|July 5th, 2006|
Players with higher composing skill would have had access to more buttons in the composition window — stuff like alternate scales, keys, multiple instruments, etc. The composition would be rated in difficulty based on which tools were used to make it.
The ability to add lyrics so that they could be synced up with the song, and use the /sing speech variant (it had notes on the chat bubble border, so you could tell it was sung)
A datadisk would have been generated which then a musician could add to their collection. If they had sufficient musicianship skill, they’d be able to play it. A small performance royalty would go back to the composer every time the song was performed, so that popular songwriters could earn money as they went.
This all fell afoul of legal concerns, of course. There was the fear that someone would simply replicate a song from the real world, thus leaving the game operators liable for copyright infringement.
This applied also to the Writing profession I wanted. Originally, I had hoped for a Holonet in the game, which would essentially be embedded forums/blogs. Each article woud have ratings at the bottom so that user could thumbs-up or down the article — no close button, you had to rate to get the window to go away.
As you got good ratings, you would be able to create your own channel (think “site” with multiple authors) and charge credits for access to read — even have stuff sent to your in-game email as a subscription. I hoped for in-game news to be disseminated this way; the idea was to provide the Lums of the world a way to profit in-game from their commentary which was so popular outside the game.
Of course, many would argue that it is attention to this sort of thing rather than combat that ended up causing SWG’s troubles.
It raises the broader question, though, of whether there’s a place for the arts in an MMO. I tend to think there is, because we see so much mashup and appropriation based art surrounding the games. Aside from rant sites, we see machinima, we see artfully decorated houses, and of course, one of the very first manifestations onf player-created content in UO was players spelling out dirty words with fish on the bridge to Britain.
The logic in supporting this stuff explicitly is that it’s among the most popular stuff in the game. Players love the movies, the music videos, the goofy screenshots, and of course, the rants and humor pieces. The people who engage in this sort of creatvity are key influencers because their humor and affection for the game spreads well beyond the game’s confines.
But within the game, they get no recognition at all. In fact, usually their work isn’t even viewable within the game, though there are exceptions, such as the occasional in-game theater troupe. Again, though — without in-game tools to support it, doing theater in the game is hard. Tools like lighting and other stage controls, automatic script recital so you don’t have to retype the whole play as you go, special effects you can use, and the ability to charge money for attendance.
One notable exception to this, of course, is what dancers managed to do in SWG. The essential tool turned out to be just the ability to form a group of 20 that would coordinate movements automatically.
Is it all a waste of time? I don’t know. Certainly one thinks that the core gameplay must come first. But so many of the most memorable things I have seen in online worlds have had nothing to do with the game proper, but with these moments off on the side…