Garriott: Game over for traditional MMOs

Richard Garriott, former Origin man and currently executive producer at NCSoft, Austin, where he's involved with Tabula Rasa, reckons the traditional MMORPG has hit its limit and the stage is now set for innovation in the genre.

"I think that if all you're trying to do is do what we'll call the traditional feature set, where you highlight an opponent and do the Whack-a-Mole combat and what I'll call the 'WoW' feature set, I think yes, World of Warcraft is the end of that feature set arc," Garriott told us when we caught up with him this week at NCSoft's European HQ in Brighton.

"I think from now on you're going to see people really doing the important work of innovating in other areas," he said.

Above: Are games like Tabula Rasa the future of MMOs?

Garriott explained that such innovation is occurring in Tabula Rasa in three key areas - its fast-paced and tactical combat system, its dynamic battlefield with ebb and flow to ownership of territory, and its storytelling. He said that the game's developer, Destination Games, is trying hard to make sure that the story engages players in such a way that they feel the story is personally important to them.

We asked him where else he expects innovation in the MMORPG genre to occur.

"I would say there's still a few things hanging out there that we haven't put at least in Tabula Rasa but that might exist in some other games," was the reply, Garriott citing physics and AI as examples.

"Dark Messiah did a great job of doing real-time physics in a role-playing environment, both with objects and on the characters. I think physics has a big part to play... in the MMO space. Plus AIs, which even though I think we're doing a better job than most any other MMO with Tabula Rasa, I think the stage is now set where that needs to play a bigger and bigger role."

July 27, 2007