Even with a deep understanding of how games work, sometimes designers miss the mark and make mistakes. Game designer Raph Koster discusses what he’s learned from past design failures in this talk at GDC 2018 that was recorded by Gamasutra.

Raph Koster is a game designer who has worked on games such as Ultima Online and World of Warcraft. He talks about the metaverse creation and learning lessons from past game design mistakes.

Raph Koster talks metaverse creation and learning lessons from past game design mistakes


“Metaverse.” It’s the one phrase that, according to reports, sends gaming executives and investors into a chattering frenzy only seconds before exploding into venture funding for any company that wants to make it happen. It’s also enough of a notion – as vague as it is right now – that GamesBeat held a summit on the subject, with Raph Koster speaking about how many of the technological issues of establishing a metaverse had previously been handled in the past.

“We’ve had online worlds for 44 years, and any notion of the metaverse is built on top of the concept of online worlds, whether you name them online worlds, MUDs, virtual worlds, or social worlds.” […] I’m only here to offer some high-level lessons from past errors in the hopes of preventing you from making similar mistakes in the future.”

Koster spoke about how decentralized online worlds were created as early as 1992, and how he created a virtual replica of a real-world mall in 1994. With this in mind, he believes the biggest obstacles to a metaverse’s construction are social rather than technical: players aren’t interested in item mobility, and moving an object from one digital location to another necessitates a set of standards, which is a “social coordination challenge.”

Koster also discusses how a 3-D metaverse isn’t always superior, and how technology alone won’t be able to address the difficulties of government in the digital world. He does seem to be confident, though, that game developers can work together to overcome many of the societal difficulties that come with creating a metaverse. As long as they reflect on the past.

Additional reading:


  • raph koster new mmo
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