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Raph Koster is collaborating on Crowfall [Updated with video]

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So here's a funny story: Yesterday, the Massively writers were shooting the breeze in team chat when the subject of sandbox devs who were not also closet-gankers came up. "When do you think Raph Koster will finally make a new sandbox?" I asked, half kidding and half wistful. "Never," Jef answered. Then we commiserated for a bit.

It turns out we were remarkably prescient because that day is... today. ArtCraft, the studio working on the nebulous PvP MMO Crowfall, announced today that Koster, the backbone of sandbox legends Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, has been collaborating with the Crowfall team on the game's design for a year already as a "formal advisor and design consultant."

"Raph and I have been working together for about a year on the design architecture for Crowfall," ArtCraft's J. Todd Coleman wrote. "At the heart of this game, we have two core systems: dynamic territorial conquest and a player-driven economy. Marrying these two concepts is the holy grail of MMO development, and Raph is arguably the best person in the world to help us solve this puzzle."

Koster gets a blurb of his own in the PR: "There isn't anything on the market like Crowfall, and it has been a long time since some of these design ideas were explored. There's a very specific audience out there waiting for a game like this -- the conflict, the real economy -- that has been looking for new steps beyond the games of ten years ago."

Your move, MMO genre.





Update #2: Koster has updated his blog to explain a bit more about his role on the team:

I've helped out on everything from economics and materials design to yeah, dipping my toes into Todd's bloodthirstiness and the warfare design that is embodied in "play to crush." :) (If there was any doubt this is Todd's game, that should be a hefty clue!)

That said, it's definitely got me in the mix too! Most obviously, from today's announcements, will be mention of an abstract resource system underlying the crafting system. It's been something that has been absent from the MMO scene lately, despite the lessons from UO and SWG showing how powerful it can be in terms of enabling crafting as a true role in its own right.
He also hints about his work in relation to a forthcoming "'massively multiplayer' announcement yet to go that is way out of left field and in an arena [he has] never worked in before."

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