Richard Garriott, the space-faring developer who created the Ultima series and recently announced his return to games with the successful Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter project, has come out swinging with some harsh words for his peers. "I've met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am," said "Lord British" in an interview with PC Gamer. "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."
"It's really hard to go to school to be a good designer."
The reason, according to Garriott, is that many people in design roles get the job because of little qualification in other areas. "If you're not a good artist and not a good programmer, but you still like games, you become a designer, if you follow me," he says. "You get into Q&A and often design... It's really hard to go to school to be a good designer." Garriott singles out Will Wright, Peter Molyneux, and Chris Roberts as three of the "really very few" great game designers.
Garriott says he aims to "reinvent" the RPG with Shroud of the Avatar, telling Polygon that it is "neither a solo-player game, strictly speaking, nor massively multiplayer." While his place in gaming history has long been cemented — among other accomplishments, he is credited with coining the term "MMORPG" with Ultima Online in 1997 — more recent efforts such as Tabula Rasa haven't found as much success. Garriott plans to make an alpha version of Shroud of the Avatar available to Kickstarter backers in December, so we still have some time to wait before finding out if his walk can match the talk.