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Video: Cryptic's solution for new MMO content: Let the players make it!
Supporting an MMO with a steady stream of new content isn't easy, but as Cryptic Studios explained at this year's GDC Europe, enabling user-generated content can really help your team keep up with player demand.
All MMO developers understand that releasing new game content is vital to the long-term success of their game. The only problem is that churning out brand new content month after month is a long, arduous process, and sometimes it can be difficult to release enough content to keep up with consumer demand. But what if your MMO allowed players to create new content for themselves? Cryptic Studios believes that user-generated content could be a real boon to online game development, and at this year's GDC Europe, studio COO Craig Zinkievich explained why the company has decided to let its players craft their own game content in titles like Star Trek Online and the upcoming Neverwinter. "Why do we want user-generated content for MMOs? It's all about the content," Zinkievich said. "If anyone here is an MMO developer, you know that one of your major challenges is providing enough content for your players so they're continually playing your game...One of the main things that we hope for from user-generated content for MMOs is building that evergreen content stream, letting your players themselves add new content to the game." But while this all sounds good on paper, the number of challenges involved in making this happen are too numerous to count. During his talk, Zinkievich outlined just a few of the obstacles involved in enabling user-generated content, and noted that when it comes to design, developers will have to address very tough issues -- the most important of those being, "how do you attract authors to make content?" Cryptic has found that the people making user-generated content tend to make up less than 2 percent of a game's player base, and you'll need to make sure they stay active and productive by offering them robust tool sets, plenty of promotion, and even some meaningful in-game rewards. After all, "your authors are gamers too." In the rest of his presentation, Zinkievich went in-depth on the numerous other challenges involved in enabling player-created content, and offered various tips to help other online game developers learn from Cryptic's experience. You can check out his talk in full by watching the above video, courtesy of the GDC Vault.