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Starbound571 Blog

A message to modern game development - STOP forcing multiplayer down my throat!

First, let me go on record as having said that I've been a member on this site for as long as I can remember. I'm not a big contributor, have posted rarely on a game forum to ask a question (usually not getting any kind of answer, but I find the answer elsewhere.) have written a few reviews for a couple of games, but that's the extent of it. This blog post will have been my first, though I doubt very much it will be read. Still, a while back this section told me to say what's on my mind, so here's something that's been on my mind as of late.

To get the record straight however, despite the title, I am not against multiplayer - I believe it has a lot of potential in the gaming universe at large, and from one generation to the next, I have seen it grow into something workable and fun for everyone... Well, almost everyone. And that's what I am posting to talk about today.

I'll be the first to admit, I am not a competitive player when it comes to multiplayer. I much prefer co-op sessions where the challenge is greater the more people throw their proverbial hats in. But lately what I have seen game developers (And maybe it's publisher decision to infringe lately on developer creativity that's causing this.) do is force multiplayer modes right down the player's throat from the onset.

To be more specific, I am talking about games that do not make the clear distinction between single player/multiplayer modes, games that do not make the distinction clear enough between co-op and competitive, or games that have so many development flaws to prevent griefing of more passive players that just do NOT work. (Example: Team killing in co-op games is not prevented or the methods implemented to prevent such behavior are exploited with loopholes.)

I know this may seem like a rant, venting, or even you may be thinking "u mad bro" or some other immature garbage. Well think about this. To put things in perspective with some modern games at the time of this posting:

Grand Theft Auto V: Rockstar Games have been pretty much known as "Kings of the sandbox game", ever since Grand Theft Auto III years ago, when they made it completely and irrefutably fun. As gaming evolved, so did GTA. This meant the eventual incorporation of online. When this happened, it was gradual, appearing in GTA IV, albeit at a much infant stage with a few competitive modes and some co-op missions. GTA V was a vast improvement and vastly superior in almost every way, with one fatal problem that I see that they have not fixed, several patches later: Passive Mode in freemode (A way for players to explore free of being persecuted as long as they are on foot) still does not work, griefers can still kill these players through loopholes, although they now pay a small cash price each time they do. Also, the distinction is not clearly made between competitive and co-op "jobs" as the game puts them, putting the player in a situation where they have to be more open-minded about what they play until they learn what is what. One instance of this is missions. When I first started playing, little did I know that missions were broken down into two types: Contact Missions, and Versus Missions. The distinction can only be made when you join, or if you look in the quick job section. And even then, in both types, teammates can grief each other by blowing out tires on each others cars or by using the same loopholes as mentioned above. No player I feel in this instance should be misled about what they're going to play. If Rockstar is going to make a system where people can create their own jobs or games, They need to make sure people KNOW what type it is before they agree to it. While I didn't trade this one in because of it's insanely good single player, I almost refuse to play the online bit now.

Dark Souls: Oh yes, I went there. I have to admit, much like many other people, I found Dark Souls punishingly difficult, and a bit displeasurable, until I got used to it. Then as I started to play, I found that in certain instances, you can be invaded at any time by anyone who wishes to just kill you - either for fun, or for whatever you have. Worst part about it is, if you're playing online, it's FORCED on you. And that is my problem. What if I wanted to play single player? I've heard people come up with workarounds, but to me that's as bad as exploitation of the system. Dark Souls unfortunately encompasses almost everything I am talking about - I was expecting a single player game. Yet no more than maybe an hour or two into the game, and I am being attacked mysteriously by online players with no explanation as to how they are getting in or getting matched with me? Yeah. Pass. This game would have been a challenging blast for me had it not been for that ONE thing. It's a deal breaker. Ended up trading it in.

Dead Space 3: I love the Dead Space series. An absolutely terrifying game to play on a quiet night in the dark. Dead Space has matured over every game in the series, and it's only gotten better with each one. And, with each game, the distinction between modes has been made very clear in the main menus. Dead Space 3 continued this tradition. If you wanted to play solo, yeah, no problem. If you wanted to play co-op, also no problem. Seems perfect, except for the fact that you can't 100% the game without a co-op partner... Wait, what? Why do I need to play co-op just to experience the whole game? Yep, you heard it right - some optional missions, which are required for the 100% in their progression and unlocks field actually requires that you have to play online with someone else, if even only for those sections. While you can definitely enjoy the whole game without anyone else, and it's probably much scarier that way, if you're any kind of a completionist, you're going to be a bit taken aback by this. I know I was. While not a glaring problem, I shouldn't have to play with someone else just to get into every area. If this game series ever went completely online, they had better be careful with it, or otherwise ruin the atmosphere for me, as I found playing online didn't carry the same jump out scare factor that playing single player did. Probably had a lot to do with my partner knowing when and where they were going to pop out.

Titanfall: Oh where to start with this one... When I got this game I was thinking of it being a hell of a shooter - the reviews were rave, everyone I spoke to loved it. Except for one problem: No one mentioned it was an ONLINE ONLY game. NO single player. NO review I read spoke of it. NOBODY told me about this. Again, another case of the distinction NOT being made clear. The question is: WHY? This really burned and gutted me the worst out of any that I have seen in years. When I get a game on a disc, I'm expecting single player in there too unless it's otherwise told to me, like in the case of many on-disc MMORPGs, and in cases like that I've come to accept it. Maybe they didn't need to throw in single player, but if you're not going to do so, why not tell me BEFORE I purchase the game? That's really sleazy of a developer to worm that fact way in there after you've actually purchased the product. And it's not good business. This is a clear example of forcing multiplayer on the player - you have to play multiplayer or you don't play the game at all. What garbage is that? Ended up trading in for a loss.

More games than these listed here have problems with their multiplayer aspect infringing on the player in one form or another, but these are the ones that have stuck out in my mind in recent years. If anyone ever reads this, you're welcome to share what other games you've had that have forced it upon you in a way that was uncomfortable.

But for the developers out there who are soon heading into a new console generation, and a new generation of gaming in general, I have a message for them - beware the direction you take with online. These days it can make or break you.