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.