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The List: The 5 Best User Generated Content Systems in MMOs

Column By David Jagneaux on August 18, 2014

Over the years MMOs have become well-known for lots of different things. Endless hours of grinding, epic battles on a massive scale, and deeply immersive worlds immediately come to mind. One thing that you probably don’t think of however, is User Generated Content. By nature of the inherent design and network challenges associated with persistent online worlds, it’s difficult to create User-Generated content systems that actually work well.

While the games on this list are not glowing beacons of the best that User Generated Content, or UGC, has to offer, they show that successful systems can be created in MMO games. It might be strange to think that something made by an inexperienced gamer could ever measure up to something from a seasoned developer, it is in fact possible. So now let’s look at the five best UGC systems in MMOs.

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5) Second Life

When I started putting this list together, Second Life was one of the first games that came to mind. It only made #5 on this list, but it’s not for lack of variety, that’s for sure. As one of the first truly popular and successful social virtual worlds, Second Life remains immensely popular to this day. For those unaware, Second Life is essentially a giant, social MMO with nearly limitless possibilities.

The game functions a lot like a replication of the real world, albeit in a much dramatic and stylized form. You create an avatar and socialize with other players, similar to PlayStation 3’s Home experience, but in a much more detailed way. The game can quickly devolve and become overrun by certain types of players, but the ability for creation and individuality is truly unmatched.

4) EverQuest 2

The UGC system in EverQuest 2 isn’t quite as robust as some of the others on this list, but it’s about more than just making quests for your friends. Not only does the Dungeon Maker system support that, but when combined with the Housing features and the way everything ties into the game as a whole, it becomes so much more.

You can collect different maps, enemies, and other item for your dungeons and homes in the game itself, which helps bring the experience together as one larger game. Most other UGC systems put up a barrier between the actual game and the creation systems which does help preserve the experience, but at the cost of immersion. Instead, SOE was happy to fuse everything together. Dungeon Maker in EQ2 is surprisingly easy to pick-up and learn quickly, which is a boon for budding Dungeon Masters.

3) Star Trek Online

Adventuring in the final frontier is a truly exciting experience. With galaxy at your feet, the options can seem unlimited. However, as is the case with most MMOs, the game world is finite and not unlimited like outer space itself. Because of this, Cryptic has crafted one of the best and most detailed UGC systems in all of MMOs. If it weren’t for the other two games on this list, then this one would probably be #1.

The Foundry in STO lets players create content that truly rivals anything that the game’s actual developers could have put out for the game. In fact, The Foundry almost resembles a game development environment more than it does a traditional UGC system. Things can get very complicated and hard to understand, which results in a much steeper learning curve. All things considered though, it’s a great addition to the game and has surely been a huge part of its continued success over the years.

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