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#257 Richard Garriott (Video Games and Space Exploration)
July 15th, 2022 | E257

What I learned from reading Explore/Create My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark by Richard Garriott.


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[6:49] Richard Garriott’s house

[7:39] Past episodes on video game creators

Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games by Sid Meier (Founders#195)

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner (Founders #21)

[9:31] I was lucky to learn early on that a deep understanding of the world around you makes you its master.

[9:52] The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think. — The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[10:08] Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. —Steve Jobs

[10:33] The tagline of his company: We create worlds.

[13:13] My heroes are people who took epic journeys into the unknown often at substantial personal risk. I am simply following the path that they carved into history.

[13:33] Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (Founders #144)

[13:49] Two books coming soon:

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes

Shackleton: The Biography by Ranulph Fiennes

[14:57] By endurance we conquer. —Ernest Shackleton

[17:01] Insisting On the Impossible : The Life of Edwin Land by Victor McElheny

[17:45] In his acceptance speech, Land chose to pay tribute to the process of invention by analogy to the basic American sense of adventure and exploration: We are becoming a country of scientists, but however much we become a country of scientists, we will always remain first of all that same group of adventurous transcontinental explorers pushing our way from wherever it is comfortable into some more inviting, unknown and dangerous region. Now those regions today are not geographic, they are not the gold mines of the west; they are the gold mines of the intellect. And when the great scientists, and the innumerable scientists of today, respond to that ancient American urge for adventure, then the form that adventure takes is the form of invention; and when an invention is made by this new tribe of highly literate, highly scientific people, new things open up. . . . Always those scientific adventurers have the characteristic, no matter how much you know, no matter how educated you are in science, no matter how imaginative you are, of leading you to say, “I’ll be darned, who ever thought that such a domain existed?” —Edwin Land in A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald K. Fierstein (#134)

[17:55] I misspoke. The word should have been ancestors! Not descendants :(

[21:40] The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. —Steve Jobs

[22:00] Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making by Tony Fadell

[25:09] One of my favorite sentences in the book. Every storyteller is familiar with the pleasure that comes from sitting with your friends around a fire, pouring a few drinks, and weaving a yarn. This was man's first form of entertainment, and when done well is still his best.

[26:09] Finding The Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep, and Nurture Talent by Nolan Bushnell (Founders #36)

[34:10] The owner of the store told me, "Richard, this game you've created that we're all playing is obviously a more compelling reason to have one of these machines than anything that's out there. We really need to be selling this on the store wall."

Selling? Wow, what an interesting idea.

[35:30] This was a state-of-the-art operation then. We hung them up in the store and in the first week sold about twelve copies at $20 each. I would estimate that at the time, there were probably fewer than a couple of dozen people anywhere in the world creating computer games, and not one of us could have imagined we were creating an industry that in less than three decades would become the largest and most successful entertainment industry in history, that a game would gross more in a few weeks than the most successful movie in history had earned in decades.

[37:46] California Pacific's version of Akalabeth was priced at $34, of which I received $5; and they sold thirty thousand copies.

I had earned $150,000, more than twice my father's yearly salary as an astronaut. It was a phenomenal amount of money, enough to buy a house.

It was so much money that it didn't really sink in; it all seemed like some kind of fantasy.

We all thought it was a fluke.

It was great that someone wanted to pay me for doing what I was already doing.

[38:59] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen (Founders #255)

[41:55] By then I knew enough about the computer game industry to understand that it wasn't actually an industry; it was an association of companies run by people who had no more experience than I did and who popped up, published a few games, then disappeared. So my brother Robert and I decided to start our own company.

[43:21] The leader's habits become everyone's habits.

[47:00] It would have been almost impossible to be more wrong. That was one of my first big lessons in: "What I think is not necessarily right and perhaps not what everybody else thinks.”

[49:04] Dune Director Denis Villeneuve Breaks Down the Gom Jabbar Scene

[53:32] The belief system of the founder is the language of the company. That is why it is usually written down and repeated over and over again.

[54:03] Imitation precedes creation. —Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. (Founders #210)

[1:05:59] This is going to be one of the most successful games they ever make and he had to fight just to get them to let him do this.

[1:07:42] The EA marketing team had projected lifetime sales of Ultima Online at 30,000 units—which they thought was wildly optimistic. We put it on the Internet Within a week or so 50,000 people had signed up to pay $5 for the disc.

[1:08:46]  The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[1:09:40] One thing is for sure. People are very, very willing to spend real money on all types of virtual items.

[1:10:18] A lesson on human nature: People began to covet these items— like property and magic swords— but were not willing to put in the time to earn the gold needed to buy them.

[1:12:01] The art of business was to stay in business long enough to give yourself the best chance to get a big hit.

[1:15:55] The creative joy we'd once shared in developing a game had been replaced by the prosaic demands of running a business. It was hard to believe how much had changed; only a few years earlier our people would happily work all night and love every minute of it, and now we had become a sweatshop.

[1:17:17] I left the office, drove to a grocery store parking lot, and wept for several hours.

It was the end of my personal Camelot. This was no game, this was my life. It had been painful for me to fire other people, but as I had just learned, that was nothing compared to being fired myself. I got blindsided by a deep and complex range of feelings.

I  felt like a failure; I was angry and depressed and confused.

It was a hurt that lasted a long time and, frankly, I don't think I ever fully got over it.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

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