The Limits of Formalism, my talk from BIRS
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 May 2016, 5:32 pm
Game talk
I spent last week up in the mountains around Banff, Canada, with a spectacular group of people, as we talked about “computational modeling of games.” This was a workshop held at the Banff International Research Station, or BIRS, and organized by Andy Nealen of NYU and Michael Mateas of UC Santa Cruz. As you may [...]


My Cycle of Life talk from Helsinki
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 May 2016, 3:21 pm
Game talk
I just got back from a week in Helsinki, Finland. I was there to run some game design workshops at Next Games, and do a lecture for them as part of an event they were hosting. The request was for a talk of a similar shape to the one I gave at GDC: looking back [...]


Slides for my GDC Flashbackward segment
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 March 2016, 9:18 pm
Game talk
I hear video will be up in a few weeks, but in the meantime, here are the slides and the text for the little five minute talk I gave at GDC as part of the FlashBackward keynote. For some reason, I felt the pressure on this talk much more than usual. Five minutes is not [...]


Books on writing
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 March 2016, 6:37 pm
Game talkMailbagReading
Hello! I watched the recording of your lecture “Teaching to fish.” At the end you recommend books for the different subjects, and you said that a lot of people start with Joseph Campbell, but that there are a lot more, interesting books, out there. Do you have any books to recommend about creative writing?  — [...]


GDC and Flash Backward
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 March 2016, 8:32 pm
Game talk
GDC is fast approaching! I am only doing a five minute talk this year (much like last year!). But boy, I have a big stage for it. Instead of a regular keynote, GDC is doing a Flash Backward “keynote” where a bunch of veteran devs will share the stage giving a history of the last [...]


A Sunday Poems update
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 December 2015, 3:01 pm
The Sunday PoemWriting
As hopefully you know, I released a little book of the poems that I have been posting here on the blog on Sundays. Today Motherboard did a little piece on it: I think next time I should make a game that has the poems in it, and I bet it would be seen by a [...]


Video: Teaching to Fish (Sweden Game Conference)
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 November 2015, 11:42 am
Game talk
I posted up the slides to my talk at SGC earlier; now the conference has released video of the session. This talk was a joint keynote for both the Sweden Game Conference, which was a typical industry conference, and the smaller VS-Games conference for serious games academics. So I tried to straddle the line by [...]


My new book: Sunday Poems
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 November 2015, 6:52 pm
The Sunday PoemWriting
Starting in 2005, game designer Raph Koster decided to post a poem to his popular blog every Sunday. Ten years later, this is a selection of eighty of those poems, accompanied by gorgeous pen-and-ink illustrations and illuminating endnotes. These are verses written to an audience that didn’t necessarily care about poetry; verses about whatever was [...]


Teaching to Fish: Sweden Game Conference
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 September 2015, 8:14 pm
Game talk
I had a great time in Sweden, despite the fact that there did not seem to be a canonical way to pronounce the city was in (Skövde — sort of hghuheffdduh-ish, but depending where I was in the country, it was also hgheffduh, hghuffda, and a few others). The talk I gave, put together after [...]


PAXDev Game Grammar talk
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 September 2015, 5:03 pm
Game talk
At PAXDev I gave a talk on Game Grammar. It’s an overview of my current understanding of how all the parts of games fit together. I don’t touch on how every part works — that would have taken far too long for the time allotted — but I do provide the overview, what I have [...]


Off to PAX
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 August 2015, 1:15 pm
Game talk
I fly off to Seattle in a few hours, barring rain. It will be my first time ever at PAX, and I am looking forward to seeing what the hubbub is about. I will be carting some of my tabletop games with me, so if you run into me, ask about them and you may [...]


MMORPG.com interview
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 July 2015, 1:31 pm
Game talk
Wherein I whine in a most entitled way about people who want me to make games for them: Something like 95% of the games I’ve done over the last 20 years has never been seen by the public at all. Puzzle games have been a key part of what I’ve done for a decade and [...]


Games affecting people
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 June 2015, 3:35 pm
Game talk
This comes up, especially in relation to questions about free speech. It comes up, in terms of working with compulsion loops some might term addictive. It comes, in terms of whether or not game designers worry about what they do. The most common answer is “no,” likely because it’s an uncomfortable question people would rather [...]


Game design vs UX design
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 June 2015, 1:39 pm
Game talk
Short form: UX design is about removing problems from the user. Game design is about giving problems to the user. In both cases you look at users’ cognitive reasoning and process capacity. And these days, we have UX designers on game teams, and they are incredibly valuable. But they are in a different discipline from [...]


Games vs Sports
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 June 2015, 2:24 pm
Game talk
From a game design “formalist” point of view, they are not different. A rules-centric view of games doesn’t care whether the interface is computerized, mediated via apparatus, or physical, so it makes no distinction between computer chess and physical chess; similarly, it makes no distinction between the rules of, say, baseball, implemented within a computer [...]


Some thoughts on recent industry events
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 June 2015, 3:40 pm
Game talk
The FTC imposes a fine on a board game creator who failed to deliver their Kickstarter. Developers publicly wring their hands about the reports of high refund rates on Steam. Everyone looks to VR, but there’s already people asking whether it is a bubble. What’s going on? There are two business models: sell something in [...]


Online Game Pioneers at Work
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 June 2015, 2:13 pm
Game talk
If you are interested in online game history, you probably want to check out Online Game Pioneers at Work. Morgan Ramsay managed to corner a whole bunch of people who were key figures in online game development over the last several decades, and interviewed all of us at great length. It’s a follow-up to his [...]


An Industry Lifecycle
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 June 2015, 3:05 pm
Game talk
A new platform on which to play games is invented. It might be a new graphics technology (Vector graphics! Color! 3d! VR!). It might be a technical advancement of a different sort (Modems! Servers! Streaming! D-pads! Small screens! Big screens! Touch screens!). It might just be a new marketing channel (Games in bars! Games at [...]


Did Star Wars Galaxies Fail?
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 April 2015, 11:52 am
Game talk
Read the other posts in this series: PvP and temporary enemy flagging A Jedi Saga SWG’s Dynamic World Designing a Living Society, part one Designing a Living Society, part two This is the last post on SWG for, well, a while. I am sure there are plenty of other things to say and more questions [...]


Designing a Living Society in SWG, part two
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 April 2015, 2:52 am
Game talk
Last time, I talked about the basic skill and economic infrastructure that Star Wars Galaxies provided. Fundamentally, these were about equality. They made the different roles played by players have the same standing in the game. However, it’s still a game, after all — players are going to engage in radically different sorts of activities, [...]


Designing a Living Society in SWG, part one
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 April 2015, 10:18 pm
Game talkGamemaking
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 [...]


SWG’s Dynamic World
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2015, 3:15 pm
Game talkGamemaking
This post is dedicated to the memory of John Roy, lead environment artist on Star Wars Galaxies. Help out his family here. Let’s do some math. Let’s say that you need to have a pretty big world: sixteen kilometers on a side, and made out of tiles. A tile needs to know what texture it [...]


A Jedi Saga
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 April 2015, 10:37 pm
Game talkGamemaking
Continuing here with the questions that were sent in by Jason Yates! Yesterday it was the TEF system… today it’s Jedi! Some of this stuff has been told before, but it’s actually kind of hard to find it all in one continuous tale. I have to preface this with a huge huge disclaimer, though: it’s [...]


Star Wars Galaxies Temporary Enemy Flagging
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 April 2015, 1:58 pm
Game talkGamemaking
I was sent this list of Star Wars: Galaxies questions by Jason Yates; he had seen this video interview, and didn’t know enough Spanish to be able to follow the answers. I posted up an English translation of the transcript here, but really, the interview didn’t much overlap with the questions he had. Is there [...]


Video of “Community Management in the Culture Wars”
Posted by Raph's Website [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 March 2015, 3:11 am
Game talk
The GDC Vault has posted up one hundred and forty free videos from GDC 2015. Holy Cow, almost as good as being there. Among them is the talk that Rich Vogel, Gordon Walton and I presented on “Community Management in the Culture Wars.” I’ve embedded it below, and I’ve also added it to the already [...]


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