In 2008, Ultima creator Richard Garriott's storied career in the game industry took an unexpected turn, when he abruptly left NCsoft. The departure, which is the subject of an ongoing $24 million lawsuit, came about shortly after Garriott returned from his 12-day, $30 million stay aboard the International Space Station and shortly before NCsoft took the designer's failed massively multiplayer online role-playing game Tabula Rasa offline.
Today, Garriott reemerged to announce his return to the gaming sector as vice president and creative director of Portalarium, a start-up aimed at creating open-source social-networking platforms. Garriott is joined in the venture by a trio of NCsoft defectors: Dallas Snell (chairman and development director), Fred Schmidt (CEO and publishing director), and Stephen Nichols (VP and technical director).
Portalarium's first project, called the Portalarium Player, is a Web browser plug-in that lets developers port games built on a number of different game engines and technologies to social networks, such as Facebook. The first product to make use of this technology is Sweet @$! Poker, which is currently available as a Windows PC app and Facebook game.
More information on Portalarium is available through the company's Web site.