Ultima creator: “Most game designers really just suck”

“So we’re leaning on a lot of designers who get that job because they’re not qualified for the other jobs, rather than that they are really strongly qualified as a designer. It’s really hard to go to school to be a good designer.”

Richard Garriott developed Ultima, the now-legendary fantasy role playing game originally developed for the Apple II. He’s at it again with a Kickstarter-funded project coming for Mac, Windows and Linux, planned for a late 2014 release.



  • Steven Fisher

    “I am awesome. Only I can make games. Forget about the 20 years of recycling I’ve done so far, just love me! — Garriot.”

  • http://twitter.com/Moeskido Moeskido

    Sounds like he subscribes to Sturgeon’s Law. Works for me.

  • http://troygilbert.com/ Troy Gilbert

    This interview was enough to turn me off Garriott permanently. Money withdrawn from the Kickstarter. Bummer. He was a long-time hero for his self-made success — but not for his skills as a game designer.

    • kibbles

      er, actually it was his game design skills that made him a self-made success. Ultima 6 was great, but Ultima 7 remains the best RPG me and my friends ever played. complete success.

  • dustinwilson

    He was a fantastic game designer. The originally named Lord British, Britannia, fiddly controls, that terrible godawful font used in the Ultima games that he seems to want to reuse in his new game, text set on top of the screen without any sort of background behind it, and on top of that every character in the game speaking in horrid historically-incorrect fake Late Middle English that makes the already difficult-to-read text even more so. Then the visual perspective of the Ultima games, why after many games developed the 3/4, planometric, and isometric perspectives would he even consider using that godawful perspective that made everything look flat? If you could even get through the horrible game design choices of the series the stories were terrible because the characters within them were wooden, especially the ones you had to play as.

    Now, Ultima was quite revolutionary when it began. Mr. Garriott deserves credit for that, and even the later games were amazing in the sheer amount of different things the player could do. But, he sure does have the nerve to say all other game designers suck when games progressed and left him behind.

    • kibbles

      sorry but disagree on almost all fronts. loved the Ultimas to no end…still fire up U7 The Black Gate from time to time…the world was open and vast, the stories compelling, and the characters quite convincing. and by the immense success they were met with, i was not alone.

  • bt

    Garriott is directly responsibe for the Ultima Series, Ultima Underworld and Ultima Online while also being a part of Wing Commander series. The guy deserves respect for that, there are a lot of “firsts” in those products that we take for granted today.

    I also agree about his comments regarding game designers, many of them are glorified game testers. I worked in the industry for a little while and saw some of this. I think his delivery was poor, but developers that become game designers seem to be the best at their craft (Sid Meyer, Chris Roberts, Richard Garriott, Will Wright, etc).

    Problem is that the publishers are most likely the forse that prevents game designers from working to their full potential, regardless of their ability. Just look at what Spore turned into. Games have been severely dumbed down in the past 20 years to be more accessible to a larger audience. Look at Paradox games to see some amazingly intricate designs that take some effort to fully comprehend.

    Richard is outspoken, and comes off arrogant, but I like listening to what he has to say. He’s Frequently criticized for Tabula Rasa (deservedly so), but that one game does not define his career. He was a titan from the mid 80′s to early 90′s.

    • Steven Fisher

      Unless I’m having a moment of insanity, the early 90′s was 20 years ago.