Richard Garriott (AKA Lord British)
If Richard Garriott's works seem "out of this world" it's likely due to the fact his father was an astronaut. His father, an ionosphere physicist, was on Skylab II and the 9th shuttle flight.
Richard Garriott began his career writing computer
adventure games at the age of 15. He was an avid D&D player and Lord
of the Rings fan. In 1977, while attending a
The store manager loved the game and encourage him to sell it. Garriott duped 200 copies on tape and packaged them in plastic zip lock baggies. He sold 8 copies on his own. One copy found its way to California Pacific software. They licensed the game from Garriott and published it on floppy disk. It sold 30,000 copies. Still a teenager, Garriott received $5 per copy sold - some $150 K.
Garriott enrolled in the
In 1981 Garriott saw the film Time Bandits and was enamored. He decided to base his sequel to Ultimatum on it. For this game, Garriott wanted better packaging and documentation, like a cloth map. Garriott, possibly taking a cue from Infocom packaging, believed including things like cloth maps and trinkets enhanced game play and brought the gamer deeper into the experience. California Pacific refused to upgrade the packaging. Garriott sold Ultima II to Sierra, which agreed to his terms. Sierra released the game in 1981 for the Apple II. Garriott this time wrote the game in machine language.
With his growing success and growing popularity at gaming conventions (Garriott had taken to attending trade shows in full Lord British regalia), Garriott dropped out of the U of T to pursue his adventure game writing business full time. While working with Sierra to port the game to the Atari 800, Garriott met programmer Chuck Bueche, who became a character in the Ultima games known as Chuckles the Clown.
Garriott and Sierra eventually parted company over a
dispute over licensing deals for the PC version of Ultima II. Garriott
formed his own company, calling it Origin Systems. Garriott, his father, his
MIT-educated brother, and Sierra programmer Chuck "Chuckles" Bueche
were the principle founders. The company was based in
They quickly released Ultima
In 1994, Garriott sold Origin Systems to EA. The deal allowed Origin to continue as an independent wing of EA. EA was mostly involved in distribution.
In 1997, Garriott got involved in online gaming and released the wildly popular Ultima Online. Several disgruntled players sued Origin in 1998. They did not feel the game offered all the extravagant features Garriott and Origin claimed. Garriott had predicted the game would attract a few thousand players. At its peak, 400,000 people signed on. There were some necessary teething problems.
In March 2000, Garriott retired from EA/Origin Systems. He's formed Destination Games, partnering with his MIT-educated brother again.
Garriott resides in a custom-designed house in
-- Karl Mamer