User-generated content has been a phenomenon for some years now, from all the way back to the birth of PC modding communities, but a giant spotlight has been shone on it since it’s viability for extending the lifespan of a game was proven out by tentpoles like #LittleBigPlanet and #ModNationRacers.
Including robust tools for altering or adding content to your game has become less of an afterthought and more of a central feature for a lot of titles whose creators are eager to extend those games’ longevity or build active communities around their franchises.
The benefits for players are obvious, giving them more bang for their buck, often (as with our first game, #TabletopSimulator) giving them access to a wealth of different games with a single purchase.
With the popularity of modding steadily growing, and platforms like Steam Workshop making mod tools ever more accessible, it actually seems rarer now that a PC game doesn’t have some aftermarket content ready to be bolted on. These are some of those games with the richest suite of user generated content on offer right now.
Tabletop Simulator is possibly the best current example of the UGC phenomenon. While the vanilla game is fairly light in terms of content, offering some simple options in the vein of chess and checkers and a few fantasy miniatures (with additional DLC options for full fledged board and card games available for purchase), its real potential only becomes obvious when you crack open that Steam Workshop page.
Suddenly, Tabletop Simulator becomes a platform to replicate practically every board, miniature, or card game currently available, with tons of content packs and options to recreate on your own anything not already provided by some other generous user. Obviously, a lot of the content exists on fairly uncertain legal footing, and some of the hosted games have been removed after DCMA complaints from their publishers, but this hasn’t prevented the Tabletop Simulator workshop from being an incredibly valuable resource for anyone looking to play (or create) a massive number of games not available in digital form anywhere else.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong
#ShadowrunHongKong, as well as the other Shadowrun titles available on Steam (#ShadowrunReturns and #ShadowrunDragonfall) have engendered one of the most lively UGC communities on Steam, in large part because of how accommodating the guys at #HarebrainedSchemes have been in terms of providing tools and support for users interested in making their own content.
From simple additions like better neon signs and the usual gameplay tweaks and customizations, to additional companions and character creation tools, to massive story driven add-ons and conversions, the Shadowrun community has turned an dizzying variety of high quality additions to what, in fairness, is already an excellent game.
In all honesty, #SpaceEngineers is a game whose foundation is user generated content. It’s a huge sandbox, the core gameplay loop of which is engineering and constructing everything from massive starships to complex space stations. Naturally, then, Workshop support has meant a tremendous number of wildly inventive, occasionally dazzlingly beautiful creations ranging from simple and elegant to mind-blowingly complex.
Ever wanted to pilot one of the massive space hulks from the #Warhammer40000 universe? Space Engineers has your back. Maybe you’re more of a Star Wars fan; Space Engineers users have created everything from imperial and rebel space craft to universe specific voice mods, so the AI onboard your Star Destroyer sounds just like the films. Almost every science fiction, space faring universe is represented some a greater or lesser degree, and it’s obvious that there’s a fanatical segment of the Space Engineers fanbase willing to spend tremendous amounts of time on faithfully recreating some of the most iconic ships and structures from all of them.