Richard Garriott is Back in the Game

| 17 Feb 2010 11:32

Ultima creator Richard Garriott is returning to the videogame industry with Portalarium, a new social media company whose first release is - get this - a Texas Hold 'Em card game.

Oh, Richard. How did it come to this? You co-founded Origin Systems. You gave the world the magic of Ultima! And now, the best you can come up with is a Texas Hold 'Em game on Facebook called Sweet @$! Poker? Seriously?

Garriott is serving as vice president and creative director at Portalarium, where he will be joined by co-founders Dallas Snell and Fred Schmidt, both of whom worked with Garriott at Origin, Electronic Arts and NCsoft, and Stephen Nichols, formerly the producer and lead programmer on Dungeon Runners. While the company is beginning with online games, it has a "broad-based, open-social mission" that will eventually take it into other areas like "open learning, open health, open science/environment [and] open government... all wrapped in a connective virtual world in the online social networking space."

Portalarium's first offering is The Portalarium Player, a cross-platform web browser plug-in that allows games developed across numerous technologies to run "seamlessly" on major social networks without having to rely on Adobe Flash. The software currently supports all major PC browsers and is being developed for the Mac and mobile devices like the iPhone and Android, and is currently in limited beta testing on Facebook, where it is running the aforementioned Sweet @$! Poker game. Versions that will run on MySpace and other social networks are also in the works.

Garriott quit the game industry near the end of 2008, just prior to the ugly closure of his Tabula Rasa MMOG venture. At the time he claimed that he was leaving the game industry behind to "pursue other interests," but within a couple of months he changed his mind and said he was ready to get back to work on a new game. This, apparently, is it: The "invigorated and engaged" Garriott, widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of videogames, said Portalarium is "exactly" what he wants to do. "This really takes me back to my roots in the game business," he said. "Small development teams, low barriers to entry, affordable budgets for quality projects, and unlimited new interactive frontiers to explore together with our customers."

Hey, whatever. Where's my Ultima Underworld 3, Richard?

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