Player-Generated Content - The Wave of the Future

Is player-generated content the next evolutionary step in the life of the MMO genre?

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the number one challenge that faces each and
every developer in the MMO genre is the problem of creating quality
faster than players can complete it. At the end of the day,
it’s simply not
possible. A number of solutions have been tried over the years to
degrees of success. EverQuest
had an
extremely robust alternate advancement (AA) system. style="">Dark Age of Camelot
had a continually shifting realm versus realm
(RvR) system and later a faction-controlled contested dungeon. style="">World of Warcraft
utilized a heavy gear
progression system in an attempt to keep players entertained and
playing until
the next expansion could be released. 

the advent of new tools and technologies, could
player-generated content be the next logical step on the road to
player retention? It may very well be. And while the concept
isn’t necessarily
new, the time may finally be right for this to become the new path of
developers everywhere. 

since the early days of Ultima
, developers have provided
players with the tools to
own and decorate an abode of their very own. Some players choose to
ignore this
aspect of their given game, but others have discovered their normal
hour has long since passed while they were obsessing over the exact
of a particular statue or painting. Don’t judge me! The point
here is that whether
gamers think of housing as content generated by themselves or not, it
really is. 

2009, City of
(may it rest in peace)
took the concept of player housing even
further by introducing the ability for people to create and publish
their own
custom mission arcs. While simple in its execution, players loved it.
Up until
this point, gamers everywhere had been crying for the ability to create
own content, but had never been given the chance to do so on such a
scale. At the time, the decision to give these tools to the players
seemed like
a fluke. They were still rudimentary and a far cry from the tools

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style="">EverQuest 2
released an expansion near the end of 2011 entitled, Age of Discovery.
One of
the main features of that expansion was a complete dungeon building
While there were a number of freely provided layouts and monsters,
could find more out in the world as they were hunting and playing
normally. The
team at Sony Online Entertainment realized that providing their players
tools wasn’t enough. Those tools had to be intuitive, simple
to use, and

today, in fact, I decided to finally put the system
through its paces and I will freely admit I was amazed. In less than 10
minutes, I had a dungeon with numerous monsters, including a boss with
abilities, wandering mobs, mobs on patrol, and some static (but nasty)
encounters set up. A few minutes later, it was published and I was
through it with my character. Not only did everything function
flawlessly, but at
the end of it all, I was rewarded with a good amount of experience and
tokens – an alternate cash system to buy even more dungeon
building materials
just by playing in dungeons created by players. This is the type of
self-looping positive reinforcement system that developers need to
cultivate in
their games to ensure players want to keep coming back for more. 

where the EverQuest
team left off, the team at
Cryptic Studios pulled out all the stops with
their release of
summer. On more than one occasion, I’ve talked about href="">how
much I enjoy the game, but the
highlight of it that matters to this piece
is a system called the Foundry. City
allowed players to create
small missions. EverQuest
allowed players to create
their own dungeons.
Neverwinter allows players to create full blown adventures (modules). 

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I say all the stops have been pulled out, I mean it.
With the Foundry, players can create adventures indoors, outdoors,
in castles, in dungeons, inns, and everything in between. They can
monsters, NPCs, décor, and loot. They can even create quests
and speech text
for the NPCs they place. For the first time in an MMOG setting (if you
count BioWare’s Neverwinter
game or Vampire:
The Masquerade – Redemption’s

multi-player aspects), a player can create nearly any adventure they
image. Even
so, they are restricted to the available décor. 

path of player generated content has not yet reached
its peak, but it may be there soon with the imminent release of style="">EverQuest Next: Landmark
and then later
in EverQuest
. As we’ve seen
and more footage of Landmark released, it’s clear to see that
players will have
an exorbitant amount of control over the world or at least, their
portion of
it. Rather than being restricted by the confines of pre-rendered
players will now be able to create and shape their own lands and their

world of MMOGs is changing and it’s an exciting time
to be a part of it all. As Director of Development for the EverQuest
Dave Georgeson, said in a href="">recent
interview on our sister site, href="">EQ Hammer,
really excited about the idea of
thousands and thousands of players building stuff on these persistent
We just have no idea what that's going to be like, but we know it could
amazing if we set up the right structures.

It certainly could be.


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