No.

Celebrity game designer Richard Gar­riott told PC Gamer that he’s bet­ter than most other game design­ers, you know, those whom he believes to suck.  No, it is not out of con­text; a good amount of direct quotes should be evi­dent enough.  Although lack of pro­fes­sional cour­tesy his state­ments can be, I think he actu­ally believes what he says.

Mr. Garriott’s name has been pop­ping up a lot ever since I make read­ing gam­ing news arti­cles a daily habit.  Well, Ok, by “a lot” I mean maybe about once every month, until recently for the rea­son I will men­tion later.  On the other hand, there’s a good rea­son why games usu­ally don’t mar­ket them­selves as the “cre­ation of John Doe”.  Games like Cave Story and Touhou series being the excep­tions, most good and suc­cess­ful games achieves their sta­tus not because of one person’s work, but a team of peo­ple whose exper­tise are from dif­fer­ent fields: artists, coders, com­posers, mar­ke­teers, etc.

Mr. Garriott’s wikipedia page pro­vides some insight on why he is being treated like a celebrity by the gam­ing media.  He designed the Ultima series, and coined the term MMORPG.  I don’t deny Mr. Gar­riott has con­tributed a lot to the gam­ing indus­try in the past, but it seems that his career as a game designer has not been very suc­cess­ful lately.  Out of the few games Mr. Gar­riott asso­ciates with that came out in the 21st cen­tury, only Tab­ula Rasa con­tributes to him as the designer.

Tab­ula Rasa is a curi­ous case.  The MMORPG received decent reviews, but the pub­lisher, NCSoft, cit­ing the game’s lack of pop­u­lar­ity, dis­con­tin­ued its ser­vice after it went live for a year and four months, shortly after a legal drama between Mr. Gar­riott and NCSoft has taken place.  Many peo­ple may believe NCSoft is one of the evil pub­lish­ers within the MMO indus­try, but there is lit­tle room for con­spir­acy the­o­ries when it comes to deter­mine its own games’ prof­itabil­ity, and the deci­sion of clos­ing the games down.

I believe Mr. Garriott’s pub­lic atten­tion comes from being one of the first few pri­vate cit­i­zens to fly into space.  I have noth­ing but respect to a man who spent $30 mil­lion of his for­tune for the ticket to the space shut­tle, and then under­went life-threatening surgery to achieve his dream.  It’s not some­thing I under­stand, but I assume the gam­ing media has rea­sons to like him enough to keep his name a recur­ring theme, even though Mr. Gar­riott doesn’t appear to work in the indus­try anymore.

Actu­ally, that might not be true any­more.  Just this month, Mr. Gar­riott started a kick­starter cam­paign for a game named Shroud of the Avatar, a spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the Ultima franchise.

Any­way, I won’t be per­son­ally con­firm whether Mr. Gar­riott is a good designer by play his old games, so I’ll wait for Shroud of the Avatar to make that call.  A good designer does not guar­an­tee a suc­cess­ful game, but for all games that are good, I am con­fi­dent to say that every one of them has at least one good designer.  It’s no mys­tery that a good designer knows what player wants, but I’d only call some­one a “bet­ter” designer if he knows what I, the player, don’t know what I want yet.

I hope Mr. Gar­riott lives up to his words in his next game, and ones after that.  And despite my skep­ti­cism on Mr. Garriott’s assess­ment on him­self, I do hope his state­ment on how to become a game designer has some accu­racy in it… I have no artis­tic tal­ent and not entirely good with cod­ing, so I guess that makes me an ideal game designer, right?  :P