Maurus here. You might recognize me from The Cavern Today. Well, I've been away from the cavern for a few years now, and haven't really come back until recently.
Initially, back in 2010 I was disappointed that the "open uru" it seems we had been promised, with user-created content and the like, never really came into fruition with MOULa. But seeing Gehn and Deep Island have made me very happy. This definitely feels like what I had imagined Uru could be.
Now this is gonna be kind of a lengthy post, so bear with me. First, since I'm still kind of new to the shards themselves, there are some things I just want to clarify this for myself; make sure that I understand these shards correctly. I realize there are other public servers, but these appear to be the three most-active ones. Here's my understanding of the differences between the shards:
- MOULagain: Run by Cyan Worlds; Many significant bugfixes and improvements that have been developed by GoW have been incorporated into this client; One of the stated goals was to ultimately feature user-created ages, but as of June 2013 none have been added yet.
- Gehn: Run by GoW; This shard has Cyan's blessing, and is based off its own official client, but features many custom fixes and improvements. User content goes under a very strict review process and is held up to a strict standard of quality before it is accepted for inclusion into this client. Currently there are about three such user-created areas featured in Gehn.
- Deep Island: Run by GoW and is the descendant of the ALCUGS, UAM and Drizzle projects. Due to the project's roots in ALCUGS, which were based on on the older URU client, and due to the fact that Cyan does not officially endorse the Deep Island shards (likely due to its ties with UAM/Drizzle), some fiddling must be done on the end-user's part in order to Frankenstein a client for this shard. Features every known user-created age with no bar on content quality.
So I hope someone can confirm that my understanding of these shards is accurate. Now, that being said, let me move onto my main point:
So what's the deal with user content?
I mean this question in a few different ways, and applies in a number of different places, but let's start here: as far as I can tell, there appears to be a food chain of user content. From where I'm standing, it looks like the unofficial Deep Island features *all* such content, the best of which, after scrutinizing the age and ensuring it meets the GoW's quality expectations, will be accepted into Gehn.
Now it was my understanding that Cyan had originally intended this kind of content to be featured in its official shard as well. It's even on the front page of the official MOUL website:
We have also made most of the sources to MO:UL open source. You can see how MO:UL ticks, create your own shards, make improvements, fix bugs, create new ages. We will take some of the best improvements, ages and fixes from the fans and apply them to the live MO:UL server. If this interests you please check out the DEVELOPERS section.
Now, thanks to many of you here at GoW, the live server has in fact received many much-needed bug fixes and improvements - but here they also mention ages. So here's the point I'm getting at: Are we to assume that, similarly to how the very best of the content in DI will, after refining and adjustments, be accepted into Gehn, in turn, the best content from Gehn, after heavy adjustments and refining, might also one day be featured in the official server - and there just haven't been any yet?
One more point thing I want to bring up, about Gehn itself: I really respect the quality control angle you guys are coming from with this, I really do. Having seen a lot of the user ages both many years ago, when I used to Drizzle offline Uru, and now with Deep Island, I gotta agree that while a lot of the community work is pretty imaginative and impressive, it certainly does not hold up to Cyan-quality. I'm sure you guys have that in place to ensure that the user content that gets featured feels as natural a part of the universe as any of the Cyan content does, and I think that's good.
However, due to what can be called a pretty slow trickle of content release in Gehn - not that I'm implying this is bad, or complaining about it, mind you - I do have to ask - what exactly is involved in your review process? I ask because, despite the very large number of user ages out there, so very few are actually featured in Gehn. There's a noticeable imbalance. It can't all be due to content quality - there is lots of user content out there that I'm sure meets a "Cyanesque" bar of quality and then some, or at least rides the line very close. Surely those users would want to to everything they can to get their content featured in a shard like Gehn, even if that meant making lots of refinements to get it up to snuff. Surely they would want that, right? So I gotta assume that's happening somewhere. So I guess my question here really is - is there a sort of pipeline of content for Gehn, like a series of ages that have been submitted and are being checked and bugtested and reviewed?
And again, it's not that I'm complaining about the lack of content. I realize adapting an age to make sure it works with the new client's engine and different physics is a difficult process. If this is the reason new content in Gehn has been a bit of a slow trickle - that each of the ages has to go through this review process one by one - then it does makes sense. It would be a shame if the reason was just that this is the only content the GoW's Gehn team has found acceptable yet.
And again, I don't mean any offense by any of this - I applaud the team and its efforts to set a high bar for the content in Gehn. But I hope the underlying attitude is that content creators should be challenged and encouraged to continue improving the quality of their work, rather than flat-out rejection.
Sorry about the rambling! These are just a few of my thoughts. I'm looking forward to what a lot of you have to say. I'm very interested in what you guys are doing, and I hope I can get a couple different perspectives on this type of process for you guys.
I have some other thoughts more specific to DI itself, but I'm going to post those in a different thread.