Volition on co-op play in sandbox games

Saints Row 2 developer on the hassles of including cooperative mode in the game and why it was worthwhile in the end.

Who Was There: David Bowring, designer for Volition, the development team behind the open-world games Red Faction: Guerrilla and Saints Row 2.

Co-op was tough to achieve in Saints Row 2.

What They Talked About: Not only was Saints Row 2 critically well received, but it was also one of the few games in its genre to feature cooperative multiplayer. In his GDC 2010 talk titled "Co-Operative Design for Open World Games," Volition designer David Bowring said that any developers looking at potentially including co-op in their sandbox game need to be aware that they're in for "a lot of pain and suffering."

When it came to Saints Row 2's QA process, almost 37 percent of the bugs found were directly related to the co-op aspect of the game, Bowring said. "You have to bear in mind that every system you build has to be co-op-friendly and that every system touched could break co-op, and an enormous amount of bugs were created," he said.

So why do it? Bowring said despite the hassles, the inclusion of co-op in Saints Row 2 was very gratifying, with Volition’s figures showing that the people who played co-op generally played a lot more of the game. Bowring said most players also now have the expectation that games will feature some sort of multiplayer and that providing social content helps make a game more relevant as well as extend its shelf life.

Takeaway: Untethered open-world co-op is difficult to achieve, so Bowring’s advice to would-be open-world co-op developers is to design everything with co-op in mind right from the beginning.

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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Discussion

26 comments
escritora84
escritora84

There are a lot of bugs in the co-op mode, but it's one of Saint Row''s best features. Creating mayhem is fun, but even more so with friends.  I wish GTA would include co-op, it would be EPIC!

Titoforu
Titoforu

having a strange feeling being that it was said as from Volition that saints row 3 will be the last but cannot actually say last money talks more lol.but saints row 3 co-op play may consist of more than 2 players..but all in all the saints row series is amazing and I hope they continue with the wonderful game-play series.

rello91
rello91

we need more co-op games on ps3 everything is to online based some people still play with friends at home

tatu2004
tatu2004

it's crash's on me sometime when play co-op in SR2 360 version the ps3 version is full of bugs as well.

VirtualTofu
VirtualTofu

It astounds me anyone plays GTA anymore. The Row is where it's at.

therealsomeguy
therealsomeguy

Co-op was good in SR2 exept for one major insanly stupid mistake on violations part, the fact that if one person pauses their game it pauses for the other player, and you never know when the other player is going to duck out for a sec, this sucks worse on games where someone is using cheats because they pause every 5 mins to enter more dam cheats, it might have been hard to achieve but at the end of the day if you work hard and make a quality product then people will buy it, if you dont then you get back what you put in

shaggydellic
shaggydellic

Co-op would have been a nice addition to RFG, if just for the fact that playing with a friend would distract you from the fact the game had almost no story whatsoever. It would also have helped with dealing with the infinite-spawning hordes of EDF that incessantly swarm you. And who wouldn't love to take a friend on a destruction spree?

uberjannie
uberjannie

Saints Row 2 on the PC was the most buggy game I've ever played. I have both the PC and the 360 version, and the PC version was so full of bugs it was barely playable at times.

-Raiden-
-Raiden-

I want this to beat Star wars qui qan gin:))

ISuPrEmAcY32I
ISuPrEmAcY32I

I've thought for a long time that open world co-op needs to be more frequent. How fun would it be to be able to take a party of 4 (split screen on online) and run around oblivion and other open world games. I do think that the creatures and loot should scale up in difficulty depending on how many characters are in your group. That way it would always be a challenge but also rewarding to take friends along. I daresay I'd probably try and control an entire party split screen by myself when i can't find anyone online!

Trogeton
Trogeton

I don't care for coop in some games but if I expect the game to have coop and it does not then I would most likely not make that game worth while no matter what that game is, coop makes games more fun I think everyone would agree

QOSMSTR
QOSMSTR

if open world game did not have some form of co-op, i would most likely not even bother with it. In SR2 i played more than 150 hours on. more than 50% of that time was spent on co-op.

Titoforu
Titoforu

Wowza..I love this game and still play it.My GF and I are always Co-op buddies tilll the end lol however,It never gets old,and are looking forward to playing saints row 3 bring it on Volition!!!

Excedra
Excedra

CRACKDOWN 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KoRniTo
KoRniTo

Co-op with a buddy next to your side is a guarantee of a much better playing experience. Please bring Saints Row 3 with a complete co-op campaign. ;)

FabledVeteran
FabledVeteran

I loved saints row 2 co-op, it was complete freedom... thats how every sandbox game should do it (like crackdown did too)

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

Hope to see Red Faction 3 have coop in it, it will be awesome. I can only think of how many awesome ways to grieve people in it like steam roll a player using some explosives and a silo shape building.

Tectonic76
Tectonic76

Loved Saints Row, to bad the pcs optimization was complete garbage

jeffv541
jeffv541

Boring story, didn't even have to read it. FAILURES!

KO4U
KO4U

OK, show of hands everyone who played co-op with a stranger online and you did more than just max out your wanted rating?

Zazabar11
Zazabar11

I had a lot more fun playing this than I did with GTA 4 mainly because of the coop.

otanikun
otanikun

Hurry up with Saints Row 3! I wanna see Dex finished!

shenron43
shenron43

The co-op was the best part of the game.

dezzyfiesta
dezzyfiesta

The more co-op the better. Offline preference though and then work from there.

young_ryder_ent
young_ryder_ent

sounds like SS3 could be based on coop play...sound great