'City Of Heroes' Update Important Step In Customized Gaming

Almost a year ago, this column touched on a planned update for the superhero MMO "City of Heroes," which would allow users to create and share their own custom missions for the game. Yesterday, the Mission Architect, as the feature is now called, officially launched after a beta period in which 5,000 missions were created in a 2-week period.

If even half a percent of those missions end up being entertaining and popular among the "City of Heroes" fanbase, just two weeks of user access to mission creation tools has produced a fairly significant content update. "City of Heroes" is the first mainstream MMO to take this step, and although the COH fanbase is small compared to giants like "World of Warcraft," this release is a major step for user-created gaming. One of the most significant challenges of upkeeping an MMO -- and, with the prominence of downloadable content in the current game industry, all major titles -- is providing fresh content to the user base to keep them engaged.



This is a great move on the part of NCSoft, the "City of Heroes" developers, and it's a move that every MMO and even non-MMO developer should take a hard look at. When a game provides players the tools to create their own maps, missions, and storylines, it dramatically extends a game's lifecycle, both by giving creators endless opportunities to tinker with their creations, and by offering a source of new content to the player base.

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