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Raph Koster's New Studio Unveiled

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the any-chance-for-an-interview-raph dept.

Role Playing (Games) 29

Gamasutra reports on veteran MMOG designer (and sometimes Slashdot Games commenter) Raph Koster's new studio. The company, called Areae, is gearing up for a new title in the Massive space. Raph's comments in the article are overly coy, and despite his statements that 'you can find some tidbits if you look on the site', there's not a whole lot of details yet on what exactly they'll be doing. From the article: "We're going to run quiet for a little while and finish building out the platform so we can actually start talking about what it is that we're going to put out there. I would guess that you'll be hearing from us again in three months or so.'"

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sounds like... (3, Interesting)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268014)

...some kind of middleware, world building platform. Kosters games have consistently been sandboxes, and don't see that he will change focus on this. There were some quotes on the site about having a a couple of worlds on the back burner, and also about making frontier spaces available for players to colonize. A more game orientated second-life?

The graphic on the site certainly indicates a genre neutral social MMO.

Re:sounds like... (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268286)

Yep, sounds just like the Sims Online. Raph Koster has done one great MMOG (early UO) and one disaster (SWG), so it could go either way.

Re:sounds like... (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270970)

Is this the guy who was the original lead for UO? The one who sold out and carebeared the game to hell with the addition of Trammel and other 'hold my hand' additions?

Re:sounds like... (2, Interesting)

RaphKoster (603840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17278768)

I was the original lead, but Trammel was AFTER my time. I left in late 98 or early 99. Second Age was mine and about the year after that, but not Renaissance.

RAPH KOSTER (2, Insightful)

genrader (563784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268312)

You ruined Star Wars Galaxies for 300,000 people. None of them trust you anymore, backstabber.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (0, Troll)

Satorian (902590) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268562)

He actually ruined it for a lot more SW fans with the way the whole game was designed from day one on.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269138)

The design of SWG from day one was actually quite good. Blame goes to SOE/LA for rushing it to live before it was ready, taking him off the project, then dumbing it down as much as they did. The new target demo they're aiming for doesn't like reading or creating anything for themselves or being anything but a cookie cutter:

Nancy McIntyre to NYT:

"There was lots of reading, much too much, in the game. There was a lot of wandering around learning about different abilities. We really needed to give people the experience of being Han Solo or Luke Skywalker rather than being Uncle Owen, the moisture farmer. We wanted more instant gratification: kill, get treasure, repeat. We needed to give people more of an opportunity to be a part of what they have seen in the movies rather than something they had created themselves."

Re:RAPH KOSTER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17281776)

Man that quote pisses me right off.

I enjoyed moisture farming! Nothing quite like setting up all your harvesters and coming back the next day to oodles of juicy resources.

The problem I had was that my chosen profession (Chef) was well broken. (including no medium or large flora harvesters, factories not working for chef recipes etc etc). By the time they fixed it enough the game was boned.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17282820)

No, the concept was not good. It was one of Raphs simulation sandboxes stuffed into Star Wars. A quick look at the post mortems show that even SOE has realized what was wrong with it:
* Overly complex and unmaintainable (# classes, # professions)
* Targeted at what we now know is only a small section of the Market - the simulationists, it failed to make significant inroads into the market, even tho it has the SW IP.
* Not fun (despite Raph's theories).
* Buggy (now that's where SOE's problem is).

Of course the simulationists are now out in force, fearing to get left behind as WoW demonstrated that they are not where the market is, and they have decided to band behind their prophet Raph, desperately hoping not to be degraded to niche status - but that has already happened. After WoW, nobody is going to dump big $$$ into the simulationists anymore, they'll get shoved into Second Life, where they can pay for their niche using micro transactions...

Re:RAPH KOSTER (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269910)

It is not my intention to defend the man with this post. Only to look at things a different way, or in SW terms, from a different point of view.

What if, just if, SWG was able to have been finished the way Raph had wanted it to? What if, they did not remove him from daily interaction with the project by promoting him? What if, Raph had the chance to create the project he promoted early on?

SWG had so much going for it. That is all gone now, except for the Emu which is all over the place with it's development, but they are working hard and getting there.

SWG was supposed to be a sandbox game. Where we could go be whoever we wanted to be, outside of the main characters. The current version of SWG is where I am thinking SWG would have been at launch if Raph had not been a part of the beginning. And I think if he had remained in a daily role with it, then we would have had a much better game from day one. He showed a foresight for the game and then it was compromised down. By who? A large number of people, including Raph himself.

I still believe in a game where there is no "phat" loot to gather. Where someone who starts a year into the game will still have a chance at being the biggest merchant in the game within a month. Armor was not supposed to be worn by every player at all times. People were supposed to group up, (unless they used well planned techniques for various animals). Krayt Dragons were not supposed to be 300K+ HAM. (The 30K HAM ones were difficult enough with 20 people, as people did not wear armor without realizing the hurt it could cause.) Where I can sit in a major area for hours just watching how others interact in a virtual world, how they talk, how they role play or don't role play. I will never play another MMORPG. SWG was my first and last. However, I still believe that if so many compromises were not made from Raph's original plans then the game would have been better.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17275112)

What if, just if, SWG was able to have been finished the way Raph had wanted it to?
It pretty much was before the combat and tradeskill revamp.
 
 
I still believe in a game where there is no "phat" loot to gather. Where someone who starts a year into the game will still have a chance at being the biggest merchant in the game within a month
It's called second life.
 
Where I can sit in a major area for hours just watching how others interact in a virtual world, how they talk, how they role play or don't role play.
The problem with SWG, in the end, was that style gameplay doesn't have as large an audience at phat lewt type games.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (4, Insightful)

Surlyboi (96917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269948)

You ruined Star Wars Galaxies for 300,000 people. None of them trust you anymore, backstabber.
Don't blame Koster alone for SWG's failure.

Blame LA for pressuring SOE to rush it out before it was done.

Blame SOE for bowing to that pressure and also thinking it could still coast on the laurels of EQ when it wasn't the only kid on the block anymore.

Blame the players who stood around cantinas and city centers dueling each other during beta periods trying to find "that perfect PVP template" rather than actually working toward making the game better for everyone that played, not just themselves.

Blame the players who decided that yet-another-diku based MMO like WoW where you played the role assigned to you by the game makers was more in line with what they wanted rather than a sandbox where you could create your own story.

And lastly, blame yourself, because each and every person that played SWG is partially responsible for its current state. Either by not speaking up in a cherent constructive manner when it mattered, or by letting too much go by without a word at all and for many, many reasons too numerous to mention here. I shoulder part of that blame too.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17272888)

I have to disagree about the beta testing part. I helped beta test, and it was my perception that the developers used faulty testing methods. A simple example would have to do with personal harvesters -- rather than add in power/maintenance costs first, they simply attributed everyone having 50 harvesters as imbalanced and reduced the yield by 75% and lots to 10. Then they added power/maintenance ;)

That is only 1 of many such examples of how they didn't use proper procedure in balancing the game.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17279646)

BS - Raph had ample time as Lead Creative Director or whatever his title was to pull it around - fact is, they kicked him out way to later. The game was broken long before the 'Combat Update' and Raph was the person where the buck should have stopped. A long time ago.

If not for his insane visions of 'I wanna be a dirt farmer', the game would probably have made profit at some point, but it took them years to figure out that it is impossible to support or balance 30 classes and professions.

Why do you think the WoW expansion doesn't add any new classes ?

There is a small but vocal group of people who want the freeform games as Raph advertises them, but what these people don't realize is that freeform, the way armchair shrink Raph envisions them don't work and will not ever work. They will always turn into Lord of the Flies ... or worse, BioShock.

This is the same kind of exuses people made for Troika and people start making for Obsidian now, after they botched NWN2

Re:RAPH KOSTER (1)

Surlyboi (96917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17279956)

BS - Raph had ample time as Lead Creative Director or whatever his title was to pull it around - fact is, they kicked him out way to later. The game was broken long before the 'Combat Update' and Raph was the person where the buck should have stopped. A long time ago.
Keep telling yourself that. Raph was hands-off pretty much right after launch.

If not for his insane visions of 'I wanna be a dirt farmer', the game would probably have made profit at some point, but it took them years to figure out that it is impossible to support or balance 30 classes and professions.
If not for his insane visions of "I wanna be a dirt farmer" the state of gaming would be in the same place it is now, led by WoW. But without the key difference of people knowing that there are other options out there.

Why do you think the WoW expansion doesn't add any new classes ?
Because Blizzard hasn't done a damn thing to actually innovate in a game in years. Plain and simple. Sure they've made a diku pretty, BFD. Call me when they do something new.


 
There is a small but vocal group of people who want the freeform games as Raph advertises them, but what these people don't realize is that freeform, the way armchair shrink Raph envisions them don't work and will not ever work. They will always turn into Lord of the Flies ... or worse, BioShock.

This is the same kind of exuses people made for Troika and people start making for Obsidian now, after they botched NWN2
I'm not making excuses for anybody. I'm just saying that the blame doesn't sit squarely at the feet of any one person or party. Raph is guilty, sure but so is everyone else involved.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17282698)

Well, the game was a wreck at launch, which fits perfectly into the pattern Raph has developed. Create a mess and then leave it for others to clean up.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (3, Funny)

SkeptAck (558548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270102)

I thought I did that.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (3, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272982)

You know, I used to think that too -- he sucked. After UO, and then the SWG fiasco, one really has to wonder if he knows what the hell he is doing as a designer. But I've been reading his "Theory of Fun", and I'm starting to change my mind. Maybe mis-management was just as much part of the problem -- seen it happen in the games industry too many times.

Have to wait and see. The proof is in the pudding, or game play, as they say.

Re:RAPH KOSTER (1)

NecroBones (513779) | more than 7 years ago | (#17290618)


I've never once blamed him for the SWG fiasco. He's always looked to take the sandbox concept in new directions and has proven very sharp with all of his writings. In my mind, it appeared that his influence diminished before the rewrites. I for one look forward to seeing what he has up his sleeve.

Ralph ruined Galaxies? (1)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17291780)

When Star Wars Galaxies game out, I had never played an MMORPG before. Several friends of mine purchased it, and I finally caved and bought it.

I signed up, created a brawler, and entered the game. I despised it from the moment I started. I finally got a mission, headed out of town and ran for what seemed an unreasonable amount of time. Finally I met a bug, and it killed me immediately. It happened again shortly after that. This wasn't fun in the least - it was just stupid and boring.

I cancelled my account, deleted the game, and that was that. Much later I would read that the brawler was the worst character in the game. That screams "broken design".

Ralph couldn't have ruined it. It was pre-ruined.

Apologies - Raph, not Ralph (1)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17291816)

Apparently I can't read names properly today.

It's based on an original IP (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17268416)

It's a bit like .hack, where you have players playing games playing players playing games. Raph's character is a hybrid Armchair Psychobabbler/MMOG Designer. His specials include getting Cheetos orange powder on everything he touches, and beard growth.

Someone help the FFXI Wine project. (0, Offtopic)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269116)

We got purty close but we need some guru's on board I think.

Could some of the people interested buy a developer an account.. yeah, that might be possible.

http://appdb.winehq.org/appview.php?iVersionId=273 9 [winehq.org]

Re:Someone help the FFXI Wine project. (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269338)

Oops total wrong thread.. so much fo'ma' karma.

Let me know when they actually produce something.. (3, Insightful)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270010)

...sounds like they don't even have a programmer on board yet. Game companies are made every day; let's wait until they actually release something other than a press release.

Re:they have programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17283120)

They have programmers...

Is there anyone stupid enough (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17279496)

... to trust Mr. Koster with his IP or money anymore?

Ultima Online? - Sandbox, without the Ultima
SWG ? - Huge, buggy and unbalanced Sandbox without actual fun or anything Star Wars in it.

He's great at enthralling people with Big Ideas, distracting them from the fact that he even managed to tank a nearly unsinkable IP such as Star Wars. It apparently wasn't apparent enough how much SWG sucked until WoW showed how much potential there is in MMOs (without overemphasizing the Sandbox Aspect).

Ever since WoW has been released, Mr. Koster has been consistently trying to look the other way, ignoring the obivous.

WoW was successful because the people who made it were NOT veterans of the MMO industry, they were able to take a fresh look at a genre dominated by aging dictators such as Raph who think only they get it - wrong. If anyone doesn't get it, it's Raph, be it on the topic of Player Government (aka Lord of the Flies) or be it on simple mechanics such as Death Penalties.

If Blizzard had listened to the ramblings of these increasingly unimportant figures, they would have been in serious danger of tanking WoW.

Re:Is there anyone stupid enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17283696)

How is this a flamebait?
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