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Crowdsourcing missions for MMOGs April 21, 2009

Posted by jeremyliew in game design, games, games 2.0, gaming, mmorpg, user generated content.

Really interesting post at Kotaku about City of Heroes experience with crowdsourcing story arcs.

In a letter to the community posted on the official City of Heroes website, Matt “Positron” Miller revealed that within the first 24 hours of the new updates’ existence, players in both hero and villain factions had created more than 3800 story arcs, each consisting of five missions a piece – more content than the development team had created during the game’s entire existence.

Players have been busy trying out missions and critiquing them in the forums as well. Out of the more that 20,000 arcs now available in game, 2,860 of them have been rated 5-stars by players, with only 582 rated at 1-star. Popular themes include the 5th Column, featured in 794 arcs; the super-heroic Statesman, starring in 134; and time travel, which is the subject of 112 arcs.

As an indication of volume, this is more story arcs that have been created by the game developers in five years!

One popular element was creating custom opponents notes the City of Heroes blog

70% of the arcs that are published use Custom Enemy groups. These are enemies created using our fantastic costume editor, coupled with a large sampling of the powersets that the game already uses. These unique enemies have proven to be extremely popular and sparked new life into the game. Players absolutely love fighting custom enemies for the simple fact that they no longer know what to expect. One of the biggest problems with MMOs is you eventually learn what all the critters you are fighting do, and the game can get pretty rote. Developers make new critters, but there can be months before you get new ones. Now players have the opportunity to be constantly making new enemies with new, interesting capabilities that can challenge and vex themselves and their friends, any time they want.:

I don’t play City Of Heroes, so I don’t know how directly applicable this idea is to web based social games. However, any of the social games currently available have very similar structures (e.g. the “wars” genre) which can get old over time. Perhaps this approach of crowdsourcing missions might add some interesting eldergame elements to these games.


1. Shanti Bergel - April 24, 2009

City of Heroes very much needed to solve for “heroic” mission content as the vanilla kill ten rats mechanism isn’t a clean fit with our expectations for story-driven super heroes. I was actually just blogging about this myself in relation to Gazillion’s recently announced Marvel universe MMOs as they’ll likely have the same content creation/cost issue.

I suspect there was pent up demand from passionate players in the City of Heroes case. To the degree that the social game “Wars” genre can claim the same, they might be able to crib the tactic. Feels like a bit of stretch to be honest but, I suppose they could try juicing it by giving away points to mission creators.

2. City of Noobs - Farmers No Farming! | For The Love of Comics - May 6, 2009

[…] Crowdsourcing missions for MMOGs (lsvp.wordpress.com) […]

3. David Kaye - May 12, 2009

Interesting postscript to this article. Putting MMO quest design in the hands of players can have a lot of unintended consequences. In CoH, the major issue they are wrestling with is that when given the opportunity, players will construct missions with massively outsized rewards and low risk in order to maximize their time investment. This has the potential to wreck the game’s progression curve and substantially increase their support costs. These kinds of tools can be incredibly powerful, but it cuts both ways. Making this system work without disrupting the overall framework of the game is going to be a lot of work, I suspect. More here:


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