Playable Worlds’ Raph Koster posts a manifesto on the future of MMOs

    
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Believe us, we here at Massively OP are dying to know all of the details about the online game project that Raph Koster and his team at Playable Worlds is making. We’ll probably be waiting a while to see what the Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies creator is up to, but at least Koster gives us a hint that it’ll be something special thanks to his new manifesto on the future of online worlds.

Koster challenges us as a gaming community to remember back to when we had grand hopes for virtual worlds — and says that while “a lot of those big dreams did not come true,” this vision is still attainable.

“The dreams have always been big,” he said. “But now, they are within reach, because today’s world is a magical place. It’s time. Over the next few weeks, I want to tell you about the potential that online worlds have been passing up. About the ways in which we can fulfill the dreams we once had. I am going to tell you that, yes, worlds can feel alive, like real places.”

Koster pointed to the fact that there’s much better technology, design knowledge, and understanding of gaming culture to reach toward a better gaming world. And he goes out of his way to say that when it arrives, such games should adapt to a player’s schedule rather than the other way around.

“Our online alternatives have gotten kind of… mundane. Predictable. Kill some blues, collect some purples, fetch ten of whatever. They don’t have to be that way. We can dream big again, together. It’s time to turn those dreams back into playable worlds.”

More on Koster:

Source: Playable Worlds. Thanks Agemyth and Yrys!
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Brazen Bondar

Hope Raph can do it…just really hoping, although if he does it…I might be too old to play the dang game by the time it comes out. LOL

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

This isn’t really a manifesto. It’s a preamble to additional posts that could conceivably be his manifesto. But it’s very exciting all the same.

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Armsman

Theory crafting is easy. Execution is hard. I don’t see why anyone still listens to this guy because every MMO he’s been involved in has either been mediocre or a dismal failure. And once an MMO of his is launched he’s either fired or quits because something didn’t live up to his lofty expectations and he doesn’t have the patience to try and make something work.

Pipe dreams are a dime a dozen.

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

If any one can do it, however, it’s this guy. There’s a reason why the crafting in SWG hasn’t been beat in any MMO since. And that’s just one example.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

“every MMO he’s been involved in has either been mediocre or a dismal failure”

I mean, what?

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Oleg Chebeneev

Future of virtual worlds is in virtual reality tech.

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texyFX

supreme directive of marketing: believe!

Raph Kostners promised lands, no longer a dream, but a vision.
visions usually r the psychopathological result of exposition to hostile conditions, like 40 days in any deserts sun, PCP or reddit.

its the standard technocratic rethoric: tech will set us free. maybe Kostner should re-watch Terminator, cuz thats the singular freedom tech already granted mankind.

its hypocrit as any meritocratic attitude, abusing (the produced) crisis for merch: oh sure, theres wars on famine and ressources, but now we can have once-dreamed virtual worlds in our pockets, cuz we have the tech (and smartphones) – and if that doesnt work, Soma Red is there for u.

no more busywork (like killing XP bags to be able to kill bigger XP bags to be able to kill the biggest XP bags – original Kostner quote), but built, craft, trade, collect, create!
cuz todays world is a magical place…

this manifesto is an inferior example of marketing speech, as there is no real innovation, no fresh selling point, there is already massive player-driven economies (EVE), housing, persistence, dynamics etc. no quantum leap, but just player agency 2.0.

the playable worlds Kostner “envisions” r already online, maybe just log into any state of the art MMO to live it, hm?

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Bruno Brito

What the hell are you talking about?

agemyth 😩
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agemyth 😩

😂

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Harbinger_Kyleran

His dreams are great, but he’s going to need to raise more money than Star Citizen to pull them all off.

So far he’s got like what, $12.7M?

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Anstalt

Good stuff Raph, I’m a big fan so I can’t wait to see what his new studio is going to build!

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Arktouros

After reading Raph’s manifesto here I don’t blame any of the reasons he states on why virtual worlds didn’t come true. I didn’t blame the commerce, the technology, the developers, etc. All those are merely adaptations to the real issue.

I blame the players.

If you listen to Richard Garriot explain setting up a virtual ecology in UO he’ll quickly explain the players obliterated it because we mass murdered everything. We know we’re playing a game and we’re going to mass consume all resources in that game with abandon. If we slaughter all the deer they all come back so there’s no consequences to playing like this. Any consequences that could be added, such as them not coming back, just ends up as a forum/reddit post whining about how resources are too scarce and take too long to respawn.

This problem has only gotten worse as time has gone on. We’ve become proficient and experienced game players over the last 20+ years. We’re exceedingly good at breaking down games systems because we have years of experience doing so. We can readily draw from a wide array of past systems we’ve interacted with to leap and bound into mastery of systems that we once would have struggled to understand.

So all this talk about virtual worlds and playing at your own pace and all that is novel and all but everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth…and us players are really good boxers at this point.

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Bruno Brito

That’s going to be the biggest hurdle for any game designer to cross, PvP or PvE.

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Arktouros

Oh for sure, and it’s a huge reason why you see so many PvP game failures.

Like Camelot Unchained my biggest concern isn’t their development schedule or developers or anything it’s the dated PvP model they’re setting up. Three way, asymmetrical combat has been done numerous times before. I can say without CU ever even being released in a public state that it’s going to end up having population balance issues between the three realms and the asymmetrical game balance will lead to one faction being better (either factually better or via public perception) than the others. That’s how literally every competitive game with those setups has gone without fail and to my knowledge it’s doing nothing to change that scenario.

You do something long enough, even as a hobby, you’re going to build up expertise on the topic. That’s what the MMO market has become, a market of experts at this hobby and it’s damned hard to come up with a product right out of the gate that will appeal to experts.

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Bruno Brito

I still think 3-way PvP can be done correctly, and while the alliances you speak of do happen ( i ended up in one when i played GW2 ), most of my memories in WvW were more into how tenuous those were and that it ended up in a 3-way brawl. It was pure hell for our commanders but i had a lot of fun ( i like the messy battles more )

I do agree with your core idea tho. MMO players are getting really good at devouring content and understanding it. Most of the industry doesn’t even wanna start thinking about it, it’s easier for them to carrot-stick us. Whoever feels like building the worlds both me and you wanna see will have a HUGE challenge ahead of them.

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Arktouros

It really can’t be done without some sort of heavy handed solution.

The only company I’ve seen even try to take a stab at making 3 way PvP work was Crowfall’s “Good-Balance-Evil” setup where “Balance” automatically joins Good/Evil if one side wins too much. It forces the 2v1 that people theorize could happen in a 3 way combat system but rarely actually does.

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Bruno Brito

A bit of cultural history also helps. Like i said, GW2 hadn’t had much of that. I remember when i was T1 playing WvW, and i don’t recall any instance of Jade Quarry, Blackgate and whatever the third server would be that would end up into those tenuous alliances.

Of course, while that’s a good point, GW2’s map design for WvW was so dogshit that we almost never fought, it was mostly a Karma train.

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Arktouros

GW2 is an odd beast because it primarily suffers from the issue of population imbalance. Since they don’t account for any kind of population in their scoring most servers that do well (IE: T1) are because they have more population covering more time zones.

Like when the game launched there was an alliance of guilds that were able to fill all 3 time zones (NA, EU, SEA) onto their server with active guilds and basically pop cap their WvW maps 24/7. It didn’t matter if they lost or were evenly matched during NA, they won it overnight (SEA) and during the day (EU).

Playing on Blackgate I found plenty of people looking for fights regularly and even occasionally had scenarios where servers would attack us 2v1 throughout a week. However it never lasted longer than a week and things quickly went back to the normal of us dominating and the other two sides fighting each other opportunistically because there was no chance they were going to take us down separately.

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Schmidt.Capela

The issue with the UO ecology was the tragedy of the commons: whenever you have a common good that everyone is free to use, it’s almost inevitable that someone will abuse it and ruin it for everyone else unless there’s a strong individual deterrence mechanism. And UO lacked any individual deterrence mechanism (i.e., one specifically punishing the player that was doing the damage) to prevent over-exploiting the simulated ecology.

The same phenomenon happens in the real world, which is why whenever we have a commons we need either exceedingly strong social pressure or else a strong enough system of usage rules and punishments to prevent the common good from being exploited to ruination.

umdiddly
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umdiddly

Killed too many rabbits? The surviving rabbits marshal the Great Rabbit (lvl 99), an ancient magical rabbit beast that exacts furry revenge. High level adventurers need to rally to defeat the Great Rabbit or risk the collapse of the local economy.

After its defeat, is the time to rebuild as the absurd mana costs of this summoning ritual drains the rabbit-based ecosystem in the local region for some time… there is peace, but luckily rabbits breed quickly.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

“games should adapt to a player’s schedule instead of the other way around.”

This alone is enough for me to throw money at whatever it is they are creating.

miol
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miol

– “Koster pointed to the fact that there’s much better technology, design knowledge, and understanding of gaming culture to reach toward a better gaming world.”

With all the brain drain going on in this industry, how could this ever be a fact?!