Developer BiographyRichard “Lord British” Garriott is one of the most famous game designers of all time. Founder of the renowned software company ORIGIN Systems, Inc. and creator of the Ultima series of role-playing games, he has greatly contributed to the development of the gaming business.
Apart from his fame as a veteran designer, Garriott is known for some eccentric notions. He has participated in trips to Antarctica and to the bottom of the sea in a research submarine. He owns a collection of odd objects, from antique weapons to an original moon buggy -- which is probably not that surprising if you consider that his father was an astronaut. His Haunted-House Halloween parties were legendary: Every two years, Garriott invited a throng of guests to his former house in Austin, Texas, which had nice architectural features like secret doors and a dungeon. Visitors were welcomed by the host with the phrase “Your time has come!” and led on a creepy tour through the specially prepared mansion. In the late 90s, Garriott decided that his home was too small, and had a castle build on a 25,000 square foot estate. The building is located near a cliff and features a moat, dungeons and a secret underground passage to the foot of the rock. The costs are rumored to have been about 25 million dollars.
Richard Garriott on his famous nickname, “Lord British”:
“I’ve got this name since my high-school days. Some older students were giving nicknames to the younger ones. I was called Lord British because they claimed that I had a British accent.”
Garriott’s biographical milestones:
Garriott starts his career as a programmer in the age of 19. In his spare time, he creates a role-playing game called Akalabeth for the Apple II. In an interview, he comments on his first game as follows:
“It really is Ultima 0. Literally, if I go into a dungeon, the exact same code is used in Ultima I. The only thing we added was the bitmapped graphics for the outdoor areas. I created Akalabeth for me, in the summer after my senior year in high school when I was working at a ComputerLand store. The owner convinced me to self-publish the game, so I went out and produced 200 ziplock bags, coversheets and printed manuals. None of these have disks because they were expensive, and I'd only copy them when I needed them. I created 16 of them, and sold 15 in the store. Then a publisher in California got hold of it and purchased the publishing rights.”
The publisher is called California Pacific, and it sells 30,000 units of Akalabeth. This is a remarkable result, taking into account that many a modern game doesn’t reach that mark.
The first episode of the most popular role-playing saga in gaming history is born: Ultima I.
Garriott gets Sierra to publish Ultima 2: Revenge of the Enchantress, but is dissatisfied with the cooperation. He leaves Sierra and founds his own software company, ORIGIN Systems, Inc., together with his brother Robert Garriott in Austin, Texas.
The first game to be published under the ORIGIN Systems, Inc. label is Ultima III: Exodus.
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar marks a major change in Richard Garriott’s design philosophy. The fourth installment of the series introduces the eight virtues and the Avatar, a role-model hero that has to stand tests of morality. Read an extensive comment on this unique concept by Garriott in the trivia section of the game entry.
1987 to 1991
In 1987, ORIGIN Systems, Inc. releases an updated remake of Ultima I for the PC. The series continues in 1988 with Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny. In 1990, Ultima VI: The False Prophet introduces a new, slightly isometric perspective. This engine is the basis for two role-playing games set in the “Worlds of Ultima”: Savage Empire (1990) and Martian Dreams (1991).
Garriott resumes work on his saga and publishes Ultima VII, which is split in two separate games: The Black Gate (1992) and Serpent Isle (1993).
Ultima VIII: Pagan is finished. Due to the lack of depth and some action sequences, fans criticize the game as a “jump-and-run Ultima”.
Garriott pauses the work on Ultima IX to help create Ultima Online, the most successful commercial on-line role-playing game.
After almost five years of development, Ultima IX: Ascension is finally published. The process of creation was tedious, the result controversial; read more about it in the trivia section of the game entry.
In March 2000, Garriott leaves ORIGIN Systems, Inc.. When the management decides to suspend his costly secret project “X”, the company’s founder and ex-owner takes his leave to pursue his own interests. In April 2000, Garriott founds Destination Games, Inc. with his brother and Starr Long
At E³, on May 17, 2001, Richard Garriott announced a partnership making Destination the United States headquarters of South Korean MMORPG giant NCsoft. The studio is renamed to NCsoft Austin, where Richard worked as the Executive Producer until November 2008. Under his guidance the MMORPG Tabula Rasa was launched.
Contributed by Sciere (576803) on May 14, 2005. [revised by : Indra was here (20912) and Sciere (576803)].