Promising impossible things

Let’s see some comments:

In this role Koster was SOE’s trophy wife, a fucking meat-puppet, something that was propped out to travel and show off as if he were some one man traveling sideshow circus. It isn’t a bad thing, far from it, a position like this as a chief creative officer for one of the biggest mmo companies in the world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is a position where you do a lot traveling, have access to a myriad of projects, and I’m sure the pay wasn’t bad either. It is a king of kings, a throne, a dream position for many in the industry, but in reality Koster sitting in this position was more like being nothing more than a mere cub scout’s badge on SOE’s dirty stained shirt.

Koster has been feeding his passion for design and development by developing various games during his free time and of course writing about the inwards, the ticks, the veins of a myriad of concepts, but it’s not enough, those are mere masturbatory exercises. The whole point is developing for an audience of more than yourself and a group of friends if you have the means to do so, or even a group of readers, too share your ideas and passion with the fucking world, some people design for reaction, it is the response which fulfills them with meaningful satisfaction, that is their play.

Oh God. The wheel turns again and we’re going to build up a ‘next saviour’ off this crackpots back and when it fucks up YET AGAIN, we’re gonna make another 200 page thread about it.

Call me again in Ten Years.

Brian Rucker:
That’s nice Raph’s throwing down the gauntlet. Now I wish the dumbass would pick it up himself.

Raph Koster says the most brilliant things (and sometimes ridiculous outrageous things – to get a response) about what needs to be done with game design. I don’t agree with all of it, like his seeming fascination with direct PvP, but much of it is spot on. What fries my shorts is he talks this amazing game, and on occasion displays those insights to good effect – the unique things we loved about SWG for example, but he never follows though. I’m guessing it’s because there are other forces getting exerted via marketing or licence holders or just other devs who have other agendas.

You lament. You lament. You made this. You gave into the crappy and shallow expectations of the very game design decisions you’re pointing that stubby old finger at now, Raph. And you can do better.

Then fucking do it. As yourself. As the guy that loved MUDs and had some great ideas. Not as the posterboy of MMOdom. Not as the Quoteable Visionary.

Just you, Raph. Do it. Fuck the money. Built it right, you know you’ve got the right ideas, and it will come.

I tend to agree with a variety of points of view.

As I read the news I felt somewhat disappointed like Ironwood. Gordon Walton, Rich Vogel and Raph Koster. Not going indie, of course, but joining the next Big Guy (Bioware) entering the playfield, and claiming it their own territory and pride. Despite Raph repeats how much he loves the indie game development and how the scarcity of the resources can be good for the creativity. So absolutely predictable.

See, it’s not that these guys didn’t get second, third or fourth chances. It’s not like they didn’t have the occasion to express themselves and demonstrate their ideas. So, every time I see these “dinosaurs” swapping companies and projects I always feel somewhat cheated. They swap side, have parties with friends. It seems things change but everything is exactly the same and in the tight grip of the same hands. We have always the same masters. They feign change but it’s always the same game. They promise impossible things, fuck them up and then promise again with a wink.

Jump ship before it’s too late, dodge the responisibilities and show a big smile as a new project is rolled at your feet. How convenient and cheap.

Take the case of Lum. It is totally different. Lum didn’t have the chance to try his ideas, he was in the back implementing stuff, observing and commenting. But he didn’t have the possibility to demonstrate the other side of things. So I’m interested in what he can say. I’m glad to see him now in the position to poke at things more directly. I think he deserved that and that, finally, he could be used for a role that suits him better. It was long due.

What I criticize is this idea of a “sealed” industry completely controlled by some elders that built their own reputation long ago and are now continuing of inertia. There’s lot of ego and convenience driving things, but not much honesty and merit. These guys should help to form and educate a new mentality, new blood. And instead they plug every hole and sit on top of the pyramid, expecting to be revered and keeping tightly everything in their grip. They suffocate the industry instead of making it more vibrant and alive. More responsive.

I’m not attacking Raph here, but what you expect me to think when I see Gordon Walton, Rich Vogel and Raph Koster together again under another Big Company and possibly building another game about Star Wars. Come on. I’ve already seen this movie. You cannot expect to sell it to me as something brand new. I see too many free cookies for these guys.

But then I am also overly excited, because this is what I wanted Raph to do since the beginning. His biggest “mistake” was to leave the lead of SWG, I always considered that as a betrayal to the game. I’ve already said that a lead designer should NEVER leave his project. This commitment is fundamental and the very first responsibility. Instead Raph dropped everything, fled from the battlefield when things were heating up and when it was crucial to push forward the “Vision”. Because the release of a mmorpg isn’t the end of the development, it’s the beginning of the journey. And that ship lost the commander, a ship that wasn’t particularly strong in the first place and that surely couldn’t “afford” to be left on its own. That ship sank long ago and it sank ALSO because of the original design. There were flaws but it was the very first reason why Raph should have been there to figure out and and solve those flaws for what it was possible. So that he could have been *accountable* for both the merits and the problems. His responsibilities. Mmorpgs are like babies, after nine months you aren’t done with them. That was the easy part.

I’m not criticizing his practical decisions. Or Raph as a man. But just the public side and his choice and responsibilities toward the game.

Now I’m overly excited because Raph is back to where he belongs (well, assumptions). Because I’m so absolutely tired to see him talking at the high level about abstract ideas that do not go anywhere. So. Horribly. Logorrheic. I want to see him in the front lines. To work concretely, get his hands dirt. Fight for his ideas and ideals instead of writing them in a book about games. I love his book, but with no games, no book.

So I think, “FINALLY”. Things are moving again. We aren’t swamped in the sameness where you feel like suspended in a time without time. In a stasis where you finish always to think about what happened in the past and with no faith or interest about the future. This industry killed the genre, it sabotaged it. Where are out “virtual worlds”? Where are our myths?

I believe that Raph still has a lot to demonstrate and I believe we can draw a line over the past to look at the future.

Maybe with Bioware guarding his shoulders and forbidding him to try things too wacky and out of place.

Hoping he won’t bail off again near the end.

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