SPOnG: How will UGC (user-generated content) missions be structured in-game? I?m aware you approach NPCs in the city and tackle random filtered missions that way?
Yeah - in the same way that a star will appear on your map for a regular mission, there might be some green mission stars sprinkled around each district which symbolise UGC challenges. Anywhere you see one of those you can just run up and play it, and as you approach it you?ll see a window pop up with the mission name, how it?s been rated, who made it and how many plays it?s had.
SPOnG: Are the UGC mission placements on the map random, or do the creators decide where to place those mission start markers?
Part of authoring your mission is to set your own start point. So the interesting thing that I think will happen when we launch is that because the Beta only covers one part of the world, there?ll be a whole new area will be undiscovered territory for the UGC authors, and I think there?ll be a gold rush over there to create the first missions on the second island in the game.
We?re going to be pulling all the missions from the Beta into the game for launch day, so there?ll be a lot of missions over in one island, but none in the other one! It?ll be good to see it grow organically.
SPOnG: Do you have any ideas for things like filters? I can imagine it not being practical having about a million UGC markers on top of each other.
Yeah - I think we have a lot to learn about filters, and the Beta has been helpful to us. We?re doing a patch to our Beta that addresses a few of the concerns, but really we?re looking at the community and we?re listening to them. They?re telling us that we need to keep working on this area to make sure the filters are clearer.
For example we automatically filter in each of the island?s districts so that we only put one UGC mission marker per district. So it?s not like there?ll be tonnes of icons on top of each other, it spreads them out so you don?t get overwhelmed but even then? filtering seems like an area where we?ll keep learning and re-iterating to try and make that as good as we can.
To us, it?s the App Store problem, where the only things you see in the App Store are the Top 10 lists, right? We need to do a good job of getting new great missions surfaced to people, and we need to figure out if that?s something the community has a big role in, or if our guy has to do a really good job at that. We?ll see. We have a lot to learn. We?re not going into this pretending to know everything.
SPOnG: What has been the general response to the Beta so far? I assume you?re mostly testing user-generated content, but did you get anything back regarding other areas of the game too?
Well, you know I think people have been really pleased to see New Marais. They think it?s a huge step forward - and it?s good because we think it is, but it was nice to hear that the customers feel the same way in terms of quality, detail and just the beauty of the city.
Melee has been very popular, which is consistent with a lot of the playtesting we?ve done, where it?s incredibly popular with the playtesters. I think just the overall quality and polish of the game stands out, as a big step forward. We?ve been pretty pleased about that.
The areas where we?re getting actionable feedback is really along the lines of difficult-to-use checkpoints in the authoring system, so we?re going to have to address that. Filtering is an area where we?re really had to make specific changes in order to improve the quality of that experience.
So Betas are great for that, but it?s also affirmed a lot of things that we already felt from the playtesting about the quality of the overall basic experience.
And they?re playing an old build. I mean, these guys are playing a build that?s? I?d have to think about it, but it?s probably about two months old? That?s an ancient build from our standpoint. So I think people will be excited to see - even from the launch game - how much progress has happened from the Beta.