The man known as Lord British has been gone from video games a long time. Yeah, he's had the whole space travel thing going on. And there was a messy bit of business where he got half a million dollars stolen from him to buy fancy magician paraphernalia. But it seemed really weird that Richard Garriott—an iconic creator responsible for the super-successful Ultima series—was staying away from video games for so long.
He never stopped thinking about making games, though. Garriott has been working on something and now he's ready to show it to the world.
Garriott came to Kotaku's Manhattan offices to offer us a first look at Shroud of the Avatar, the new role-playing experience that he's been quietly building with a small team in Austin. He wants the game to free players from always having to be an intrepid hero character and promises that you'll be able to have a rich varied experience as a normal townsperson who isn't hungry for combat. Like many an old-school developer nowadays, Garriott plans to get funding for Shroud of the Avatar via Kickstarter. The project page just went live and you can find it here.
And here's a livestream of Garriott talking about Shroud of the Avatar at South by Southwest.
During his time at Kotaku NYC, Garriott also talked about his own personal history as a game designer, talks about why he prefers making games for PCs and why it's better that Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts is back at making games instead of movies. He also explains the difference between a role-playing game and an RPG and shares his theory on the kinds of cyclical changes that hit with every hardware cycle—and why he's sick of that merry-go-round.
The interview above is a sprawling but fascinating 25 minutes. If you just want a look at gameplay from an early build of Shroud of the Avatar, then click on the second video for a run-through of the work-in-progress game. Without Garriott's essential early work, subsequent successes like Planescape: Torment and Wasteland probably wouldn't have been possible. The spiritual follow-ups to those titles have been big crowdfunding successes. It'll be interesting to see if Lord British's next big gamble will find the same kind of success.