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Reader Comments (12)

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 8:33AM alucard3000 said

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Maybe they should make a public test server type thing where players can generate content that is available for all to per-use and be voted on.And have the content that wins added to the regular game in such a way that wouldnt clash with the landscape of the game with credit going to the players that made it in some fashion,like with their player names and such tagged on the wall or a billboard etc.

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 8:43AM Irem said

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Both are important, but I think community has more of a lasting impact.

Community is what keeps people playing when content lags. Developers can't push out a constant stream of content 24/7. If the players are communicating and inventing, they're more likely to find reasons to play during that downtime. Roleplay communities are a good example of this, and I know I would have quit WoW long before I did if I hadn't been involved in RP and met so many great, creative people.

How many times have you heard someone say, "The only reason I haven't quit is because of my guild"? Eventually, gameplay gets stale. People can always surprise you, though. While a great community can go a long way toward making up for lackluster gameplay, great gameplay can't save a game from a terrible community--at least for me.

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 8:54AM Space Cobra said

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"If player-generated content is crap and developers don't know what players want, which is more important: community or content?"

I know I am taking this quote out of context, but that can be interpreted as a "loaded question".

If just that, i would say the devs have to get in there and do more focused content, even if some in the community hate it.

Of course, you wrote and meant more. I do agree, it is all a balancing act. An MMO is about many players, not so much as a single player game, although you have to give that experience, too (because my of my complicated theory I won't go into detail here).

I have been on both sides of community, from a great in-game group guild to just hanging on the forums with nothing better to do and not logging into the game. While community can and does help games, they can be separate, but parallel paths to game design/content. Of course, even draconic measures by devs can drive away people; if a game is no longer fun, why should they stay?

I guess the perfect answer is a symbiotic relationship is best, even though it can be hard to achieve and sometimes, devs have to ignore some voices and go with a gut feeling. In other words, it's not that easy to totally ignore one or the other.

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 10:24AM Valdamar said

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I've been using and making player-created content in City of Heroes since their Mission Architect system was added in Feb 2009.

Most player-created content is adequate at best, dire at worst - only a small proportion approaches Dev-quality - and just finding those good quality arcs as a player can be a hit & miss affair, even with the good arc browser/rating system in CoH.

I have earned a "Dev Choice" award for one of my story arcs in CoH, and I have even made money in the real world from my writing, but I don't think my own arc was Dev quality, nor do I think most player-made Dev choice arcs are - there's a reason why fan fiction is not of publishable quality and it's no different with player-created content. So I think player-created content can supplement Dev-created content, but never replace it.

Devs make content for a living and have far more experience with that than most players - they have editorial oversight and iterative testing resources beyond what players can muster - they're in a working environment which breeds creativity as much as it breeds compromise - and compromise is good, because it reins in the worst excesses of a creator - unrestrained creativity breeds unstructured egotistical messes, such as all the "Mary Sue" wish fulfilment arcs that clutter up the story arc browser in CoH.

Most players simply do not understand dramatic pacing, structure, gameplay balance etc. - even Devs struggle with that, but at least they can get help and cooperation with it.

Devs also have knowledge of the "lore bible" underpinning the game and how to integrate their arcs into the whole canon - user-generated content isn't canon unless the Devs make it so, and not even Dev Choice arcs get that in CoH, even if they're written in-canon.

Perhaps most importantly the Devs can rewrite code to achieve certain features in their arcs - players cannot do this. CoH's architect system is very powerful, but player-created arcs will always be limited by the features you can select from the dropdown menus inside the system and the art assets that are already present within the system - when the Devs create new arcs they can (and do) create new assets and new gameplay features to fit the story. Ultimately this means that all player-created content feels like it is made from a template - because it is!

So player-created content will always be fighting an uphill battle to match Dev-created content for quality and especially for canon legitimacy. Sure, a lot of user-created game mods can be better than Dev-made games, but again those are made by teams - user-generated content in MMOs is made by individuals. I think what we really need is cooperative creation, but it would be a huge challenge to make such a system that worked smoothly - it would be a great community-building tool though.

So despite enjoying the creation and sometimes even the consumption of player-created content my vote will always go towards getting more Dev-created content.

Where I think player-created content can win out over Dev-created content is in running live events and roleplaying events - things that very few Dev teams can find the resources to run on a regular basis.

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 1:42PM Sam not Spam said

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@Valdamar
I would argue the other major thing cluttering up the AE are all the farming missions for current and past exploits. If those could be cleaned out that would be fairly fantastic. No more meow, jellybeans or monkeys.
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Posted: Nov 27th 2010 12:15PM Song7 said

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I have no interest in user made content. And I'm in agreement to the person above me who stated that most user made content usually is made by a team (normally looking to make a name for themselves). As my gaming roots are in the Quake franchise I doubt I could argue very much that Mods/addons are not good for the game they modify. But, in the realm of MMO's I just can't get behind the idea of it impacting the game as much as the Quake mods did. Since I enjoy the MMO experience on the game's merits alone and if I stay it's because I enjoy the boundaries and rules set by the developers.

This is just my personal opinion and I respect that other players want to involve themselves more in the actual game world, I just don't and haven't found anything user made that drew me into concern in the few sandbox MMO games I have played.

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 12:36PM Jeromai said

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Both. Each powers the other.

Without active devs paying attention to their game and creating content, the community withers and dies as overall interest in the game dissipates.

Without the community reinforcing the game and being an informal source of help, advice, support and overall friendliness, no new players would ever stick with the game... there would be no community and soon the devs have no customers for their game either. Heck, without word of mouth from a fanatical community, you'd lose mindshare and no one would even KNOW that the game exists.

Rather, devs have to cultivate their community as much as the game itself (systems & content) as a whole. And part of it is creating tools that players can use to generate content.

Not just talking about user-created content like CoH missions either. Or mods or add-ons which involve very dedicated community members. A Dungeon Finder generates informal 'content' because you get varying gameplay experiences by throwing different people together to go through the same dungeon.

Even browsing through game forums with a community discussing a game is a form of 'content' - who here hasn't spend hours looking up class or talent guides, advice for builds or an instance run, or just soaking in what other people are saying about a game? (My guess is a Massively community reader that bothers to read all the comments would also have a similar interest in game forums that interest them.)

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 1:47PM Sam not Spam said

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Community is more important for some types of players, including me. I've played some great games with good content, but without community for me to play with, chat with, etc? There's no long-term interest for me.

That's one reason I love City of Heroes - it does a lot to help community: Sidekicking and exmplaring. Cross-server/cross-faction chat channels. In-game reasons to exemplar (salvage by level-tiers, recipes by level-tiers, XP Debt, badges, temp powers). Using the Mission Architect to make things for the SG, friends, etc. Stuff like that.

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 3:31PM Dril said

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Community, community, community.

'Nuff said.

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 5:26PM Nepentheia said

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Developers need to create robust and thorough systems which allow players to create more and better quality content.

It can (in a best-case-scenario, of course) relieve the developers of having to resort to churning out crappy, filler, grindy content in favor of them focusing on creating better quality content--while allowing players to actualize and manifest their armchair-developer cravings by investing their time, creativity and passion into creating content they care about and can share with the rest of the community.

Of course, that's ideological, but ya gotta start somewhere! ;-)

Posted: Nov 27th 2010 7:51PM Snowyjoe said

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Well dosen't this debate really depend on the MMO?

I mean if it's a sandbox type MMO, unless you have a community you won't have EVE Online!! XD

Even for a WoW-type MMO i think communities are important. Not only the content they create... but also their behavior as well!
I kind of got sick of the immature brats on that game.

I believe the community put in the meaning of "Multiplayer" and "Online" and the developers putting in the "Massive" if it was only content after content with-out community, it would be the same as playing Fallout New Vegas and occasionally inviting a friend over to help you on a quest >.< That's not an MMO!

Posted: Nov 28th 2010 10:42AM Yeti said

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One can't exist without the other. You need people to create and build the community and on the other side you need something for them to build on (content).

Take FFXIV for example, at present it has little to no content, and it has lots of people playing but hardly talking. Given time and as content is added the community will grow.

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