Games industry icons: Richard Garriott

Games industry icons: Richard Garriott

Games industry icons

Richard Garriott was born on July 4th 1961 in the British university city of Cambridge. However, he spent most of his childhood in Nassau Bay, a prestigious place on the southeastern outskirts of the Texas metropolis of Houston. The special thing about his hometown: Only a few hundred meters away is the Johnson Space Center, where his father earns his living as a NASA science astronaut. Owen K. Garriott, who fled into space for the first time on July 28, 1973 as part of the "Skylab 3" mission, is Richard's great role model and a reason why his son also strives for a career in space at a young age br>

Table of contents

Page 1 Icons of the game industry: Richard Garriott, Page 1 1.1 The initial spark: Dungeons & Dragons 1.2 Akalabeth: The forefather of the Ultima series 1.3 Richard Garriott's first publishing deal 1.4 Ultima: Garriott's first role-playing game -Epos 1.5 Ultima 2: More of everything page 2 Icons of the game industry: Richard Garriott, page 2 2.1 The foundation of Origin Systems 2.2 Ultima 4: The birth of the avatar 2.3 Ultima 5: The success story continues 2.4 Ultima 6: The next role-playing game- Milestone page 3 Icons of the games industry: Richard Garriott, page 3 3.1 The spin-off phase 3.2 EA takes over, Pagan stumbles 3.3 Richard Garriott as a visionary of the MMO industry 3.4 First destination games, then portalarium page 4 Bilde rgalerie zu "Icons of the Games Industry: Richard Garriott" Expand Another reason: Virtually all of his neighbors are also respected space travelers. "Shuttle astronaut Joe Engle lived on our right and Hoot Gibson, another astronaut who flew on the shuttle, lived on our left," wrote Richard Garriott in a self-written article on NBC News.

Recommended editorial content At this point you will find external content from [PLATTFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I consent to external content being displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration. But as early as 1974 - Garriott is just 13 years old - his dream of space travel bursts like a soap bubble. A NASA doctor diagnoses poor eyesight and informs Richard that he must wear glasses - a clear exclusion criterion for people with astronaut ambitions. Garriott feels great disappointment and frustration, but does not let it get him down and a little later discovers a topic that at least precisely fascinates him: computers.

Richard Garriott (here on a photo from summer 2008) has always been able to get excited about space. On October 12, 2008, he was the first game developer to fly on board a Soyuz TMA-13 ​​capsule on the ISS. In the documentary film Man on a Mission: Richard Garriott's Road to the Stars (2009), he sketches the highlights of what is probably the most exciting phase of his life so far.

Source: NASA The trigger for his new hobby is training for which his father moved to Stanford University for some time in 1975. Owen takes his entire family to California and enrolls his son in high school there. The school itself has excellent technical equipment and has, among other things, half a dozen so-called Teletype computers as well as some other top models of the time in its possession. Richard is enthusiastic and learns to use these systems in record time. Back in Houston, he quickly rises to become a computer crack at Clear Creek High School.

The initial spark: Dungeons & Dragons

Richard Garriott Akalabeth sold these zip-lock bags with a zipper: World of Doom. There should be only twelve pieces of this original version. Well-preserved copies have been making the rounds on Ebay for up to $ 10,000.

Source: Moby Games Richard first discovered his weakness for role-playing games in 1977 when he was attending a seven-week programming course at the University of Oklahoma. Many of the local children are big fans of the pen and paper role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, so it doesn't take long before they ask him if he would like to play too. In an interview with the YouTube channel RMC - The Cave, Garriott remembers this exciting time very well: "The kids there went from door to door and gave nicknames to every newly arrived summer camp participant. When they came to my door, they said she said 'Hi' and I said 'Hello', but then they said, 'Hello? Nobody in the area says hello. You have to be British so we'll call you British.' "

Garriott loves his new one Nickname and is himself a passionate D&D enthusiast after the holiday camp at the latest, who meets up with friends for board game evenings at least twice a week. "What started out as a group of six to eight people soon grew into a huge clique of 50 to 60 participants who met every Friday and Saturday and played D&D practically all night long. My mother cooked for us and sometimes even played along The same was true of some neighbors who were wondering what was going on with the Garriotts, "Richard enthused to RMC.

Akalabeth: World of Doom, Richard Garriott's first commercial game, came out in 1979 for the Apple 2 the market. 18 years later it was also released for DOS PCs as part of the Ultima Collection. The new version added a CGA color palette, a score system and midi music.

Source: Moby Games While Garriott spends a large part of his weekends as a dungeon master, in regular school he places great emphasis on his Advance knowledge of the Basic programming language. His idea for this is pretty ingenious: He asks math teachers and school principals if they would not also recognize Basic as a foreign language. Since no teacher has competencies in this area, he also suggests delivering a D&D fantasy role-playing game that can run on a Teletype terminal computer as an assessment basis at the end of the school year. Those responsible agree. And so Richard started developing his first game project in the fall of 1977, which he simply called "Dungeons & Dragons 1".

Since the teletype computers of the late 70s had neither comfortable text editors nor compilers , Garriott first neatly writes down the entire program code in a notebook and then uses a special device to transfer the whole thing onto punched tape, which the computer uses as a storage medium. In the last two and a half years of his high school days Garriott programmed a total of 28 "Dungeons & Dragons" games in this way, each technically a bit better than the previous one.

Akalabeth: The forefather of the ultimate Series

At Origin, Garriott also worked on games outside of the Ultima series. One of them is the commercially unsuccessful, vehicle-based car module that combines role-playing, arcade and strategy elements.

Source: Moby Games The higher the version number of his games, the more frustrated Richard is with the outdated technology. He would much rather program on an Apple 2 himself. But because he can't afford this dream computer, he makes a bet with his father: Richard bets that he will get the game running on an Apple 2. If he succeeds, his father would have to pay half the cost of the Apple 2, which then cost several thousand dollars. Owen Garriott does not trust his son to do this feat at first, but soon has to admit defeat. Because with "D & D28b" his offspring delivers a flawless Apple 2 implementation of his 28th Dungeons & Dragons game.

Richard is also very satisfied and shows his work, which has meanwhile been renamed Akalabeth, a little later to John Mayer, the owner of one Electronics store called ComputerLand, where he regularly earns extra money. "Richard, this game is much better than anything we have in the front of the store!" Mayer is said to have said at the time, according to Garriott. At the same time, he strongly advises his employee to publish the game commercially. The then 18-year-old couldn't be told twice, of course, and used $ 200 of his hard-earned savings to duplicate the game instructions, copy the game onto 5 ¼-inch floppy disks, and put it all in ziplock bags with a zipper for $ 20 for sale per piece. Funny anecdote: Akalabeth's cover lettering: World of Doom, which Garriott took about seven weeks to develop, was penned by his artistically gifted mother.

In the credits of the 1995 action adventure Bioforge - the First PC game ever to offer 3D figures with texture mapping - Garriott appears as executive producer.

Source: Moby Games In terms of play, the 22 kilobyte Akalabeth is already significantly more complex than many of the Apple 2 titles published at the time . The hero, either a magician or a warrior, explores a map shown from a bird's eye view, stocks up on new equipment in cities and picks up new missions in the castle from the quest giver "Lord British". The latter lead the protagonist into increasingly complex dungeons, in which an increasingly difficult boss to crack waits at the end. The interesting thing about it: All dungeons are not only generated randomly (which ensures a high replay value), but are also shown from the fist-person perspective and can be accessed step by step - a form of representation that Garriott from Muse Software's labyrinth game Escape (1978) for the Copied Apple 2. Garriott used a chapter from J.R.R. as a source of inspiration for the name of this very first role-playing game with 3D dungeons. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, which is headed "Akallabêth" (Adûnaïsch for "the sunken").

Richard Garriott's first publishing deal

After the Apple 2 release of Exodus: Ultima 3, implementations appeared for more than a dozen other systems, including Amiga (in the picture) and NES. On console, part three is the first offshoot of the series.

Source: Moby Games Due to a happy chain of coincidences, it does not take long before the California Pacific Computer Company becomes aware of Akalabeth and Garriott and his parents move to their headquarters to Davis on the west coast. The company convinces him to sign a publishing contract that promises the youngster five dollars per game sold. But that's not all: CEO Al Remmers negotiates with Garriott to change the developer name in the credits to "Lord British". Who is really behind it is to be announced later in the context of a competition of the Apple 2 trade magazine Softalk. Looking back, this deal is a first major milestone in Garriott's beginning developer career, because Akalabeth: World of Doom is selling very good. Almost 30,000 copies go over the counter. Garriott himself earns around $ 150,000 - about $ 85,000 more than what his father makes at NASA at the time.

Ultima: Garriott's first RPG epic

During his partnership with NCsoft, Garriott served as executive producer of the MMOs Lineage and Lineage 2 (pictured).

Source: Moby Games Encouraged by his success, Richard is highly motivated to be during his freshman year at the University of Texas to tackle next role play project. At the time, the latter was initially codenamed "Ultimatum". However, when it turns out that a board game manufacturer is already using this name for one of its tabletop games, the name is changed to Ultima. Richard is supported in his endeavor by his ComputerLand buddy Kenneth W. Arnold, who at that time was already very familiar with the assembly language and was the first in this genre to advance the tile-based graphic representation of an overworld. For a better understanding: The upper world of Ultima is not a huge, pre-drawn graphic, but is generated by the code of the game from 14x16 large level building blocks. Garriott, on the other hand, stays true to Applesoft's Basic and takes care of the rest of the design and coding work. The combat system and the sound effects are an exception. Arnold supports him in both points with optimized assembler routines.

In terms of content, Ultima is in many respects ahead of other role-playing games of its time. On the one hand, because it presented a huge, open and graphically astonishingly detailed game world consisting of four continents. But Ultima 1: The First Age of Darkness also makes a significant step forward in the genre. You can choose from four playable races (human, elf, dwarf and bobbit), chat with a variety of NPCs, steal other characters and - in contrast to Akalabeth - immerse yourself in a much more complex story.

Iso perspective, only one hero and significantly more action and skill tests: Ultima 8: Pagan turned the success formula of the previous games upside down, which did not go down well with many die-hard fans.

Source: Moby Games Hub of the events is the dark wizard Mondain, who abuses the jewel of immortality he has created to subjugate the inhabitants of the land of Sosaria. However, due to the dark powers of the gem, Mondain cannot be killed, which is why the hero has to find a time machine to prevent Mondain from making the stone in the past. Until the final showdown comes, the hero called "The Stranger" experiences a crazy time travel adventure that also forces him into the cockpit of a space shuttle and tasked with rescuing a princess.

Sounds like a cool one Mixture? Definitely. In any case, the Apple 2 community, like the trade press, was pretty excited when the game, which cost around 40 dollars, was released in June 1981. In the first year around 20,000 players access it, in the following years there are another 30,000.

Ultima 2: More of everything

Ultima 1: The First Age of Darkness was costly to develop Garriott worked almost a year and repeatedly showed him the limits of the BASIC programming language. To be better prepared for the sequel, Garriott decides to learn the much more powerful assembly language. So that this works as quickly as possible, Al Remmers introduces him to Tom Luhrs, who had previously programmed the asteroids blend Apple-oids for California Pacific. Luhrs gives him a one-month intensive course - and Richard makes rapid progress.

On the other hand, things are not going so well with his university studies. Particularly precarious: The university's assembler course focuses on programming for the Motorola M6809 processor from 1978. But Garriott had always concentrated on the MOS 6502, which is in the Apple 2, through all his game programming. Hard to believe: The otherwise so successful game developer rattles through the assembler course due to a lack of optimization for the more modern Motorola CPU. At least now it is clear to Richard that he will not waste any more time with his training as an electrical engineer and instead will concentrate entirely on the development of Ultima 2: The Revenge of the Enchantress.

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