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Garriott's New Project Cooking Along 103

omeros writes "Looks like Garriott's latest project will have plenty of human support, as much of the creative staff from Origin has joined him in the hills outside Austin. They've just moved to a larger space. Also Jake Song, creator of "Lineage," will be working with Destination Games on their first title, "Tabula Rasa." Ultima fans rejoice!"
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Garriott's New Project Cooking Along

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  • For a second there I forgot what game they actually made...
  • Maybe the question is stupid, but I've been out of touch with gaming for a while and the article wasn't exactly forthcoming on the game, focusing on the new office space (really important, yhea). All it says is that it's some form of online game, I guess an RPG, and that it is somehow supposed to be revolutionary.

    What I would enjoy is if it where an RPG where society, science, and technology develops and advances, somehow like a complete virtual world.

    P.S. What is with all teh ASCII art trolls that are currently appearing, did someone discover aalib :-)
    • Yeah - "Tabula Rasa" means "clean slate", as per above post. It may have other contexts, but the only context I've heard this phrase in is in psychology, where it refers to the theory that babies are born without any knowledge at all; their minds are a "clean slate".

      Could be an interesting game if the name refers to something like this...
  • Not the most profound observation, but it is interesting that a Korean company is switching to the US rather than vice-versa
  • by AliasTheRoot ( 171859 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @05:52AM (#2224665)
    here []

    Talks about who ncsoft are and what Garriot is doing with them. No mention of property deals for all you office space geeks though.

    If you prefer to cut and paste then go here:,10870, 2808054,00.html
  • by Anonymous Coward

    (Is those first-post boobies to go away) Ultima IX: Ascension done right. Like, no half-done maps in the commercial product, no hang-ups and crashes during the first five seconds of installation, nor the numerous graphical and story bugs and glitches that the game has. I bet there are many 3D engines today that could handle this kind of game with much more style than Garriot's (et. al.) own engine did.

    Still, I'm a believer. I believe Garriot had not much chance but to push out the half-finished product as funding and time grew short. I sincerely hope he will have more time and reliable funding this time around.

    • When Garriot showed off the nice floating buildings of Moonglow, and when I saw it, you know what I thought? Not, "Gee, wow, floating buildings" but, "Gee, big drably-textured polygons! Looks like a bad Quake map". The problem with 3D game worlds is that they are so angular. In action games such things can be forgiven, but with an RPG (especially an Ultima) the idea is to create a realistic world, and those polygons-that-are-buildings very quickly reminded me that it ISN'T another world, but a game. This need-to-be-3D is something I have never understood, other than as marketting ploy. I know it's too late to expect U9 to change to a decent isometric view now, but viewing the engine in action seems to validate my belief that isometric is the way to go in Ultima IX.
      • > This need-to-be-3D is something I have never understood, other than as marketting ploy.

        As a 3D programmer it is NOT just a marketing ploy.

        4 words: "skeletal animation" and "motion blending"

        It is tedious for artists to create EVERY frame of animation for one sequence of motion (i.e. weapon action.) Then they have to create another set for movement (walking,) Now what if we want the char to walk and slash at the same time? All the permuations with sprites QUICKLY chew up memory (CDROM space and RAM.)

        Motion blending (usually with a simplified Inverse Kinematics for real-time performance) allows the artist to create a few "base" animations. Then at run-time, players can have their avatar simultaneously perform ANY number of combinations based on those motions !

        I agree that it 2D art has a much better "graphical cuteness" compared to the "harsh euclidean edges" of 3D.

        • Then maybe the artists should use all those spiffy tools to make the art, but still have a more restricted (isometric) final product.

          Anyway, if the artist has to punt on some things -- like walking and slashing at the same time -- the result will still look considerably better than the 3D equivalent. Artists seem to be pretty good at faking fluid action, while 3D can actually do the fluid action but it still looks like it's faking.

          Maybe the artists will become better with the technology and they'll take over from the programmers. I think that's what needs to happen -- 3D can be another medium for the artist, but only if they can take artistic license. It doesn't seem like current systems have that flexibility. An artist can't say "yes, theoretically that's how this should look, but aesthetically or for perceived realism, we will make it look like this."

          That's what a good director does when shooting a movie and that's what a game artist should do too.

          • I am not really fond of the isometric point of view. The art is usually better, but there are several drawbacks. The maps feel flat, even if elevation is drawn in. It can be very difficult to figure out whether or not you can walk on a particular piece of the map. A moveable camera can really help make a game area feel real, instead of looking like a pretty drawing.
          • Artists seem to be pretty good at faking fluid action, while 3D can actually do the fluid action but it still looks like it's faking.

            3d models won't look like real moving humans until they start modeling elasticity and volume. bend your arm at the elbow. what happens? your upper arm expands on one side, your forearm flattens out on the opposite side, and the tops of both squeeze together. If you add clothes, the surfaces of those do the same thing.

            Now, this would take a ridiculous amount of computational power, but hey... that's what 3d has to do.

  • My self i didnt like Lineage when i beta tested it for usa release ..would have been fun if i spoke twainese last few on-line rpg's have been very lame everquest wasnt bad But e-bayers and duping screwed it up UO is dead and AO is buggy

    maybe they can make a good on-line game better not be a another lineage clone

  • I really hope he won't screw up this time. Ultima IX was, to put it mildly, terrible! Also Ultima On Line would have been good, if it hadn't been full of PK's...
    With a smaller company, I hope (and in this sense the news of the acquisition are bad news), the Garriot brothers will find the hope and inspiration to produce some more masterworks like Ultima IV - VIII.
    Hail the Avatar!
    • That's IV - VII pal. VIII was rubbish, and it was the first example of how much crap you can produce when EA gives you no time/money. IX is the second example. Also don't forget WoU I and II + UU I and II. They were all great games, in the tradition of Ultima IV and VI.
      • Actually I quite liked Ultima VIII.
        Although it was different from the previous chapters, it had a very nice atmosphere. Also the GFX where gorgeous for the time. They also did a very interesting work in the soundtrack dept.
        I thought the UU series was crap though, that's why I didn't mentioned it.
        I don't think EA didn't give enough money, I think it was 2 factors that screwed up Ultima:
        - Lack of ideas (for how long could they go on like that??)
        - Moving from a "small" company to corporate world, too big a budget, too many restraints, too many heads...

        Just my 2c.
    • Ultima IX is the most immersive and entertaining outdoor world I have ever played in. For at least half a year PC Gamer wet its pants over the graphic detail and in the end thats what we got - a visually stunning game. Ultima IX was the greatest game that never was. It deserved to come back from the ashes of its initial bad press. I would love to see an Ultima X done in the same style of game world. The story itself is pretty much talk to person A, throw switch B, find item C, repeat. but the world itself is unforgettable. Go up to any of the peaks of Brittain and take a look around - it feels real because every inch of world has been well designed and nothing is off limits.
      • Absolutely right. U9 was a great start, but they needed another year to add decent quests, add alternate solutions and debug/speed the engine. And of course more NPC activity in towns. And and and.
        But the roaming freedom! I'd sometimes have a good smoke and just wander with the distance cutoff set to some obscenely large value. Refresh rates went below 1/second, but the scenes were so gorgeous!
        Another fun thingy was enabling the flying cheat, then raising up 1000 ft above an area to see how it all looked from above. At some point you caused the VM manager to barf cause it was loading so many textures -- heh.
        I WISH they'd just buy the rights to the U9 world and make a good game based on all the work they had done up to that point.
        Completely agree with other posters that game development suffers from the heavy investements needed in the graphic dept.
  • "Tabula Rasa" is latin for blank slate or a blank sheet.

    First used by John Locke in "On Human Understanding", meaning that all human's are born with out any form of intellect (see slashdot editors) and must learn though experience.

    Ofcourse, this implies that it is a working title.

  • ... is the link at the bottom of the page that says "Click for permission to reprint". Apparently, it includes permission to link to the article as well. Has anybody on /. checked that text before linking?
  • when in a recent interview this guy says his only mistake with ultima online was not charging enough?

    perhaps thats just because the pricing was the only thing garriott himself was involved in regarding the game.

    i'm excited as a gamer when new, interesting, and fun games come out. not when great game designer falls from creating one of the greatest rpgs ever (ultima4) to not even publicly recognizing the bad decision making regarding the launch and execution of the 2 most recent influential games (u9, uo) to hold his name.

    shame on the cult of personality.
  • I like the Ultima Series, and I suppose I'm somewhat looking forward to seeing whatever Tabula Rasa becomes, but. . .

    The article starts out talking about how Garriott's new company just sold themselves to NCSoft. SO, EA screwed up the Ultima Series, and now Garriott is going to allow NCSoft to screw up whatever games his new company creates. RG needs to find some other way to fund development than finding some big Sugar Daddy company to fund him. Like finding private investors who are willing to allow him to run the company semi-autonomously (yeah, I know, easier said than done, blah, blah; but the fact is someone with as much gaming clout and previous success as Garriott shouldn't have that hard a time finding investors), instead of some big corporate headquarters constantly butting in and throwing their weight around.

    I mean, I could be totally wrong here; maybe NCSoft will allow Garriott and co. to do their thing and come up with a great game. We'll see. . . but I doubt it.

    • I mean, I could be totally wrong here; maybe NCSoft will allow Garriott and co. to do their thing and come up with a great game. We'll see. . . but I doubt it

      It's not impossible. Remember Black and White? Peter Molyneaux had pretty much creative control over that game (although he did fund most of the development work himself). EA then distributed it I believe.

      My first thought was the same. What is Garriot doing? He is falling into the same trap that he did with EA! However, he probably learned from his mistakes and had NCSoft make some SERIOUS concessions before going into the deal. That's what contracts are for. ;-)

      I am really looking forward to Tabula Rasa, and I would actually like to see Lineage here in the States too. The game has 2.7 million subscribers in Asia! It has to be a damn good game.
    • > but the fact is someone with as much gaming clout and previous success as Garriott shouldn't have that hard a time finding investors

      After U8 and U9, I don't think Garriott has that much clout. The gaming industry seems to have paralleled Hollywood, in that you are only as good as your last project.

      Oh, and I thing RG *has* learned that small companies can't go it alone. Just look at what happened to Looking Glass. Even id paired up with Activision for distribution reasons.
    • There's a good chance Garriott just doesn't like the business side of game development. Attracting investors, planning marketing, and making business agreements doesn't leave much time for creating and developing a game. It may just be that he's willing to take the risk in selling the company so that he can actually develop a game.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @09:47AM (#2225105)
    When Garriott started out, he was the heart, soul, designer, and programmer of his games. But for the last ten years, he's been tangential at best. That's not his fault; games with 25 or more people working on them tend to be so diluted that a personal vision cannot shine through. Remember, he _was_ Ultima, yet Ultima VII was such a horribly misguided mess that he apologized to the computer gaming world for releasing it. Ultima IX was all technology to the point that 95% of the development effort went into creating a 3D world...and it still fell short in that department. The actual gameplay and story were laughable.

    So unless we're looking at something small, something created by a handful of people, something that goes off in a different direction, then we're being set-up for another big mess (Ultima IX, Daikatana, Messiah, etc., etc.). This is how it always is.
  • I'm glad to hear some of that group is still around. Austin has had a fairly good gaming industry. We have Steve Jackson Games [], Digital Anvil [], and Origin [] to name a few. However, Origin's layoff and apparent fall into a coma was quite a blow, especially falling on the heels of massive layoffs from companies like Dell, the shutdown of .bombs like Living and Garden, etc.

    I really wish these guys luck. Austin's a great geek city and gaming, to me, plays a symbolic role in demonstrating that to the world. Not to mention the fact that it keeps my dream alive of quitting my day job and coding games for a living.

    • You forgot about Acclaim Entertainment, Retroactive, Inevitable, Kalisto, etc..., etc...

      Unfortunatly, since we still have a viable tech market we also have the inevitable influx of Californians. No offense meant, but since Cali is so expensive already they don't mind paying a hell of a lot more for rent, clubbing, etc... which raises the prices for the rest of us "locals". Oh well, you take the good with the bad.
  • Tabula Rasa is also used as the name of a secret group dedicated to wiping out Maestros (magicians) in Clive Barker's Imajica. See here [] for a review.
  • Sweet. That is like right across the street from my house. I also know a guy at Works. I think in a few months they may be subleasing ALL their space out.
  • From the article:

    "Grajeda says NCsoft has bought all of Destination Games' technology and intellectual property."

    Let me get this straight - Garriott et al found a new company, carrying over nothing from EA/Origin, and have not yet produced any actual games, publications, or other copyrightable material of any great magnitude... and NCsoft has "bought" their "intellectual property" anyway. Gee, can I get people to give me money for nothing too? :-) I gotta whole lotta nothing right here - any takers? Bidding starts at $3 mil!
  • > Ultima fans rejoice!

    After Ultima 8 and Ultima 9? Unless you are a heatseeker or uncritical fanboy of Richard Garriott, then you won't be rejoicing about RG's group moving into new office space (I'll spare you the allusion to Ion Storm and their Dallas offices :)).

    I don't think many Ultima fans will be rejoicing at this bit of news. You see, we are interested in *Ultima*, not just any old thing RG puts out (for example, the old Car Wars computer game). At this point -- for whatever reason, bad decisions/burnout/you pick a reason/etc. -- Ultima fans will be taking a wait and see attitude. They want to know what the finished product will be like. And after the botches made of U8 and U9, who can blame them?

    If he designs a great online game, cool, we all benefit. If he designs an online game as revolutionary as U4, well, enough said. :-D

    At this point, Ultima fans have had _years_ of promises. It is what RG actually produces that will speak for him.

    • 1) Richard didn't have much say about when IX was released. Though I do agree that 8 and 9 were weak in comparison to the other Ultimas. But let us not pile on. We don't know what the situation was inside Origin between EA and Garriot. A new company where he has more control and a whole new game series to create could do him good.
      2) Don't compare ION Storm's offices and these. The offices that they moved into are the bottom floor of building that was already built out. Hell, they aren't even buying furniture. They are taking the furniture that was left when Works laid off a ton of people. Property around 360 here is getting a lot cheaper. Look at who were right around here:, Netpliance, ...
    • the old Car Wars computer game

      Autoduel, you mean. That was a fun game, but hard as all hell. I think Chuckles was the lead on that one, not Garriott. Also, (correct me if I'm wrong) I think it was not directly based on Car Wars, although obviously the idea came from there. They must have been trying to avoid license fees to Steve Jackson Games, much as Black Isle, who dropped the GURPS system for Fallout in favor of their own S.P.E.C.I.A.L.(?) for those reasons.

      Speaking of Fallout, does anyone remember a game called Wasteland? It resembled Bard's Tale/Wizardry but with a post-apocalyptic setting. Is Fallout somehow descended from that?

      • They must have been trying to avoid license fees to Steve Jackson Games, much as Black Isle, who dropped the GURPS system for Fallout in favor of their own S.P.E.C.I.A.L.(?) for those reasons.
        IIRC, SJG backed out during development so BI had to come up with their own system. That was what I remember at the time anyways.

        Speaking of Fallout, does anyone remember a game called Wasteland? It resembled Bard's Tale/Wizardry but with a post-apocalyptic setting. Is Fallout somehow descended from that?
        Fallout was pretty much *marketed* as Wasteland's spiritual successor. The back of the box more or less says "It's like Wasteland, only spiffier!"
      • Speaking of Fallout, does anyone remember a game called Wasteland? It resembled Bard's Tale/Wizardry but with a post-apocalyptic setting. Is Fallout somehow descended from that?

        I remember wasteland! That was a great game back in the Tandy days, my friends and I wasted many months when we should have been outside doing other stuff. In fact I'd love it if I could find a copy somewhere, it would be fun to relive those memories for a short while.

  • by Stalcair ( 116043 ) <(stalcair) (at) (> on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @11:07AM (#2225428)
    well, I sincerely hope that this is the percursor to the old Origin coming back. IMHO, the biggest factor is not money, but ethics. I hope that Garriot and company learned and grew wise... not just learned one particular very specific lesson of 'Beware EA' or 'Don't sell your soul to EA'. The real lesson is, always allow yourself the freedom to innovate(TM) (hehehe, sorry couldn't resist) without being hindered by marketers and middle or upper management. Don't get me wrong, I think that those positions are needed, but I have noticed a very repetitive pattern of companies outgrowing themselves then major changes taking place (internally or by being absorbed or hiring some suits). Either way, it ends up with the marketers making business decisions not marketing, and the management micro-mismanaging in areas that they either no little to none about, or just are spread too thin.

    If I could ask of Garriot one big thing, it would be "Please don't loose site of yourselves in the storm of business, please listen to that child inside you that wants to create, and please go back to more emphasis in gameplay, story/plot and immersion and then artwork will augment it all... Not pretty bells and whistles first and the whole gaming experience as an afterthought." OK, so it is not one thing and is really long.

    I have faith they will find their way and become the group of gaming and game making fanatics that they used to be. Good Luck! (yet another thing making me want to move back to Texas)

  • So I work in the offices just adjacent to the Origin building here in Austin. The Lakewood Center (where Destination Games is setting up shop) is literally 2 miles down the road. It's funny to me that after all these years and broo-haha the origin and destination aren't that far apart at all.
  • I began playing Lineage months ago because I heard that Garriot et al. were joining the team. It has been the most regrettable, unpleasent gaming experience I've ever had (and I even tried playing Battlecruiser....

    The NCI (Origin) staff is unable to make any changes to the game mechanics without approval of the Korean staff, who could care less about the hundreds of U.S. users vs. the millions (yes) of Korean users. The game becomes unplayable after every server update as the original players exploit the inevitable bugs and Garriot and crew just wave their arms and say "we'll try to fix it".

    Lineage really had promise - there are some nice elements - but NCSoft has made it impossible to manage the on-line world, leading to no end of player frustration - hard work wasted, characters deleted, and quests/missions broken.

    Do yourself a favor and find a new god, Lord British has sold his soul again.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?