Topic-icon Raph Koster: Designing a Living Society in SWG, part one

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1 year 11 months ago #38467 by Kazara
www.raphkoster.com/2015/04/21/designing-a-living-society-in-swg-part-one/

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Once upon a time you could drop things on the ground. It’s one of the first things a baby does, one of the most human things to do. You pick something up, drop it somewhere else. You build piles. Piles turn into houses. They turn into furniture. They turn into gathering places, into churches, into seats of civilizations. Dropping stuff on the ground is pretty important to who we are.

In the last post, I talked about the technical underpinnings that allowed us to provide a dynamic environment in SWG. But really, all that was in service of something bigger: having a living society. One of the challenges in creating online worlds is that societies are powerfully shaped by the environment they are in. A static, unchanging world will inevitably give rise to certain sorts of behaviors: spawn camping, for example. Players flow like water around gameplay obstacles; if a game doesn’t offer them the ability to run a shop, they’ll set up their character as a bot and sit online for hours to replace the system — or rather, the standard human social structure — that is commerce.

A lot of MMO design, especially in the last decade, has been about preventing behaviors, rather than enabling them.


Another insightful blog into the design of SWG. No other MMORPG has come close to what this game had, even in its broken, incomplete state.

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1 year 11 months ago #38468 by Temploiter
I'm loving the insight and the trips down memory lane, but it's also making me sad that we can't go visit this place anymore.

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1 year 11 months ago #38470 by Kazara
I hear you Temp. I enjoy the SWGEmu, but with players having up to 10 characters and missing mechanics, it is not the SWG world I used to "live" in 12 years ago. I know it is just in alpha and am still happy to access it.

After the development of UO, EQ and SWG,I find it astonishing that no other MMOs have been developed building on the amazing mechanics of those games. The shallow sandboxes of today depend on forced PvP (many with full looting) for content. There is very little to no non-combat activities outside crafting.

I know most developers went with the tried and true WoW theme park design, but like real life theme parks, you leave after you have done all the rides or when you just get bored. The longest I have stayed in a theme park game is 1 1/2 years. Either I left because I level capped or due to the serious lack of community and grouping needed to enjoy progress and "life" in game.

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1 year 11 months ago #38472 by Temploiter
I think you see so many open-PvP sandboxes Kaz for a similar reason to our pining away for another SWG. Many of these guys developing those FFA PVP games began their MMO experiences with Ultima Online and Shadowbane that had those elements. That was their "SWG" that they look back fondly upon and are trying to recreate.

But, I totally agree with you that there is a market out there for a PvP-optional sandbox. I believe it. I'm a PvP guy and I would PREFER it, because the folks supporting the 'fighters' can't be more fighters. The folks holding the community together are the non-fighters. You can't have a cohesive system without BOTH and you can't have BOTH with forced PvP (I mean you can in theory, but I've never seen it delivered). You can't because the non-combatants don't want to feel like they are in constant jeopardy.

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1 year 11 months ago - 1 year 11 months ago #38473 by Shayde
I think what really sums SWG up is the last paragraph. The first concern, if I read Raph correctly, was to create the community and economy and make it a vibrant entity THEN add the combat and story.

Which is why we all go back to saying the world felt so vibrant and the people we played with are remembered fondly. In many many ways we were all in this together. The crafter became friendly with the miner, and the skinner and the people they crafted for. We all were a piece in the puzzle, and couldn't get along without each other in some way.

Hell, I remember launch. Went in with my Earth & Beyond guild, and we had people set up in roles. A couple crafters that we all helped level with resources so we could be outfitted. Our scout tracking and camping for those resources, we were a team. I remember the joy when our weaponsmith dinged another box, and we had these cool new scout blasters! Took them out to hunt bugs so we could all get that cool set of Chitin armor!

The whole damn world was out there discovering the game. It wasn't about starting some "kill 10 rats" bullshit quest, it was about discovery.

Goddamn it Raph, thanks for that. Never had that feeling in a game before and I'm damn sure I never will again.

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Adios Whackjobs!
Last Edit: 1 year 11 months ago by Shayde.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Temploiter

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1 year 11 months ago #38475 by Temploiter
Yes, thanks for that Raph. Seriously.

And Shayde, you brought back a great memory. I too had a "SWEET! Scoutblasters!" experience. Man they were so nice and what an upgrade! I still can go right to where my house was outside Coronet. I remember our mayor's name. I remember the weaponsmith I bought weapons from and where his shop was on the other side of Coronet. It was a real living world there for a while.

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1 year 11 months ago #38478 by Kazara
MassicelyOP.net wrote an article on this particular blog and Raph responds in the response area.

massivelyop.net/2015/04/22/how-star-wars-galaxies-pioneered-a-living-society/#comments

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1 year 11 months ago #38483 by Kazara
Raph Koster posted a thread about his blog on mmorpg.com's The Pub sub-forum and joins in discussion with posters.

www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/430805/How-SWGs-dynamic-world-worked.html

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