Developers are giving players the power to create
It would seem that publishers are embracing user-generated content now more than ever. Be it mod (modification) tools, map and scenario editors or design platforms, gamers have the power to imagine, build and create everything from items and missions to entire games within the framework of a game's editing tool. Mod and editing tools have been responsible for the creation of a generation's most popular games such as Counter-Strike (a Half-Life mod) and Defence of the Ancients (DoTA), a custom scenario for Blizzard's epic strategy title, Warcraft III. PC developers have always been at the forefront of the mod and user-generated content movement with everyone from Valve, Activision and Crytek releasing tools which helped gamers build mods for their games as well as provide online forums where mod developers could share their content. As a result, the PC modding community is fairly large and gamers are able to get their hands on some really unique content such as ‘Alien Swarm' for Unreal Tournament 2004, ‘Garry's Mod' for Half-Life 2 or the ‘Desert Combat' mod for Battlefield 1942. Hugely popular online shooter Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (the Call of Duty that ‘started it all') has a pretty solid mod community as well — mods like ‘promod' make the game more competitively viable while others add custom skins and scenarios that make the game more fun to play. Unsurprisingly, developers of console games have now jumped on the bandwagon.
User-generated content is a core component of first-party titles developed for the Playstation 3. Simply take a look at the games that sport editing or creation tools: LittleBigPlanet, its sequel LittleBigPlanet 2, ModNation Racers, Gran Turismo 5 (the only racing simulator to sport a track editing tool) and in a month's time, user generated content will take on a whole new meaning when Infamous 2 releases with its own creation tool. For those unaware, ‘Infamous' was a reasonably successful open-world superhero-themed action/adventure game that came out for the PS3 in 2009. In total, the game sported 99 missions (of which several were optional), but thanks to the all-new creation tool, its sequel will literally have an infinite number of missions. As players explore the game's open world environments, they will be able to attempt user-created missions and levels by interacting with certain ‘flagged' areas on the map (they will also have the option of filtering mission types ranging from platforming and shooting to the absurd and bizarre). For the developers, this adds a whole new dimension to the game (not to mention the option of experiencing content created by someone else) and for the player, there is an unprecedented level of replayability — all without deviation from the game's fiction. Similarly, in Exile Entertainment and Bethesda Softworks' Hunted: The Demon's Forge will come packaged with the ‘Crucible' dungeon editor, a tool which players can use to create mazes, link levels, add enemies and customise player skills/abilities. Designed levels can then be played solo or co-operatively, either with a human player or AI companion, with players being able to unlock features using gold that they've collected in the game's campaign mode. What's next, a Mortal Kombat game with a fatality editor?