Playable Worlds’ Raph Koster on the ‘stuff’ inside your virtual worlds


Raph Koster has been penning blogs about the metaverse and how virtual worlds work for several weeks now; his new company, Playable Worlds, has ambitions to build not only a metaverse platform but a sandbox MMORPG on top of it. The latest article has now arrived for your Friday enjoyment and confusion, and he’s talking about stuff, quite literally.

As usual, Koster is trying to break down the game into digestible parts. He explains that objects are more than their appearance; that control and ownership of objects are not the same; that functionality is usually separate from the object; that most objects are spawned from base templates; and that decentralizing databases for objects is not remotely as easy as people think.

“Back in the first article in the series, I pointed out why this is challenging already – there are many formats for art,” he says. “But there’s also the question of whether the art lives in the template or the instance – this determines whether it can change or not! Modern character customization systems store the basic avatar in the template, and a set of fields lives in the instance for all those sliders, letting you adjust the height and cheekbones and hair color and whatnot. You can’t carry runtime customization data like that over to another world unless the template matches. And this is true not just for art-related fields, but for all fields. You can’t carry over your current health to another game if the template for players in that game doesn’t handle health.”

It’s all pretty granular, and there aren’t many hints about Playable Worlds’ MMORPG itself, apart from the tease that “things like web browsers, NFTs, and our platform here at Playable Worlds all rely on” the idea that not all art needs to be in the same database.

Further reading:

More coverage of Koster's writing and games
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