Public responses to emails sent via the contact form.

MailbagMailbag: breaking in (again)

 Posted by (Visited 2975 times)  Mailbag  Tagged with: ,
Mar 082014

Hello Mr. Koster, my name is J___ A_____ and I am a recent college graduate with a computer science degree. I came across your name on the Wikipedia article about MUDs, and noticed the link to your website and in turn this contact form. I realize this is a complete shot in the dark but I’ve gotten so many friendly “no thank you” letters recently I figure the worst that happens is you never reply.

In 1993, I began playing a hack and slash Rom 2.3 mud called Creeping Death, and completely fell in love. In 1999 I taught myself C and with the help of a friend, we put up our first MUD. I have been actively coding them off and on ever since. A few years ago I went back to school and pursued a Bachelors in Comp Sci and am desperately trying to break into the video game industry. Outside of mud coding I have little expertise in game design. My question then is this:

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Jan 162014

floatingeyeballkiddear Mr.Koster,

I’m a design student studying at __________, of ____. I’ve read a lot of your blog entries and they’ve helped me a lot through my design project especially your article on “good design, bad design and great design.

I would just like to ask you as a designer, what is a bad design decision? What are the points we often forget to incorporate in our designs .

Thanking you in advance,

R___ J_____

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Game talkMailbagWhy do we like a given game?

 Posted by (Visited 6800 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Feb 152013

I was just asked this on Quora, and thought I would crosspost my answer here.

What makes people like specific genres of gaming (FPS, strategy, sports, racing etc)?

What can you tell about people who like only a certain genre of gaming like Fps rather than strategy?

Everyone starts out with different natural predispositions. For example, some people are born with more fast-twitch fibers in their muscles, which gives them the ability to move more explosively than others [Skeletal striated muscle]. Other folks have greater color sensitivity, faster reaction times, better ability to see things that are moving or that are standing still.

Some of these things are spread across a gradient where a person may fall anywhere on the gradient, but there are biases based on the sex of the individual in question. [Men and Women Really Do See Things Differently] We should be cautious about treating this as “biology is destiny” and instead think in terms of statistical distribution; recent metastudies show that overall, sex differences in cognition are weak correlations [Science Confirms The Obvious:  Men And Women Aren’t That Different] but there are nonetheless some large and obvious differences between sexes and of course between people.

These predispositions mean that some things are easier or harder for a given individual. Not necessarily hugely so — maybe only marginally, say 1% easier than the norm. But it doesn’t matter, because of how the brain’s reward system works. Continue reading »

MailbagMailbag: High Seas

 Posted by (Visited 4345 times)  Mailbag
Dec 212012


You probably don’t remember me, but I played Metaplace a while back. We talked a lot about your ship game and you shared a link with me of the music you made. I cannot find that conversation!! Nor can I find the music on your site (unless I forgot what it was called). It was epic and I want to listen to it again.

Also, I know that Metaplace is no more but is the High Seas game out there anywhere to play for fun? If not, you should host it on your web server. It would be epic to play it again :(

- Crystal

I am tickled that anyone remembers either the game or the music! Especially given that we are coming up on the third anniversary of the closing of… hard to believe it has been that long.

The music is called “The Knyghte’s Daliaunce,” as it was not originally meant as a pirate tune at all. I posted it up on the blog (with a chord chart) ages ago. It is also on the general Music page along with links to my album (it’s not on the album though). I really should record a new version of it sometime. Anyway, here you go:

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Game talkMailbagMailbag: I want to become a designer

 Posted by (Visited 19785 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Sep 262012

Dear Raph Koster,

I want to become a Game Designer.

As a child I used to judge games very harshly on things like graphics and funness. Although as I’ve grown older I’ve seen there is a lot more to games then meets the eye. I don’t want to sound all professional and stodgy, I’ve just reached the stage in my life where I need to choose my path. Whether it is the correct one will be with the help of you.

I want to be a Game Designer. There are courses at Universities specifically for Designing games or Programming for games, (programming is what I would want to start doing in the industry) although it feels like I’m just the same as everyone else who picked up a controller or keyboard and said “I can do better than this”.

Simply put I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to achieve my dream. The fun is in the learning as a well written book once taught me (wink wink), and the Gaming industry is ever growing.

Thank you for your time,

H_____ P_____.


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MailbagMiscAGH COMIC SANS!!!

 Posted by (Visited 6225 times)  Mailbag, Misc  Tagged with: ,
Aug 152011

Dear Ralph,

I am going to study Game Architecture and Design in a few weeks, and I received the books for this education yesterday. Your book “A Theory of Fun for Game Design” is also part of the obligatory literature. When I took a look at the book, it quickly made me deeply disappointed. The book contains text typeset in Comic Sans. Besides being ugly, the font is not intended to be used for serious messages. I won’t go into details here, but I would like to point out to you, the website I cannot take text printed in Comic Sans seriously, and I regret that my teachers require me to read this comic book as part of a scientific education. I hope that you (or whoever typeset the book) will choose an appropriate font next time.

Kind regards, Ruud v. A.

That would be because the book is half cartoons. The cartoons have text in Comic Sans because, well, they’re cartoons. Some of them are even actual comics with multiple panes arranged sequentially and everything.

You’ll be pleased to know that the book also has headers typeset in the comicsanscriminal-recommended (and undeniably ugly) font Basically Functional.

Game talkMailbagA few interesting links

 Posted by (Visited 6134 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with: ,
Aug 162010

Just got back from vacation! I had a lovely time. I also had some interesting stuff sent to me, which has piled up in the mailbox. So here’s a couple of interesting links.

The editors hope to attract a wide range of writing to Metaverse Creativity, including ideas about artificial-intelligence systems, landscaping, zoological and biological creations, and even virtual-world fashion design. Second Life’s relations to psychology, law, and technology are another focus. Plans for MC‘s first issue include a piece on how technological prostheses—beginning with the telescope—have altered human perceptions. Another article explains what neuroscience reveals about the benefits of the kinds of brain plasticity that simulation in virtual worlds can enhance, while a third edges up demurely on love in Second Life with a take on virtual-world adaptations of Korean romantic puppetry.

Avatars as Editors – PageView – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

If I can meet my kickstarter goal of $5000, phase 1 of my trip will commence. Starting in Korea, where I currently reside, I will fly to Vietnam, and explore Southeast Asia via land travel (bus, train, walking) over a period of 4-5 months: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar.

I will then venture into China, and make my way towards the coast, where I will depart for Japan sometime in the Spring, in time for the planting season, where I will most likely spend some time volunteering on organic farms. I’m scheduling about 6 months for the whole trip…

If I can meet my $5000 kickstarter goal, that should cover most of my expenses through Southeast Asia, Japan and China. I would like to make at least two games for each country I visit, so we’re looking at probably 10-15 games. There’s no cookie-cutter mold for the games, though, so it will also depend on the size and scope of each individual game.

Jan 282009

Gabe McGrath writes,

Hi Raph,

Found your blog via Technorati, whilst searching for more “retro remakes”. I hit this page. Don’t know if you (or your readers) would be interested, but the RR site was hacked recently, so your link to the downloads *won’t* work. I have compiled all the “off site” links I could find (for each remake author) and put them on one blogpost. So there you go. Sorry if you’ve already “moved on”. (Thought it might be of interest.)

PS: Funny – I stumbled on your page, and couldn’t work out where I knew your name. Then I saw the book cover – OF COURSE! “Theory of Fun” – read about it on Boing Boing ages ago. Alas, it’s still sitting safely in my “amazon to buy list” as the Aussie dollar has tanked against yours. Hopefully it recovers soon, so I can build my game-related library. All the best :-)

Hacked… that sucks. :( Hopefully they recover quickly, it’s one of my favorite indie projects.

May 272008

Mr Koster, I am wondering if you can help me with a bit of online Mythbusting? I have an interest in statistics with relation to gamers and beta testers. This quote: “Something like 90% of the people playing an MMO never post in the forums.” was recently made here and attributed to you and Rich Vogel here. (please read the thread to see why I am interested) So, I was wondering if you could confirm this? How did you collect this data? And if so, what other data can you share? Do you know of any other sources of this sort of data? And, yes. I would be very happy to see this email posted and commented on in your blog. Thank you for your time and effort.

Regards, Guy Russon

Well, as far as how that stat comes about (and it does vary game to game — don’t take 10% as gospel, becaus eyou are right it’s a “whisper stat” at this point), you simply measure your subscribers, measure your active forum posters, and derive a ratio. :) In the case of forums where they require a game registration in order to register for the forum, this is pretty easy.

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MailbagMailbag: marriages, links, China…

 Posted by (Visited 6580 times)  Mailbag
Jan 092008

Hi Raph: I am not sure if I’ve ever thanked you in my visits to your site before or when you had your old site up…so here goes now! I met my husband in Ultima Online in 2001. We are still together – in fact he made me his RL wife two weeks ago in Las Vegas with our family present to give our blessings. (Had a blast – wish you were there!) So, I don’t know really, how involved you were with UO. Richard Garriott also received my thanks but hasn’t written back yet. He’s probably busy with his Tablula Rasa (which i didn’t like at all SHHHH!). Anyway…thank you for creating that world and naming a shard “Catskills.” As fate would have it thats the place we both chose and there we met. HAIL RAPH! *hugs* Thank you for bringing us together!

Well, congratulations! And take that, everyone who thought that Catskills was nothing more than an iniquitous den of PKers. ;) Though I suppose that by 2001, it wasn’t anymore. And for what it’s worth, I am sure that Richard would offer his congratulations as well.

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