Director’s Cut: The Biggest Unanswered Question Is . . .

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, so that means we have some more GDC news to share with you, this time focusing on the rapidly evolving world of MMOs.

Dave Jones, the creator of Lemmings, Blood Money, the original Grand Theft Auto and the Xbox 360 hit Crackdown, will be giving an MMO design theory talk at GDC 08. While the first three credits were under the classic DMA Design banner influencing a generation of games and game designers, Dave and his team have been hard at work on breakout innovation in modern game design at his Realtime Worlds, where he presides as CEO and Creative Director.
Now, none of these titles is an MMO. However, I recently had a chance to catch up with Realtime Worlds’ Mario Rizzo, whom you may recall from his pioneering work on the EverQuest games. He and the team have been kind enough to clue me in as to the goings on at Realtime, and all I’m going to say here is that the GDC audience is in for a real treat. While there is some information out there, I’d encourage you to also scrutinize Dave’s description of his talk for clues:
My First MMO
Another proven, veteran developer is Raph Koster. In Raph’s case, he’s already had the chance to design huge groundbreaking MMOs such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. But now he’s through the looking glass. We caught up around his presentation at TechCrunch 40, and he shared the structure of his new venture, Metaplace. He modestly described it as a cross-platform standard for anyone to develop their own online worlds and games. As he continued, I slowly realized that he was effectively describing the holy grail of games, namely a game experience that can be shared on multiple platforms by players anywhere (the game equivalent of hydrogen cars) as well as the holy grail of the Web 2.0 industry, namely a user created experience that can retain loyalty through community interaction and fun (the open web equivalent of WoW).
The game industry has admittedly lagged behind YouTube and social networking sites in creating what Sulka Haro calls “gamer created activity” — even though we have the edge in interface and gameplay design. At this year’s GDC, we intend to rebalance things on that front, starting with Raph’s postmortem of his game/platform/community. Maybe we can invent some new words too to describe these experiences, but for now we’ll start with how they’re made:
Metaplace Postmortem: Reinventing MMOs
On a slightly different note, we’d like to remind everyone who attended GDC in 2007 that your discounted alumni rate is still available through end of day tomorrow, through your e-mail link. Thank you for your continued support!
Jamil Moledina
Executive Director
Game Developers Conference