As the creator of the seminal Ultima series, Richard Garriott has influenced generations of game designers. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to think much of their talents. Speaking with PC Gamer for his new Kickstarter project, Shroud of the Avatar, Garriott bemoaned the current state of game design in the industry.
"[O]ther than a few exceptions, like Chris Roberts, I've met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am," Garriott said. "I'm not saying that because I think I'm so brilliant. What I'm saying is, I think most game designers really just suck, and I think there's a reason why."
Garriott went on to suggest that most game designers today fall into the discipline because they lack talent in a field where quality of work is more obvious, like programming or art. In fact, Garriott said artists and programmers are frequently better designers than the designers themselves because they understand how their own native discipline impacts the design.
"So we're leaning on a lot of designers who get that job because they're not qualified for the other jobs, rather than that they are really strongly qualified as a designer. It's really hard to go to school to be a good designer."
Garriott said design is a very hard skill to learn, a problem apparently compounded by work ethic. The Ultima developer said every designer he has worked with has been lazy, and bemoaned a reliance on rehashed ideas in gaming today.
"[T]hey generally say, 'You know, I really like Medal of Honor, but I would have bigger weapons, or I would have more healing packs, or,' you know. They go to make one or two changes to a game they otherwise love versus really sit down and rethink, 'How can I really move the needle here?'"