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This came out of another thread where someone was talking about hiring extra GMs to run events and I suggested the idea of letting certain select members of the community create and run their own events if the MMO owner could develop software for them to do so. Loosely based on the system in Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter games but taking place in the open world and allow many players to participate in the same event.
The idea is also loosely based on pen and paper gaming session where you have a DM leading an adventure
I think it probably best to keep these localized to one specific area of one server but obviously if you had a big sprawling game you would have to have many volunteers on different servers to run events at different times so that everyone could get the chance to participate in something every so often.
The advantages are obviously that this would create a ton of new "free" content for MMOs and create a sense of community investment. I think many people would be happy to do it as volunteers. Some disadvantages would be that the company would still have to do some kind of screening of GM applicants and quality control only taking the best ones. It would also kill a lot of the competitiveness in this kind of game. Especially in PvP. It's easy to imagine a situation where one guy decided to give out "+15 sword of awesome" and if the company had to balance all that it would be a nightmare so I think better to just make it more of a co-operative PvE game and accept that some people would probably end up with overpowered gear.
Could something like this work? Perhaps in a smaller more indie MMO which would otherwise struggle to produce a lot of content? Would you be willing to try a game like this?