NCsoft has revealed that it will release the next City of Heroes update, Issue 14: Mission Architect, in March.
The update introduces the Mission Architect content editor, delayed from its originally intended release last year.
You'll be able to create and share stories with other players on live servers from hundreds of available maps and thousands of characters, or even create your own custom enemies. You can write all the the dialogue, determine enemy placement and difficulty level, and trigger cascading sequences of mission goals.
Each story can have up to five chapters or missions, and each mission can contain up to 25 goals.
There'll be a mission browser specifically for exploring all this new content, including a five-star rating system, and the ability to sort content by length, alignment, and played or unplayed status.
Highly-rated content will win in-game rewards for the creator, and there'll be Developers' Choice and Hall of Fame listings to highlight the best work.
It's not the first time user-generated content has been attempted in an MMO - the little-known Ryzom Ring preceded it. Interestingly, it sounds as though NCsoft is aiming for a controlled system similar to console games like LittleBigPlanet, rather than the anarchic freedom of the PC mod scene. We'll be watching Mission Architect with interest.