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Spector, Garriott on Games 139

Posted by michael
from the invisible-hand-of-the-ion-illuminati dept.
Warrior-GS writes "GameSpy has two interesting interviews up. Richard Garriott of Ultima fame talks about leaving Origin, getting bought out by NCSoft and becoming a pitchman for a popular Korean MMORPG trying to make it in the states. He also mentions his new game, Tabula Rasa. The other interview is with Warren Spector, who opened up a bit on the Deus Ex sequel Invisible War, while also commenting on linear games, anime style games and what the future holds."
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Spector, Garriott on Games

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  • Tabula Rasa (Score:5, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:09PM (#5283686) Homepage Journal
    that was the way my teachers described my mind, especially during exams.
    • Re:Tabula Rasa (Score:5, Interesting)

      by $$$$$exyGal (638164) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:36PM (#5283857) Homepage Journal
      Here's what Garriott says about the name "Tabula Risa":

      There's a number of ways to interpret "clean slate." We originally picked that name less because of subject matter than the need to start over again. Interestingly, if you go into the way the game is designed, we didn't actively choose to have the fiction behind the game support that title, but the background tale we selected actually wound up fitting the name quite well.

      Interesting that the name didn't necessarily have anything to do with the actual product.

      --sex [slashdot.org]

  • WHAT?!?!? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sheepdot (211478) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:16PM (#5283733) Journal
    Hold on a dag gum minute...

    You mean to tell me that the Deus Ex Sequel is going to come out BEFORE Half-Life 2 and Duke Nukem Forever?

    • Half Life 2 has not been confirmed by Valve and is officially still a rumor. I have spoken to people who work for valve and refuse to comment about Half Life 2.
  • Cool. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AndrewM1 (648443)
    I think that this game, Tabula Rasa, Is going to be a best seller. Look at it. It's made by a guy with a solid reputation (He brought us Ultima!), and by combining that with today's cutting-edge graphics technologies, It's bound to be good. I don't play any games like this, but I know people who do, and I'd bet they'ed sink thier money into this. Rock on, Richard!
    • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Funny)

      by All Names Have Been (629775) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:38PM (#5283870)
      I think that this game, Tabula Rasa, is going to be a best seller. Look at it. It's made by a guy with a solid reputation (He brought us Ultima!), and by combining that with today's cutting-edge graphics technologies, It's bound to be good. I don't play any games like this, but I know people who do, and I'd bet they'ed sink thier money into this. Rock on, Richard!

      I think that this game, Daikatana, Is going to be a best seller. Look at it. It's made by a guy with a solid reputation (He brought us Quake!), and by combining that with today's cutting-edge graphics technologies, it's bound to be good. I don't play any games like this, but I know people who do, and I'd bet they'ed sink thier money into this. Rock on, John Romero!

      I know, I know, you were joking.
      • The problem with Daikatana wasn't Romero. It was pressure to release the game. Romero has stated many times that it was released way too early. It wasn't finished.
        • Re:Cool. (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Good thing we won't run into that horrible mistake with Duke Nukem Forever or Team Fortress 2. Whoops, our 3D engine is horribly obsolete because we spent a year writing our fifth, seriously, last one, physics modeler. And then we'll have to get the art team to redo everything. Hey, anyone looked at the sound code since 1997? And what's all this vapor doing in here? Someone set off the fire sprinklers?
    • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Reedo (234996) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:38PM (#5283875)
      I honestly can't tell if that's sarcasm of not.

      If not, then you must not have heard about Ultima 9? Made by a guy with a solid reputation (Ultima!) and was heralded by Origin/EA for it's cutting-edge graphics technology. It released and was one of the biggest disasters in recent memory. It was so buggy that Origin remastered the game [ultima-ascension.com] with all the patches and sent them out to registered users who bought Ultima 9. They also shut down the message boards [ultima-ascension.com] shortly after release because of the massive amount of complaints.
  • by creative_name (459764) <pauls&ou,edu> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:19PM (#5283759)
    Is naming games after the lives of the developers, per Tabula Rasa going to become a trend? Can we look forward to seeing Still No Date and Damn Soda on my Keyboard on store shelves soon?!?
    • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:07PM (#5284323)
      Dude, we've had that for years. Quake (as in what developers did when they saw a real, breathing female,) Unreal (the prospect of sex in their lives) and Final Fantasy (the realization that, 50 years from now, the developer would die in his semen-soaked underwear, dreaming of a real woman..)

      Actually, ironically, according to Hironobu Sakaguchi (producer of Final Fantasy,) the game was named such because if it didn't succeed, it really WAS Square's final fantasy. :) But the game was popular, Square recovered, and all is well with the cosmos.
  • by briggsb (217215) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:20PM (#5283765)
    Sure they'll talk about MMORPGs but will they ever address the long term effects of potions of healing? I heard theycause liver damage [bbspot.com].
  • by aridhol (112307) <ka_lac@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:21PM (#5283773) Homepage Journal
    I've been a fan of Ultima ever since I got Ultima IV on my Commodore; I've since gone back and played the entire central series.

    I look at what they're marketing as Ultima these days, and have to wonder what the heck happened. Why did Blackthorne go from being a corrupted nobleman to being a cyborg? When did Britannia get all ultra-high-tech?

    I don't play online games. I like to go through at my own pace, on my own schedule, and complete a game. I don't want some 31337 kiddie to come along and screw up the game by being completely out of character or by cheating. And I don't want to pay extra to play a game that I've already bought.

    So my Ultima experience is limited to the "real" Ultimas. I'll never know what accident of history changed Britannia to a sci-fi nightmare. And I won't lose any sleep over it.

    • by Gaijin42 (317411) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:24PM (#5283792) Homepage
      Britannia started out all high tech. It wasn't till 4 that it went fantasy all the way. In the early ultimas, there were space ships, lasers, etc.

      Blackthorn is a cyborg because of a plot line invoving Exedus. Which kinda makes sense, but only if you started with the early Ultimas.
    • by DrCode (95839) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:31PM (#5284431)
      I agree, and also have another reason for playing single-person games: I like being the hero. In single-person games, you get to save the world, solve the mystery, or defeat the evil pirate LeChuck.

      One game designer (forgot who) suggested that the ideal multi-player game would have far more NPC's than real players. That way, each human player could still be the center of attention, and get involved in complex plots, only occasionally running into other humans.
      • What I find interesting is that so many players want to have no NPCs. Look at all the player run shards, they all seem to take pride in the fact that everything is run without NPCs.

        Of course, the economy on them makes no sense since gold doesn't have any intrinsic value anymore. It isn't worth the time of the people who work on their smith skills to bother asking for money for basic weapons and armour. In fact the entire system degrades into bartering/begging since no one accepts gold (and naturally because of that no one wants gold).

        I'm sure you could write an economics paper on the subject.
  • hey kids! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:22PM (#5283781) Homepage Journal
    "becoming a pitchman for a popular Korean MMORPG trying to make it in the states."

    Would you like to live in the shadow of nuclear war? Haven't you always fascinated about frolicking in a demilitarized zone? Well, have we got a game for you!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      the game's called Lineage: The Blood Pledge and your ethnocentrism asside it's the most popular mmorpg on earth.
  • If the new Deus Ex game lives up to the orignal it will be pretty sweet.
    • In other news, it appears that many people enjoy breathing oxygen.
    • Deus Ex (Score:5, Insightful)

      by T-Kir (597145) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:39PM (#5283879) Homepage

      I started playing Deus Ex again this past week, and apart from it crashing constantly (either my 9500 Pro/Catalyst 3 drivers/DirectX 9) the other thing that struck me was how more real the game felt with all the political stuff going on now, just swop the Liberty statue with the Twin Towers, the extra laws being brought in to combat terrorism, et al.

      Very scary indeed :(

      • I just started playing it for the first time this week (didn't get around to system shock 2 until last year, what can I say, I'm lazy). You are right, it is eerie. We are like one bio-terrorism strike away from the scenario depicted in the game...
      • I had problems with Deus Ex blue screening my win2k system, with an Nvidia geforce 2. Interestingly it only happened when I was running as administrator...
      • Very scary indeed :(

        I was about half way through the game on 9/11, didn't really feel like finishing for a long time.
    • From the first page of the article: Warren Spector: I could feel myself getting more and more conservative. ... "What do you mean we should cut the skills system?" The coolest part about the original Deus Ex was the fact that you could specialize your character with unique stats (i.e. Hacker, Sniper), I really hope they don't do away with that system in the sequel.
  • Lineage 2 website (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:33PM (#5283849)
    http://www.lineage2.com/ [lineage2.com]

    This is the 'New' version of the Korean game. It's in early beta phase, but has a steady following. Character models are *gorgeous*.
  • by pHatidic (163975) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @06:42PM (#5283897)
    The Ultima Collection, available from eastore.ea.com [ea.com] all of the single player Ultima's except for the last one, number nine. They also through in Akalabeth.

    Caveat Emptor -- Several of the games do not work properly on modern systems do to memory incompatibities. IMHO, the only Ultima really worth playing is U7, which now works perfectly do to the new engine made by Exult [sourceforge.net]. However, Ultima's 4-6 are also very good if you have the time and patience to get them working (U4 worked fine for me except the sound but I could never really get U5 & U6 running correctly)
    • the only Ultima really worth playing is U7

      I grew up with Ultima on Nintendo, never really got into it on the PC - I liked the simplicity of the NES versions (III & IV)

      • Actually there was an SNES version of U7. However the plot was quite a bit different & the game was not nearly as good as the PC version.

        For instance you could not form a party, and the plot revolved around kidnappings instead of gruesome murders.
    • If you want to play the older games on newer hardware a great place to look is Ultima: The Reconstruction [voyd.net], which has remakes & patches for all of the Ultimas. Another option is to run the older Ultimas in emulation.

      Although it is a matter of personal opinion, these are my favorite platforms for each of the U1-U6 games:

      U1 - Commodore 64 (VICE)
      U2 - Ultima 2 in Windows Remake
      U3 - Lairware version of U3 for Macintosh (Basilisk)
      U4 - Atari ST (Steem)
      U5 - Atari ST (Steem)
      U6 - Amiga (UAE)
  • In the Garriot interview, he mentioned a riff between EA and himself about the future and direction of online games. And he hinted that his ideas led to UO being rather successful while EA's ideas led to the other online games that EA released being rather unsuccessful. I'd love to get the deets on this one. Anyone khave insight into exactly what EA's philosophy on online games was? And why it didnt gel with Garriots or translate into success? he didnt go into detail, but im interested
  • Some folks think that MMOGs are the next generation of MUDs, but I think not.

    MMOGs are the AOL of the internet - a prepackaged, lowest-common-denominator experience. That's the economics of paying for the bandwidth and paying for the servers - you need so many customers. Because of that, MMOGs are simply not going to be as challenging as the single-player games in difficulty, but are still not going to allow everyone to complete the game. What will be challenging for the 10 hour a day player will be impossible for the 10 hour a week or month player.

    The MUDs were so great because of the connection between community and the creators of the content - often there was overlap.

    There are some open-source mmog projects (mmog open-server) [sourceforge.net] and Nel [nongnu.org]. There is some hope of community-driven content in mmog gaming. Of course, there is also, NeverWinterNights [bioware.com], which although proprietary, still is really taking off in terms of its community [neverwinte...ctions.com] and its player-created content [neverwinte...ctions.com].
    • That's true for the modern day MMORPGs (to a certain extent), but if you played Ultima Online in it's hayday (I.E. before EA took the reigns), then you would remember the unity between developer and customer. Once the corporation mind-set wriggled it's way into development the entire experience changed drastically.

      For one, numbers don't lie. Ultima Online's subscription totals dropped drastically in the year that EA started imposing it's will. I played that game, Ultima Online, before the EA integration, and it really was surreal how much weight the consumer's voice carried. After EA came on the scene the corporate influence was so evident that each and every little change carried it's stench. It was amazing, really, now that I actually take the time to reflect. UO had started to become a EverQuest (Sony's baby) clone with an outdated engine. Subscriptions went from 500,000 strong to 220,000 in a very brief time - the most reported cause for quitting wasn't because of the competition (in fact, many EverQuest players were actually first time MMORPG customers). The leading cause of quitting wasn't a bad product. Most people that quit UO in the now infamous exodus was because of the disloyalty that EA showed it's long term customers in the form of terrible support, a change to a time-sink-centric experience, and the elimination of intense community interaction in game development. Hell, they even cut their customer support staff in half at a time when more people then ever were trying their game out!

      However, I don't know how right I am. My info comes from first hand experience as a player and the occassional chat with my pal that worked in customer support for Origin (the company that runs UO under the EA umbrella). He was laid off right after I quit playing a year and half or so ago.

      Well, in any event, I hear that Ultima Online subscriptions have gained by about 15,000 over the past year since they started listening to their consumer again. The new expansion [uo.com] has caused a little buzz amongst the MMORPG crowd as well.

  • When I was still doing laser shows, we did a a show for a party this guy threw, not sure if it was for his birthday or what. I missed the actual bash (had another gig elsewhere), but from what i understand, he threw a hell of a party. In addition to the laser show (dont remember if it was a custom show or the Pink Floyd show that we used to run), he had all sorts of props, he was in costume, and he staged a shooting where his wife burst in and shot him with a shotgun (he was wired to make it look like he was hit). Of course with out actually being there I couldnt vouch for it, but the show crew had nothing but nice things to say about the guy.
    • Yeah, that was for his birthday. He LOVES fireworks and usually has an hour long show, but there was a burn ban that year, so that's why there were laser lights instead. Unfortunately, since he had to leave Origin, he's cut way back on the parties, but he still does them.
  • Akalabeth! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by feed_those_kitties (606289) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:21PM (#5284101)
    Wow, does that bring back memories.

    Spending hours on my old Apple ][, trying to avoid the 'a thief stole some food' message...

    *sigh*...

    I found one spot in one dungeon where using a magic attack would double all your stats. Do that several times, and you'd become a killing machine. I remember attacking with the bow, and killing things off the screen...

    *sigh*...

  • by mr.henry (618818) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:37PM (#5284183) Journal
    Richard Garriott used to open his Austin house to the public for a pretty spectacular Haunted House. As I recall, people camped out front for days to make sure they got one of the limited spots.

    I always thought that was cool of the guy. I think he's moved out of that house and into a "castle" on some serious acreage, not too far from his old place.

  • Deus Ex (Score:4, Informative)

    by Teckla (630646) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:49PM (#5284226)
    If you're a gamer, and you haven't played Deus Ex yet, do yourself a favor and GO BUY IT. RIGHT NOW.

    I've seen it as cheap as $10 in the bargain bin (jewel case and CD only). The boxed version is only $20.

    Deus Ex rocks. So much so, that I'm basing my next PC purchase on when Deus Ex: Invisible War is released.

    -Teckla
  • It's been awhile... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vsavatar (196370) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:59PM (#5284277)
    I haven't heard from Warren Spector in a long time. I used to have phone conversations occassionally when he was at Origin and Looking Glass. Back then me and a few others were trying to put together a gaming project of our own, and Mr. Spector was kind enough to give us some thoughts on how to go about doing it, what was required, what some dos and don'ts of the industry were, and the like. He was always pretty cool and I really admired most of the games he produced in addition to the fact that he was never too high and mighty to take some time out and chat with the little guy about the business and how to succeed. Richard Garriot is a lot like Warren in some ways. He was always very down to earth, I loved the games he produced (especially the Ultima series), and I was supposed to meet him at Dragon*Con in '97, but with all the work being done on UO he wasn't able to show up. It's unfortunate that he had to resign from Origin, but I can fully understand it with the way EA raped the company and changed it into something that RG had never intended. It's nice to hear that both these guys are still around and kicking. Maybe there's yet some hope for more good games to come out.
    • I had the same reaction -- nice to hear about Warren -- only in my case the "awhile" is a lot longer. He was the editor of one of the pencil-and-paper RPG magazines* I wrote for in the early 1980s!

      It's interesting, how some game industry people I knew stayed with the pencil-and-paper stuff, while others leapt into the big time. In 1995, I "gophered" at the CGDC; some of my fellow lowly gophers were fellow RPG designer types, some well known for their work. Not a gopher was Tom Dowd, who started as a stock boy at Fantasy Games Unlimited (long-dead boardgame and RPG maker) and as I recalled had risen to become FASA's computer game honcho.

      Me, I just burned out.

      Stefan

      * "The Space Gamer"

  • after all of these years, he stil never mentions them.... I mean am I the only one who really enjoyed that stepchild Ultima - Martian Dreams ???

    It's entirely possible that I am being nostalgic here, but where else could you play a killer game and in some small way enlighten your knowledge of classics, and science and politics? The NPC's were outstanding! I remember Freud, Tesla, Twain, Lenin, Roosevelt - heck I even recall reading parts of their intellectual works within the game!!

    I enjoy a good scifi/fanatsy trip as much as the next guy, but in my book, on content alone, Martian Dreams was the standout of Garriots crop. Ambitious and smart.

    But then again, I really enjoyed Savage Empire too.
  • by WesternActor (300755) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:17PM (#5285012) Homepage
    And as Ultima 8 got into scheduling trouble, as every Ultima always did, rather than make a decision as we had in the past to hold the game until it was polished, we began to cut things out to stay on schedule. And we cut and we cut and we cut and the game that was finally released was not only shipped early even for the cut version (and therefore buggy), but also had its guts ripped out as far as being an Ultima.
    and
    So, Ultima 9, throughout its development, was the bastard child of Electronic Arts and suffered from that lack of support. But we persevered anyway, and I think it came out pretty well. There were some areas I wish we could have taken the time to make better, but considering the rocky road of internal support it had, it actually turned out quite nicely.
    I guess I pretty much have the opposite feelings about his games. I thought Ultima VIII, for all its problems, was at least interesting and playable, and it kept my interest right until the very end. I didn't think there was much of anything worthwhile about Ultima IX at all, and I gave up somewhere near halfway through. It seemed to take great job in subverting everything that had made Ultima what it was for almost two decades.

    Nothing in that game seemed to resemble anything I was familiar with, and I'd played all the Ultima games (including both Ultima Underworld titles, Savage Empire, and Martian Dreams). Ultima VIII was completely different from what had come before, but it had to operate under a different set of rules, because it took place in a different universe/dimension as far removed from Britannia as Earth was. Ultima IX could utilize no such excuse... It just made no sense, and was boring as heck, despite being graphically superior to... well... almost everything.

    I agree with Garriott about Ultima VII being the Ultima of Ultimas, though. Those were the days!

    • again - I wish there was a bit of elaboration on this. I'd love to hear exactly what it was they cut out of Ultima 8 - because, like you, I rather enjoyed the game.
      • I'd love to hear exactly what it was they cut out of Ultima 8

        So would I. Ultima IX was, as far as I am aware, chopped to shreds and released in a form that completely betrays its original intent. Ultima VIII, despite its imperfections, simply looks and plays better; it's intelligently designed and cohesive. In short, it feels like the creators got exactly the game the game they were trying to write, whether or not theey actually did. Ultima IX feels like it was a gigantic compromise, patchy and completely lacking in focus. From all I hear, that is exactly what it was.

        Regardless, it's a sad ending to the Ultima series... Ultima VIII held a lot of promise and suggested the series still had plenty of fresh, invigorating places to go. Ultima IX felt old, tired, and boring, though it looked absolutely spectacular. But, as I was raised on Infocom text adventures, and games that didn't have nigh infinite resources on which to draw, I look for content first and graphics much later.

    • You're right, Ultima 9 was a completely sorry thing when it left the door. But years after its release, I'm playing through it now and am actually finding it enjoyable. The reason? The devoted fans who released patches for the game, the most important being the dialogue patch, which changes the dialogue, books, etc. (and to some extent, the plot) so that they reflect the rich history of the Ultima saga (and fix a lot of contradictions!). If you played Ultima 9 and found it as sorry as I did, give it another try with the fan patches. Sure, there's still plenty of problems, but the dialogue patch makes the game at least feel (mostly) like an Ultima game.

      Check it out at

      http://reconstruction.voyd.net/zips/u9fanpatch16 0. zip
  • by beacher (82033) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @11:47PM (#5285405) Homepage
    EA/OSI is staging their latest publish to the servers right now, and there's some bit of a scandal there.
    EA was offering a new landmass to the playerbase, only if they ordered through Gamestop, EBGames, Amazon, or EA's own store. The new client was to ship on the 11th. What EA sisn't say was that they were going to dump all of their packages at UPS's Louisvilla Air hub at 2AM, ensuring that the packages got delivered that day. A lot of people are crying foul, but it really doesn't seem to matter..... The servers haven't come back up yet (they said it would take 4-5 hours.. it's been about 12 now..) One of the servers has come up and I've seen turtles **** faster.
    They have changed a bunch of merchant and housing rules in order to generate more subscriptions and it just keeps getting worse and worse. They don't fix the nastier bugs and they ban people that accidentally stumble on bugs (There's a tile that you can step on and send a broadcast message - Fixed? Not that I know of. Bannable? You betcha - Can they lock something over it so nobody steps on it? Sure! Why don't they? No idea)

    Garriot said it - "And as Ultima 8 got into scheduling trouble, as every Ultima always did, rather than make a decision as we had in the past to hold the game until it was polished, we began to cut things out to stay on schedule. And we cut and we cut and we cut and the game that was finally released was not only shipped early even for the cut version (and therefore buggy), but also had its guts ripped out as far as being an Ultima."

    They have no interest in fixing what is wrong, they keep introducing new "features", and their customer service has been offshored by people who don't play the game and english is their second language.

    Real frustrating knowing that your pixel crack is been cut with noise...

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