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The City of Heroes Expansion & the Issues of User-Created Content

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the can't-you-just-play-nice dept.

Role Playing (Games) 150

eldavojohn writes "Wired has a piece on the new City of Heroes content that is created by players — or rather the severe abuse of it. Namely, creating missions for the characters. The problem is that gamers game this system, even though Paragon City has tried to maintain a good risk/reward ratio for experience in these missions. Making the situation even worse is that people who architect highly-rated missions get architect awards, which are redeemable for prizes — almost ensuring experience farming missions. Eric Heimburg (lead engineer and producer of Asheron's Call and the upcoming Star Trek MMO) comments on this: 'It may seem sad that giving the players what they want is detrimental to the player's overall length of enjoyment of the game, but that's the truth. Once you reached that top of the hill, if there's nothing left to do or see, players are likely to move on. Length of enjoyment (equals) amount of money earned, so developers have a strong incentive to keep players from gaining power and levels too quickly.' Matt Miller (lead designer of CoH), addressed the community on this very topic. This is resulting in an unexplained ban/loss of experience if you are determined to be abusing the mission architect, causing an uproar in the community. Is user-generated content a dead end for an MMORPG?" Update: 05/20 20:27 GMT by T : Rather than lead engineer of Asheron's Call or the Star Trek MMO, a correction at Wired says rather that "Heimburg worked as Star Trek Online's systems designer at Perpetual Entertainment, prior to the game's transfer to Cryptic Studio."

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Poor Design (1)

Literaryhero (1379743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021437)

Why not wait and release the product without these gaping loopholes for players to abuse?

Re:Poor Design (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021461)

The "loophole" is the whole point of the expansion. User generated content is their selling point but it ends up being destructive.

Re:Poor Design (1)

Literaryhero (1379743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021491)

Oh, Im not saying to disallow user generated content. I am saying that balance is an important part of any multiplayer game. The devs should have made sure the content that can be created is balanced and fair in comparison with the other aspects of the game.

Re:Poor Design (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021519)

Discuss. [thestartingfive.net]

Re:Poor Design (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021549)

An isThisMissionHardEnough function? Interesting problem. It wouldn't be impossible but it's probably outside the scope of the project :)

Re:Poor Design (4, Insightful)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021763)

I can't believe they screwed this up. This game utterly revolves around heroes and antagonists, yet they don't have the foresight to have each side compete for the available experience points? Then they can set up an equation that makes it very unfavorable to let someone win, as well as an equation to have the most skillful players pair up for a challenging and longer lasting experience. Took me 2 minutes to come up with that.

Re:Poor Design (4, Insightful)

Allen Varney (449382) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021859)

Took me 2 minutes to come up with that.

Uh-huh. And in the two years the professional CoH designers and coders were thinking daily about this problem, in their two years of doubtless intensive meetings, not one of them ever once considered your idea. Right? The only possible alternative is that perhaps your two-minute inspiration isn't a perfect solution -- that it may even have unsuspected shortcomings. Nah, that couldn't be. Yeah, they're just dumb.

Re:Poor Design (2, Insightful)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022195)

Nah, that couldn't be. Yeah, they're just dumb.

Wouldn't surprise me. I'm amazed how many developers spend months deciding whether to implement something, when it's clear to almost anyone that it's a bad idea.

Big developers and big teams seem to lose sight of what's easily doable, and easily exploitable. Some features just aren't worth the time or hassle, especially when what you currently have actually works.

It's depressing watching developers shoot their games in the foot, but many MMOs go that way. I guess the design teams feel the MMO has "stagnated", so they want to spice it up a bit? Usually they just ruin it.

Re:Poor Design (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28023329)

Speaking of shooting themselves in the foot, here's another bone-headed idea that Blizzard recently came up with.

See, they added a world PVP zone called Wintergrasp that turned out to be wildly popular. Too popular. There are often hundreds of players in the same tiny section of the zone.

What is their solution? If you guessed instance the zone, or add incentives to spread out within the zone rather than concentrating on the area, you'd be wrong. Their brilliant solution was to make the zone less desirable and less enjoyable, so that fewer people show up to do it.

I guess that does technically solve the problem, though. I wish I could get away with crap like that at my job.

As a COH player, I can believe that (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022355)

Uh-huh. And in the two years the professional CoH designers and coders were thinking daily about this problem, in their two years of doubtless intensive meetings, not one of them ever once considered your idea. Right? The only possible alternative is that perhaps your two-minute inspiration isn't a perfect solution -- that it may even have unsuspected shortcomings. Nah, that couldn't be. Yeah, they're just dumb.

I know the above has become a popular argument to make on Slashdot in any topic, but in COH's case, as someone who's played it from launch, I can tell you that your faith is misplaced. Yes, COH actually has a long history at implementing stuff without thinking, and then being suprised when they discover how it can be (ab)used.

From day zero there had been such "exploits" (read: just doing what the system allowed) as the smoke grenade that could floor the enemy's to-hit, or the Hasten which could end up stacking with itself. Let me explain the latter because it's a case where, yes, 2 minutes and some basic arithmetic could have foretold it.

"Hasten" was supposed to be a situational power, which for a while made all your attacks recharge much faster. But it wasn't supposed to be permanent. But the darndest thing is: nobody seems to have actually tested what happens when you put six Single-Origin recharge reducers in it, a perfectly valid scenario allowed by the game. In fact, it was possible to make it permanent (recharge time equalled the time its effect stayed up) with only _two_ Single-Origins. Anything more would cause it to recharge faster than it stays up, so you could even have it stack with itself.

Statesman seemed genuinely surprised that this is possible. Nobody did the maths there, and we're talking simple arithmetic and standard "equipment" available at level 22. We're not talking some arcane combination of bonuses or epic equipment being off the chart, but the bog standard stuff bought from the vendor at level 22.

Eventually he agreed to let players have it permanently on, but said that then you'd need a full 6 SOs for that. Something he'd later turn around and present as an exploint in the ED.

The ED itself screwed up power sets like, say, defense because it was an across-the-board change to everyone without any thought about how it affects any particular build, nor any attempt to balance it. It took more than a year to fix the screw-ups introduced by the ED patch.

But to get to the present, just look at some patch notes about architect missions. E.g., one says that now all the melee sets for custom enemies have at least one ranged attack too. Aha. So they launched it without foreseeing that critters with no ranged attack, can be bombed with impunity by anyone who took Hover or Fly? In a game where half the people can fly, nobody foresaw that?

So, you tell me. How come in all their thinking and meetings and all, nobody foresaw something as elementary as that exploit?

Because from where I stand, it looks to me like, yes, sometimes they don't even try.

Re:Poor Design (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022877)

Actually, that is quite often the case. Remember, we're talking about software developers here. Their stock in trade is totally missing UI issues, creating inconvenient workflows (for the user - the software internals are tight), and so on. Case in point: IE6.

Re:Poor Design (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023645)

The COH designers aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. Prior to this screwup they decided to improve the PVP experience in the game by getting everyone who PVPed to leave. They have a long list of problematic features that they introduced in a flawed state and either left that way or pulled and never actually fixed. In this case the designers were repeatedly informed of the problems with mission architect and launched it any way. The fixes needed were trivial, removal of certain enemy types and making certain you couldn't have a map with all enemies that had no ranged attacks. The need for ranged attacks had been known for over 4 years in the game

Re:Poor Design (3, Insightful)

windwalkr (883202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021731)

A fair analogy would be our legal system. While it serves us reasonably well for the most part, nobody would claim that is completely fair or that there are no loop-holes. Additionally, we have to keep adjusting in on a regular basis.

What makes you think that a handful of game devs will "get it right" where thousands of lawyers and politicians over the years have tried and are still trying?

There is no such thing as absolute balance. There are always loopholes. I have no experience with CoH so I can't say whether their implementation stinks or whether it's amazing, but I think it's fair to say that expecting anything approaching perfection is unreasonable.

Re:Poor Design (3, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021929)

The lawyers (and politicians, mainly, are ex- and future- lawyers, in the US) have no incentive whatosever to fix the system. On the contrary: they need it as complicated and open to abuse as possible to maximize the present (and , in the case of politicians, future) livelihoods.

The same bould be said about devs: buggy systems to fix are one source of work (and I've seen devs VERY aware that bugs = work = $$)... but still, they can also probably find other projects.

Re:Poor Design (1)

windwalkr (883202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023113)

What you say is true, but is also a very pessimistic viewpoint. I prefer to believe that the majority of people (politicians, developers, everyone) are actually trying to make things better. I'm sure that there are certainly notable exceptions.

Certainly, in games development, there is little incentive in developing overly buggy systems. Doing so repeatedly is more likely to get you fired as incompetent rather than have management ask you to spend additional time on the same tasks.

Regardless, that wasn't really my point - I'm just saying that such systems do not reach perfection. The whys and wherefores don't change that.

Re:Poor Design (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023529)

> and politicians, mainly, are ex- and future- lawyers, in the US

not only in the USA, in the Bundestag (German parliament) 23.3% of the members are lawyers (next places: high school teachers 5.5%, political scientist 4.6%)

as contrast, the sum of all natural scientists (+mathematicans, +computer scientists) is ~5% (see http://www.bundestag.de/mdb/statistik/berufe.html [bundestag.de] (in German) for the complete list) - anyone expecting anything useful from this kind of group is mad.

rant end, sorry for the offtopic

Re:Poor Design (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021935)

Tell that to Second Life.
Tell that to most tabletop RPGs that depend on such content.

Yes it is an MMO which changes things some but there are ways to game the system regardless.

My real problem with the AE system is that it is too timid in not giving the creator any real control over level layout or design. Maps are either pregenerated or randomly generated. Basically all the creator is doing is adding a script and which monsters will spawn.

While the AE creator can indeed be used for great things I think what is really needed is more flexabilty along with a ranking system that the admins do have some control over.

It is an unsolved problem; not a forgone conclusion.

Re:Poor Design (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022179)

XP farming is a design flaw. Simple XP values matched to level means that easily defeated mobs are worth 0 XP. Failure to have such matched values, speaks of the designers flawed abilities, not user created content.

Re:Poor Design (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022343)

Not really - you could just happen to be a fire mage and the level you designed just happens to have all creatures with a terrible weakness to fire but strong otherwise and so its very easy for you but not many others.

Re:Poor Design (1)

bpkiwi (1190575) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023297)

This is true, which leads me to think that how 'strong' an opponent is (hp, ep, etc) is not a very good measure of how much experience you get from fighting them.

It would seeme that a system measuring the length of the fight, how much damage each participant took, if the fight was balanced, and how close you came to losing would e a much better way to calculate experience gained.

So, you start a level, battle your way through it for hours, nearly die several times, and of course you get a ton of experience. Or, you throw fire at everything, run from start to finish in five minutes, and get almost nothing.

Re:Poor Design (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022623)

They honestly didn't expect that to happen? They should have put limits on how many quests you can do according to a rank or something. They should have also limited the reward of a quest according to the difficulty (of the mobs you need to kill, the length of travel, etc). I know the real test of a feature is on the live servers but still, think ahead a little.

Re:Poor Design (5, Insightful)

spacefiddle (620205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021545)

The loopholes here is "players can create content, and rate others' content, and gain rewards from the content itself and getting good ratings." The inevitable result is:

  • People make stupid powerlevelling farm stuff
  • The farmers and powerlevellers love it, and rate it highly
  • Actual stories with actual plots are, with rare exception, rated poorly or ignored - "this is too hard, i'm not getting XP fast enuff"
  • If you know 50 people in your guild, you're getting 50 top ratings, no matter what kinda crap you churn out
  • Rating trading for the rewards
  • Revenge-rating players you don't like
  • Extreme polarization of those opposed to powerlevelling and farming, in response
  • Much QQ
  • Boo Hoo.

Honestly, it's not the system, and it's not even a lot of players. It's the tools who come in, pay real cash for IG money and levels, and will soon get bored and move on anyway. Screw them. You can't base your business model on that.

Re:Poor Design (5, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021673)

Lawl.

We're talking about an MMORPG that has never taken its own EULA seriously, never done serious work to curtail the influence sellers (read: gold farmers), and never done anything to fix the various missions they themselves created that were being used as farms.

In other words, they already had a broken system. The fact that Mission Architect broke it even further should surprise no one.

New players rarely, if ever, come to CoH/CoV any more. If they do arrive, the chance of their being treated well and learning the game and having fun is virtually nil. Getting into anything on the high-level scale is either a function of grinding all day and all night (not fun) or worming your way into one of the insular and unhelpful "Supergroups" (guilds) in the game, also not fun since you're just signing up for all the usual drama-queen stuff that goes on with any organizational setup like that.

If they really wanted to improve the game, focusing on making it fun at all levels would be the way to go. Unfortunately, the game's not set up like that, and so the race to 50 (or 46 and then locking, if you're making a "bridging" character for the powerleveling crap) will continue unabated.

Re:Poor Design (2, Insightful)

spacefiddle (620205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021729)

geez, you don't sound bitter at all...

You do realize you are quite obviously describing your own bad experience and deciding that it must be "the whole game" for everyone?

More seriously, name a game that does "serious work to curtail the gold farmers." I've played bunches of MMOs and they're pretty rampant in all of them.

Re:Poor Design (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022095)

Warhammer Online loves to ban them some gold spammers. Just shy of 19,000 have been hit with the banhammer so far, according to the counter.

Re:Poor Design (2, Insightful)

spacefiddle (620205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023937)

Ah, so you rate flag-waving over effect? My WHO toons got a billion goldspam mails every day. Each toon, every day. Banning 20k gold selling accounts and bragging about it is like bragging about killing 20k cockroaches in New York City.

Unfortunately, for most people it is (1, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022501)

You do realize you are quite obviously describing your own bad experience and deciding that it must be "the whole game" for everyone?

Unfortunately, for most people it _is_ the kind of crap he described.

E.g., I have a _lot_ of low level alts and routinely group with newbies. And with other players who made alts. I've yet to see one who's happy with the grind to level 20-22. If the topic comes up, virtually _everyone_ just gnashes their teeth and grinds through the non-fun teen levels, to the point where they finally get their Stamina and stop sucking.

So, yes, I still wonder why the COH team doesn't fucking fix their game to be fun at all levels already. There was no level range on WoW where I had the impression that I just need to grind 9 more levels and _then_ it'll be fun. Whatever class I was playing, and I've played all 10, had a good enough mix of spells to be fun playing at any level from 1 to 80. Why can't COH be the same?

E.g., both in game and on the forums, the consensus is that if you're, say, a Blaster, oh well, you better get used to faceplanting lots and being in xp debt half the time. Or that you can't really solo past a point anyway, because everyone and their grandma mezzes and you just have no protection against being mez-locked. It's one of those things that just are, like the sun coming up in the east.

But if you think about it... why? It's the most piss-poor example of game design. How about some actual balance?

And is it surprising that then a lot of them went and made custom missions full of enemies which _can't_ mez for a change?

Etc.

Re:Unfortunately, for most people it is (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023175)

"So, yes, I still wonder why the COH team doesn't fucking fix their game to be fun at all levels already. There was no level range on WoW where I had the impression that I just need to grind 9 more levels and _then_ it'll be fun. Whatever class I was playing, and I've played all 10, had a good enough mix of spells to be fun playing at any level from 1 to 80. Why can't COH be the same?"

Is there some other game that is called WoW? I ask because World of Warcraft doesn't really start being a game until max level with at least entry level purples in every slot. I like CoH precisely because you don't need to be level 50 with purple enhancements in every slot to actually have fun. (And if you actually enjoyed your druid on levels 1-19 you need to seek help, now.)

Re:Unfortunately, for most people it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28023767)

Levelling on WoW is tons of fun!

Re:Unfortunately, for most people it is (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28023185)

please, this is not the "COH" forum, so use proper English. What should "mez" stand for? Even if your points may be valid, the dissertation is full of made up words that means nothing in the world outside the context from which you're talking.

Re:Unfortunately, for most people it is (3, Insightful)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023993)

I'll be honest, I've play CoH/V and I don't know what mez means, I can guess it means mesmerized, but I have no idea. I personally hate the huge number of acronyms and shortenings that are used for games. There's rarely, if ever any documentation on what all of them are and they inevitably get to a point where you have a lot in a single sentence. It's okay when you use one, usually someone can figure out what it means based on context, but as you start stacking more and more it becomes impossible for an outside to come in any understand the language. This is likely another part why CoH/V doesn't see many new players. I can look at the chat channels and barely understand what's being said because I have a habit of playing for a month or two, quitting for 5 and going back. I can't imagine what it would be like to start as a new player with everyone and their mother talking in all these acronyms that you can't decipher. A lot of people are self-conscious about sounding dumb, myself included. If I were to be on my level 50 character and ask what half these acronyms were that I didn't know, I would probably get a lot of replies like "loludum" and the such. After all, how could a max level NOT know all the acronyms?

Re:Unfortunately, for most people it is (1)

cpartrid (1537727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28024175)

This really just goes to show that you are indeed only talking about the game from your own perspective. From my own point of view the levels up to the early 20's were by far the most fun, it was only after that that I found the game started to get a bit boring, and to this day I still enjoy the ealry levels better. So the moral. I guess you just can't please all of the poeple all of the time so we're never going to get a perfect MMO that caters for everyone.

Re:Poor Design (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023737)

The description isn't too far off.

The game has an off the scale range of character effectiveness. Depending on your equipment the challenge of the game goes from difficult to trivial. Currently the major late game activity is trying to get short supply enhancements. The problem is that in order to get them you have to have them (Doesn't sound too familiar that) or yave had to been in the game at times when they were cheaper and more available.

The new player faces the steep curve to get enhances, and the trap of horrible powerset combinations.

The original is off in that the players in the game are cheerful and more or less helpful.

Re:Poor Design (4, Informative)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021843)

The thing is, the devs problem isn't with farming per se. If someone wants to farm nothing but bosses on the same map all day, every day, the devs don't particularly LIKE that sort of play style, but you're not going to get nerfed/delete/banned for it. Their problem is with abuse of exploits within the system. Prior to public release, there were certain "enemy" types that simply did no damage on their own. They were "healer" types or "enemy generator" types. But, because of how they appear and are used in some of the dev arc missions, they give XP. Most of these were stripped out prior to release. So the exploiters moved on to the next level up. "Skewed XP awards and mechanics exploits". This was the so-called "Rikti Doll" farm. A certain type of Rikti, the Communications Officer is a minion-class (lowest) foe. However, it gives liutenant (next class up) XP. Why? Because it's an "enemy generator" type that summons additional foes. Bit of historical info. Initially the Commos gave minion-class XP, but players were essentially farming them because all the summoned foes gave XP too. Like a fountain of endless XP. So the devs changed it so the summoned foes gave no XP, but bumped the XP on the Commos themselves to compensate. Bit of mechanics info. HOWEVER, in a group, only ONE Commo will pop a portal to summon more foes. This stops you from running into random groups that might occasionally have a high number of them and spawning an unmanageable horde of XP-less foes. The exploiters were utilizing this mechanic to built farms of low-risk enemies that gave out inordinately large quantities of XP. There were instances of people levelling from 1 to 50 in 6-8 hours. Which is just NUTS. (Note: There is one piece of "performance art" that purports to have gotten an L50 character in 1 hour. In actuality, what this person did was level-pact with someone who was farming these exploit maps. They then logged off and only logged back on after the pact had hit L50, resulting in an L50 character with a total played-time of 1 hour.) As soon as the devs were able (they were in a code freeze for a major event in the game), they removed the exploitable enemies.

Re:Poor Design (2, Interesting)

tonywong (96839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022169)

6-8 hours on Rikti Doll/Meows are actually not as big an exploit as the guy who leveled to 50 in 90 minutes using a bigger exploit. Those are the guys who really got the devs PO'd.

Re:Poor Design (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28024189)

Again, nobody levelled to 50 in 90 minutes.

If you're re-read my post, it was someone who'd created a character, level pacted, then signed off that character.

Their level pact buddy levelled and they logged back on once they reached 50.

That's not how level pacting is REALLY supposed to work (both partners should be working at advancement), but it's not an exploit.

Re:Poor Design (1)

Banarak (1095591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021939)

Seriously...

1). People make stupid powerlevelling farm stuff 2). The farmers and powerlevellers love it, and rate it highly

Why is this a problem? I've been a player from I13 to now, and I made my own powerleveling mission (rated horribly, mind you) and use others. Some people like it to advance their characters. If it's in the game, why not? It's not a crime for people to want to level fast, and it's better then the old-school farming before I14.

3). Actual stories with actual plots are, with rare exception, rated poorly or ignored - "this is too hard, i'm not getting XP fast enuff"

CoX has a lot of players that are there for the lore or the fun. Sure you might get a few bad votes from players that purely want to gain XP, but I've played over 100 player missions - most of the with story. The bad ones (kill McDonalds and fast food icons) get bad scores. A well written storyline will always get a 4 or 5 out of me, regardless of difficulty. It seems a lot of players follow this as well based on ratings in game.

4). If you know 50 people in your guild, you're getting 50 top ratings, no matter what kinda crap you churn out

While this can be true, I've rated a lot of guildies 3-4 based on the depth of the mission. If it's a farming mission and it's amazing, it gets a 5. If it's a simple mission with a great story, it gets a 4. If it's a long mission with a fantastic story, it gets a 5. If it's missing story, or it's a bad farm (LCD) then it goes much lower... for a guildie, I'll drop to a 3. I don't think I'm the only one with morales like this, and it does average in. There may be a little favoritism, but it's not near as bad as you make it out to be.

5.) Rating trading for the rewards 6.) Revenge-rating players you don't like 7.) Extreme polarization of those opposed to powerlevelling and farming, in response

These are more of an issue for people abusing the system, and at low numbers for rating. If you want to avoid this, Pick missions that have been rated the most amount of times. You might still run into it occasionally, but there are over 20,000 missions available now. Compare that to doing the same newspaper missions over and over. Just rate it low and move on, and leave the author feedback.

8). Much QQ 9.) Boo Hoo.

Why did this post get rated 5-Insightful with these two options?

Overall, it's a fantastic system with flaws. More games should offer this sort of creativity but it should be a little more restricted in my opinion.

It's still a problem (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022441)

Honestly, it's not the system, and it's not even a lot of players. It's the tools who come in, pay real cash for IG money and levels, and will soon get bored and move on anyway. Screw them. You can't base your business model on that.

Unfortunately, it ruins the experience for everyone else too.

E.g., a lot of grouping before in COH had been for xp. Let's not pretend we're just a more social bunch and need to go even to the toilet in groups. The game just gave a bigger group xp bonus than, say, WoW does, so people grouped.

But then suddenly farming AE missions came and offered much higher xp than anything else. You can see where that's going.

I pretty much gave up on playing my defenders (support chars, for whoever isn't a COH player) because the chances of being invited to anything else than yet another AE farming session became almost nill.

Even on other characters it's a rare day when you find a non-farming group and it doesn't degenerate into "why don't we go farm AE missions instead? They're more xp." And then into "screw this, guys, I need xp" if you don't want to go farming.

E.g., you can see the effects on the auction house. Certain kinds of common drops (especially in the pre-50 ranges everyone skipped) became rare because nobody does those enemies any more.

Re:Poor Design (1)

basotl (808388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021581)

There have been multiple patches to address these perceived holes. Even the normal content can be abused by those who know how. Many of those who farm experience and influence take offense at being told how to enjoy the game.

The players that create these missions are very creative at finding ways to easily exploit any number of details that are meant to be normal parts of content. Pretty much you would need to remove the whole system to remove potential for exploit completely.

Re:Poor Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021857)

They are just gaming the game - metagaming if you will. Now some of the action takes place outside the game sphere rather than within, but it is still a game with its own rules and dynamics.

Re:Poor Design (4, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021915)

The "loophole" was allowed to get people to use the system.

As a player of CoH/CoV over the past couple months I can say that while the Wired article is correct that the AE system was abused and broken at first the rewards have been pushed in the opposite direction once everyone was using AE.

I think the overly heavy reward ration was merely a ploy to get people talking about the system, and one that may have backfired.

Re:Poor Design (1)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022059)

Would it be a better idea to just reward players experience points for time spent in-game doing active quest-like stuff; rather than the number of quests done or mobs killed.

Scaled properly, it'd make for an interesting reward trade-off, perhaps an incentive for higher-level players to help out random lowbies; and also potentially one less abuse/spam avenue for 'power leveling' services...

Create a Mission And This is What Happens. (5, Funny)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021441)

Create a mission they said!

Everyone Wants User-Created Content They Said!

Then you get banned. Bah!

First? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021455)

Sloooow night?

and this is why you can't have nice things (0, Redundant)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021465)

MMO users exploiting a perceived weakness in the game? Who saw that one coming?

Re:and this is why you can't have nice things (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021907)

MMO users exploiting a perceived weakness in the game? Who saw that one coming?

I didn't bother, but when I think about it, it's no surprise.

This is the reason I abandon most MMORPG in less than a month. Most players just want to grind.
If you doesn't grind, you suck.
If you doesn't have the full shiny equip set, preferably +(Infinity+1), you suck.
If you doesn't have the right build, you suck for life.
When (and if) you stop sucking you probably already did everything interesting in the game, at the point it gets boring and you quit.

I have to admit I enjoyed many of them for some time, but sucking sucks and they demand more time than I have available.

Anyway, the majority of MMORPG players seek (or follow) the fastest way to getting the best character. So, most forms of content creation for MMORPG (by developers) involve something that resembles a fight against the users, in the sense they have to make sure players won't find a way to exploit the new content. If they allow player-created content which grants rewards similar to the standard gameplay, pplayers will, of course, exploit it. And get stronger. And get bored. And leave.

I will go back to my single player games. Feel free to add words like "some" and "almost" where you feel necessary.

Re:and this is why you can't have nice things (0, Offtopic)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022225)

When I was playing WoW on Blizz's servers, I had a character who at 13th level had the majority of the flightpaths in the game, and most of the maps uncovered. Had a lot of deaths too. I just liked exploring and seeing new places as opposed to grinding and killing to level so I could get bigger and better stuff to kill more stuff to get.... I also had around 8K in gold, a full guild bank with all tabs at 13th level too (I liked the AH). But for some strange reason i got into trying to level, went from 13th to 41st in five or six days and got burned out. Quit playing for a long while. Now I play on a private server, by myself and occasionally some friends, and have a good time doing stuff that I want to do. The only thing I really miss from WoW being a MMORPG is the AH.

Depends on the reward (3, Insightful)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021473)

Is user-generated content a dead end for an MMORPG?

Not quite. It's probably a dead end for missions than grant experience but can still be a great part of the content. Provide some sort of ranking/point system and even add in cosmetic or other minor rewards and it will still have value.

MMOs are mostly about the sense of achievement but there's still room for a little fun in them :)

Re:Depends on the reward (1)

Literaryhero (1379743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021511)

Not quite. It's probably a dead end for missions than grant experience but can still be a great part of the content. Provide some sort of ranking/point system and even add in cosmetic or other minor rewards and it will still have value.

MMOs are mostly about the sense of achievement but there's still room for a little fun in them :)

I think that it is still possible to have user created missions that offer experience. The game devs just need to make sure that only missions which are balanced with the other gameplay can be created.

In my opinion, the game devs dropped the ball and released a buggy product here. This isn't proof that user created content is bad, it is proof that lazy game devs are bad.

Re:Depends on the reward (1)

basotl (808388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021603)

The players are very good at finding multiple ways to exploit the user created content. Shoot the dev created content has been exploited all over. Just not in such a concentrated area to make it so apparent.

After every patch the devs give to gimp the exploitation of user generated content some intelligent user finds a way around it.

Re:Depends on the reward (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022303)

>>Not quite. It's probably a dead end for missions than grant experience but can still be a great part of the content

MMORPGs have been doing user-generated content for decades. MUDs are often expanded / given new content by the players, not the admins. They are usually vetted first, though.

As a modder myself (for Quake, and many other games) I've been waiting for a modern MMORPG to let its content be mod-able or extensible, but the CoH way doesn't seem to be it.

Honestly (1)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021485)

They should have seen this coming.

The casual players want well crafted stories and fresh content, they usually don't play through it at a rate much faster than the developers can give them something.

The hardcore players are all about min-max'ing for the most beneficial use of their time. They also have the most time to create things like this.

You have the abusers making the content, of course it will be ripe for abusing.

This is like putting a drug dealer in charge of the war on drugs.

Re:Honestly (2, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021865)

Drug user really, which given the last three presidents explains a lot.

Is it just me or do you hate the grind too? (4, Insightful)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021487)

Length of enjoyment (equals) amount of money earned, so developers have a strong incentive to keep players from gaining power and levels too quickly.

I get board if I can't level fast enough. I guess that why I don't play mmorpgs anymore. I think gaining levels should be matched on the content of the game of course, but most grinds are just too boring. If you have to raid the same place too often it hurts rather than helps.

Why is this funny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021617)

Every current MMO is based on repetitive raiding and questing until you're different just like everyone else. Some games require you to have specific gear to defeat specific "bosses" how do you get this gear you ask? You run the same raid 20+ times just to get 1 piece of it, you might find that fun, I find it to be the definition of tediousness.

How hard would be to not require players to do endless, meaningless quests in order to level, or get required crafting items? I want to feel like I'm participating in something epic, not get a second job.

Re:Is it just me or do you hate the grind too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021713)

You wood, wooden you?

Re:Is it just me or do you hate the grind too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28022093)

What do you call a man with 3 wooden heads? Edward Woodward (He was an English Actor BTW!) And the most lame joke award goes to... AC

Re:Is it just me or do you hate the grind too? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28023243)

And what do you call a man with FOUR wooden heads?

I don't know, but Edward Woodward would.

Gaming the system (4, Insightful)

pandaman9000 (520981) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021529)

The issue is not loopholes that are able to be removed. The issue is that the only way to ensure that abuse cannot happen is to have nearly zero ability to create anything original. The tradeoff is an inability to have variety. This makes user created content even less desirable than the worst pre-made stuff.

The Mission Architect is the best addition ever made to City of Heroes. The fact that farming is a widely used form for created missions actually stems from CoH/V deciding to include high levels of loot and crafting. Add in an intention extreme scarcity of the most desirable stat modifying drops, and people that are stat-obsessed react by finding ways to acquire those drops with the least time input. People that obsess over stats are drawn to loot, and it's bonuses. Those same people are the ones that will end up farming, or paying a farmer, instead of waiting a full year to acquire or save enough to purchase their "optimal loadout".

Loot begets farming. The farmers have found a way to optimize every aspect of the game for power or profit. Mission Architect is just another area they are leveraging.

At the end of the day, user created content opens a whole new area for player development and expression. The benefit outweighs the risk.

Re:Gaming the system (3, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021665)

The key is to sandbox it heavily. For example don't let the players design their own attacks, but limit them to 8 skills at a time and if the skills are balanced well there's a mind boggling variety [wikia.com] of possibilities.

Or get rid of the global ranking altogether. There are tens of thousands of custom counter-strike maps but who cares if people make abusive maps? Your ranking is determined by your skill; if you're good then you'll almost always be at the top of the scoreboard getting whatever pleasure pulls in MMO addicts. And if you play achievement servers all day then you simply won't be good enough to top a scoreboard; abuse does nothing. This kind of skill-based stratification is possible in MMOs too.. again Guild Wars proved it's possible, so where's the followup? 90% of active Guild Wars characters are at the level cap and probably a good 50% have beaten enough to have competitive options for PvP combat or finishing the rest of the games. Almost everyone is on an even level technically so the "ranking" is just how good you are. And for those who haven't beaten it, many missions are completely impossible without a full team of skilled players and you usually have to play through it a few times to get a tactical idea of where you fit in.

So give me an MMO with a low level cap. Everyone has exactly the same number by their name and the same possibilities for stat building, so there's no epeen waving and no reason to abuse the system. If players want to sit around all day playing farming missions then I guess they're having fun and it's fine because their little number isn't moving. Of course it always comes down to EPIC GEAR that (even in guild wars) takes at least like a thousand hours of farming, but you can just make user generated content not eligible for those items.

Eminently abusable (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021537)

They can create missions they have exclusive knowledge of how to solve, and share secrets with their friends, I suppose, or play their own characters through it -- granting themself an advantage.

And using sockpuppets to vote/rate on their own mission.

Well in a commercial MMORPG they should be able to positively identify people and prevent most of these forseeable abuses...

Playing your own mission should not come with any rewards.

The rewards (and dangers) of other people's missions should not be controlled by the creator.

Otherwise, player-generated content is a brilliant idea.

What they should do is after a mission is created and receives some sort of rating, get a few player volunteers to 'review' it in exchange for another reward, before the mission can be "enabled" for gameplay reward.

Until "enabled", no 'items' can be obtained from it, no experience, etc, or other benefit from playing the mission.

The reviewers get to examine the mission and 'flag' any element, place, waypoint, etc, in it as needing to be changed.

If the mission is accepted, the reviewer who reported the highest number of problems that were acted upon gets a prize, but they are disqualified if they have a high miss-rate (reporting a large number of problems that other reviewers did not independently find and were not acted upon).

If the mission got rejected, the reviewer who reported the most problems that there was a consensus on from other reviewers (but who had a low miss rate) still gets some prize.

Leave it up to the player reviewers to find any effort at cheating in the mission or backdooring and to reject or report it, before the mission goes 'live'...

Re:Eminently abusable (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021761)

Yes if we're informed gentlepersons just arrived in town on the new steam train -excuse me maam, yes sorry- for the state caucus and all vote earnestly and honestly and we candidly consider good opposing points and all come to a strong, warm understanding of respecting our differences while laying a unified foundation for our future.

This is the internet!
First of all everyone knows each other; communities usually grow around user generated content. The formal process would just be rushed through ("<mapper> hey guys finished a new mission! good exp hehe here's the url approve it so we can farm tonight <person1> signed. <person2> signed, can't wait to try it <person3> looks cool signed") for the real process of "do I really want to play this" to kick in. They need to focus down on that real process that players use in picking their game experiences; an arbitrary hoop to jump through before the real process kicks in does not make higher quality content and certainly doesn't curb abuse.

Re:Eminently abusable (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022219)

You don't let reviewers self-select. You pick them randomly from a large pool of players.

The identity of the reviewers and of the mission being reviewed get obscured from one another.

And just signing off on a mission automatically without reporting some issues (because no mission is perfect) makes the reviewer ineligable for that and future reviews, so the system can pick a new one.

More examples of developer cluelessness... (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021557)

... It's not that user created content is bad, it's that user created content for an MMO has to be vetted by the developers themselves. Letting users create content with no filter for an MMO is stupid.

For single player games it's fine since each person chooses what the download and what they want to play.

Also making user created content that does not let users change rules of the game or build their own missions would have done a lot to preven this.

User created content is FINE as long as you limit it to things like character customization, aesthetics, art, etc. Things that really don't effect the core game.

Re:More examples of developer cluelessness... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021821)

Exactly. Let users rate the levels, fine. But only reward the maker if the developers (or trusted users designated by them) also rate it high. This will end the 'my levels are teh aw3some. just ask my friendzors!' problem.

Re:More examples of developer cluelessness... (1)

Mathness (145187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023019)

... It's not that user created content is bad, it's that user created content for an MMO has to be vetted by the developers themselves. Letting users create content with no filter for an MMO is stupid.

Take Saga of Ryzom (which I think is the first MMO which did player created content), they have none of the problems CoH is experiencing. For one simple reason, all items in the content is for missions (i.e. no gear) and no experience can be gained from killing mobs, this lead to the content being story driven or places to meet.

Re:More examples of developer cluelessness... (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28024481)

In the three weeks after the release of the MA and before my account lapsed, there were something on the order of 50,000 story arcs created by players.

They can't afford to go through that size of user generated content. Sure, some was just people playing with test arcs. A lot isn't though; friends who are still in the game go through rating unrated missions and most they find are real (stupid, but real).

finding loopholes IS the game (5, Interesting)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021565)

From TFA:
"Give participants the tools to mold a game into an ideal form, and they'll quickly use them to generate so-called min-max exploits that produce the fastest possible experience or in-game wealth for the least effort possible."

Once you give participants the tools to mold a game, then "molding the game" becomes a meta-game. And the goal is obviously to exploit loopholes in the original game as much as possible. It's just too bad the meta-game-playing folk conflict with the original-game-playing folk.

As usual, the MMO issue is MONEY (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021611)

Back in the early 90s you could use the add-on Mission Builder for Red Baron [wikipedia.org] to create your own missions and share them via CompuServe, BBSes and the like. Players made sure-thing puff missions, nearly impossible ones, really weird ones, and everything in-between. Other players downloaded and played whichever of these they wanted. Players could also download various unofficial patches (to, among other things, tweak difficulty up or down) if desired. This didn't matter a bit since Red Baron was one-player only (though it had a large, interacting community of players) and it was up to the player how to play the game he'd purchased.

While I have some respect for game designers who want to protect the artistry and gameplay of their creations from "cheating," I have none for companies like Paragon who are fundamentally driven by greed. If you can only stay in business by artificially stringing players along, you deserve to fail right out of the gate (better yet, don't even release such an inherently horrible game). Money-grubbing MMO games like this are bad for gaming.

Dead End, mostly. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021669)

The apparent game vs. the actual game:

In most multiplayer gaming contexts, players are competing against one another either singly, or in teams. This goes way back into our heritage as damn dirty apes, and is unlikely to change, barring some sort of radical transhumanist break with human nature.

In some games, with FPSes and RTSes being the clearest example, this social competitive game is more or less identical with the apparent game(that is, the computer game actually being played). You achieve dominance by killing the other guy in the game, you bond with your teammates by working to do so, and so forth. In this context, "user-created content" has a strong track record. Just look at the mod scene for FPSes, or the endless subtle tweaking and rebalancing that goes on in TA:Spring. This works because people are quite good at building satisfactory rules and mechanisms for competition with one another(such as every sport ever invented). Since the computer game is a direct proxy for the social game, this works pretty well.

In many MMORPGs, the situation is different. The computer game is, in many respects, closer to parallel single player than to competitive multiplayer(some degree of cooperation is generally required at high levels, and there may be some more or less cosmetic PvP; but the game mechanics mostly involve grinding NPCs). However, the social competitive game is still there, it just doesn't align with the computer game all that well. The social competitive game is the acquisition contest between players, for XP, levels, loot, prime raids, and all that. For that reason, the drive to win the real game is a drive to subvert the computer game, rather than to refine it, since the obstacles of the computer game is an impediment to success in the real game.

Another matter to consider is barriers to entry/costs of switching tactics in a given game. Most FPSes and RTSes, for instance, have relatively low investments in a character, class, faction, or strategy. If the zerg get nerfed, I can play the terrans without too much trouble. If snipers get overpowered, I can switch from medic to sniper. MMORPGs, on the other hand, often have fairly high investments. If I have a level 60, and my class gets nerfed, I have just lost a lot. For that reason, it is reasonable to expect that RTS/FPS players would prefer "fair" rule formulations(since, with low character investment, everyone will just move from the unfair side to the fair side, causing the game to contract a bit; and conveying no lasting advantage to anyone) while MMORPG players would be more likely to be strongly invested in a superior outcome for themselves(since, with high character investment, not only do they win, the losers are somewhat constrained and so may stick around to continue to be losers).

Cry more, faggots. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021725)

Oh noes! We don't know how to figure out EXP rate caps and translate that into limitations for enemy spawn rates versus difficulty! Let's blame the players for abusing a system we're too retarded to proof against abuse!

Shit game is shit, and now nobody wants to touch what was City of Heroes' last hope now that the admin are waving their ban hammers with the same reckless abandon that the developers implemented the Architect system. I don't feel sorry for the developers' constant lack of insight. User made content can be made to work in an MMORPG, but only if you consider the ramifications of player impact on the game thoughtfully. In this case, it was obvious from day one that no thought at all was given to just how easily the system could be abused, and the players - sick to death of the shit content that comes with the game and tired of grinding their eyes out on crappy missions - naturally seized the opportunity like a pack of hungry dogs.

CoH/CoV = Repetative. = zZZzZ (2, Insightful)

Marful (861873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021765)

I stopped playing CoH / CoV because it got boring / repetitive. Wasn't CoH/CoV losing playerbase before the expac release? If so, the current actions seem... counter productive...

as a player of this game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28021769)

I used to play this game a lot for a good 2-3 years. I eventually grew bored of it since Real Life was becoming much more demanding.

This game lets you join others that want to play at the pace you do. You don't have to join up with gold farmers.

You could have a bunch of top levels running around you and it won't ruin your game. Just don't play with them.

The real problem would be making it easy to find good user-created stories and not high-ranked user-created gold farm missions.

User-created content is The Future (5, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021809)

There is a joke/story that Jick, one of the creators of The Kingdom of Loathing, likes to tell and refer to in his biweekly podcast. To roughly paraphrase:

Someday, I'd like to make a game called "The Future". And all what this game would be is an empty space to start with. The users would then, for a fee, be able to upload the game's content. Everything, down to dungeon designs, graphics for monsters, items, weapons, game mechanics, everything would be user-created, because as we all know from all these game developer conferences I go to, "user-created content is The Future "!

So we'd create this game and release it. All user-created content. And then in a matter of a couple weeks, we would have a few thousand drawings of cocks and balls making up the vast majority of the game's world. Cocks and balls as monsters, cocks and balls as items, cocks and balls as weapons, dungeons shaped like cocks and balls populated with cocks and balls that drop cocks and balls that you fight with cocks and balls. And that's all anyone would ever bother creating, because that's the only sort of person with time to do this, and anyone who's been on the internet knows this is what would happen, because user-created content, on the whole, sucks. And that's The Future!!

That's the sort of thing I think back on and chuckle about to myself whenever I hear of a game world made of user-created content and how it's the future of gaming and how awesome it's going to be. Looks like Jick's not too far off the mark.

Re:User-created content is The Future (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28024329)

"The Future" was retitled "Second Life". I didn't enjoy it, but some people do.

Re:User-created content is The Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28024383)

There is a joke/story that Jick, one of the creators of The Kingdom of Loathing, likes to tell and refer to in his biweekly podcast. To roughly paraphrase:

Someday, I'd like to make a game called "The Future". And all what this game would be is an empty space to start with. The users would then, for a fee, be able to upload the game's content. Everything, down to dungeon designs, graphics for monsters, items, weapons, game mechanics, everything would be user-created, because as we all know from all these game developer conferences I go to, "user-created content is The Future "!

So we'd create this game and release it. All user-created content. And then in a matter of a couple weeks, we would have a few thousand drawings of cocks and balls making up the vast majority of the game's world. Cocks and balls as monsters, cocks and balls as items, cocks and balls as weapons, dungeons shaped like cocks and balls populated with cocks and balls that drop cocks and balls that you fight with cocks and balls. And that's all anyone would ever bother creating, because that's the only sort of person with time to do this, and anyone who's been on the internet knows this is what would happen, because user-created content, on the whole, sucks. And that's The Future!!

That's the sort of thing I think back on and chuckle about to myself whenever I hear of a game world made of user-created content and how it's the future of gaming and how awesome it's going to be. Looks like Jick's not too far off the mark.

For a real-life example of user-created content sucking, see: Reality TV.

These articles are just the cries of gold farmers (3, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021823)

As someone with an active CoH account, I've seen several articles like the above and it strikes me that the only people who are angry enough about this to write online articles (and get them linked) are the gold farmers who were abusing the heck out of the system even after the devs told them to stop and warned them about not abusing it. For regular players this has not been a problem at all.

Ultimately, the biggest problem with the whole situation was that farmers were clogging up the rating system and making it difficult to find good arcs on the admittedly inadequate search system CoH has for the Mission Architect. The price collapse on the player run markets was also a concern, but that was only partially the result of the farmers and more the result of players being able to craft particular (and expensive) items that were typically only available on drop tables that were full of crap. In other words, since the players can react to price spikes of small numbers of items directly and greatly smooth out the market, which is apparently what is happening. What's more, even after the devs implemented the anti-farming provisions the market did not return to its previous state.

In the long run, the Mission Architect has given the players an enormous amount of new content. It really is an amazing system, and it has plenty of headroom to grow even more amazing.

I thought this would have been obvious (1)

zaffir (546764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021825)

MMOs rely on the carrot and stick thing. Do things, level up so you can do "harder" things, do those harder things, level up so you can do even harder things, etc. That's the reward, that's the payoff for the VAST majority of the players.

Yes i know that players exist that play for the story or other aspects of MMOs, but they're the least inclined to stay around and the hardest to hold on to. I don't feel like going into the specifics of why.

The playerbase is there to chase the carrot at the end of the stick. User-created content lets the player control that stick, completely removing one of the gameplay fundamentals. No duh they're breaking your game. Hell one of the fundamental tenets of game design is the player rarely knows what he/she wants.

See... (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021829)

This is why I like tabletop gaming. Because you aren't interacting with a machine. Machines are, while amazing things that can bring us wonders beyond our own imaginations, in the end as inbias as the people using them. They are fair. This means they are as fair to the gamers who want to level as fast as possible and get the best stats as they are to those who want to become heroes through complicated stories and plots and other things that make the fantasy genre of books entertaining.
City of Heroes is trying to emulate a series of books (in this case, comic books). But would anyone read batman if instead of solving interesting mysteries he just ran around beating up gang members 20 at a time? Of course not. What if he did it again and again with no properly explained reason? Also foolish.
RPGs, as technology stands right now, only works with either a low number of players, single players or in the medium of tabletop entertainment in which a real person (a GM) can rate the entertainment value of his or her world and include player created content at a consistent rate that doesn't exclude any players from achieving what they hope to achieve by playing the game.
For example, recently in my groups 3.X Eberron campaign I wanted to change characters. This has been done in the past by various members of the party...but as a character who has been in the group since the beginning it seemed kinda silly to just suddenly change. So I requested that the DM do a story arc with it (he was running a little low on ideas at the time anyway since we were at a "blah" stage of progression in our levels). So I gave him suggestions and he made it into a story arc (a "set of missions" if you will). It made the character transfer memorable for everyone and really let my character's backstory more interesting and notable by everyone at the table. At least moreso than another player who just joined the party as "random prisoner we find in our big bad evil genius' lair (tm)".

It is NOT risk vs reward. (2, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021871)

With the advent of the merit system in Issue 13, the devs made it ABUNDANTLY clear that it's a trinary equation of risk and time vs reward.

As such, you could be fighting NOTHING but AVs, but if you're levelling "too fast" you're abusing the game.

This point was reiterated with the nerfing/capping of the ticket awards for AE missions as well.

There have to be limits (1)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021889)

User-generated content is great, but it must exist within pre-defined limits or constructs such that abuse is largely mitigated. As the freedom of the user to generate content is increased, the complexity of the construct required to maintain reasonable parameters of play increases exponentially. The trick is in balancing the complexity of the construct you have to maintain behind the scenes with the level of freedom your players wish to enjoy. It also helps if you're able to entice your most gifted users into telling you when they find an abusable loophole.

In the end, it seems a lot simpler to build a sandbox with enough carrots and sticks that it becomes more profitable and efficient to work within the construct. That alone will take out a large number of those who are otherwise just looking for shortcuts to success. As for the "hackers" who will continue to hunt for any cracks in the system just for the pleasure of doing so? Find a way to reward their efforts such that they'll tell you rather than their buddies when they find those cracks.

My experience with COH, 2 weeks ago... (1)

ogami (846839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28021925)

(new character, a cyborg hero) Day 1. I have no idea what's going on... Discovering the hero system. Start doing random beginner mission. Having fun. Jump up to Level 3. Day 2. Join a party and do more beginner mission. Having fun. Level 8! EAT MY LIGHTING PUNCH! Day 3. Join a Architect mission party. Farming begins... Everyone in the party are Level 40 and above. @ the end of day... gain... 10 levels. Level 18. Day 4. More Farming... Gain 1 level every 30 minutes. Let the shopping begin! Level 26. Day 5. Spend some time with story missions... NOT FUN. NO ONE willing to do them... I wonder where everyone is... Day 6. That's it... It's been fun but AE missions are really screwing up the game. Back to WOW! Day 7. WOW and more Street Fighter 4!

Analgous effects. (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022029)

It may seem sad that giving the players what they want is detrimental to the player's overall length of enjoyment of the game, but that's the truth.

True in games. True in Politics.

I am not producer for the Star Trek MMO (5, Informative)

EricHeimburg (1558365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022135)

Hi, Eric Heimburg here (quoted in article).

I just wanted to clarify that although I was the producer for Asheron's Call 2, and have been lead engineer/lead designer for other MMO titles, I'm not affiliated with the upcoming Star Trek MMO. I worked on an earlier incarnation of the Star Trek MMO, when it was being made by Perpetual. (They went bankrupt and lost the license.) Somehow wires got crossed in the Wired article, and then they got crossed here, too.

This detail would be irrelevant and not worth mentioning, except that the company making the new Star Trek MMO is also making the superhero MMO "Champions Online" -- a direct competitor to CoH.

So there's been a meme of "he's a shill for the competition!" going on at Wired.com, which makes me sad. I am not a shill for any major MMO company... at the moment.

However, I am hyping my amazing blog at http://www.eldergame.com/ [eldergame.com] but a link to it always seems to get omitted in the article coverage...

Tainted by Bias! (1)

Tempest451 (791438) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022149)

Most of the responses here seemed to be tainted by folks who either don't play MMOs on a regular basis, or WoW throw-backs who don't know how to play an MMO that isn't a WoW clone in form or function. It would be nice if those who don't play MMOs in the first place not comment on this MMO in particular. As for the Architect being counter productive to City of Heroes, we have a saying on the boards over there, "More content is always better!" I couldn't give two squirts about farmers complaining about AE, I can select the missions I want to run and if they suck, I can create a mission I think is better, or even not participate at all. The point is it's my choice as the player and having more choices can never be wrong.

Could we get a "duh" tag? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022203)

Every single MUD headwiz knows the problem. Every single one of them.

No matter how well you try to "balance" the system, if your creator wants to abuse game mechanics, they can. Mobs don't just have X HP and you do Y damage, so it takes Z time. Even in a game like MUD where positioning abuse and kiting isn't really possible. Resistance vs. damage type it the most obvious abuse point. When you have to give your mobs a certain total level of resistance, make them resistent to the damage you don't do and susceptible to damage you do and you got a decisive edge. Bonus points if you can corner the market so far that it's only useable to a certain class (because, say, clerics are the only ones who do holy damage) so you can pump your character while nobody else can. Or, in this case where you get bonus points if people use your content, create weaknesses that can be exploited by many.

Now add equipment, damage types, rooting and so on and you can easily see where you could exploit it. Make them weak to rooting spells, give them only close combat attacks and kiting a heavy mob becomes trivial.

Am I the only one who knew this would happen?

fundamental contradiction (1)

bukuman (1129741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022249)

For a lot of MMOs time IS money and so the game designers use XP to ration the content (areas, capabilities, classes, etc) and extend playing time to reap more $$$. The game design is all all about placing barriers to content access - this is an incentive for users to generate content that avoids the barriers.

It seems like you cannot avoid a red-queen race (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Queen) unless you change the underlying incentives. I've no idea how or what you would be left with after...

I'm surprised they offer rewards at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28022251)

I'm surprised they offer real rewards for player created content at all. The mission creator is meant to be a creative outlet, and it seems the only way to let creativity and fun missions dominate the rankings is if the farmers and PLers have no interest in it.

Of course the majority of troglodytes here are calling for player created content to be removed instead of just reducing the rewards and making it less appealing to farmers.

This just out! (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022591)

Gaming company executives try to replace content designers with users doing it for free and users stray from "the vision" ...

... more news at 11!

Further proving that... (1)

TheRealRainFall (1464687) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022637)

MMOs generally aren't fun. If i unlock all the teams on a sports game is the game over? Hardly it's just begun! With an MMO they only thing is the psychologically carrot/stick grind. It's a total MindF---. People will start seeing MMOs for what they are and they will be revolutionized soon. They can't just dangle higher level mobs with higher level gear over peoples heads forever... or maybe they can...

Linear experience... (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 5 years ago | (#28022671)

"It may seem sad that giving the players what they want is detrimental to the player's overall length of enjoyment of the game, but that's the truth. Once you reached that top of the hill, if there's nothing left to do or see, players are likely to move on."

If your game has not intereting endgame, or is linear. Probabbly sandbox games don't have this problem.

Closed resource system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28022687)

This is why you need a closed resource system.
Where resource is a correct sum of npc's x experience gained.
Resource is converted to attackable npc's until finally the resource is depleated and no extra npc's can be added.
An npc who can summon minions will only be able to summon minions until his actions depleted the remaining resource.

Here's a proposal for the developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28022963)

The top 100 most often played missions at the end of every month are guaranteed to be played by the developers or GMs or player volunteers, and officially rated. Those that are good get awarded manually and a form of in-game badge next to them.

This would be a slight bit of workload in the beginning, but if you only give one award in the lifetime of a mission (or minimum with 3 months in between), then you wouldn't have to re-rate all the previously rated ones.

Auto-sidekick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28023173)

Okay, most people seem to either miss whats actually wrong, or don't play the game. First of all, this was based on an original developer tool. User created content only really became broken with the addition of the 'Auto-sidekick' feature built into the content creator code. This code was never a feature of the original game, as it allowed a level 1 player to fight as a level 50 player, and without another player helping them. This feature is *still* there and is still part of the problem, but they don't seem to recognize it. Additional issues such as the rikti lt. and the and bomb farms become much less of a problem when the player simply can't access them.

The End? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28023447)

"Is user-generated content a dead end for an MMORPG?"

As seeing as how this is the one and only 'experiment' of this kind that I know about (correct me if I'm wrong - please), I'd have to say the data is totally incomplete. We need a few other games to try this out and their various takes on the idea to see if it's feasible. Just because it "failed" once doesn't mean it'll happen again.

What I'd much prefer to see is something like where the player creating the content has to pay a minimal amount to see the content come to fruition, *OR* things being set up so that the rewards from player-dungeons are far less important than official-dungeons.

With players paying to publish their content, only the hard core lovers of the game will bother since you have to pay, and who wants to pay (real world money) to upload utter crap? Sure a few will do it I'm sure, but surely to all hell at least someone at $BIG_GAME_COMPANY reads and looks over the stuff as they're importing it in to the system. A possible alternative is to require players to pay gold to play the campaign, probably based on average XP gain.

With rewards gained being 'cosmetic' (as good of a word as any), people will still do the player-dungeons just for the FUN of doing them AND to have that neat cape that sparkles when you run, or that useless pet that looks cute but does nothing else. I would be OK with this but the campaign would have to be pretty fun for me to waste my time this way.

A combination of the two is also possible, although if I pay money or gold for a campaign I want a reward that is digitally tangible and actually does something (like a unique unique item, where it's the same as the regular unique but sparkles even more when you run).

XP and gold should always still drop at their regular rates. Play time is play time, and I'd be pissed as all hell if I played through a day long epic and all I got was a stupid cape and no levels.

There is another entirely different possibility, and is something I want to see happen *BADLY*. Open up the bug/issue/idea tracking software to the hardcore trusted users and let them comment on things, AND THEN PAY ATTENTION TO THE COMMENTS. We're talking about 20-30 people, not many, so it should stay easy to manage. NDA's and such will have to be signed, of course.

Your hardcore fans represent your typical player for the most part, they just play more often, they don't skip the cutscenes, and they have the theme music on their PMP. Most hard fans play the game the exact way you want it to be played and absolutely hate exploits and cheats because it gives an unfair advantage. They play because they love it, not because they sell their gold. Listen to them closely, as they really are your target audience in a very broad sense.

Before Hellgate: London went belly-up (*cries*, I love you Bill Roper!), they were working on another expansion and for the most part they were outright taking suggestions from everyone on what we - the players - wanted to see. They had some Lifetime Members (in this case, people that payed for a lifetime subscription upfront before the game got released) patrol the forums, pick out good ideas, and officially submit them to the dev team. From all I could tell it was working perfectly up until they shut down, but we'll never know now that $FOREIGN_GAME_CORP owns the rights and we'll never hear of it again.

In short, there are many MANY ways to do this, and to do it well. It's just a small matter of figuring out exactly what works well, and so far there hasn't been enough tests of this idea to come up with anything conclusive.

Obvious solution? (1)

ActionJesus (803475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023547)

Just remove all rewards gained from the user created content (XP, Gold, whatever). Perhaps the reason to play the modules should be fun? I realise the concept of "fun" in an MMO might conflict with the work ethic most players seem to have, but it seems obvious that allowing players to set rewards is going to end up abused. Itd be like allowing employees to set their own pay.

Perhaps once the "best" content comes through, the dev team could check it themselves and award XP and loot.

Risk vs reward? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28023717)

I recently started playing COH/V again (I'd played for a year or 2 at release, and off and on again after), and it was largely because of what I'd heard about the Mission Architect system coming out. Now that it's here, I've done some missions on it, but it's very hard to find missions that I think are worth running.

Anyway the other day I join a group doing AE missions (mission architect missions). The first one we do is a normal one that's not bad, has an AV in it, and took a while to finish. The 2nd one was an outdoor map filled with Lt. level mobs (normally you have a mix of minion, Lt, and Boss levels). I didn't realize it at the time but it was a 'farm' mission. The thing was, we had alot of deaths in the mission. Scrappers died, Tankers died (he was SK'ed though), Defenders died, etc. It wasn't that big of a deal but there was definately risk involved in this 'farm' mission. If you aggroed to much, you died.

On the whole there are alot of things to like about the CoH system, it's great for a certain type of play. Mission Architect added an additional content path in the game, but nothing says you have to use it. There's no huge end game at level 50 in CoH, you run out of stuff to do pretty easily. Given that people who want to PL their way through the game burn out on that eventually and go somewhere else. Trying to slow down their burn rate is a bit of an exercise in futility at this point in the game's life cycle.

risk vs reward (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28023849)

"Paragon City has tried to maintain a good risk/reward ratio for experience in these missions."

Sorry but CoX has been a complete Monty Haul [urbandictionary.com] for some time now. That and the limited formula of missions is what is killing the game.

Also, "Star Trek"? You mean Cryptic Studios? (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28024157)

Oh hey. Aren't they the ones coming out with Champions Online? DIRECT COMPETITION to City Of *?

Way to get an "unbiased" opinion.

The nature of MMORPG (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28024709)

How can anyone be rightly bothered by other users who, within the confines and rules of any game, manage to play it more successfully than they can? If a game is designed in such a way that it benefits users who are smart enough to figure it out over those who aren't, then isn't the problem with the game itself?

Are these users cheating, or are the ones complaining doing so to cover up the fact that their incompetent? And what of the game developers? Is it just easier for them to hire watchdogs to go on random witch hunts for suspicious activity, rather than admit they took on a task too big for them to adequately handle through software alone?

Besides, isn't it human nature to get competitive over a limited resource when operating within a large crowd? Whether it's a determined user playing the game excessive hours to build up characters, or someone paying other users to play for them, the end result is still the same. Those who are better able and have better opportunities to play are always going to do better than those who don't. Attempting to "level" the playing field to benefit more casual users is just as unfair to users who have better resources available to them.

If anything, what these MMORPGs really need is a little McCarthyism to start weeding out these communists.

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