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Interview: Richard Garriott Is From Mars
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Interview: Richard Garriott Is From Mars

February 8, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

Is it the type of thing you're interested in experimenting with, or do you really want to avoid it? What's your feeling towards consoles?

RG: Well, it's complicated. I am not generally a console gamer. Therefore, I think it would be risky for me to become a console developer. Because I think that it's important to develop on the platform, and for the market that you understand and are passionate about.

I think that [at NCSoft there is] some risk of that movement. Except that, again, they're coming so close together, the gap might be close for me. But if you ask me today, "are you going to go make a console game tomorrow?" the answer is still no.

But if you ask me a year from now, you know, I don't know. I can see the gap closing so I can hypothesize that I might someday cross that bridge.

What about mobile games? Do you ever play with cell phone games?

RG: Absolutely. In fact, that's actually the area that, other than PC games, I'm actually most enthusiastic about. The problem is that I'm also a skeptic.

I wish that it would come true, I want it to come true. My favorite Ultima, other than a PC Ultima, was the Runes of Virtue we did for the Game Boy, which was only a shadow of a full-blown Ultima, but was a really good game -- and on a Pocket PC, I [have] it [here] in my bag. I carry a Pocket PC, I've owned pretty much every Pocket PC, looking for the optimal, the ergonomics for me personally, as well as pondering gaming on these devices.

The problem is: the device is still too slow. Especially when switching applications or doing fairly complex things. And the input -- even on simple games, like when I downloaded a version of Frogger, which you would think would work fine on this little display -- but the reaction time of the little four-way controller and your character...the lag is still enough to where you couldn't play the game very well.

So I think the technology still has some work to do before mobile games really become popular.

John Carmack from id Software often says that the cell phones of today have more processing power than the early computers that he programmed.

RG: Oh, that's absolutely true. And more memory.

He loves the platform because it's so simple. And he's also saying that he made all of the mistakes on those very old systems, so now he knows what to do right on the cell phone. Do you think you'd find that?

RG: Oh, yeah. And if the operating system (so to speak) on them were sufficient, if the input on them was sufficient, I would agree.

So you could do a little Bluetooth controller.

RG: [Laughs.] Hypothetically. Unfortunately, still, if you're in the middle of playing a game and the cell phone rings, it often takes seconds to transition from one application to the other. And that's really just insufficient for practical use of these devices. So there's some fundamental architecture shifts that I really think need to take place.


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