Well, today is the day that you can finally get your pre-purchase copy of Guild Wars 2. As a note, in the UK, collectors editions ran out in 30 minutes. Granted, they have replenished their stock since then, they really mean a small number so go and get yourself a copy. Also:
Those of you that have purchased from Gamestop, please tweet back with the store location, so we can get the ball rolling 🙂 ^AT
So if you got a copy, make sure you tweet them so you can get your codes.
Today I am going to talk about user generated content, as it clearly states by the title of this post.
User generated content is, like I said in my last post on PvP, the content that keeps players playing modern games today. Think of juggernaut hits like Minecraft and Little Big Planet. Minecraft is literally a game where all you do is build a world. Little Big planet has a robust development tool that allows you to physically change the game into whatever you please with enough patience.
So what exactly is user generated content? As the title implies, it is content that is created or solely dependent on the player for an experience. Technically, any content that has the ability to involve more players than yourself can be considered user generated content, but I will go into much more detail about this.
When I say solely dependent, I mean that it has to involve other players without developers being able to interfere. PvE content is not considered user generated content, but PvP is. In PvE, your ability to down a boss is dependent on other players, but that content was created with the intention of that, and outside of figuring out what the puzzle is, players seem like they are not there because the only changing factor is f the other players involved actually know what they are doing. In PvP, the only thing that the developers contribute is the map and game mode, outside of that, what happens is completely dependent on the players and thus create a unique experience each time that map is played. Whereas a guild with a raid boss on farm status keep the same roles and do the same things over again like a perfect waltz. I cant count the number of bosses that follow a specific pattern. After reaching a specific health percentage, the same thing happens each and every time. After reaching a certain time of engagement, the same thing happens. In a PvP scenario, you cannot predict what will happen, who you will engage (unless its premade vs premade), who captures what at what time, and so on. This unpredictability is what makes PvP a long lasting game mode that is present in every major game release. It is what makes Call of Duty a game with replay value. It is what makes games like Starcraft survive for 10+ years without a sequel. And this is because PvP is user generated content.
The second type of user generated content is actually created content. As stated earlier, Minecraft is a game where you go and build stuff, and the only limiting factor is your own imagination and artistic capabilities. It is the same case with Little Big Planet in that you are able to create levels and publish them for the public to play. However, generally speaking, whenever this is the case, early on people tend to make levels and create phallic images and levels for the sake of lulz (all the penis creatures is Spore). However, once those players get bored and leave that game’s community, some of the content created is fantastic. The creator of Metal Gear Solid created a series of levels with the theme using the first Little Big Planet’s tools. I have seen games that change the cheerful platforming experience into a first person shooter, several types of mini games, and levels that are fantastically told story wise and with presentation of the actual level. Even though the first game came out in 2008 and the sequel in 2011, both of those games have a strong community of players creating content for others to enjoy (it helps that everything made in LBP1 is moveable to LBP2). Minecraft is a game that has never left Beta, keeping the same textures and quality about it that people have fallen in love with. The game has exploded in popularity and even has a convention in which players go in to show off their Minecraft works. The game (like little big planet) is available on portable systems and is actually available on the iPhone and Droid phones. The first MMO to feature this content (at least to my knowledge, so if you know another game, please let me know) is Everquest 2.
The last type of user generated content is not really content, but is completely ran by the players, and that is a punishment system. In League of Legends, you have The Tribunal where players who have been reported are sent up for judgement by their peers. Since the system has been put into place, most of the “toxic” players that play this game have been banned or punished to the point where they have changed their behavior. While there are cons for this type of system (especially when it rewards you for participating), the overall system works to clean up the community and promotes sportsmanship among its player base. I have only recently started to participate in this system, and while most of the tribunal cases do deserve to be punished for what they are being reported for, some of them are most likely the cause of players getting mad that they lost and decided to report everyone. However, those games tend to get pardoned unless they have other games in which they were total douche bags.
While user generated content is fun, it is a system that only works if the tools are available and if the game itself is fun. Take League of Legends for example. There is an article that says that game has over 34 million active users which is triple what World of Warcraft has. Undoubtedly, both of those games are very enjoyable to the point where they have huge player bases. Games like Starcraft and Minecraft both have massive cult followings and the prior was the headlining game for every major eSport tournament out there. World of Warcraft is technically the odd one in here that is has a PvP system that isn’t publicized like Starcraft. But what it has that others do not is competitive raiding and primarily the reason why that game is still around. Although, we are now starting to see fan made Arena Tournaments, and if these continue to grow in popularity, we will start to see them at events like IPL4 or Intel Extreme Masters.
What does this ultimately mean for Guild Wars 2? Well, they are going to need some kind of user generated content if they plan on keeping the game around for a lot longer than the PvE can survive. Generally speaking, a game has a life expectancy of when the developers begin work on another project, however, without any kind of user generated content, the game is doomed to die much sooner than any other game with user generated content. As I stated in my last post, if this game wants to survive, it has to either be PvP or some kind of content that players can create, such as dungeons or events. While I do not see this game going under before the 10 year mark, if it wants to go further then that, it is going to need something.