Oct 112012
 

Well, we basically winged it, but it was a blast. We told stories, mostly out of order; fessed up to bad code and goofy decisions and being painfully young; and lamented the loss of that sens of crazy freedom.

Luckily, Gamasutra has you covered if you weren’t in the full house.

In the alpha, the team had wolves that chased rabbits across the map as part of its emergent gameplay system.

In those early days, the rabbits would actually level up if they got into a fight with a wolf and managed to escape.

“People would wander off in the alpha and try to kill a rabbit, and pretty soon they were playing Monty Python: The MMO,” joked Koster.

The game was tweaked to disallow this, though Koster confesses that they left one monster rabbit in the world when the final game shipped.

I wore my original UO shirt… and forgot to point it out! Doh!

Basically, during the period when we were skunkworks and ignored by the company (it was mutual, we ignored them back) we did our own marketing. So that meant we made our own t-shirts with a made-up logo. And I still have that shirt, in surprisingly good shape for being from 1996. All credit to Clay Hoffman for making it, way back when…

 

 

Oct 102012
 

Here are the slides for the design track keynote I gave yesterday, as a PDF. Edit: thanks to Alexandre Houdent for providing a version of the PDF that works on all OSes…

Among the topics: a recap of Theory of Fun, discussion of what I would change about it today, and all the thoughts it led me to: game grammar, games as art, games as math, the ethics of games, gamification, etc. With a dash of Classical philosophy.

I had the shakes bad before I started… but it felt like it came together in the end.

Apologies to anyone whose face I rendered unrecognizable. And the unlabelled woman is Jane McGonigal.

The press coverage so far:

A challenge for you all: can you name all these people without peeking at the slides? Continue reading »

Sep 062012
 

So the third thing I will be doing at GDCOnline has now been announced:

A Theory of Fun 10 Years Later

Design | 60-Minute | Track Keynote | All
TBD

Ten years ago, at the very first Austin Game Conference, online gaming pioneer Raph Koster delivered an inspiring keynote on why games matter, how they teach players, and what fun is. That talk served as the foundation for his valuable book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, challenging game makers to build entertaining, engaging, and addictive experiences. Now, for the tenth anniversary of his presentation, Koster will revisit A Theory of Fun to discuss what has changed in the science and the theory in the intervening years.

Yup, this is actually the tenth anniversary of the original Theory of Fun talk. Hard to believe! I think most did not become aware of it until I reprised it as the keynote of the Serious Games Summit at GDC the next year… And then, of course, the book also followed later that year too.

Continue reading »

Game talkMiscOnline Game Legend

 Posted by (Visited 6908 times)  Game talk, Misc  Tagged with: , , ,
Aug 302012
 

Today the press release went out announcing that I was selected to receive the Online Game Legend Award at the GDC Online Choice Awards. This award is voted on by fellow developers, and it’s basically a lifetime achievement award.

The Online Game Legend Award recognizes the career and achievements of one particular creator who has made an indelible impact on the craft of online game development.

This rather leaves one thinking, “Well, now what?”

(Warning: introspection ahead…)

Continue reading »

Game talkGDCOnline: Ultima Online postmortem

 Posted by (Visited 8168 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Aug 172012
 

Game Developers Conference | Check out the origin of Ultima Online at GDC Online 2012.

This is one of three things that I’ll be doing at GDCO in Austin this October. I’ll let you know what the other two are as they get announced. :) Have you registered yet? Why not?

Speaker/s: Rich Vogel (Independent)Raph Koster (Playdom, San Diego) and Starr M. Long (The Walt Disney Company)
Track / Duration / Format / Audience Level: Design , Production / 60-Minute / Lecture / All
GDC Vault Recording: TBD

Description: At first, it was mostly a team of newbies. For a while, the office space was a few rooms on a floor that was gutted for construction — you could literally walk off the 5th floor of building and plunge to your death if you weren’t careful. The artists sat in the hallway. And the team was out to change everything. Ultima Online was not only one of the first graphical MMORPGs, it also set the standard for player vs player combat and sandbox/emergent gameplay in online titles for many years to come. Three of the UO team’s chief members — Raph Koster, Rich Vogel, and Starr Long (all of whom went on to shape the online gaming landscape) — will deliver a postmortem on the landmark title, reflecting on the challenges they faced from early development to maintaining the game well after its launch. Come learn how a combination of insane ambition and idealistic cluelessness can sometimes result in creating something that changes people’s lives and the course of an industry.

Takeaway: Skunkworks development can actually work! Learn about the challenges in spinning up a service organization from scratch. And what exactly happened with that crazy dragons eating deer thing?

Game talkGDCOnline reg is open

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Jun 142012
 

 

Game Developers Conference Online 10.09.12 – 10.11.12 | Austin, TX.

This will be the tenth anniversary of what was once known as just the “Austin Game Conference.” It has always been focused on online, from the first day, back when getting together enough people to talk about online games for multiple days was a challenge.

Now online is where it’s at — just as we were saying all those years ago. It’s shaping up to be a a great set of sessions (disclaimer: I am on the advisory board, so I am biased!).

Trivia: this means it will also be the tenth anniversary of “A Theory of Fun” — the original talk was a keynote at the very first conference.

Game talkGDC Online 2012 Call for Speakers

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Apr 202012
 

I’m on the Advisory Board again this year. Submit your talks!

GDC Online 2012 Call for Speakers Open through May 2

The call for submissions to present lectures, roundtables, full day tutorials and
panels at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) Online 2012 is
now open through Wednesday, May 2nd.

GDC Online focuses on the development of connected games including
social network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online
titles, large-scale MMOs, and beyond. The event returns to Austin, Texas
on October 9-11, 2012.

The advisory board is seeking submissions from social & online game
professionals with expertise in any of the following tracks: Business
& Marketing, Design, Production, Programming and Customer Experience.
We are also accepting submissions for the four summit programs; Game
Narrative Summit, Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, Game Dev Start-Up
Summit and GDC Gamification Summit.

*Please see our submission guidelines and full details here:
http://www.gdconline.com/conference/c4p/index.html

*Submit a proposal here:
http://online2012.gdc4p.com/

Nov 042011
 

The GDC Vault has posted the full video of “It’s All Games Now!”, my talk from GDC Online. And it’s one of the free ones!

I have a brief precis of it here, if you don’t know what it is about. But hey, it’s only an hour of your life, right? So go check it out even if you don’t know what it is about.

Oct 282011
 

The normally vivacious Leigh Alexander was an a contemplative mood as she posed questions to me in an hourlong interview right after GDC Online. We talked about how games are changing with mobile and social coming along and making sessions shorter and arguably less classically immersive; and how we ourselves are drifting away from the big games, as players.

I wish more of the interview fit in the format of a Gamasutra article, because it was a great, quiet little discussion.

“Another way to think of it is, we always said games would be the art form of the 21st century: Gamers will all grow up and take over the world, and we’re at that moment now,” he continues. “It’s all come true — but the dragons and the robots didn’t come with us, they stayed behind.”

Yet in plenty of ways this loss isn’t even about social games, Koster believes. “We’re losing some of our most cherished things — and honestly, we already had. The more big business we got, the more that got replaced by women in too-little clothes, or guys that all look the same and have bullet-heads and everybody’s dressed in green and brown.”

In light of the increasingly risk-averse and market-researched nature of traditional games, the increasing size of the mainstream audience has been something of a boon. “If you’d asked someone in 1998 whether there could be hit games about cooking, fashion design… a guy running over roofs, [as in Canabalt], still there’s an element of a broader frame of reference, a broader aesthetic there.”

And while he himself is a big science fiction fan, Koster says that a wider frame of reference is “incredibly exciting” for games that can be about all kinds of things now, beyond the expected. “We lose something, but we gain something that is potentially bigger,” he reflects.

Gamasutra – News – Raph Koster Talks Loss, Opportunity For Games In The Social Media Age.

Oct 172011
 

Yup, a tiny bit more.

Side note, I am struck how little long-form coverage there is of talks anymore, now that so much blogging has moved to Twitter…