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September 22, 2021
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Raph Koster's Blog   Expert Blogs


Raph Koster is a veteran game designer who has been professionally credited in almost every area of the game industry. He's been the lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies; founded his own company; worked at places like EA, Sony, and Disney; and he's contributed writing, art, soundtrack music, and programming to many more titles ranging from Facebook games to single-player titles for handheld consoles. He's also the author of the classic book A Theory of Fun for Game Design.  In 2012, he was named an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online. Visit his website at


Expert Blogs

Retaining players is critical to games-as-a-service, brand-building, customer loyalty, and reducing the heavy burden of user acquisition costs. Here is a set of strategies.

Posted by Raph Koster on Wed, 27 Jun 2018 02:00:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Social/Online
POSTMORTEMS is a new book of selected design essays by Raph Koster, covering a quarter-century of online game design from MUDs through major MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. Here is an exclusive excerpt.

Posted by Raph Koster on Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:19:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Serious, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
Cooperative gameplay is growing in popularity. Based on extensive research, prototypes, and metrics, here is a design lens and framework for designing prosocial games that build trust between players.

Posted by Raph Koster on Tue, 13 Feb 2018 09:04:00 EST in Design, Console/PC, Serious, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
Taking a look at the most interesting design elements in games in 2017.

Posted by Raph Koster on Thu, 08 Feb 2018 04:19:00 EST in Design, Console/PC, Indie
"What Remains of Edith Finch" brought some truly innovative storytelling features to the table by tightly linking mini-games about controls to a story about life, death, and what control we have over them.

Posted by Raph Koster on Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:19:00 EST in Business/Marketing, Design
Take a dataset of over 250 games, their development costs, their year of release, what they sold for and big they were. What can we learn about the trends and what it means for the industry?

Raph Koster's Comments

Comment In: [News - 10/25/2019 - 02:31]

Just to clarify my comment ...

Just to clarify my comment on Elder Scrolls Online 's DDA system, since I don 't think I was very clear in what i was saying: Based on things Matt Firor has said, the DDA system there is one of the most successful things they 've done, and I think ...

Comment In: [Blog - 01/31/2019 - 05:45]

Personally, I 'd pick emergent ...

Personally, I 'd pick emergent gameplay, but that 's because I have a knack for it. Then I 'd narrate the surprises back to the players AS the narrative. r n r nThat said, you can stack both. But if you have a strong emergent base, often lore-style narrative will ...

Comment In: [News - 10/19/2018 - 09:29]

I ended up calling them ...

I ended up calling them class and role in the Trust Spectrum article, but I like job as a lot as a term

Comment In: [News - 09/13/2018 - 01:15]

He was also a very ...

He was also a very sweet soul, an amazing raconteur, and a staunch friend. My remembrances are here:

Comment In: [Blog - 06/27/2018 - 02:00]

I wrote about the issue ...

I wrote about the issue of communicating emergence back to the players a bit in my series on UO 's resource system which are both on my website and also in the book . The technical architecture for doing so is clear, but back then we didn 't have the ...

Comment In: [News - 05/17/2018 - 02:23]

There are many reasons why ...

There are many reasons why this wouldn t work. r n r nIncreasing the level cap in an MMO costs millions of dollars in development. Adding zones, items, monsters, etc, is very expensive. r n r nWoW is a gear-driven game, and it is one with a vast power differential ...