Paragon Studios' Joe Morrissey has been discussing user-generated content in MMOs via a new Gamasutra article
as City Of Heroes
launches its Mission Architect system, suggesting that a correct blend of "carrot... and stick" is vital for success.
The NCSoft-owned Bay Area studio has just debuted the system for the subscription-based superhero MMO. It lets players "...create their own stories and then share those stories. These stories are rated by the players and the best ones garner prestige and in-game rewards."
As Morrissey explains: "This system is tied directly into the lore of the game through a company called Architect Entertainment, offering virtual world experiences."
The full article goes through a number of separate ways that Paragon Studios is trying to make sure appropriate content is posted, without overdoing the 'stick' aspect of punishing players.
One particularly notable -- but perhaps difficult to perfect -- area is user flagging. As the designer explains: "If someone reads something he doesn't like, he can hit a big red button that reports the content and potentially removes in from the system right then and there. That's the high level idea; unfortunately, the devil is in the details."
"You have to decide how draconian you want to be. The more hardcore you are, the fewer people who will see inappropriate content, but you expose yourself to potential grief voting. Grief voting is when a player flags perfectly acceptable content as inappropriate just because it's fun."
The full Gamasutra feature on the subject
includes lots more detail on ways that games can intelligently enforce limitations on offensive user-generated content, with a second feature promising to explain incentives for UGC.