Trending Games | World of Warcraft | Overwatch | Anthem | Entropia

    Facebook Twitter YouTube YouTube.Gaming Discord
Quick Game Jump
Members:3,836,119 Users Online:0

Show Blog

Link to this blogs RSS feed Staff Blog

The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Crushing the Dream of Live Content

Posted by Stradden_bak Friday July 24 2009 at 9:59AM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

Every MMO fan has at least one design feature sitting in the backs of their heads that we wish we could see in the next big MMO release, but for some reason we’re always disappointed and left wondering why no one does anything new and interesting. Over my next few Staff Blog entries, I wanted to take a look at some of the most popular ideas that I’ve seen thrown around on forums and in conversations and take my shot at explaining some of the reasons that said features won’t be likely to show up in big studio MMOs.

I’m going to start off my dream-crushing rant with a look at the idea of Full, Live Content:

One of my fondest dreams for MMOs, and one that I’m sure must be mirrored by other fans, is for an MMO company to be able to offer live content as a regular feature in their games. The virtual world that I’m talking about would have GMs in-game, running events throughout the game world, on a regular basis. They would be able to plan one-time story arcs, react to player actions, interact with players on a level that goes beyond simple quest boxes, and more. It wouldn’t replace static content, but would be something extra. It wouldn’t be happening everywhere, all the time, but it would be happening somewhere.

The problem is, we’re never likely to see it happen beyond the current incarnation of the occasional in-game live event (that are getting rarer and rarer as time goes on). The reasons are pretty straightforward, starting with the fact that it is nigh on impossible to actually entertain a large enough number of people in this way to make the entire exercise worthwhile. It is very difficult to create an interactive, one-time, story driven event for more than a handful of people. Sanya Weathers actually sums this up quite nicely in her “RP Servers are Hard” column written two weeks ago. In it, she mentions the “ungodly amounts of time to design, plan, and execute” live events, and she’s right.

The logistics of trying to run live events 24/7 (or even 12/3.5 if you want to be generous), on what would likely be numerous different servers, boggle the mind. Then there’s the pesky fact that there’s no way to really be “fair” about the whole thing. The number of headaches that would arise for the poor team working on this game would be endless. Players who never encountered any live content would feel lied to and ripped off while the players who did experience the content would undoubtedly complain that so-and-so was given preferential treatment or that they weren’t given a large enough role in the event, or that the devs behind the keyboard were “cheating.” The list of possible complaints should have any possible Community Team member sobbing and rocking back and forth in the fetal position tearfully singing along to Barney’s “I love you, you love me” song.

Then, there’s the financial investment. I just can’t see a studio shelling out the cash for full-time live event staff. We’re not talking about one or two people here. Doing this effectively, throughout an entire world, possibly on multiple servers, would take a fairly substantial team a team that, financially speaking, could be working on the game’s next expansion.

In the end, it’s too much hassle, and more importantly too much of a financial investment, to ever amount to much of anything.

On the other hand, I do have an idea and a lot of you aren’t going to like it.

MMO companies these days are getting more and more gung-ho on item shop based games. No, this isn’t a shameless plug for my last staff blog entry on the subject (or is it?), but rather an exercise in seeing dollar signs where players should be.

Why not offer live content as a paid extra for players? Why not give players the ability to actually buy the time of a GM, or small team of GMs so that they can experience live content? Guilds, I would imagine, would eat it up. Solo players or small group players with too much time and money on their hands could experience something specifically tailored to them.

Yes, it’s a bad idea, but give me a better one. Seriously, in the comments, give me a better one.

Dedthom writes:

You missed the other side of the coin. Is live content really so popular?

In todays "stay on the track" grind play MMOs most people don't want live events unless they can get the uber loot that is handed out with it. Live event will only work to day if you can get the "I helped kill the mighty Boosh and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" with the required matching shoes pants and hat that boost your PVP stats.

In EQ back in the day people got excited about a dev showing up in Qeynos dressed as a main mythical NPC. Now people get pissed when WoW has an undead event because it keeps them from harvesting 10000 wombat scrotoms so they can make uber soup to sell at the AH and get gold for their mount.

Fri Jul 24 2009 10:45AM Report
Naqaj writes:

Everyones favorite buzzword, user generated content, springs to mind. Create a toolbox, a few blank dungeons, and let the players create their own events. Fuel it with a micropayment shop, and make sure to put up some limits to avoid people abusing it to speed-level, and you just secured a new revenue stream.

Fri Jul 24 2009 10:52AM Report
Noctifer1011 writes:

Two MMOs I've played, SWG and WoW, handled live content extremely well without a great deal of expense.

It doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" sort of thing.  WoW had programmed events that took place on every server without GM intervention, with things such as the undead attack and opening gates and such.  Sure, a few folks would complain now and again, but these were HUGE events... I can remember the guild that opened the gates on my server invited everyone to come see it and we had most of the server crammed into one zone to watch.  It was a blast (even if we did crash the zone part of the way through).

In SWG, we had a community manager for a while who could be scheduled to appear at player-run events in the persona of a personality from Star Wars.  While I was there, we had Luke Skywalker and his rebel buddies attack my guild's Empire Day event, the Emperor show up to approve the unification of Dantooine, Han Solo show up to a cantina opening and so on.  It wasn't a lot of time and if the community manager was already scheduled for something else, you just couldn't get him for that time.

Of course, the ability of the players to create player-run sever events is a BIG boon to any sort of 'server events' sponsored by the developers.  A lot of MMOs have a lot to learn from SWG (both the good and the bad decisions SOE's made with that game).

Live Content doesn't have to be overly complex or treated like a Holy Grail that's never attainable.  In degrees, it can be awesome.  Sure, people will sometimes complain, but seriously, too many MMO companies allow themselves to be overburdened and hamstrung by complaints.  There's a balance between listening to your clients and following the vision for the game that too many MMO companies don't quite get.

Fri Jul 24 2009 11:03AM Report
TheMaelstrom writes:

Okay, here's a better one for you....

Give GMs the kind of power they had back in the EQ1 days. I remember a GM showing up outside of Karnor's Castle in the body of a full-blown dragon and speaking through the dragon. The dialog was real-time and not scripted. He went through a 5-minute story of how he had been chased from his home by a wicked, evil dragon.... who then was spawned at the opposite end of the zone and started making his way toward the GM-dragon.

If you were in the way of said evil dragon, you were toast. End of story. Once the evil dragon arrived, the word had spread there was a GM Event running outside KC, and people showed up to battle the dragon in a really popular grind spot. High and low-level people all fought together. There were bodies EVERYWHERE. And no one bitched and moaned about dying and losing xp. It was about FUN.

I think it took 2 GMs to pull this off. One of them as the "good" dragon who set up the story, and another who controlled the "bad" dragon. In total it took about 30 minutes (old-schoold EQ raid boss kill times were on the high side. lol), required no special coding other than typing and spawning in mobs, and it was talked about for at least a week.

Simple, fast, effective, and most of all FUN. And for Sony, it didn't cost any more than the hourly wage of the GM.

Fri Jul 24 2009 11:05AM Report
-Ellessar- writes:

I've always liked the idea of live events, but like you said I cannot imagine any company being able to devout the resources necessary to make it feasible and widely accessible.  Likewise while I think its a good idea for games to give the players the tools to create their own content, the reality is that most players lack the skill and/or time to properly execute a live event. 

I think the idea of micro-payments for live-events is a good one, and I think its worth exploring.  I'd pay for something like that.  I think a lot of other people would too.      

Given the apparent popularity of Free Realms I think we might be seeing an increase in the idea of micro-payments in the Western MMO market.  So here's to hoping this idea gets picked up.   

Fri Jul 24 2009 11:07AM Report
Player_420 writes:

That is an awesome blog.

The closest I can remember is VERY EARLY Shadowbane, devs on all servers would attack towns and roam around as unique bosses, mess with player groups, spawn monsters.

I mean it was really quite fun....

but a live event driven game is truly what we need, didn't AC2 say that's what their game was all about?

I remember the AC2 devs before the game was released saying they had the technology to have a comet crash into the landscape and actually have the physical landscape change, dont know if they ever got really far on the engine, but thats what they were bragging about.

Fri Jul 24 2009 11:12AM Report
DarkPony writes:

Mortal Online will try something alternate; they mentioned boss mobs which CAN be controlled by GM's, if they have the time for it. If not, they will function by their normal AI behavior packages. I hope I will be able to witness this in MO occasionaly. Makes for some fun 'pve';

"Alright you gusy! Come stand here. He cant agro you from heaaaaaAAAAARGGGHHH ...Rttlgh..."

Fri Jul 24 2009 11:28AM Report
OldManFunk writes:

MMOs have done live content since UO. Some MMOs have done it better than others but the idea is neither new or impossible. The reason live content isn't a larger part of MMOs is because the majority of players don't want live content.

Fri Jul 24 2009 11:28AM Report
SnarlingWolf writes:

He summed up the AC1 forums quite well. They do run live events, generally at least one or two each month. Sometimes these are small things like the admin playing hide and seek, sometimes these are just big monster fights with a boss monster who is admin controlled, and sometimes it's PK challenges etc.


However the same thing happens each time one is run. The players who don't manage to be on at the time complain that they missed it so it is not fair. Some of the people who show up feel it's not fair since they're a lower level and can't do as much (or the opposite end the higher levels complain it is too easy). People have such varied ideas on what live events should be that no matter what is done only at best half the people are happy about it. Players don't understand the work involved or the time involved, they just see it's not what they had in mind or it wasn't at a time convenient to them.


It's not worth the investment for how many people actually get upset about live events. I don't think there's been a significant live event (story line event type of moment) where there wasn't a couple people genuinely mad about it. It's easier to stick to non live events and keep more players happy, and I'm sure it is cheaper.

Fri Jul 24 2009 11:34AM Report
EricDanie writes:

This is one thing that got killed by people's QQ - the live events. Too many people think they suck because they didn't get "1337 1007" and that's why devs simply won't bother doing them anymore as people will just complain about how could it be better.

There are a few upcoming games offering this kind of "innovative" one-time or limited-time avaiable quests that do impact the world, and those are Guild Wars 2 and Heroes of Telara. If they will succeed? I don't know


Fri Jul 24 2009 11:43AM Report
nekollx writes:

User Generated content is the next best thing...thankfully we have City of Heroes for that.

Fri Jul 24 2009 12:10PM Report
GrumpyMel2 writes:

Simutronics has been doing what you claim is impossible for years with thier paid text based games. They handled it just fine. With a few advances in technology it can't be that hard to translate it to a Graphical Engine. In fact, I think SIMU's Hero Engine (The one BIOWARE will be using for thier new Star Wars MMO).... is designed around the premise of making it easy to add dynamic content on the fly.

A couple things to remember....

1) You don't need to add content that 10,000 people participate at once. You ARE in fact doing little mini-scenerio's/events that might involve a dozen or so people at a time. They also wouldn't all be the SAME content/storling. Just little mini-adventures that might tie into some larger overall theme going on in the game but are discrete happenings unto themselves. If you are doing these all the time, you WILL eventualy touch most of the people on the server with one or just won't touch them all at once.

2) No reason you actualy need to rely on PAID staff to run these things. If you remember playing pen & paper RPG's back in college... GM'ing the game was often as much fun or more then playing. A game that gives people the opportunity to excirsize thier creative talents by GMing or taking on the role of NPC mobs.... will likely be able to get a pretty healthy volunteer staff signed up for such tasks (This was mostly the way SIMU operated).

What you need for it is a really good toolset for GMing... one that's vetted enough to make sure it won't screw up the game world in any major way by a user working with it (maybe you even only allow it to work in discrete areas/instances).

A good vetting process to make sure that your volunteer staff is mature, responsible and reasonably creative people. This would probably require 1 or 2 full time paid staff to coordinate things and provide some oversight...but that wouldn't be too costly in terms of personnel budget.


3) Nothing wrong with the idea of having an additional fee for players to be run through a live event by a GM. Again look at SIMU... they did something similar. It's really no different then buying a ticket to a movie, festival or fair. It also means that providing Live Content could pay for itself....and even provide a company with extra proffit. Not to mention provide additional incentive for talented GM's.












Fri Jul 24 2009 12:11PM Report
LexStriker writes:

Guild Wars has periodic live events on certain real world holidays... which I found very interesting. The idea was it was easier to plan as long as it did not interfere with real game play. Now I am not much of a partier, but I found the GW 'Festivals' very well done. On one, we all ended up following this damn 'pig' around in a parade/dance line, and I found myself laughing at all of us enjoying ourselves in a non-game/combat sort of way. It was stupid and I enjoyed every minute of it. Then I went back to killing stuff [grins]. I will give it to the Devs of GW, this was very well done and thought out.


Fri Jul 24 2009 12:12PM Report
Kozom writes:

WoW had events and the ability to have player generated events (which my self experienced in guilds that would organize hidden treasure events or attacks on capitals etc.). So i think its the lack of immagination and unwilligness to create content on the side of the players rather than the issues GM's or in general mmo companies would come across.

Fri Jul 24 2009 12:27PM Report
Kozom writes:

WoW had events and the ability to have player generated events (which my self experienced in guilds that would organize hidden treasure events or attacks on capitals etc.). So i think its the lack of immagination and unwilligness to create content on the side of the players rather than the issues GM's or in general mmo companies would come across.

Fri Jul 24 2009 12:27PM Report
ericbelser writes:

I would pay a higher subscription cost for a game that offered and delivered more interactive/live events; but I would *never* engage in the microtransaction method for them or play a game that did.

Fri Jul 24 2009 12:39PM Report
beauturkey writes:

 I'm a little perplexed that Jon wouldn't consider the fact that simple leaps in technology would make constant live events not only more possible, but easier to run as well.

 Look how far we have come in just 10 years, and how much faster connections, PC's, consoles and servers are getting. In probably 5-7 years time years you will, very possibly, look back on this blog and compare it to people thinking that we would never have something as vast as the Internet.

 I will also take this time to predict that we will have robots, flying cars and wil have a colony on Mars a few years after that.

 In time it will all happen. Just wait.






Fri Jul 24 2009 12:49PM Report
Caab writes:

I fail to see the difficulty in giving a GM the tools to spawn a bunch of monsters in a town.  No coordination to planning just simply a random event.  It would create a large amount of buzz and interest on the server while really requiring a low amount of resources.  We are talking one person hired to generate random events in real time.  There is no back story no weeks of planning just a live event.  The if technology doesn't exist to puyll that off yet I am quickly losing faith in mmo's as a whole.

If you require an entire team of people to spawn in a few mobs then your mmo probably sucks ass anyways.

Fri Jul 24 2009 1:08PM Report
Over00 writes:

By trying to achieve perfection you end up doing nothing.

If you ask players what kind of live events they'd like, you'll often get answers that are not possible. Fact is it doesn't take much to add some live action to please some players (note here, if you're trying to please 100% of players 100% of the time you will fail).

Since innovation often comes from smaller players, allow me a shameless plug here.

In Golemizer (, we have GMs from time to time that will take control of some monsters and release it in the world offering a small reward for the first player to take care of it (and there's also a trophy system allowing players to compete on another level). It's really simple but players are enjoy it.

Or sometimes a cow is seen following a player for some minutes. It gets funny when the player starts to freak out and try to get away from it (for some reason the cow always seem to find the player back...). Simple stuff, easy to do that adds a little something that isn't scripted.

Of course, not everyone enjoy this and that's not the point either. Trying to please everyone is a path leading directly to failure.

Also, before CoH user-created quests, Golemizer was already doing it:

Players can create their dungeons, quests, storylines that must go through an approval process (to prevent any abuse) and so far this system has been very popular (both from the makers and users point of view).

Nothing fancy here but enough to provide different type of content to players instead of static developer-created content. It's a wonder why more major titles aren't doing it.

Next step? I'm adding voice-over support for quests created by players. It will go through the same approval process as typical quests. Now if I can do it, I'm sure teams from AAA studios are able to do even better!

See, don't need to look for the "perfect" solution to have something a bit out of the mold and enjoyable...


Fri Jul 24 2009 1:22PM Report
sifudoja writes:

Um, unfortunately this was tried already.

Dark and Light GM's did live events like this a few times a week for each language group. And we all know how it turned out.

It was actually pretty decent. All kinds of pre planned situations such as town getting raided where gms would lead a horde of npcs and attack a city and the players we called to defend the town or repel the invasion. Often in the thick of things the plot would have twists for example a gm would control of certain npc and try to flee with a certain item of importance or send for backup and regroup at another nearby town where the epic would continue.

Had these ideamen ever had the money and resources to make a AAA game, there is no telling what trends they may have started.

Fri Jul 24 2009 1:53PM Report
sifudoja writes:

Wow, i just noticed how many errors i made up there. heh

But anyways, i wanted to throw one more point in. Most games have volunteer GM's of some kind that agree to help with the game in exchange for free playtime. And there is usually no shortage of people trying to get into this group.

Why not have them run these sort of events. Then you only need to come up with a way to limit there ability to cheat / show favoritism. Maybe a limited selection of mobs and loot that can be used for said events.

Fri Jul 24 2009 2:07PM Report
sifudoja writes:

and a tool to monitor thier activity which may already exist anyways.

Fri Jul 24 2009 2:08PM Report
Tungrim writes:

I agree that Live Events don't have to be huge and world-spanning to be successful and make players feel as if they are in a "living" world.

Back in the early days of EQ, GMs and staff would occasionally just hope in game with a range of drow characters and rampage around the Commons outside of Freeport.  It was a sortee from Neriak and damn fun!  If you ran from them, clearly outclassed in level, they wouldn't pursue, but if you gave them a fight, they not only fought you, but taunted and spoke with you, which gave it an exciting and interactive feel.

Or they would spawn a bunch of undead and have them invade a zone suddenly, out of the blue.  Players loved it.

I think spontaeous, unnannounced events probably go alot further than week long "holiday" events in making players feel a real part of the world.

A superhero MMO could have GM's playing some high powered name villians, and have them rampage through several different areas, at different times of the day, once in a while, just to keep things exciting.

Same goes with fantasy; A troll invasion.  A damsel in distress, etc.





Fri Jul 24 2009 2:13PM Report
zapyourit writes:

I love the idea of live content, but personally I don't think the GM's need to be involved. I think that there should be a mix of what I consider to be the best world, namely live content and user-generated content on a dedicated server. I think that the option to partake in such additions to an mmo should be available, but it should be somewhere that players are looking for such content. As has been talked about, many players don't partake, or would and then complain. 

However, giving players world-building/dev tools to create their own dungeons/quests/raids/etc etc etc could create a new and thriving world. Better yet, what if these tools also allowed "privileged" players something along the lines of administrator/GM rights so they can DM whatever content they have privilege to. Privileges such as these would come direct from the creator(s) of the user-content, thus making the line between user-generated and live content even more blurry. 

To give you a better idea what I'm talking about, I mean taking the idea behind NWN 1or 2 modules and applying that logic to an MMO. Something like the Aurora world building tool built into an MMO could be an absolutely priceless asset. What if we draw in those module makers? We could have full epic story arcs playing out in a live setting, all created by players.

If this idea worked out, it could possibly move on to my ideal setting: a blank world on a dedicated User-Content Only server. All this would take would be the server space and cost of allowing that server to run free reign, so basically electrical bills. This plan would just require something simply along the lines of an FTP server to upload the new player content. People could stake out areas where their quest/raid/dungeon would be, which in turn would prevent others from staking that space so  there would be no overlap. And if one "module" (said quest/dungeon/etc) was not performing well or people were no longer using it, the creator or a privileged user with the proper authorization could simply delete it, thereby removing from the server and allowing that space to be used by another module.

Overall, I don't think it would be all that hard to implement. All that would be needed is giving users access to the framework and APIs of the game. People say that such access could lead to exploits, but that is why I recommend a dedicated server with a warning message upon first login. That way, all bases are covered and the devs don't need to really worry about it while players get to have a server with all the doo-dads we crave.

Fri Jul 24 2009 2:20PM Report
Ferrel_Thane writes:

I most certainly can understand the arguments that this isn't possible but my experience leads me to believe otherwise.  I say this because an MMO already exists where live content was previously done quite often. People may have heard of it: Everquest.

I was a member of the EQ Quest Troupe. We logged in daily to interact with players as some of Norrath's rare but less notable celebrities. We also ran both small and large live events. We were 100% volunteer and barely cost SOE a dime so that argument doesn't work for me. We had one or two GMs who, in addition to their regular duties, would roll up the characters we needed. Beyond that we handled things on our own.

The argument of being exclusive and people not feeling things are fair is also a pretty big stretch. You can make that argument for every aspect of every MMO. There will always be people who whine and complain.  To not do things like this based on that very reason means that we should pretty much not do anything! 

Did I have complainers when I ran events? Absolutely yes. Was that the majority of players? No, not at all. In fact the vast majority loved it when we showed up, even if it was something silly. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

MMOs can have these events again. They just have to trust in volunteers once more. SOE let us run their customer service and their live events and we did it well and free. We did these things because we loved players and the game, not for a pay check. I think that is still possible.

Live content impossible? I cannot agree.

Fri Jul 24 2009 2:25PM Report
InvaderGUI writes:

Well in the days before Smed EQ used to have alot of live content and GM events. EQ event went as far as to incorporate the events into the lore and they changed the whole game. And alot of random small GM events wich EQ still does on a semi regular basis. Yes the larger events take alot of planning but are worth it if they are relavent to the over all lore and storyline. But a few small daily events should be very easy to set up. This also brings up the subject that alot of game developers now a days are very lazy and only do the minimum to get by. Just look at EQ again SoD expansion was nothing more then a content update with the only complicated part being the Mercs and they are still really buggy. If you look up EQs new expansion you really can tell they not only have just one dev now but that dev is the one with the least anount of imagination.

Fri Jul 24 2009 3:26PM Report
Inktomi writes:

 I believe there is already live content in mmo's, it's all dependant of where you look. One of Ryzom's draws was the ryzom ring, where players can design there own content, upload it and walk thorugh it alongside a group as a DM. Like the ryzom ring, there is the mission architect that is also live content created by players in City of Heroes/Villians(which works so well it got exploited).

The closest you can get to what you are talking about I found by playing Neverwinter Nights 2 persistant worlds. I played a few, and all had events happening weekly. In one example, A DM was usually on and would invite players to an "arena" where he would through droves of monsters at us. Starting small and gradually working his way up to a huge boss mob. It was fun, the exp was plentiful and so was the loot.

And it was usually created and run by a one man band, best of all it was free.

In reference to sanya weather article on RP servers, there was a large amount of RP servers on NWN PW's. These servers were usually the largest and most detailed, had events and regular Dm's on. But they were boring, cliquey and looked down on the average MMO crowd. I guess turnabout is fairplay.

I guess if I was going to through an idea in the pool, I would give an arena style event a shot. Make it intense and throw two warring factions in as a DM unloaded droves of monsters on them. That would entertain both the pvp and the pve players. Hopefully.

Fri Jul 24 2009 4:14PM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

Turbine pulled it off (still does I believe) in Asheron's Call. It can be done despite the multitudes of you who can't wrap your minds around it or rail against it for the sake of arguing. It's just for some reason this website and others have never in the past given AC real attention and merit for its systems (which are deserving) and don't cite the game at all in your rants/debates/articles today.

Maybe people would know the truth, like it is feasible to do such content and to do so across many servers (and even have one server with a different outcome) if you guys would stop being "stuck on stupid" with EQ and WoW references. There were other games that were doing well/popular and it won't get you fired if you talk about them. You may even educate some of your readers in that there were other ways to make games other than EQ/WoW.

Fri Jul 24 2009 4:46PM Report
JYCowboy writes:

nekollx writes:

"User Generated content is the next best thing...thankfully we have City of Heroes for that."

Its just not the same as a GM running a toon in character if your wanting to flesh out your event.  In SWG, Pex was our events man and did an awsome job.  Those that care about Live Events truly miss him.  We still have events products and even a Player crafted quest system coming but it can never replace a live person spontaniously reacting to players.

Fri Jul 24 2009 4:54PM Report
Ordeath writes:

It can be done and should be done... once word spreads people well flock to it... but keep it free enough of this pay for the specail item crap and keep the monthly fee

Fri Jul 24 2009 5:03PM Report
badgerer writes:

Never mind GM-run events.

 I'd much prefer to see more powerful tools given to players to orchestrate their own events for their guildies. If developers are terrified by the prospect of exploitations, then limiting "custom event authoring" time to say one hour per player per month, could take care of most cynical misuse.

Within the bounds of most games its nigh-impossible for players to achieve any kind of reputation other than being a well-known dick. But given this kind of system, players could become famous for their ability to host an exciting event.

Many of us have tried this kind of thing with no more ability to effect the environment than by filling it with /yell macros, and pulled off the kinds of memories that live on long after that mental catalogue of pve bosses extinguished.

I hosted a "NPC For a Day" event, in which each participating guildie engineered quests and rewards for all other players. It was a huge success with many surprises, and even got the attention of some of the game staff.  

Fri Jul 24 2009 7:46PM Report
Falendor writes:

There are such things as premium MUDs, where the monthly subscription can be as mutch at 80$.  Maybe a company could make one of these with modern graphics and game play.

If your investing as mutch time as some of my friends are in MMOs than 80$ for 100 hours of intertanment a month would be a good deal.

Fri Jul 24 2009 10:04PM Report
MLDrEvil writes:

Hey now. This Article is wrong from the get go. There have many games with Live content. Asheron's Call has/had one of the biggest live content and live story driving MMO's out there. Back in it's prime there were monthly updates and daily events a couple times a day. There was the Martin Event which was a Event that actually took place over a couple Months. Then there was the Statue Event, everyone could get involved each major city would get attacked by HUGE bronze Statues a couple times a day. Then they turned into oxidized Statues. Then there was the Second Olthoi Queen Event/Story, the Whole World was under attack by Olthoi, we had to discovery why the world was under attack by so many Olthoi and then we teamed up with NPC's and opened a portal to her lair to kill her. There has since been Live Events. Also before my time with Asheron's Call there was even bigger Events. Before you make a Blog like this do some research.

Sat Jul 25 2009 12:53AM Report
Inktomi writes:

I forgot Ahn 'Qiraj!

 I was there for the AQ opening ceremony, that was an event I'll remember forever in gaming. 100 foot tall anubis  statues blasting us while we lagged all over creation. Such fun!

Not to mention all the collecting it took to get the stuff just to open the gate. And having the strongest guilds plow through instances to make the staff and such to open the AQ portal. 

One of the best events IMO. 


Sat Jul 25 2009 1:01AM Report
haratu writes:

Live content in games are best handled by players themselves and governed by a small group of gamemasters. this worked reasonably well in Eve where players who volunteered their time merely put forward events and were in turn supplied the time and character to put it in place. 

Sat Jul 25 2009 2:49AM Report
Scot writes:

This is not a tricky question, look at other real world examples. Would Wiki be as big and as detailed as it is if all the content was made by Wiki employees? Give modular tools to MMO players, and just like Half Life 2 you will be zoning into a realm created by players in no time. They will run live events, and damn good ones too.

Sat Jul 25 2009 4:32AM Report
Koed writes:

How many of you would jump to the chance to play a Dungeon Master in your favourite MMORPG?

Sat Jul 25 2009 7:11AM Report
Domoclus writes:

Exercise the same concept as America's Army game had. Everybody played american soldiers, but during deathmatch the player opponents looked liked like terrorists, whereas teammates still looked like american soldiers.

Similarly, in a game like DDO one player, a rogue, might have a quest to steal a gem from a shrine, and the other player, a paladin, might be bestowed a quest of protecting shrine from intruders.

Sat Jul 25 2009 9:43AM Report
esarphie writes:

Way back when, in the days of pay-to-play text based RPGs, I was a GM on a fairly popular game.  One of our biggest selling points was live events three nights a week.

Over time, these live events settled into 3 distinct patterns: The endless battle royale, the on-the-fly tour guide, and the fully scripted instance.

The battle royale is pretty much ALL you see in modern mmos. Some GM releases a bunch of monsters, or dresses up as a big one, then makes some server-wide shouts... and thousands of players beat on the unbeatable thing for twenty minutes.  Fairly dull, unimaginitive, and monopolized by the folks in search of uber loot. It's no wonder a lot of newer gamers have little respect or desire for live events.

The scripted instance is fairly similar to instanced dungeons and quests, with the distinction of only being offered for a short period of time, anywhere from a few hours to a week or two. Everquest 2 has done a few of these, such as the haunted house at Halloween, but you really don't see too much of this stuff going on.

The tour guide motif was kind of a hybrid of the two, where a relatively empty map is used as a setting for an NPC to drag players through a story, filling in monsters and text on the fly, as it were.  In the text rpg world, this was probably the most common live event, although I've never seen one tried in a graphic mmo.

There are a couple problems with graphic mmos that make it difficult to do this sort of thing. First, the limits on how many players you can get in the same physical location before the game engine gets unplayable. The number is fairly small, compared to the server population, meaning that either youd' have to run the live event over and over, somehow excluding people who have already done it, on every server, until a significant percentage of the population has had a chance to participate, or be satisfied with a pathetically small number of people being exposed to the live event.

The second problem is the level of GM authority and responsibility. A lot of games keep creative control entirely within the realm of the dev team. The in-game GM staff really has little ability to affect anything besides mediating disputes, enforcing naming policies and getting people out of holes in the map. To run live events, the in-game staff would have to have a bit more control than they typically do... and I have to admit, a lot of the GMs in various games I've had dealings with don't seem to have the wherewithall to handle it.

I know it sounds like I'm saying live events can't be done any more... and perhaps I am. However, I do think there's a place for short-term instanced events.  It could be as simple as a modest dungeon with a boss and a story to frame it...  Say, down at the pub some crusty old NPC has a tale of a treasure, and a ghost guarding it, in an abandoned mine outside of town.  You go, fight through some garbage, get to an interesting new ghost boss... get the treasure.   Then a few weeks later, the town's NPCs are talking about the adventurer who rid the mine of the ghost... and treasure... and unfortunately allowing a tribe of deep-dwelling goblins to set up shop. ... and so on.

It would be a modest adventure that changes over time, giving the feel of dynamism to the game, and allowing for some light-hearted fare that you might not want in the game full-time.

Sat Jul 25 2009 7:32PM Report
gotha writes:

Didn't Danna Massay work on Wish,  and one of the main features with that was live content.  They even worked hard on tools for story writers to use that were streamlined and fast.


Wonder what his view on this would be.

Sun Jul 26 2009 6:30AM Report
Wizardling6 writes:

I fail to see why simple live events cannot be included in MMOs. I've always thought it would be cool to have a small team whose members move from server to server in a randomised yet fairly distributed pattern and orchestrate simple live events.

e.g. Imagine in WoW if occasionally a gigantic mob suddenly walked over the side of a hill (or out of the sea or from somewhere where players couldn't see it appear), and headed towards a capital city, from a few zones away. Along the way it engages any opposition, even detouring through smaller outposts to alert the populace it's on it's way.

Chatter fills LocalDefence and the cries of those unfortunate or brave/silly enough to try to go one-on-one with the mob ring out :-D

Players having been alerted in chat (similar to what happens when raids on cities are spotted early on) assemble in the city the mob is heading towards. Maybe Thunder Bluff, in which case you could have a really cool scene with the mob scaling the side of TB on it's way into the city :-)

Then of course an epic battle begins. The goal could be for the GM-controlled mob to take out the city's leader, or just engage the city's population. Either way the combat is much more interesting and unpredictable with a GM in control, but like a player controlling a character - they're still limited in what they can do. Only of course their attacks are end game boss level ones.

After a set amount of time (it being expensive to have a GM run a mob) either players have banded together to kill it, or if it remains alive it maybe unleashes a super attack that knocks back all nearby players, and storms enraged from the city. Or if it's got wings and the city is open to the air it takes off into the sky.

You could even have four levels of achievement:

Players kill the mob before it enters the city.

Players kill the mob after it enters the city, but still before it's killed the city leader/reached a certain point/achieved goal XYZ.

Players kill the mob after it has reached it's goal.

An 'I was there' achievement everyone gets even if the mob is not taken down.

While the above could also be scripted and AI controlled, with a GM in command as a player controls his character, it would be a far more random and exciting event, with much movement about and any approach to the goal the GM likes. Plus being a GM controlled mob it could adapt to player strategies and not become a pushover to elite level players.

It would also be very simple to run - one GM, a time limit after which a scripted exit is initiated, no excessive interaction with players required, just a far more exciting fight than is possible against AI.

Now why isn't _that_ possible? It would be about as simple a GM-run event as you can get.

Sun Jul 26 2009 8:19AM Report
CyanSword writes:

I think you're right about the resources required. Maybe in the future though there might be certain servers where users pay a really high premium, I mean like a $100 a month, and all thar cash goes to supporting the GMs on that server, wonder if that kind of a charge would attract enough users to make the model worthwhile?

Sun Jul 26 2009 10:53AM Report
wehave writes:

one option would be that veteran high level players get the option to create live content , little at first and more when do a good job.

if they are veteran high level players then it would also be right if they create it because they should have a high effect on the world.


Sun Jul 26 2009 3:34PM Report
Spiider writes:


Mon Jul 27 2009 4:26AM Report
Spiider writes:

Damn enter button.. anway.

You would like GMs top create your world. I would prefer that developers give us tools to organize in game events on our own instead. You know that every game company is full of cheap b4stards who are insteressted in profits instead of gamer benefits. This is normal, none of them are running a charity and those who do would go bancrupt fast.

So instead of whining that we need GMs and developers offering us content you should fight for making content yourself. I need to take EVE as an example since there are so many "event" like all the great wars, that were orchestrated by players instead of developers. And, on the other hand, all the development organized events in EVE ended in a fiasco, they are not capable of taking care of drawing of a sheep on a piece of paper without something going wrong. Just think about bluepring lottery where corrupt GMs and developers gave special prizes to alliances they were part of or even latest alliance tournament which will be revoling around alt alliances making money by selling slots simply because developers allowed something as stupid as that.

So asking from gaming companies to organize live events is like asking goverenment to organize health insurance or education for us . I'll simplify it for those who don't get it: It ends in a fiasco.

Power to the players, developers should provide sandbox and tools but it is up to us to make our own world.

Mon Jul 27 2009 4:34AM Report
harvb writes:

I'd love to see more live events, it's what makes a MMORPG to me and it's been missing for YEARS.

Even allowing players to create something along similar lines would be ideal. Take Ultima Online as a prime example. The world was open and flexible enough that once about a hundred of us created a rubbish avatar, made it with pale skin and tatty clothes, and shuffled around in a massive procession/swarm attacking everything that came before us, shouting "Braaaaaains!" and pretending to be zombies.

It was fast, simple and fun. That's the sort of thing you should be able to do in a MMORPG. Can you do that in WAR? WoW?

Mon Jul 27 2009 11:52AM Report
yigael writes:

Id love to see more live events!! for example, in games that are RvRvR, there could be like a random an all out attack from a common enemy where the Race Leaders are able to hand out temporary special weapons for the particular event, after the event is finished, the weapons will dissapear

Mon Jul 27 2009 12:13PM Report
AkumaDaimyo writes:

Neverwinter Nights 1 AND 2 have live content because that's how the game works but that is user content and is only as good as the players making the content. There are a lot of crap servers sadly with corrupt DMs who give their friends uber gear or free breaks they wouldnt give strangers.

I think live content could possibly happen with a game with a smaller ammount of players per server perhaps?

Mon Jul 27 2009 5:08PM Report
Dani-AD writes:

Without looking on any other replies in this thread I say:

1. Dont give up your dream, there are always solutions beyond what is obvious.

2. Regarding entertaining as many as possible.  Make it some kind of charter trip where people f.i. have to invest ingame currency to (at the right time) join an appointed time at a wild life tourist guide situation to make as many people as possible get a part of it.

3. Players that never encountered live content would feel ripped off is what you say. I say they would only feel ripped off if the static content in the game didnt entertain them. In a game where the live content is "something extra" the players would rather see the live content 'GMs' as mythical gods or adventures just waiting to happen, maybe even as close as around the next corner.

4. The problem of restriction.  Since manpower is not something endless like time or space the solution would be to maybe restrict the live content to certain areas or 'lvls'. NPC extended A.I. would work well to overlap the difficulties in maintaining constant live content to a somewhat more like seemingly live content.

5. When the meaning of live content is something that is blurred out by NPC A.I. one more step could be taken. The step to give certain accomplished avatars, players, keys to be a provider of live content themselfes. This would give accomplished characters even more things to do in a MMOrpg.

To let players be bringers of content is not a new phenomenon. In all the MMOs Ive played there has always been kind souls helping me out, showing me new places, new things. Maybe these people can be candidates for the demographic of live content providers. I wonder how I would have experienced those games if those kind hearted people would have had keys to unlock an experience of live content for little me.

Kind regards


Tue Jul 28 2009 1:06AM Report
rsreston writes:

I won't give you a better idea, 'cause since I started messing around with MMOGs, your idea is the best one to come up. Congrats!!

Thu Jul 30 2009 3:44PM Report
MarlonB writes:

Live content should be put in the hands of the players, guided by GM's and devs.

The current and future generation of gamers are people that need to be able to express themselves in games.  Look at how popular modding is (player created content), the sims and second life ... or even you tube.


Future MMO's should come with toolsets that grants players the options to be creative.

A few ideas:

1. Have gamers design schematics in crafting games. Or give them the abilities to create their own music or paintings.

2. In MMO's supporting housing and even city building, give the guilds tools to run events in their town.

3. Have competitions where player can create dungeons/area's/planet that will be added to game (after having it perfected by devs ;) )



Player created content will be the future ... as 3 million players are more creative then 40 developers ... all the developers should do in is provide players with the means and tools to build stuff.

Fri Jul 31 2009 3:03AM Report
Isaak writes:

Here is my 2 cents.

My views are admittedlybiased by World of Warcraft but I have played several others.

1) faction.

Lets say i've ground my rep with a certain faction. That faction should start giving me REAL benefits as far as dynamic content. As an honored or exalted member of this faction, I should be able to give quests that grant XP, Faction points and perhaps a monitary award (paid out of that factions coffers).   There is a relatively simple formula that WoW uses to determine what quests are valued at, so the giver couldn't determine the value of the quest, but as it is now personal, it becomes dynamic live content.

2) Guilds  

Along the same lines, the guilds should be given rights to send guildmates on quests with XP rewards. If there is a money reward, then it would come out of the guild bank. This tool would add Role Play immersion and customized questing. 11 million subscribers are much more creative than a handful of devs.  As it is per Guild, you won't have one guild messing up someone else's quests.   There are a lot more details to this but its wasted logistics if they don't actually put this tool in.

3) Cities

I'm exalted with IronForge, Stormwind and Blah blah blah. My Guild has the highest cumulative faction for Stormwind for any guild on the server (of my faction, alliance) so My guild can now fill quest giver slots in Stormwind. We're now in charge of sending troops to the walls (if we're not around, the default AI takes over, or the guild with the next highest faction, if they're on).  We can give quests that will boost the defenses of our city or even boost the defenses of our cities in contested territory (the camp in stranglthorn veil or etc).


The possibilities are vast.  There would have to be some limitations, of course, but the tools to do this wouldn't be difficult to create and would add countless hours of fun playable content that wouldn't interfere with the game as is.


I'd love to tell the guys in SW that I'm facing an incoming patrol of scarlet cruisade and have the city respond (cause I'm exalted there, right?) by sending a squad of SW guards with me! Anyway. 

/end rant

Fri Jul 31 2009 2:15PM Report
Dysmetria writes:

The most dynamic and interesting live events I've encountered were in Neverwinter Nights.  The people that created and maintained the permanant worlds could designate any number of Dungeon Masters who each had specifically granted powers.  They could  appear as NPCs and send players off on quests, spawn mobs for those players to fight, and grant experience and gold rewards to the heros that survived the campaign. 


The developers of MMOs don't want to waste the resources and time to put on events of which the players will inevitably complain about.  However, the hardcore players themselves would leap at the chance to do so for free, if they were provided with some limited power to host events. 

Wed Aug 05 2009 11:47AM Report
Staatsschutz writes:

The key for Live events to be successfull lies within the target audience. People who play  harsher MMO´s (like eve online or ultima online) are generally alot more positive to live events, than players in carebear cookie cutter mmos.

The reason is: The ones in the harsher MMO´s are used to the daily risks to lose their stuff, and the danger that lurks around them in every place. So theyd just hop into the live event, no matter what they lose or not. They do it for the fun.

Those in the carebear cookie cutter MMO´s are only interested in the advancement of their character. and if a certain situation arises within their playtime, that would forcedly distract them from advancing their cookie cutter character, they obviously dont like that.

They would hop on the live event if their chance was very high to grab something on the event that would advance their character. But since the chance is mostly pretty low in such events, they just let it go.

So: Live Events can only successfully happen in the harsh mmos, namely: Eve Online, Ultima Online, and maybe a few others, but i dont know of any offhand.



It's not worth the investment for how many people actually get upset about live events. I don't think there's been a significant live event (story line event type of moment) where there wasn't a couple people genuinely mad about it. It's easier to stick to non live events and keep more players happy, and I'm sure it is cheaper.

Thu Aug 20 2009 6:30AM Report
Staatsschutz writes:

emm the last paragraph of my comment shouldnt be there, but i cant delete it so just pretend it is not there :p

Thu Aug 20 2009 6:33AM Report
reanor writes:

 Atlantica Online has live events almost every day. They are not really events events. You just fight the dev and his mercs on the arena. And usually devs schedule it couple times a day. I guess korean developers have more money and time than western ones to participate in live content? *shrug*

I can't agree that live events are not popular. As many games I played, every time there was a live event there were players doing it. I've never seen live event announced and nobody showed up. Thats a bull. Its all about the developer team plans. Some devs are way too busy to do a live event.

They constantly work on a new content, fixing bugs etc. Hire extra dev to do live events wouldn't make sense from their financial standpoint, but then again they could have involved that "extra" in other projects other than playing a role of the dragon. Its all about dev team yet again. All up to them, but some of them don't have enough staff for this. They usually involve even that extra hired for live events in more important projects. And we players lose that opportunity of fun.

Thu Aug 20 2009 10:30AM Report writes:
Login or Register to post a comment