Lord British’s New Social MMOG: Worth Playing?

Lord British’s New Social MMOG: Worth Playing?

Whether you enjoy Fallout, Dragon Age, Final Fantasy, or Dragon Quest, you can thank one man for sculpting the foundations on which most modern role-playing games (RPGs) rest: Richard Garriott, also known as Lord British. Garriott developed the Ultima series of games, which pioneered the tile-based RPG and hugely influenced massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) with Ultima Online.

And now the Lord of the modern RPG genre admits he’s become disillusioned with the disorienting role-playing market that exists today.

“Even the kinds of games that you might think I would make, I don’t generally play, because they’re often just too much of a hassle to get into them. And so comfortably introducing people into your depth is a lesson all games should learn,” Garriott said in a June interview with Gamasutra. “I find them overwhelming — you get dropped in the middle of this gigantic world, you have no idea what to do, you have no idea where to start, you’re going like, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to take me so long to even know whether I like this game, that I’m daunted to start!’, if you know what I mean. I go, ‘Yep, looks beautiful! Okay, I’m done.’ [laughs]”

Garriott told Gamasutra that he’s been spending a lot of time with iPhone games, and is at work on an “Ultima Online-like” social MMOG that boasts the accessibility and affordability of iOS apps. The MMOG, which will also be released across Facebook and other social platforms, is titled Lord British’s New Britannia, and its very existence is enough to bring tears to the eyes of core gamers.

Garriott is yet another veteran developer who has been wooed to the “dark side,” better known as casual/social game development. Hearts always break when a core dev defects, but Garriott’s switch is especially noteworthy: Whereas other developers hopped over to social game creation for a change of scenery, Garriott’s decision is at least partially influenced by his dissatisfaction with the state of the core game market today. Longtime fans of Lord British may feel a little–well, betrayed. They may want to tell Garriott, “You’re just not trying hard enough to appreciate today’s games.”

(They may also wonder what role 2008’s Tabula Rasa/NCSoft controversy played in Garriott’s attitude shift, if any).

Whatever your point of view, there’s only one proper way to react to Garriott’s decision to change gears, and it’s the way you ought to respond to all developers who board the social gaming boat: Shrug, and wish him well. If you’re open-minded, give Garriott’s new project a try. A tablet-based MMOG fronted by Garriott is admittedly a compelling idea. This is the guy who shaped the single player and multiplayer role-playing genres as we know them; Lord British’s New Britannia might work out very well. Social games are in dire need of innovation, and that innovation might come from the only game developer thus far to see the entire world from the porthole of a space shuttle.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.


  1. I just hope I’ll be able to play this on my 24″ monitor, on my PC. That’s my only condition for buying this game, and I know I want it already ! But I dont like recent tendancies to go to small screens or consoles.

    Good luck to Lord British
    ( And thanks for the Article ).

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