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

Wednesday, 30 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.