Raph Koster and interdependent gameplay

From Raph’s blog today:

In the end, I think there is much left to be done in exploring systems that require large-scale interdependent gameplay. Once critical mass is achieved, they provide much of what is most intriguing about virtual worlds: EQ strategy sites. Bloodpledges in Lineage. All of A Tale in the Desert. WoW’s auction house. SWG’s strange and complex economy (originally). UO’s spontaneous player towns. And as the worldwide audience for virtual worlds keeps spiking, there is going to be plenty of chance to grab a sizable enough population to get the flywheel going, despite increasing nichification.

First, nichification is a cool word.

Second, I really miss the SWG of yore.

I keep hoping that some game shoots for what Raph is talking about, instead of copying WoW, or focusing on PvP, or focusing on end-game raiding. I think the lack of interdependent gameplay is really the cause of my current unease with mmorpg’s. Describing WoW like a bowling league is perfect. If you don’t like bowling (raiding or instanced PvP), you’re kinda out of luck. I know LOTRO lacks enough interdependent gameplay to suck me in. Same with EQ2.

A big part of the reason to design with this sort of approach in mind is because it drives normally insular players to meet other people.

Or, it allows normally insular players to interact with other people, without having to group with them, or raid with them. In SWG, I felt like I was providing a valuable service through my architect and artisan business, but I could exist in my typical insular world. I dislike the lack of choice in the ways I can interact with people in most current mmorpg’s (Eve is the exception here). I’d love to see games that recreate the old UO player cities, or SWG’s cities and fully-featured crafting/merchant classes. Part of the reason I think I’m turned off on WAR is because I’m fearing it’s not offering enough interdependent gameplay beyond PvP. Don’t get me wrong, I loved DAoC’s interdependent PvP, but I like the crafting/merchant angle as well. I haven’t looked enough at Conan to know if there’s any options like that available.

Like George Carlin, it’s not that I hate people. Like him, I don’t mind talking to people for, like, a minute or two 🙂 I just don’t want my advancement to depend on spending hours with people, moving at the pace of the lowest common denominator. I can’t stand raids. I even get frustrated with 5-mans. I want to move at my own pace, but still make a meaningful contribution to the overall  world. SWG had that, and I miss it.

I want more options in my mmorpg’s. I want a more fully featured world, not just a setting where I play a game. Raph, damn it, make me a game 🙂


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