Richard Allen Garriott
July 4, 1961
|Occupation||Video game developer|
|Known for||Ultima series|
Laetitia Pichot de Cayeux (m. 2011)
|Relatives||Robert Garriott (brother)|
|Awards||AIAS Hall of Fame Award (2006)|
|Space Adventures private astronaut|
Time in space
|11d 20h 35m|
Richard Allen Garriott de Cayeux (né Garriott; born July 4, 1961) is an English-American video-game developer and entrepreneur. Garriott, who is the son of NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, was originally a game designer and programmer, and is now involved in a number of aspects of computer-game development. On October 12, 2008, Richard flew aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 mission to the International Space Station as a private astronaut, returning 12 days later aboard Soyuz TMA-12. He became the second astronaut, and first from the U.S., to have a parent who was also a space traveler.
Richard Allen Garriott was born in Cambridge, England on July 4, 1961, to Helen Mary Garriott (née Walker) and Owen Garriott, one of NASA's first scientist-astronauts (selected in NASA Astronaut Group 4), who flew on Skylab 3 and Space Shuttle mission STS-9. Richard was raised in Nassau Bay, Texas from the age of about two months.
What Garriott later described as "my first real exposure to computers" occurred in 1975, during his freshman year of high school at Clear Creek High School. As he wanted more experience beyond the single one-semester BASIC class the school offered, and as a fan of The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons, Garriott convinced the school to let him create a self-directed course in programming, in which he created fantasy computer games on the school's teletype machine. Garriott later estimated that he wrote 28 computer fantasy games during high school.
A common part of his game pseudonyms is "British". Garriott uses the name to this day for his various gaming characters, including Ultima character Lord British and Tabula Rasa character General British. The name originated from his British accent in the late 1970s.
Garriott began writing computer games in 1974. His first games were created on and for teletype terminals. The code was stored on paper tape spools and the game was displayed as an ongoing print-out on the spools of printer paper produced by teletype machines. In summer 1979, Garriott worked at a ComputerLand store where he had his first encounter with Apple computers. Inspired by their video monitors with color graphics, he began to add perspective view to his own games. After he created Akalabeth for fun, the owner of the store convinced Garriott it might sell. Garriott spent US$200 printing copies of a manual and cover sheet that his mother had drawn, then he put copies of the game in Ziploc bags to sell at the store. Although Garriott sold fewer than a dozen copies of Akalabeth at the store, one copy made it to California Pacific, who signed a deal with him. The game sold over 30,000 copies, and Garriott received $5 for each copy sold. Akalabeth is considered the first published Computer Role Playing Game. In the fall, Garriott entered the University of Texas at Austin, joined the school's fencing team and later joined the Society for Creative Anachronism. He created Ultima I while at the university. It was published by California Pacific Computers and sold in Ziploc plastic bags, as was common in those days.
Steve Jackson Games (SJG) maintained a friendly relationship with Garriott and, when he visited the SJG office one day, Garriott was so impressed by the artwork of Denis Loubet that he commissioned him to paint the cover of Ultima I (1980). Loubet subsequently painted many other covers for Garriott's games.
In the early 1980s, Garriott continued to develop the Ultima series of computer games, eventually leaving university to author them on a full-time basis. Originally programmed for the Apple II, the Ultima series later became available on several platforms. Ultima II was published by Sierra On-Line, as they were the only company that would agree to publish it in a box together with a printed cloth map. By the time he developed Ultima III, Garriott, together with his brother Robert, their father Owen and Chuck Bueche established their own video game publisher, Origin Systems, to handle publishing and distribution, in part due to controversy with Sierra over royalties for the PC port of Ultima II.
Garriott sold Origin Systems to Electronic Arts in September 1992 for 30 million dollars. In 1997, he coined the term massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), giving a new identity to the nascent genre previously known as graphical MUDs. In 1999 and 2000, EA canceled all of Origin's new development projects, including Privateer Online, and Harry Potter Online. In the midst of these events, Garriott resigned from the company and returned to the industry by forming Destination Games in April 2000 with his brother and Starr Long (the producer of Ultima Online). Once Garriott's non-compete agreement with EA expired a year later, Destination partnered with NCsoft where he acted as a producer and designer of MMORPGs. After that, he became the CEO of NCsoft Austin, also known as NC Interactive.
Tabula Rasa failed to generate a significant amount of money during its initial release, despite its seven-year development period. On November 11, 2008, in an open letter on the Tabula Rasa website, Garriott announced his plans to leave NCsoft to pursue new interests sparked by his spaceflight experiences. Later, however, Garriott claimed that the letter was forged as a means of forcing him out of his position and that he had had no intention of leaving.[failed verification (See discussion.)] Garriott reviewed and signed this announcement, but did not sign a resignation letter that had been drafted for him by NCSoft. On November 24, 2008 NCsoft announced that it planned to end the live service of Tabula Rasa. The servers shut down on February 28, 2009, after a period of free play from January 10 onward for existing account holders.
In July 2010, an Austin District Court awarded Garriott US$28 million in his lawsuit against NCsoft, finding that the company did not appropriately handle his departure in 2008. In October 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment.
Garriott founded the company Portalarium in 2009. The company is developing Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, a spiritual successor to the Ultima series, with Garriott having remarked that had they been able to secure the rights to the Ultima intellectual property from Electronic Arts, the game could have become Ultima Online 2 in name. On March 8, 2013, Portalarium launched a Kickstarter campaign for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. An early access version of the game was released on Steam on November 24, 2014, and the game was fully released in March 2018.
In 1983 Softline reported that "Garriott wants to go into space but doesn't see it happening in the predictable future ... He has frequently joked with his father about stowing away on a spaceship, and recently his speculations have been sounding uncomfortably realistic". The income from the success of Garriott's video game career allowed him to pursue his interest in spaceflight, and the sale of Origin Systems allowed him to invest in Space Adventures and purchase the ticket to become the first private citizen to fly into space. However, Garriott suffered financial setbacks in 2001 after the dot-com bubble burst, and he was forced to sell his seat to Dennis Tito.
He then says he returned to making games, to make money, and once he had enough, put down a non-refundable deposit to go into space. During the mandatory medical examination, they found he had a hemangioma on his liver, which could cause potentially fatal internal bleeding if there was a rapid depressurization of a spacecraft. Told he had to either give up his large deposit, or undergo life-threatening surgery, he decided to have the operation, and now has a 16-inch scar from it. He spent a year in Russia training before he launched into space.
On September 28, 2007, Space Adventures announced that Garriott would fly to the International Space Station in October 2008 as a self-funded private astronaut, reportedly paying $30 million USD. On October 12, 2008, Garriott became the second second-generation space traveler (after Sergei Volkov) and the first offspring of an American astronaut to go into space, and the second person to wear the British Union flag in space. The Soyuz docked with the station on October 14. His father, Owen K. Garriott, was at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the launch of his son and was in attendance when a Soyuz capsule returned with his son twelve days later.
During his spaceflight, Garriott took part in several education outreach efforts. As a part of that outreach program he worked with the free Metro newspaper in London, which provided him with a special edition containing details of British primary school student's space experiment concepts which Richard took to the ISS. The Metro has claimed as a result that it was the first newspaper in space. He is an Amateur Radio Operator (callsign W5KWQ), and during his stay on the International Space Station (ISS), communicated with students and other Amateur Radio operators using Amateur Radio. Garriott also transmitted photographs using the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) slow-scan television system. Garriott also placed a geocache while aboard the ISS.
Garriott also worked with the Windows on Earth project, which provides an interactive, virtual view of Earth as seen from the ISS. Garriott used Windows on Earth software to assist in the selection of locations on Earth to photograph, and the public were able to use the same online tool to track the ISS and see the view Richard was experiencing out an ISS window. Richard's photographs, along with images taken by his astronaut father Owen Garriott in 1973, will be available to the public through Windows on Earth, adding a personal element to studies of Earth and how Earth has changed over time.
On October 24, Russian cosmonauts of ISS Expedition 17, Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, along with private astronaut Richard Garriott, aboard Soyuz TMA-12 capsule, landed safely (ideal) at 09:36 (03:36GMT, 07:36 Moscow time), 55 miles north of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. They were lifted to the Kazakhstan Baikonur space center by helicopter, and then flew to Zvezdny Gorodok (Star City), Moscow Region.
On June 3, 2009, the New York Daily News announced that Garriott would officiate at the first wedding to be held in zero gravity. The wedding took place in a specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, G-Force One, operated by Zero Gravity Corporation, or ZERO-G, a company offering weightless flight experiences, of which he is the co-founder.
In 2010 he released a documentary, Man on a Mission: Richard Garriott's Road to the Stars.
In 1986, Garriott helped start the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. His high school science teacher was June Scobee-Rogers, wife of Challenger Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee, who piloted the STS-51-L mission. STS-51-L was intended to carry the first teacher in space flight, before it and its crew were tragically lost on lift off. Scobee drew on Garriott's early leadership in gaming, to help design what has become approximately 50 global interactive networked facilities, where students study about and perform simulated space missions.
Garriott bought the Luna 21 lander and the Lunokhod 2 rover (both currently on lunar surface) from the Lavochkin Association for $68,500 in December 1993 at a Sotheby's auction in New York (although the catalog incorrectly lists lot 68A as Luna 17/Lunokhod 1). Garriott notes that while UN treaties ban governmental ownership of property off earth, corporations and private citizens retain such rights. Lunokhod 2 is still in use with mirrors aligned to bounce lasers such that precise earth moon distances can be measured. With his vehicle "still in use", Garriott claims property rights to the territory surveyed by Lunokhod 2. This may be the first valid claim for private ownership of extraterrestrial territory. Lunokhod 2 held the distance record for miles traveled on another planetary body, until surpassed by the NASA Opportunity Rover in 2014.
While not directly related to stage magic, Garriot is a fan of the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, and designed a card in the Magic 2015 expansion set.
Garriott built a haunted house/museum at his residence called Britannia Manor in Austin, Texas. Garriott's haunted house was stated to cost $50,000 each year and took two months to construct. In 1991 the haunted house event was cancelled, as Garriott was busy working on Ultima VII.
|Game name||First released||Garriott's role(s)|
|Akalabeth: World of Doom||1979||Game designer & programmer|
|Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness||1981||Original conceptor, programmer & graphic artist|
|Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress||1982||Game designer|
|Ultima III: Exodus||1983||Project director|
|Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar||1985||Project director|
|Autoduel||1985||Programmer & designer|
|Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny||1988||Designer, writer & programmer|
|Ultima VI: The False Prophet||1990||Designer, producer, sound effect worker, writer & voice actor|
|Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire||1990||Executive producer|
|Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams||1991||Creative director|
|Ultima: Runes of Virtue||1991||Creative director|
|Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss||1992||Director & voice actor|
|Ultima VII: The Black Gate||1992||Director & producer|
|Ultima VII: Forge of Virtue||1993||Creative assistance & producer|
|Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle||1993||Creative director & audio team member|
|Ultima VII Part Two: The Silver Seed||1993||Director & voice actor|
|Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds||1993||Director & voice actor|
|Ultima VIII: Pagan||1994||Producer|
|Ultima: Runes of Virtue II||1994||Creative director & additional design|
|Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale||Cancelled||Producer|
|Ultima Online: The Second Age||1998||Executive designer|
|Ultima IX: Ascension||1999||Director|
|Lineage II||2003||Executive producer|
|City of Heroes||2004||Executive producer|
|City of Villains||2005||Executive management|
|Tabula Rasa||2007||Executive producer|
|Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues||2018||Creative director|
PCG: 'How did you come by the alias of Lord British? You're obviously not English. Richard Garriott: 'Actually, that's not true ... I am a British citizen. That said, I only lived there for about two months prior to moving to the States.'
Richard Garriott first coined the term MMORPG in 1997.
Later that day, NCsoft sent Garriott a press release announcing his departure to Tabula Rasa fans. Garriott reviewed and signed the announcement, which stated that 'I am leaving NCsoft to pursue [other] interests.'