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Gearbox Boss Bemoans Superfluous Multiplayer Modes 136

Speaking with Edge magazine, Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford lamented the tendency of game publishers to force multiplayer modes into games that don't need them. Quoting: "Pitchford points to the likes of Dead Space 2 as evidence that decisions are often motivated by the desire to tick boxes on a feature list, rather than for the good of the game itself. 'Let’s forget about what the actual promise of a game is and whether it’s suited to a narrative or competitive experience,' he tells us. 'Take that off the table for a minute and just think about the concept-free feature list: campaign, co-op, how many players? How many guns? How long is the campaign? 'When you boil it down to that, you take the ability to make good decisions out of the picture. And the reason they do it is because they notice that the biggest blockbusters offer a little bit for every kind of consumer. You have people that want co-op and competitive, and players who want to immerse themselves in deep fiction. But the concept has to speak to that automatically; it can’t be forced. That’s the problem.'"
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Gearbox Boss Bemoans Superfluous Multiplayer Modes

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  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @02:14AM (#35729952) Journal

    Oh god yes, I couldn't agree more. The real problem I have with multiplayer modes forced into games that don't need them is that they often end up forcing the game design down particular pathways, which don't always improve the experience.

    Take weapon balance, for example. Multiplayer gamers these days being too lazy to actually find and pick up weapons like we had do back in the days of Doom and Quake (yes, yes, get off my lawn etc), the trend is for game designers to try to make sure that all of the weapons in first and third person shooters are "balanced". And yet for me, part of the appeal of a decent first person shooter is upgrading my arsenal as I go along; picking up better weapons and managing the limited ammo available for them. Remember the first time you found a BFG in Doom? You don't get feelings like that too often any more, as there's an absolute terror of allowing one weapon to be "better" than any of the others. I suspect that similar considerations force the adoption of my least favorite trope of modern action gaming ever - the 2 weapons limit. This absolutely ruined the campaign in Resistance 2 (sequel to what I still maintain is the best console fps ever) by making it far riskier to actually experiment with all the weird and wacky weapons that are Insomniac's speciality - if you can only carry two weapons at a time, you're going to stick with the rifle+shotgun combo 95% of the time and trust the game to put a sniper rifle in your path if you come up on one of the obligatory sniping sections.

    Then there's the ridiculously short campaigns that are often justified on the basis of multiplayer. Look at something like Homefront; a game which is ostensibly all about its plot and setting has a ludicrous campaign that I beat in less than 4 and a half hours, which doesn't do anything to actually delve into the world they've created. And the excuse - there's multiplayer. It's noticable that Bulletstorm, which de-emphasises multiplayer as far as a modern marketing department will allow, bucks this trend and actually has a pretty decent campaign length (I brought my first playthrough home in a little under 11 hours).

    I know there are people out there who really dig multiplayer in these things. But there are a lot of us who don't; after being very, very heavily into the Counter-Strike scene 8-10 years ago, I have had enough experience of being sworn at in German by 14 year olds for this lifetime. Multiplayer these days is limited to occasional co-op with real-life friends - and that doesn't require absolutely every game to have a tagged on multiplayer modes. Besides - pick a random "yesterday's big thing" shooter - 6 months old or greater - that wasn't a massive multiplayer phenomenon like a CoD or Halo and then try to find a server with more than 2 people on it. I did this with a few games on my steam list and in most cases, it just wasn't happening.

  • Not just games. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xtravar ( 725372 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @02:39AM (#35730052) Homepage Journal

    It's not just games. Everything is ruined by bullet-points; from software to politics to porn. I don't know how we can solve this problem as a society. People want quick summaries, sound bytes, standardized tests, but they never tell the whole story. It's easier to produce to the bullet points, just like it's easier to teach students to the test.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @03:02AM (#35730158) Journal

    Oh please don't forget the rubber band AI, mustn't forget that. I actually had hope when I played the first Far Cry that finally, Jesus tap dancing Christ, FINALLY we'd have some AI that would put up a good fight. But I have noticed that multiplayer seems to give the developer a free pass to use rubber band AI which frankly breaks a game bad.

    And what I mean by rubber band AI, which I'm sure every FPS player has run into, is where on normal level you have grunts that will line up to die and not seem to even notice the huge body pile in front of them. So does ramping up the difficulty make them behave ANY smarter? Nope instead what you get is grunts that can take a half a dozen 20mm to the face while hitting you from half a map away with a crappy bolt action while you're behind cover.

    And I have to agree with what the other poster said, good luck finding anybody to play with even 6 months later if they let you play at all, because some like EA simply shut down the servers on all games more than a year old so tough shit.

    So there are plenty of us that like single player games developers, hell I bought Bioshock II knowing it would suck just to see where they went with the story! Not all of us are Halo fratboys, and those that are frankly aren't playing YOUR game, they're playing Halo or the latest CoD. So don't abandon us developers, because while I appreciate how many games I have yet to play that doesn't mean I only want to play old games. But personally I have had enough trolls and campers for one lifetime, keep your MP mode, thanks anyway.

  • Re:Co-op? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by indiechild ( 541156 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @03:25AM (#35730252)

    Call of Duty World at War.
    Rainbow Six Vegas
    Rainbow Six Vegas 2
    Resident Evil 5

    And then there's other games which offer non-campaign co-op modes like Splinter Cell: Conviction, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 etc.

    There's surprisingly numerous co-op games out there if one bothers to look.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak