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XBox (Games)

Microsoft Hopes for Matchmaking in all 360 Games 50

1up reports on comments from Phil Spencer, the Head of Game Development for Microsoft Game Studios. Speaking with the news organization at DICE Spencer clarified that, ideally, all 360 games should have matchmaking services ala Halo 2. Why didn't Epic's Gears of War ship with the feature? "The Epic scenario and why we don't have that code in Gears of War is really more of a scheduling issue than a 'We weren't going to share the code with them, or help them add that feature to the game' because it's clearly a great feature in online shooting play. For us, it was just 'could we get this done on time in order to get the game to come out when it needed to come out.'" Spencer does say that they have no problems sharing Halo 2's matchmaking code, and that future first-party titles should definitely offer it. Gears may even offer it one day, via a patch to the game.
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Microsoft Hopes for Matchmaking in all 360 Games

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  • Is it me or maybe I just don't play online console games enough, but why do most of the console companies have aversion to lobby game rooms or allowing dedicated servers on 3rd party hardware?

    For example, all DS games have no lobby and if you want to meet someone in specific you have to use the friend codes. Otherwise... You use the match making program and find some random person who you can't communicate with.
    • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @12:33PM (#17998494) Homepage
      Friends(TM)

      The next target for Microsoft's embrace-and-extend strategy
    • In a word:

      Liability.

      No one wants to be reponsible for allowing some child predator to stalk 13yo boys via a game lobby. Do you want *your* kids meeting talking to DrStr4ng3rD4ng3r? Granted, that's likely somewhat possible already. It'd be easy with lobbies, though - since you could stalk.
    • by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil DOT angela AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:24PM (#18000300) Journal
      The idea isn't to have lobbies.

      The idea is to stop doing things the way they've always been done just because they've been done that way. The current server list method is a decade old, and the process of getting into a game of Gears of War is effectively no different than getting into a game of Quake.

      It's about focusing on what's key to the experience, and being willing to change things. That's what Halo 2 matchmaking did - it's no longer about wading through a list of servers to find a game that you want to join, only to find that they've already started, or that the host is kicking people who aren't their friends, or that the game settings have changed. It's about saying "I want to play this type of game, with this group of friends", and letting the console do the work to find other people who want to play the same way, who have similar skill levels, and then letting the game choose host based on who has the best connection.

      With Halo 2, I could load up the game, go into the Rumble Pit playlist, hit start, and be assured that within a couple minutes I was playing a free-for-all game, with enough people, people that would challenge but not horribly slaughter me, with a very slim chance of any network issues. There's no old-style server browser and lobby system that can guarantee that.

      The ideal console matchmaking system duplicates that experience. The ability to play with friends as a team, against people of similar skill levels, and letting the console take care of the stuff that the players shouldn't have to worry about so players can get into games as quickly as possible and spent their time playing.

      It doesn't mean completely eliminating game lobbies, it just means reworking them to fit this type of setup. Halo had brief pre-game lobbies, post-game lobbies where everyone can chat, and between games you and your friends can sit in a party lobby and chat all you want.
      • by Sibko ( 1036168 )
        I remember when Bungie first announced their matchmaking system. A lot of people got in a hissy fit over what they thought was a stupid idea. Fast forward to today, and you couldn't possibly convince a Halo 2 player to go back to the PC gamer's lobby system.

        The matchmaking system in Halo 2 might not be entirely appropriate for use on the PC - but there should be almost no excuse for why it isn't used on a console game. It's almost as mandatory as an FPS having guns.
        • by Saige ( 53303 )
          I'll tell why it's not used on other Xbox Live games.

          Bungie put a lot of work and time into developing that system. Most game developers aren't willing to commit that level of resources to that level of multiplayer, when there are much easier methods of putting together a standard lobby system.

          Until it starts really being a clear hit against a title to have the standard lobby system, it's going to be hard to get them to stop. I don't see any game reviews in magazines even making much of a deal about it.
        • Can't agree more. I remember being somewhat confused as to why I couldn't just host or join a game like I had in RS3 when I first started Halo 2. A couple months later I couldn't imagine playing an online game any another way. Halo 2's matchmaking system wasn't prefect (some of the playlists had their 'quirks' from time to time) but it definitely had the right idea. There have actually been a few games over the last couple years that I haven't purchased because I knew they didn't have a quality matchmaking
  • by Greg_D ( 138979 )
    People generally make their own matches in GoW, and it works just fine. Every once in a while you'll run across some people whose skills don't quite match up, but once you've played the game for an appreciable amount of time, you can get a very nice game going with 8 highly skilled players in very short order.

    Besides, there's no amount of automated matchmaking that will help you automatically filter out insufferable asses or hyperactive children. You're better off just playing enough until you know enough
    • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @12:56PM (#17998824) Homepage
      I'd like to disagree [thoughthead.com]... on all accounts.

      "Match Making" in addition to matching you in skill also filters out anyone you've previously marked as someone you'd like to avoid. Without match making, I have to continually re-encounter those "insufferable asses" or "hyperactive children" that I've already found and identified as undesirable. And while it's impossible to filter them all out, I've found that there are a limited number of them that game the same time as me, play the same games and game modes, and are of similar skill. Once you manage to get 20-30 people on that list it becomes a rare occurrence that you encounter them... of course that all goes out the window completely if the system isn't doing the match making for you.

      As for making your own matches "working just fine"... sure, if you're playing unranked. I have a group of friends, we want to be on the same team and play against another group that's similar in skill. You know... like a professional clan. There is NO easy way to do that, not even close. Basically you have to message everyone on your team to search for some specific game criteria then hope the pick the right room out of the list (and hope it's not full up by the time they get there) then if by some miracle they do manage to find the room there's a high probability that you wont all be on the same team. That is not even close to acceptable for a AAA, first party, killer app that supposedly exemplifies Xbox Live's superiority. Sorry but in a straight up ease of use and requisite feature comparison Resistance blows GoW out of the water (and I loathe Sony). Not to mention that "match making" isn't some elusive code that Bungie has in a vault somewhere, it's built right into the friggin XDK, and while it wasn't there when Halo 2 was made, it's been there LONG before GoW arrived.

      The features missing from GoW aren't just annoying, it's embarrassing.
  • Obviously (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Itchyeyes ( 908311 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @12:10PM (#17998092) Homepage
    Seriously, their user base has been saying this for 2 and a half years now. Why are they just now coming to this realization? Microsoft keeps such tight control over XBL and has standards in place for just about every aspect of it. How is it then, that they certify so many games with flat out abysmal matchmaking systems? For a product that touts its online functionality as the primary feature over its competitors, Microsoft is essentially ignoring a huge portion of that experience.
    • by Saige ( 53303 )
      Saying this now doesn't mean that the team's only coming to this realization now.

      Why certify games with such bad multiplayer setups? Often because it's a matter of that game vs. no game. The higher the bar is for games that are going to be certified, the fewer number of games that are going to get published. And since a significant percentage of 360s aren't even connected to Xbox Live, there are plenty of gamers that are going to only care about the single player experience.

      Besides, multiplayer done righ
  • I'm interested in matchmaking ... but not for games :-/
  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @12:13PM (#17998156)
    For us, it was just 'could we get this done on time in order to get the game to come out when it needed to come out.'

    Ah, so it wasn't about releasing the game with the features they thought it should have. It was about getting it out for sale by the date the marketing people had set.
    • by abigor ( 540274 )
      Yeah, it's called "the software industry". This is 100% normal. Every piece of commercial software on earth is released in this manner. Marketing drives everything.
    • Ah, so it wasn't about releasing the game with the features they thought it should have. It was about getting it out for sale by the date the marketing people had set.

      I spent about a year at a small town news paper. One day, out of frustration, I asked my boss if it was more important that the paper be on time or of quality.

      Without hesitation she said, "On time".

      I was shocked. "You mean that we shouldn't wait five, ten minutes to actually have a page correct? That we care more about delivering something than delivering something we're proud of?"

      "Yes."

      A friend of mine dubbed the time we live in as The Microwave Generation. Everything has to be Now! Now! Now! and quality

      • Well, a newspaper is a pretty good example of where that thinking is right. I mean, when I read the paper everyday I quickly forget if had a typo or it was boring or something like that. But if it didn't even come that day? Well, that would really piss me off.
    • A business actually trying to make profit? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.
  • What good is matchmaking if the guys outnumber the girls 100 to 1? (or even 20-1)
  • Awww... (Score:5, Funny)

    by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @12:31PM (#17998444)
    Just in time for Valentine's Day, too. How thoughtful, Microsoft!

    find me a find... catch me a catch...

Eureka! -- Archimedes

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