Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Let the gamers build the MMO content!

At the speed that MMO players churn through game content, game devs have no chance of keeping up with demand. The answer is simple, let the gamers assist with adding new content to the game. If adding game content was treated the same way as open source programming, then it would be a simple matter having one (or more) quality control game dev experts that regulate the contribution from gamers. Obviously not all gamer contributed content would be added to the game, just the stuff that was deemed acceptable by the game company.

If gamers contributed their own content to the MMO, then other gamers would be happy for the extra content and game companies would be happy for the cheap labour and gamer retention. I only see a win-win scenario. The only thing that the games companies would need to flip the cost for are the editors required to produce the extra content. Technically the editors are created before the game anyway, they would just need to by made 'user friendly'.

Player created content is not a new concept, it has been around for decades. Me thinks back to my Command and Conquer level editor. As games have become more complex, so to has the tools to create them, and the thus the reduction in editors for creating content. One solution would be to make very specific editors that only target specific areas of the game. For example, a character model editor for WoW, that would allow you to submit different hair styles, faces, bodies and extras. This would enhance gamer experience through greater customization of their characters. Some other examples would be weapon editors, clothing editors, quest writing editors, combat animation editors, PvP map editors etc.

Pirates of the Burning Sea provided the ability to submit your own ship, flag and mask designs. What a seriously great idea! I could only imagine how happy the gamer felt when he saw his ship design being sailed around by 5% of the online population. What an awesome feeling of achievement! I just wish I could submit my own cape design to the devs at ArenaNet so that I could have it on my Guild Wars characters. It would certainly make my guild that extra bit cooler. I remember back to the days of Never Winter Nights when I would often play on the gamer created persistent worlds. A lot of the time, they were better than the actual game.

I just hope that in the future MMOG companies make it easier for players to create their own content, because it would make for one hell of a better game.


Garumoo said...

Heck yes. The game co would need to carefully vet player submissions, looking for infringements on other's IP, but a good game co would be doing that for their in house design team anyway.

Tesh said...

Isn't this what Second Life is more or less all about? OK, it's not a pure comparison, but they certainly have a fair dose of user-generated content.

...how much of it is abusive?

Whirled is also almost completely user-generated. The devs are keeping on top of it to keep it pretty much PG rated, but it's got to be a full time job. I'm all for user content, but there have to be fantastic vetting procedures and ways to filter content on the client side.

Like muting and complaining abusive players, you would need a similar system for graphical content. You'd need to be able to visually "mute" or block something that you don't like. (And that's just what gets past the vetting procedure; you know that someone somewhere is going to want to be a jerk, and someone else is going to complain.)

In principle, it's an idea with promise. Without proper controls, it's way too easy to abuse. Proper controls cost money.

Crimson Starfire said...

I actually don't think it would be that hard to do. Have you ever done open source programming Tesh? If not, essentially it works by allowing programmers to contribute to the creation of a program. Anyone can contribute, but your contribution is not guaranteed to added. There is always one or more people that run the project that filter out invalid contributions. The result is a program that is free that cost nothing to make, except for the wages of a few guys that acted as 'filters'. The amount of 'filters' required depends on the amount of contributors.

With visual content, it would be very easy to identify invalid content, and so you wouldn't need that many people to act as 'filters'.

The game would be designed so that the user submitted content would be optional viewing. Kind of like skins for your phone. The phone doesn't come with 500 user designed skins, but if you want to use one, you can browse and then select it.