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Too Much Multiplayer In Today's Games? 362

hornedrat writes "Gamepro discusses the idea that modern games put too much emphasis on multiplayer, and that players aren't as concerned about it as developers think. 'The current environment encourages developers to unnecessarily toss multiplayer into their games without caring about it — or even considering whether anyone will bother playing it. It’s like they're checking an invisible quota box that demands multiplayer's inclusion.' Personally I agree that too much emphasis is placed on competitive multiplayer. I play online, but only with my brother in games that allow co-operative modes, like Rainbow Six: Vegas and ARMA 2. 'My point isn't that developers shouldn't try and conquer Halo or Call of Duty. We'd never have any progress in this industry if developers didn't compete. Game companies, however, should think carefully about what they want their games to be, and more important, gamers should consider what they want. If a developer wants to eclipse Halo, then by all means, pour that effort into a multiplayer mode that's different.' I would be interested to know how many gamers really care about the multiplayer components of the games they buy."
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Too Much Multiplayer In Today's Games?

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  • Re:Hardly (Score:0, Interesting)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Monday July 26, 2010 @06:39PM (#33037644) Journal

    I play Modern Warfare 2 almost all for it's multiplayer. The single player campaign was great, but the fun begins in multiplayer. I also love games that have co-op play along with single player, because you can play with your friends and it opens up a lot of new possibilities. Games like Left 4 Dead with 4 player co-op (and versus mode) are also extremely fun because you have to work as a group and if you mess up, other players need to save you and you affect the game. It's a lot of fun.

    I do also play games like Splinter Cell Conviction and Civilization series where the main point is with the single player. However for example playing Civilization with real people add completely new aspects to it.

    Why it has to be either only single player or multiplayer (or badly tossed in multiplayer)? Work on both of them to make them great. The upcoming Medal of Honor actually has two completely different teams working for single player and multiplayer - EA's own team for single player and DICE for multiplayer and they even use different engines.

    Multiplayer provides a lot of fun, so why take it off? Especially when it's value that usually only paying customers can enjoy. Many times on slashdot I've read that companies should provide more value to paying customers versus pirates - multiplayer is it and can definitely be a good factor in if a person buys the game or pirates it, and I personally love playing with other people.

  • by gravos ( 912628 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @06:45PM (#33037670) Homepage

    The current environment encourages developers to unnecessarily toss multiplayer into their games without caring about it — or even considering whether anyone will bother playing it. It’s like they're checking an invisible quota box that demands multiplayer's inclusion.

    Developers? No. The checking-off box mentality is created by the execs who look at past performance, market research, and all that boring stuff to come up with very specific ideas about what they want in a game. The developers usually have to build what the publisher asks for if they want to get paid.

    Of course if you as a developer think you know better you can always strike out on your own, but most that do don't end up making much money. Thems the breaks.

  • Don't multiplay much (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueBat ( 748360 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @06:56PM (#33037770)
    I rarely ever use the multiplayer parts of the games that I own. I don't like griefers and the such. I just want to play the game and complete the quests and such. I don't need the harassment and bother that these jerks bring to the games. I buy games to have fun, not be frustrated.
  • Re:Hardly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IrquiM ( 471313 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @06:56PM (#33037778) Homepage

    Well... I never play multiplayer, so I've just stopped playing all together!

  • Re:Short lifespan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ALeavitt ( 636946 ) <aleavitt@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday July 26, 2010 @06:56PM (#33037780)
    But you also rely on other people playing those games as well. What if I find a niche game now that allows players to run dedicated servers, but at the game's peak there are only 150 people playing online at any given time? You can bet that no matter how much I love the multiplayer, I just won't be able to get the same satisfying experience five years down the line when most of the playerbase has moved on. I could either spend a good deal of time and effort trying to keep a multiplayer community alive or I could just accept that all multiplayer games have a lifespan limited by player interest. There is no similar limit to the lifespan of a single-player game.
  • by Shados ( 741919 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:01PM (#33037834)

    Making a big part of the game online is the only way publishers (developers tend not to care as much) can ensure they can have some sort of effective copy protection (since DRMs don't work because they don't control the client...but they sure as hell can control the servers).

    Obviously that doesn't apply to peer-to-peer multiplayers that don't require any interaction with a central server. Sure, you can have an independent server to bypass the need of the main one, but then you lose a big chunk of the community. Not 100% effective, but sure as hell more effective than 99.9999% of DRM out there, so publishers go that route.

    How many time do you hear hardcore pirates going "Bah, im gonna buy this game, I want to play online". I know I do almost daily... (yes, daily)

  • Re:Hardly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:03PM (#33037850) Journal

    >>>A) Most random people on the internet who play games on Xbox live and the like are complete assholes

    Precisely. Multiplayer was fun when it was just me and some friends with connected modems. 1-on-1 Populous or Firepower was a blast. Tradewars was a blast. And if some asshole showed up, the word quickly went out and the asshole was ganged-up on & exterminated. Then the "Eternal September" happened sometime around 2002, and a bunch of idiots showed up. Goodbye fun.

    Another reason I don't like multiplayer is there's no


    Yesterday Amiga celebrated its birthday. Today /. is plagued with Guru Mediation errors. Coincidence? I think not. (BTW a new Amiga is arriving in August and will have the approximate power of a PowerMac G5.) :-)

  • Local multiplayer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:03PM (#33037856) Homepage Journal

    The problem with multi-player is that it depends on an online server today which will shut down in time.

    Not if it's local multiplayer with one machine and two to four gamepads, like Bomberman series or Smash Bros. series or Tetris Party. Not all multiplayer games have to be FPS or RTS. With the rise of HDTV, it's even practical for PC games to get in on this act.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:03PM (#33037858)

    Agreed. I never played any multi player game post the original Doom, for which I only played online with buddies I know on the same LAN.

  • Re:Short lifespan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:04PM (#33037862)
    A valid point, but LAN parties [] are now playing free games using local servers which not only eliminate lag, but also will be available long after the profit motive is gone. Buying into an online service whose business model depends on having 100,000 subscribers is as naive as buying into those health clubs that sell "lifetime" memberships -- don't be surprised when you come in one day only to find the doors permanently locked.
  • Re:Hardly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mad Merlin ( 837387 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:09PM (#33037914) Homepage

    There's different kinds of multiplayer too. In an (RT)S like Civilization or Starcraft, you're pretty much bound to have a number of peers which can either be human or computer controlled, and this pretty much obviates multiplayer. In a lot of MMORPGs like Game! [] or WoW, you can arguably play them as "single player" games, without really interacting with other humans at all, but few people do that. On the other hand, the number of ways you can interact with other humans in an MMORPG is much broader than that which you'd normally find in an (RT)S game.

    Then there's a whole different class of games where multiplayer isn't really an obvious addition. Consider something like Resident Evil, adding multiplayer to that would be quite unusual (which is probably why it was purely single player). The most obvious way to add multiplayer would be to have a co-op mode, but it seems that co-ops modes are pretty rare these days (I'm not entirely sure why), and it would totally throw a wrench into just about everything else in the game, from camera angles to difficulty, not to mention the impact to the story.

    Really, I don't think anybody is complaining about multiplayer in the first two types of games, they're a welcome addition there. The problem is in the last class of games where multiplayer isn't an obvious addition. Certainly, multiplayer can be a brilliant addition if done properly, but if it's just tacked on, it'll probably be wasted effort aside from being able to check that invisible checkbox in some executive's mind.

  • Single Player is key (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ceraphis ( 1611217 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:21PM (#33038060)
    Devs need to have multiplayer be an afterthought after designing a core, solid single player experience. Either that or have an established user base or famous IP behind the multiplayer.

    Take Halo for example, it started as a great single player story with a great combat system (and a second buddy allowed to bum around with you but not shown on cutscenes), and local multiplayer that became extremely popular.

    Halo 2 followed the story (but was considered a story flop compared to the first) but turned the multiplayer into quite possibly one of the most thriving multiplayer systems in at least console history. Halo 3 comes around and incorporates even more multiplayer into the campaign, and again continues the multiplayer. It all started with a core single player experience.

    COD4, that started the whole FPS as RPG experience, had a comparatively short story mode, but, what a surprise, they started the franchise with COD that was primarily a top notch single player experience. So again, they built upon a successful single player franchise to create a very popular multiplayer experience.

    Starcraft, just to point out this isn't limited to FPS, built upon a solid single player experience and was also the first of the craft games to have multiplayer, unsurprisingly it became a crazy hit. Everyone who is interested in Dragon Age has probably mused about how fun multiplayer could be if it was done right. GTA followed this to the T as well, and unsurprisingly most fans liked the multiplayer. Portal was a primarily single player experience that was lauded like crazy. If they come out with a great multiplayer mode in part deux it will possibly be the next big thing. Plan multiplayer for the sequel seems to be the most direct way to make cash moneys. Or at least focus on the single player first.

    The only thing is, there do seem to be some exceptions. Counter Strike, Team Fortress 1+2 for example, but those could be attributed as the "real" multiplayer modes of half life and HL2. Shadowrun was completely multiplayer and was a hilarious flop (even though the gameplay wasn't bad).

    Are there any extremely successful multiplayer games that either didn't have a extremely successful single player experience that preceded it, a strong pedigree or were popular PC mods?
  • by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:30PM (#33038172) Journal

    I firmly belive that I am among the very few people who have played the entire half-life series, and yet have spent less than 10 minutes playing any source or goldsource multiplayer game.

    I play RTS games solely for the single player campaigns. I would get bored with the skirmish mode very quickly, and have zero interest in the multiplayer mode.

    Playing local multiplayer with friends is indeed fun, but I don't have any friends over (pretty much ever), so I generally find that pretty worthless.

  • by Jay Tarbox ( 48535 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:40PM (#33038274) Homepage Journal

    I no longer enjoy playing against 1's and 0's once I've played against humans. It's much more challenging and satisfying as well. Nothing beats making a headshot across the map and just KNOWING that someone is pissed off. When hit by said shot, I'm both pissed and admiring the shot as well.

  • EverQuest. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Monday July 26, 2010 @08:05PM (#33038542) Homepage Journal

    Starcraft, just to point out this isn't limited to FPS, built upon a solid single player experience and was also the first of the craft games to have multiplayer

    Warcraft II had LAN play.

    Are there any extremely successful multiplayer games that either didn't have a extremely successful single player experience that preceded it, a strong pedigree or were popular PC mods?

    EverQuest. Unlike UO, FFXI, and WOW, it wasn't an extension of an existing single-player RPG franchise.

  • by F34nor ( 321515 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @08:29PM (#33038782)

    Just play offline if you are trying to control world tendency. I am always in soul mode as I am trying to stay pure white for my first game, if you want to be black then dying is great for your black progression. If you are in coop three guys should whoop ass on any invader. But yeah the OCD draw of this game is creepy. The illusion of a perfectly played game is there but wholly evilly unattainable.

  • by Z8 ( 1602647 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:55PM (#33039440)

    I firmly belive that I am among the very few people who have played the entire half-life series, and yet have spent less than 10 minutes playing any source or goldsource multiplayer game.

    Nah, I bet your preferences are really common. I've also played all of half-life but never touched multiplayer. My guess is we're the silent majority that you never hear about because game reviewers necessarily like all or most game types, including multiplayer.

  • Re:Hardly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:22PM (#33039686)

    "And therefore it's pointless, because I don't want to spend that much time online with random people."

    Then do it with people you know.

    A friend, my wife and myself play "Baldur's Gate 2:Throne of Bhaal" together using Hamachi2(free!) to create a virtual network. It "just fucking works", as advertised, and took the headache out of playing LAN/WAN enabled games over the Internet. Instant connection between 3 computers (two in the same room and one in Alaska, 3000 miles away). We could have 6 different people all playing in one group, if we wished. It may be an old game, but it beats a lot of newer ones in terms of content. Even replayability is there--try playing the game with an entirely Chaotic Evil party. Lots of fun. The difference is that it is cooperative play, not competitive (although it is entirely possible to duel to the death, but this isn't very helpful as a group).

    Do I mind not playing competitively? Nope. It is worth not having to deal with all the dicks common to MMOs.

    It is also the closest I get to PnP Dungeons and Dragons these days. Combined with my Ventrilo server, it feels like those old D&D parties, intoxicants and swearing not only allowed, but encouraged.

    Considering the Microtransactioning/Data-mining ways of the current MMO scene, I can honestly say I was better off regressing in my gaming, as opposed to progressing to some new product.

    (Hint: Never throw old game discs away!)

  • Re:Hardly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rogue974 ( 657982 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:21PM (#33040114)

    I generally really like to play the multi-player of games and endure through the issues you mentioned, which are all very good issues and at times will make me lot out of a server and look for another one. It is unfortunate, but I like playing the multi-player enough, and many of the games I play lend themselves to multi-player competition, so I endure it. There are nights I just am not mentally up to it and just play a solo game on my PC.

    I felt like telling a story about this and it related to A), so bear with me. I was playing Mechwarrior mercenaries and logged into a server that was active. It had the last spot open up and there was only 30 seconds left in the game, but I wanted in the next one. I logged into the server and 20 seconds later (before I even got into battle), the game ended and we all ended up out in the chat room while the server reset.

    As soon as we ended up in the chat room, someone started cussing me out for gimping him and being dishonorable. In mechwarrior, you could rip a mechs arms off and then destroy one leg and he was left with almost no weapons and could barely move, but was still alive. Many people got into being an "honorable pilot" and this was just disgraceful that you would do this and not finish them off. Pilots could self destruct, but that was a negative points for the battle. I didn't gimp people because I liked to get the kill, so I would just center torso them as much as I could until they were dead.

    I explained I just got in the last 20 seconds of the battle and he had the wrong person. He just kept cussing me out saying I was lying. Finally when it was time to jump on teams, I went opposite him intentionally. As soon as it started, in team chat I told them, the guy was nuts and I didn't do it and I was go after him for being such a jerk. Many laughed and said he deserved it and to get him.

    I was VERY good at that game and so found him on radar, I went radar silent, came up behind him and ripped off both arms and a leg and then turned on my radar and sat there behind him. Gimped you can't turn fast so he would try and turn and I would move so he never got a shot off. He would self destruct and then I waited for him to spawn, saw where he was and then go radar quiet, sneak in again on him and do the same thing. Did it to him about 4 times and he proceeded to go nuts in chat and then finally logged off!

    I was dying and my team was cheering me on because he was an total idiot! Just something you have to endure at times and if you can and still enjoy the game, ot be better then the idiots and go after them, the game can be fun.

  • by Saithe ( 982049 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:07AM (#33041486)
    I would actually have loved a co-op mode for both Fallout 3 and Dragon Age... personally I think that would have made those games a lot more fun than they already are.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @06:15AM (#33042046) Journal

    I'm not sure where you got any of those ideas actually.

    1. While graphics are a big selling point and much talked about, if it were the only one, there'd be no need to get an RPG instead of, dunno, just about anything else. Like an old-school mindless FPS where the whole plot is "kill everyone on the map."

    Even for non-RPGs, ever heard of a game called Half Life? Yeah, that's around where having a story started to matter even in FPS.

    That the graphics get the most hype is also an issue of it being the easiest to talk about without playing for more than an hour or two, which is what the average reviewer seems to do. Plus you can put a lot of screenshots on a review site, while discussing plot elements is actually frowned upon.

    2. Speaking of which: if the story didn't matter, then why are spoilers frowned upon?

    3. I'm pretty sure that the expansion of the games market in the last two decades straight was mainly due to making games increasingly _less_ challenging. From such stuff as Max Payne's decreasing the difficulty ever more without even asking if you die too much, to WoW basically increasing the MMO market size by an order of magnitude by being less challenging than any other MMO out there, to RPGs with scaled enemies so you don't end up with challenges above your level, to racing games with rubberband mechanics where essentially everyone drives around your position so you can still win even if you bounce in all the walls, etc, the history of the last decade can be summed up as basically "how can we make our games accessible to everyone short of a paraplegic and not challenge them much?"

    The age of the die-hard nerds playing just to prove they can win against stupid odds in a game, has come and gone. It was an age where markets were measured in thousands of units sold, and selling 10,000 copies would make you a cult classic. The mass market just isn't there and never was.

    But, heck, even way back, Lucas Arts was more popular than Sierra because their adventures didn't kill your character and make you reload for every mistake, nor let you do something that will make it impossible to win the game later. Lucas adventures literally let you try everything everywhere, with _zero_ repercussions for doing something wrong. So, why did people buy those if everyone wants a challenge?

    4. As someone who dabbled into modding, I'm pretty sure that there's a huge number of people out there who'll explicitly look for basically god-mode items. That's not people playing for a challenge, that's people who basically just want to bonk that big-ass dragon on the head _once_ and move on to the next bit of the story. Basically, yes, they just want a "Press A to continue" instead of the whole challenge.

    Plus, in the same vein, there's the issue of the thousands of sites dedicated to cheats, or the fact that on consoles there's actually money to be made by selling cheat programs like GameShark, Exploder, and whatever it is they use these days. Or save games that include every item in the game and a hacked character with all skills and 1,000,000 health. Roll that around in your head. There are people willing to actually pay extra money to remove the challenge, and there always were enough to support several vendors on any given console.

    5. But to get back to story, funnily enough, your argument sounds to me like a rehash of Nintendo's arguments back in the N64 vs Playstation days. Nintendo was still The Big N, and when everyone who wanted to pack elaborate stories and FMV scenes (not to mention Nintendo's asshole attitude and delusions of being some kind of dictator back in those days) fled to Playstation and it's cheap CDs, Nintendo basically went on to give lots of speeches saying the same: story doesn't matter, people don't want RPGs, some kind of platformer is what everyone plays because gameplay is the only thing that matters. It even went for insulting statements like that those who play RPGs are just a handful of depressed people playing in a dark basement. Yeah, ask them how

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @08:58AM (#33043178)

    This game rocks BTW. On one level if you attempt to get multi-player coop help you are abducted by the level end boss and become his unwitting proxy. You must fight another person playing the game. This makes that level very hard as equipment, tactics, and skill are all essentially random. This is really just the cream on the top of the almost transparent but pervasive and enticing multi-player world. Demon's Souls is the shit.

    It's too bad they're shutting off the servers. Immediately making the game more difficult, unenjoyable, and throwing my 60 bucks out the window in less than a year. What the fuck is the point of developing multiplayer if you are'nt going to support it. At least release an update to the game that allows us to host the fucking thing.

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @01:13PM (#33047428)

    Did you ever go to some of the message boards for the game? Cripes, if you dared suggest maybe the box art could have been better you are verbally drawn and quartered and called a coward in life and, geez, all sorts of non sequiturs. I didn't dare post a thing.

    Someone did a great parody of a review for Demon's Souls where the guy raves on endlessly about how wonderful it was that it took him 50 hours to get past the first level, and how the game has the best "You Died" screen ever in the history of gaming. :)

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.