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View Full Version : Take a load off - Open up content creation to the community!



Lichbane
03-07-2010, 03:20 PM
Something myself and some friends were discussing last night was to take a leaf out of other games book and allow the community to create content for DDO. The community has proven time and time again with many games that they can produce very professional content for games. You just need to look at NWN as an example of some of the great work donw

Some of the aspects of our discussion included:
* Provide the tools and assets to create overland and dungeon adventures, including the ability to script encounters. This need not be terribly complex, and could follow the lines of some of the simpler adventures out there ... static encounters, levers to open doors ... etc, etc
* All submissions must go through a strenuous play test/QA process to verify that they are all above board (and above all not breaking existing copyright or are offensive in any way).
* Finally (and here is the real incentive to get top notch products out there), give developers a small percentage of the DDO store points spent on purchases of their own adventures.

While I can see that there would be some issues with getting the tools out there to the public, or the work involved in the QA process, I can't see anything here but a win-win situation. There are a lot of people out there with great ideas and DDO would be the perfect outlet for their creativity!!

Visty
03-07-2010, 03:21 PM
not a new suggestion though with turbines inability to bring their own content out bugfree i dont see how they could test even more content

sinedist
03-07-2010, 04:13 PM
This idea is always a temptation in MMOs, but for DDO I think it may be a mistake. If anyone remembers the days when City of Heroes implemented this type of system, they also remember how many issues, conflicts, nerfs, updates, and banishments went on as a result of user-created content.

Despite NCSoft's knowing that users would create content for purely power-leveling or power-looting purposes, and put a number of systems in place from the get-go, exploitations were inevitable. As a result, there were a good three months of people finding new loopholes and levelling toons to cap within a few mere days. NCSoft tried to counteract this by deleting power-leveled toons, which then resulted in a lot of the veteran players leaving.

Furthermore, the amount of people playing developer based game-content went way down; this decline in users playing developer content would be suicidal in a party-based MMO like DDO.

Even after a good year of the system being out, and being supremely nerfed in comparison to its original status, exploits remain. I stopped playing CoH a long long time ago, but friends who still occasionally pop on the game have say that it still has horrible bugs and exploits. Even worse, the time, money, and user-base that was spent on the implemented system took away from a lot of other fixes and updates that CoH would have otherwise benefited from.

NCSoft spent an incredibly long time developing the ability for user-created content, and one result of that is that the rest of the game updates suffered. Thus, with all the complications, its user-base suffered, its population declined, and it remains an awkward mainstay in the game to this day.

Sadly, user-created content is one of those lovely olive branches that a game's developers releases to the public only to see it turn into a series of wars and messes.

I'd be very very cautious before releasing something along these lines. I'm not saying that it doesn't work, or that it would lead to inevitable failure for any MMO, but that it would be an enormous undertaking to make the system air-tight and, for DDO in specific, to ensure that it doesn't take away from developer based content -- an aspect that could ruin this MMO where it, simply, deeply wounded other MMOs.

You'd probably want to look into how other MMOs have done this, what the results were, and if it was thus worth the trouble. Then you'd want to measure your results against the fact that DDO is one of the most party-based MMOs out there, and how it would effect that kind of dynamic.

City of Heroes/Villians, Discworld, and http://www.eldergame.com/2009/05/user-generated-quests-and-the-ruby-slippers/ are good places to begin.

Lichbane
03-07-2010, 04:23 PM
I understand the concerns with a system such as this, which is why you'd need a strenuous QA process to allow only the truly good modules, ones that fit into the DDO framework, out for public consumption.

Pyromaniac
03-07-2010, 04:39 PM
* All submissions must go through a strenuous play test/QA process

Ok - that made me laugh, just for that

/signed

toastjeff
03-07-2010, 04:41 PM
And as Visty correctly pointed out, Turbine seems to have enough trouble QA'ing their own stuff. Doing the same with content created by people intentionally trying to slip things through would be near impossible AND take away time from working on developer content.

Guildmaster_Kadish
03-07-2010, 05:59 PM
I think the way to do it would be to give players tools for design, have them submit in a sort of competition, and choose maybe two or three dungeons that look like fun to actually test. It would be pretty unreasonable to try to test all of them.

The best part about player-generated content wouldn't be the extra content generated, though, it would be the hours of distraction that players would have designing their own quests. Even if they never make it into the game, I think a lot of people would have a lot of fun with it, and would consequently stick with the game longer.

Just my two coppers.

AestorTheKnight
03-07-2010, 07:11 PM
Only two days ago i was imagining a dungeon in my head that I would love to see in DDO. I even considered writing it out as a Quest Module with maps and illustrations and NPC text scripts.

My ultimate motivation for doing this would be to try to bring the atmosphere and and excitement of the best original dungeons (IE generated by myself or by one of my friends who I P&P RPed with) I had played over the years of playing Fantasy Role Playing Games. I would try to make it a balanced, authentic, fitting storyline and an adventure for the DDO players and myself to enjoy.

The idea that some noobs would make some Dungeons just so they could obtain quick Loot and PP and XP is simply terrible. Why on earth would anyone want to sell out their chance to be truly creative just for the sake of an imaginary in game credit. And surely such exploitable quests would be easily weeded out by even a basic Q&A process.

I would love to see User Generated content in DDO. I know it might just be a dream and not be as simple as the players just generating great content with no hiccups or problems, but I still think its worth trying. Afterall PnP D&D was originally a game with content created by the players for the players. Me and my friends rarely used modules, we used to make up our own adventures and dungeons.

I also think an Annual Competition of "Submit a Quest / Module to Turbine for DDO" and the best one or two gets made by Turbine for us to enjoy in DDO, is an absolutely excellent idea! :)

Phidius
03-07-2010, 07:34 PM
...Why on earth would anyone want to sell out their chance to be truly creative just for the sake of an imaginary in game credit...

Because people are inherently selfish and utterly despicable. Don't believe me? Ask my wife...


The only way user-created content would work is if it had no impact to the real game... kinda like the Oath of Droaam.


"I just pulled a +100 Improved Vorpal Great Axe of Supreme Bad Guy Bane... is there anything left in the dungeon to kill before we recall out?"

Memnir
03-07-2010, 07:37 PM
A nice thought, but never gonna happen.

DoctorWhofan
03-07-2010, 07:46 PM
I smell lots of Exploiters DEstroying the game in what would be a grand idea.

/not signed

Because we are human.

Neat idea though.

Corebreach
03-07-2010, 08:33 PM
I understand the concerns with a system such as this, which is why you'd need a strenuous QA process to allow only the truly good modules, ones that fit into the DDO framework, out for public consumption.
If this feature turned out to be even slightly popular, the workload this would involve kills the idea dead, dead, dead. When City of Heroes launched its Mission Architect system, it took less than 24 hours for the number of player-created quests to outnumber all official quests already in the game, counting both Hero and Villain sides combined. Six months after its launch, there were 50,000 player-created quest arcs live. (That's anywhere from 50k to 250k separate quests, since there can be up to five quests in one arc.)

Something like Guildmaster Kadish's idea of putting the first round of QA in the hands of other players is the only way any kind of formal testing will be practical.

The_Metal_Monster
03-08-2010, 10:38 AM
Best idea i have EVER heard. OP U R A GENIUS!!!
this is an awsome idea. +1

Ashiel_Dragmire
03-08-2010, 10:58 AM
I don't know about making the tools to allow players to actually BUILD the dungeons, instances, etc., but having a contest every now and then to allow a player or group of players design a Module (in the old fashioned PnP way of course) and submit it for a chance to be created would be most excellent. Could be pretty simple, you'd only need a few things I imagine. Such as:

1. Quest Basics (Theme, Location, Level)
2. Dungeon Map
3. Locations of Chests, Shrines, Traps, Secret Doors
4. List of Mobs and their general locations within the dungeon
5. The Quest Objective (Kill X Amount of [Monster Name], Recover [Artifact Name], etc.)
6. Notable NPCs (Both Combative and Non-Combative)
7. List of any Special End Reward (Within reason of course, no need for a Lv 1 Quest to hand out Vorpal Greatswords of Disruption that are also made out of Glassteel).

I can't think of anything super important that I'm missing, but then again, I've never DMed.

Khimberlhyte
03-08-2010, 11:19 AM
I put some time into thinking about it a while ago. I know it has come up over and over, and much of my ideas are not novel.

Here is how I see it working.

Turbine could set up the ability to build a dungeon with an online builder on Lamannia, or a similar server. Allow us to build a dungeon, populate it, add a storyline for NPCs, and put it up for review by our peers on Lamannia. The community would be able to run it, test it, comment on it, and vote on it as well. You could limit people to five test dungeons per account, to keep the numbers manageable. Allow a person to build more than that only if the first one gets enough votes to pass a threshold, or is deleted. You could limit it to premium and VIP as well, to limit potential abuse, but it is on Lamannia, so nothing there is permanent anyways.

All of the user dungeons could be accessed through the same doorway in the marketplace, which would be a common entrance for user-created dungeons. Make it a long hallway with doors for each one, group them by character name (first door is for dungeons built by characters starting with A-B, second door C-D, etc), whatever works with the game logic. Players could also pick from a list of available player-built dungeons upon entering, much like (I think) the entrance to some existing multi-part quests.

We could get by with a dungeon builder that works from pre-set elements (volumes such as cubes and cylinders for rooms, tunnels, items such as furniture, traps, chests, collectibles, ladders, doors, levers/switches, puzzles, and a range of surface textures). The logic for puzzles would probably be the hardest part, but an interface like MIT's Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/) would allow very complex logic to be tied to game elements such as puzzles, levers, doors, NPCs and the like, with a very low learning curve.

There could be preset limits on the dungeons in terms of maximum volume occupied, and limits to the number of chests, etc based on the level rating for the dungeon that is set at the beginning. You would then be able to select from a level-appropriate list of monsters. I see a min/max number of monsters based on the level and dungeon length, and maximum monster density. No named loot, just level-appropriate stuff in each chest from normal loot tables, randomly generated based on difficulty.

I would expect to see some seriously complex story outlines and some seriously challenging dungeons get developed using this. Someone could build a trapmonkey's delight, for example, a niche dungeon that most people would not play, but a few people would absolutely love. Or a multi-part story arc based on solving complex puzzles, where hints or optionals in the first quest are vital to solving the puzzle in the final one.

The best ones could "graduate" to the player-made dungeon entrance in the Stormreach Marketplace on the regular servers. I would add 10 each month, and maybe after reaching 100, decide whether to cycle 10 new ones in each month. Sure, they might not be as polished as a Turbine dungeon, but most of us who played PnP in our youth have an imagination once upon a time that can fill in the gaps, however atrophied it has become over time.

I feel that this would add a lot of content, and a lot of variety, and also unleash the creativity of the user base to make this game even better. I don't play any other MMOs, but I don't think anyone offers this kind of model - user built with some review / QA and filtering before it reaches the main servers. Lamannia would be the wild west.

I'm sure that a lawyer could draft up something to cover transfer of ownership or licensing for transfer to the main servers, although it might not be necessary.

Not that they need the incentive, it would be a nice gesture to offer a bunch of Turbine points to the player who built a dungeon that was worthy of being transferred to the main servers - 10,000 points or so ought to be more than enough, especially since it is the reputation that will matter more than the money. As part of the transfer process, Turbine could test each one, add an appropriate amount of XP, and set up the loot tables. I'm not sure how to handle favor, maybe add a new favour class for player-built dungeons, or have no favour attached.

Heck, I'd pay 1500 turbine points to be able to have unlimited access to a decent dungeon builder, and the ability to try out a range of user-created dungeons. I believe it would be best if access to play the user-created remains free, or at least premium, though.

I'd do it just for the fun, and the variety. Who knows, the gems could be polished up and convertedinto a regular dungeon or quest chain.

How about it Turbine?

sinedist
03-08-2010, 02:29 PM
Khimber,

Yeah, it sounds fun; part of what makes user-created content a blast is the ability to make really niche and really difficult test circumstances -- training modules, really. And yes, the concept ties in closely with PnP.

I still would hate to see this implemented in DDO. I predict the implementation of a system like this to be a game breaker, which is why I posted about what I did earlier.

This idea, your articulation of it, smacks of the "architect system."

The problem is that previous MMOs that implemented user-created-content (UCC) didn't approach it from a moronic perspective (well, I can think of one MMO that might have...). As developers, I'm positive they sought to understand how the system could be maintained, creative, and -- of primary concern -- not exploited. The same developers spent a great deal of time and thought before releasing it, but exploitation is always inevitable.

If you think about it, developer released content is still exploited by the user-base simply because there are more users than there are developers and that user base spends more time logged in-game. Furthermore, where the developer attempts to close down the system of options available to the user in order to restrict the number of options/potential-exploits available to them, the user is working within an already closed system and pressing upon its boundaries; it's easier to find a hole in the tire when you fill it with air. Really, the user-base has a strong advantage in regard to this aspect of the dev-user power dynamic.

Even in academia, peer review is questionable; I don't foresee "peer review" being a solution. And while getting to role-play and author one's own content is a nice little boost, UCC is for DDO:

(i) not essential to the virtual community's ability to play and enjoy the game.
(ii) a "nice" or "pleasant" addition to the game that would require an incredible amount of developer time, require constant monitoring (by both developers and peers) for new and old exploits (and big exploits at that, if you follow your mmo history), and would envelop a portion of the gaming community that would otherwise be in-game and part of a party.
(iii) another system to be implemented that simply detracts attention from the central game which still needs a lot of work. The "list of known fixes" is huge and not getting any smaller. That list even involves some pretty central features of the game. The need for more updates to address classes/races/PrEs/items/bugs is vastly vastly more important at this point; turbine is not losing users because users can't create their own dungeons, they are losing users because the system is getting messier and messier and the emphasis still appears to be on releasing new content rather than fixing very very old issues.

To add another system that would, by necessity, include additional bugs and holes and issues when the state of the game is what it is? Lunacy. Or at least masochism.

We don't need another MMO that makes a last desperate grasp to hold onto its user-base by releasing UCC.

or

If UCC is something deemed necessary to prolong interest in the MMO, then there is something integrally flawed with the MMO itself.

Anderei
03-08-2010, 02:47 PM
neverwinternights anyone?

Other than that, the only way to go would be IMHO quests with 0XP and no loot you can get out of the quest. Then why not more diversity just for the narrating/gameplaying fun.

But then on the other hand, so much of DDOs content is rarely played at all, because the XP+Loot/hour ratio is not considered well enough in comparison to other stuff.

Horrorscope
03-08-2010, 02:57 PM
A nice thought, but never gonna happen.

I agree. There are just certain features that are so massive, that they would just have to surprise me one day. I'm all for the much more simpler fixes and features. Try to be realistic.

Alanim
03-08-2010, 03:02 PM
Perhaps, a very basic, dedicated server, you get a character copied over, and you get a list(probably huge), that tell you all the dungeons, you click one, and you're sent to a decently sized room, with other people LFG in there, you then group up and try it out, after you complete it(once) you rate the dungeon.

A quest/raid/arc, could only get in game if it was atleast a 8.0(maybe 7.5) rating, with atleast 10k-25k votes, after which is goes to turbines AQ team.

this way it stays away from the server, causes no real harm, and it's free development, and very little work load for those at turbine(after the system of course.)

toastjeff
03-08-2010, 03:12 PM
...and maybe Turbine could ask the folks over at Blizzard to pull some money off of their money tree to pay for all the extra devs this implementation will need. I have a hard time believing that the community could accomplish even a fraction of the work required to get from designed dungeon to live servers.

Khimberlhyte
03-08-2010, 04:05 PM
Many players of DDO have different roots than some other MMOs that are geared towards 12-24 year olds. Look at the demographics here. How many people played pen and paper in some form in the past 30+ years? How many of them built their own dungeons, and would like a shot at being the DM for a DDO instance? A fair number of them.


The same developers spent a great deal of time and thought before releasing it, but exploitation is always inevitable.
I think you worry too much about exploits. Lamannia is an existing test server. You can do a one-way transfer to Lamannia, up to 4 characters (iirc) and that is all. Your characters can be deleted there at any time. You cannot transfer anything back to the main servers. It is usually deserted, so this would also get more people on there, who would then be able to test new releases. When I went on Lamannia for the update that brought in casual mode, there were only two characters on below level 10, and maybe a few dozen other high level characters.

The only thing that would be transferred to the main servers would be a few of the best user created dungeons each month. Voting systems are not that difficult to implement. The last thing I want to see is a million random dungeons of wildly variable quality cluttering up servers like Orien or Khyber. Dungeons built by 6 year olds and exploiters, no thanks. I want those ones somewhere else, where they can only be seen by those people interested in taking the time to test them. I would really like to play some dungeons built by other players. The Turbine dungeons I've run so far are a little light on the background and storyline, and the focus is on bashing things.


Even in academia, peer review is questionable;
Please cite a reference to back up this assertion. While nothing is infallible, I don't accept your assertion at all. While I don't work in academia, I took science at university, and spend a decade doing environmental consulting, mostly writing and reviewing reports. I know the difference between initial internal drafts and the final version of a report that goes to a third party such as a client.


I don't foresee "peer review" being a solution.
Community peer review doesn't seem to have hurt Linux. Or the progress of science over the past thousand years or more. Have you ever used DDOwiki? Wikipedia? You need to reconsider some of your opinions, because it was easy for me to cite real world examples that, while imperfect (as is everything else), support my belief in community participation.


If you think about it, developer released content is still exploited by the user-base simply because there are more users than there are developers and that user base spends more time logged in-game.
Opinion, not fact, unless you care to cite references again.

If you were to think about what I wrote, you would see that I am asking for a fairly limited toolset, which would be firewalled (more like an air gap actually) from the main servers. User created content would not even have a chance get to the main servers until it was voted up by other users (filtered), and it would show up like any other dungeon.

Ideally, no changes would be necessary to the regular DDO client software. It doesn't break the game if someone figures out how to create an exploit on Lamannia (which uses different client software as well), because it is probably going to stay there. My entire proposal was designed to avoid impacting the main servers.

As for your list, each person has their own priorities, and is your opinion. It is Turbines game, and they decide which things will become a priority for the developers.

I'd rather see UCC than PrE's, new races, or new classes. Character creation is flexible enough that each class can go in one or more different directions, and multiclassing opens up even more options. I would be worried about new classes breaking existing dungeons by unbalancing the game, or getting exploited. Turbine has had 4 years to tweak and balance the existing classes. I believe that a new class has more potential to break the game than does my proposal for UCC. I don't oppose new classes or races, but I'm unlikely to ever want them. I don't even want to try all of the existing ones.


If UCC is something deemed necessary to prolong interest in the MMO, then there is something integrally flawed with the MMO itself.
I've got three or four unused mid-high level content packs that will keep me interested for many months to come. Lack of content is the biggest gripe I have read about in this game. UCC could partially address that issue.

Creating new things holds an enormous attraction for many people, as does sharing their creations with others. Look at the number of people in these forums who seem to worry about reputation and rating system more than they do playing the game. I can only imagine the competition for the top spots in dungeon creation, to recieve accolades from other players for a well crafted experience.

The other thing that UCC appears to inspire is immense loyalty and longevity. There is still new content being created and shared for Neverwinter Nights and Quake 3 Arena. Those are older games, long since supplanted by something with fancier graphics. It might well be too much of a niche market, but for all you or I know, it could also be something viable that could attract and retain more players.

Anderei
03-08-2010, 04:21 PM
Please cite a reference to back up this assertion. While nothing is infallible, I don't accept your assertion at all. While I don't work in academia, I took science at university, and spend a decade doing environmental consulting, mostly writing and reviewing reports. I know the difference between initial internal drafts and the final version of a report that goes to a third party such as a client.

Altough this goes off topic, I spend some time in academia and can ascertain that while some hold to peer review like the holy grail it actually really gets questioned from time to time. Position depends on the discipline and how much reflection of the own activity is applied. For one thing, many non-academics (and even a lot of academics) misunderstand, just because something passed peer review it doesn't mean it isn't garbadge, like you said, when something passes peer review, it only means it looks like a final version of a report, and the makeup is sound. However time and time again, people managed to sneak complete defrauds in, since as scientist peer-reviewing I can also only judge if a paper looks tidy and if I consider it interesting or not. Nobody has the resources or the time to make an actual double-check if the written propositions are true. Only time will tell in the long run, if something gets questioned, but just because you found an article published in nature or science doesn't mean you can take it for granted, especially if its from some time ago.

Aside from the "if its peer-reviewed-it-must-be-true" misconception now with new medias coming up, peer review is questioned from another side. Since originally one if its main functions was to assure the precious place in printed journals gets used by the most worthy stuff. Now space is practically unlimited, this reason gets reduced, its more or less reduced to the general quality check, as said, if its look tidy, and in the top journals, content which is considered to be most interesting by the community, but nothing more or less.

I don't see peer review being replaced anytime soon, and it sure isn't bad, we have to remember that it actually is a pretty new invention (aprox <100 years?) and science made several hundret of years also pretty well without peer-reviewed journals.

EDIT: I wanted to come up with a citation I kind of remebered in the back of my head. A year ago or such, there was a natures comments article arguing that contemporary peer-review hempers creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. But I cannot find it now, sorry, and I don't have the time for longer search. BTW: I know of problems with wikipedia, but I just viewed over their section, and its IMHO not bad at all, summerizing some of the recent arguments: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_review#Criticisms

Visty
03-08-2010, 04:24 PM
Opinion, not fact, unless you care to cite references again.

nop, fact

just take a look at the old dq raid, the one with safespot
or the stand-in-one-spot-and-get-to-max-xp exploit

there are lots of exploits turbine cant think of but lots of ppl can

Khimberlhyte
03-08-2010, 04:53 PM
just take a look at the old dq raid, the one with safespot
or the stand-in-one-spot-and-get-to-max-xp exploit

there are lots of exploits turbine cant think of but lots of ppl can
Thank you for a concrete example. I don't think exploits are purely a function of time as stated by sinedist. They are as much a mindset issue - certain types of people would cheat their own grandmothers.

I admit that I don't much see the point of finding or using exploits, so I don't know a lot about them. I could win at Monopoly by cheating as a banker, but it would detract from my enjoyment. I don't care how other people get their XP - my enjoyment is from playing the dungeons mostly as intended by the design.

There is a point where you have done all you can, and you need to stop worrying about exploits that don't harm other players. In the end, I feel that the person who uses exploits is the one hurt most by them. It adds a tiny stackable bit of corruption to the soul each time they do it.

Visty
03-08-2010, 04:55 PM
Thank you for a concrete example. I don't think exploits are purely a function of time as stated by sinedist. They are as much a mindset issue - certain types of people would cheat their own grandmothers.

I admit that I don't much see the point of finding or using exploits, so I don't know a lot about them. I could win at Monopoly by cheating as a banker, but it would detract from my enjoyment. I don't care how other people get their XP - my enjoyment is from playing the dungeons mostly as intended by the design.

There is a point where you have done all you can, and you need to stop worrying about exploits that don't harm other players. In the end, I feel that the person who uses exploits is the one hurt most by them. It adds a tiny stackable bit of corruption to the soul each time they do it.

you might not care but turbine does.
thats why they are using time to fix exploits

sinedist
03-08-2010, 09:57 PM
1)Many players of DDO have different roots than some other MMOs that are geared towards 12-24 year olds. Look at the demographics here. How many people played pen and paper in some form in the past 30+ years? How many of them built their own dungeons, and would like a shot at being the DM for a DDO instance? A fair number of them.


2)I think you worry too much about exploits. Lamannia is an existing test server. You can do a one-way transfer to Lamannia, up to 4 characters (iirc) and that is all. Your characters can be deleted there at any time. You cannot transfer anything back to the main servers. It is usually deserted, so this would also get more people on there, who would then be able to test new releases. When I went on Lamannia for the update that brought in casual mode, there were only two characters on below level 10, and maybe a few dozen other high level characters.

3)The only thing that would be transferred to the main servers would be a few of the best user created dungeons each month. Voting systems are not that difficult to implement. The last thing I want to see is a million random dungeons of wildly variable quality cluttering up servers like Orien or Khyber. Dungeons built by 6 year olds and exploiters, no thanks. I want those ones somewhere else, where they can only be seen by those people interested in taking the time to test them. I would really like to play some dungeons built by other players. The Turbine dungeons I've run so far are a little light on the background and storyline, and the focus is on bashing things.

4)Please cite a reference to back up this assertion. While nothing is infallible, I don't accept your assertion at all. While I don't work in academia, I took science at university, and spend a decade doing environmental consulting, mostly writing and reviewing reports. I know the difference between initial internal drafts and the final version of a report that goes to a third party such as a client.

Community peer review doesn't seem to have hurt Linux. Or the progress of science over the past thousand years or more. Have you ever used DDOwiki? Wikipedia? You need to reconsider some of your opinions, because it was easy for me to cite real world examples that, while imperfect (as is everything else), support my belief in community participation.

Oi. I'll reiterate that I'm not against your idea, but against its implementation. There is very little, theoretically, wrong with UCC. Where I take up my argument is in its implementation, which actually has very little to do with what you are arguing (at least in some respects). So, in the effort of building a stronger discussion of this idea, I'm going to respond to the first few claims that you have made. At worst, we're creating a positive dialectic here.

1) I would like to resist this kind of ageist demographic claims, especially since the game went F2P. I believe the demographic is widening, which is an excellent thing. I also do not believe that UCC appeals only to older players or PnP enthusiasts. We all enjoy being the master of our own domain, and the urge to create is a moving force for people aged 2 to 200; it's this aspect of UCC that makes it such a strong force, and your plea for it entirely legitimate. If it weren't going to affect the entire community, the game in and of itself, then my arguments would be moot.


The reason I continue to ask that people look deeper into the history of UCC as implemented in games (because games are quite different from other realms of play, like linux, apps, etc...) is because it has been the ruin of a number of them and a deeply problematic system in many of the other systems.

Take Blizzard's wildly successful Starcraft. Why did it have the success online that it did? Because of its uncanny balancing of races, which legitimated the kind of effort that people put into strategy. UCC was able to exist there because each match was a kind of one-off; people playing on a custom map with custom units didn't matter because at the end of it you could simply avoid it without having the rest of the game or other matches on different UCC effect anything else. Unlike Starcraft, DDO is a more or less linear game (set levelling, a level cap, equipment acquisition, etc.). What this means is that all content has some effect on the character and thus on the game world (it's economy of items, its balance of low level characters to high level characters, on its difficulty, etc.). So we might propose that it have no effect on the game world by isolating it to Lama and/or being unable to provide XP or Loot. I'd like to return to this in a minute. The point that you are making is that people want it.

We must then ask the question: does a group of people wanting something make it (a)reasonable to agree to and/or (b)positive to implement. For both, clearly, I do not believe so. Freedom is a value that's important to people (UCC represents this kind of freedom); however, DDO being a game, some balance must be struck between freedom and restriction, between reward and challenge. It is in this dynamic that UCC tends to be the most exploited.

2) I think that isolating UCC to Lama is an excellent idea. On Lama, you have a detached world that ceases to effect the world of the game in itself. This resolves one of the issues that I've already raised, and, fairly enough, raises some of its own issues -- none too difficult to find resolutions for. Accessibility to the server would be the first (which is easy-ish to be solved, but the greater the accessibility to Lama the greater the chance that it takes over the game-world that isn't the test server), player-base would be the second (what kinds of players operate on lama, and what kind of a game-world would result as an increase of these players being localized on the test server), and the third central concern would be how much the developers would have to maintain and focus on Lama as a result of implementing an attractive and unique system on a test server. The third issue is huge; it represents the difference between a kind of sand-box anything-goes system (sort of like a majority of Battle.net) and a more rigid, traditional game system: what DDO is today, more or less.

In regard to exploitation, it's inevitable; the idea is to limit it. My concern with exploitation is not as fundamentally negative as other's might be, but it revolves around the idea of "challenge" and "accomplishment." The kinds of temptations offered by exploits are ones that destroy the challenge of an obstacle (getting a character to cap, acquiring a certain kind of loot, etc.) and thus destroy a personal sense of accomplishmentand a communal recognition of an accomplishment: both central features to MMOs.

Aside from a number of issues, some of which have already been raised since my last post, exploitation is precisely what makes UCC the kind of monster in MMO history that it has become. For some systems it's a warm kind of monster that frees one from the shackles of boredom and repetition by placing creative control in the hands of its user base; for other systems it's a game-breaking or game-scarring monster that maims the values of "achievement" and "recognition of accomplishment" that most MMOs today heavily rely upon. It's resulting implementation directly corresponds to the kind of game that it is; DDO, like a number of linear-ish character-based MMOs, is one type of game I would be very very cautious about toying with.

3) To be short (for once), I would simply remind one of the amount of developer attention that this kind of system requires if it is to not become a sand-box free for all. Developer attention spent on one thing means another thing would receive less attention. We need to ask the question of if DDO is in a place, and at an age, where it would benefit more from UCC or from fixes, expansions, new classes and PrEs. That you and a few others would suggest that it would is fantastic. You are absolutely legitimate to feel this way, and I think it is important to cast your vote, so to speak. I believe, however, many would rather see fixes, PrEs, and new content, rather than the implementation of a system that would suffer from the same kinds of bugs and problems that the game itself is currently marred with.

4) I'm actually doing my PhD on this kind of stuff right now, so I'm plumb-stuck in the middle of a great deal of academia and that means the politics of peer-review. You state that you would like a reference to back up my assertion. Would you prefer my reference were peer-edited, or not? ;)

Point is that most of the canonized works of literature and philosophy not only weren't peer-edited but were rejected by peer-editing. Often, peer-review is an appeal to the masses, to herd-mentality, or, one could say, to the status quo... and we all know how what Nietzsche thought of the herd.

A few other people have addressed this, and even given citations... which is great. But the peer-review issue is very very simple if you break it down rationally. Unlike Linux, google apps, or the like, this is a game. An integral feature of such a game is balance. I do not believe that the kind of system that Linux is abides by the same structures that the kind of system that DDO is. To trust that peer-review is sufficient as a legitimating force is to also claim that:
a) the peers are equally educated in the system within which they are working, which for something like this would be impossible since the developers keep a lot of the numbers behind the game out of the player's hands.
b) that said peers have a more or less equal perspective and desired goal from which to judge a work
and, for me, the biggest one,
c) that those peers are objective. Show me a completely objective person who is able to speak without impulse, personal motivations, and with a total balance in mind, and I'll show you Kant's wet dream.

I will say, for the last time, that I love the idea, Khimber... but that doesn't mean it should be put into place. At least not anytime soon. But here's hoping this helps to crack open a wider discussion of things within the community, since that's all I'm concerned about here anyway.

Corebreach
03-09-2010, 12:41 AM
The logic for puzzles would probably be the hardest part, but an interface like MIT's Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/) would allow very complex logic to be tied to game elements such as puzzles, levers, doors, NPCs and the like, with a very low learning curve.
Nevrax went this way with its scripting and event triggers when it made the Ryzom Ring. The UI wasn't quite as dynamic or graphical as Scratch, but it was about as close as you can get using simpler, more Windows-y widgets, and different components interacted with each other in much the same way.

Something else that game got right was that nothing traveled back into the main server from UCC. No XP, no items, no currency. Nothing except the added wear on your equipment, which actually made playing UCC a loss as far as character advancement went.

Uska
03-09-2010, 12:57 AM
While a good idea in theory it won't work to much trouble to test for exploits and flaws plus picking through the 99.9% dross just to find stuff worth testing would take all the dev time the have now. I would say maybe 1 out of 10,000 things would good enough and not be exploitable

Anderei
03-09-2010, 01:32 AM
UCC for games is like communism, sounds nice in theory, but somehow in just wont work.

zealous
03-09-2010, 04:12 AM
If UCC is something deemed necessary to prolong interest in the MMO, then there is something integrally flawed with the MMO itself.
Lack of content =)



Other than that, the only way to go would be IMHO quests with 0XP and no loot you can get out of the quest. Then why not more diversity just for the narrating/gameplaying fun.

But then on the other hand, so much of DDOs content is rarely played at all, because the XP+Loot/hour ratio is not considered well enough in comparison to other stuff.
A strange coincidence is that some of the best xp/min quests just happens to be some of the most fun ones even if you're going for a smell the roses crawl.

Another aspect to it is that if you have been around for some time and have done the quests so much that you know them by heart, xp/min becomes more important.

When I level a character I tend to mix max xp zerging with smell the roses pugging. There are some quests I really like and want to take my time with, preferably in a untwinked pug of people not having run the quest before. For those I don't really care about the xp/min ratio, I know I can level fast if I want to, I choose not to.

I think there's a window of the first and possibly a couple of more runs where you mainly care about the fresh and new, when DDO is at it's finest.
---
My summary of the problems of UCC would be:
*It'd be really nice
*There could be problems with exploits
---UCC probably shouldn't transfer xp/loot to "real" game
-----Without xp/loot interest might be too low
*It'd take a lot of dev time that possibly could be better spent elsewhere
---to implement the system
---to polish UCC

A idea of mine would be to let the players vote with their wallets.
*UCC is made to initially have no impact on regular gameplay.
*Players have the possibility to spend TP on UCC. If sufficient TPs are spent on one single quest/chain the devs polish it and makes it available in the "real" game.
*Possibly you would have to pay TP to be able to create content.
The advantage of this would be that dev costs for polishing would be covered in advance. Don't know if it would actually work though.

Problems being that developing tools for creating UCC would likely be very costly and time consuming. Creating a system for "buying in advance" would likely also be very costly and time consuming.

Then again, "buying in advance" could potentially be applied to other areas as well. I personally wouldn't mind chipping in some TPs to speed up the process to get some more PrCs.

Dendrix
03-09-2010, 05:24 AM
UCC can work, but it needs some careful balancing. However a good number of the elements required for this are already in place.

Things like the dungeon scaling should handle what mobs can do in terms of their abilities.

The whole CR system balances mobs at the right level of the dungeon. Once the level of the dungeon is chosen the right level of mobs can be presented to the players.

The random generation of loot items in chests and as end rewards balanced against the dungeon level is already done.

Having dungeon maps or sections with connection points and required monster spawn spots for people to put together.

a requirement to have X number of encounters of level -1, Y at level and Z at level +1 would work.

Traps and breakables could be placed as required - again set spot that allow for this.
The XP rewards for traps and breakables is a fixed % of the total in the dungeon

I'm sure Turbine must have a quest generator, where you put in text and have various choices available. Although it may not be suitable for public consumption being an internal tools.

All very possible. Most of the work needs to be done at the end lockign things down and preventing exploits

Salsa
03-09-2010, 06:18 AM
First, a little background, note my background in no way makes me an absolute authority or correct in the following.

I have played D&D for 20+ years (can you say elf is a class?):
During which time I DMed several campaigns designing maps and monsters etc

I was a DM/Dev/Admin for a NWN persistent world for a total of about 4 years:
Designed maps/monsters/plots(IE long term quests in this game's terminology)


I bring this up just to give a reference point, I have no idea how much experience designing maps or adventures any of the people advocating this idea have.

I can tell you right now, from my experience, only about 10% of the people that get excited about making maps and what not actually do it. Obviously this % may vary but you get the idea.

Of those 10%, 1-2% have something good, another 3-4% are ok, the rest...well...

Adventure editors are tedious and long (though alot of fun if you are into it). They have to be designed both for aesthetics and function. For a good map things have to make sense, be balanced, and have a good layout.

This alone can take days, though some people can whip them out in hours (obviously size is an issue). Next you have to put placeables, triggers, traps etc.

Next comes monsters, special AI, and affects. Finally you set treasure and xp. Let's not even get into optional quests.


Just from my experience, people get this put it on a pedestal mentality of how glamorous map and quest design is. Most can't do it, it requires a certain mindset. Least, most people can't make a decent one, anyone can make a horrid one.


Given all the complexities involved, I don't think this idea would work. What I think might work however is Turbine allowing a select few to make maps. Set a small team of Turbinites aside to take applications for Quest Designers and let people send in their resumes. From those they select those with potential and have them send in a writeup of the quest/dungeon. Finally they send in the maps for review.


What this does, it seriously cuts down on the proliferation of maps, we want good maps and fun adventures and it reduces the workload of the Turbinites.

WIllw rite more later, off to work.

zealous
03-09-2010, 06:56 AM
I can tell you right now, from my experience...
All true, but if you go by the success story of NWN...I found many of the user created modules to be way better than the OC.

But let's forget the high quality works of love and focus on the dirty somewhat quicker things you possibly could do.

Use already existing map and:
A. Beef up mob stats
B. Beef up trap DC/damage
Voila, epic amount of new content

Optionally:
* Change mob types, move them around a bit, change composition (e.g. more casters/healers)
* Move traps so that they're activated slightly earlier, move trap boxes
* Change immunities

One of the greatest problems with current content is that it's so static. When you know exactly what to expect and what you need to beat it things become less exciting.


Tbh i'd settle for UCC in the form of simply being able to make edits to existing quests. Just change it a bit to get some variety and to be able to go into any quest at cap and get a challenge based on things different than massively inflated stats.

They've might have created tools to be able to do that easily in order to create the epic quests. Loot/xp would be the same as for already existing quests so no problem there, scale random loot according to level, allow CR based mobs depending on level, remove named items if scaled below original q level.

Problems:
*Move bosses/optional bosses to the beginning in order to farm xp faster
---Disable ability to move those or review process =/
*Scale down mobs to decrease difficulty
---Use quest level-mob CR restrictions
*Move stuff out of the way to make things easier
---You can already bypass stuff on a beeline towards the q objectives
---Do difficult resource consuming development to get a probably exploitable automatic evaluation on the number of encounters you need to pass on the way to objectives or review process =/

Well...umm...I'd settle for the ability to do CR based changes to mobs such as...
*STK with orcs!
*The pit with teleporting devils(and loads o em)!
*kobold assault with undead!

Khimberlhyte
03-09-2010, 11:07 AM
+rep, sinedist. Thank you very much for the well-reasoned and thoughtful response. That post was everything your first one wasn't.

Combined with other comments from zealous, Dendrix and Salsa, among others, I can see the need for more caution. I admit to inexperience and naivete - this is the first MMO I have played.

I can see that the raw, unfiltered server would need to be a dedicated UCC server, similar to (but not) Lamannia. No quests other than UCC. No trainers, no auction house, no collectable turn-ins, no XP, no actual loot in any chest. Vendors for consumables such as arrows, potions, scrolls, wands, and things like house P/J buffs. Allow 10-20 characters for everyone (so that you can try different levels / different classes), and a single one-way character transfer a week from the main servers.

In response to Salsa, I expect that any dungeon I create might well be utter garbage, if ever finished. I don't really want this so that you can play my stuff. I'm not egotistical, I'm selfish - I want this so that I can play the best of what you and others like the best of the NWN content creators can build.

99% of the UCC will be a waste of time. But that other 1% will be worthwhile. And if you have 10,000 new dungeons, there could be 100 gems. Word will get around, a decent voting system could be implemented so that you get one vote per account, and you only get to vote (or change your vote) after running a dungeon. The good ones should float to the top, and the best content creators will earn name recognition and an ardent following.

I don't see the point of selecting a few people, salsa - Turbine might as well hire more full-time designers rather than build a toolset for 50 people. Who knows, some unknown 14 year old newbie could build something amazing on their summer vacation. Your proposal means that they would never get the chance to try.

I don't care if I get XP, or loot when the gems are transferred to the main servers. In fact, eliminating XP and loot would eliminate the zergers and XP grinders from the party, and almost guarantee that UCC would have people who want to explore and smell the roses. For me, the best part of the DDO experience is exploration and the novelty of new content. I don't get much enjoyment out of grinding to make my XP rise as quickly as possible. I did the second chapter of Deleras twice last night in a group that played that way. I got 10k and 7k XP on the runs, but had very little fun doing it. I've only run Deleras once before, also with a quick group. I like to take the time to savor each dungeon at least once, so I'm probably going to have to solo it with my cleric or else run with (select) guildies and friends.

I already said that I would pay $15 right now for the ability to build UCC. The question I see is not how much dev time it would "waste", but whether it is enough of a potential revenue stream for Turbine to make money building and maintaining it?

AZgreentea
03-09-2010, 11:18 AM
I understand the concerns with a system such as this, which is why you'd need a strenuous QA process to allow only the truly good modules, ones that fit into the DDO framework, out for public consumption.

Other MMO's utilize Game Administrators and different volunteers from the community for various purposes. Considering the likelihood of there being talented game designers in the community, that could be a solution.

I played a different MMO, and the GA position was application based. It was exactly like a job, except I didnt get paid, lol. I submitted a resume including an essay, I had to fax a copy of my Drivers License and sign a waiver saying I agreed to a set of terms and conditions that prohibited me from discussing the developer secrets I had access too under pain of legal action if I did so.

What I am saying is, with a stringent recruiting process, a skilled and effective community team could be put together that avoided some of the pains of built in exploits.

Anderei
03-09-2010, 11:32 AM
Word will get around, a decent voting system

Voting systems in group based communities are just so flawed, they simply don't work (buddy effects and soon), after decades of internets we should have learned at least that.

ddaedelus
03-09-2010, 11:53 AM
This thread is like eating popcorn at a chess match.

Just to add my two bits... I would love it if this were possible. I don't think it is, at least not in any way that would interest me.

I created custom content for NWN for four years.

I would hazard to guess that any system that Turbine could employ to "guarantee" quality, such as limiting a tileset (and DDO doesn't use tilesets far as I can tell, so that would have to be created), not allowing the creation of unique items, etc. would pretty much frost the interest of the most talented builders. Much, if not all, of the best community created content in NWN was only possible because 95% of the game could be broken and remade as you wished. There is a fun challenge to creating something within very strict rules, but generally only once. Point being, given the rules that you'd have to build into the system, the best and the brightest will quickly find their creativity stiffled and won't do it.

Additionally any serious player of NWN can tell you that there's only so much you can do to a tileset before it becomes painfully repetitive. As I said in another thread pretty much exactly like this one... one hundred more versions of Depths of Doom (bigger! deeper! lootier!) is not going to make DDO a better game.

Regarding peer review, several years ago NWN held a contest for best short module created with some very specific guidelines. The prize was an interview for a job with the company. There were far too many entries, so they turned the judging over to the community. I don't recall who won, but here's what happened.

Players only played the modules created by those whose work they already knew and liked. They weren't contest judges. They were players. This meant that the majority of modules were completely ignored, or at least didn't get the minimum ten ratings needed to have a valid score. There were endless arguments over what was "good" and what was "merely average" and what was "truly awful" and scores varied widely between voters. There was, of course, the usual "get my friends to vote for me" going on as well. A few players set themselves up as "unofficial raters" vowing to play all the modules so everyone got a fair shake. While admirable, there was just too much content for them, and let's face it: a game you're obligated to play regardless of how good or bad it may be isn't very fun.

I watched the trainwreck, but didn't see what the outcome of the contest was. In my opinion it was grossly unfair and of dubious value. Simply from a statistical analysis, there was nothing valid in the entire affair. Admittedly this isn't peer review, but it does illustrate some serious problems in a popular vote process.

I really just don't see a UCC system that will generate anything valuable enough to justify the dev time it would take to impliment or monitor.

Salsa
03-09-2010, 12:00 PM
Why start with a small team?

1) Starters it's more manageable. Having a group of six people is alot easier to coordinate and train then 600.

2) It requires less attention from Turbine to start. They would only need to invest 1-2 people to help people along. Less people dedicated to a test of something new means more people working on something they know will make money,

3) From a security and legality stand point having six people is easier to get by. The people working with the tools are going to have access to a good bit of Turbine's code and I suspect they will want some contract signing or whatnot. In addition, they will likely need to upload to a test server, maintaining that is easier for a smaller number.

4) New ground, when trying something new, it's almost always easier to add people then to take away halfway thru the process.

5) Vetting. Getting a small group up to speed will be much quicker than a large group and give Turbine access to volunteer trainers. In addition it would give time and flexibility to iron the wrinkles out.

KKDragonLord
03-09-2010, 12:01 PM
I don't know about making the tools to allow players to actually BUILD the dungeons, instances, etc., but having a contest every now and then to allow a player or group of players design a Module (in the old fashioned PnP way of course) and submit it for a chance to be created would be most excellent. Could be pretty simple, you'd only need a few things I imagine. Such as:

1. Quest Basics (Theme, Location, Level)
2. Dungeon Map
3. Locations of Chests, Shrines, Traps, Secret Doors
4. List of Mobs and their general locations within the dungeon
5. The Quest Objective (Kill X Amount of [Monster Name], Recover [Artifact Name], etc.)
6. Notable NPCs (Both Combative and Non-Combative)
7. List of any Special End Reward (Within reason of course, no need for a Lv 1 Quest to hand out Vorpal Greatswords of Disruption that are also made out of Glassteel).

I can't think of anything super important that I'm missing, but then again, I've never DMed.

This would probably be the best (and only) way to do it, make it a Weekly contest with public voting kinda like american idol and its on.