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MMO genre becoming stagnant, exclaims Richard Garriott

Brighton, UK-

Richard Garriott - also known as Lord British due to his Cambridge England birthplace, and English accent as a child - spoke today in a keynote at the Develop Conference.

Garriott feels that the MMO genre is beginning to stagnate - something he looks to change with NCSoft's upcoming game which aptly bears his name: Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa.

Garriott isn't new to innovating a marketplace as the creator of Ultima, and eventually Ultima Online - a very influential piece in the history of online gaming.

"MMO game design has not changed over ten years," he said.

"If you look at the vast majority of MMOs that has come out since Ultima Online and Everquest, you can look at the features and they are almost exactly the same. Even though the graphics have got better and the interface is much slicker, fundamentally the gameplay is unchanged." Garriot continues, "Worse yet, there are many things that have become standard that I look at and even though they are powerful enough to encourage the behaviour of people obsessed with playing these games, I don't think they are the right way of building the future."

So how does Garriott hope to change things with Tabula Rasa? For starters, combat has been changed from your typical MMO - removing auto-attack and other aspects that have become commonplace in the genre. Garriott also hopes to improve gameplay with enhanced creature AI, as well as strategy and ethical choices playing a role for players.

"As a developer and publisher I actually believe that we owe it to the consumers to continue to innovate and provide new kinds of gameplay experiences and not just 'me too', grinding gameplay," he said.

As a player, I'm excited to see that someone is willing to take the risks of changing the genre, rather than using proven successful methods for a cheap and quick way to the front. Only time will tell if this pays off, but Tabula Rasa should certainly shake up the MMO market.


  • #1

    I do hope he is going to deliver on some of the things he says, and its not lots of marketing spiel. He is so right about the grinding gameplay of most mmorpgs, the genre needs a big title to shake things up a bit.

  • #2

    I hear you, I hear you. However, there is still hope. Here are games that I think could change stuff for the good in the MMO industry:

    - Darkfall (hell yeah :P)

    - Pirates of the Burning Sea

    - Tabula Rasa

    - Age of Conan (maybe, I've been hearing some weird stuff about it lately though)

    There are probably more, (Face of Mankind ?), but I don't know enough about them

  • #3

    Garriott is my hero. GO GO GO


  • #4

    I agree with Richard,

    I have been a fan of his having started playing the Ultima Series from Ultima V, and eventually being awed by Ultima Online in the late 90s when it was released.

    Current games seem to implement mechanics that are nothing more then a time sink. The common response to this I see on gaming forums are that MMO's are supposed to be a sink. No there not there supposed to be FUN. Fun is much more of a retention tool then any form of content forcing people to play for x number of days.

    Some of the most memorable times gaming have come from user driven content and world events. Even with little or no reward other then achieving success in the event, they have been some of the best times in gaming. Too much focus is put today on gaining items. This may be for several reasons like Richard started that its a tested formula, or it may be that there really is no competition in the market to drive innovation.

    Unsure if his new game will be something that I play, however its great to see someone driving change in the market and coming up with innovative ideas.

  • #5

    I'm definitely looking forward to this shaking things up a bit from the norm. Hopefully it will have as big of an impact over the genre as he hopes and believes it will.

  • #6

    I agree with him, and this made me more interested into Tabula Rasa actually.

    Lord British ftw

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