Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott is joining an expedition to locate a sunken ship

    
37

He’s been to the North Pole. He’s been to space. He’s been to the depths of the ocean. He’s been everywhere but in the development studio in his role as creative director for Shroud of the Avatar. Now MMO developer Richard Garriott is going on yet another adventure in the real world as part of an Antarctic expedition to locate a long lost ship.

The expedition, headed by British polar explorer and maritime archaeologist John Shears, will attempt to locate the wreck of the Endurance, the exploration vessel captained by Sir Ernest Shackleton that got trapped in arctic ice in the Weddell Sea on January 1915 and sank in November of that year. The entire crew of the ship survived the endeavor, camping on arctic ice and making their escape on lifeboats.

The expedition will utilize autonomous underwater vehicles known as Sabretooths to try and locate, survey, and film the wreck. The expedition’s greatest challenge will be the ice, which may force those searching for the ship to camp on the ice, drill holes, and deploy the Sabretooths that way. In any event, Garriott will have a grand ol’ time not working on the game that he stapled his name to.

As alluded to in the story’s lede, this isn’t the first time Garriott has been on wild adventures, as he has previously been to the North Pole, took a ride to the International Space Station (where he smuggled a Star Trek actor’s remains aboard), and most recently dived the Marianas Trench.

Of course, veteran MMORPG fans know that Garriott has become a controversial figure in gaming over the past few years. While he is frequently lauded as a founder of the genre thanks to his pioneering work on Ultima Online and later efforts alongside NCsoft prior to the lawsuit, his most recent MMO, the Shroud of the Avatar, was a bit of a flop; it was widely criticized for cutting promised Kickstarter features, excessive crowdfunding, missing KS rewards, obfuscating its corporate leadership, closing its offices, and failing to file legally required SEC documents relating to the company’s equity crowdfunding. In 2019, Garriott’s company Portalarium sold off SOTA to its lead dev; press inquiries and efforts to secure explanations for equity crowdfund investors have been met with stonewalling and insults, but SOTA is still being developed and Garriott does still occasionally participate in the game.

source: Mint Lounge
Advertisement

No posts to display

37
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Brinto Sfj

Despite regular updates, the game feels like a sunken ship. I think he needs to go on an expedition to reclaim the game.

Reader
Narficus

This twitter thread looks foreboding.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Schlag Sweetleaf

.

lord antartica.gif
Reader
Utakata

…even Richard Branson doesn’t have portals like these! o.O

Reader
Narficus

“…his pioneering work…”

Ah, yes, taking a genre that was already going quite well without him and putting his name over Raph Koster’s decade of MUD dev experience, coined a term (MMORPG) that is only relevant in terms of CCU of players to be credited with doing an first (along with graphics, mainstream appeal, etc. etc. for why UO was somehow “first”), a credit that would then make calling Shroud an MMO a farce because even The Realm had better CCU a year before UO was open to the public than Shard does now. Meridian 59 and The Realm Online were already around and doing well beside all the MUDs pushing into the graphical era, without His Highness leading the way.

The only thing that Tabula Rasa contributed was showing how development minus RG went better than his frequent meddling that needed to be redesigned, and Shroud showed that he kept the jump puzzles from as far back as Super Avatar Bros. At least they got vehicles working in TR before it had to be shut down, though the crafting was a mess.

Yes, Virginia, there was MMO before RG showed up to take credit for it. In fact, the DikuMUD team, which I guarantee nobody else in these comments can name, collectively had more to do with the creation of the MMO genre via inspiring EQ and the code branches Raph Koster worked on before he took that to UO.

Nothing Richard Garriott ever did was remotely groundbreaking, innovative, or original. Maybe celebrity tourism? “Lord British” has always been a marketing gimmick everyone remembered above and over everyone doing PLATO development. See: Avatar (1979) and go back further.

In the same way he took his MMO credit: the only thing RG pioneered was being the original Trip Hawkins.

Sargon
Reader
Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor
Sargon

Spoiler alert… The sunken ship was Portalarium all along.

Reader
Bryan Correll

James Cameron called and said stay out of his lane.

The expedition’s greatest challenge will be the ice

Well….ice and shoggoths.

EmberStar
Reader
EmberStar

I am a bad person. I would pay good money to see Lord British get chased by a shoggoth.

OnO

Reader
Bryan Correll

Chris Roberts said he could arrange that for the right price, but wouldn’t commit to a date.

Reader
notReginald VelJohnson

A man born into wealth and privilege is using that wealth and privilege to do things you or I could never do. Hooray.

Speaking of which…never forget this man’s connections.

rg gm.jpg
Reader
MothballShow

Are you referring to photos from parties with other wealthy and privileged people (which I promise I will not post here)?

EDIT: Dammit. You did the thing.

Reader
Utakata

/bleh

Reader
MothballShow

Honestly, this article should also receive the SOTA box of shame.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

We pretty much rewrote the box o’ shame and jammed it into the end anyhow. :D Like, SOTA being a clownshow of an MMO is one thing, but Garriott is a whole ‘nother one. The dude ghosted all his SeedInvest investors dammit.

Reader
MothballShow

Good point. I just can’t get over how these “great men” are willing to burn any and all goodwill once they sign their reputations to projects (and no, I’m not basing this on Lord Skittish alone).

Garriott is one of the more egregious examples, and UO-era me would be burning cloth maps and taking up, I don’t know, single-player platformers or macrame or something if this happened back then (and not behind the scenes).

I’m just glad this is happening at a time when his reputation (and those of his peers) in a very niche field doesn’t outpace his smarminess.

Reader
Narficus

Back then, if he did that, many of the UDIC and RPG fans also loved studios willing to uphold the Origin spirit of design (a little better than we’ve seen from RG himself since he made a mad chase at online trends). There would have been no hype to deflect blame for even Tabula Rasa to happen.

Black Isle Studios tops the list, with the amazing Planescape: Torment, along with the original developers of Fallout, and who via Interplay publishing through co-development with BioWare turned Baldur’s Gate into something more than a series of battles on bitmaps (Feargus Urquhart suggested to add in Fallout’s speech trees and viola, the classic was made). “Choice and Consequence” was coined first by the Fallout fans at NMA and V13 and then later echoed by the Arcanum fans at Terra-Arcanum (another fine RPG in Ultima style that frankly whips the pants off any incarnation of “The Ultimate RPG”) Another by Troika is Vampire: Bloodlines, for probably one of the best VtM games to date.

Obsidian and inXile are descended in a weird “I’m my own grandpa” way from Black Isle Studios, a relationship now more complicated by their mutual acquisition by Microsoft. The Outer Worlds, Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny, Wasteland, Torment, the list goes on and back through personal credits of decades of fans having personal recognition of the rank-and-file developers involved in every aspect of game development – this was the core strength of Interplay in the way customer service was one of the sadly-departed Sierra’s brand. (Interplay helped other brands grow by this, making sure all were credited like in the movie industry, and helped establish this ethic for then-early studios like Blizzard to continue on.)

Larian started out copying Ultima and now they’ve got their own IPs well-established. (The same was done for the immsim genre by Arkane when Looking Glass Studios alumni themselves torpedoed all the IPs in their hands.)

And there’s a special mention for Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software, who – if you liked the style of the middle Ultimas more – was the dev to browse his impressive catalog spanning decades.

One thing all of the above have in common – they have not scammed their KS backers. (Okay, Torment was a little shady with some being used to finish another game… ) They can return to the crowdfunding model and most would return. Hell, they practically own Fig.

I know I am missing mention of tons of studios out there, from LoFi Games and Kenshi, Pierre with Knights of the Chalice, that reading and discussing the “industry legends” that haven’t really been relevant to the industry by 20 years except as trivia to laugh about is a great novelty act as warm-up for the real shows of loading up better games.

It was what WoW flight points were for while theorycrafting on the forums!

Reader
cursedseishi

The one thing he won’t find there? His Sunken Career.

This just kind of hammers in that Garriot doesn’t really seem to… want to do games anymore. Good on him for living his dreams and all, but…

How many times has he, once he’s gotten a payday, completely dropped a game to do one of these things? And how many times has he come back, but only because he needed the money for himself?

About the only thing this story will be missing that Tabula Rasa had, is Chris Spears saying Garriot quit Catnip to take back over at as well as take on all the liabilities Portalarium owes still, and Garriot refuting it by way of a video call on a galaxy tablet duct taped to a Segway his lawyer is riding into the courtroom with.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

His Sunken Career.

You don’t need a “career” any longer when you have enough money to casually go to space and to the bottom of the ocean. Him attaching his name to this game was probably partially for the creativity/fun of working on a new project, but probably also for some pocket money for his next extreme adventure. He’s got “fuck you” money, he only works if he wants to.

Reader
notReginald VelJohnson

Also, Portalarium was millions in debt after Ultimate Collector flopped. What better way to recoup your debts than to have your fanboys/fangirls pay it for you?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

I doubt he’s personally liable for any of those debts, and Portalarium seems largely defunct after it sold SotA to Catnip. It apparently forfeited its right to conduct business in Texas last year.

Garriot isn’t a dummy, he’s smart enough to make sure he’s not personally on the hook for anything for any companies he’s involved with. It’s a corporate entity according to the SEC filing/Delaware records (where it’s incorporated for tax reasons), so if it does “go under” (who knows what’s going on with it now) those in charge including Garriott should be shielded.

Reader
notReginald VelJohnson

Yes, that’s how a corporation works. Doesn’t mean there are no personal/legal/reputational repercussions for unpaid debt, though.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

It very likely DOES, that’s part of the point of incorporating if you’re not going to form something like a LLC. Those entities are designed to shield people from liabilities like this, even if they’re not perfect.

As for reputation/personal repercussions those can exist, but does it matter to someone like Garriott who is already filthy stinkin rich and had a…questionable reputation at this point to begin with? : /

Reader
soup4000

so he’s completely departed the game development scene.

Edit: ” he has previously been to the North Pole”
… yes, while that game of his was being launched