Interview with Mr. Raph “Holocron” Koster

Thank you for agreeing to our interview, Mr. Koster. We thought we would try to take a different approach and ask some bigger questions. We’d like to know more about your vision as a creative director and what that means for the game in the long run.

We have some big questions so feel free to take some time and answer as you need to, especially if they are longer than sound bytes!

1. In Raph’s perfect world, what would Star Wars Galaxies be like at the end of its 5-year developmental cycle?
Well, it hasn’t had a five year development cycle. I’d love it if it had! :) Unless maybe you’re including the time to get the space expansion done as well.

So I’ll rephrase the question, since I guess that you mean, “what will it be like five years after development first started”… I hope that it will have grown and evolved a lot. Just like generals say that no plan survives contact with the enemy, no online game design survives contact with the public. :) So I am sure that it will have changed in a lot of ways both subtle and obvious, based on how players play it.

By then, I would expect to see vehicles and player cities up and running, as well as space of course. I imagine that we will have added a player species or two. But it’s not really about features. What I would hope to see is that Star Wars Galaxies has become a player-driven world as much as it can be.

2. What has been the defining moment in your role as the Creative Director for Star Wars Galaxies?
I don’t think there has been a single defining moment. I can think of a lot of individual moments. The first time I walked around on the fractally generated terrain was a big rush, because it proved out the concept. Fairly recently, the first time I went into a cantina on Tatooine and saw player entertainers performing for money. The first time I blew up an AT-ST with a group, that was quite a rush. The day we posted the PvP system proposal to the boards, and got so much great feedback from such a smart community.

3. With all of the MMO’s slated to come out this year and the following year do you see Star Wars Galaxies as fulfilling a niche in the market, or do you think the appeal will be universal enough to make it a dominate product?
I don’t think that there will be dominant products that rule the marketplace. Sure, some will be more popular than others, but overall, I think that the audience will be segmented out, at least in the near-term. Hopefully Star Wars Galaxies will be one of the larger segments. :)

I do hope that with Star Wars Galaxies we’ve brought together some of the best of the various games out there, so that it has broad appeal. Right now, in the beta, we’re getting feedback that we’ve managed to capture a lot of different aspects of gameplay, but that we still need to work on making the game supply more rewards to achiever types.

4. What sorts of things are implemented now, or will be implemented in the product’s lifecycle that will keep it competitive, and not just a small niche market.
I think we already have a lot of things that broaden the appeal of the game. The facilities for roleplaying, the very flexible skill system, the player-driven economy. And of course, there’s the draw of Star Wars for so many people.

I think the fact that short play sessions are possible, and even fun, will also be a big deal for a lot of people. I don’t usually have multiple hours to devote to the game myself—I’m too busy working on it—so I like the fact that I get in the game and find something to do fairly quickly. I’ve certainly acquired a bad reputation with Jabba’s thugs that way. :)

And of course, over the product’s lifecycle, there are a lot of things. Space leaps to mind. :)