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Big Heroes, Little Gods

Nova Barlow | 22 Dec 2009 12:05
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In addition to offering tools such as ratings and a reporting system, the developers have also directly addressed worries about the ever-present penis and other problems with objectionable content. But for all the concern voiced by others, it's surprising to discover the issue has generally been blown out of proportion. "As a whole, the Architect community has been really good at reporting inappropriate content," says Associate Designer Sean "Dr. Aeon" McCann, "though to be honest, there hasn't been too much of it posted."

The system could use some improvement, though. Many of the authors I spoke with cited the need for improved map utilities, as well as the ability to create branching missions. Thankfully, the developers are listening. "I am always looking at ways we can make life easier for players in the Architect," says McCann. A former player himself, he's committed to making sure the most dedicated authors get the attention they deserve. "I want to give any player who receives a Dev Choice award their own day in the spotlight. I want to take the time to give each player that receives Dev Choice their moment - and to also show other authors quality content that can be used to help themselves out." And with 62,000 arcs currently live in the system and more added each month, there's no shortage of quality examples to choose from.

Why would players take on a role that traditionally has been held by paid writers? When you ask them directly, there's a refreshing amount of honesty.


A few admit they wouldn't mind getting paid to write stories in games eventually, and there's plenty of ego present. Most players are content to just run a few missions, hang out with their buddies and log out, but these players sincerely enjoy being part of the creative process.

As Schweinzer puts it, "Stories beg to be told. It's in the telling of stories that we impart a message; an emotion, a residue of greatness or horror. That's the art of it: when someone sends you a feedback message of 'OMG, you pulled my heart out,' then you know you did more than just give words to someone. You helped them live the story in their minds and hearts."

Thanks to the hard-working little gods of City of Heroes/Villains and the ease of the Mission Architect system, these days the big heroes (and even some villains) clearly have a lot to strive for. Inspired by these authors, I have an epic adventure in mind that I can't wait to try out with a group of superheroes. They may even encounter a NPC reporter following them in search of her next big story.

Research Manager Nova Barlow joined CoX specifically because of the MA system but, like many storytellers, often finds it hard to actually make time to tell stories.

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