The man who revolutionised computer role-playing games with the Ultima doesn’t think much of the talent currently working in the medium when it comes to game design. Who’s good at it? He is. Maybe a few others.
In an interview with PC Gamer, Lord British says that there just isn’t that much status-quo changing talent — like his — in video games right now:
“…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.”
“… 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.”
Garriott goes on to call a lot of other designers “lazy” and says that they make only incremental changes to templates for other games that already exist. When I interviewed Garriott two weeks ago, he said that he’s more of a dabbler when it comes to big, AAA PC and console games these days, since he hasn’t been making those kinds of games for a long, long time. He’s managed to sample a handful of AAA games a year and finish a smaller chunk of the ones that hold his interest. The multimillionaire plays mobile games on his tablet more than anything else, he said, which is a key reason he wants Shroud of the Avatar — the new game being built by Garriott’s Portalarium dev outfit to be cross-platform.
There’s no denying the impact that Garriott has had on video games, and in the role-playing genre in general. Shroud of the Avatar — the new game being built by Garriott’s Portalarium dev outfit — just secured a million dollars of Kickstarter funding a few weeks after being announced. And his past accomplishments are what make the potential of his new game so exciting.
However, Garriott’s name is also attached to Tabula Rasa, a game viewed as a colossal failure by many. His points about other game designers aren’t all that different than what lots of disgruntled players say about poorly executed experiences. But wrapping those observations in insults makes him sound self-centered and out-of-touch. Good thing Shroud of the Avatar hit its goal already. Next move is all yours, Lord British.