Let’s follow this recent train of events (it’s a train, not a chain, because trains can derail and passengers die a bloody death, where as chains just sit around linking all day) that’s been going on in City of Heroes:
- City of Heroes comes out with their new Mission Architect system, a feature that lets all players craft their own missions with custom enemies to fight.
- It is widely hailed as a great feature implemented into an aging MMO and rockets City of Heroes to the top of the news cycle for a while.
- Player-created content outstrips dev-created content in about a day.
- Most of it is pure crap, because, let’s face it, most players aren’t writers, designers or original thinkers.
- Some players realize that Cryptic’s given them the ingredients for grade-A powerleveling and go to town on sculpting missions with the specific intention of speedy leveling for characters.
- So much so that some players report up to 19 levels gained in a single mission.
- NCSoft goes “Guh? Players aren’t being completely honorable and are trying to use whatever they can to benefit themselves? THIS CANNOT STAND!”
- And then NCSoft declares war on its customers.
It’s awesome. It’s a movie of the week waiting to happen. It’s one of those blindingly stupid events that can only be foreseen by anyone who’s ever worked with live human beings. You don’t hand kids the keys to the car and tell them to “drive nice” without showing them the local driving laws and making them take an exam — why? Because 16-year-olds don’t start driving with anyone else in mind other than themselves (and, by the look of traffic in the greater Detroit area, this hasn’t changed for 40-year-olds either). You gotta set boundaries and keep an eye on them.
Did the City of Heroes team not anticipate this? They claim they did:
While we have accomplished some of those goals with the initial launch of Mission Architect, some have found ways to abuse the system we put in place. We are not blind to this happening, nor did we not expect it.
You didn’t not expect it, Matt? Well, hate to say it, but the onus is on you and your team, and I have no pity here. I still praise the Architect system, it’s a terrific idea and from most reports well-done, but if you couldn’t spent ten minutes with your team and go, “Now, how could this be abused?” and take steps to head that off, then you deserve to be panicking and running around in full reactionary mode, looking as though you’re trying to assert control of the H.M.S. Bounty after the crew’s run amok. Yes, it’s far easier for me to criticize than you to deal with the situation, but this is plain stupidity. If you were expecting it, why not hold the content from release until you figured out a way to solve this problem before the fact?
At least I’m not alone in wagging my head at the silliness of others.