Wright and Allard on player-created content

http://videogames.aol.com/videogame/halo-3/26417/game-news?articleID=342264

As I was reading this, the first thing I thought of was, “This is why DDO is crashing and burning so hard.”

Oddly enough, I think that every time I see news about something interesting in MMOs. But to be specific. Leaving aside the required-grouping issues and the consequent vicious circles that drive players out of the game because they can’t find people to play with, thus making it harder for other people to find people to play with, or find a group willing to do new content, or the level cap that means your average intensive player burns through the entire game in the space of two weeks - DDO’s main selling point was the hand-crafted dungeons. All the content was made specifically by the devs, with absolutely no player input or control at all in what is in them or how they can be used. They exist as an obstacle course, nothing more - you run through them, dealing with the obstacles, and get the XP at the end.

Computer games are about giving up authorial power and putting the player in the role of the protagonist, and giving the player at least a certain amount of control over events - even if just tactical control. The Sims takes this a little farther, giving the player total control over what the “story” is, and giving them the tools to make everything needed happen while also making it interestingly challenging. MMOs are a step beyond, giving up more power and making the players in general the population of the imaginary world. Some MMOs go even farther, in giving the players powers of real significance in affecting the course of their gameworlds - DAOC and Neocron did this haphazardly; Eve Online does it almost wholeheartedly (empire space is still dev-influenced in its course, but that may be a necessary compromise). DDO went backwards, trying to take back power over content and put the players back in the role of objects moving along a course predetermined by an omnipotent Author. Players will put up with that for a time, but not an MMOG timescale.

DDO should have been a single-player game with optional peer-to-peer multiplay. What they actually developed would have been IDEAL for a game like that. It would have knocked the socks off NWN and BG as a game experience. As long-term entertainment though, it is not at all suprising that it doesn’t work.

To (finally) get back to the point of the article: I think these guys are on to something (I’m not ALL about bashing DDO), and I’m actually getting interested in Spore.

Agree with you on the DDO sentiments. I also felt that it would have been a killer single-player title with optional 4-8x multiplayer. They really missed their mark there. For it to have been a online mmorpg they would have created sooo much more content (+ fixed all the other issues). Oh whell. At least I hope people learned their lesson from it.

The thing I find most interesting about spore is the ‘Verbs’ as they call it… and I just hope this approach gets picked up by everyone making games/ai/units.

But DDO meets these requirements. It just doesn’t do it to the degree that you prefer. It seems like you’re saying that computer games must be like GTA3 or they don’t qualify as computer games. I disagree.

Diablo 2, for instance, didn’t give up “authorial power” any more than DDO does. The levels themselves were randomized to a certain degree, but within the levels there was still a funnel that you had to eventually go down to get to the next one.

It’s funny you posted this at the same time I was wondering if there was much/if any coverage at E3 on it. I found a video short on google: Spore - E3 2006 B-Roll

Looks quite neat - was hoping for a progress update or a time line or an ETA of some sort :)

On the contrary. I’m saying MMOs need to, in order to provide the long-term entertainment that justifies a monthly fee. If you read to the end of my post you would have seen me state outright that DDO would have made a great single-player experience. It just doesn’t have what’s needed for a MMO.

Diablo 2, for instance, didn’t give up “authorial power” any more than DDO does. The levels themselves were randomized to a certain degree, but within the levels there was still a funnel that you had to eventually go down to get to the next one.

There is FAR more freedom of choice in Diablo 2 than in, for instance, The Longest Journey. That’s a part of why Diablo 2 has lasted longer as a game that people still play.