MMO genre becoming stagnant, exclaims Richard Garriott

Brighton, UK-

Richard Garriott - also known as Lord British due to his Cambridge England birthplace, and English accent as a child - spoke today in a keynote at the Develop Conference.

Garriott feels that the MMO genre is beginning to stagnate - something he looks to change with NCSoft's upcoming game which aptly bears his name: Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa.

Garriott isn't new to innovating a marketplace as the creator of Ultima, and eventually Ultima Online - a very influential piece in the history of online gaming.

"MMO game design has not changed over ten years," he said.

"If you look at the vast majority of MMOs that has come out since Ultima Online and Everquest, you can look at the features and they are almost exactly the same. Even though the graphics have got better and the interface is much slicker, fundamentally the gameplay is unchanged." Garriot continues, "Worse yet, there are many things that have become standard that I look at and even though they are powerful enough to encourage the behaviour of people obsessed with playing these games, I don't think they are the right way of building the future."

So how does Garriott hope to change things with Tabula Rasa? For starters, combat has been changed from your typical MMO - removing auto-attack and other aspects that have become commonplace in the genre. Garriott also hopes to improve gameplay with enhanced creature AI, as well as strategy and ethical choices playing a role for players.

"As a developer and publisher I actually believe that we owe it to the consumers to continue to innovate and provide new kinds of gameplay experiences and not just 'me too', grinding gameplay," he said.

As a player, I'm excited to see that someone is willing to take the risks of changing the genre, rather than using proven successful methods for a cheap and quick way to the front. Only time will tell if this pays off, but Tabula Rasa should certainly shake up the MMO market.

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