Shift Interview Up

 Posted by (Visited 8385 times)  Game talk
Sep 102001

The interview is now up, with their kind permission. Thanks, guys. I’m still waiting to hear back from CGO about the Asher interview.

With the big update, I clean forgot to put up links to a host of other stuff that I was involved in since the last time I posted anything to the site. Specifically:

  • Not only did I attend GDC, but I also went to the MUD-Dev dinner after, and then chaired a session at MERA ’01. . The other chairs were Lee Sheldon and Randy Farmer–so I finally got meet Randy, to whom the genre owes so much! There is an article on the event up at Gamespy.
  • Elizabeth Kolbert wrote a lengthy article entitled Pimps and Dragons: How an Online World Survived a Social Breakdown for the New Yorker. I was interviewed for it. The restaurant we ate at, if you’re curious, is North by Northwest, which does not resemble a ski lodge, IMHO.
  • Alex Pham of the L. A. Times interviewed me not once, but twice. The first was for a front page piece on cross-gender roleplaying in online games. She talked at great length with me for background material, but then only mentions me as an example–and doesn’t mention what I do for a living. She apologized for though! Reprint after reprint shows the power of syndication…!
  • …and Alex then followed up with another interview but you’ll have to pay to get to it.

 Comments Off on Shift Interview Up
Sep 082001

I tried not to think about it too much. Sure, a week ago I put down a down payment on a minivan. And I just bought two recliners (La-Z-Boy, no less, and they are rocking chairs too). Elena is going into kindergarten next year. There are some signs that seem like inexorable tidings of age.

I thought about having a birthday party themed around the refusal to grow up. We’d watch anime movies, play video games, and play loud guitars and make sangria and daiquiris like we used to in college. It didn’t happen, though. Instead, my wife and I went out for dinner and a movie. My presents were a few DVDs–ones about video games and about playing loud guitar, as if it can only be experienced vicariously now–and a new wallet and new watch.

I started to write a long thing about the things that I had planned for my next ten years, back when I was 20, and what’s actually come to pass. But I have to admit that by any measure, I’m ahead of what I had dreamt. Sure, I’m short on the writing scale, but other scales have gone well beyond that, so I have to call it a net gain. I guess I’ll have to pay more attention to writing in these next ten years.

So what’s new on the site? Well, it’s been forever since I updated, hasn’t it? There’s been a couple of interviews done. One was with’s Chris Shulgan, on Gaming the Matrix. Basically, about the future of online gaming and whether we will all forget we’re playing, as in the movie. Then there was a very nice long one done by Mark Asher for Computer Games Magazine. The magazine version was pretty short but the full version was on the CG Online website. I have written to the editors at both places asking if I can reprint them here. We’ll see what they say.

The Laws have been updated with Dundee’s Law, Caliban Tiresias Darklock’s Laws, and the now infamous “Socialization Requires Downtime” law.

I have five new Snippets up. They’re mostly pretty long, and if you’re into the game design theory stuff, you’ll especially like On Socialization and Convenience and Jared Diamond applied to muds.

There’s a ton of updates to the Online Worlds Timeline including more on the history of D&D, events from 2001 filled out (did I give Richard Garriott the idea for his new company’s name?), updated dates for some stuff from the PLATO days, some history for Turbine from a founder, and lots more…

I was interviewed for a documentary film on online worlds, that the makers hope to submit to Sundance. I was also interviewed for a book on interactive design. I have no idea what the timeframe is on those.

I got videotape sent to me of the episodes of the snowmobiling show that used my guitar pieces. Now that was a strange feeling, to watch snowmobiles cruise through some gorgeous countryside with my guitar in the background. Very cool.

Since the last update, we’ve had the Game Developer’s Conference and E3. Both went very well. Based on the feedback from the GDC presentations, people enjoyed the lectures. Next year Rich Vogel, Gordon Walton and I will be doing a tutorial on running a Live game, and as usual Rich and I will do a production and a design lecture. The design one is going to be about narrative in online worlds, and it should be fun! As for E3, there was plenty of coverage at the time, so no need to rehash it. I will say, it would be nice if the various magazines spelled my name right!

The Books/Reading section has been updated with what I have read recently. It’s a long list, thanks to In music news, I’ve acquired a nice new microphone (Audio Technica AT4033a/SM cardioid, if you care) for doing more recording, and I have a slew of new songs to get on tape. I’m working on doing someahat more rock arrangements for them, and have been writing bass parts. I also got a nice pair of studio monitor headphones since my kids keep breaking the cheaper ones.

In the last several months I went through a severe Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli addiction. I have now seen every film they have made, and am depressed that there aren’t more.

I think that’s all the news for now. I promise to update the site more often again. 🙂 March 11th, 2001 It’s been a while since I updated the site, but here we go! Lots of news and new stuff this time.

I attended a really good conference at The Annenberg Center at USC. There was a fair amount of press coverage, including one article calling me “the eloquent Raph Koster”… sheesh, stop, you’re making me blush! I spent most of my time hanging out with Warren Spector and Hal Barwood, especially a few fun hours traipsing all over the USC campus in search of a decent lunch with Warren… I have put up the transcript and slides from my talk there under Gaming/Essays.

While there, I was also interviewed by GamespotTV, now known as Extended Play, which airs on some cable networks on the TechTV channel. I have no idea when or if this will air, but it was basically a fifteen minute chat about online games and the future.

Some other additions to the Gaming section:

I’ve put up the transcript of the second Myschyf’s Roundtable under Gaming/Talks. The first one was about storytelling in online games, and this one is about economics and politics. There’s a bunch of well-known online game designers as attendees. This was originally posted on Lum the Mad’s, but I got permission to reprint it, so you may have seen it before.

I’ve been pretty active on the Star Wars Galaxies boards, posting as “Holocron.” One of my posts was a thing explaining the costs in massively multiplayer online games and explaining why we have to charge fees. Well, Brad McQuaid reposted it on the EverQuest boards, and then two separate World War II Online sites added it to their FAQs, and then other games started reprinting portions of it too… I figured, since this is all out of hand already, I may as well reprint it in its entirety on the site. So that’s under Gaming/Snippets. The Laws have seen the addition of Ananda Dawnsinger’s Law, “The less disruption that occurs in a community, the less able the community is able to deal with disruption when it does occur.” That’s under Gaming/Laws, of course. Speaking of the Laws, I’ve stopped doing the GDC presentation on them, and have handed it over to Anthony Castoro, also known as Sunsword. He’ll be running the roundtable at this year’s GDC.

What am I doing at GDC? Well, I’ll be helping run a tutorial on Community Building for Large-Scale Gaming Worlds with Amy Jo Kim and Rich Vogel. I’m also doing a lecture on Design Patterns for Online Worlds which is based on the design patterns presentation which you can find on this site under Gaming/Essays. Lastly, I am supposed to do another lecture with Rich on production needs for massivel online games, but he’s done most of the work himself already! I don’t know yet whether I can attend MERA ’01 but I am completely psyched about its existence. In any case, it’s a new research organization about online world environments, and it’s put together but a bunch of the MUD-Dev regulars. The Online World Timeline has become on of the top draws on the site somehow. It’s really brought PLATO users out of the woodwork too. This month I have a bunch of updates to it from Jason Downs on TeenyMUD, George Reese on LPMuds, and Don Gillies on PLATO, plus some notes on The Eternal City, plus I’ve fleshed out the year 2001 and some of 2000.

I attended Turkey City, the seminal science-fiction writing workshop that folks like Bruce Sterling, Don Webb, and now Paul DiFilippo are a part of. My story went over pretty well–well enough that I was persuaded to send it out for publication after some revision. I must say, that was a pretty cool and different experience–getting to go back mentally to the days when I thought that being a wrier was what I’d do with my whole life. In any case, I intend to become a Turkey City regular now.

Believe it or not, there’s more than one TV item in this news this month. Two TV shows made in Quebec are using my instrumental guitar pieces on the soundtrack. So keep an eye out for “Quebec en Motoneige” and “Passion Motoneige.” They’re both shows involving snowmobiles, and they’re in French. “Quebec en Motoneige” airs on Canal Evasion and “Passion Motoneige” on Reseau des Sports. The latter channel is only seen in Montreal, and parts of Ontario and New Brunswick, but the other broadcasts throughout Canada and apparently syndicates in Europe as well. Special thanks to Martin Lucas for being enough of a fan to use my stuff! I think that’s about it for this update. Seems like enough, at any rate!

Guestbook Issues

 Posted by (Visited 36339 times)  Misc
Jan 212001

Some people tell me that I should just take down the guestbook. It’s “an attractive nuisance,” so to speak. It’s just an invitation for the many jerks too afraid to post under their real name to get some cheap laughs by posting puerile twaddle. In the past I’ve gotten two separate instances of “I wish you had died in your house fire,” multiple verbal sexual assaults against my wife, and two death threats against my kids on the guestbook. And until tonight, they were all still up, because I had a policy of not removing anything.

Why? Because frankly, words are words, they don’t mean very much. It was always clear that the people posting all that junk on the site were socially inept anyway, incapable of actually forming a decent argument or expressing their feelings coherently. At best they were amusing, and at worst, just pathetic. Of course, there was the time they impersonated me on some poor girl’s website and posted rather heinous messages under my name there. That crossed a line, because it dragged bystanders into whatever bizarre vendetta these nutsos have against me. But by and large, I left it all up because it was a good way to emphasize that I didn’t really consider those posts worth worrying about.

Tonight, however, I removed 11,600 lines of spam garbage from the guestbook. It was all posted in the last few hours by someone with a bit too much free time. Oh, it was supposed to be sexually insulting, in some quaint ASCII way, I suppose. It was mostly just a waste of hard drive space. And once I got done deleting it (which took a lot less time that it probably took to paste in) I went ahead and deleted some of the most egregious posts from the past too. It just seemed like giving these idiots any sort of air time was, well, pointless. The reason why I left their posts up in the first place was probably too subtle for them to grasp.

So if the guestbook seems shorter, now you know why. I left up posts that disagreed, insulted, argued, and even flamed me. I just got rid of a parade of babbling by people whose vocabulary seems limited to four letter words. Next time, guys, if you want to bug me, at least make it worth reading. Semi-coherent would be good. If you can manage it. Thanks.

Jan 072001

Let’s see, what’s up.

I’ll be speaking at the end of January at Entertainment in the Interactive Age. The official invite looks like this:

The University of Southern California’s

Annenberg Center for Communication


The Interactive Digital Software Association


Entertainment in the Interactive Age

Join leading game designers, critics, researches and educators for a

two-day exploration of the art and craft of interactive entertainment

and game design.

For conference information and to register online, visit our web site


Some of the other folks who will be there include Geoff Zatkin, Warren Spector, Will Wright (keynote for him, of course!), Drs. Greg & Ray from Bioware, Janet Murray of Hamlet on the Holodeck, Hal Barwood, Tim Schafer, and more. It should be a lot of fun, and it’ll be nice to see some of these guys at a place other than E3 or GDC! The project is going well, but I can’t talk about it. But check out the official Star Wars Galaxies website for info. I have been posting there under the name Holocron. Yet another handle to add to the ever-lengthier list… *sigh* I have a bunch of updates to the Online World Timeline to do, but I didn’t get it done for this update. I kinda want to rearrange how I did the timeline, since it seems to have turned into a somewhat more widely used resource than I expected.

Crossroads of WWII Online recently reprinted a little thing I wrote on monthly fees being necessary for online games as part of their FAQ. I hear it also made the news at Evil Avatar. Maybe I should add it to this site too. 🙂

Got a note asking to use Declaring the Rights of Players as a debate topic in a debate society on Cybertown. That should be interesting, but I never heard about it again…