“since Ultima Online was a fair time back and Tabula Rasa had its troubles, it makes perfect sense that people would go, ‘I’m cautious as to what my expectations are.'”
Dr. Richard A. Garriott de Cayeux, EuroGamer Interview III – Exodus
I swear, I thought he was done. He sounded done. He probably should have been done. But apparently he was not done, and I’m on the Ultimate RPG train, so I am going to stick with it!
Anyway, Lord British takes full blame for both games not being up to par. Sort of.
“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.”
And then he does go on to rationalize… or rationalise.
Essentially, it was the same problem in both cases, being forced to ship before they were done.
With Ultima VIII, the big problem was, in his view, the sports-game-centric mentality of EA, which insisted that they ship the game when they said they were going to ship. This lead to a giant miss in the market according to Lord British.
…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.
There but for the EA mindset, they could have beat Blizzard and their hugely successful Diablo to the punch. I wonder if Rob Pardo is going to publicly scold him now for ceding the hack and slash RPG to Blizzard ala something Lord British said recently.
Missed opportunities though? Was Ultima VIII really a potential competitor to Diablo? I never made it to Ultima VIII, so I couldn’t tell you, but it seems unlikely to me.
And then there was the tale of NCsoft and Tabula Rasa. According to Lord British, the team blew the first two years of work and had to start again from scratch, something about which NCsoft was not happy.
And whenever you start a game that is two years out of position, you’re basically already up a creek, if you know what I mean. Because what the company is not going to do is forgive the two years and forgive the millions of dollars that have already been spent. You basically are two years late and what’s taking you so long – let’s get the game out.
I’ve read more detailed insights into what transpired. To say NCsoft was impatient is a bit of a simplification. And from the outside it looked bad as well, what with Lord British in orbit while Arieki and Foreas burned. 15 months was all NCsoft could put up with before closing the game down. And, in an all time class move, they fired Lord British while he was in space. I wonder if that was a first. He should have that on his list of accomplishments.
All of this wraps up with another mention of Lord British’s goal of the Ultimate RPG, his company’s current venture, Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale, and the previously mentioned new development processes and dedication to modern platforms such as Facebook and mobile devices.
I guess he felt the need to clear the air on past issues… though Ultima VIII was shipped more than 17 years ago, so it might be time to just let go… and he did steer clear some of his past strange statements. He managed to stay pretty much on message while trying to explain away what went wrong with these two releases.
I’m just not sure that the end message (big bad companies made me do it) was all that helpful or if he needed to bring this up at all. I think he would have been better off if he had stopped at the previous interview and his professing great fondness for EA, an expression somewhat undone by this interview.