Ultima Creator Richard Garriott Starts New Social Gaming Company

by Matt Helgeson on Feb 17, 2010 at 05:52 AM

Richard Garriott has lived a very colorful life. He helped to create the MMO genre with Ultima Online and has more recently been heavily involved in space travel, including a stay on the International Space Station (which cost him a reported $30 million). Now, with space, the failed MMO Tabula Rasa, and a very nasty split with his last employer NCSoft behind him, Garriott is returning to games, this time in the social media space.

His new company, Portalarium, is focused on the casual and social gaming space. Right now, the focus is on games like its already active Facebook game Sweet @$! Poker, which will be soon be joined by a suite of casino titles. Portalarium’s other major focus will be the Portalarium Player, a browser add-on gaming portal similar to those offered by Flash and Unity Web. Unlike Flash (which supports games only developed in Flash), the Portalarium Player would not limit what programming system games could be created in.

Some of the company’s other goals seem a bit more ambitious (and vague), including “a broad-based, open-social mission that will also see it expanding into content that includes open learning, open health, open science/environment, open government, and much more, all wrapped in a connective virtual world in the online social networking space.” Not exactly sure what that means, but the company’s website does list one of its products as CenterPort, a Second Life-meets-Facebook style 3D online social community.

Joining Garriott in his new efforts at Portalarium are chairman and development director Dallas Snell, CEO and publishing director Fred Schmidt (both veterans of Garriott’s Origin Systems), and VP and technical director Stephen Nichols, who most recently worked on NCSoft’s Dungeon Runners.