Veteran Ultima creator, former NCsoft designer and recent astronaut Richard Garriott has revealed what he's on to next: Facebook games.
According to Venturebeat, Garriott has founded Portalarium, a new company that, in its own words, is focused on "bringing premium games to the social web". He says he sees the same kind of opportunity in social gaming as he saw at the emergence of massively multiplayer gaming.
"I feel extraordinarily lucky to have been born at the right time to start the wave of game development in the 1970s," says Garriott. "I felt I had a second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a significant figure in the emergence of massively multiplayer gaming. It was the fastest growing piece of the game industry in the last 10 years."
"I think that I am fortunate for a third once-in-a lifetime opportunity in social media," he adds. Although the company's first game is Sweet @$! Poker, a social poker title developed by an external developer, Portalarium's first project will actually be a browser plug-in, the Portalarium Player, that effectively creates a gaming platform within social networks.
On competing with market-dominant gaming firms like Zynga, Garriott acknowledges it'll be tough thanks to all the funding they've got behind them, but he also says he feels existing social games are fairly crude and suffer from quality issues.
"I fundamentally believe that quality rules the day. There is no question that us old fogies in the industry have learned some very important lessons that are sorely needed in the social gaming space," he says.
In a formal statement announcing Portalarium, he said: "The Portalarium mission is exactly what I want to be doing next in games. This really takes me back to my roots in the game business – small development teams, low barriers to entry, affordable budgets for quality projects, and unlimited new interactive frontiers to explore together with our customers."