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  An Interview with Legendary Developer Richard Garriott  

Starting from Scatch
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An Exclusive GDC 2006 Interview with Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott has been around the block in the gaming industry more than once. The legendary designer behind the Ultima series is now with NCSoft Inc. and has been busy developing a little MMO called Tabula Rasa. During the convention, he received a Lifetime Achievement award conducted a lecture on the restructuring of Tabula Rasa.

Richard was kind enough to donate an hour of his time to field questions from the MMO community on Thursday. This is part two of the interview.

Question: So we won't be seeing Tabula Rasa on the Xbox 360?

Richard Garriott: Well not in its current incarnation to be sure.

[One] of the things we learned in Ultima Online is.we tried to cram as many people in one world as possible thinking "more the merrier."

The metaphor I now use that runs against that - you can live in a small town or you can live in New York City. There's definitely some advantage of living in New York City but getting to know people is much harder in a big city than a small town because the frequency in which you run into the same person is almost never - [when] randomly walking in a big city --- and quite common when you're in a small town.

And so I think the number of people that needs to be in a communal area peaks out after a couple thousand people. There's no advantage to putting more people in that one area.

Right now [in MMOs] when you start a life on one shard [server or realm] you can't migrate to others and I think that's a mistake because you've got half your friends [on one server] and the other half on another - and never shall the two meet.

But I don't think we need to cram everyone into the same instance of reality at all times because the "more the better" and having all the console people playing with the PC people.. it's unnecessary.

Question: How many countries do you envision Tabula Rasa operating it once the game is released?

Richard Garriott: Our initial launch will be at least Europe and North America. There is a question as to whether or not we'll get Korea and parts of Asia online for that same concurrent release.

I don't think that gamers [from different countries using different languages] will play together. Back in the UO time, when we thought bigger was better, it had this "babble fish" text translator in theory so that people [from different countries] could play together and not have the language barrier. I think it's pointless.

It's so much easier to communicate with people who already speak your same native tongue - and there's plenty of thousands of those people - so the value of playing with people across the globe is fairly minimal.

So I don't think it needs to be shipped worldwide concurrently from a player perspective. But no player base wants to feel like second-class citizens because they get [the game] late compared to others - so that release cycle is purely a marketing issue.

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For more information, forums and more check out our
Tabula Rasa.

Do you think you'll ever get too old for video gaming?

Absolutely, we all have to grow up sometime.

Maybe, when real life demands more of my time.

No way, video gaming will always be an entertainment option for me.

Never, I'm looking forward to pwning my grandkids.

I don't know


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