Posted Mon, Feb 23, 2009 by Ethec
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Ten Ton Hammer is on the move. Cody Bye just returned from having a good look at Jumpgate Evolution at Codemasters Gamers Day, and today I'm travelling to San Fran for an event NCSoft is dubbing "Architect Academy" designed to show off City of Heroes' new Mission Architect.
I go with a healthy amount of skepticism about player-created content, however, having seen it fail before. Shortly before Saga of Ryzom's (first) collapse a little less than two years ago, a few of us were invited to Paris to see their client-side toolset for creating. What I saw of Ryzom Ring was impressive in its ambition and execution. How did Ryzom Ring let players create meaningful instances without unbalancing the game or creating the potential for exploits? Nevrax's answer was to keep mob difficulty static (you can add mobs, but you can't edit their stats, etc.), not allow direct XP gain from the scenario, and provide consumables (like increased experience gain over time potions) for drops.
Ryzom Ring scenarios could make for a fun guild event (for the right kind of guild), but probably due to the fact that the reward didn't seem worth the time invested in design. In one of those strange ironies, Ryzom Ring probably killed Nevrax (or at least substantially contributed to Nevrax's demise) but saved Saga of Ryzom, since the tools were already largely in place to make it a great open-source solution.
There will always be an element of the MMORPG brain trust, the Raph Kosters and Richard Bartles, that insist that players want to live out a particular gaming fantasy so much that they'll spend days and months designing and scripting their own little playground. Modding an MMO (with the developer's blessing) is, on the face of it, more fun than modding Neverwinter Nights or Oblivion because you can instantly share it with anyone you can convince to join you for your cool Trogdor the Burninator lair raid.
The lure is definitely there. Our roots are in pen and paper gaming, which is all about a quality player-created experience. To date, MMORPGs have typically set the RPG bar low - if you were looking to "belong" to a gripping, nearly cinematic storyline experience to blow a Saturday afternoon on, I doubt you'd pick up WoW unless you and yours had a nice case of guild drama blossoming. But can we get back to where we once belonged? Not if player-created content means leaving behind any real form of lasting achievement. That, plus the overwhelming majority of today's gamers play games to be entertained, not be entertaining.
Can player-created content become as necessary to MMORPGs as the auctionhouse? I'm doubtful, but hoping NCSoft can turn me around. What's your take? Have your say in the Loading... forum or, as always, feel free to email me.
9 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 101 in February! 237 in 2009!
New MMOG Articles At Ten Ton Hammer Today [Thanks Phil Comeau for links and Real World News]
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-Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer team