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[Column] The Elder Scrolls Online: A Missed Opportunity in UGC?

BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing EditorBerea, OHPosts: 2,373MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

We've recently talked about what makes Elder Scrolls games what they are and what Zenimax Online needs to do with The Elder Scrolls Online to create that feeling, but what about user generated content? This peripheral (yet staple) feature of the series hasn't yet been mentioned with regards to TESO, but this week we weigh in on what could possibly be a missed opportunity to capitalize on one of the series' largest strengths.

First off, we do have to recognize that The Elder Scrolls Online is still an MMO, and so dreams of some of the more popular Elder Scrolls mods that may or may not be dancing in your head (incredibly voluptuous female player models, anyone?) are not likely to work with this particular format. Even so, there are still many ways to do UGC in an MMO. We have the aforementioned existing examples of this, but there are still more ways to skin this particular cat.

Read more of Michael Bitton's The Elder Scrolls Online: A Missed Opportunity in UGC?

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Comments

  • FearumFearum Cinnaminson, NJPosts: 1,166Member Uncommon

    No thanks, UGC should not be needed in a MMORPG. Sounds like your talking about a COOP game instead of what they are making. Don't want to have MaryJaneMan420 making my adventures for me. Mods are only an after thought of a game once it has nothing left to offer.

    The ones you say you feel sorry for, xbox and ps3 players are the majority of the ES buyers.

    I wish I bought it for PS3, Skyrim and Oblivion were made for console.

     
  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,461Member Uncommon

    I can see them creating  "adventure" tools like Ryzom or STO but other than that UGC content really won't wash. One person's elderscrolls isn't another person's elder scrolls.

    There are people who swear that the only way to play them is modded. Others, myself included, enjoy the vanilla game but with a few armor mods or for example, a mod that made skyrim's dragon's more powerful.

    Still others go all out and glam up their characters as well as the npc's and add all sorts of items that wouldn't remotely be considered lore friendly.

  • ValentinaValentina Los Angeles, CAPosts: 1,675Member Uncommon
    Ehhh...UGC shouldn't be in an MMORPG, at least not to the extent that it's available for Skyrim. Limited UGC I could see...
  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    How about user generated world events that can wreck your day spontaneously ?

    I still don't see how an mmo can have an es feel when your never more alone than when your playing es. Let's keep the lore and qualities, but give the mmo twist and let's not market it as es feel when that is impossible. Once we get to the point where we don't need to fully envelope the es feel we can open the door for cool stuff like unleashed and maybe even user controlled world bosses, that randomly wreck havoc and stir the pot up.
  • ClassicstarClassicstar rotjeknorPosts: 2,690Member

    Bad idea realy bad idea it won't work in a mmorpg period.

    And player made items for there cashshop omg pls NO i already hate cashshops from developers let alone from players it would be a desaster.

    Are you guys even still gamers or you wanne make games also working place making a buck?

    I would avoid games with ideas you guys came up like its plague.

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  • General-ZodGeneral-Zod Zod, CAPosts: 743Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Fearum

    No thanks, UGC should not be needed in a MMORPG. Sounds like your talking about a COOP game instead of what they are making. Don't want to have MaryJaneMan420 making my adventures for me. Mods are only an after thought of a game once it has nothing left to offer.

    The ones you say you feel sorry for, xbox and ps3 players are the majority of the ES buyers.

    I wish I bought it for PS3, Skyrim and Oblivion were made for console.

     

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  • ClassicstarClassicstar rotjeknorPosts: 2,690Member


    Originally posted by Sovrath
    I can see them creating  "adventure" tools like Ryzom or STO but other than that UGC content really won't wash. One person's elderscrolls isn't another person's elder scrolls.There are people who swear that the only way to play them is modded. Others, myself included, enjoy the vanilla game but with a few armor mods or for example, a mod that made skyrim's dragon's more powerful.Still others go all out and glam up their characters as well as the npc's and add all sorts of items that wouldn't remotely be considered lore friendly.

    I only mod skyrim with the sound enhancements or better looking water or more realistic looking characters that still stay true to the game.

    Most mods i see have nothing to do with elder scroll or even worse mods that cheat ughh...:(

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  • AlomarAlomar Middle Earth, NJPosts: 450Member Uncommon
    No thanks, never used an ES mod and never will.

    Dozens of MMO's, RTS's, FPS's, etc.

  • DavisFlightDavisFlight Talahasee, FLPosts: 2,556Member
    Originally posted by Fearum

    No thanks, UGC should not be needed in a MMORPG. Sounds like your talking about a COOP game instead of what they are making. Don't want to have MaryJaneMan420 making my adventures for me. Mods are only an after thought of a game once it has nothing left to offer.

    The ones you say you feel sorry for, xbox and ps3 players are the majority of the ES buyers.

    I wish I bought it for PS3, Skyrim and Oblivion were made for console.

     

    And only through mods are Skyrim and Oblivion made bearable.

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,461Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DavisFlight

     

    And only through mods are Skyrim and Oblivion made bearable.

    lol, which goes back to my earlier point "one person's elderscrolls isn't another person's elder scrolls".

  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 7,906Member Uncommon

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • someforumguysomeforumguy HomePosts: 3,540Member Uncommon

    Always the same. People here immediately saying 'no' without giving it any thought. There is no reason for the UGC to be in the form of mods like in the pc elderscrolls. It also doesn't have to be instanced. The writer of this column forgot one UGC system that wasn't instanced.

     

    Chronicles and the story telling system in Star Wars Galaxies, I have to admit though that Chronicles was for a part poorly executed incentive for afk farming. But that is only because they decided to drop the pieces as mobloot. (If you wanted to use sandpeople mobs for your story, you had to farm sandpeople to get their mobspawners).

     

    Chronicles was a way to create complex multistep quests and that was even with this system still being in its early phase. Much was planned for this and then well, we got the news that SWG would stop.

     

    Storytelling system in the last years was a very cool way for creating player driven events. Especially in combination with the playercities and how mayors then could create temporary awesome decorations and create complete stages for player run events.

     

    But everyone was busy hating SWG so no one probably even knows about these features. And I doubt that we see UGC again in this form. It needs large worlds for you to play in and preferably player cities.

     
  • azzamasinazzamasin Butler, OHPosts: 3,058Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Fearum

    No thanks, UGC should not be needed in a MMORPG. Sounds like your talking about a COOP game instead of what they are making. Don't want to have MaryJaneMan420 making my adventures for me. Mods are only an after thought of a game once it has nothing left to offer.

    The ones you say you feel sorry for, xbox and ps3 players are the majority of the ES buyers.

    I wish I bought it for PS3, Skyrim and Oblivion were made for console.

     

    UGC is the single most easiest and efficent use of development time.  UGC allows countless replayability.  In an age of content locusts and ever increasing production time which translates to increased time between content patches, an UGC system allows the game to thrive and remain viable.

     

    Ask yourself every MMO you've quit what would of kept you around?  Chances are it was lack of things to do, well UGC solves that!!!!!!!!

    Sandbox means open world, non-linear gaming PERIOD!

    Subscription Gaming, especially MMO gaming is a Cash grab bigger then the most P2W cash shop!

    Bring Back Exploration and lengthy progression times. RPG's have always been about the Journey not the destination!!!

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  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,461Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by someforumguy

    Always the same. People here immediately saying 'no' without giving it any thought. There is no reason for the UGC to be in the form of mods like in the pc elderscrolls. It also doesn't have to be instanced. The writer of this column forgot one UGC system that wasn't instanced.

     

    Chronicles and the story telling system in Star Wars Galaxies, I have to admit though that Chronicles was for a part poorly executed incentive for afk farming. But that is only because they decided to drop the pieces as mobloot. (If you wanted to use sandpeople mobs for your story, you had to farm sandpeople to get their mobspawners).

     

    Chronicles was a way to create complex multistep quests and that was even with this system still being in its early phase. Much was planned for this and then well, we got the news that SWG would stop.

     

    Storytelling system in the last years was a very cool way for creating player driven events. Especially in combination with the playercities and how mayors then could create temporary awesome decorations and create complete stages for player run events.

     

    But everyone was busy hating SWG so no one probably even knows about these features. And I doubt that we see UGC again in this form. It needs large worlds for you to play in and preferably player cities.

     

    can you elaborate?

    was dialoge part of this and if so did others see what was going on or did people have to "accept" the quest in order to see any of it?

    How did they deal with items for quest rewards or just items as quest criteria?

    Where did these quests take place? Did creators "place mobs" or did you tag a set of mobs that were in existence and after assigning quest criteria they would then becme part of the quest with quest items on them?

    could one use animations? Who gave out these quests? etc.

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    I say wait and see how ugc works out with neverwinter
  • Vunak23Vunak23 In your house eatin'' your cookies, FLPosts: 635Member

    If you want UGC play a single player game. No instead of UGC... can't we just go back to the old days and get GM run events.... Can we let GM's actually be GM's again instead of customer service that can't really help you with anything other then getting your character unstuck...

    GM RUN EVENTS NAOW.

    Also, stop trying to make my MMORPG's (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games...People seem to forget some of the words in that ) into MSORPG's (Massively Singleplayer Online ... you get it.... I hope......) 

     

    "In the immediate future, we have this one, and then we’ve got another one that is actually going to be – so we’re going to have, what we want to do, is in January, what we’re targeting to do, this may or may not happen, so you can’t hold me to it. But what we’re targeting to do, is have a fun anniversary to the Ilum shenanigans that happened. An alien race might invade, and they might crash into Ilum and there might be some new activities that happen on the planet." ~Gabe Amatangelo

  • KanethKaneth Posts: 1,930Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Fearum

    No thanks, UGC should not be needed in a MMORPG. Sounds like your talking about a COOP game instead of what they are making. Don't want to have MaryJaneMan420 making my adventures for me. Mods are only an after thought of a game once it has nothing left to offer.

    The ones you say you feel sorry for, xbox and ps3 players are the majority of the ES buyers.

    I wish I bought it for PS3, Skyrim and Oblivion were made for console.

     

    Be thankful you didn't buy Skyrim for the PS3. With all of the issues the PS3 version has, I have a number of friends who purchased for the PS3, and had to repurchase for their PC because of how unstable the game becomes once your save becomes larger.

    I agree with the rest of what you said though. UGC is really not needed in a mmo, at least not yet. The tools just aren't there to create meaningful UGC that also strictly adheres to the defined vision of the game. In a single player game, or local coop game mods are fine, because you are only affecting yourself or friends. There are just far too many variables in a mmo.

    The modding community extends the life of many single player rpgs, no doubt (I love my mods I use for Skyrim), but in no way would I want mods in a mmo.

  • DeivosDeivos Mountain View, CAPosts: 1,797Member Uncommon

    I think there can be plenty of ways in which mods can serve as a functional expansion on MMOs.

     

    For examples in-practice already I'd refer you to any MMO with a mission creation system. That's a common aspect that can be utilized to expand on the amount of basic things to mil through in a game.

    Other options are to part out assets used in the game so that players can use them spore-style to come up with new things. Many of the weapon, armor, and environment mods for the last three elder scrolls titles have done this and managed to pull off pretty unique designs that, while not strictly sticking to lore, still resulted in a cohesive aesthetic with the main game.

    For a similar example that takes the step to truly custom vicual content I would refer to the recent initative that SOE has done with a few of their games, giving people information on requirements for assets and a means to submit the assets for implementation within one of the compatible games.

     

    This is where the article author's idea gains a good deal of validity to me. A sequestered sandbox server to tinker with player ideas before applying them to the live servers and a community vetted system would go a long way to easing the burden of the developers. It's not only providing the means for users to submit content, but a multiple step process to screening it.

    The Steam Workshop is a good example of a company-regulated community that can allow a good overally capacity for players to share and communicate about ideas. If you couple this with the idea of implementing a test server that works similar to Second Life's, which enables you compartmentalize zones and test scripts in an isolated segment of the game world so there aren't any total server crashes, it allows players to design and showcase their concepts that players can turn around and vote on.

    Then you turn it back over to the Steam concept. Perhaps not just the Workshop, but the Greenlight method. The top voted mods can be culled and quality controlled for compatibility mechanically and artistically and implemented into the following patch cycle as part of the game proper with associated credits to the designers of the mods.

     

    I can actually see it as a good compromise for players between a controlled experience and the ability to expand elements in a sandbox manner.

     

    It'd be like SKSE and other common mods becoming inducted as an official part of the system instead of something that almost everyone uses but have to bounce back and forth on every time the game gets an update or some other mod conflicts. This would help unify the system with the mods as well as provide a venue to spread the design process out so the devs aren't inundated with things they'll never be able to process or implement, and instead have a working model that's seen some form of success before official release.

     

     

    EDIT: In other words, think of it like a way to bring greater content into the game in the manner of expansions that include a regular flow of community content with the regular updates.

     

    I'd think that would be a pretty effective way to pad the content of the game for the devs while they can in turn focus on expanding the core mechanics of the game (expanding viable options and the tech of the game engine on the back end to enable a greater veriety of mechanics in-game over the long term, which in turn enables a greater variety of implemented mods and things to be done in-game) and adding in larger content such as new zones, or even freeng the devs up a bit to focus on an overarching episodic style updates for more interactive quests like Ultima Online and Asheron's Call once had. 

     

    So in a sense it's the idea of taking a dedicated modding community and utilizing that to generate a regular flow of content for updates to keep the game more lively than the devs could do alone (unless they had a silly-massive team) and alternatively letting the devs better support the game's longevity from the back end.

    "The knowledge of the theory of logic has no tendency whatever to make men good reasoners."
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  • wordizwordiz Eugene, ORPosts: 464Member

     

    User generated housing and structures, siege, wagons, boats = good. 

    User generated dungeons/raids/quests = bad.

    Though, a bounty system kinda counts as UGC...and that = good.

    If we're speaking on tradition: UGC works for Neverwinter since it's D&D branded and the original Neverwinters on PC had UGC. I guess you can count mods as UGC for the last few Elder Scrolls games, but they weren't multiplayer.

    Regardless, the genre needs diversity.

    I'd like to see Neverwinter take more of the campaign editor, table top style route - true to it's roots, while at the same time keeping CoH somewhat alive with the dungeon editor system.

    I'd like to see ESO do it's own thing. They too should stay true to their roots and focus on the things that set their games apart, being: large open worlds and freedom of play.

    Both are champions of story telling.

    I'd hate to compair the two games because they're both classic, masterpiece delivering serieses, but The Elder Scrolls/Bethesda is just king sh*t. Feel me?

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,191Member Uncommon

    If you think about what a MMO is and then letting a customer make mods to it, it can be a bit frightening.  That is why the upcoming Neverwinter will disappoint many, you will be quite limited in what you can construct.

    Fine to make moding available to a single user experience, not so with a MMO.  You have to have strict controls on what the customer can introduce into your game.  That means a lot of expensive policing of such.  Some things like housing is fine, you can restrict somewhat the design, contents and location.  Adding actual content is another thing.  

    As a developer, you have to very careful what you introduce to your game with UCG.

  • ApraxisApraxis RegensburgPosts: 1,515Member Uncommon

    UGC is the way to go. The difficult task is how to implement it within a MMORPG and without breaking any gameplay elements or bring in serious balance issues or break the game.

    I personally go even that far, that a MORPG(cut out the Massive Part, just for 200-500 players at once) with heavily Modable Content/Servers, and the ability of Private and Public Servers with all kind of rulesets and modded content would be a very interesting way to go. (Old Neverwinter Nights expanded)

    And why just MORPG? Because for private servers it will be rather hard to support more(to expensive). And a smaller overall player base would be healthy for the server community.

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member

    "Imagine a marketplace where players could purchase content created by Zenimax Online in addition to content created by other players."

    Why pay money to a company for the privilege of creating content that they will turn around and charge players for? Maybe players can dream they are big time developers with UGC? /shrug

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • TithenonTithenon Fountain, COPosts: 109Member

    "First off, we do have to recognize that The Elder Scrolls Online is still an MMO, and so dreams of some of the more popular Elder Scrolls mods that may or may not be dancing in your head (incredibly voluptuous female player models, anyone?) are not likely to work with this particular format."

     

    I would just like it if Zenimax would actually put attractive females, without having to "jiggle the handles" so much, into The Elder Scrolls.  I'm not talking about super-models or California beach bunnies, just women who do not look like they hit every branch of the ugly tree on the way down.  I followed every formula I could to try and make my favorite fantasy-genre character of all time, a female Elf Ranger, without downloading mods, which I eventually had to do, anyway, look attractive.  Is it important in a game, especially since most players are in first person?  Surprisingly, yes.  It should also have an effect on the game when a player takes the time to make their character a bit more charismatic, good-looking.

     

    Now, the Oblivion mod community has, indeed, done some amazing work... Battlehorn Castle (I think that was done by a community modder?), Better Cities, Kvatch Rebuilt, Unique Landscapes, Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul, and there was one other I can't readily find the name for, anymore (where you had to find a series of books, and there was an Archaeological Guild) are some of my favorites, ever.  Unfortunately, after my computer crashed two years ago, I've not just put it all back together, which means I don't have access to my favorite character in the game, anymore.

     

    For me, this topic could go either way, as there's a great chance, even with developer oversight, of abuse.  It's like the laws here in the United States, we have a GREAT set of BASIC laws, but over the past 250 years the length and breadth of those laws has become terribly distorted, to where the original laws mean very little, anymore.

     

    On the other hand, if Zenimax could keep an enormously tight grip, allowing in only the top 1% of all mods that come across their desk, perhaps that would be acceptable.  Again, I've not been able to play Skyrim, yet, so my experience is limited to Oblivion, but that game is absolutely amazing on its own, and I have no trouble believing that ESO will be in the very same boat.  No modding necessary.

  • DeivosDeivos Mountain View, CAPosts: 1,797Member Uncommon
    I love that people post responses railing on an asepct that the author noted and I even elaborated on. :p

    "The knowledge of the theory of logic has no tendency whatever to make men good reasoners."
    - Thomas B. Macaulay

  • XiaokiXiaoki White Pigeon, MIPosts: 2,607Member Uncommon

    People only care about User Generated Content in MMOs when it can be abused and exploited.

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