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Defining Games: Raph Koster's Game Grammar
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Defining Games: Raph Koster's Game Grammar

October 19, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 7 Next

I'm hopeful that those kinds of things are still going to stay around. The way people are talking now, it's like, "Well, this is going to be everything! This is the industry!"

CN: Is that the converse of "The PC market is dead?"

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.

CN: It's heading towards that in the arms race between Sony and Microsoft on the console side.

RK: That's not even where it's interesting. Frankly, the interesting thing is like Bethke said. Like Erik said, it's on Live Anywhere. The potential! We'll see how Microsoft executes, but the potential of having Xbox Live for every PC game is pretty dramatic. If they really wanted it to work, they'd make it an open API and let every damn Flash game on the Web use it, and then Microsoft would literally own every gamer profile on the Internet. But they probably won't do that!

This is a total aside, but I was wondering why you were using Kongregate instead of Newgrounds?

RK: I love Newgrounds -- Newgrounds kicks ass -- but Kongregate has an achievements system.

Ah! Okay.

RK: So there's a metagame to Kongregate. Every time I blog about Kongregate, actually, a whole bunch of people come in referred and then I gain Kongregate points! They have that metagame going on.

There are ratings on Newgrounds as well, right?

RK: There are, but they don't have the whole badge system and everything else. So no offense to Jim Greer -- Kongregate is my poster child now. I'm sure there'll be another on in three months. But whatever. Newgrounds is awesome, and pre-Kongregate, I would've used Newgrounds.

CN: Something I wanted to talk about but wasn't really gotten to with both the Haro talk and the panel you participated in, was the sweet spot between Warhammer Online -- which is extremely hardcore -- and Habbo Hotel, which is very, very, very casual. There is success in both models, but there doesn't seem to be a game in that sweet spot.

RK: I think every game that is successful, at the millions of users level, bridges. I think that WoW would not be successful if you could not play it both casually and hardcore. I think clearly -- looking at the slides Sulka shows -- there are crazy-hardcore Habbo Hotel players. Damion Schubert likes to talk about how his mother is hardcore on Windows Solitaire. She's obsessive about it, and plays constantly.

CN: I guess I mean by intent. I think WoW does have that intent, and that's why it's successful -- because they understood that better than most or many -- but in some instances like... I can't really speak for Habbo, but it probably came as a surprise to them that people were playing it to that hardcore degree when it happened.

RK: Yeah, I think some of it is reaching the right people who are willing to be hardcore about it. Those people are certainly not going looking in the game store. They're not going into GameStop in the first place. I think there are games that are crossing over in that fashion. I think Maple Story actually is one of them.

Yeah, I was going to say that.

RK: It's casual pretty well, but it's a deep and complex game.

It's got leveling and all.

RK: Yeah. I think a lot of stuff like Shot-Online and Albatross 18 -- aka Pangya Golf -- have a lot of that kind of thing too.

CN: I think that's what I'm looking for, personally anyway. I don't know if that's what the industry is looking for. I've never wanted to play an MMO, but I would like to play an MMO, if you follow what I'm saying.

RK: It's one of the kinds of things that I find kind of ironic, actually. I got plenty of arrows in my back for... like when we did UO, we had crafting, and competitors -- all of whom are gone now -- had banner ads that showed "logs plus rope equals chair... or do you want to slay a dragon?!" Well, it turned out that the answer was, "No, people want to make chairs!" People made so much fun of us for having the crafting-type stuff in there.

Lots of people were like, "Why would I want to do that? Who wants to go work in a virtual world?" was the line everybody always used. On SWG it was dancing. Everybody was like, "Dancing?! It's Star Wars!" and I'm like, "But the Cantina, and the slave girl!" and they're like, "Dancing?! It's Star Wars!" Today, if you go on YouTube and you do a search for WoW, I bet on that first result page will be dancing.

Now, of course what we see is stuff like that, that's really regarded as non-central, non-core gamer, these huge casual MMOs are taking just the one feature. Coke Music is just the music system. Audition is just a dance system. It's a whole freaking MMO! It's one of the most popular MMOs in the world. It's massive in Korea -- it's like top five or something. So I find it weird and ironic and financially disappointing (laughs) that somehow this stuff... because that is the stuff that makes it have the interesting crossover. That is the place where you find interesting bridges that cross hardcore to casual and let both kinds of people be in the same world.


Article Start Previous Page 5 of 7 Next

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