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Role Playing (Games)

The Barbarians At The MMOG Gates 78

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-forget-to-loot-and-pillage-before-you-burn dept.
simoniker writes "Areae president Raph Koster is perhaps best known as a designer of Ultima Online and the previous CCO of Sony Online Entertainment, and in an in-depth Gamasutra interview, he discusses his views on 'game grammar', the uniting of MMOs and online worlds, and the software patent problem. In particular, he's been talking about the 'barbarians at the gates' for hardcore MMO makers: 'Even the creation of the MUD in the first place was that. It was the Internet-based reaction to the stuff that had existed on the microcomputers and the Plato network and all of that. All of a sudden, "Oh, wait! We can put a text MUD on Arpanet!" And it was like, "Whoa!" and it spread like wildfire, and all of a sudden, all of that other stuff went away. So it's really possible for that stuff to be happening now with microtransactions, with portals versus traditional publishers, with digital distribution publishers versus traditional publishers, and with MMOs from MTV versus MMOs from Sony or EA or NCSoft.'"
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The Barbarians At The MMOG Gates

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  • Meh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Perseid (660451) on Friday October 19, 2007 @08:44PM (#21051159)
    Am I the only one who prefers sitting by myself with a controller playing a good single-player game? Am I the only one who still refuses to pay a monthly fee for a video game? Am I...getting old? :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Merely a difference in opinion. :)
    • by morari (1080535)
      No, you're not the only one. There are other, we are out there.

      Viva la free singleplayer!

    • by cicatrix1 (123440)
      Refusal to pay a monthly fee is pretty retarded. I mean if you don't like the game, that's one thing. But if you refuse to play because of stubbornness; then it's not too far from ignorance, if you ask me.
    • by Kristoph (242780)
      Yes, yes and yes?
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday October 19, 2007 @11:44PM (#21052401) Journal

      The world doesn't revolve around you. Learn to accept this.

      More precisly, it doesn't revolve around your demographic, there are enough persons who are willing to play a monthly fee and who want to play in a multiplayer enviroment.

      Different tastes, is that so hard to accept? No, it doesn't mean you are old, just means you have an over-inflated ego. Frankly that isn't age dependent.

      Every single story about MMO's you get some person complaing about monthy fees and somehow the world is supposed to care. Here is a newsflash for you. Blizzard is RAKING it in. WoW should be closing in on the billion dollar revenue mark by now. That is hard to ignore. Game companies that struggle while they see thousands of people downloading their games for free and here is a company with an OLD OLD OLD game still raking it in. You think these companies care about you? They got a choice, spend fortune developing a single player game that will be obsolete in months, hopefully get them a onetime income and maybe some sparechange for the value release with tons of players using their forums for support a full week before the game is actually OUT (pirates move fast, and leechers have no shame) OR spend that money on an MMO and get a ton of cash each and every month. Gee, difficult one.

      • Starbucks is expensive, so are monthly fees for games. I like the gp, prefer to invest my scarce resources in more rewarding pursuits. Not to denigrate any who are of differing opinions upon the optimal ratio of movement of light on various display surface in response to jocular motions of one's extremities in the electronic imitation of various endeavors in proportion to monetary coffers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chibi Merrow (226057)

          Starbucks is expensive

          So get coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.

          so are monthly fees for games

          Since reactivating my WoW account I've spent significantly less purchasing new games. At the end of the day it's saved me money.

          I like the gp, prefer to invest my scarce resources in more rewarding pursuits.

          I wouldn't call GTA rewarding, personally. There are some games out there that are considered "art" and really should be experienced for the experience's sake, but most of them aren't from this generation anyway...

      • The world doesn't revolve around you. Learn to accept this.

        More precisly, it doesn't revolve around your demographic, there are enough persons who are willing to play a monthly fee and who want to play in a multiplayer enviroment.

        Different tastes, is that so hard to accept? No, it doesn't mean you are old, just means you have an over-inflated ego. Frankly that isn't age dependent.

        By that same token, everybody and their brother is trying to get a new MMORPG to the market. Blizzard's dominance will not last forever. There is ever potential that they will see their market fragment, much like TV. Remember when a show like I Love Lucy could claim an audience of half the frickin' country?

        So, there's every possibility that there's a good niche to be found making the kind of multiplayer game that would appeal to someone like the original poster.

      • The world doesn't revolve around you. Learn to accept this.

        Ahm, isn't this exactly the problem you are facing? So the OP said they prefer single player games and wanted to know how alone they were. Yet the response you just gave the person is incredibly defensive and has the tone of 'if you don't like multiplayer games then there is something wrong with you!'. The game market isn't a zero sum game.... people CAN play single player games without seeking to destroy multiplayer games.

        Sounds like a c
    • No... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chibi Merrow (226057)
      No, there's plenty of antisocial shut-ins left in the world. Look at the SomethingAwful forums, if nothing else...

      Seriously though, there's nothing wrong with a "good single-player" game. The problem is there are so FEW of those on the market today, and finding time to lock one's self away on the off chance that a game actually turns out to be good is just not high on most people's priority lists. Even a bad game can be fun with friends, but giving up human contact for something that turns out to be mediocr
      • by Gnostic Ronin (980129) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @08:42AM (#21054585)
        I love offline games. The reason that I don't like paying a monthly fee for games is that in order to get the money back, you have to set aside time to play it. Not paying for a month means that lvl 60 Bard you've been working on gets deleted.

        That's the trouble. MMOs have the same time-sink mentality. If you travel with a group, you'd better keep up with them, because if you get to be more than 2-3 levels behind them, you can't do the same quests as they do. So they either redo the easy quests with you, or leave you behind. So you'd have to play several hours a week -- in order to play the game.

        Now compare the above to an offline RPG. I own the disk. No one's going to charge me to use my copy of FF12. No one will delete my lvl 60 party for nonpayment of fees. I don't have to set up a time to play it so that I don't fall behind the rest of the party. I could set the game aside for 6 months, never touch it (say if I get busy, or if I simply *don't want to play it*) and everything will still be exactly as I left it. I'm not going to lose out just because I didn't have enough time to play this month.

        That's what I love about offline gaming. I don't feel pressured to put tons of hours into a game just to get a little pleasure from questing with my buddies. I don't want to feel like I'm losing money because I'm not playing as much as I did last month. Offline does that.
        • Not paying for a month means that lvl 60 Bard you've been working on gets deleted.


          Actually, no, it doesn't. All MMORPGs will save your characters for some period of time while your account is not active (if there's anybody that deletes in less than a year, I'm not aware of it). Many MMORPGs simply never delete your characters. Not paying for month means you can't play your lvl 60 Bard that month, no more.

          Chris Mattern
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chibi Merrow (226057)

          If you travel with a group, you'd better keep up with them, because if you get to be more than 2-3 levels behind them, you can't do the same quests as they do. So they either redo the easy quests with you, or leave you behind.

          A well designed game doesn't have this problem...

          No one will delete my lvl 60 party for nonpayment of fees.

          I've never had a character deleted for nonpayment of fees. My WoW account was inactive for a year and everything was there when I got back. A friend of mine reactivated my old EQ

      • No, there's plenty of antisocial shut-ins left in the world.

        There's also people who don't consider video games their only potential avenue for socializing, and maybe even go whole *days* or (yes, really) *weeks* without playing one. They're not gamers, they just play games. Some of them might even consider that people who are so focussed on video games at all... MMO or otherwise... as the "antisocial shut-ins".

        This isn't new, though, Raph Koster is wrong about that. Putting myself into a Victorian frame of
        • There's also people who don't consider video games their only potential avenue for socializing, and maybe even go whole *days* or (yes, really) *weeks* without playing one. They're not gamers, they just play games. Some of them might even consider that people who are so focussed on video games at all... MMO or otherwise... as the "antisocial shut-ins".

          1) I kinda figured the "anti-social shut-ins" was obvious sarcasm
          2) Yes, I realize this. I myself am not currently playing video games as I finish my Master's

    • Am I the only one who prefers sitting by myself with a controller playing a good single-player game? Am I the only one who still refuses to pay a monthly fee for a video game? Am I...getting old? :)

      I think the biggest problem with MMORPG's is that they're time sinks. Now of course one man's time sink is another man's fun game so what's the difference? I think the problem is that most games are designed for anything from ten to forty hours of play. A shooter is linear, beginning to end, you're done. Something like Civilization, you can put ten hours into playing a vigorous game, beat it, and come back to play another round a month later. You can play different games in the meantime. Single-play never

    • by garylian (870843)
      Well, for the most part, that monthly fee really isn't that much, compared to other entertainment options.

      For the base MMO game, you will usualy pay about $45. You get the first month included in that price. Now, for the same price, you can by a FPS, or a RPG, etc, and get usually a month's worth (on average) gameplay for your $45. Then you are going out and paying anoher $45 for the next game, or breaking into multi-player games with little to no enforcement.

      With the MMO, you get more content, and you p
  • *Ahnold Scream* (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Friday October 19, 2007 @08:50PM (#21051221)
    And here I read the title and got all excited to get some news about the real Barbarians at the MMO gates [ageofconan.com].
  • Why the hell does anyone even care what this guy thinks when he's brought ruin and strife to more MMO communities than most people will ever subscribe to?

    Raph's ideas and theories have REPEATEDLY proven inaccurate, unworkable, stupid, and wrong. The gaming industry as a whole would be better off if he were filtered off into the black hole of FAIL with Romero.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Raph's ideas and theories have REPEATEDLY proven inaccurate, unworkable, stupid, and wrong.

      So have Richard Bartle's, you could argue; in any case, you still have to respect them for being pioneers, and in Koster's case, giants in the industry.

      Personally, I think Koster is just ahead of his time. People said the same of Tesla.
  • Please stop (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tshetter (854143)

    Every time someone talks about some evolution of something we have now they go and mention MTV.

    MTV provides nothing but attention whore PR.


    Please stop mentioning them in your next-gen-extreme-thing PR.

    -ts
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Please stop mentioning them in your next-gen-extreme-thing PR.

            Sounds like someone isn't going to get their "Sweet Sixteen"...
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tshetter (854143)
        If season 5 of real world changed direction and went porno-docu...with different actors of course...that could have been positive.

        MTV might have been the new Playboy.



        But we have The Hills.

        "LC is wearing an American Eagle headband; $40."

        arghh, why the *FSCK* does that have to be somewhere in my mind?!?!

        Purge!!!
  • koster again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    *incredulous deadpan*

    raph koster... standing in the corner shaking his fist.. at... large MMO companies.. that.. don't ... 'get it'...

    this is the the guy that drove UO and SWG into the ground... failed to keep EQ relevant

    WoW came along and ran over them like a mac truck over a 90 year old grandma.

    Blizzard created the genre defining title and expanded the MMO market to its current level

    the only thing koster expanded was his beltline

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      raph koster... standing in the corner shaking his fist.. at... large MMO companies.. that.. don't ... 'get it'...

      Britney Spears tops the music charts but isn't heralded as the ultimate evolution of music.

      MMOs are still in their infancy... there's tremendous room to grow, and it's great that there's an experienced and thoughtful philosopher working in the trenches to make real their potential.

      Raph Koster's ideas are akin to Socrates'; try him if you must, but they will persist through time -- hopefully in fu

    • by vux984 (928602)
      WoW came along and ran over them like a mac truck over a 90 year old grandma.
      raph koster... standing in the corner shaking his fist.. at... large MMO companies.. that.. don't ... 'get it'...

      Would you say the same thing about the creators of Resident Evil?

      Let me put this into perspective for you, in consoles (including handhelds), 7 of the top ten sellers of all time contain either the word "Mario" or "Pokemon". (The least of these titles has sold over 15 million copies.) Combined, they sold some 200 million
      • "Sure Warcraft has a raid-game end-game to cater to the 'hard core' but most people don't go there, and really, to really suceed in Warcrafts raid game you just have to be -there-, you don't have to be -good-."

        This is a stereotype of the older, larger raids (20 and 40 person teams). New raids in WoW are much smaller (10 and 25 person teams) and thus require better players to succeed as a whole.
  • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:24PM (#21051499)

    RK: Well, yeah. I'm one of the people who went out there and said, "Single-player gaming is doomed," and I actually used that phrase. An Xbox Live Achievement is a soul-bound item, and Gamerpoints are experience points, and BioShock is a one-man instance dungeon in the Xbox Live MMO. That is the direction that single-player gaming is going, frankly. CN: That's an observation that I think has a lot of merit. RK: I think that all single-player gaming -- all of it -- is going to have spectator modes, presence, chat, persistent profiles, and all of that shit. I think every single-player game is going to do all of that.
    I don't like that direction. Sometimes its ok, like with Steam's profiles, friends chat inc game and stuff. But othertimes, I just want my singleplayer game to be, well single. I like to switch off friends, play in offline mode and not feel like there are people watching or recording data while I'm playing. Sometimes I *gasp* don't need or want a previous game effecting my current one; sometimes I want a clean slate experience. Oh, and I certainly don't want to pay for any persistance, either Xbox Live. Silver or not, all it'll end up as is another way to get money from me; frankly, I hope Steam will roll right over Windows Live Gaming.
    • We just had an article about a great game, The Longest Journey. As great as it is, it is kinda hard to imagine it having spectaror modes, presence, chat or persistent profiles and whatever. There are tons of games like that. Not all gaming is FPS.

      Who cares anyway? Do you really want to see how another person does in a single player session? Sure, some games it might work, racing games where you can compare times. And then only in those racing games that are "equal".

      I really don't need or want to know how

    • "Lot of merit" my butt. Does this guy really think people are playing Bioshock in order to unlock some stupid "achievements"?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RaphKoster (603840)
        So, empirically, a lot of people ARE (btw, EEDAR just did an interesting study on achievements, if you haven't seen the articles). Heck, the silly Burger King games turned into hits in large part thanks to achievements. Note, the fact that I think the industry is going this way doesn't mean that I necessarily LIKE it. It's just the trend that I see.
  • by ruprechtjones (545762) <ruprechtjones AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @02:36AM (#21053255) Homepage
    "Oh, wait! We can put a text MUD on Arpanet!" And it was like, "Whoa!" and it spread like wildfire, and all of a sudden, all of that other stuff went away."

    It's Crush from Finding Nemo! "Saw the whole thing, dude. First you were all like "whoa", and we were like "whoa", and you were like "whoa..."

  • by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr&hotmail,com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:33AM (#21055149) Homepage

    RK: Well, yeah. I'm one of the people who went out there and said, "Single-player gaming is doomed," and I actually used that phrase.


    Any MMO can be played "singe player". There are a ton of people who play WoW "single player". The other people that run around them, sell them items on the auction house, and try to converse with them? They might as well just be computer NPCs. And that's the extent of it. Really. Some people like to play WoW by leveling up multiple characters on their own. They never group with others, they aren't in guilds, and yet here they are, still paying the monthly fee to play WoW. Some people play in the Battlegrounds only. They never actually talk to anyone, and the players they fight might as well be computer NPCs too, because they never communicate, they just fight and forget.

    The cool thing is that even though they've been playing WoW "single player" for all this time, at any moment they can decide to "get out there" and join a guild and get together with people. That's always an option for them, and I've seen it happen. Then the game becomes truly multiplayer, when you are working with others on common goals.

    But make no mistake, single player is not doomed. It will never, ever die.
    • On the playing WoW single player thing: well, yes, of course. If anything, I am saying that is going to become MORE common, because more of the formerly single-player games will push towards that play pattern. I don't think single-player games are going to completely go away. I think they are going to increasingly get nested inside multiplayer contexts, until it will get hard to find ones that aren't. But we'll always have our instances. :)
      • Hmm... your response made me think about my response some more.

        In an environment where network access is sufficiently invisible, and the "game AI" (horrible term, I know) sufficiantly subtle, you could potentially get into a state where you don't notice whether the game you're playing at any given moment is online or offline, single or multi player. In fact I could see someone deliberately designing a game like that, so the main effect of getting into MMO mode would be that the "game AI" seemed to suddenly
      • Let's look further ahead.

        There will come a time when the defining characteristic of a single player game is that it has no connection to the outside world. Why? The knowledge that you have no connection to the outside world will be the only way you can be sure the other characters in the game you are playing are not "real".

        The interesting situation here is that when this happens, and game NPCs can pass turing tests with ease, then you might be unallowed to play the game anymore as you used to. Where do t
        • by Belacgod (1103921)
          The AI is not the in-game character. Killing an AI-controlled monster is like killing a human-controlled character in PvP. The AI lives on, and fights the next person.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Interesting distinction. Each character is an aspect of that AI, so you aren't exactly killing the AI, but you might be 'harming' it, unless it gives consent that would be problematic.

            So, does uninstalling the game kill the AI? Is that amoral?

            I don't expect that this will be an issue in anything but the very distant future...

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Belacgod (1103921)
              Uninstalling wouldn't kill it. If the company discontinued the game and deleted all the files, that would kill it.

              As to its consent, it's the same consent any human player gives when entering the PvP areas (or else, seeing as it's the AI's job to play these characters, it's the same consent that, say, a Renfaire jouster gives to be knocked off his horse for the amusement of the crowd, or a LARP NPC player gives to be defeated by the paid guests.

        • by Kelbear (870538)
          Program the AI to make "being entertaining" their ultimate purpose in the game. Program their death to be satisfying and rewarding.

          Sort of like the livestock in the restaurant at the end of time. They walk up and happily self-carve onto your plate.

          Takes alot of the "icky" out of blowing them away.
    • Some people play in the Battlegrounds only. They never actually talk to anyone, and the players they fight might as well be computer NPCs too, because they never communicate, they just fight and forget.

      Even if they never communicate with you, if they're treating you like NPCs and acting like NPCs, they're still not acting like AIs, and you're not acting like AIs, so they're not getting the same experience as single-player, and you're still getting a different experience because they're there.

      Similarly, in R
  • I am too lazy to read the entire article. Could someone post a 5 line summary of what the guy is trying to say?

    Ideally the slashdot abstract of the article should have provided me this 5 line abstract, but somehow the slashdot editor failed at this task.
    • by Avatar8 (748465)
      Sure. If you've ever read any article by Koster, it will sound about the same. Fairly formulaic acutally.

      "|current trend| is going to fail."
      "I have weird, out there ideas about |idea1| and |idea2| that are like 'whoa!'... ya know, out there."
      "All this |concept| about |genre| is 10 years old now, so we're seeing a, ya know, 10 year cycle."
      "|produce1| and |producer2| think my |pulled-out-of-my-ass concept| has some merit, so they're on board with it."
      "|random shit| is consuming all my time right now, so

  • "What the fuck? Who cares! This cannot possibly be useful!"

    That's my general sentiment of the entire interview and all his circle speak about the game grammar.

    Seems to me that game designers and companies are speaking the language just fine. Are there a variety of systems that cannot relate to each other because they use different game systems? Sure. That's called variety. That's called different points of origin. It's called originality of the designers.

    Should game designers learn to speak a universal l

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. -- N. Alexander.

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