Eurogamer: Do you still follow what EA's doing with UO?
Raph Koster: Not very much. I do still hear from folks on the current UO team from time to time - some of my script code from 10 years ago is still part of core gameplay!
Eurogamer: Why do you think the EverQuest model, shall we say, ended up proving more successful with players than the Ultima Online style?
Raph Koster: The EQ model was taken quite directly from the most successful text game model, the Diku-style game. UO was originally conceived as a way to appeal to a broader audience than that, since that model was pure hackandslash, which wasn't really the Ultima brand identity. Instead, I think we found that there's plenty of core gamers who like just hackandslash. That said, I think we have ended up seeing many of the distinctive UO features turn out to be things that did end up being really broad-appeal features, popping up instead in all sorts of other titles all the way into huge new markets. Whole games about housebuilding, crafting, dancing, pet caretaking, et cetera.
Eurogamer: To what extent do you think modern MMOs are derived from MUD traditions?
Raph Koster: Hugely, massively. As I have said before, if you pulled an experienced DikuMUD player from 1996 and sat them down in front of WOW, they'd think the graphics were awesome, the combat very familiar, aggro management somewhat more complex, spells somewhat simpler, crafting and the economy insanely overdeveloped, quests a mixed bag, and the volume of content simply astonishing. But they'd have zero issues playing it.
Eurogamer: Do you still talk to Richard Garriott?
Raph Koster: No. He doesn't attend that many industry events, honestly, and I haven't been working alongside him for, what, nine years now? Last time I saw him was probably at E3 a couple of years ago.
Eurogamer: What did you think of Tabula Rasa?
Raph Koster: I didn't play it very much. From the outside, it was clearly troubled, given that they had that drastic reboot in the middle. There were lots of cool things about it.
Eurogamer: Has BioWare had any correspondence with you regarding The Old Republic vis-a-vis Galaxies?
Raph Koster: No, but many of the folks working on it are friends of mine, so I pay attention.
Eurogamer: And from what you've seen, how do you think their project is shaping up?
Raph Koster: It looks gorgeous, and I am looking forward to trying out the story-driven mechanics. That would really be something new and different if they pull it off.