Richard “Lord British” Garriott de Cayeux began his quests in the virtual world armed with only paper tape strips and a teletype. He soon leveled up to an Apple ][ and published his first game Akalabeth – the precursor to the critically acclaimed Ultima series. During his adventures, Richard created the term “avatar” for one’s virtual self and the category of massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs). He built 3 leading gaming companies: Origin Systems (sold to Electronic Arts), Destination Games (sold to NCsoft) and most recently Portalarium where he is building Shroud of the Avatar, the successor to his previous works.
Teletype & the Apple ][
“Welcome, foolish mortal, into the world of Akalabeth!”
The story of “Lord British” began in 1975 when he first gained access to a teletype connected to an offsite computer via an acoustic modem. His earliest games were Dungeons and Dragons style adventures coded in BASIC and read by a teletype. The output of these early games was a spool of paper, where the visuals of the game would be printed out after each choice a player made requiring 10’s of seconds to see asterisks for walls, spaces for corridors, dollar signs for treasure and capital letters for the locations of monsters.
By 1979, Richard bought his first Apple ][ computers and immediately set to rewrite his 28th “D&D” style game to take advantage of the new graphical capabilities of this machine. Encouraged by the manager of the ComputerLand store where he worked, Richard set out to publish his game Akalabeth and spent the entirety of his $200 life savings on Ziploc bags and xerox coversheets. Luckily, he had an artist for a mother who could help with the cover art.
Within weeks of selling a few dozen copies of Akalabeth out of ComputerLand, the California Pacific Computer Company invited an 18 year old Richard Garriott out to California for a meeting. By 1980, over 30,000 foolish mortals were seeking their grand adventure in the world of Akalabeth and Lord British was born.
Naturally, Richard immediately began building a new virtual world complete with towns and dungeons, characters with their own stories, and a lot more monsters. This world was called Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness.
“We create worlds.”
In 1983, Richard teamed up with his older brother Robert to form Origin Systems Inc. Ultima III: Exodus was the first game published under the Origin banner and was one of the first computer RPGs with animated characters – a revolutionary graphics upgrade at the time.
Origin was acquired by Electronic Arts (EA) in 1992, but Richard continue to develop games for the company including 6 new Ultima games, Ultima Online (one of the first MMORPGs ever created), the Wing Commander series, and System Shock.
By 2000 Richard had left origin and founded a new gaming company: Destination Games
“Only after you have left your origin, can you arrive at your destination.”
The overwhelming popularity of Ultima Online proved that there was a huge demand for online multiplayer games and Richard sought to build on that success. Partnering with the Korean based company NCSoft, Richard began developing a new, sci-fi virtual world: Tabula Rasa
“We take you there.”
In 2009, Richard got back to his fantasy roots and formed Portalarium where is currently building Shroud of the Avatar, the spiritual successor to his previous work. Currently under development, Shroud of the Avatar has already broken records as the second highest funded Kickstarter campaign and is continually ranked as one of the top upcoming MMORPGs.