Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Let's Talk About Player Generated Content (I Really Want To Play Ark)

So yeah I've been jonesing to get back into video games for years and have a list. And on the top... 10 of that list is Ark. And it's on there for a specific reason. Ark at least, in theory, fulfills a promise games have been making to me for a long damn time.

Let's talk about player generated content.

Okay if I had to guess I'd say I got into RPGs around 2001 for the same reason everybody else got into RPGs around 2001.

People do not know how much that movie effected media in the early days of the new millennium. Sure it's easy to point to all of the movies that were trying to be the new Lord of the Rings and how everything after was trying to be a trilogy but books and video games were trying to take the fantasy crown.

Anyway, it showed that there was a market for sword and sorcery and rejuvenated the video game industry in regards to role-playing games. Specifically role-playing games with a western methodology.

Not counting Bioware and maybe if you squint Blizard there just weren't as many western fantasy RPGs coming out as JRPGs. And that matters because in general especially at the time, JRPGs were much more story based often restricting player choice for the sake of the narrative. 

While the much of the core of western RPGs was allowing players to customize their characters and how they played.

To this day this is a core difference between the two types of RPG.

In general, western RPGs have a much more open-ended feel where players are offered much more freedom. And the zenith of this was having a game where multiple players were plopped in a world together and essentially told to use each other to make their own fun.

Yeah. I played a lot of MMORPGs. In retrospect, a lot of them don't hold up not because the ideas sucked (don't worry I'm writing this whole thing because of you Shadowbane my whole hope is that ARK is a better you.) but because the technology just wasn't there. What are you going to do? Everybody still had dial-up and lag was terrible for most games.

But the few that worked really did open the door to the idea of players as content. Rather than using NPCs and scripted events to create believable yet still fictional worlds MMORPGs did so organically via player interactions.

And the next logical place to go after having players build the world is literally having players build the world.

And MMORPGs have been trying to figure out how to do this for a while.

But in almost every game I tried with the exception of Minecraft it tends not to work. And I really really really really want it to.

The question almost always comes down to how much control and how many options to give the players.

Regardless, to me, Ark seems like the game that might have actually cracked the code and I want to see it.

Note: It's not the same thing but one of the earliest examples I can think of where putting players in charge of an area actually worked was Lineage II's siege system. Since that game is still around I thought I would note it.  

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