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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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  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) * on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:10AM (#29614243) Journal
    I think User Generated Content is the future.

    Let people get to the max level in your MMORPG, then allow them to open your full fledged world editing tool to make their own home area. Remember player housing? Now you can create a whole island. This must be GM approved still

    The only reason why I can't figure why they haven't made user generated dances verified by GM for WOW is maybe they're worried 2 emotes could combine to make a sexual style emote.

    Starcraft 2 is going to ship with an even more powerful Map Editor with its own language that is similar to C++.

    User generated content is the future.

    Oh yeah, and Little Big Planet must have failed too?
  • UT99 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:52AM (#29614399)

    Unreal Tournament (1999) has more Maps and user-made content than you can shake a stick at. The inability to port it forward undermined a huge segment of contributors who, although not high-calibre at the time, would probably have continued to hone their skill if all their previous effort hadn't been simply swept aside. I couldn't imagine how much variety would be available, if the game had a conversion port in the map making software.

  • by Cheney ( 1547621 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @03:13AM (#29614471)
    If you look at Oblivion, and all the mods it has accrued through the years.. it's simply amazing. I've literally added hours upon hours to a game that already spans a very long time with its off the shelf content. The Lost Spires [] is just an example of what you can get when you give your players the ability to create their own content.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @03:26AM (#29614499) Journal

    Even on MUDs it wasn't that simple. Yes, maybe you cared about balance, lots of users didn't. But even that only scratches the tip of the iceberg.

    Also most MUDs didn't have any real theme. You could have a smurf village next to a Red Dwarf area, next to a medieval D&D-type area, next to a modern day area, next to only the elder gods know what. The MUDs which did try to have a consistent theme, had a bitch of a time enforcing it, and it involved getting approval to add anything.

    And even then you occasionally ended up with some bored/disgruntled higher-ranking wizard/builder/whatever-you-call-it adding a smurf area to a strictly-D&D-themed role-playing MUD as just a way of going out with a bang.

    So if anyone just let users add stuff to WoW with no further checks, expect to see Halo troopers, next to SW stormtroopers, next to a Star Trek team, next to the penis-tentacled blob from heck and his army of japanese schoolgirl sex slaves.

    And then occasionally there was stuff that was just offensive. E.g., I remember having a brief look on a mostly empty MUD and fairly quickly ran into one of the builders walking around showing up as "Wearing Xenia on his dick" if you looked at him. (Exact name changed, otherwise an exact quote though.) Turns out Xenia used to be one of the most popular players. Key words: used to. Apparently she didn't find it funny either.

    And so on.

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:10AM (#29614995)

    Whether we gamers like it or not, games are made to make money and extending the playable life of a game probably means that some gamers will keep playing the same game rather than buying a new one. So, at that level, UGC could be seen as something games companies would be reluctant to support because it will hit their profits.

    I would suggest that one of the best compromises, which I don't think any games company has done yet, would be to publish UGC on their own game web site, make a small charge for downloading it and pass on some of the money to the gamers who created it. That gives encouragement to the fans to create good quality UGC and mods whilst putting some money back to the games company as well.

    I'm a big fan of UGC and always grateful to the people who work long and hard to create great user maps and mods - but there's nothing more disappointing than going to ModDB and seeing a great idea for a mod being abandoned a few months later due to lack of interest - maybe putting some money the creators' way will lessen that?

  • by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:17AM (#29615385) Homepage

    Ditto for Dawn of War - the community content is great. The original textures were buggy in places and low-spec, and the badges and banners weren't great. In comes (amongst other people) Hangar-8 and he makes some fantastic quality banners that blitz everything in the game already, then he works on improving the 512x512 pixel textures as well and does a great job of those. There were some big mods and maps as well, and I know some of the Mods got lots of interest but I never looked in to them as much.

    Then along comes Dawn of War 2. Relic abandon the moddability, make some things like extra colours "bonus content" in special releases, and general try to kill off the custom content side of the game. All that on top of the fact that they've ruined half of the graphics by making things glow and shine when they shouldn't because they thought it was something kewl to add while they upped the resolutions.

The absent ones are always at fault.