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Reader Comments (29)

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 8:15AM (Unverified) said

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I want playermade quests! finish. It would make game life easier because a guild needing materials can give people quests to gather them for them, people would be able to get a lot of fun out of it on a personal level, and it gives way to all these wacky quests that people would be able to sink so much time in.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 8:51AM Aganazer said

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I like the Bioware style voice acting, characters, and overall production quality, but I gotta wonder how it will translate into an MMOG. Multiplayer games are typically very competitive. I bet that the majority will eventually give in to the competitive "keep up with the Jones" mentality and skip as much dialog as possible. I know a lot of people are telling themselves right now that they will listen and wait for every wonderful bit of dialog they can, but when your buddies are all running around the high level areas talking about all the uber cool sounding stuff they are doing then anyone's resolve will weaken.

For me personally, and I know this doesn't apply to 95% of population, I prefer text over speech. I prefer to read books over TV. Well written games with a lot of text never seemed any worse than well written games with a lot of speech. In fact, most of the time the speech ends up getting drawn out and I get bored more quickly with speech than I do text.

Either way, SWTOR will be fun and I'm looking forward to seeing Bioware's production quality in a MMOG.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 8:51AM Phone Guy said

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This is what I have been trying to tell people. Player generated stories and content is the future, and every MMO released lately seems to have missed the boat. Take Cryptic for example. They developed City of Heroes which included a Random mission generator (Paper Missions) and the AE Engine which was the template used to allow players to create missions. These two things extended the enjoyment and the Life of CoH, yet Cryptic has yet to copy past success and add them to Champions or Star Trek.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 9:11AM Birk said

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Man I completely agree with you here. The definition is "crowd-sourced", and if it was implemented, we would be in awesome shape.

Take a good MMO, AoC for example, and drop in a world editor a-la Neverwinter Nights. Something with complex options but an easy interface. Also, a standardized texture/modelling program, so that the game doesn't lack coherency. Basically, all the options for the techies, but also ease of use for those of us without the knowledge or ambition for such things. Suddenly, your MMO is like the next wikipedia.

There could be development team on call to review and implement the player-sourced materials. Each monster/boss/trap/obstacle would be assigned a static XP and loot value, based on its statistics. A huge undertaking, for this team to screen out garbage instances and implement the good content?

Yeah, maybe. But probably not as time-intensive as having your design team working overtime for new content.

It's a pipe-dream, of course. But I just get giddy thinking of the never-ending amount of content that could be pumped into a game with the help of a diligent fanbase.
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Posted: Jun 9th 2010 9:25AM (Unverified) said

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I think its interesting that so many folks make this mistake... Cryptic didn't make the Mission Architect system, that was NC/Paragon... AFTER Cryptic's departure. Still, what that system has added to CoH hasn't gone unnoticed by Cryptic... one of the features that they are talking about adding to Star Trek Online is a user-generated content system, but I'd not expect it until late this year or early 2011. I'm sure that if it does well they'll port the tools to CO also.
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Posted: Jun 9th 2010 12:23PM Phone Guy said

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"I think its interesting that so many folks make this mistake... Cryptic didn't make the Mission Architect system, that was NC/Paragon... AFTER Cryptic's departure."

Your right, but the AE was little more than a developmental tool scaled down for player usage. They had been using it to design missions since launch. While it was NC/Para who tweeked it for the player base, the tool itself is in Cryptics engine.
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Posted: Jun 9th 2010 3:21PM Sente said

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Your right, but the AE was little more than a developmental tool scaled down for player usage. They had been using it to design missions since launch.

@Phone-guy: Not at all. They did not have a fancy interface for building missions, that was more text files and Excel spreadsheets.
Developing the Mission Architect designer tool was one of the things they got budget for after NCSoft bought them.

And to answer the original question: I prefer good stories, regardless of whether they are player of developer-created. Most of the refreshing and good stories I have played through in the past year has been thanks to the Mission Architect system in City of Heroes/Villains though.

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Posted: Jun 9th 2010 9:17AM Tom in VA said

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Some of the player-generated content for Bioware's Dragon Age: Origins, a SPRPG, is actually BETTER, imo, than the official Bioware-created DLC content.

My biggest complaint with Bioware is that they do not seem to listen to their players much, since many of the player-created mods address and/or fix things that were just wrong with the original games and yet, when the Awakenings expansion came out, those issues (corrected by modders) were ignored by Bioware (e.g., players wanted to be able to "hide" helmets, mods were created by players to do this, but Bioware did nothing to add this feature in its expansion).

To me, a Bioware/MMO-created story is just fine, as I do not want to create a astory on my own (using role-playing). Most player-created stuff is, admittedly, dren but, occasionally, players can generate some pretty amazing content.

The "danger" with player-created content is cheats and abuses, I guess, and I don't know how to address that particular issue.

I would have LOVED to see a player-created component added to Guild Wars, a game that had a lot of life left in it if ANet had given it half a chance.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 9:28AM elocke said

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I want developer made story lines. Only 2 current MMORPGs do it right and more developers need to take notes. LOTRO and FFXI. Especially FFXI. I LOVE the mission and quest storylines in FFXI. The cutscenes are great and come at perfect times, and make you feel part of the story.

On a side note, one console game comes to mind that I enjoyed the delivery of the storyline WHILE I was running along playing, with awesome voice over work. That game was Prince of Persia.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 9:31AM (Unverified) said

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There needs to be a nearly 50/50 mix! Player run stories are impressive because all the actors are human beings, capable of adaptation and improvisation that no NPC could match. Developer run stories can be more robust from the standpoint that the devs can create new places, challenges and mechanics to give the players new tools with which to experiment and play.

The best is when both come together: the developers watch what the players invent, and internalize and legitimize that into the game's lore with new dialogue and zones and items. If a certain player-run guild becomes powerful and well known, for example, why not make new quests and NPCs that reference that group? If players develop terms or legends about the game, likewise these ought to be brought in and used in-game (Like the raid boss in WoW that "Dings" during combat).

Player created missions are nice, but they aren't a substitute for professional content!

-SirNiko

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 9:49AM Minofan said

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Developer crafted!
I'll happily take a tv series over YouTube and novels over fanfic - add my gaming budget to the equation and no way will I be opting for amateur dramatics.

Of course there's nothing wrong with just supporting both, but I wouldn't personally give user-generated content systems a high development priority - certainly never seen one implemented that'd entice me to stick with a game.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 10:36AM Randomessa said

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I play MMORPGs for the express purpose of experiencing an RPG in a multiplayer format, so developer-made stories are the feature that get me interested in the lore, make me feel connected to the world, and inspire me to continue on past that gnarly boss that just won't die - not a +1 helm or epic armor to wear in town.

If there happens to be player-developed aspect of the game, more power to the devs for allowing it to happen and I certainly won't turn my nose up at it, but player-made drama/politics is just a hassle.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 10:39AM Pingles said

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My biggest complaint about player-created content is the amount of garbage you have to trudge through to find something good.

And it's enough for me to not want to bother.

I am a player passionate about storylines. The last thing I want to do is to have to do web searches or look through databases to find the 0.06% of quests that actually make sense and, if I'm lucky, use proper grammar.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 10:48AM willflynne said

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In an ideal situation, I think having a good balance of the two would work best. You can't expect the players to come up with ALL the content, and the developers only have so many hours in a day to work with.

In my opinion, having the developers give the players content is the starting point: areas to fight/play in, quests to run, etc etc. Then you give the players some good tools to work with to expand on what's in those areas and create their own stories to play around with.

As mentioned in the article, SWG's Storyteller tools are great ones. Some of the things I've seen (in game and screenshots) created by those tools are pretty amazing, both in terms of events and also the locations they create. But I think something that needs to be added to that is the Chronicle system they put in last year. Granted, it's far from a perfect system (still some aspects missing for player use), but when used with Storyteller tools and a good imagination, you can create the Star Wars story you've always wanted and share it with others. Heck, they've already put a link between the two systems at Chronicle Master, where you can use "ventriloquism" to speak as a Storyteller NPC.

As I said before, they aren't perfect systems but should any company want to give players the tools they need/want for creating their own story, the combination of Storyteller and Chronicles in SWG is a great place to start.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 11:09AM (Unverified) said

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Ideally, both. Developer-created content would serve as the foundation upon which to set the tone and setting for the world, and enable newcomers to get into it quickly without feeling lost. They could occasionally add more to develop an overarching through-story.

But the heart of the game should be player-generated. The developer would provide the tools necessary that make that possible, and perhaps discretely guide it in the right direction if necessary. By content, I don't just mean quests and stories that people follow, and then turn in for points and gold. Players should be able to impact the economy, politics, social structures, the environment, the goods sold etc. to a certain degree. That is where the best stories will come from.

Yes, there will be more junk to sift through, but you would also have the joy of discovering something truly wonderful. It would be a living, changing world, not just an amusement park attraction that runs on a defined track, triggering stimuli on cue.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 11:22AM karnisov said

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the majority of mmo players could care less about actual roleplaying, and a lack of critical roleplaying mass puts off the casual roleplayers too, like myself. so i think bioware is going about it the right way writing the story for them.

i think people have to start with a mature group of pen and paper gamers to learn why roleplaying is fun.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 11:22AM Cendres said

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"and then you have people who think that story in MMORPGs is a marketing gimmick unless it is created by the players."

???? Who said that?
Because I really can't recall reading it from a comment, and it just sounds silly.

The way BioWare dialogue choices work in their single player game is it takes away your personal story and how you think your character would react to things. You only have to go the official forums to see not everyone is happy with all the dialogue choices (Shepard say what?? Why doesn't the Warden have this reaction..)
Hopefully it's handled in such a way in TOR you don't ever notice this.

@Bryan, indeed FFXI does this so very well. You have a grand epic story that involves your character, but also involves any other adventurer equally and it just makes sense to have all these adventurers running around.

To me that is perfection, story is important but in an mmo setting I don't think you should go overboard. For example AoC, everyone is an escaped slave with the mark of Acheron? Hmmmm... No it's too personal of a story. While in FF Online adventurers are called en masse to help the nations.

@ SirNiko, yes 50/50 I agree is the way to go. The basic and important epic story lines that involve the world and the people in it should be by the developer and no one else. But I also think they should stay out of more personal stories.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 11:55AM alzeer said

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i want it exactly like ffxi
great story , full of quality cutscenes
only it was lacking voice acting which seems present in ffxiv

wish blizzard would implement more CS in wow
wrathgate was topnotch but wotlk ending CS quality was very underwhelming

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 12:03PM Jef Reahard said

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Interesting responses, and unexpected.

My inspiration for writing this TDG was Daniel Erickson's recent quote about non-TOR MMORPGs having no point. I found that to be a little bit over-the-top, given that it invalidates basically all the player (and developer) creativity that has come before.

I like their single player titles as much as the next gamer, but I do feel like their approach to MMO storytelling is rather one-dimensional. More importantly, it will eventually run out, as they will not be able to sustain the amount of manpower it takes to continually produce the level of story content that people expect from Bioware. Or maybe they can, and that will feed into some newfangled RMT system where you can pay to continue getting story updates or whatever. Who knows.

My feeling, though, is that this genre is a mountain of wasted potential until it starts allowing for player creativity. The only counter-argument seems to be that a) it could be exploited and b) player stories are amateurish/awful. A is avoidable if you plan for it in the design phase and have the budget to react to it in the live phase. B is really a non-argument, because no one forces you to hang out with people that tell crappy stories. Hang with some talented storytellers and you'll have more (and longer) fun than you would than running through the same class story arc that 100k other people just ran through.

Posted: Jun 9th 2010 12:56PM Birk said

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Totally, man. You hit the nail on the head!
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