Topic-icon SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga

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2 years 3 months ago - 2 years 3 months ago #38415 by Kazara
Kazara created the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
This blog by Raph Koster is very well one of the most insightful in regards to SWG that he has written. I knew the game released too early, but Raph gave the painful details from beginning right to right when he left. Knowing that SWG was a mere shadow of his vision makes me want him to actually build that vision in his own MMORPG. Alas, the mutilation of SWG at the hands of $OE and LA may have killed Raph's creative ambition forever.

www.raphkoster.com/2015/04/16/a-jedi-saga/

Snippet (I really recommend reading the entire blog at the link above) -

And I had been offered the role of Chief Creative Officer, in San Diego, before the game had even shipped. I had taken the role, but had stayed working on SWG to try to get it into good shape before I left — I was going to have to move. Gradually I had to give up more and more ownership over the game, and there were parts of things that simply vanished in the handoff — probably the most critical of these were metrics around gameplay balance and the economy.

And most importantly, nobody was a Jedi. Nobody cared. They were playing the professions they liked. They were doing what they wanted to do. The secret of Jedi was a secret still, and there were countless theories. Players thought they were being watched and only the deserving would be picked. Players thought that various half-finished bits of content were actually the star tof Jedi quest chains. And meanwhile, players were invisibly checking off items on their secret skill lists.

And LucasArts marketing says, “we need a Jedi by Christmas.” The rocky launch and general bugginess had cost us a huge number of subscribers. Oh, we were still the second biggest MMO outside of Asia, behind EverQuest, but the expectations were much higher. Many players had simply churned out, unwilling to deal with the general jankiness. But the game was improving by leaps and bounds, and marketing wanted to get a fresh flow of users in now that the game was actually working.

We looked at the rate at which people were unlocking their skill boxes, and did a back of the envelope calculation. It showed that the first Jedi might manifest in… 2012 or so. Marketing was not amused. “Drop hints,” the team was told.

I was already half off the team, commuting between Austin and San Diego every week or two. (I would eventually move at the end of the year). But I am pretty sure I was in at least some of the meetings. The decision was made to drop Holocrons, hint boxes that would tell you one of the skills you needed to learn.

The problem is obvious: as soon as three people all have gotten a hint that what they need is to master a specific skill box, the secret was out. It was weak cryptography. As the confirming data poured in that none of the Holocrons involved anything other than skills, the players set themselves with a will to trying to crack their personal codes. And they used the oldest trick in the book: brute force.

They simply started at A and learned every skill. In order. Probability being what it was, most finished when they got partway through. But the problem was this meant playing what you didn’t like.

The peaceful dancers who thrived on joking around with an audience and doing coordinated flourishes found themselves tramping around the mud looking for mineral deposits.

The explorers who enjoyed exploring distant swamps got themselves trapped in medical centers, buffing an endless line of combatants.

The doctors who derived their pleasure from helping out people in a support role found themselves learning martial arts or machine guns and mowing down creatures.

The combat specialists who were used to optimizing damage per second in taking down a krayt dragon were instead raising them from babies.

The creature handlers who tended dewbacks had to learn to chop them up and cook them instead.

You get the idea. Everyone started playing everything they didn’t like. Oh, some players discovered new experiences they never would have otherwise. Many emerged from this with a new understanding of the fundamental interconnectedness of a society. But most just macroed their way or grinded their way through it all as fast as possible, dazzled by the booby prize of Jedi.

Satisfaction fell off a cliff. I never did see a marketing push for Jedi — never saw a marketing push for the game at all, to tell the truth. But what I do know is that one month after Holocron drops began, we started losing subs, instead of gaining them. SWG had been growing month on month until then. After Holocrons, the game was dead; it was just that nobody knew it yet.


The last paragraph of the snippet really tells it all.

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell
Last Edit: 2 years 3 months ago by Kazara.

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2 years 3 months ago #38418 by Temploiter
Temploiter replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
Yeah, that encapsulates it. I saw people, friends, burning out grinding for Jedi. I saw towns that were flourishing die because the mayor dropped politician to grind Jedi and nobody wanted to do Politician anymore. I saw massive malls dry up as merchants quit to become Jedi, or their hard-won customers no longer had a need for their wares anymore because they were grinding Jedi. The only merchants making money in those months were the ones making grenades or traps for CombatXP grinding.

It was sickening.

But with the lessons now learned... why haven't we seen a game with SWG's fundamental ruleset ever again?

Shit, why haven't we seen an SWG2 yet?

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2 years 3 months ago #38420 by Kazara
Kazara replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga

Temploiter wrote: But with the lessons now learned... why haven't we seen a game with SWG's fundamental ruleset ever again?


This. I would love to ask Raph Koster why he didn't create an MMORPG with his own IP incorporating much of what he originally wanted to see in SWG???? If he started a kickstarter to do so, I would contribute.

I don't think we will ever see an SWG2. EA won't want anything competing against Star Wars: The Cash Shop Old Republic, which when compared to SWG Pre-Cu, has the depth of a bird bath.

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2 years 3 months ago #38421 by Temploiter
Temploiter replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
As would I.

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2 years 3 months ago #38424 by Shayde
Shayde replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
I think it would boil down to raising the funds necessary. The game alone without Star Wars attached to it wouldn't have had the money.

As we see from many who try to emulate the sandbox system, without the IP you don't have the gas in the tank.

Even AAA developers have an issue really making a successful MMO without an IP. WoW would be nowhere if it was world-of-genericcraft.

Just look at Wildstar as an example of that. It's a damn solid game with a lot of innovative systems, but it just didn't make the splash. Sure, it's no SWG type of game, but it has a lot of systems people loved about SWG.

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2 years 3 months ago #38426 by Temploiter
Temploiter replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
I agree Shayde, but remember several months ago we had a discussion with Raph and I brought up the idea of 'scale'. As a geographer-by-schooling, I thought what about a sandbox MMO 'like' SWG that occurred only on Tatooine to start. Or to remove it from the SW world, what about an MMO that had only one set of assets for one small environment? What about an MMO set in a town? Thousands of players can live in a town. Small towns can be self-sufficient with interdependencies, but the environment would not be that varied... and perhaps this town is inside a closed off valley that is impenetrable, or in a terraformed bubble on the Moon, or w/e.

Reduce the scale of the game, but maintain the complexities in the systems would reduce the massive amount of hand-crafting to be done in the art department.

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2 years 3 months ago #38429 by Kazara
Kazara replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
The problem with sandbox MMOs is that virtually all of them have forced PvP, and some that even have full looting. Many of these games depend on forced PvP to provide the content. Many do not succeed because making the same type of sandbox with the same mechanics over and over just is stale. Is there a sandbox MMO that has consensual or TEF PvP that truly has depth and a solid player economy? The non-combatant professions added even more to the social aspect an in SWG, and I would like to see such things in a sandbox MMORPG, because we certainly don't see them now.

I did not join SWG at launch because of Star wars - - I was attracted to the features and mechanics the game offered. An MMO that offered what mechanics SWG Pre-CU had, or what Raph Koster initially envisioned before aspects of the game were removed or changed could be very successful without depending on a well known IP (no alpha class of course). A truly good game sells itself.

The Repopulation is suppose to be a spiritual successor to SWG, but the PvP and preset faction zones do not impress me. I just don't think they will bring in the sandbox-y magic Raph Koster is known for.

Crowfall will be a PvP centric MMO, and while it has interesting mechanics being developed, it is not a world I could immerse myself in. I do wish them great success none the less.

Raph, if you can dream up a sandbox MMO world, you will be surprised how many gamers would be attracted to it and how many people/investors would back it. I have to believe such a game will be developed one day.......not to would be too painful and depressing.

As far as Wildstar goes, I found the graphics over-the-top ridiculous and from what I have read, the game catered to the hardcore gamers that didn't stick around. I wasn't surprised that it ran into trouble. I am hoping if it goes F2P or B2P as rumored, new life will be injected back into it.

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell

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2 years 3 months ago #38436 by Kazara
Kazara replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
Raphpaid a visit to mmropg.com to respond to the discussion of his blog there.

www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/6633034#6633034

Said unknown:

Part of me has to wonder what the game would be like now if it were redone .. better graphics, better engine, better programmers and development team that could make it the game it wanted to be.

Raph's response:

It was supposed to be "a summary game" that had piles of quests and storyline stuff TOO.

So... it redone today, it'd cost $250m? ;)


Am I understanding this correctly? The initial SWG "vision" were it to be created now would cost upwards of $250 million??? Still, given the $200+ million EA/Bioware squandered on the resulting shallow MMO known as SWTOR, one could only imagine what Koster and a handpicked team of devs, artists and support staff could create given the proper backing.

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2 years 3 months ago #38451 by Shayde
Shayde replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga
I think that's a deceptive total. You could create the game itself and launch with some content cheaper, but then grow based on subs.

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2 years 3 months ago - 2 years 3 months ago #38454 by Kazara
Kazara replied the topic: SWG: Raph Koster - A Jedi Saga

Shayde wrote: I think that's a deceptive total. You could create the game itself and launch with some content cheaper, but then grow based on subs.


I agree Shayde. Start small, then as income is generated, the MMO will grow in both world(s) and content.

If you read Raph Koster's blog about SWG's Dynamic World, I can't imagine what he could come with now given how much more powerful computers are today!

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell
Last Edit: 2 years 3 months ago by Kazara.

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