Lord British Knows Controversy Gets Attention

He has his Kickstarter campaign.

He has made his initial goal.

But success now is really measured in how far he can exceed his million dollar line in the sand.  How can he explain that he already had pets and weather as part of the design if you won’t give him money for these stretch goals?

So what is the stand-by Lord British plan?

Go to the press!

The gaming press falls over itself when he offers up an interview despite the fact he is using them to pursue his own goals.  Remember his “great fondness for EA” press campaign?  Suddenly he loved EA when he wanted to get his Ultima IP back.  Pity he didn’t actually speak to them directly.

Of course, when they gave him the big “up yours” he suddenly remembered some bad bits about EA.  Funny that.

And he sure had nice things to say about Zynga when he was looking to get into bed with Mark Pincus.

You're right, these helmets are great Mark!

You’re right, these helmets are great Mark!

And not an ounce of irony showed from his previous scolding of the industry for not following Zynga… over a cliff, as it turns out.  Bad game design I bet.

To be fair though, he does always give the press something they want.  He delivers up a good quote or two that they can run with to draw in readers.  Lord British guarantees page views.

And today he has delivered.  The headline for the interview over at PC Gamer includes the quote:

most game designers really just suck

He hits it out of the park!



Of course, what he really said was:

But other than a few exceptions, like Chris Roberts, I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am. I’m not saying that because I think I’m so brilliant. What I’m saying is, I think most game designers really just suck, and I think there’s a reason why.  It’s really hard to go to school to be a good designer”

Which I guess mitigates the statement a bit.  It isn’t easy to become a game designer.  That is why you suck.  Oh, and you aren’t a good artist or a decent programmer, so what else can you do besides menial work like QA or community management?  So you end up in game design.

Still, just to make sure things are clear… and generate controversy… he puts the boot in a couple more times.  The article is a mine of inflammatory quotes, which he hands out with a knowing wink.

And every designer that I work with… I think, frankly, is lazy.

Boy, I sure hope you didn’t have a Game Designer entry on your resume for a Lord British project, you lazy bastard!

But he got plenty of attention.  And while there is such a thing as bad publicity… ask the SimCity 5 general manager about that one… tripping over your own lies is never good… controversy often works if it doesn’t inherently taint your own product.  Lord British said other people suck.

And PC Gamer threw him his bone, mentioning and linking to his project at the end of the article… if you got that far.

Now, how much of a bump on Kickstarter will this interview give one of the industries least lazy game designers?

Meanwhile, what happened to that quote about being stupid if you’re not making an MMO?  You remember, the one from right before Tabula Rasa.

17 thoughts on “Lord British Knows Controversy Gets Attention

  1. NoAstronomer

    As I implied in my comment on the post when the Kickstarter was revealed, why anyone would give money to this guy is quite beyond my understanding. Now I want to ask why anyone would *work* for him.

    He had one decent idea and now every failed project since then is someone else’s fault. Sounds like some people that I’ve worked for.



  2. Tyler Murphy

    I love Lord British.

    He’s egotistical, self-absorbed, completely obsessed with himself and his alternate personality, and one of my favorite designers of all time. He demands attention, so he’ll do and say anything to appear more relevant than he is, but he’s done nothing for modern gaming. He’s the crazy old uncle you feel embarrassed to have at your party, but your friends think is the funniest old bastard in the world.

    I think it is clear that he is his own worst enemy. Any piddling, worthless, waste of time design idea he comes up with is ‘revolutionary’, ‘amazing’, or ‘incredible’ simply because ‘I am the guy that made Ultima’.

    I can’t communicate how excited I am to buy Shrouds or to watch it burn – either way, I am guaranteed a good show.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Tyler – The public pronouncements of His Lordship are certainly a source of entertainment for me. I await them eagerly and hang on His every word. Plus He is rich and has lived a life of which we all ought to be jealous, so He might be past caring what any of His non-fans might think. He is there for His loyal masses… and His legacy.

    And as the joke goes, maybe the horse will sing. We’ll see what sort of game results in… 2015 maybe?


  4. spinks

    I always did kind of wonder why going in via QA was so common in computer game designers. I like Lord British, he tunes the stuff he’s talking for his audience but there’s always enough there to make you believe he knows his stuff.


  5. bhagpuss

    The only real entertainment Lord British ever gave me is via this blog. I never played any of his games (well, bar a few weeks touristing in UO) and until now I never felt it was likely that I would.

    Oddly, I find myself becoming moderately curious about this new one. Dialing down his hype it sounds like it might be worth a look, Like the Mark Jacobs game, I’m not all that interested but I’m not uninterested either.

    Oh, and related to your comment on the previous thread about the BBC calling him a legendary *British* games designer,

    1. The British (and most particularly the English) media claim anyone who ever saw the white cliffs of Dover from a passing jetliner as “British” if it suits them, and

    2. The guy calls himself “Lord British” ! What are we supposed to think?


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – And I call myself Wilhelm Arcturus. Do you think me some starfaring German?

    Anyway, I am reminded of the line from Blackadder:

    Darling: She’s as British as Queen Victoria!

    Blackadder: What, you mean her father’s German, she’s half German, and she married a German?

    Apply it where you see fit.


  7. Jenks

    “He demands attention, so he’ll do and say anything to appear more relevant than he is, but he’s done nothing for modern gaming.”

    Modern gaming is so awful that I can only read that as outright praise.


  8. Potshot

    Erf. World weary commenter is world weary.

    More proof of my creed, nine out of ten people aren’t worth knowing and half of what’s left are insufferable.

    Machiavelli called. He wants his book back.


  9. Aufero

    I guess when you’re Richard Garriott, you don’t have to worry about burning bridges anymore. (Because he nuked those suckers from orbit this time.)


  10. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    I’ll quote Scott Hartsman from twitter: “Hoping the recruiter at Portalarium gets overtime. And hazard pay.”

    Sad part is, he does have a point. A lot of game designers do simply copy previous designs without really analyzing the reasons why those designs exist. But, the layer of self-aggrandizement he layers on top of that, and his insulting tone, really do him no favors.


  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Brian – I saw that tweet. I was tempted to link it.

    And yes, there is always a problem finding good talent, or the right talent, for a given task. Doing what you did before, or what has been done before, can be the easy way out.

    On the other hand, sometimes the gun is pointed at your head with a deadline and you pick the most likely route for success. Or you end up in an environment where anything new is rejected out of hand. Smart people do end up working on dumb projects.

    Thinking you are the smartest guy in the room is one thing. Giving interviews where you say you are… and clearly enjoying handing over the key quotes… well, as you said, did him no favors and made him few friends.


  12. zWolf

    hehe, this is an entertaining read… on the flip side, I’d like to read the article of what happened betwixt you and R.G. to make you so ‘anti-Lord British’.


    I bet you once were a developer that worked with him eh? lol, that would do it.

    Funny, I actually pitched in a few bones towards his project, BUT even then, the hostility towards other games, was a turn of – I felt so strongly about it that I posted a comment on the KS forums requesting that they stop drinking the hate-o-raid there at the office…

    apparently that did not happen.

    There is no need to ‘Slam’ all other games, I have no idea why he feels like in order for his game to succeed, he needs to attack every thing else out there.

    He is using language that ought to be reserved for the ‘fan boi’ gamers out there.

    All that said, I STILL hope that his game is a success, I also hope that he learns that the world is a better place if you can be just a bit more tactful.

    Game on.


  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @zWolf – I am not “anti-Lord British.” I am, however, interested in pointing out that this interview… and its controversial nature… was all part of the KS plan. Hence the headline, which didn’t use the money quote at all… unlike nearly every other site covering it. It was as much a check box item as any of the updates that have been posted. He is doing Kickstarter by the numbers, and pretty darn successfully.

    My links to past Lord British performances are to substantiate how he views the press (a tool to be exploited when the need arises) and how bad he is at pulling of such manipulation. He comes across as pompous and completely out of touch with reality by turns. Which makes you wonder why they thought this interview would be a good idea. It got the requisite publicity certainly. But did it help the campaign?

    For comparison, I have also pointed at Mark Jacobs… to whose Kickstarter I also play to pay close attention… for some press gaffs of his own, such as when he pointed out that Warhammer Online had a better Metacritic rating than most MMOs.

    I mark such gaffs in the press as part of the timeline of my site. That Lord British seems to make them more than most devs… well… you tell me why. It makes no sense to me. It just makes me hold my head with a pained look on my face.


  14. zWolf

    Well, your articles are very interesting to read. :-) thanks for the response. (I attempted to add you as an FB friend. :-)


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