But before we can get into the meat of our interview with Morrissey, here's what you need to know about the Mission Architect system...
- What we now know as "Mission Architect" started out as a developer's tool that City of Heroes and City of Villains developers used to make the game's mission content. Originally missions were created in plain text files. Later, missions were created in Excel (85% of the game's content was created in Excel with macros). Morrissey wanted to make a GUI interface that would be easy enough that absolutely anyone on the CoX team could make missions. It was only later that they thought about opening it up to the players.
- The UI is based off of the costume creator, which everyone is be familiar with -- so it immediately feels intuitive. There are lots of tooltips and help documentations to explain all of the features -- so the content is as easy as possible to create.
- User-created missions that take place in a holodeck-like virtual environment within the game -- so players have the freedom to tell whatever sorts of stories they want to tell without impacting the game's storyline.
- Players gain rewards for creating popular missions, which can be selected as Developer's Choice (by the developers' selection) or the Hall of Fame (by the players' ratings). Each has its own badge reward and winning either will allow the author to write additional missions. (Players are limited to creating three story arcs, with a maximum of five missions in each arc -- unless they win one of these awards.)
- Players gain rewards for playing Mission Architect missions that are equal to the rewards they'd gain by playing other missions. If there weren't full rewards from Mission Architect, it would never be compelling for players. But to prevent abusing the system, rewards are strictly based off the difficulty of the enemies you defeat in an encounter. The risk/reward ratio can't be tweaked by a mission's author. On completing a mission, players are given tickets that can be redeemed in game for a variety of rewards.
- For people playing content, the GUI helps them find missions with easy filtering and searching tools. (Robust search options are necessary because there's the potential to be a lot of content.) They'll automatically see the top rated content first (highest rated, Developer's Choice, and Hall of Fame), so they can immediately dive in to the best of the best of what Mission Architect has to offer.
- For people writing content, there's a detailed feedback system, letting content creators see ratings and comments. (This has lead to what Morrissey sees as a new player type: the critic! Some players have a high level of interest in playing and writing detailed reviews and comments on user-created missions.)
- All missions submitted are scanned by NCsoft for content violations (inappropriate language or content) before hitting the live servers. If the scanner catches something, it will automatically prevent it from being published and ask the author to fix it. And if a mission gets published that isn't appropriate, players can report it and customer service can review it and ask the author to change it if necessary. If a certain number of players report a mission, it is automatically pulled, even before customer service reviews it.
- To prevent report griefing, who reports missions for inappropriate content is also recorded, and anyone report content purely for griefing purposes could find themselves in trouble.