The New York Times profiles Richard Garriott, the grand old man (at 46) of massively multiplayer online games. After several early successes, Garriott built a game world in which thousands of individuals could operate via a newfangled machine called a modem. The result, 1997's Ultima Online, changed the video game industry. But Garriott hasn't had a hit since, and hopes are high for his newest effort, tellingly entitled Tabula Rasa.
With Tabula Rasa, six years and $20 million in the making, Garriott has taken a new tack: gone are the medieval fantasies and complicated keystrokes, replaced by a brutal, bloody shoot-'em-up. But, says the designer, Tabula Rasa's major innovation is the inclusion of ethical quandaries "akin to the global war on terror: How far are you prepared to go to do what you think is right?"