Raph Koster is making a new MMO and just raised $2.7M in seed funding to do it

    
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So, who wants a new and well-funded MMORPG from the guy who literally wrote the book on virtual worlds? I knew you would. Raph Koster-led studio Playable Worlds announced today that it’s pulled in $2.7M in seed funding to build a new MMO with a team said to include devs from Disney, Amazon, Marvel, and SOE.

“Playable Worlds is building an online world where a broad range of players can find a home, whether their preferred playstyle is exploring, adventuring, socializing, crafting, or player versus player combat. These diverse communities can each play the game in their own way, or cross over with one another, delivering diverse play experience and enriching the world. Bringing together proven features from some of the world’s most popular games in a unique combination that hasn’t been seen before, the team is developing a broadly appealing and novel experience that leverages modern cloud architecture, simulation, and AI. The funding will be used to scale the expert team and accelerate product development.”

MMO players will know Koster best from his roles shepherding classic sandboxes Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, as well as consulting on upcoming PvP MMO Crowfall. We’ve covered his work extensively here on MassivelyOP – in fact, last year, we reported on a portion of his book that covered the early days of development in the MMO space.

According to Koster’s quotes in Game Daily, the game is “at least a few years out” and will incorporate lessons from multiple genres and eras:

“There are also a lot of lessons, hard ones, that take a while to learn if you come from more of a fire-and-forget game background. I’ve been doing service-based games pretty much my whole career, and not just with MMOs. After Galaxies, I did handheld console, I did web-based games, I had some successful Facebook games, did a couple of mobile AR games last year… I even worked on a digital bar trivia game. The same challenges keep coming up in different contexts. What we find exciting is that there’s a real opportunity to bring together lessons from all of those into one product. An MMO doesn’t have to be a heavy, multiple hour session experience. A game played in short sessions doesn’t need to be shallow.”

Source: Press release, Playable Worlds
Update
In response to those who’ve inquired about the game’s budget, Koster has clarified that the $2.7M is additional investment, not the whole budget for the game.

Update
Apparently, former Trion CEO Scott Hartsman is involved in this project. Here’s what he tweeted:

“Some of you know I’ve been pitching in with a new company some friends are building, and I couldn’t tell you who — They decloaked today! Huge congrats to the whole team!”

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Alyn
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Alyn

Now that we know about Playable Worlds, this all should go quiet for the next several years. HYPE KILLS, folks. Let us all take our time here-no rush.

It takes 5 to 7 years of work and re work. WE do NOT need to be involved! I mean it. This idea of allowing us access has doomed many a project. If Raph can make the financial connections and hires to get the job started and under way, then fine.

Allow the studio to work in peace. SHHH! Radio silence now Raph!

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I really want this to be something I’m interested in. There aren’t many developers that really understand what an UO or SWG style MMORPG is anymore. I hope this is the direction.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

“According to Koster’s quotes in Game Daily, the game is “at least a few years out””

That’s being terribly generous, unless they’ve been in active development for at least a few years already.

I’m sure there are people that remember back to 2013 when Star Citizen was a “couple of years” away from release :D

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Baemir

To be fair, SC is incredibly ambitious even when compared to the average MMO.

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luxundae

Looking forward to seeing what these folks cook up!

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Something to look forward to :)

Good luck Raph with your new venture.

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Solaris

After recently reading the scathing rebuke by an MMO developer I have followed for years, I do not think it’s a good thing that Scott Hartsman is involved in Koster’s new venture.

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Ald

I tend to agree with RK’s opinions on virtual worlds, so this has my interest.

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Utakata

I wish him and this project the best of luck! And pray it’s not all about PvP and/or mobile gaming… >.<

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

If you say so…

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Baemir

So, forgive my ignorance on business matters, but is that “seed funding” all they have for now? If they have more funding, why not reveal the full figure? And if they don’t, how are they going to make those $2.7m last more than a few months?

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Schmidt.Capela

Seed funding basically means that people with the money to bankroll the rest of the development are interested enough to risk an already large amount of money to allow the devs to develop a proper proposal, perhaps even including a prototype. So, while seed funding doesn’t guarantee that the devs will have the funds to deliver the finished product, it greatly increases the chance of them obtaining said funds.