Houston Game Dev

Richard Garriott de Cayeux

March 5, 2013
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An interview by Eric Kinkead:

As a game developer, my game development has been greatly influenced by the work of Richard Garriott. When I was young, seeing Ultima III at a local Babbages (computer retail store) was a life changing event for me. I collected newspapper clippings, computer articles, everything I could about Ultima and its creator who went under the alias Lord British. It changed how I fundamentally think about games as an experience. My recent game QuestLord was even born out of my fondness for the dungeons, the expansive outdoor terrains and the interactive NPCs that filled the world of Ultima III.

Recently I was lucky enough to meet Richard Garriott de Cayeux and ask him a few questions about Game development, Houston, Space and a few other ins and outs any fan of his work would should find interesting:

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HGD: Your first released game, Akalabeth, was created as a teenager and it was self-published in Ziploc baggies before being released by California Pacific Computer Company.  At that young age, did you know that this was a medium you wanted to pioneer?  

Richard Garriott: All I knew at that time was that I was compelled to make something with this magical machine. I had no idea how far it would go!

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HGD: You had also mentioned that some of the code from Ultima 1 & 2 was originally created in Houston, care to explain more of that?

Richard Garriott: I wrote 28 “D&D” games on my schools “teletype” in Houston. Then my first published game “Akalabeth” and most of Ultima I, were also written in Houston. I did some of that work in Austin as well, when I started to attend UT.

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HGD: In many of your games, from Ultima I to Tabula-Rasa, space makes an appearance as part of the theme.  Having astronaut Owen Garriot as a father and being surrounded in Houston with the NASA community, did you always feel that space would one day be your destiny?

Richard Garriott: At the age of 13 a NASA doctor told me that my poor eyesight would prevent me from being a NASA astronaut. Having grown up with a father and neighbors who were astronauts, I assumed we would ALL go to space. Thus, I decided to “Start my own space program!” At the age of 13, you don’t realize how hard that will be… it was… but I did!

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HGD: Your mission on the ISS was to study and analyze how private citizens could contribute to the success of humans in space.  Have you reached more thoughts on this as an experienced private space explorer? 

Richard Garriott: I am now a devout believer in the new golden age of space travel that is starting now! The cost of access is about to drop from $250M per shuttle astronaut to something on the order of $25M on the new ships, and potentially $1M in the long term. With this happening, the few millions I made with my time on orbit, could be profitable. When this happens there will be an explosion of activities in space. This will still be justified mostly by science and research, but ultra high end travel as well.

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HGD: Much attention seems to be given to the landing of American space crafts.  Can you explain what the landing process was like aboard the Russian space craft?

Richard Garriott: A winged craft can land softly, like an airplane. Capsules land with a thud under a parachute, regardless if on land or water. In my case, the Soyuz lands under a parachute on land. Its basically like a car crash at about 30 MPH. You are strapped in tightly and the seat has shock absorbers, so while it’s a big jolt, it’s very safe! And safety is obviously a big priority!

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HGD: Going forward you have created a new company, Portalarium.  Can you share your goals and aspirations for this new company?

Richard Garriott: I have built a new company for each “grand era” of games. Origin, formed in Houston in 1982, for solo player games, eventually sold to Electronic Arts, Destination Games for Massively Multiplayer, sold to NCsoft, and now Portalarium for social games and the new delivery methods of PC. We believe that we can re-invent games, and for me especially role playing games, in this new era.

HGD: Thank you SO MUCH for your valuable and limited time.

Richard Garriott: My pleasure! Thanks,

 You can see my childhood Ultima 3 notebook that Richard Garriott was so nice to sign, in PDF form, here…

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Houston Leveled Up with Extra Life

August 23, 2012
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Extra Life – Play Games Heal Kids!

For the last four years, thousands of gamers have joined together annually to play for 24 hours for Extra Life – a gaming marathon in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®. Gamers rally friends and family members to sponsor their play. The funds they raise go to help save and improve the lives of kids at the CMN Hospital in their community. Houston Game Dev is delighted to have an exclusive interview with Allen Ragasa the Ambassador of Extra Life Houston.

houstongamedev: Can you tell us, Mr. Ragasa, what is Extra Life Houston? And how did it come about?

Allen Ragasa: Extra Life Houston is a group of Houstonians who have come together to promote Extra Life. Down to our core, we are gamers who play games and raise funds to help the patients at Texas Children’s Hospital. All of the funds raised by Extra Life Houston supports charity care, community outreach and financial assistance to help children who otherwise might not receive the care they need and deserve. Last year, Extra Life Houston
raised over $50,000 for Texas Children’s Hospital. The idea of forming a Houston team came from when I participated in Extra Life in its first year. In the summer of 2008, I had at the time raised money running marathons and got hurt during my training. I was listening to the Sarcastic Gamer Podcast and heard the founder of the charity, Jeromy “Doc” Adams talk about Extra Life. They had the idea of a fundraiser aimed towards gamers and that was to play games for 24 hours straight and get your friends and family to donate money to the cause. At the time, we had gamers all over the world participate and money went to the cancer center at Texas Children’s Hospital. The way I spent my 24 hours during the event was playing games at home but later moving it to Dave and Busters. My friend, Ryan Cayari, had donated money to my efforts and joined me there. We sat at the bar talking about how we could take this further, how can we make more of an impact for those kids at TCH. In the summer of 09, we later met up with Doc’s wife Leslie and talked about forming the Extra Life Houston Team. I’m proud to say that our team is now on our fourth year and has done marvelous things since.

houstongamedev: Can you tell us about some past events?

Allen Ragasa: We’ve had three over night marathon events during every Extra Life day but we have held fundraisers and awareness all over the Houston area. We’ve done things at coffee shops to benefit dinners at P.F Changs to barcrawls to game nights at the Houston Twestival and at Joystix Arcade. We even participated at conventions such as A-kon in Dallas and Oni-Con and Compicpalooza here in Houston.

houstongamedev: What is your Role in Extra Life Houston as Ambassador?

Allen Ragasa: My role as an ambassador is to bring recognition and awareness to not only Extra Life, but to Texas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. My successes include guest starring on podcasts talking about Extra Life, speaking at anime conventions and using social networking like Twitter and Facebook to bring more people who want to help enrich other kids’ lives. I’ve had contact with volunteers and teams spring up from various cities like Greensboro, North Carolina, Columbus, Ohio, Los Angeles, California, Seattle, Washington, Austin, Texas and most recently NYC and New Jersey. We are all a dedicated group of volunteers and in many ways ambassadors in our own right. We want to help the kids at the hospital in some way and if we can bring more people in to help, the better it is for everyone involved.

houstongamedev: How can parents, family and friends get involved?

Allen Ragasa: You can find more information about our events on our Facebook page Extra Life Houston or follow us on Twitter @ExtraLifeHOU. I recommend signing up for your own fundraising page at www.extra-life.org and get started on collecting donations. If you are playing for Houston, we would love for everyone to join the Extra Life Houston Team. We are always looking for more volunteers to help out and promote our events.

 

Houston Game Dev realizes what a valuable asset this is to children and our community. We will keep you updated on the upcoming October event and encourage participation. Thank you Allen Ragasa and all those involved with Extra Life Houston!

 

Great rewards for great work. Exclusive interview with Allen Ragasa (center).


Wing Whackers takes flight!

July 17, 2012
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Local game developers from Tech Studios 7 announced their release of Wing Whackers for the AppStore and mobile devices!

It is available now, and it is FREE!  So what are you waiting for?  Go pick it up now!

The game features 3 types of heroes for you to play as:

• Captain Eagle
• Doctor Hoots
• Count Vlad

And 2 habitats to survive in:

• California
• Texas

Interesting to note, the developers are also planing on adding more content such as a new character called ‘Admiral Pelicanous’ and a new habitat, ‘Cape Cod’.  So stay tuned as this game probably will have an app Update and we will cover that directly before it launches.

And what a way to celebrate this wonderful local release by throwing the best local game release party on record in the city of Houston Texas!!  Check out these awesome pictures with a live bird of prey, cake and t-shirts!!!  Who does that?  These fellas do!   If you missed the party you really missed out, but stay tuned here for more action in and around the local Houston game developer scene.  Houston, you have a new favorite independent game studio to watch out for!

You can find out more about this game directly on their web page.  GET THE APP! now!