Dev Blog #7: User Generated Content- Why It's Important and Why We Care.


Hey everyone, it's Endo once again with another Dev Blog! Let's waste no time and talk Splitgate. But first...

A Quick Story

It's September 25th, 2007. I just got home from possibly the hardest high school swim team practice I ever experienced. My mom had a tall glass of water, a large pizza just for me, and a copy Halo 3 sitting on top of my Xbox 360 waiting for me. Life is good.

I pop the disk in my Xbox and play some of the Campaign on Heroic for the first time. While playing the campaign, one of my Xbox Live friends sends me an invite to play multiplayer. I accept. The next thing I know, I'm on the map Valhalla, but not the default Valhalla, a version with guns randomly placed everywhere, explosive fusion coils, tanks, Banshees, and Hornets. My 15-year-old mind was completely blown away! (I know I'm dating myself here)

You see, before that time all we had was whatever the game devs had made for the game at the time of release. Unless you were on PC and was aware of the modding scene, what shipped with a game was typically all you got on console, besides official DLCs. Despite Halo 3 having the weakest version of forge and despite that map variant on Valhalla being the worst custom map ever made, my video game horizons had significantly expanded that day.

Splitgate's First Step into User Generated Content

Today, we added a very significant update to Splitgate! If you haven't already read the patch notes, here's a few highlights. Custom games has the added function of customizing player settings on a per team basis, the UI for selecting maps and game modes has improved, and players now have the ability to save and load the game settings they create.

At face value, it makes sense for us to add the ability to save and load a custom game mode, especially if you tinker with over a dozen settings and don't want to re-enter every value every time you make a new game. This feature will also allow tournaments to run much more smoothly since they won't have to manually adjust sliders and boxes between games. These, and much more, are the reasons why saving and loading is an excellent Quality-of-Life improvement to Splitgate. However, it also represents the first step into something called User Generated Content.

If you want to get technical, USG has already existed in Splitgate in the form of game replays, but since there wasn't a straightforward way to share replay files with other players, I say it doesn't count. Saved game modes, on the other hand, can be played in a custom lobby with other players in real time.

"Okay, big deal," you might be saying. Recall that I said it was the first step. What are the next steps?

Map Creator

Yeah, yeah, we've brought this up before in other blogs and on Twitter, but why is it important? Here at 1047 Games, we've always considered the community (you!) as one of our most valuable assets. So why not leverage the community to help make Splitgate even better by giving them the tools necessary show off their creativity? If we're talking about a Map Creator, then many of you will know that some of Halo's most iconic maps were originally created in Halo's Forge. Personally, the most fun I've ever had playing Halo was on custom maps made by random strangers. The scenarios that can be created by simply setting some spawn points here and some walls there pushed the way the game was meant to be played.

We don't have keep talking about Halo when it comes to custom maps, either. Nintendo introduced custom maps in Super Smash Bros Brawl and even based an entire game around the idea of making your own levels with Mario Maker. There's also Fortnite Creative, Roblox, and do I even need to mention Minecraft? None of these games are direct comparisons to Splitgate, but it brings up an important point: each example game equips their communities with the tools to express themselves creatively and enrich their game even more. This is what we want for Splitgate.

I can't share any details about where we're at with a Map Creator feature, but I can say it is in active development.

In-game File Share

In my opinion, one of the most underrated aspects of Halo's multiplayer was the ability to store game modes, map variants, screenshots, and game replays on your player account. I remember going into other players' file share and looking at their screenshots to pass the time before the game loaded. Something so simple allowed the community to interact with each other in a way we haven't seen before. Of course, today we have social media and a plethora of ways to "share" content with one another, but at the time it was and still is extremely convenient to do something like that in-game. Splitgate would 100% benefit from a similar function.

This is NOT a confirmation that we'll do a file share identical to Halo, but we have discussed the possibility of allowing players to store UGC in-game. The main goal would be to enable players to share their creations in a seamless way, but first we have other priorities such as upgrading Splitgate's backend/servers.

Enhancing the Replay System

Since day one Splitgate had replay functionality that allowed players to review previous games. As the Social Media Manager for 1047 Games, I frequently use replays to grab screenshots and footage for posts. So believe me when I say, the Devs totally understand the complaints about Splitgate's replay system limitations. While the features it currently has will get you by, requested features have included: more camera controls (pan, dolly, crane), zoom, chase cam, native screenshotting, clipping, seeing through portals, multiplayer viewing, and various bug fixes.

These enhancements also have no ETA at this time, but it is definitely on our radar and is important to giving players more tools in their UGC toolbox.

A Mod Kit

At the end of the day, we ultimately want to give players the control to potentially do anything. It doesn't have to end with a forge mode, why not create full blown map? How about adding your own scripts? The potential scope of modding a game like Splitgate is limitless, well, besides altering public matches and tourney play, of course. There isn't much to say about a Splitgate Mod Kit at this time, but the Devs have talked about it and will definitely make it one day. The potential features of a Mod Kit is still up for internal discussion, also.

Bottom Line

Okay, that was a ton of references to Halo. What can we say, we're definitely fans! Regardless of any comparison, what we want out of our game is for you, the player, to have as much fun as possible. The community being able to load up Splitgate with a constant stream of shared, user content is only a dream for now, but it's one we definitely want to realize. If you can think of any other feature we should add to Splitgate that allows players to have more control, please let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or where ever you found this blog link!

Until next time!