Portalarium was formed in September of 2009 in Austin, Texas. The company was co-founded by legendary game developer Richard Garriott, who created Ultima, one of the longest running and most successful fantasy role playing game series ever. The company is currently developing its next game, the crowdfunded Shroud of the Avatar. In addition to backers with financial contributions, the Shroud of the Avatar community may also participate with art, sound, music and even design participation in the main game. This a game created for the community and with the community.
Richard “Lord British” Garriott
Role: CEO/Creative Director/Founder
Richard “Lord British” Garriott is the self-proclaimed “Old Man of the Team”. Needing no introduction to most RPG and MMORPG fans, he is arguably one of the most influential game developers in both the online and offline RPG world. He has been publishing games since 1980 (Akalabeth), and created both the Ultima Series and Ultima Online, the first large scale MMO. Richard believes that with Shroud of the Avatar, we can now create a new paradigm of multi-player RPGs!
Starr “Darkstarr” Long
Role: Executive Producer
Starr “Darkstarr” Long has been making videogames for twenty years. Starr started his career with Richard Garriott at the legendary studio Origin Systems, where he was the Director of Ultima Online, the longest running MMO in history. In 2010, UO was inducted into the Online Game Developers Conference Hall of Fame, the first MMO to be so honored. In 2000 Starr co-founded Destination Games with the Garriott brothers, and later that year it was acquired by NCsoft. In 2008 Starr was named one of the Top 20 Most Influential People in the Massively Multiplayer Online Industry by Beckett Massive Online Gamer Magazine. In 2009 he joined The Walt Disney Company as an Executive Producer, where he produced the Disney Parent App for Facebook, 8 learning mini-games in Club Penguin, Club Penguin mobile 1.0, 5 Educational Game apps for iOS, and the Disney Connected Learning Platform.
Starr’s extensive leadership of Lord British Productions projects and specifically his leadership of Ultima Online, is a clear message to Shroud of the Avatar players, that this will be the epic fantasy role playing game they have been waiting almost 15 years to play!
Role: Lead Story Designer
Tracy Hickman is known world-wide for creating the incredible worlds and stories of Dragonlance, the Deathgate Cycle, the Annals of Drakis and ‘Wayne of Gotham’. He, with his wife Laura, pioneered the use and integration of story into role playing games. He currently has over fifty books in print and is also a pioneer in the New Media publishing world of e-books and online serial publishing.
“There is a tremendous opportunity to create something meaningful, challenging and wondrous in Shroud of the Avatar. I’m thrilled to play a part in it.”
Chris “Atos” Spears
Role: Technical Director
Chris “Atos” Spears has been slaving away in the pixel mines for more than 25 years. He has shipped titles on consoles dating back to the PS1, hand helds, PC games, MMOs, mobile games, and even a few smart toys. Chris joined the games industry after his brother tricked him into quitting his job teaching graduate students how to program this crazy new language called C++ at the University of Texas at Arlington. Chris usually wears the “Tech Director” or “Lead Programmer” hat, but is taking on more of a leadership position for Shroud of the Avatar.
In the small amount of time Chris spends away from the office each week, he enjoys playing with his daughter, cooking for his wife, playing computer games, hiking, and playing with his Italian Greyhound. While Chris believes that any good game is worth playing no matter the genre, fantasy RPGs are where Chris spends most of his time. Most recently Chris played Skyrim, Diablo 3, and Guild Wars 2 but enjoyed them all far less than he should have because he continuously studies their design and tech choices instead of just sitting back and letting art flow.
Dallas “Gorn” Snell
With 30 years experience, Dallas is a veteran of the gaming industry. He published his first game, The Quest, in 1983, and a few years later co-founded the Austin studio of Origin Systems with Richard Garriott. At Origin, he Produced/Executive Produced 30+ original games, including such best-sellers as the Ultima and Wing Commander series.
In 1993, Dallas (aka “Gorn”, a nickname he inherited from the main character in his first games The Quest and Ring Quest) became the General Manager of the Origin division after their acquisition by EA. In 1996, Dallas took time off from business activities to spend with his young son and to study research in the growing convergence of the cognitive, behavioral, affective, social, relational, and neural sciences and the practical application of those sciences in the field of individual, group, and organizational development. However, the lure of multiplayer online games proved more than he could resist, and in 2006 Dallas rejoined his former Origin partners as Director of Business Development at NCsoft.
In 2009, Dallas co-founded Portalarium, Inc. to provide online games and virtual worlds that foster people coming together for fun, shared play, good will, learning, and community. As COO, Dallas’ main role is to provide operational management and project guidance to help the Shroud of the Avatar team function as smoothly as possible.
Michael “Hutch” Hutchison
Role: Art Lead
Michael “Hutch” Hutchison started his game industry career in the early 1990’s, working as an artist and animator on many of the classic quest adventure games from Sierra On-Line. Since then, he has worked on projects at Codemasters, Pandemic Studios, NCsoft, BioWare, UTV Ignition Games, and Vigil Games. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design, and with over 2 decades of industry experience, he has contributed in just about every facet of game art development. He has also earned credentials in game design, having been enlisted as a member of Richard Garriott’s world design team on “Tabula Rasa.” For the past 11 years, he has made a specialty of environment art, world design, and scene building, and now brings his unique blend of art and design experience to the creation of the game environments in Shroud of the Avatar.
Rick “Chaox” Holtrop
Role: Studio Services Manager
Rick “Chaox” Holtrop started playing Ultima 4 as an 11 year old on a friend’s Commodore 64, and a lifelong obsession with Ultima began. Fast forward to age 22 where he began working in QA at Origin systems; within a few years a close working relationship with Richard Garriott began. He later moved into development and design on Ultima Online 2, Tabula Rasa, and Thor: God of Thunder. In September of 2011 he began working with Richard again when joining the Portalarium tribe, spending the next year-plus as a designer and programmer on “Ultimate Collector”.
In December of 2012, Rick began working on “Shroud of the Avatar” as a designer, a return to his PC RPG gaming roots. Since that time he has migrated into the role of Associate Producer, a task-oriented position that he loves, and that his many years across departments and disciplines prepared him well for. He looks forward to every day of work, helping to make sure his team is on task and having every single thing they need to thrive.
Mathew “Berek” Anderson
Role: Senior Community Manager
Mathew “Berek” Anderson is the Senior Community Manager at Portalarium. He has over 10 years experience in the industry managing community’s across press and developer organizations. Mathew has worked with the teams of numerous MMORPG projects like EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, and Warhammer Online.
When not working on Shroud of the Avatar, Mathew spends his spare time biking around the beautiful city of Austin, Texas, or spending quality time indoors on various writing projects like his upcoming book, www.ourcosmicstory.com.