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.