Home > City of Heroes, Metaplace.com > Metaplace services closing down – what to do with user generated content?

Metaplace services closing down – what to do with user generated content?

December 22, 2009

I got an email from Metaplace.com that the service will close down on January 1st, and Raph Koster also mentions this on his blog. Metaplace as a company will still be around, so they will look into other ways to use their technology. In the metaplace forum posts they also mention some downsizing unfortunately. Hopefully those people can find new interesting anf fun jobs.

I am probably one of those people that is the reason the service is closing down – I like the idea of user-generated content and was curious what it was all about. But after trying it out late in the beta I did not really give it much more chance. Why I did not continue I am not 100% sure, but there were a few things that comes to mind.

The art style was a bit too “cute” for me from what I did see – should perhaps not be a big deal, but I remember not liking this part. At the same time as I tried this I was also playing around with Mission Architect in City of Heores/Villains. While MA is likely more limited than the Metaplace toolset in what can be done, I still preferred that one.

Mission Architect for me was probably more fun because it was more focused on creating content in a context that I enjoyed – the Rogue Isles and Paragon City. I think Metaplace.com felt too generic perhaps, from the start. As I did continue to work with Mission Architect some of the limitations became apparent and one would wish for more control options.

I think that a path where one starts in some familiar context and step by step increases the abilities of what can be done might be able to gain more traction. Then people can gain confidence and stop exploring and expanding at their own comfort level. In its purest and most flexible form it may only gain the true enthusiasts, I suspect.

Mission Architect quickly had many thousands of story arcs/missions created, but there a problem is actually finding the content because it was too much. And likewise for content creators the problem would be that for the majority almost no-one would find or play their creations. The search tools has improved, but it is still a problem. And with a number of people creating content to maximize their progress in the game rather than tell a story of some kind, there has also been a clash between these different mindsets – the min/max mentality and the story-telling mentality.

I do believe in the concept of user-generated content, but I think it has to be part of something else, not just stand-alone. The toolset to experience the content probably also must be adequate for the content that has been generated. If there are thousands of content entities to choose from, I need something along the lines of Google or other similar search tools to help find interesting content, whatever interesting might mean.

I do hope Raph Koster and the others at Metaplace find a new way to use their technology and toolsets. It is tricky to find the right balance to apply it in the real world.

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  1. December 22, 2009 at 20:26

    I was very excited about Metaplace at first. Like you I gave it a brief try. At least when I tried it, the tools were already too deep to be to my liking. I went through some tutorials, made a (very simple) house and a yard with a few trees in it. Got a dog to run around randomly in the yard, and then I was pretty much done.

    I could see where it would have been quite a bit of fun if I were willing to invest the time to learn the tools provided. However at the time I was learning two deep software packages and a new scripting environment at work. The idea of doing more of that in my spare time at home didn’t really appeal to me much.

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