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Forum Q&A Archives  » Live Forum Q&A with Raph Koster, 10/16

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104 posts found
  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 5:11:21 PM#1

Hey there everyone! The Q&A doesn't start for another hour, but I was told to open the thread in advance so that questions can start to pile up.

Feel free to Ask Me Anything. I do have NDA's and whatnot that I can't violate, but feel free to ask about muds, Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Metaplace, Island Life, My Vineyard, Theory of Fun, game grammar, games in general, whatever, and I will do my best to answer.

I'll be back at the top of the hour to start answering whatever has been posted!

  Neo_Viper

Novice Member

Joined: 5/10/13
Posts: 624

If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

10/16/13 5:16:16 PM#2

Do you try to go into the future (aka modern sandbox games) instead of thinking past games (UO, SWG) are the best things since sliced bread? Because that's what I got the impression of coming from your input here.

I'd kill for a modern UO, but it would definitely have to break bonds with the "pre-trammel" gank fest I was part of back then.

 

The question made more simple.... what would a modern sandbox MMO that would not be a PvP gank fest be for you?

My computer is better than yours.

  Dominisi

Age of Conan Correspondent

Joined: 6/12/06
Posts: 85

True freedom only exists in abstract thinking.

10/16/13 5:16:39 PM#3

Mr Koster:

How does it make you feel when Sony Online Entertainment announces their "New innovative skill system that nobody has done before." in EQ Next, when that system WAS done before in Star Wars Galaxies?

  Thorkune

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 9/28/06
Posts: 1779

Dyslexics of the world...UNTIE!

10/16/13 5:19:03 PM#4

Mr. Koster...Are you currently working on anything new?

 

 

/crosses fingers for another complex SWG style game

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11915

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

10/16/13 5:20:59 PM#5
MetaPlace and Ultima Online were very different games with what seemed to be very different audiences. What were some of the similarities you saw in player behavior between the two? Do you attribute those similarities to the design of the games, the online environment, or human nature?

  MumboJumbo

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/18/10
Posts: 3117

Veni, Vidi, Converti

10/16/13 5:25:42 PM#6

Hi Raph and welcome to the Lion's Den that is mmorpg.com forums.

1) What game design contribution are you most satisfied with so far?

2) Thank you for UO. Do you think it's been to the genre's detriment that this path of MMORPG design was not followed more and why do think so? EVE Online being the exception that proves the rule where player freedom seems to have been curtailed disproportionately to it's potential.

3) What are you working on or if that is NDA, what are you most interested in currently in games or outside of games that inspires you to keep interest in designing even for a sometimes cynical and jaded audience as mmorpg players? Any upcoming mmorpgs that have design ideas that interest you?

Thanks for taking the time to do an ama. ¡buena suerte!

  dholliday

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/03/06
Posts: 7

10/16/13 5:31:45 PM#7

Hey Raph - thanks for staying involved with the MMO community.. It's always interesting hearing your thoughts, and hopefully we'll see more of your work in an official capacity on MMOs in the future. A couple questions, if you don't mind:

 

1. What name first comes to mind when you think of an active person the MMORPG industry, whom you particularly respect or admire? (ie: for example, if there was someone you'd like to see a Q&A from similar to this, who would you want to ask questions?)

 

2. Do you think the success of GTA V will have any impact on the MMORPG development in the future? (ie: more realization that players care about having a living word to play in?)

 

Thanks in advance.

  Beatnik59

Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/23/05
Posts: 2140

"Playing things I shouldn''t be playing since 1977."

10/16/13 5:35:20 PM#8

I'm concerned about the shutdowns of MMOs.  Even games that we thought were in good shape, like CoH, are getting closed down.  It makes me skeptical at jumping into MMOs again.  My bad experience with shutdowns (I've been through three already) makes me wonder if these games are a good buy, given that the continued enjoyment of these games is based on factors outside of my control.  I don't have this kind of misery with single player games or peer-to-peer multiplayer games.

What could designers and the industry do to provide greater protection for players, who might fear that their game and purchases will go "poof" at will, whenever the publisher decides it is no longer interested in maintaining the games?

__________________________
"Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."
--Arcken

"...when it comes to pimping EVE I have little restraints."
--Hellmar, CEO of CCP.

"It's like they took a gun, put it to their nugget sack and pulled the trigger over and over again, each time telling us how great it was that they were shooting themselves in the balls."
--Exar_Kun on SWG's NGE

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19248

10/16/13 5:37:13 PM#9
What games are you going to make next, and why do you think that they will be successful?
  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 5:59:13 PM#10
Originally posted by Neo_Viper

Do you try to go into the future (aka modern sandbox games) instead of thinking past games (UO, SWG) are the best things since sliced bread? Because that's what I got the impression of coming from your input here.

I'd kill for a modern UO, but it would definitely have to break bonds with the "pre-trammel" gank fest I was part of back then.

 

The question made more simple.... what would a modern sandbox MMO that would not be a PvP gank fest be for you?

I'm going to start posting answers now, since there's such a backlog!

I often tell people who write to me asking for a new SWG or UO style game that for me that was TEN YEARS AGO. I had to move on from those designs and ideas quite a long time ago. I wouldn't build something like that today, in many ways.

For that matter, in 2006 I did Metaplace, which was already a huge huge departure from those games. It was a virtual world platform that allowed anyone to build virtual spaces and even games. Sort of a combo of Second Life, Minecraft, Sims, and Unity (if Unity were in 2d). That turned out to be TOO sandboxy, I think.

I do think a modern UO would not succeed with freeform PvP. It might well have PvP in it, but the whole gankfest thing is definitely a thing of the past. I never got to try the Outcasting concept that was proposed for SWG and never implemented, and would still love to see it tried (if you PK someone, they can report you to fellow players, along with a log of the event. If you are convicted, your right to PvP is permanently revoked). But even that, in these days of easy account creation on F2P games, maybe wouldn't work. Bad guys would just make new accounts.

To me the essence of sandboxiness that was in UO and SWG is not about the PKing. It is about a simulated world, a functioning economy, a low power difference between high and low level players, and a system that doesn't push you into combat as the only way to play the game (or even classes).

 

  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 6:00:35 PM#11
Originally posted by Dominisi

Mr Koster:

How does it make you feel when Sony Online Entertainment announces their "New innovative skill system that nobody has done before." in EQ Next, when that system WAS done before in Star Wars Galaxies?

I haven't actually looked at their skill system, so... I have no feelings about it. :) That said, I do know Smed, and I know that he is actually a sandbox fan. Jeff Butler, also a huge sandbox fan. So...

  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 6:08:17 PM#12
Originally posted by Thorkune

Mr. Koster...Are you currently working on anything new?

 

 

/crosses fingers for another complex SWG style game

I am, but not an MMO right now. And let me explain why.

Metaplace, which we opened up in 2007, was the culmination of over a decade of dreaming about what virtual worlds could be. It was designed as the engine for Snow Crash, the engine for Rainbows End, the engine for Ready Player One (though that book wasn't out yet), the engine for Otherland -- basically, a way to make all sorts of worlds, that ran on a common platform, on any sort of client, could adapt to the changes in the web, could run on TVs or tablets or whatever.

A huge part of why we did it was because MMOs had gotten sooooooo big and sooo damn expensive that conservatism was inevitable. WoW was out and crushing it, and all anyone wanted was a clone of it, with dollar signs in their eyes.

And we built it, probably not well enough, but the proverbial "nobody came." Oh, it was definitely still too hard to use, and lots of people couldn't code, which you needed to do in order to really make something awesome.

That was pretty disappointing, and we ended up having to switch over to making Facebook games with the technology. So I spent the last three plus years in that world.

During that time, MMOs haven't moved all that much, I don't think. The reasons we built MP are still valid today.. Only maybe worse. I think to ante up to the table with an MMO right now costs tens of millions of dollars. Something like CityVille on Facebook has a larger budget and larger team that Ultima Online had.

Raising that kind of money isn't trivial, and it's not where a lot of the heat is in terms of investment. Most of the big publishers are interested in mobile stuff, for example.

So -- it could be done, but it's a big effort.

And then there's the flip side, which is that MMOs have never been my only love. I used to do board games starting when I was thirteen. I used to do puzzle games and strategy games and arcade games. I haven't gotten to do those things.

So right now, I'm an indie of one, as of about six months ago. I've got four or five games that I am working on, and they are all pretty small, things I can do by myself.

So I think I will stick to only that? No. The desire to get back to making an MMO is definitely rising. :) But I do not currently have one in progress.

  Dominisi

Age of Conan Correspondent

Joined: 6/12/06
Posts: 85

True freedom only exists in abstract thinking.

10/16/13 6:08:49 PM#13
Originally posted by Raph
Originally posted by Dominisi

Mr Koster:

How does it make you feel when Sony Online Entertainment announces their "New innovative skill system that nobody has done before." in EQ Next, when that system WAS done before in Star Wars Galaxies?

I haven't actually looked at their skill system, so... I have no feelings about it. :) That said, I do know Smed, and I know that he is actually a sandbox fan. Jeff Butler, also a huge sandbox fan. So...

From what they described in the keynote it is a replication of SWGs skill system, on that note, a few follow on questions:

 

1: Some of the game design elements of SWG were outstanding, the aforementioned skill system, the organic economy, the player housing, the crafting and resource system. Why do you think that game developers have ignored these systems despite the cries from players to want to have these things in modern mmos?

2: On the changes and shutdown of SWG from vanilla to death: Did all of it just come down to a envy of what world of Warcraft had been able to achieve with normal "business" tenancies of trying to replicate that? Or was there a genuine desire to change the game for the better. (Albeit mostly ignoring the cries from Veterans) 

  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 6:11:14 PM#14
Originally posted by Loktofeit
MetaPlace and Ultima Online were very different games with what seemed to be very different audiences. What were some of the similarities you saw in player behavior between the two? Do you attribute those similarities to the design of the games, the online environment, or human nature?

Both were fundamentally about user expression. Metaplace was very literally about it -- like, you could build your world into an RPG, or an apartment, or a clone of an 80s arcade game. And people did. There was one guy (hi Crwth) who spent his entire time trying to build a clone of UO in it, actually.

UO was also about player expression. That is why I didn't have a Virtue system in the original UO. I thought it was time for the training wheels to come off, for the Virtues to be put to the real test of real players dealing with real issues. And of course, players of UO did all sorts of truly amazing things that we did not foresee at all.

Way back on UO, I actually proposed that we release the server and a tools client and docs for the scripting and let people run their own shards, and connect them all up with red moongates. That was the genesis of the idea for Metaplace. :)

So yeah, there are many things that players of the two had in common.

  Nee4emu

Novice Member

Joined: 10/16/13
Posts: 6

Location: Earth

10/16/13 6:14:54 PM#15

Well Mr. Koster, my original *question* was deleted for some reason, so let me try and ask it a bit....differently:

What are your thoughts on 'emulators' and would you ever consider assisting a non-profit emulator with sections of Coding that someone of your stature would have first-hand knowledge of?

thanks, regards, Nee

 

  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 6:19:16 PM#16
Originally posted by MumboJumbo

Hi Raph and welcome to the Lion's Den that is mmorpg.com forums.

1) What game design contribution are you most satisfied with so far?

2) Thank you for UO. Do you think it's been to the genre's detriment that this path of MMORPG design was not followed more and why do think so? EVE Online being the exception that proves the rule where player freedom seems to have been curtailed disproportionately to it's potential.

3) What are you working on or if that is NDA, what are you most interested in currently in games or outside of games that inspires you to keep interest in designing even for a sometimes cynical and jaded audience as mmorpg players? Any upcoming mmorpgs that have design ideas that interest you?

Thanks for taking the time to do an ama. ¡buena suerte!

1) There are many things I am happy with, but I would probably have to pick the work I've done in writing, more than the work in game design. Stuff like A Theory of Fun has ended up influencing thousands of game developers. I feel proud of that contribution to the art form, if you know what I mean. Helping games to be understood better and pushing them to develop and mature, that's a big deal for me.

Within games, it's unquestionably the communities that forms around the games. There are a variety of game design things we did there to encourage it -- housing, economic things, even dancing -- but in the end I am most satisfied with the fact that people still care about those friendships ten or fifteen years later.

2) I do think that more world simulation should have been explored. And more kinds of games in general. The current from EQ to WOW and so many other games is really more or less the DIKUmud game I started playing in 1992. With giant budgets, you get conservatism. Where's the MMO political strategy game? The MMO 4X game? The MMO city builder? I could go on... so many genres underdeveloped.

3) I currently have a few games in development:

a) an analog tabletop card game. It feels pretty good, and I can see a digital version of it working, but the dream there is to get it into stores as a physical card game.

b) a tricky little puzzle game -- it's definitely a mobile sort of game, one where you try to solve a level as efficiently as you can.

c) a digital boardgame thing, that also has puzzle mode and a storybook mode. This one is the farthest along, and I have it going on iOS, Android, Win, Mac, and web.

d) an art game -- a touch-friendly resurrection of my old "Andean Bird" game from '06.

e) a strategy game. This one is the biggest project, and I am still nibbling around the edges of it. I need artists, i think. :)

As far as a what inspires me -- players, and most anything I read about how the world works.

  qombi

Novice Member

Joined: 7/09/04
Posts: 1187

10/16/13 6:19:37 PM#17

Does it sadden you that MMOs unlike single player games are changed so much from their original designs or are taken offline now they no longer are playable as they were? It does me, a lot of them were work of arts.

 

Example: I still play Diablo 2 without an expansion once in a while and love it. I can't do that with Everquest or World of Warcraft.

 

Last question, how do you feel about the virtual items sold or real money? Do you feel game designers have to intentionally make boring game play to influence players to purchase out of the store?

  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 6:20:55 PM#18
Originally posted by dholliday

Hey Raph - thanks for staying involved with the MMO community.. It's always interesting hearing your thoughts, and hopefully we'll see more of your work in an official capacity on MMOs in the future. A couple questions, if you don't mind:

 

1. What name first comes to mind when you think of an active person the MMORPG industry, whom you particularly respect or admire? (ie: for example, if there was someone you'd like to see a Q&A from similar to this, who would you want to ask questions?)

 

2. Do you think the success of GTA V will have any impact on the MMORPG development in the future? (ie: more realization that players care about having a living word to play in?)

 

Thanks in advance.

1. Scott Hartsman, Jake Song, ... but you have to understand, I consider these folks friends. I could rattle off more names. I can also just email most of them. :)

2. No. The lessons from GTA have been there since GTA3. I think Minecraft is proving to be dramatically more influential.

  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 6:24:19 PM#19
Originally posted by Beatnik59

I'm concerned about the shutdowns of MMOs.  Even games that we thought were in good shape, like CoH, are getting closed down.  It makes me skeptical at jumping into MMOs again.  My bad experience with shutdowns (I've been through three already) makes me wonder if these games are a good buy, given that the continued enjoyment of these games is based on factors outside of my control.  I don't have this kind of misery with single player games or peer-to-peer multiplayer games.

What could designers and the industry do to provide greater protection for players, who might fear that their game and purchases will go "poof" at will, whenever the publisher decides it is no longer interested in maintaining the games?

It's a cost thing. Opportunity cost. A company running a game has to say "do I spend money on keeping 10 players, or roll the dice on getting 20? I can only afford to do one." As keeping players goes from keeping 10, to keeping 9, then 8,and so on, at some point, the answer is "move the support off and start something new."

The only ways around it are to make the game basically free to operate, or at least way way cheaper (I think UO has probably benefited a LOT from better hardware over the years!) or to give it away to players.

I have to point out that the insistence on matching the production values of a SWTOR, the scope of a WoW, the etc, are all things that drive up costs tremendously. The glitzier and glossier the games get, the deeper we dig this hole.

  Raph

MMO Designer

Joined: 9/11/06
Posts: 117

 
OP  10/16/13 6:27:07 PM#20
Originally posted by nariusseldon
What games are you going to make next, and why do you think that they will be successful?

I listed them above... though of course, any of them might go away as I keep working on them (all those are in prototype right now, or more, though).

I have no idea if they will be successful. These are, fundamentally, games I am making for me, this time. I hope they appeal. but I am working on them because *I* want to, and because I can afford to right now. There aren't many times in a creative career in the games industry where you can do whatever the hell you want. Right now, for a little while, I have that, and frankly, I need it, mentally and emotionally. :)

That said, I think at least three of the things I rattled off are pretty mass market, at least based on the playtesting so far. SO I have my fingers crossed.

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