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UO and SWG developer veteran wants to fulfill genre fans’ dreams with new sandbox MMO

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Raph Koster (Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies) has been working on a sandbox MMO with other veterans for years. Now there is a sign of life in the form of a countdown and teaser for an upcoming community Q&A session.

What kind of sandbox MMO is this? Playable Worlds was first introduced in 2019. The studio of the same name has been around since 2018. With this project, the team wants to create a digital, dynamic world that feels alive and in which the community is the focus of everything.

Imagine Ultima Online, only much more sophisticated, modern and immersive – that’s the promise. Powered by complex simulations and AI tools. It all sounds pretty cryptic, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because nothing concrete has been shown to the public in all these years.

However, the various investors who have invested many millions of US dollars in the project over the course of its development so far are likely to know more. In April 2022, a whopping 25 million US dollars were raised in one go. There were also a few quotes like that from Mark Laursen, founder and CEO of Bright Star Studios (via X): “Epic presentation. This is truly next-level material.”

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Playable Worlds remains critical

What’s new? For a few days now, a kind of countdown has been ticking down on the studio’s social channels (for example via X), in the form of questions that are intended to show how the world of Playable Worlds could work:

  • What if… you could actually invent new things in an MMO?
  • What if… there was a way to discover secrets in an MMO – and no simple wiki provided you with all the answers?
  • What if… it rained and created puddles that froze overnight?
  • What if… the game also rewarded you for peaceful play?
  • What if… you could be admired and become famous in an MMO for more than just your character level or your raid skills?
  • What if… you could just change your mind about who your character is?
  • What if… you could walk through grass and leave a trail if you did it often enough?
  • What if… exploration in an MMO actually mattered (to you and others)?
  • What if… MMOs actually fulfilled the dreams we once had for them?
  • What if… an MMO actually let you reshape the landscape?

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What’s behind the countdown? On June 21, 2024, the studio’s official website announced (via playableworlds.com) that they were planning an Ask-Me-Anything Q&A session on Reddit’s MMORPG section on June 28, 2024.

Who is behind Playable Worlds? None other than studio founder and CEO Raph Koster will provide the answers in the AMA round. You might already know Koster, after all, he was the lead designer of Ultima Online (1997) and the creative director of Star Wars Galaxies (2003).

The team also includes Executive Producer and Chief Product Officer Gordon Walton, who previously worked at Maxis (The Sims), BioWare (Star Wars) and Sony Online Entertainment, among others.

The veterans are also very regular guests at panels, conferences and events to theorize about the MMORPG genre as well as current trends and the status quo of the industry. For example: The MMORPG forefather explains why subscription models still work today.

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