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Garriott: Consoles “fundamentally doomed”, tech advance makes for “shallow” games

Wednesday, 30th November 2011 02:48 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Legendary Ultima designer Richard Garriott, now Portalarium boss, thinks the console cycle is nearing its conclusion.

“I think we might get one more generation, might, but I think fundamentally they’re doomed,” Garriott told IndustryGamers.

“I think fundamentally the power that you can carry with you in a portable is really swamping what we’ve thought of as a console.”

Garriott admitted that some games do work better on home consoles than portables and smartphones, but said he’s “now more of a gamer” than ever before in his life, thanks to new ways of gaming.

“I play most of my games now on my iPhone and my iPad. In the last two years I’ve found more games that I’ve put way more hours into playing as a player than I have in any other period of my life,” he said.

“So I’m very excited about the new era, I’m a big believer in this new era, but it is very early on in this evolution, so there’s still a lot of work to do.”

That’s not to say that technology isn’t an important industry driver, but Garriott put forth his opinion that it’s only after the dust has stettled on a new tech that things get really interesting.

“There are also major moments of technological improvement. Things like going from floppy disk to hard drives, the invention of 3D graphics processors, the emergence of the Internet to connect people together,” he explained.

The designer said each new game in a genre – such as shooters – needs to have more depth to it than earlier titles if it is to capture gamers’ interest and spending money – until a new technology arrives.

“As soon as there’s one of those big technological upheavals, I’ll say, the emergence of the CD drive,” he said.

“Immediately the graphic quality of the way you would draw your hallways and corridors in a simple first-person shooter became so much more beautiful that the game design, it allowed a great-selling game to be nothing more than a run-around-the-maze-and-shoot-things.

“It went back to its simplest form again, you didn’t need the depth.”

Garriott said games that missed that first wave had to once more strive to be deeper than pre-existing efforts, only to go back once more to simplistic clones at the next technological revolution – 3D hardware.

“Every one of these inflection points resets gameplay back to where games are very shallow, but much more beautiful than they ever were before,” he mourned.

“But to a person who appreciates the art form of computer games, it’s during those periods of stability of the platform that force developers to compete not just on my game looks better than yours, but my game is more interesting than yours. It’s more compelling, and I’m more attached to it.”

Garriott also recounted his theory that we are in gaming’s third age. See the full interview through the link above.

Thanks, GoNintendo.

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25 Comments

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  1. Colin Gallacher

    And that was Richard Garriott, speaking to IndustryGamers, from his brand new bed of money and unused Tabula Rasa boxes.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight

    @1

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. He is a very intelligent man and I have lots of respect for him for what he has done.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DSB

    I don’t know what it is with these developers who were big in the 90′s, but they seem awfully overwhelmed by new technology. That’s as true for Garriott as it is for Molyneux.

    Although Richard Garriott is ten times funnier.

    “I purchased Lunokhod 21 from the Russians. I am now the world’s only private owner of an object on a foreign celestial body. Though there are international treaties that say, no government shall lay claim to geography off planet earth, I am not a government. Summarily, I claim the moon in the name of Lord British!”

    #3 2 years ago
  4. StolenGlory

    Any man who has an alter ego called ‘Lord British’ and proceeded to prance around his castle, whilst making some of my most favourite RPG’s of the 80′s and early 90′s gets my vote.

    Sure the guy is as mad as a bucket of frogs, but bless his socks he is an entertaining little fellow.

    @2 +1

    @1 Thou hast lost an eighth!

    #4 2 years ago
  5. MegaGeek1

    I’m sorry, but I really hope this guy is dead wrong. If the industry makes a huge push towards mobile gaming in the future, and we all know it will be because it makes more sense for the bottom line (re:$$$), then we as gamers will be taking one giant leap backwards. New tech makes for shallow games? Tell that to the fans of Skyrim, COD, Demon and Dark Souls, Fall Out, MGS, GTA, GOW (both Gears and God) etc, etc, etc.

    I for one look forward to new leaps in console (and PC) technology and cant wait to see where video games will take me into my 40s and 50s. But, if you are going to tell me that I will be playing games on an 6inch HD touch screen, then I might as well start investing my time and money in a new hobby.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. blackdreamhunk

    I am agree with him it’s the very reason I am going to be doping gaming after mass effect 3 and guild wars 2. the gaming Industry has gone down hill.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. unacomn

    @5 The games you have enumerated actually prove that gaming is becoming more shallow. GTA is possibly the only exception, well, apart from 4, but 5 will have planes again.

    One last console generation wouldn’t be that far fetched. If they do it right, and at how much technology has advanced in the last 5 years, they could still be a great venue for new content even in 2020. But that’s only if they don’t skimp on the tech again, and keep the price lower than a PC that can do the same thing.

    But yea, since consoles are closed systems that allow no customization, they will be replaced by cloud services. They’re cheaper in the long run, and really aren’t that different. What do you care if you get your game from GameStop and pop it into your machine, or you pop into your game that’s in a cloud? It’s the same thing.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. OrbitMonkey

    Guy must really love Angry Birds…

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Phoenixblight

    He is right though if you look at the evolution of tech things get smaller. PC, radios, phones, etc etc. But what will most likely happen is that the console will become a mobile device that you can plug in and play at home along with taking it with you. Its really not that far fetched. Unreal is going to tablets which means there will be a whole lot less 2d games. Just think a mobile device that has the power of a new gen but you can take it where you want and plug it to your TV. Anyways thats how I see it happening.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. ManuOtaku

    This is true… till we have holographic consoles, and then he will be saying consoles are the future and they will keep here forever because he will be playing those consoles to death more than the IPAD or IPHONE.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. OlderGamer

    +1 To Lord British

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Ireland Michael

    @5 I loving the irony at work when you say that newer technology isn’t making gaming mores shallow, then proceed to list off Skyrim and Call of Duty…

    On an immersive level, Skyrim is certainly spectacular, but on a gamelan level, it is a far simpler *game* than any of the previous titles. I believe that “less is more” in many cases, but if you back as far as Daggerfall, Skyrim is almost anorexic in comparison when it comes to actual depth.

    Call of Duty is probably the most basic and simplistic shooter on the entire market.

    Gears of War is horribly simplistic, especially compared to genuinely deep alternatives in the genre like Vanquish, and God of War is likewise one of the most simplistic games in the entire spectacle fighter genre. It has no depth.

    Fallout 3 and New Vegas are likewise far more simplistic games than 1 or 2, however good they may be.

    I couldn’t agree more with Garriot in regards to the point about technological leaps back with new hardware advances. It took until the PS2 era before we could even remotely capture the same visual uniqueness of the old 2D sprite based game in 3D games, simply because the hardware power wasn’t there to recreate people’s art at a high enough quality.

    I completely disagreed with him on the death of the format though. Consoles are hugely popular, even with the advent of tablets, and I don’t see that ever changing? They’re completely different markets.

    Handhelds may suffer, but consoles? No.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @12: Did you just call Vanquish genuinely deep? Are you being serious? How is it deep? I never needed another weapon than the machine gun. Just shoot, strafe to cover, shoot.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DSB

    I think he’s right in that miniaturization is going to hit a point where a console is just going to be a handheld you plug up to a larger screen.

    I don’t know if he’s right about the timeline, but I make a habit of never betting against technological advance.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. ManuOtaku

    #14 I dont know About the miniaturization of consoles because i think it will make the consoles very expensive for such small device to develop the graphics and physics needed to be like a home console, now new ways i agree like holographics or other ways that dont need tv and or other ways of interaction, something that Ipads or Mobiles cannot do.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. IL DUCE

    Mobile and social games are too basic and too imprecise to have any real industry consuming longevity…PCs and consoles have been around pretty much as long as gaming has so they’re here to stay…the only mobile game I’ve played that was worth a damn was Infinity Blade

    Plus your tablet doesn’t have a 50 inch screen so you can keep your mobile game…k, thanks!!!

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    @13 I never needed to change weapons in Gear of War. What’s your point? Changing a weapon once in a while is not depth.

    Vanquish has some of the tightest controls I’ve ever seen in a game full stop, never mind in this genre alone. The enemy placement, the scoring system and the tactics to win quickly all require a craptonne of precision, timing and speed to get the best out of, and actually trying to get a half decent score is a challenge in itself. The game is refined to within an inch of its life.

    Gears of War is slow and lumbering, and not in a god way. Hide behind wall. Shoot. Move to another wall. Shoot. *yawn* The higher difficulties are arbitrary and unimaginative jumps in damage taken, with no actual gameplay incentive to play better included either.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Len

    @6 As I said before, we don’t believe you! You’ll be back for more like all of us…

    #18 2 years ago
  19. DaMan

    Funny really, Vanquish depth is that of a Contra game, it doesn’t even have a multiplayer. Shoot, roll, shoot again, slide occasionally. *yawn* Oh, and Max Payne bullet time as well.. only difference is that Max Payne required much better timing and tactics. It’s challenge is pathetically cheap and there’s zero to that game aside from overpowered finite state machines and their patterns.

    Vanquish is as deep as those ancient jap arcade games like Twin Bee. it’s fun and hard, but it’s just as much shallow, both psychology and reactions wise. It’s no Bayonetta.

    :p

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Ireland Michael

    @19 Come back to me again when you complete the first stage under in five minutes with a significantly decent high score, and then we can talk about depth and skill.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. DaMan

    #20 See, I have zero interest in wasting my time or money on the full game of Vanquish tbh. It’s not like I never played a videogame before. You just have everything upside down, playing against computer will never be remotely the same as against other players. Which was my whole point. Gears might be crap, but regardless there’s a whole level of depth to it, which Vanquish doesn’t even remotely approach. Oh, and even in campaign it had more than enough moments to break up the shoot/cover boredom, like tickers, setting up mines, bosses.

    Thank you for proving my points with the time/score btw. Exactly what I was saying. That’s not depth, that’s exercising the same pattern.

    Besides I wasn’t the one going on about Bayonetta vs God of War whilst not even having hard mode beaten..

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Fin

    Are games more shallow? Perhaps.

    Are game far better and far more fun? Definitely.
    Anyone who says different seriously needs to take off the nostalgia glasses.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. DSB

    @22 He’s not saying that 90′s games are better than odd’s games. He’s saying that developers in general haven’t been able to convert technological progress into design progress, which is absolutely true.

    It’s about proportionality. In the 90′s the feeling was very much one of being completely gobsmacked by how far games could really go, pretty much year after year. There would always be someone doing something completely amazing and new which would blow your mind.

    It isn’t that there weren’t a lot of “samey” games or copies of copies back then either, because there certainly was, but today you simply have a market that is open to fewer developers who are stuck copying eachother, so as a whole it becomes a lot less dynamic.

    Games aren’t visions today, as much as they are quite deliberate plans. The inspiration is really only there for a select number of big developers, the rest is left to the indies.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Telepathic.Geometry

    Jesus fucking Christ, where’s the Vanquish love? That is a game with very deep gameplay. The controls are so tight, and the melee and slow-mo so nicely integrated and balanced, it’s unreal. And every weapon handles differently too. And as for beating the whole game with just the machine-gun, have a crack at the challenge missions and then tell me that shite again…

    /loves Vanquish

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Ireland Michael

    @24 <3

    #25 2 years ago