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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Be A Hero and Create Your Own Content

The idea of user-created content in MMO's is something that's long been discussed on this site. For instance, I talked about it here and Karnatos wrote about it here. It is not something that is right for all games. But there is definitely so much opportunity to utilize community created content in the right framework and it is a facet of gaming that will be huge in the future. The public is definitely hungry for it. I don't know if it's humanly possible for me to hear any more about Little Big Planet and it's user created content from the gaming media.

So it is very exciting to see that City of Heroes will feature user-created content in the future, according to Lead Designer Matt Miller (Positron) in his post

"One of the things I can talk about is a feature that we are planning. Similar in concept to our character creator, it allows you, the players, to create missions and story arcs for your characters and others to participate in. You’ll be able to pick the map, villain group, and objectives, as well as write the dialog and any clues needed for the missions. When you are satisfied with it, you can upload it and have other players across all servers play it and rate it. Fame will come to the players whose stories rate the best overall."

As I said, community created content would not work for all games. It would be extremely difficult to implement in EQII to this level. But COH seems perfect. The beauty is that COH is not at all item-centric and is a relatively simple game. People have called it a "shallow" MMO, but now that very shallowness may be a great asset, as implementing this type of content will be so much easier.

Take a moment to think how cool it would be to design your own superhero mission with your own dialogue! People are going to have so much fun designing their own missions. I can pretty much guarantee that when this feature is released, I and some friends from this site and going to be jumping to re-sub and work together on some missions - funny, serious and everything in between.

And don't forget, it provides much needed additional content to players without any work on the developers' part. Someone who is bored with the "official" missions can do some top-rated user created ones. And that extends the subscription life of the game.

The community certainly seems super excited about it to say the least. That is a positive reaction - page after page.

There still will be some difficulties. The first thing people will do is try to abuse the system to farm. But who really cares about farming in COH? I mean it's not that kind of game - we're not talking about WoW here. I'm sure they will try to have safeguards in place anyway. For example, I noted that Positron did not refer to the placement of individual mobs but rather referred to the ability to pick the "villain group." So it seems to me like you select the type of villain and the game populates your zone. This is less control, I know, but it also makes preventing abuse a lot easier. You have to start somewhere.

I guess the main problem I see is dealing with user-created dialogue that is mature, racist or otherwise problematic. I don't see an easy answer to this. I predict they will have users "flag" content of this nature and then look into it and ban the party involved. But is that enough? Reviewing all dialogue before it goes live would be impossible. There will be a filter but human creativity will always top that.

Well, it will be very interesting to see how the whole system works and I'm sure other MMO developers will be watching closely. There will be a lot to learn. If COH pulls it off I think it will be an amazing step.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

SWG's Storyteller system allows players to place props, NPC's (flavour, friendly, and aggressive) of all levels including elite mobs, special effects (fog, music, fire, explosions). NPC's can be loaded by the Storyteller player with items that will be looted when a player kills that NPC. Aggressive NPC's can't be attacked by anyone not invited to the story. Storyteller NPC's and mobs don't grant XP or faction points when killed. A recent addition is the ability to "package up" a set of Storyteller items for quick deployment elsewhere.

It's an amazing and truly flexible system built from the Live team's own tools allowing player content at an unprecedented level.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You read my mind about City of Heroes. Exciting to say the least, and yes, anonymous "Human Creativity" on the internet is a bitch. I know Ryzom employed that tool for its playerbase, but lets be honest though, City of Heroes has a shit-tonne more potential. Ryzom sucked.

There is actually solid lore in the City of Heroes franchise. I was never hardcore into it, but I did pick up a couple of their paperbacks on Amazon. They are not fucking Pulitzer-prize winners, but a solid comicky-type read for an afternoon.

Emmert's Master's Degree in Ancient History really shines, but the City of Heroes game itself has suffered because of his old school adherence to the table-top RPG grind.

I am not sure if they still deliver those comics to subscribers? They were cool, but nothing sounds off "geek" like when your wife eyes those bad boys coming in the mail. Heh.

I suspect NCSoft, if successful, and proper monitoring in place could explore using a RMT based approach. They are now offering "NCoins" ($1 = 100 NCoins, if that matters) and they would probably start using them to sell various tile-sets, villain groups, mission types, etc. Lotsa potential.


10:16 PM  
Blogger Karnatos said...

I titally missed this; very very cool - but I need to read up on how it is implemented.

Do you have to earn the right to create content, or can you do it from day-1, right out of the gates?

If they make you earn it, I think they'd be ommitting a customer-base that may totally be into creating storylines, but not so interested in the playing of the game itself - know how many people said they'd love to just have the CoH/CoV character generator as a pay-for download, and allow them to pose toons in a sandbox world (the game's zones) to take cool screenshots? I think that alone would be a great product!

Anyways, I am offtrack (as usual) - I am psyched that a great title like CoH is delving into this whole world of player create content... props to the whole CoH team... it just might interest me enough to try out some custom content, and possibly take a stab at creating my own.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Karnatos said...

Beauty - I created an awesome new word! "titally".


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