SOE Reveals Steam-Workshop-Ish ‘Player Studio’

By Nathan Grayson on September 7th, 2012 at 8:00 am.

I really, really, really want those gloves.

MMOs are pretty much about two things: breaking and taking. Kill ten things, take six things, etc, etc, etc. Monsters, boar gizzards, fish, barrels – nothing is safe. But all that destruction can get a bit exhausting at times. I mean, who hasn’t met an Orc, ogre, or space marine who just wanted to paint? So now SOE’s letting players balance out their wanton destruction with a little creation. Player Studio, as the new system’s known, will allow players to submit custom items to the likes of EverQuest, EverQuest II, Vanguard, and (eventually) PlanetSide 2 for potential use by everyone in each respective game. It does, however, seem a bit less community driven than, say, Steam Workshop.

Describing the Player Studio’s functionality, S-O-E said T-H-I-S:

“SOE’s Player Studio program invites players to download sample geometry files for actual in-game objects and through the use of standard third party art tools, learn how to develop, design and personalize items of their own – from re-coloring and re-texturing, to reshaping an item’s geometry. Once complete, players are encouraged to name and create a description for their item, describe how the item will fit into the prospective game’s ongoing narrative storyline, and submit it to SOE for review and possible inclusion in the SOE Marketplace.”

On top of that, items that make the cut will get 40 percent of profits from their creation’s sales. That’s definitely better than Valve’s 25 percent from TF2 Workshop submissions, but – at least, on paper – not as hefty as the 85 percent chunk of change Diablo players get from real money sales. Granted, Diablo’s system works on a case-by-case basis, so it’s not an entirely equal comparison.

For now, Player Studio’s set to roll out first in North America, with a EU launch hopefully in the cards after that. “We’re working on doing this for EU too,” tweeted SOE president John Smedley. “It’s very complicated due to tax and legal reasons. It’s coming!” You can already find some official style guides, though, so there’s no reason you can’t have something ready in advance of Player Studio’s official launch.

So yes, it’s a lot like Steam Workshop, but seemingly sans a community rating system. Only time will tell whether that works out or not, but regardless, I’m happy to see other studios following in Valve’s footsteps on this one. Sure, there are plenty of lousy throwaway mods out there, but there’s a handful of wildly creative people devoting their time and energy to this platform – so why not float a little cash their way for all their troubles?

I guess the only place where I see this type of thing being truly problematic is when the line between hobbyist and professional gets blurred. I could see a scenario in which someone feels like their work isn’t worth anything more than a 40 percent cut, when – in fact – they’re putting out professional-grade stuff. But at some point, that becomes less SOE’s fault and more a lack of initiative on the part of the user. I don’t know. The world of user-created content is murky. It’s uncharted territory, so we haven’t paved over it with concrete rules just yet. We’ll see, I suppose.

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13 Comments »

  1. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    Wait, do people actually vote for the tf2 workshop?

  2. Premium User Badge

    FullMetalMonkey says:

    Jesus, Nathan, did you shit the bed this morning to post this early?

    • frightlever says:

      He’s a septic. Different time zones. Also, automated posting. Either/or.

  3. Lydia says:

    Maybe in a not-too-distant future we’ll get to see fan art in in-game museums. MMOs REALLY need to give players a chance to express themselves in other ways besides killing with style. LOTRO had it’s music maker, but the devs stopped there for some retarded reason. More tools and more freedom overall, would be… good ?

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      In Star Wars: Galaxy, you could drop almost all items in your house (and many of them were quite large, with unique models, indeed an entire branch of crafting was for furniture) and then move those items around all 3 axes and rotate them in all directions. What some players were able to do with this was quite amazing (in the game, all houses actually exist in-world, and the majority of trading happened in-house, though you could set permissions on who could enter).

  4. Perjoss says:

    I wonder if this will be only for weapons and armour, or if they will accept submissions for stuff that might sit in the game world as scenery and props.

  5. spindaden says:

    Silly Nathan, those are his hands.

    His jacket does have exquisite cuffs though.

  6. frightlever says:

    “I guess the only place where I see this type of thing being truly problematic is when the line between hobbyist and professional gets blurred. I could see a scenario in which someone feels like their work isn’t worth anything more than a 40 percent cut, when – in fact – they’re putting out professional-grade stuff. But at some point, that becomes less SOE’s fault and more a lack of initiative on the part of the user. I don’t know.”

    (a) If you print your own t-shirts, pay for a stall and sell them at a market you get to keep all the profit, less your costs. But if you sell the DESIGN to a store then they handle reproduction (yes, digital reproduction is effectively costless), storage, distribution etc etc and you would be VERY lucky to make a 25% royalty, never mind 40%. Designing your own gear for EQII would not be dandy if you had no way to sell those items to players.

    (b) The AH in Diablo isn’t about user-created content.

    • Shivoa says:

      And building the assets for a game the artist, contract or internal, doesn’t see every penny of the money as they’re contracted to do the work? Where are we going here, is this a discussion about the value of labour and creating labour markets?

      I don’t see the relevance of talking about designs to an item (t-shirt) with duplication cost. If we move your analogy to the non-duplication cost world then why the hell are Valve paying publishers more than 25-40% of sales for their games. The publishers are only making the design for the game, it is Steam where the items are duplicated and sold to actual customers on Valve’s marketplace. But we’re all rather fine with 70% of the sale value going to the person who did the design rather than the middleman who just enabled the transaction.

      My major issue with UGC is it is a call to create without a contract before creation. There may be 10 people making high quality assets for every one person who makes anything out of it (the other nine being outright rejected for the store to prevent cluttering or being lost in the sea of content and making almost no sales) so the story of the one person making a profit from their craft hides the nine people who made nothing for their labour (even if it was up to standard/to spec). The traditional asset pipeline for games pays contractors for completing work, if you use that work in your final game or not. UGC has to be watched carefully to make sure it isn’t using the stories of race success to generate an army of chumps turning out great work without being adequately compensated for it (everyone can see the item in the shop or in the world with the few who have purchased it, but the creator only gets the 40% cut from the few sales and that might not be a whole lot of anything for a high quality mesh/LoDs/texture work). UGC is probably a grand idea (that very few have used significantly in the last 7 years since that term arrived, relying on users as content purely in the traditional multiplayer/co-op form) but I share the caution Nathan has pointed to.

  7. Mimir says:

    RPS, I’m disappointed. You missed a chance to alliterate breaking and taking with making,

  8. kwyjibo says:

    Valve’s cut is 75%? I know they invented the market, but that seems sky high.

    You can get SOE games on Steam. I’m assuming Sony are going alone with their Player Studio because Valve want too big a cut from them too.

  9. Nick says:

    Huh, Vanguard is still going?

    • Hoody says:

      Think there’s about one bloke and his dog still playing it? Tried three different rigs over the years all of which should have been more than capable of running it. And none can due the constant hitching and stuttering…