforge] to keep it alive, and someday make new games in the same style.
        • Agreed. Though I'd played other RPGs before (U6, etc.) Ultima VII blew me away. Appearing out of the red moongate into an amazingly realistic world. Walking amongst the trees, the scene darkening as clouds gather and it begins to rain... Discovering how to cut bandages out of fabric... Discovering how to bake bread... Desperately searching through a pack in the pitch dark, looking for a torch and wishing the game was a little [i]less[/i] realistic... It still surpasses many games of today: Compare Ultima 7 to Balder's Gate... - In Ultima 7, chests/barrels/drawers/boxes/etc are clearly identifiable, can be picked up and moved around (if they're light enough for you to carry), and can always be opened, though they may be locked - In Baldur's Gate, they are painted on the background. Finding the one chest/barrel that you can open out of the dozens in the room is an endless maddening quest of "find the hotspot".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It was done by the Koreans, 100% in Korea, and it was alive and well in Korea and Asia for YEARS before Garriot even stepped in.

    He's just a figurehead for marketing the game in the US more or less; I really don't see why he's getting all the credit.
    • I don't think anywhere you'll find him getting "all the credit" for Lineage's success, or even part of it for that matter. Now if you said he's getting all the attention in the North American release, I would agree, but it's hardly the same thing, and it's exactly what they wanted.

      Richard Garriot's involvement isn't about how successful Lineage is in Asia, it's not about downplaying the work of its Korean's developers, it's about having a successul North American launch.

      Sure he's a figurehead, but that's the whole point. An icon in the gaming industry decided to associate with this game, an association which got me, by the way, to check out the game. Mission accomplished, except in my case, I don't find it particularly interesting and won't likely continue to play.

  • The days of yore... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AntonVoyl (125030) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @04:58AM (#2653001) Homepage
    ... were in the '80s for Richard Garriott and Ultima. That's when games were about gameplay, gamers needed graphpaper, and people whose names were on the boxes still coded. We may scoff at him now, but Lord British was a big deal in those days.

    Picture this: it's a Saturday morning in the late '80s and 300 restless geeks are packed into a Georgetown University auditorium waiting with baited breath for Lord British himself to unveil the Ultima V beta.

    We were the GameSIG of the Washington Apple Pi, and Richard Garriott was our guest and our friend. He wasn't just showing us a preview of Ultima V, he was showing it to us before anyone else got to see it.

    Already, Ultima IV had blown our minds, and we all wanted to see where the series went next. For many of us who were at an impressionable age (I was 11), the Ultima series was a big part of our intellectual lives. Lord British was our guardian in the game and our hero in life.

    When Garriott stepped onto the stage wearing armor and carrying a sword and shield, we just went nuts. Better still, he came bearing gifts; he reached into his satchel and threw handfuls of silvery ankhs out to the roaring crowd. I caught one and still treasure it.

    Then the lights dimmed and we waited for the moment of truth. Lord British put the 5.25" diskettes into the Apple IIGS (256K). He fiddled with the projection system a bit and them blam: Ultima V blasted onto the screen.

    The graphics and sound just blew us away, and Garriott explained each improvement as he took us through an hour-long tour of the game. You could see (and hear!) grass sway in the wind, waves rolled, trees blocked light while windows let it in... And the music!!!

    The climax came when he showed us the lighthouse. You could see and hear the surf pounding on the rocks, while a beam of light swept over land and sea, just like a real lighthouse. And all of this before the backdrop of convincingly forboding music. Inside the lighthouse awaited a surprise: the keeper was none other than the don of our GameSIG, Ron Wartow. Somebody we knew was in Ultima V!

    After talking to the Wartow character and getting him to crack a few jokes, Garriott looked up at us and then paused for a full ten seconds. Breaking the silence, he asked: "Well, shall we attack Ron?" We yelled back an affirmative reply. 8 turns later, Ron was a bloody pulp and our party was 5 gold and a ham sandwich richer. We were in stitches... the kid next me laughed so hard he puked through his nose.

    On his way out, Lord British gave us cloth maps and whispered to us about Easter eggs he'd sprinkled throughout the series. We were on cloud nine, and I was ready to devote my life to becoming a pixelated Avatar. I wanted to grow up to be Lord British. I wanted to make games, I wanted to be in them, and I wanted to live them.

    Sadly, I never got to play Ultima V. The game was delayed and the 'rents wouldn't spring for the IIGS. By time I had the resources to play the game, I'd moved onto the PC and was hooked on a series of games by a guy named Sid Meier, but that's another story for another day...
    • by kaisyain (15013)
      That's when games were about gameplay

      Yeah back during the halcyon days of creativity when they churned out such classics as Ms. Pac Man and Jr. Pac Man, and who could forget ET? And then there all those Great Games like Tapper, LED Storm, Cupfinal, and Chase HQ. Wait, you mean you don't remember them? That's because they sucked. They had horrible gameplay. Hell, try going back and playing Dig Dug or Pac Man or Paperboy and tell me the gameplay on those things doesn't suck ass.

      The problem with nostalgia is you only remember the best of the past and you're comparing it against the average from the present. How is Diablo's gameplay any worse than the original Gauntlet's? How is Thief or Half-Life less engrossing than Shinobi? How is Ghostbusters better than X-COM? Is Gran Tourismo less interesting than Pole Position?

      The current complaints about style over substance might seem valid unless you haven't excised memories of Cinemaware and Dragon's Lair.
      • Yeah back during the halcyon days of creativity when they churned out such classics as Ms. Pac Man and Jr. Pac Man, and who could forget ET? And then there all those Great Games like Tapper, LED Storm, Cupfinal, and Chase HQ. Wait, you mean you don't remember them? That's because they sucked. They had horrible gameplay. Hell, try going back and playing Dig Dug or Pac Man or Paperboy and tell me the gameplay on those things doesn't suck ass.

        Pac Man and Dig Dug certainly don't "suck ass". I play them often even today, thanks to (x)mame. Now ET, I grant you, was pretty bad.

        The problem with nostalgia is you only remember the best of the past and you're comparing it against the average from the present. How is Diablo's gameplay any worse than the original Gauntlet's?

        That point isn't that it isn't worse, the point is that it is hardly better. With all the resources available to us today, games should be awesome. Instead, the best they can do is remakes. Just like Hollywood. I hear that they are going to remake the 1970's SF classic "Rollerball" (minus the anti-corporate overtones -- can't have that today, now can we?). Why? Can't they come up with something original?

      • Chase HQ? I loved that game. Tapper? Bring it on! How about Crisis Mountain, Burger Time, Lode Runner (with its 256 levels), and GhostBusters? I play those games for hours in my apple][e emulator.

        Paper Boy was awesome, but it doesn't translate well to nintendo for the same reason HardDrivn' doesn't. Too much of the game play is the interface.

        How about Spy Hunter? Available on Shockwave.com!

        No but I get your point. Neither of them suck, any more than 1950's cars are better or worse than cars in the 1990's.
    • Wow! Great post!

      My first Ultima game was Ultima III on the Amiga. My wife and I beat it together. We worked very hard, and she figured out the final puzzle. Then we did Ultima IV together.

      After that I departed from the Ultima series until Ultima Online came around. Ultima Online is amazing. The community within the game spills out into the real world. I played UO from 4/98 to 7/00, and then left until late last month. When I returned it truly was like a homecoming.

      The best part is that my eight-year-old son is now able to play (he types a bit slowly, but other than that I don't know how many people would know he's eight).

      So, if you play UO on the Pacific Shard and run into a Schizophrenic Ranger named Leo (GoL; Ranger Emeritus), or a slow-of-speech fighter named David. Stop and say "Hi" we'd love for you to be part of our community.

    • I live in Austin and move in fairly big geek circles, and one day I fear that I'm going to run into Richard Garriot.

      Why am I afraid? I'm afraid because I'm going to have to confess to him that about once a year I still have a dream set in Britania, circa Ultima 4.
  • I'm annoyed British thinks that different problem-solving approaches outside of Asia would hamper the game. That players in America are (perhaps) less willing to pledge their loyalty easily or submit to authority doesn't mean that Lineage would suck more here.


    Maybe that means that American players respond better to causes than fealty, or that they tend to form or volunteer for skills-based groups to accomplish specifc tasks (for varying motivations) and vote for the person they think can best lead them. The citizen-soldier ideal America fields results in vastly superior lower-level performance as units can react to events they face quicker and better than, say, heirarchial-based phalanxes or some shit.


    The point being that looking at cultures as impediments to success rather than seeing that as a challenge to improve gameplay is narrow-sighted and wrong. If he can't figure that out about his own country of residence, I think he's blinded by his own success.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The point being that looking at cultures as impediments to success rather than seeing that as a challenge to improve gameplay is narrow-sighted and wrong. If he can't figure that out about his own country of residence, I think he's blinded by his own success.

      Maybe because he sees Lineage as a game catering more to Asian (Korean) tastes than American? Maybe Lineage was developed to work with Asian tactics and overlooked American? Maybe that's why Lord British is there, to balance it out?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      But our culture WOULD be an impediment to a game such as that. When you're dealing with an online world, you have all types, from good players, to lone wolves, to people that shoot at everything just for the hell of it. In Korea, the cultural outlook is team-oriented enough that a game like this works. For an example of team-based CTF or base defense, look at Tribes; half of the time, there are people on those servers who have no intention of playing as a team, and as a result the entire team gets steamrolled by the one that plays well.
  • Sick of it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Cat (19816)
    What is it about people, journalists in particular, that makes them believe that the U.S. "market" is so well insulated by the McDisney cultural powerhouse, that nothing can ever be "successful" in the United States.

    The number of "foreign" products, games, whatever, that are seeing tremendous success here is staggering, but the "yeah, but" crowd just continues to bury their head in the demographics reports. I'll guarantee that some tie-wearing cynical #*@&!~*@%& at some arrogant company said Harry Potter would never be a "success" either. Can't you just hear it? Some haircut in a grey suit holding his hand over his #%&@#*()%# cell-phone and saying "a kid with glasses and a broom? Give me a break!"

    Just a reaction to the "far too foreign to make a truly successful crossover title" remark in the article. What is truly successful? How much? A billion? A hundred billion? What?

    This is what causes the money-grab mindset of businesses now. If it doesn't lead to a 100000% market-cap increase and an IPO and put us in the Fortune 100, and the creative team can't PROVE that will happen, then we'd rather just have another meeting.

    I just read a few articles about "Dance Dance Revolution." Here's another product that U.S. companies probably laughed at. Yet, whenever I see the game, some kid is putting money in it, and 437 other kids are lined up around the corner to play it, and 300 other people are watching, and 10,000 other people are putting up web sites about it.

    Keep having meetings and keep running your mouths, U.S. corporate-types. There's a million little companies out there with a million little really neat ideas that are eventually going to eat your %#&@$()* lunch.

    return rant();
    • I think you are right in your comments for the most part...pride doth goeth before the fall...

      HOWEVER, in this specific case you are wrong. I have played Lineage, and while it may be all the rage in a country where people find their way into someone else's house to rent computer time by the hour, frankly, the game sucks by the standards of AC, EQ, or the new MMORPG king, Dark Age of Camelot. You will note that LB was kind of reserved in his praise...sounded more like someone being a good corporate citizen while biding his time until the completion of Tabula Rasa.

      Recently, a Norwegian company named Funcom also made a big splash on the scene with a game called Anarchy Online, and then quickly began fading into the background as their game was plagued by latency issues, over-ambitious graphics, terrible maintenance and bug resolution, and horrendous customer relations. Meanwhile, Mythic has done nothing but succeed with Dark Age since launch.

      While you may be right in the long run, right now, US game companies have this market cornered in North America and Europe because they are making better product, not because of entrenched positions. Lineage is at least two years behind Dark Age IMHO.

    • The gist of the post seems to imply that Richard Garriot's role as manager and interacting with management seems less productive than his earlier, more hands-on role. Since many managers are MBAs, could be there's a positive correlation between the number of MBAs at a company and bad performance. A few weeks ago a posting pointed out Aeron Chairs as Stupidity Barometers [slashdot.org]. Could the same be said of MBA's?

      • Look on the bright side: If MBAs are stupidity barometers, you can always use them to measure the heights of buildings. (Since no one would trade for an MBA, you'd have to fall back to the drop/time method. ;^)
    • You're absolutely right. I was surprised by the success of 'Tomagotchi', 'Pokemon' and 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'. I wish people would remember that before they say 'X will never catch on outiside of Asia.' I guess train simulators won't be far behind.

      Sure Blood Pledge has so-so graphics, but so did UO and Pokemon.
      • I'm still surprised by the success of 'Crouching Tiger'. It started out good, up to the point where one of the women floated up into the air as if she were suspended from a wire.
  • Why are we even talking about this guy anymore? Sure its nostalgic to talk about the good ole days but after playing Ultima 9 I was cured of any nostalgia I once had for the man's games. Has anyone heard any recent interviews with him recently? The guy is a SUIT! A fruity suit I grant you but a suit none the less. All the interviews I've seen or read from him lately make it seem like he cares less about the games he creates and more about the business aspect of creating games. Sure the guy needs to have some business accumen to run a company but the majority of the time LB just goes on and on about business matters. Maybe I'm just being too hard on the guy but I don't think so. I think it started somewhere around Ultima 6 but LB has somehow lost his touch for creating great games and wonderful stories. Please don't bring up UO in his defense either. While it was a good game to start inane hacks that were supposed to solve problems, tons of broken promises, and cheaters have all but ruined the game. Perhaps he will be revitalized with Tabula Rasa but listening to his latest interviews I'm not hopeful.
    • Video games are a great example of a classic software project.
      All the Ultima games were pretty typical of the way software was being developed at the time they were made.
      U1-4 were made by pretty small teams over amazingly short periods of time, considering what tools they had to work with.
      With U5 and U6 the projects start getting much bigger U7-10 and UO had pretty huge groups working on them.
      These big groups may have been able to do something great but the task required different skills. More "suit" less h4x0r. My guess is that Lord Brittish had a hard time learning how to run a big team. Give the guy some slack this was not an easy thing to do!
      He has lots of expierence now maybe he can pull off another great game.
      I loved U4 and U5 and hated UO. He seems to have a handle on some of the things that went so badly wrong with UO. (I have no need to pay $10 a month to be virtually mugged) I will give his next game a chance if it looks like he solved the killer problems.
  • One of the funniest things that I ever read in a games magazine was when Ultima Online was a few months old. Lord British decided that he wanted to give a "State of the Game" address so he arranged for everyone to come to a certain place in the game at a certain time and he would speak. Some guy's character was in the first or second row and thought to himself "I'm never going to get this close again." He stole a spell scroll out of the backpack of the character next to him (it was a wall of flame) and cast it at Lord British mid speech.

    Now normally British was immortal, but there had been a server crash and someone neglected to reset the immortal bit. When British saw the flame wave coming he typed "Ha, Ha, nice try" and then was surprised when the "you're dead" message popped up on the screen. Everything paused for a few seconds. . .and then all hell broke loose. People were casting demons, fireballs, and everything else you can think of. In the ensuing chaos and carngae, the "assasin" escaped.

    If anyone else knows where the URL is for that magazine story, or BETTER YET if you were there (in a virtual sense) please let me know.

    Thanks
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Village Voice has a story here,

      http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/9738/lee.php

      And there is a reference here I belive...

      http://slashdot.org/articles/01/04/10/1515214.sh tm l

      (search for smirkleton, about 1/3 the way down.. )

      And now for some death screenshots:

      http://members.home.net/dhughston7/ultima/histor y2 .html

      Enjoy!
  • It seems like the US Lineage players would tend to be mainly mercenaries, either for money, for experience, or because they think their employer is doing something good.

    A separate Lineage game in the US probably wouldn't work very well-- people want to play the "main character", or one of a band of adventurers, while the world must be made mostly of minor characters who are important in groups. On the other hand, if the world has 2 million people playing people in groups, the addition of a few hundred thousand freelance people would probably work fine for game mechanics.

    It would probably be very interesting to go on quests in a fully-fleshed-out world inhabited by a large number of PCs and NPCs in realistic arrangements. Thinking about LotR, there are a ton of groups of people who clearly ought to be PCs who don't fit the adventurer model, and it would be very interesting to have a MMRPG with people who actually want to play those roles.

"It's like deja vu all over again." -- Yogi Berra

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