User-Created Content For Home, But Sony Is Being Careful
One of the main reasons Epic decided to make the PlayStation 3 the debut platform for Unreal Tournament III was clear: user-created mods. Mark Rein talked about this plenty, and his team continues to believe that Sony's machine offers the most amount of freedom for such an option. Therefore, it's great to hear that user-generated content should also become available in PlayStation Home.
According to GamesIndustry.biz, creative director and lead artist of Home, John Venables, said they really want to institute this feature. However, they also have to realize that "moderation and the quality bar are big issues.""From day one we're going to give [users] basic customisation, analogous with other games," said Venables. "But we will hopefully be increasing the tools that we give to users over time, to give them more control, maybe to ultimately provide their own content. Creative Director Ron Festejo added: "Obviously the Holy Grail is to give people the tools to create their own things, but it's a difficult path to tread I think."
This brings up the question of possibly offensive material, which is a problem that Sony doesn't intend to ignore. Right from the start, they said they won't tolerate adolescent behavior that might make the virtual environment uncomfortable for females or younger users, so the directors have to be careful. Festejo used the example of user-generated clothing textures: if users can import their own clothes, how can the designers guarantee that only appropriate wear will be imported?
"And I think that the problem is, at this point in time we can't do that just yet," said Festejo. "We've got some moderation tools in there where you can report people, but I think we've got to do this in baby steps - see how people react to the clothing that we give them, and we're working with partners to provide a huge variety, to appeal to different types of people."
The team will continue to listen to feedback from users throughout this experimental process, and then take "baby steps" from there. They're walking a fine line between Sony's policy regarding potentially offensive material in Home, and giving users ultimate freedom to create their very own virtual reality. It'll be a work-in-progress, that's for sure.
"[F]or PlayStation, and the type of audiences we appeal to, I think there's a certain level of responsibility that we have to ensure that offensive stuff isn't in the universe that we create. User-created content is the Holy Grail, with games like LittleBigPlanet that's all about user-created content…that's going to be an interesting litmus test for us to see the kinds of things generated by users because those guys are also pushing the boundaries in that area."
3/12/2008 Ben Dutka