Richard Garriott and Tabula Rasa


Four years ago, I had a meeting with Richard Garriott, a.k.a. Lord British of Ultima/Origin fame. His company was working with NCSoft back then, and NCSoft had sent him over as an ambassador of sorts to look at what we were working on, and to get to know the people. His game that he was working on back then was a MMOG called "Tabula Rasa". Well, Tabula Rasa came out last week, but they've released it as "Richard Garriot's Tabula Rasa".

I have a couple of problems with this title, and the first has to do with Richard Garriot's name being part of the actual title of the game. For one, having Richard Garriott's name there doesn't help sell the game. Unless you're a total game geek (or astronomy buff) like me, you probably have no idea who Richard Garriott is. First off, he's the son of astronaut Owen K. Garriott (Skylab) and crazy collector of astronomy associated items (he owns one of the Sputnik satellites). On the gaming side of things, Richard Garriott is the creator of the Ultima series of games -- you might call him one of the pioneers of the game industry -- he programmed a game by himself and sold it in Ziploc bags at his local computer store. But Richard Garriott's name, for the most part, means very little to the average gamer.

Secondly, having the title of game be called "Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa" makes it seem like it's all his, and while he probably did come up with the idea or the design, but what about all the countless other programmers and artists who also worked on the game? Sure, you can't call it "Richard Garriot and Programmer A and Artist Z's Tabula Rasa", but the whole notion of adding his name to title seems to pay little credit to the others who contributed to the game. I wouldn't even mind if it was on the box like "Tabula Rasa, created by Richard Garriot" or "Richard Garriott Presents Tabula Rasa", but the whole thing of crediting a single person in the title just strikes me as being a little too pretentious to me.

In the end, Tabula Rasa is just another sci-fi themed MMOG, which is likely destined for the discount bin in 6 months time.

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