Indies Tapping Into The Creativity Of Players
User generated content is not a new concept, but it is something that Indie developers have really embraced in recent years. In the past, some of the big budget titles like Spore have included editing tools that allowed users to create their own content. Unfortunately because of the complexity involved only the most dedicated fans use the tools. Even games that did not officially support user generated content, sometimes proved too enticing for “modders” to resist patching in their own content. There are still countless older games with thriving communities thanks to the tireless work of modders from within the community releasing new content.
It wasn’t until the meteoric rise of Minecraft that people took notice when it came to user generated content. Entire YouTube channels sprung up showcasing the maps and work created by players of the game. Minecraft’s popularity also allowed for websites dedicated to downloading new content for the game. User generated content not only made the community feel more involved with the creation process, but has added features to a game that not even the original developers envisioned.
Single player games, no matter how addictive, tend to be restrained by the small budgets that Indie developers have to work with and not everyone enjoys multi-player. User generated content not only allows players to get more involved with a game by delving into the creation process, but also opens the floodgates for tons of new content created by other players. Obviously not everything created by other players is going to turn out to be that good, but there have been some gems by truly dedicated players.
Minecraft is the most famous example of a game that has benefited immensely from user generated content, but it is definitely not the only one. User generated content has become so popular that the online digital distribution platform, Steam, has added integrated support for it. Using the Steam Workshop, players can upload their creations for compatible games to Steam where it can be enjoyed by millions of other players. User generated content ranges from custom tracks for racing games such as Super Toy Cars to Octodad: Dadliest Catch challenges. The tools to create the content are supplied by the developers of the games, often with tips and tutorials on how to use them.
Super Toy Cars Trailer:
Octodad: Dadliest Catch Trailer:
Indie developers 3 Sprockets have gone as far as basing their entire game around user generated content. Their easy-to-use level editor makes it possible for even novices to come up with something unique and the user generated levels are then incorporated into the full game. Other players can rate the levels to ensure that the best ones rise to the top.
User generated content has always been the domains of computers, but games such as Little Big Planet have shown that it has a place on consoles as well. It is great to see Indie developers encouraging players to get creative with their work and it might even lead to players discovering that they have a passion for creating games and inspire them to enter the industry themselves.