Raph Koster’s startup Playable Worlds is working on an MMORPG. A big one. A big one we don’t know much about yet, in spite of all the words the company has spilled on it so far. We’re getting more words this week, though this time, they’re from the game’s lead designer, Greg Costikyan, whose name you’ll likely recall if you’re more of a tabletop gamer. His dev blog, however, is essentially a primer to help regular gamers understand how games get made.
As he puts it, game designers seldom have much freedom when it comes to the basic ideas behind the game. “Most of the time, you will be handed an existing IP (whether that comes from a previous game, a license, or an existing genre) and asked to tweak it slightly,” he laments. “Alas, our industry does not thrive on ideas. It limps on, on clones, brand extension, and tweaks to successful genres.” He winds his way through the many ways studios raise money, the multiple phases of development (hey look, a studio that knows what beta actually means), and building out a full team of devs. There’s more to it, of course, though he’s apparently saving that for another post.
Here’s a final nugget to cap off this post: Costikyan explicitly notes that the studio’s game involves procedurally generated worlds.