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Updated:2007-03-01 12:39:31
Interview: Richard "Lord British" Garriott
The man behind the Ultima series returns with a brand new game ... and a brand new language.
By STEVEN WONG
Building a massively multiplayer online game is truly like building a new world. So, when Richard "Lord British" Garriott created the concept for his new game Tabula Rasa, he created new planets and alien civilizations, but he also took on the insurmountable task of inventing a whole new language (insert Klingon/Quenya/Sindarin joke here) to go along with it.

The language, called Logos, took years to develop and will infiltrate every aspect of the Tabula Rasa universe. As the game reaches its final development stages, Garriott's development crew at Destination Games will start to leak new symbols, translations and clues to how Logos will impact the worlds of Tabula Rasa. So does this make Garriott mad or brilliant? See for yourself in our recent interview.

"I would like to believe that I am a Tolkien-style game developer. By which I mean that I believe that designers need to know far more about the history of a universe, its people, its science, is culture and language than ever comes out directly in the telling of the main story."
This isn't the first language that you have created. You also developed the "runic" language for Ultima Online. What's with all the languages?
I would like to believe that I am a Tolkien-style game developer. By which I mean that I believe that designers need to know far more about the history of a universe, its people, its science, is culture and language than ever comes out directly in the telling of the main story. To that end a "real" language or alphabet, lend believability to the reality it is supposed to come from.

How does the Logos language differ from the runic language?
In Ultima, I used a "runic" language that was sourced in the same way Tolkien sourced his runes for The Lord of the Rings. If you look up runes in any encyclopedia, you will find similar runes that were the forerunners of the Roman alphabet. Runes work great for English speaking westerners, as they are an easy letter for letter substitution of similar letters and can be used to hide words in a simple-to-decipher code.

For Tabula Rasa, I had very different needs. While I still wanted it to be easily decipherable, I needed for that to be true regardless of your country of origin and spoken language. Thus I chose to create a "logogrammatic" language. The result also works fictionally. In Tabula Rasa fiction the advanced aliens that left a message throughout the universe would also likely use a pictographic language to make their messages easy to read by all civilizations that advanced far enough to develop language skills.

Why did you pick the name Logos?
The word "Logos" is used in our game both for the symbolic language and for the force-like superpowers our players learn to wield. "Logos" is often used to describe god-like powers that manifest reality with the power of your mind and spoken words, such as "Let There Be Light and there was." Added to this is the concept of a logogrammatic language, which uses pictographic symbols for communication. Put them together and our game has both a language to learn whereby by the players will have a richer experience .... As the game progresses, players can use these Logos symbols to unlock special powers.

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2007-02-21 14:28:29
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