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Shroud of the Avatar

Why does Richard ‘Space’ Garriott need a Kickstarter project, anyway?

In 2008, Richard ‘Lord British’ Garriott paid $30 million to become the world’s sixth ever space tourist. This is a matter of, if not public record, then commonly-cited gaming legend. Why, then, does Garriott and new outfit Portalarium need to source $1m from Ultima fans to fund new online RPG Shroud of the Avatar? Here’s a clue: it’s more about the developer-backer relationship than the money.

Garriott told us that his personal fortune has allowed him to do “all kinds of fun things - including leave the planet”, but noted that he himself had invested millions in his new company - by contrast, Portalarium are “only trying to raise about one million dollars through this crowdfunding campaign.”

At this stage, a younger Richard Garriott might have looked for a distribution partner to share in the cost of either developing or launching Shroud of the Avatar. But Garriott knows publishers. He sold Origin to EA in the ‘90s, and saw Ultima 8 suffer under pressure to ship.

“As I reflect on my own career, each of the times that we have forged a deep relationship with another publisher, those very next games are the games that have shipped the least well, shall we say?”

Instead, Garriott would like players to take the place of publishers in the development process.

“You become slaves to your publisher as opposed to slaves to the audience and we’re trying to make sure that the task master we are listening to - starting them early and getting them into these alphas and betas – is the player, and not the publisher,” he told us.

In fact, Garriott suggested that, “while the cash will be put to good use by all means”, the Kickstarter project’s primary function is as a “self-selection process”. “By embracing [the core audience] and bringing them into the development process, it lets us suss out a lot of problems”, he said.

It’s hard to predict what Shroud of the Avatar’s developmental problems might be at this stage. It’s a not-quite-MMO, with a persistent world and a focus on questing in small groups. It’s an Ultima game in everything but name, featuring dungeon crawling, crafting, farming or pet-fostering. And it’s already garnered more than $730,000.

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Does this not seem wrong?

Is he really saying, to paraphrase "You select yourselves for our alpha by giving us money".

 

Also, "Slaves to the audience rather than publisher"... a publisher would have ownership and legal recourse.  The KS audience has neither?

 

By all means use kickstarter to fund an awesome game, but please spare us the rhetoric!

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Richard "Space" Garriot is a much better nickname than "Lord British" any day of the week!

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I'm not helping fund this, as I'm swearing off Kickstarter for a little while (I just gave money to a few projects, including Cryamore, Dreamfall Chapters, Project Awakened (which, unfortunately failed) and The Death of Superman Lives)... not to mention, I doubt I would ever play Shroud of the Avatar. But it's interesting and I'm going to follow it, so I hope it succeeds.

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I think he is full of it. He could just as well host the download on his own dime and distribute it himself. He doesn't need 1M to offer a download and hire a bunch of goons to pack up soft cloth maps. Really? This isn't 1993 anymore... give up the Luna 2.

Sorry, I was a fan of Garriott... oh was I fan back in 1985 when I was playing Ultima ][ (still have the box) on an Apple ][+. I LOVED Origin Systems... Garriott was the reason I am an IT Director today and have a devout love for all things PC gaming... but it seems to me that greed won over and Garriott became a brat and unbelievably irresponsible with his money. His idea of subscription based gaming is what ruined the gaming industry today. It is my belief he USED to be the father of PC RGPs, but he is the downfall of PC Gaming and consumer rights. PERIOD.

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I'm sorry... You have no idea... but, I was so passionate about Ultima... about Origin Systems and the unblievable quality products they put out... I can't even put it to words... and ultimately, he gave it to us all in the rear-end and said F-off. What did he do with his 28 Mil he made off of NC Soft? Did he buy a Ferrari? How about a personal jet? Not a cent... not even a THOUGHT about giving him a cent...

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