Raph Koster Gaming Lecture Feedback


Revered game software developer, Raph Koster, stopped by my EH 454 classroom for a guest lecture on October 11! Koster has contributed to the design of many popular games like Ultima 91 online in 1994! He was very enthusiastic about the evolving nature of the internet and game design methods. He actually believes that the Twine software program we utilize in class is inefficient for creating adventure games in comparison to our optional course software, Inform Seven! Koster recommended that the class switch to learning through practicing with the Inform 7 platform! I am continuing to study game design by practicing with Twine software, but Koster’s wisdom about how to organize design concepts and experiment with them are proving quite helpful upon my studies.

One key concept of game design that I took away from his lecture is his theory of spatial metaphor. Spatial metaphors allow game designers to guide players through the interactive fiction experiences without being overly explicit in ways that will ultimately lead players away from falling into the game deeply. Koster’s spatial metaphors reminded me of my methods used when I designed “Halloween 9000”. Halloween 9000 is an interactive fiction game that I wrote about in an earlier blog post, this month, and I used contextual clues about the game environment to guide players into inexplicitly directed player procedures. An example of this is evident, when I designed a scenario in which obtainable objects in game play would have hypertext links in combination with a poetic description of their characteristics2. The most difficult aspect of applying this method is how the effect of instilled player inclusiveness is dependent upon how well designers understand player preferences. This leads designers, like all of us in Joy’s class, to conduct play test sessions in order to obtain viable feedback in regards to how well the spatial metaphors served the interests of the players in order to create a better final product!


If you want to look at my example of spatial metaphor use in my twine project, download and play the file of it below figure 1! The spatial metaphor is in the passage following the opening in the main character’s hometown. Spatial metaphor use also fills most of the second half of the interactive fiction. 

Figure 1.) Courtesy of metacritic 

Twine Link to Halloween 9000 Example: https://twinery.org/2/#stories/e12e64a6-2ff8-2ce8-3916-3b4df0cd35d4