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GameMaster
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A Journal of a GameMaster (GM), an IMMortal (IMM), and a DungeonMaster (DM).

2004-04-26
 
Kings and Crowns
I just want to share a good article about "Richard Garriott" who pioneered MMORPGs and gave the term "GM" or "GameMaster".

Quoted from: Kings and Crowns.




December 12, 2001 Posted: 1347 GMT


By Staff Writer Chris Morris


NEW YORK (CNNmoney) -- The first time I saw Richard Garriott, it was 1996. He was wearing a cape made of crushed velvet and a crown � and the moment he walked through the door, a fan shoved a camera in my hand and begged me to snap a picture of the two of them. "This," I thought, watching Garriott assume a regal air, "is the man who sparked a revolution in computer gaming?!?"

Indeed, if you've ever played a role-playing game on your PC (or your gaming console, for that matter), you have Garriott in part to thank for it. His "Ultima" series, first published in 1980, turned into the first massively multiplayer online role playing game. More than 200,000 people in the United States regularly assume alternate identities in Garriott's medieval land of swords, sorcery and a looming evil that must be conquered. Now Garriott -- and his online persona "Lord British" -- want to conquer the world.

Garriott left software maker Electronic Arts, which had purchased "Ultima" in 1993, last year. Now he has signed on with NCSoft, the Korean game company behind "Lineage." Launched in 1998, the game now has 4 million active subscriptions, roughly 17 times as many as "Ultima Online." But until recently, the number of U.S. players has been virtually zero.

Garriott, as an executive producer, and NCSoft have spent the past six months revising the game for Western audiences and trying to get their game in front of them.

Shelf space in retail stores for new games isn't easy to get. New releases from major publishers like EA get priority over small companies' games. So Garriott and NCSoft are mostly forgoing that channel. In fact, you'll find the game at only one retailer, Electronics Boutique. And there you'll find it next to the cash register (probably just to the left of the "Get 700 Hours Free" AOL disk).

Sold for just $3, compared with $50 or so for most games, "Lineage" makes its money on the backend, charging players $15 per month or $45 for four months. EB gets a $10 bounty for each customer who becomes a subscriber to the game. NCSoft also is distributing 1 million copies of the game through magazines, and Garriott hopes to set up bounty deals there, too. The company also wants to set up distribution deals with broadband service providers in the U.S. (NCSoft already has a deal with Yahoo! Broadband in Japan.)

To stoke interest, Garriott is pulling out the cape and crown again � though mainly in a virtual sense. Lord British will walk the lands in "Lineage" a couple times a week for the next month, interacting with players and helping advance the current storyline, dubbed "The Bloodpledge". It's familiar ground for Lord British, filled with castles, dragons and magicians.

When he's not online, Garriott is developing his next game, code-named "Tabula Rasa", and working on a plan to distribute independent developers' games and turn NCSoft into a powerhouse publisher in the U.S. With $50 million cash in the bank, the company can buy solid titles.

The ultimate plan? To go public in the U.S. NCSoft already is traded in South Korea, and hit a record high just this week. The company hopes to co-list in America in mid- to late-2002. It probably could do so now, but Garriott said "the time to do that is when we can show we're not a one-trick pony."




It's an old article but worth reading. The date this was posted was on "December 12, 2001".



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