Although I haven’t messed around with map editors and developer tools in years, I used to be a big fan of creating my own resources for games. I was practically addicted to level editors for Doom, Quake, Command & Conquer etc when I was a kid and playing Starcraft 2 recently has brought a lot of those memories back and I’m just itching to create a new SC2 map (I’ve got a great idea for a 4 player scenario). It made me think of something though: much like these map editors, couldn’t we have tools for creating our own dungeon and raid instances in MMORPGs?
Obviously there would need to be limitations on what could be created and it would all have to be built using pre-existing resources (textures, mobs, items etc) but it seems to me like it would be a rather elegant solution for dealing with the constant demand of content in MMOs. I mean, how many times have you run the same group instance in WoW or done the same raid in Everquest 2? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do totally new things on a consistent basis or even design your own dungeon for your guild to attempt?
No doubt creating a dungeon is a very complex and complicated process that designers and developers go through but surely it would be possible, with the right amount of time and effort, to create software tools that could be used by the fan base to create dungeons? Items and loot could just drop randomly or be associated to special boss mobs and there would need to be some basic rules and restrictions in place to stop creators trying to abuse the system and create exp mines or loot factories. Although it would certainly add an additional overhead to the MMO company, they would most likely require someone to manually check and approve all player made dungeons before they were made available to the public (just like in the Appl store, for instance).
I’m sure many people would argue that all of this would damage the story or immersion of their favourite MMO and they’d probably be right but, as we’ve witnessed with things like the introduction of Real ID and in-game integration with Twitter, MMORPGs are already moving away from the idea that external intervention is sacrilege. Further more, as many people pointed out with Blizzard’s integration of Real ID, not acknowledging the outside world and being immersed in a game are two completely separate things. And at the end of the day, does it really matter if a dungeon in LotRO doesn’t tie in with the books or if an instance in WoW isn’t directly about the Lich King? I’d be curious to know how many people honestly cared about that sort of stuff anyway, at least in WoW.
I know the idea isn’t fool proof and would still require a reasonable investment of time and money by any developer in order to carry it out but it would certainly be an interesting way forward for MMOs and potentially give players the freedom, creativity and content they so desire.
So, brilliant idea or just plain bonkers?