Gamasutra has a write-up of Raph’s presentation at the Austin Game Developers Conference, and he’s posted the slides on his site. Very interesting stuff, well worth reading and pondering, especially for those looking to capitalise on the large swathes of the market that most of the traditional game industry regularly ignores.
I’m particularly interested in his thoughts on asynchronous online gaming (that is, being able to have a meaningful interaction with others even if you’re not online at exactly the same time). This is something I’ve banged on about regularly, that busy people with lots of varied interests still like online games but don’t have the predictable schedule to be online at the same time as their (equally busy) friends all the time. Deferred online interaction is everywhere else, email, forums, Facebook, even Legend of the Red Dragon did it, so why do most online games ignore it, and consider you to be effectively non-existent when you’re offline? Eve I think is one of the few exceptions to actually consider it. I think it’s so wrong that most online games penalise you for not ‘putting the hours in’, one of the main reasons I generally only dabble. Online game purists will say it’s meaningless unless you have real-time interaction but I disagree - all other online communities are mostly deferred (except IRC) and they work very well indeed as social communities. I’m clearly not the only one who thinks it’s important, thankfully - I had a discussion with temas (ex-Ogre team member, now working on Yes.com) recently and he expressed similar thoughts, and it’s good to see a luminary like Raph raising the same thing.
Raph also said he’s working on a new book on game grammar, which should be interesting, I enjoyed A Theory of Fun a lot.