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Monday, March 27, 2006

Koster Departs SOE

I first read this rumor on Plaguelands which linked to Kotaku. Only it isn't a rumor anymore according to Gamespot. Raph Koster and SOE have parted ways. And here's Raph's own post on the news.

While I suppose you can take this as a negative for SOE in losing what is definitely a well-known name in the industry, I wonder if they feel that way internally. To the best of my knowledge, Koster was no longer working on SWG. So what exactly did he do from 9-5 at SOE? Upcoming games, perhaps? I honestly have no idea. But I imagine he drew a larger salary than your average game designer. And, on the other side of the coin, he was probably frustrated or bored without a game to have a direct impact on. So I have to think this move makes sense for both parties.

As for Raph Koster, people are clearly divided on their views of him. Many basically idolize him and view him as a great games philosopher of sorts. Then you have those who blame him for SWG's faults and think his reputation is largely undeserved.

Since I haven't really played all of the games he worked on, I'm going to stay out of that fray for now. I did read A Theory of Fun and that was certainly an entertaining and enjoyable book I would recommend to people curious about basic game design concepts. I have the book on my coffee table and even non-gamers love to pick it up and browse it. So for putting together a book on fun that is, itself, fun to read, I do give Raph credit. But I'm not going to connect being a good author and illustrator with being a great game designer. I'm not saying he isn't either.

If Raph is going to start his own game development studio I will let him stand or fall on his own merits. If that happens, there will be no real outside influences to blame or to take credit. If the game is great I will praise it. If not I will trash it. I do wish him luck because I want to play great games so I hope he makes one. If he goes to another game company (Bioware rumors abound) then it will be a bit harder to tell whether his impact is positive or negative.

The rumors which preceded the announcement also had SOE losing the Lucas license for SWG and Bioware (KOTOR remember?) getting a license to make a Star Wars game. I don't think those rumors are worth commenting on. I honestly don't believe them though I may just be naive. But there's now
an official denial.


Quick Note: Aggroculture and EQ2Daily's Brownie Troop had their first staged battle on the PvP server along with some friends from United Alliance. It was a great time and I'd like to thank everyone who attended. Unfortunately, Aggroculture definitely lost the war but did stage a stunning upset in the final battle. I was also defeated in a solo match by Leko, the leader of the Brownie Troop but Aggroculture's Falik (aka Quylein the Mage) managed to down Rotacidare in their bout. It was all a great example of how fun PvP can be. Screenshots here and here.


Anonymous Constance said...

"If he goes to another game company (Bioware rumors abound) then it will be a bit harder to tell whether his impact is positive or negative."

This is exactly what I was thinking. With bioware trying to get into the mmo market and a big guy like Koster being available it's hard to believe they wouldn't snatch him up.

1:15 AM  
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