Garriott: 'Most game designers really just suck'

Ultima creator Richard Garriott says he has never met anyone who is as good a game designer as he is.

Ultima creator Richard Garriott believes what's holding the game industry back is a dearth of talent. In an interview with PC Gamer, the designer and space traveler said some proficient designers exist, but the difficult nature of the skill is why the examples are so few.

"I think there's really very few great game designers," Garriott said. "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 continued, saying that he has yet to come across a single game designer as skilled as he is, with the exception of Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts.

"But other than a few exceptions, like Chris Roberts, 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."

He explained that unlike the art and programming components of game development, it is very difficult to receive a formal education for design. This, Garriott argued, is why unqualified people end up as designers, in turn leading to poor design in games.

"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," Garriott said. "It's really hard to go to school to be a good designer."

Garriott's latest project is an "Ultimate RPG" called Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues for PC. The game's Kickstarter campaign successfully attracted its $1 million funding target in 10 days. The final product is expected to release in 2014.

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Discussion

768 comments
VightTagina
VightTagina

Like the other people are saying.. not to hurt your feelings, but why are you a commentator?  You are not cut out for it.  You rushed everything, sped up, slowed down your speech, you sounded nervous as hell, were barely audible at times, etc.  That's not a person that should be behind a camera.

 I would much rather have just seen the original video of Garriot.

1wikkid1
1wikkid1

I almost agree with his point... almost. What he's saying sounds good when one take's a look at the recent "major" releases, but the majority(vast one) of those are releases by the corps(EA and the billion devs working for them.) But, as others already mentioned, we are seeing a lot of talent on the indie side... Which begs the question, why? Maybe the problem is more with the money people(those who believe profits come first.) Those who are, for example, willing to slash development time in order to release at some specific date(holiday season?) or just generally pushing ahead with a halfbaked product, whereas the indie guys don't generally set any firm release dates in the first place... it'll be out when it's ready.

hampstergunit
hampstergunit

richard gariott is the best and always has been. industry leading visionary supreme, bow down and get your jelly tfoh

powerdesignkid
powerdesignkid

Header says : "Ultima creator Richard Garriott says he has never met anyone who is as good a game designer as he is."

He says : "But other than a few exceptions, like Chris Roberts, I've met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am."

"Other than a few exceptions" and "virtually no one" are not the same as "never met anyone." This is blatant and ridiculous manipulation of the news story. Makuch should be ashamed.


swallow1106
swallow1106

Not denying his last few projects were.... meh, but 20 years ago... in Ultima 7...
1. Every object in the game can be moved
2. Every NPC can be killed assume you don't mind risking never able to finish the game
3. Paper dolls where you can actually drag item unto your 'avatar' and see it being dressed
4. Party member had some AI instead of turn based command by command

and later...
despite the failure that is Ultima 9, he did innovate the idea of open world without loading screen by loading areas of map while you explore.

All in all, many of today's industry 'standards' were set by him.  I didn't list Ultima Online as the first MMO because I think he was only producing it, not sure if he even involved in designing.

longestsprout
longestsprout

Sure, the guy has a high opinion of himself, but this article seems to inflate it tenfold. If you look up more interviews I'm sure you don't see him carrying that kind of attitude around.

TirOrah
TirOrah

"'Ultima creator Richard Garriott says he has never met anyone who is as good a game designer as he is."

Well, if I were a game designer who's met Richard Garriott, I think I'd be pretty peeved now... I don't know if he's right, but his point sounds plausible. 

myungish
myungish

I think most of us can agree that he's a little full of himself, but he does have a point. The majority of game designers out there are not that great, and you could make an argument that they're not really qualified for the job.

Lei_11
Lei_11

I wonder whether or not he is right. I'll agree that I don't like the attitude that this news post seems to portray.

But the design in many games does leave a lot to be desired. After all, this is where precious 'gameplay' comes from, as we've all been hailing it. I can certainly imagine there being one hell of a lot of inept designers out there behind many great titles who are in charge. I know publishers are often the cause of really bad decisions, but there were a lot of game-design choices that I think the designers should have picked up on in games I've played, but didn't.

ejay_kain
ejay_kain

it is not the game disigners that are bad. It is just that there is no freedom for experiments.

The market does not give experiments a chance. Everything now is high action packed, cinematic and fast phased. 

There are some exceptions but not enough. Publishers look at sales and nothing more.

tightwad34
tightwad34

It always makes me shake my head at people with big egos. Being humble is the best quality a person can have. This guy should think before he talks. There are plenty of good devs out there. Will Wright isn't bad at what he does, he's just so smart he comes off as crazy, to me at least. It sounds to me like all these guys who are saying the industry is in trouble seem to forget that video games are more popular than they have ever been.

Prats1993
Prats1993

Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideki Kamiya, Shinji Mikami > majority of western developers

JRLennis
JRLennis

I'm not sure the problem is a dearth of design talent.  The problem may be that most of the true talent have been scared away from the industry due to the ever-increasing emphasis on sales over innovation.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

Ok guys, this is his kickstarter campaign, but before I post the link I'll give a word of advice: don't wear a headset when playing the video. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/portalarium/shroud-of-the-avatar-forsaken-virtues-0

After watching that, I immediately realized what this guy is all about. He is good at D&D, very good. That's it. He's making a generic mmo with generic worlds, characters, enemies and combat. Really? Giant spiders glowing red (so you see them better) that have a health bar on top? I'm not saying it's tasteless, but come on!!

Dradeeus
Dradeeus

o_O; You know when you wanna root for someone, but just can't bring yourself to because they made a douchebag out of themeselves? Yeah.

importantbrothe
importantbrothe

He probably is a little arrogant, but don't you guys think the news editor quoted him piecemeal and parsed his words in order to make him sound even more so? The headline reads "Richard Garriott says he has never met anyone who is as good a game designer as he is," but later on he admits respect for other designers and says Chris Roberts is as good as he is.

Cristhian_Cobas
Cristhian_Cobas

Well... I'm from the generation that actually enjoyed those classic games... I agree with him, game designers today have less and less talent, cause it's happening the same as with all the other industries: hyper specialized people that lose focus of the whole by working on a very detailed scale, though he's being a total prick about it. Humbleness is the key to creating great games... What happens if his kickstarter game is NOT the ultimate RPG game? or even more, doesn't sell as well as he's expecting? Can he back up his words? If he can sell over 6 mill copies of that game, then I will stand up and applaud him on his game designing skills... before that it's just popping smoke... 

I agree that game depth has been lacking today, overall, but there are some GREAT titles out there, and as long as there are people like mr. Levine saying that they care about telling stories, and creating deep characters, we will have great game designers...

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

not sure i agree with him. there are a lot of great games that come out. and peter molyneux and will wright? thats all you can think of? shigero miyamoto didnt cross his mind?

JustSignedUp
JustSignedUp

this guy doesnt have an ego, he's right. For every 1 good game to come out, 50 bad ones are released.

shantd
shantd

Why is Gamespot using interns to read their news updates?

The_Hitokiri
The_Hitokiri

This guy licks the boots of teams like Team Ico. Good to see there are still individuals with such high self esteem, though.

LesserAngel
LesserAngel

He's got a bit of a point, though he's being kinda hypocritical, how long has it been since HE has released a decent game?

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

He's right, there's plenty of crappy game designers.

But he'd only be right about the rest if he used the past tense.

"I think Chris Roberts *was* one of them, Will Wright's another, Peter Molyneux *was* another."

"is close to as good a game designer as I *was*"

czdesigns
czdesigns

Your new game better be good Garriot.

Flaming_Flamer
Flaming_Flamer

Wow, REALLY?!? Holy crap, let me worship you... oh wait a minute, I'm not worthy. I hope someday I can be a TOTAL FAILURE with broken lies, promises and smack-talk just like you and Peter. Good luck with that videogame-thing. Monkey turd.

charlesdao
charlesdao

Which inovative game this guy created? Ultima? Really?

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

Jeez, what a pompous ass.  I can't believe people will fund guys like Garriott and Molyneux on Kickstarter.  They did some great groundbreaking stuff when I was in grade school.  And then they lost their touch and their industry relevance.  And now they come grubbing around for couch change to try to live the dream again because they can't get a proper corporation to think they are worth the risk of "real money".

I totally get his point about most designers having no formal training.  And I'm not saying the industry has a huge wealth of design talent either.  But there is a way to say that without saying "I'm far and away the best game designer around."  If I was Chris Roberts I'd be embarrassed to be associated with this clown.  I'd be crafting a memo to Lord British saying: Please stop talking about me or you'll be talking to my lawyer next....

Chupacabra3332
Chupacabra3332

Kevin Levine seems so humble on Interviews but this is a total ass. We shouldnt even care about this article. Dont even know those games. LOL!!

swallow1106
swallow1106

@longestsprout Keep in mind this is the first civilian in ISS... I am sure unless you seriously have too much $$$ to burn, flying into space as first civilian is all about ego and bragging rights.

swallow1106
swallow1106

@TirOrah I think you got the key word there 'met'.  I doubt even as egoistic as he is, he could deny Sid Meier being up there with him.  

Dradeeus
Dradeeus

@Prats1993 It's not a competition. But no one likes someone saying that they're the best, and by proxy, saying that modern games you like are from sucky creators.

psx_warrior
psx_warrior

@xsonicchaos Yeah, I visited it, and from his description, he might as well say he's the creator of the Elder Scrolls series, because that's what he described to the T, IMHO.  Wonder if he's ever played Skyrim, because I've done what he described in that game.

Dradeeus
Dradeeus

@xsonicchaos I guess one could technically argue he's sticking to the roots that game designers like him innovated. In the same way, you'd have to explain to kids nowadays that Tolkein isn't some hack, he's an innovator, which is why his worlds may look cliche now, because everyone else drew inspiration from it afterwards.

But there's a limit. You can't stick with your old, dated ideas and continue to brag about them. It looks silly.

swallow1106
swallow1106

@iandavidvinoya pretty sure he never met them, JP developers only care about consoles, Garriott is strictly PC.  Not to mention, back in those days PC9800 (JP PC) only care to produce H games (Hentai) and does not even use MS-DOS at all.  

Cristhian_Cobas
Cristhian_Cobas

don't get me wrong, I will make an effort to support his game, since I firmly believe that if kickstarter projects like his capture enough attention of the industry giants, then gaming could become better and better... 

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@JustSignedUp That includes his horrible failure with Tabula Rasa, his last success was Ultima, 2 decades ago, and he rode that train 8 times.

Maybe he was good back then. Today, he stands with the 50 bad designers.

boarwar
boarwar

@shantd  this sounds like a first take....complete with stutters, pauses, and a few 'ums'.  Why not just link the video of him talking rather then someone else reading these 3 paragraphs. C'mon Gspot.......

CPLDAN_aus
CPLDAN_aus

@charlesdao To be fair Ultima was actually incredibly innovative for its time. Give the man his due, even if he's not done very well after that.

TirOrah
TirOrah

@swallow1106 Well, it'd be really bad if he were *that* arrogant. :) Oh and to clarify my previous comment, by 'his point' I meant the 'most game designers really just suck' point, not the 'I'm the best designer I've ever personally seen' point. 

Prats1993
Prats1993

@Dradeeus @Prats1993 Theres more talent in the indie dev scene and Japan than with most mainstream dev groups, with a few exceptions. Its not a competition, but its fact.

swallow1106
swallow1106

@psx_warrior @xsonicchaos 
Skyrim or rather TES was spawned off (or in a more polite term, heavily inspired by) Ultima Underworld (though Warren Spector has more to do with it I believe).  Which is a spin off Ultima....
And everything he describe you could have done in Ultima 7 anyways, 20 years+ before Skyrim ?  I can't remember I remember playing Black Gate in 1992 though.  

psx_warrior
psx_warrior

@swallow1106 @psx_warrior @xsonicchaos That may be true, but he acts as if he is the only developer coming out with great games these days that have you choosing how you want to go about the adventure, while also saying that FF XIII is the only games devs are coming out with right now. 

I'm not saying this guy didn't pioneer the genre, but he's just being arrogant now.