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Bridging the Gap Between User-Generated Content and Interesting Content 73

Edge Magazine is running a story about user-generated content — or rather, its failure to live up to the hype of the past few years. The author says it "turned out to be a niche. Not everyone has the chops to learn the tools, and even fewer gamers have an idea they want to see through. Instead of revolutionizing games, it merely adds another rung on the ladder from 'player' to 'game-maker.'" Instead, the games that have incorporated the concept in a fun way use what he calls "user-generated, machine-mediated content," and he points out the flexibility of Scribblenauts; the user supplies the imagination and the developer translates that to gameplay. "It shows us our reflection — however tiny, however distorted — inside our games, an experience that is guaranteed to mesmerize us. Ambitious players will still go pick up the tools and learn the languages that let them mod or make their own games; but while they're busy with that, [this system] can invigorate our content — and give us a little more of what we love: ourselves."
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Bridging the Gap Between User-Generated Content and Interesting Content

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  • As always... (Score:5, Informative)

    by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:35AM (#29614339) Homepage
    Sturgeon's law applies. []
  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:16AM (#29615775)

    City of Heroes mission architect lets players create missions & campaigns that can be do most of the stuff that the developer-made missions & campaigns can do. Within the first 48 hours, if I remember right, there was more player developed content than there was developer created content. 99.99% of it was, doubtless, absolute shit, but some of it was decent, and some was really quite impressive & interesting.

    The problems with CoH's system were:

    1) Because it was just a virtual reality type sim in game - that was more or less the canon explanation of it - it didn't really matter to players on any kind of meaningful level; it required a double suspension of disbelief. First to just get into the CoH game itself, but then to get into the game inside the game - not an easy task. If they'd just made the explanation something like "the Portal corporation has opened up a bunch of new dimensions, go scout them out for us. Be warned, some might be a little... odd..." that would have been better.

    2) They gave in-game benefits (badges/achievements) for content creation, which was just begging to have the rating system abused. Cartels were formed that would vote up/down MA creations just so people could get badges or to keep people from getting badges. People were going to make content no matter what - no need to give a special incentive. In fact, I daresay that the people who were motivated by the badges/achievements who wouldn't have made content otherwise probably didn't make anything terribly interesting. By all means, have a rating system, but remove the incentive for people to game it.

    3) They allowed it to be a way to farm levels & loot. You could make missions that had absurd rewards for absolutely no risk. It was possible to have passive, completely invulnerable NPCs follow the players around and make them completely immune to damage. It was possible to fill the missions entirely with opponents who were trivial to kill but who gave ridiculous amounts of experience. The worst of the offenders in this case had missions in which a crowd of these low-difficulty-high-XP opponents would huddle around BOMBS, and you could just shoot the bomb to make all the opponents die, yielding full xp. To top it off, you got a lot of tickets, which were redeemable for prizes after completing the missions, those prizes being recipes for things that could be sold for a ridiculous amount of in-game money. People farmed the hell out of these missions for that purpose, and were able to get characters from level 1 to level 50 (the cap) in as little as 4 hours in some cases. A lot more thinking needed to go into how to prevent missions from being exploited - even if it was just a hard cap of "only this much xp will be allowed to be accrued over x amount of time in player-created missions."

    Fix those problems and you can have an explosion of creativity that won't wreck games. You'll also have an explosion of really stupid content created, but it'll be more reasonable to sift through since there won't be an incentive to create bad content to gain advantage.

  • LBP (Score:3, Informative)

    by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @12:35PM (#29618233)

    The article mentions LittleBigPlanet, but I doubt the author has actually played it much. The user generated content is a huge success. 90% of the levels may be crap, but the best of the homemade levels are fantastic.

    The key to making this work is allowing users to rate levels, and providing an easy way to find the best levels. The search function was pretty poor initially, but it now works quite well.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle