Update: Richard Garriott: "Most Game Designers Really Just Suck"

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Yes, because basicly digitizing D&D is not at all like rehashing someone else's ideas.

My what a high horse you have my lord.

*Edited*-
for extra snark.

Daystar Clarion:

Frozengale:
you come off as ignorant.

That's me :D

It's been 20 years since the guy made anything worth mentioning.

Perhaps, but that does not make him wrong.

Frozengale:

Daystar Clarion:

Frozengale:
you come off as ignorant.

That's me :D

It's been 20 years since the guy made anything worth mentioning.

Perhaps, but that does not make him wrong.

Doesn't make him right either :D

It's easy to criticise others, talk is cheap.

Daystar Clarion:

Frozengale:

Daystar Clarion:

That's me :D

It's been 20 years since the guy made anything worth mentioning.

Perhaps, but that does not make him wrong.

Doesn't make him right either :D

It's easy to criticise others, talk is cheap.

Says the one criticizing someone else while admitting they haven't played their games.

Yes, talk is very cheap indeed.

Two words, Dicky, my boy...two words: Tabula Rasa.

You, too, have sucked at times. Don't worry, it's okay to be wrong.

What a knob :)

Frozengale:

Daystar Clarion:

Frozengale:

Perhaps, but that does not make him wrong.

Doesn't make him right either :D

It's easy to criticise others, talk is cheap.

Says the man criticizing someone else while admitting they haven't played their games.

Yes, talk is very cheap indeed.

Criticising a man for criticising others isn't the same thing.

Or is it?

Maybe so.

I don't rightly know or care :D

Well, now I know why I always thought that the plot of Ultima felt like it was written by a high schooler. It's because it was!

Zeckt:
I don't know, this coming from the guy who let ultima be ruined by ultima 8 and 9 is kind of ironic. Even as a old age ultima fan I can see he's a hot air balloon. This is not like the old days where you can make big budget games with like 10 people Garriot ...

I find the comment about making games with 10 people really interesting. I am in my 30's and grew up with games like The Bard's Tale, Ultima IV, etc. I think back to how different these games were from what there is today. The games back then had no tech or dazzle to hide behind; it was all about the gameplay. The barrier to entry was a lot higher. The games didn't hold your hands. There was a lot of trial and error, note-taking, etc. It took me a while to finish a lot of those games but the feeling when you did was very fulfilling.

You look at the games now, which take huge groups of people to put together. Lots of them are artists, 3D modelers, what have you. But yet you have to ask, compared to games like Ultima 7 or even earlier games, is there really that much more meaningful content? Some of the early Ultimas, as simplistic as their graphics were, had fairly large game worlds. I remember playing Ultima 8 with my roommate in college and it took us quite a while to finish it. Then I think about a more recent game, which I really liked - FEAR - which while being a totally different genre, was one I finished in a few days.

I guess what I am getting at is that I look at the games now, and think about the games I played growing up in the 80's and early 90's and I have to wonder if the quality of games has really gone up much, if at all. I think developers now have a much harder time not getting caught up in the flash, and the tech and game engines, and relying on those things to prop up flimsy gameplay.

I kinda agree with him. It's the homogenisation of the roles that is a huge problem. Instead of people being allowed to excel in one arena and really push the boat out in it, they have to spread themselves too thin and dabble in everything.

The other problem is that the only jobs you ever really see advertised the majority of the time are for coders and artists. What about EVERYTHING else that goes into making a game? That is the reason games to tend to have such poor stories, for example. The companies don't hire writers (and if they do it's from the same tiny circle) they just leave it to coders who have spare time to knock together some dialogue.

Garriott may have been harsh in declaration that there are few good designers, he did bring up a valid point. Most who want to and are successful in breaking into the industry do so with training that makes them better suited to roles such as programming, writing, or art design. However, being good at part of the design process does not mean you have the necessary training and skill to be a good overall designer, and like Garriott stated, there are too few options for one to study and train to become an actual designer as opposed to a programmer, or artist, or etc.

Granted, this is not taking into account several outside factors like team-size, demands from publishers, and the like.

While his credibility is hindered by the sheer arrogance of his statements, I think Garriott's core argument is valid. While I know very little about game design itself, I often find many recent games, even those I enjoyed, to be rather shallow and lazy in terms of the ideas explored or game mechanics pioneered. There is a definite lack of artistic vision and creativity in the modern games industry. It is sort of like games are in a rut similar to the early "talkie" era of film.

Peter Molyneux, for example, while often found out to be an embellisher and outright liar, IMO, had a clear artistic vision for each of the products he created (except maybe Fable 3). They have almost always failed to achieve this vision in some way, but it clear that new ideas were at least attempted (technological/financial/time constraits have held back most of his games IMO).

I actually agree with him. A lot of designers now-a-days are bloody horrible save for a few. If every designer was a Sid Meier, a Will Wright or a Shigeru Miyamoto games would be a lot better.

Can I be honest here? He doesn't sound all that off the mark. I don't really know that I'd say Mr. British is one of the greats, (never played a game of his) but yeah his comment about medal of honor seems about right. Many games do seem to created with changing one aspect about another game in mind.

Did our good friend Richard Garriot forget about Tabula Rasa, a game so poorly designed and boring that it makes Desert Bus seem action packed?

Here's a little bit of clarification from Garriot himself. He posted a rebuttal on Gamasutra's article about this

Richard Garriot:

While I appreciate those of you who read the whole thing, to see better the whole context, even still, this article is skewed to make a sensationalist slant. My point was, that game design is the hardest, but also the most valuable skill to build in the industry. That every company lives and dies based on the talent of its game design team, and that as an industry we are not doing so well creating the talent we need in this industry, because educational systems have not caught up in this area as well as programming and art. I was not trying to toot my own horn, rather state that game design is hard. Ah well. :)

Phrasing aside, I'm inclined to agree. A lot of game design just seems half-hearted these days. I don't even mind highly derivative, but there's a general lack of creativity and thought put into a lot of games.

Also, I get the feeling that he was more trying to say "I'm one of the best game designers I know. Isn't that shitty? There should be more good ones".

Alandoril:
I kinda agree with him. It's the homogenisation of the roles that is a huge problem. Instead of people being allowed to excel in one arena and really push the boat out in it, they have to spread themselves too thin and dabble in everything.

Actually I think he's saying the opposite - it's the specialization that's the problem, and having a wider berth of skill would do people better in the long run.

An art or sound person would want to make great visuals or audio, but that doesn't necessarily translate into a great game.

A writer would want a great story, but might end up making really bad exposition dialogue, as they're more interested in pushing the story than letting the player get involved and immersed into the environment.

A programmer would like to make a great game engine, but again, that's just the engine, need to make things to show it off.

A designer would MIGHT make good gameplay mechanics, assuming he doesn't just recycle existing stuff, but might not leverage the other aspects of the game to supplement what he's doing.

Someone who is well versed in all those disciplines though, can mix and exploit them to produce truly memorable scenarios.

The closest role could think of nowadays are technical artists (like me!) since we often have to talk to almost every department - what does the writer intend, how is the designer utilizing the environment, making sure art is filling the requirements, and making sure programming is having it work as intended. Don't touch sound as often though. But we're usually in a support role, not making the game.

Yes, I think that he is absolutely right in that the educational system has not quite caught up with how to educate good game designers. Having a game design degree means something for sure, but there is so much else that must come together to make a good game designer - so much that it is almost better spent time to push yourself to churn out games, exchange ideas and learn on your own than to en-roll a college. (I think the best way is to do both, but the latter will mean more in terms of skill.)

I thought Humility was one of the virtues...

I've worked in this industry (not as a designer) for well over 20 years, and although he over simplified the issue, and delivered the message in a horribly insulting way, he is partly correct. It has nothing to do with laziness, though, and more to do with the fact that designing a good game is really hard, and the vast majority of people - whether they like playing games or not - simply don't have the natural ability.

Designing a game, or even placing things in a level, is very rarely something that can be learned if you have absolutely zero skill in that area (in the same way not everyone can learn to be a good racing driver or a good soccer player). You have to have the right sort of brain wiring (in the same way that a programmer or artist does), and have the passion to nurture that wiring into something that can create ideas and level designs that become good, and overcome your failures and learn from them - it's very unusual to lay out a level the first time and get it right. It takes a long time and a lot of skill, as well as natural ability. These university courses that 'teach' people how to 'design games' are just a way of making money, and produce very little decent output unless that person already had it within them to begin with.

Another problem is where many designers come from. It's typically that, say, Bob from QA has been with 'x' developer for lots of years and wants a promotion and get into game development. Oh! I know, let's make him a level designer. I've worked with some great level designers and scripters over the years, and I've also worked with terrible ones, but none of them have been in the least bit lazy.

There are other factors, of course: technology limitations, publisher limitations, license restrictions, time constraints, bad tools, and so on.

In summary: he is partly right. There are designers that suck. There are also designers (more than just 3 that he named) that don't suck, and some that are really, really good. But it's the same thing for programmers, artists, producers, studio heads, technical directors, and so on... some suck, some don't. One other thing to note is that it's quite hard, when interviewing, to know if the designer in front of you is any good or not. Artists have portfolios that give you a clue, programmers can take tests, but for a designer? There's not much you can do to vet them other than take their word for successes on their resume.

Daystar Clarion:

It's been 20 years since the guy made anything worth mentioning.

20 years and a lot of failures. Of course you can attribute the MMO explosion to UO... if you want to go that route. But all in all, the guy is loony. After his space trip was announced I got the feeling he thought he was better than everyone else on this planet. This interview shows that I was right.
Gasbag ego. I've always wondered if he and Peter Moleneux get together on occasion...

Alandoril:
The other problem is that the only jobs you ever really see advertised the majority of the time are for coders and artists. What about EVERYTHING else that goes into making a game? That is the reason games to tend to have such poor stories, for example. The companies don't hire writers (and if they do it's from the same tiny circle) they just leave it to coders who have spare time to knock together some dialogue.

There are plenty of adverts for the other disciplines involved, but mainly in our industry magazines.

It's interesting that you bring up writing because, just like designing, writing a good story and good dialog is hard! It's not usually programmers who end up writing the dialog; it often falls to... the guy on the team who is most vocal about watching lots of movies. And, in the same way that playing lots of games does not make you a game designer, watching lots of movies does not make you a good writer.

That's why, for so many years (and mostly still today, although we're slowly getting better), the stories of games make no sense, are impossible to follow or care about, and have utterly atrocious dialog! It's something many of us in the industry are horribly embarrassed about, but much of it comes down to money (again). A good writer is expensive, and just because they've written a good movie script doesn't mean they're going to write a good game story. So, finding someone who can do both is hard and even more expensive! The budget of a game rarely has much (if anything) put aside for hiring writers (a big mistake) because publishers want to squeeze development costs down as much as possible (another big mistake) and, decent budget for a writer is usually the first to go. If it was even there in the first place.

It's really sad and is slowly starting to change, but not quick enough.

Dude has to make a game with in the last ten years I think to be able to criticize people. This just come off as an old guy complaining about those youngsters to me.

Seriously guys, what is it with this site and getting more focused on personalities than points? The guy's right, we can't just keep blaming publishers when the fact of the matter is that a huge segment of the blame should fall squarely on the designers. Just taking a short glance on some of the obvious follow the leader indy games should be enough to show us that it's not just publishers that desire to keep making the same shit a million times over. There really are designers who's real ambition is to make a game like CoD but- and all that that entails, and that is something that does need to be dealt with as well. Game design shouldn't be about recycling game mechanics with just enough changes to call it your own, but so far it seems to be about that. It should be about using mechanics both new and old to achieve a desired effect, and using critical thinking when considering how and when to apply them.

I'm amused that people expected someone that calls himself "Lord British" to be humble.

Steven Bogos:

"I've met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am,"

Dare him to say that before the kickstarter goal was met.

That said, as the poster 2 posts above noted. The quote was edited. Which is pretty sleazy of TheEscapist.

I was with Garriott right up until he cited Peter Molyneux as a "good designer".

He was at one point. But now Molyneux exemplifies everything Garriott criticized about the industry.

And what? No love for Sid Meier or Jordan Mechner?

This is coming from a man who creating a game with a overhead map instead of a full world. I can't even give him credit for Ultima. Ralph Koster took Ultima and made more amazing than anything Garriott did.

Rich, people who live in glass houses should not make games like Ultima 9.

piinyouri:
As someone who is fairly unversed with Mr.Garriot's shenanigans, has he always been that much of a pretentious dick?

The guy calls himself Lord British, so pretty much yeah.

I mean yeah I can agree with the base idea of what he means as sometimes I too believe a lot of the designers out there must be dead in the brain or at the least asleep on the job.

But this just doesn't seem like a good way to present yourself.

I think we can all agree that it's not his statement on shit design that's offensive, it's his arrogance at being the yardstick for good game design.

Richard Garriot: "Me & Cliffy B have figured out how to not have to pay for advertising anymore."

marurder:

Steven Bogos:

"I've met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am,"

Dare him to say that before the kickstarter goal was met.

That said, as the poster 2 posts above noted. The quote was edited. Which is pretty sleazy of TheEscapist.

Excuse me? The quote used in this article is word-for-word the same quote used in the PC gamer interview:

http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/03/19/richard-garriott-game-designers-suck/

Steven Bogos:
Richard Garriott: "Most Game Designers Really Just Suck"
"I think there's really very few great game designers," he continued, adding Peter Molyneux and Will Right to his list of good designers.

Who is Will Right, I only know Will Wright.

Pedro The Hutt:
Well, now I know why I always thought that the plot of Ultima felt like it was written by a high schooler. It's because it was!

Uh, you do know that Ultima IV was one of the first games, if not the first, that wasn't about just killing stuff? But was instead about knowledge and having a high morale character.

Well, Garriot's ego aside its probably a legitimate point to be made, but theres a plethora of potential reasons.

1) Most designers will only have a handful of truly great ideas, if not just one. He throws out a decent list of what I'd consider prettymuch one and done game designers. This isn't a unique factor to that field either, you can find dozens of scientists, artists, musicians, businessmen, etc where they've had their one shining moment and then blundered on other attempts (either becoming mediocre, or outright failing).

2) The industry will keep racing the same horse until it dies and they have to get a new one. Hand in hand with #1, this sees the "Lords" of game design getting swing after swing at bat, while upcoming designers are placed under them. Even if you get a fresh designer, they're likely to get some level of a hand-me down project and not be able to flourish.

3) Defining vision and collaborative work are almost mutually exclusive. You can occasionally get great partnerships that merge two talents to make a greater whole, but mostly, its just going to dilute the vision into a generically appealing, but less interesting blob. Cue the AAA industry, which now often has multiple 50+ person teams in entirely different countries slamming things together. You aren't going to get anything close to the consistency and possible risk taking of the 80s/90s "Dude in his garage" methods of game development with all these potentially conflicting opinions and varying levels of enthusiasm and commitment.

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