Game Development Reference
Interview with Richard Garriott: The Three Grand
Eras of Gaming—cont'd
There is a stereo maker, Bang and Olufsen, whose architectural
beauty of their equipment is always first-rate. They look really cool.
But if you buy one, they have the worst user interface. It's complex.
It is different. Even if it is consistent to their own product line, it is
not the same as everyone else's product line. Most washers and dry-
ers you can just walk up to and use. On one occasion, I have ended
up with one that has left me scratching my head. They tried to make
it too high-tech with too many options. Everything is pretty standard
on automobiles, other than your turn signals and windshield wipers.
These seem to vary universally from car model to car model. It is one
of the things you look for when you sit down in the car. Maybe adjust-
ing the mirrors is also a discovery item, but most people can even-
tually handle it because it is such a limited list. The real important
challenge for us designers now is the hardcore people that say, “I've
got to dumb it down for the masses.” That is not the right way to look
at it. Do you think a Ferrari has been dumbed down for the masses?
No. It is just good UI design to make sure that when you sit down in
a Ferrari and you have just been driving your Lamborghini that you
know how to make the thing go.
I do not personally find those things overly restrictive, although they
are occasionally challenging to what we want to accomplish. In our game,
we are already having the problem of how you scroll through more than
one screen full of items to select. Do you turn pages or do you use scroll
bar? Both have their problems. You have to communicate, “Don't forget:
there's something on the next page.” As we have discovered, and other
companies' research has shown, people buy everything on the first page
because a huge swath of people do not realize there is a second or third
page of stuff.
Q: Do you think the game industry veterans have been slow to come
around to social games?
A: Absolutely, and by the way, I think that's changing. I think this is the
year that everyone is getting it. I have to sadly confess that I was kind of
resistant and was slow to get it too. Fortunately, I got over that resistance
earlier than many others. Right as we formed Portalarium in 2009, I went
to DICE to give a talk about this space. It was very clear I was talking to
deaf ears. When I would sit down with the press and say we are going to