MMO designer Raph Koster lays out the component parts of making MMORPGs

    
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Veteran MMORPG designer Raph Koster has up a new blog post that sheds some light on the many angles of developing an MMORPG. In response to a reader question about “what major things should be included in MMOs and open-world games,” Koster rattles off a massive checklist.

Now obviously we’re not going to copypasta the entire thing; you can go visit Koster’s blog for that. But in addition to the technical honey-dos, like the infrastructure to support AI and physics and weather, it also offers a broad overview of everything that makes an MMO an MMO from somebody who made MMOs what they are, whether you’ve ever thought about it that way or not: characters, races, classes, grouping, buffs and debuffs, skills, customization, inventories, friends, structures, vehicles, items, questing, combat, crafting, travel, chat, guilds, and so on.

Probably my favorite bit is the part where Koster calls for things like chat parsing and moods, ideas that have been seldom borrowed in games beyond Star Wars Galaxies but that actually elevate the level of roleplay and immersion to soaring heights.

It’s worth a look and a bookmark, even if you’re not currently building a game.

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Paragon Lost

Why Raph’s personal website needs cookies sort of annoys me. It just makes me leave right a way.

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Raph Koster

It’s because you can log in to leave a comment. Any site where it can remember your login technically needs that cookie warning according to GDPR.

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Paragon Lost

Oh, right. Thanks Raph, forgot all about the GDPR stuff.

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Robert Mann

Some of them are not really required. I mean by that this, some of them are the legacy of the games and systems before them, but which are merely a bundle of choices that could well either be left in the hands of the person or not even exist. Classes have been removed from RPGs before without it being a big problem (although some games have had issues with that too). Combat is a design choice, and gameplay focus, not a hard requirement to the genre, and also has been skipped before. There’s more if you read the article, but those are a couple for people even without going to the link.

There are some things that are good to note, and some that feel like they are a symptom of how stagnant MMOs are.

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Raph Koster

A *lot* of them aren’t required… especially in the game system section, where I just listed a few things, and didn’t go into detail. I mean, I could easily have had “dancing” “social professions” and “politician.”

But the student said their game was more like DCUO so I stuck to stuff that made more sense for a game like that.

kjempff
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kjempff

Some good reads on that site, not sure I find that one very interesting :)
BUT There was a especially inspiring blog post earlier this year that I bookmarked: https://www.raphkoster.com/2018/03/16/the-trust-spectrum/

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Zora

Why oh why do I find the read depressing?

Oh right, because when I started back then I thought that moving forth -obviously- more and more titles would have progressed in the same direction, an inevitable forward motion with even further improvements coming as technology would allow twenty years further down the line. And I am not talking about eye-candy, most certainly.

*asks herself where exactly things did g wrong while waiting in a queue for yet another tiny instanced place involving repetitive activities and an invisible slot machine governing everything*

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Robert Mann

Same deal with most of gaming. It became an eye candy race with anything else thrown into the back of the vehicle unless somebody had a breakout success for big money to chase.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

Where did it go wrong? WoW. That game’s success seemed to put blinders on any game companies that had the finances to pull off a polished AAA game. Those suits and shareholders wanted WoW money for their “investments” (remember, they don’t care about what goes into the game as long as what goes into the game makes them a large ROI).

I lamented this elsewhere but I have always wondered what it would be like if Blizzard had stayed in the RTS lane of game making and folks like Origin Systems and SOE had gotten more finances and vision/design support to make a true Ultima Online 2 or to continue the direction SWG was going before Whomever decided the NGE had to be.

There are plenty of niche game genres out there doing okay. MMORPGs being niche but staying true to true and fully realized worlds would have been something special.