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Garriott: “Most game designers just really suck”

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:57 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Richard Garriott, the creator of Ultima, has only a few exceptions to his opinion that most game designers are lazy and talentless.

“I think there’s really very few great game designers. I think Chris Roberts is one of them, Will Wright’s another, Peter Molyneux is another. They clearly exist, but on the whole, I think that the design talent in our industry is dramatically lower than we need, as an industry. It’s a very hard skill to learn,” Garriott told PC Gamer.

“Other than a few exceptions, 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.”

Garriott said that people who like games eventually think about making one. If they have skill with art or programming, they can study, gain qualifications, and get a job. Pure designers, on the other hand, are gaming fans who can’t do anything else, and often make their way into the field via related disciplines like QA.

“In my mind, most artists and programmers are just as much of gamers as the designers, and I usually find in my history that the artists and programmers are, in fact, as good of designers as the designers,” he added.

“They’re often better, because they understand the technology or the art. So 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 later said that even talented designers have one other fatal flaw.

“And every designer that I work with – all throughout life – I think, frankly, is lazy,” he said.

“But if you follow, they generally say, ‘You know, I really like Medal of Honor, but I would have bigger weapons, or I would have more healing packs, or,’ you know. They go to make one or two changes to a game they otherwise love versus really sit down and rethink, ‘How can I really move the needle here?’”

Garriott said that even when it come to simple tasks like designing a map, he pushes himself and his peers to do more.

“How do you really think about the whole thing holistically, to go, ‘yeah, it’s fine to wander through and kill a few things and get a treasure at the end, but why? What’s your motivation for being into it? What are the side stories? If you have these characters in there, what were their lives before they showed up on this map? If you didn’t think of one, go back. Do it again. I want you to know it.’”

Lord Biriths’s latest project is an RPG with unusual multiplayer elements, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, currently being Kickstarted.

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30 Comments

  1. DSB

    So, Tabula Rasa.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Erthazus

    ” Peter Molyneux is another.”

    :D LOL

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Richenbaum

    Meanwhile out the other side of his ass comes yet another Ultima sequel…

    #3 2 years ago
  4. yeoung

    Tim Schäfer
    Fumito Ueda
    Level-5
    Platinum lead des
    CD Projekt lead des

    There is talent yet, moreso than can be clouded by the pompous mutterings of a relic from a day gone by. If he wishes to revel in ye olde glory that grows ever fainter as he ostracizes 99% of the industry, he should at least have the “lordly” decency to create something interesting.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Kabby

    He should have went the whole 9 yards and called Cliffy B a talentless prick.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. redwood

    but cliffy IS a talentless prick :D

    #6 2 years ago
  7. redwood

    just kidding just kidding :D i dunno what garriot is talking about here but the industry has a lot of talented people and the fact that he didn’t even name kojima shows his bias.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. The_Red

    “Other than a few exceptions, I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am”

    Wow. Just… WOW. I can’t be. Really. Even with his followup clarification, this still sounds like the douchiest comment I have EVER seen from a known designer. Wow.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Richenbaum

    notice he waited until it was too late for kickstarter supporters to pull their pledges to say this too

    #9 2 years ago
  10. roadkill

    You being on of them.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. GrimRita

    The guy has a point but I dont think its just designers to blame. Its publishers who think they know best. I know of a few games that had huge ambitions, only to be ‘dumbed down’ by the publisher.

    Who remembers Codemasters ‘Fuel’? It essentially turned into a dirt track focused raceresq affair when the brief was an online world where gangs would compete for locations on the map to secure the rare source of oil for fuel.

    However, cost decisions about running servers, timescales etc ensured that it just turned into another generic game.

    Either way, I just love how big name failures like Garriott continue to ruin publishers and now, looks like, blowing a small fortune on a game that probably will never see the light of day

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Dr.Haggard

    How his Kickstarter funded I’ll never know – too many old Ultima fans with rose tinted glasses helped I guess – but it has to be one of the worst gaming pitches I’ve ever seen on KS. Genuinely awful.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. roadkill

    @12 Who knows? Maybe he funded it himself. After all, the guy has a castle. :)

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Samoan Spider

    We lament the times gone by, how things used to be, then people like this guy try and make a come back only to be shot down by people. I think his comments are massively unfair, given that there is a massive amount of talent out there. Not to mention how accessible game creation and marketing is, almost anyone can make something these days and the crap sinks as always so the balance is maintained. That said, the old guard of games design just can’t seem to cut it these days. Anyway, who cares, I’ll buy and play his game, along with Planetary Annihilation, Star Citizen and several others from old names.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Gheritt White

    No mention of Ken Levine? Shameful.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Dr.Haggard

    There have been plenty of brilliant KS pitches by ‘old names’ and established developers trying to bring back genres or IP that have been left behind by publishers, and I’m all for that.

    I’ve backed Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, Grim Dawn, The Banner Saga, Project Eternity and Torment among others, and I’m excited about every single one. I’m also gutted about some of the others that failed to get funded.

    Garriots pitch for Shroud of the Avatar though, that just comes across as poorly planned, with horrendous placeholder art (why not wait until you could show some decent art?) and an air of ‘Look it’s me, Lord British! Aren’t I awesome? Back my vague idea for a game’.

    Nevermind that his name these days is synonymous with bad games and tacky, twee fantasy stylings that bring to mind renaissance fairs and LARPing. Don’t get me wrong I love high fantasy, just not the kind with tights, frilly shirts and silly pseudo-medieval language full of thees and thous.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    In his defence, the man did essentially create the groundwork for the *entire* RPG genre.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Gheritt White

    @17: That doesn’t excuse him from not mentioning Ken Levine, IMHO.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. G1GAHURTZ

    LOL!

    Look who’s back!

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Gnosis

    @17: Well yes… based on the already existing PnP games. I’m not saying that he copied them, I just wouldn’t give him THAT much of a credit, since he didn’t “invent” it.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. DSB

    @17 You can kinda debate that until the cows come home, but Rogue beat Ultima by about a year, even if Ultima set a lot more standards.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. DrDamn

    @21
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akalabeth
    Possibly 1979, definitely 1980.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. DSB

    @22 And that’s why you can debate it forever. It’s always gonna be the case when trying to find a “first” at anything.

    There were a lot of text rpgs before that as well, so you can always debate who “really” invented it.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. DrDamn

    @23
    Oh yeah, I’m not saying he did or didn’t – I don’t think you can really pin that to one person or team. Akalabeth was Richard Garriott though, that was more my reason for pointing it out. It was what he did before Ultima.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. zinc

    Every now & then, some long forgotten luminary, trots out some guff in the hope of ruffling feathers & praying people still think their relevant.

    I bet his scouring the comments threads & stroking his ego. Reminds me of Noel Gallagher slagging of the Brit Awards.

    You were good once guys. Let it go.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. DSB

    @24 Oh snap, I totally missed that. Good point.

    But then you also had graphic multiplayer RPGs going back to 1975. I don’t think there’s any pinning it unless you do a university level investigation.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Cobra951

    The man’s trailblazing is undeniable, regardless of who else did the same. He also has a point which is getting shouted down here with disrespectful sarcasm. The people who contribute the most to what ends up in your hands, those who worked the hardest to get there, are the ones with the least input to its creative direction. Techies and artists are treated like grunts now. They used to run the show (particularly the techies). The suits have taken over, and gaming, for all its audiovisual advances, has suffered. This is why indie development is crucial. It brings back small teams, with creative ideas and direction coming from the same guys doing the actual work.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. DrDamn

    @27
    Yeah, regardless of discussions around how he made the point I think it’s fairly valid. Loads of games would be a lot better with some better design decisions.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Gnosis

    @27: I think it’s a pity that the valid points are buried under a huge pile of self-adulation. He basically shot himself in the foot. There will surely be a backlash, which, if you ask me, will completely ignore every single valid point specifically because of that very pile. You gotta admit, it’s hard to take arrogance seriously.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Ireland Michael

    I think you are severely underestimating the influence of Garriot’s work.

    Yes, they were inspired by PnP RPGs, but we’re not talking about PnP here, we’re talking about video game RPGs.

    Whether it was the design of party based gameplay, morality systems, or open worlds with immersive gameplay, the entire Ultima series either pioneered it or very, very heavily influenced it. The entire JRPGs genre was invented off the back of traditional Ultima design, for crying out loud.

    #30 2 years ago

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    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]

  • Watch Hideo Kojima answer lots of your burning Phantom Pain questions

    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]

  • Watch PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from GDC 2015

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new gameplay video available that shows a bit of action from the PC version. The video below was captured from Nvidia’s GDC conference live-stream. Developer CD Projekt RED was on hand to show off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s graphical prowess running on a PC. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • Dying Light: Hard Mode and Ultimate Survivor Bundle out March 10

    Dying Light’s second DLC drop, the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, and the free Hard Mode, have been given a solid release date alongside a new trailer. Dying Light developer Techland has confirmed that the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, the game’s second DLC drop, will release March 10. The DLC is part of the season pass, but will […]

  • Exploration puzzler Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4

    Ether One, the first-person exploration game that puts you in the minds of other people to help change events of their past is coming to PlayStation 4 this year. Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4 this year, developer White Paper Games announced at GDC 2015. A retail version will also be available alongside the […]

  • Larian “murdered” Divinity: Dragon Commander to focus on Original Sin

    Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian talked very candidly about the business side of development and the many unfortunate events that took place for the game to come out as it did. Larian Studios founder Swen Vincke gave a post-mortem on the troubled development of Divinity: Original Sin, and how it managed to overcome all of […]