Origin founder, Ultima creator and space hero Richard Garriott has resigned from NCSoft, the Korean company he joined in 2001 after his non-compete agreement with Origin/EA expired. NCSoft has experienced financial troubles recently and is in the process of restructuring their US development teams -- but few fans, at least, expected to see their highest profile figure depart.
While with NCSoft, Garriott lead the design of his 'dream project', Tabula Rasa. Development suffered from several false starts but ultimately resulted in a game which many players report is both unique and excellent. Garriott also oversaw the acquisition of other projects, including the successful City of Heroes and the sadly aborted Blackstar Chronicles.
There is no word yet as to what this means for the Austin development group, which employs many Origin veterans (including David Swofford, one of this site's earliest and kindest supporters). Garriott posted the following open letter to Tabula Rasa fans here:
Fellow Soldiers of the AFS,
I am happy to finally be able to write the players and community of Tabula Rasa. We've been on quite a journey together. First in creating a game unlike any other on the MMO market, then growing a loyal community and finally launching the game and its players into space with Operation Immortality. It has been quite an unforgettable journey, one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I am very grateful to you loyal players for sticking around through what I think we can all honestly say was a rough launch. I thank the development team for pushing hard to get polish, updates and new content out every month since launch...a feat that I think is unusual in MMO development. They have a lot to be proud of.
Many of you probably wonder what my plans are, now that I have achieved the lifelong dream of going to space. Well, that unforgettable experience has sparked some new interests that I would like to devote my time and resources to. As such, I am leaving NCsoft to pursue those interests.
This news is difficult for me to deliver. I am honored to have worked with the team I've had and I'm grateful to the community who makes this game so unique and fun.
Thank you and farewell.
Richard "General British" Garriott