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Garriott says he was forced out by NCsoft

Publisher pretended decision was voluntary.

Tabula Rasa creator Richard Garriott claims that he was forced out by former employer NCsoft, and the publisher subsequently "re-characterised" the move as voluntary.

That's according to the suit for fraud Garriott brought against the Korean company this week. Gamasutra has obtained a copy of the court filing.

The suit says that Garriott was told of the decision by phone in October 2008, while he was still in quarantine in Russia following his space flight.

In his complaint, Garriott says he "objected to his dismissal". NCsoft's US head at the time Chris Chung "insisted the decision was final -- Mr. Garriott had to go". Then, Garriott says, NCsoft internally "re-characterised" the decision as voluntary.

In November last year, Garriott's departure from NCsoft was announced as a resignation. He apparently told players that the decision was all his own.

"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," read the statement.

Garriott says he approved this statement at the time, but now views it as a contrivance by NCsoft to make his decision appear voluntary.

Garriott's claims of fraud, to the tune of USD 24 million, rest on this accusation. He had to sell his NCsoft stock within 90 days of a voluntary resignation - whereas, if he'd been sacked, he'd have been able to hang on to them until 2011. Due to the weakness of the stock market at the time, Garriott claims this lost him millions.