Raph Koster’s new MMORPG will reward social gameplay, not just hack-n-slash

    
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Since announcing he is building a new MMORPG with the apparently respectably funded new Playcraft studio, Raph Koster has been doing a long string of business interviews to see how much he can say without giving too much of the game away, but hey at least it’s been fun to see Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies in the same sentence on mainstream websites, right? Most recently, he’s chatted up Gamasutra, telling the publication that his “core team” is ready to roll now that “the audience [is] ready” and “the technology [is] there”; he says he’s refocused on “social dynamics and back on the ways in which players interact.”

“There are so many ways to exist and interact with these alternate, fictional worlds that to say combat is The Way is just so reductive,” he says. “We’ve really started getting that lesson; for me it was a lesson we came into on Ultima Online.” In fact, he suggests Star Wars Galaxies, which released six years later, was meant to fix a lot of the problems the first MMO devs in UO encountered – specifically, by rewarding social gameplay like entertainment and politics, not just murderhoboing.

Koster also discusses his research for the Trust Spectrum he devised last year, which seems to be underpinning his plans to optimize player interaction based on the trust levels inherent in their relationships – and not making the best or only content dependent on the high amounts of trust required in, say, elite endgame raiding.

“This is part of why people hate pick-up groups; because it’s basically like being told ‘hey lets go out into our high-stakes tournament with a group of random people who have never played before.’ […] A lot of the successes in MMO community and teamwork have been oriented around that stye of trust-building, which is fun and good and natural. I don’t want to sound down on it. But at the same time it’s somewhere between challenging and alienating to people who are uncomfortable with being put in high-trust relationships out of the blue, with strangers. […] Because of the nature of MMOs and MUDs being, early on, very hack-and-slash oriented, we’ve got a whole bunch of almost dysfunctional, emergent, dynamics, such as players getting pulled apart because one player has more time to play than another. And then, by coping with that by inventing things like mentoring and sidekicking, like now there’s a whole cascade of issues.” […] “The cascade [specifically in Elder Scrolls Online] led to increased content costs, it led to huge power differences between newbies and advanced players, which then led to players being unable to play together, which was already challenging because it had to be a high-trust relationship in the first place. […] So that’s just one example of these cascading consequences that come from building everything around tight relationships.”

“When we think about the the dream of a parallel alternate world, it’s going to have in it librarians,” he says. “It’s going to have in it, carpenters. It’s going to have in it, press agency people and journalists. And all of those people drive real value. They all matter.”

The MOP writers and readers mused on the game’s potential and the future of virtual world sandboxes in our most recent Massively Overthinking.

Source: Gamasutra

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MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I remember a rather idealistic period I spent in Second Life. There was a social flagging system at the time, and it was for a while a pretty reliable way to sift between the friendly people, obvious problems or throwaways/potential predators.

Then people began to game the system for popularity or for profit or weaponized it for individual gain and it all got scrapped and that was the end of an effective network of trust.

I can repeat analogies ad nauseum, but I’m sure Mr. Koster could teach me more than I know about what I’m observing. I’d love to hear his thoughts about how he would tackle this sort of problem.

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Armsman

/yawn. Theorycraft, that’s easy. Making an actual MMO that incorporates those ideas and attracts players…that’s hard.

Mr. Koster is good at the first, not so good at the second.

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jay

I thought he was involved in crowfall. Did he leave that project, or am I mistaken and he was never part of that team?

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Robert Mann

The discussion points are proper, at least. It is only one of the other elements of gameplay that have been treated so poorly, though, that is being discussed here. What will come… is what will come. I will be hopeful, but I won’t hold my breath, same as with anything else coming along!

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Sim

Koster was featured a number of times in the new netflix League of Legends documentary – Origins. This new mmo – will it have anything to do with the League universe?

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

I will remain hopeful.

kjempff
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kjempff

.. in 4-5 years .. if it gets funding .. if it stays true to its vision .. and all the usual stuff that can happen with a mmo that start with good intentions :D

Celestia
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Celestia

If “murderhoboing” isn’t officially added to 2020 dictionaries I’ll sue!

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

Wake me up when he mentions flagged-pvp in his game. I really hope he’s leaning that way. Non-consensual pvp has WAY less interest for me than it did in the early 2000’s which is to say, none at all.

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Tee Parsley

iirc, Koster argued against it in SWG, and got overruled. Flagging seemed like a great compromise to me. Though every choice like that has unforeseen consequences.

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Robert Mann

Ideally any town centric PvP can be kept to either certain areas/zones that are for PvP without greater rewards… or to a specific set of NPCs that are not important to the rest of the populace. Too often flag systems turn into “Oh yeah, we will camp your town here until we get people to flag and fight us.” Which is generally just harmful to people who have no interest in that fight, and just want to access the town services.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

No I mean like you have to turn your personal pvp flag on to attack or be attacked by someone else who also has turned their personal pvp flag on. If I don’t turn mine on you can’t do anything to me. It’s 100% consensual and can happen outside a bar or cantina or in the main hub or out in a wilderness, but you can’t ever attack a player who doesn’t flag up.

Player killers hardly ever want to pick fights with people who can beat them. They want to fight people who can’t prtect themselves and game makers rarely put in enough penalties to dissuade it. They’d rather make money off of people who want to bully others. No thanks.

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Robert Mann

Except those PvP focused players go off and kill a town, making PvE around said town a mess. I had a specific point there that has nothing against flagging or anything.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

As a mainly PvE player, I find areas like that disconcerting as it’s basically a place I could explore, but because of the PvP, I never can, so it’s like putting something there you want to look around in, but never can. Essentially ‘forbidden fruit’. Then you build a stealther character…look through the area, and find out it’s literally dead and nobody even goes in there, so it’s basically unused game areas. I mean, I literally just stealthed through the PvP area on Tatooine on SWTOR which is set up like that…and even popped out of stealth by a couple vendors and checked their stuff/gathered some PvP loot off the ground (Which I just sold to a vendor…)….and not a soul was around. I found it generally like that on most of those PvP specific areas…

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Robert Mann

Because it means that the PvP players have to fight on more equal terms, which is what only a small amount of them actually seem to want… but at the same time it silences the “We need PvP!” shouts, leaving the rest of the game alone. :)

Alyn
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Alyn

It’s too early for any guess work here. Please folks let us all keep the hype down on this one. Let us actually rest on it until Master Koster has something solid and tangible for us to see.