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Role Playing (Games)

The Barbarians At The MMOG Gates 78

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:Meh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spleen_blender ( 949762 ) on Friday October 19, 2007 @08:46PM (#21051175)
    Merely a difference in opinion. :)
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:01PM (#21051319)
    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.
  • koster again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:13PM (#21051419)
    *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

  • 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.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:54PM (#21051751) Journal
    The only real selling point of any MMOG is "community",

    I prefer MMOGs to single player, not for the chatting or guilds, but for the fact that humans make for more interesting teammates or opponents, than the computer does. On the rare occasion that you have teammates in a single player game, they never do anything interesting or novel. Having other characters in my game world that make choices that haven't been tweeked by a game designer make the game more interesting for me.

    On the 99% of everyone is an annoying twat thing: I've spent hours in City of Heroes, doing missions with a good team, where hardly anything not game related was said in the chat box. Sure there are a lot of junior high kids in MMOs who want to talk trash, but the same can be said for going to a baseball game or the mall or anywhere else in the world were there are teenagers. Usually they adore the PvP aspects of a MMOG. Personally, I usually stick to the PvE aspects of the game (and out of guilds or clans or whatever) and have quite an enjoyable time, with a minimum of immature brats and idiots. If MMOs aren't you cup of tea that's cool, but as the genre matures so do a fair portion of the players, don't paint us all with the same brush.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2007 @10:32PM (#21052001)

    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.
  • Re:koster again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2007 @10:40PM (#21052053)

    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 furtherance of a better future for the genre, because it's really, really boring right now in spite of any one company's success.
  • 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.

  • No... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <mrmerrow&monkeyinfinity,net> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @04:22AM (#21053685) Homepage Journal
    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 mediocre is just pretty lousy...

    I tried to play Okami, it's a genuinely great game, but why should I play Okami when I can play something with my fiance? See my friends? Hell, even Gears of War was nowhere near as fun as when my brother sat down to play it co-op with me... And killing dumb NPCs in Oblivion can't compare to fighting real people in WoW. Why should I be stuck w/ a linear game playing experience when I can choose my own path elsewhere?

    Single player games will never disappear, but I'm pretty sure they'll never be taken as a serious force in gaming again. I'd expect most of them to fit the "casual" category from now on with a few rare holdouts like Square-Enix.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <mrmerrow&monkeyinfinity,net> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @04:29AM (#21053703) Homepage Journal
    Based solely on reading your comment one could assume then that console gamers are made up entirely of self-righteous, elitist, condescending assholes. Generalizations are fun, aren't they?

    In most MMOs there's about equal numbers of wage earners playing the game as "immature brats"--and honestly, the majority is probably more in favor of 20-30 somethings than kids. But of course you don't remember the normal (or even "nice") people you interact with in such an environment, just the ones that piss you off. Which brings me back to your comment rather nicely...

    Locking yourself away in a room to play with yourself doesn't make you a better person than anyone else who chooses not to. Depending on who you talk to, it may make you blind, though... Likewise, choosing to spend your time on an MMO doesn't make your tastes any more refined nor does it mean you're any more socially adept than the next person.

    Spouting vitriol about someone who decides to spend their free time in some other (legal) pursuit than you, however, does cast some doubt as to your value as a human being.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I prefer MMOGs to single player, not for the chatting or guilds, but for the fact that humans make for more interesting teammates or opponents, than the computer does.

    Game AI is definitely one of the things that makes me not want to play video games any more. Why? Because game AIs suck, so instead they either make the enemies stronger and faster than you (bosses), or they put more of them up against you (everything else), so that your human AI advantage is countered by overwhelming force. I got tired of the whole combat video game back when side-scrollers were king.

    If MMO has changed that, maybe it's time I looked into it again... because so far I've pretty much avoided the whole combat MMO thing in favor of social MMOs because I've gotten so used to combat being a boring slog.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <mrmerrow&monkeyinfinity,net> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @06:06PM (#21058441) Homepage Journal

    That's not a logical conclusion at all.
    It's no less logical than your claims. It's probably a bit more logical, in fact, since there is observable evidence to back up what I've said that anyone can see. Instead of over-broad blanket statements about a large and diverse population, I've made a comment about an individual who's comments can be used to extrapolate the likelihood of my theory being true.

    In fact, it doesn't even make sense.
    Probably because you're so full of vitriol and spite that you can't even see it.

    In fact, to the contrary, if we assume you're one of the retards addicted to MMOs, it really only just provides more evidence of my claim that you're all idiots and dickheads.
    Thanks for proving my point.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 21, 2007 @10:12PM (#21067925)
    That's pretty much it.

    MMO socialisation has VERY FEW DIFFERENCES TO ANY OTHER SOCIAL SETTING. The main difference is that people seem to want to vocalise their beliefs enmasse. While this does not ring true for all MMOs - WoW & LotRO come to mind as the biggest breeding grounds of this verbal diorreah.

    As an avid MMO player (not just one either) I can see the benefits of playing an MMO as part of guild/clan/corp/whatever. The arseholes are usually sorted out fairly quickly, even a tallented arsehole is a liability - and *most* leaders can see this.

    The real immaturity in these games comes from people demanding that a synthetic social environment should bend to their will.

    (and yes, posting anon to protect my Eve corp from griefers and wankers. They exist in Eve as with the rest, you just have to be smart about it and not cry on /. about how everyone's so immature in the game,)

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