Home > City of Heroes > Architect creators and players – the first dates

Architect creators and players – the first dates

April 13, 2009

A few weeks ago I wrote a few notes about the Mission Architect mission browser and put together a few charts for the story arc content in the open beta. I decided to have a look at what the numbers were now, a few days after the release of Issue 14.

At the time I collected the numbers below, the total number of story arcs were almost 17000. With the number of distinct missions in an arc being somewhere between 1 and 5 missions, this means the total number of missions are somewhat between 17000 and 65000.  My guess would be that the total number of missions are  around 40000. A few MMORPGS can claim to have more than 1000 quests, so the sheer amount of mission data generated by the player community is quite fascinating.

Of course, not everything is top notch quality missions. And not everyone will have the same taste. Some people want good storylines, others want mainly tactical challenges, some others might want to have farming efficient content etc. Whereas in many other MMORPGs the mission content is fairly organised and spread out according to some developer-determined pattern, in Mission Architect we have pretty much everything in a big bucket. We can slice and dice the bucket content a bit, but it still remains rather large chunks of data we have to work with.

But first lets have a look at the ratings for the content so far:

Story arc ratings 2009-04-12

Story arc ratings 2009-04-12

Today there is a quite large chunk of story arcs that are yet unrated, almost 7000. Not really surprising in my opinion; the release has been available for 4-5 days and 2-3 days ago perhaps only half of the current story arcs had been published. It will probably take a number of weeks for it to stabilise. For each star rating I also did a check to see how many arcs had been given at least 10 ratings.


More than 90% of the rated story arcs have been rated less than 10 times; again I think this is because we are still fairly early after the release. There is a relatively high amount of time spent creating missions vs playing missions. Also, not everyone that plays a story arc will rate it.

The arcs that have been rated more than 10 times have a larger percentage for the 4 and 3 star averages. This may be due to the simple fact that not everyone has the same taste and not everyone uses the rating system in the same way. As story arcs get more votes it is more likely that they will get a mix of ratings even if they are quite good.

There has been some forum comments about being “ganked” in the ratings; i.e. people that on purpose try to lower the ratings for others by rating their arcs 1 star. While there most likely are some people that will do that I doubt that it is so prevalent that some may think. Looking at the ratings numbers in the chart it is quite clear that people do not only play 5 star missions, both 4 star and 3 star missions have significantly higher rate counts overall.

Looking at the lengths of the story arcs we have a new chart:

Story arc lengths

Story arc lengths

The most used arc length is the short duration. This typically means either an arc with 1 mission with a medium to large sized map, or an arc with two small sized maps. Without being able to show actual numbers for it I would hazard to say that most of the short duration arcs are just a single mission. I think here is where a large number of home-made arcs which do not aspire to any deep or complex story lines may end up.
Story arcs which try to tell some story with some twist often tend to have a few missions to develop the story, so they are in many cases longer.


I think many are aware of that the current mission browser may be a bit limited in searching for story arcs that are suitable and various other initiatives are taken to compensate for that. The game forums contains threads were people can describe and announce their story arcs. Most likely only a small subet of those playing the game reads the forumes regularly, so while this may help a bit other efforts might also be considered.

One nice start of an effort here is a new Mission Architect session on the City of Guides website. They have created their own list where arc creators can add their published arcs with a few additional fields compared to what is in the game today. They also allow comments attached to each arc in their list. There may be a number of sich sites trying to be more helpful with arc searches for people and/or give a better means of communication between player and arc creator. It will be interesting to see how this section develops. WIll NCSoft put in better ingame tools?  Will the various Mission Architect sites expand and become more involved in the matter?

The next few weeks or months will be interesting to see how it develops.

Categories: City of Heroes
  1. Jeromai
    April 15, 2009 at 03:35

    The user-created content of MA seems to be an unvarnished success going by the exponential explosion of number of arcs created.

    What seems to be an issue is that of categorization and search & retrieval.

    Not everyone has the same tastes, and that is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone as great farm missions, solo challenges, hard group content with boatloads of AVs for long epic fights, easy soloing missions, humorous pop-culture references, and heavy story-laden walls of text mission arcs are ALL 5-starred and 1-starred by various people.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the devs will build in a more robust rating system and/or retrieval system.

    The LFG tool, while getting a better PUG response rate than many other MMOs, doesn’t guarantee you’ll find a team that suits your tastes either, so it may be asking a lot of the MA tool to expect most 5 stars to suit one’s taste. It may boil down to the player accepting that an MA arc is much like a PUG – unpredictable, occasionally golden, oftentimes decent, sometimes horrible, and now and then so nightmarish it’s worth telling a story about. 🙂

    Perhaps in the end, it will be a player that takes up the challenge and create a reference tool on the scale of Red Tomax’s story arc database, Scuzzbopper’s demo-edit database, Paragon Wiki or Mid’s character builder.

  2. April 15, 2009 at 15:07

    The Team Search tool is an excellent example I think. It is not perfect, but certainly better than in a number of other MMOs. Its current incarnation is not what it started out as either, if memory serves me right.

    I think the developers may have had a slightly naive view that everyone would more or less be on the same path with regard to what a good story arc would be.

    Or they were aware of the complications, but started out with a simple tool to see how in turns out in reality. Later, when reality is understood better they can make a more appropriate tool.

  1. April 13, 2009 at 08:41
  2. April 13, 2009 at 21:58
  3. April 13, 2009 at 22:01
  4. July 8, 2009 at 15:17
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