I Made This
Since the dawn of time, PC gamers have been taking lovingly hand-crafted videogames and saying: “Hey, what if we take that T-Rex over there and make him a Nazi?” And thus, game modifications are born. From the little changes that make your character’s hair blue, to the massive total conversions that change fantasy games like Mount and Blade into a sandbox Star Wars adventure, PC gamers have always had a little more power than their console gaming brethren. Whether it’s a toolkit created and released by the a developer, or you as crazed code-monkey take the time to change one line in a text file to make yourself unstoppable, it is a feature that console gaming seems to lack.
If, like me, you play a lot of videogames, you may have noticed the slight shift towards the use of user-generated content. Okay, fair enough, it’s not so much of a shift – user-created content has been around for years in PC games through modding, if you think about it. Not only are developers making it easier than ever before to allow players to create content in games, but they are actually making games based around user-generated content. So have developers become lazy? Lost their creativity? Gears of Halo Duties 26 would suggest this might be true.
Titles such as Little Big Planet or Minecraft are wildly popular, wherein the tools for content creation are pretty much all the content the developers actually provide, and the players build what they want from the ground up. Sure, most of the time hundreds of hours are spent creating a giant dick or some boobs, yet we still have fun doing it and millions of gamers buy the games just to check out the other giant boobs.
It’s also pretty interesting to note that some of the large MMORPGs have taken a step towards the user-generated content frontier, allowing players to script their own quests and story-lines. I mean, how smart is that? The MMO is a giant time-sink that has to be fed with new content constantly in order keep it running. Players spend time playing through missions or quests, and every month they do that the developer gets a fee. What happens, however, when you have the users creating that content? If it’s easy to do and of high enough quality, you find users are content to just play missions other gamers have created. Developers cash in and then lengthen their deadlines for content creation.
Do we miss out though? I mean, I know some writers who can pen an amazing story; would I want to play through missions or content they create? Hell yes. Do I want to load up Star Trek Online and play a mission where I’m told to “Fyre Phasurs!”? No… no I do not. I think this is the main risk with this type of gameplay hook; what if everyone creates shit and no one wants to play? Luckily, more often than not, the user-generated content is created by players who have gamed extensively in the past. They know what fun is, and what is fun for them is typically fun for the majority of gamers, which is the same with most game development really.
The question I ask myself is: “Is this just lazy game development?” Have developers run out of ideas to the point where it’s easier to just give the tools to the player and have them do it, or does it empower gamers to make what they want, giving us the ability to shape the games we love? I don’t know; I am but a simple gamer (simpler than most), so I’ll let you ponder that while I play Gears of Halo Duties 26 – the multiplayer is awesome! I hear the next one will have Super HD brown and grey textures!
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