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How to decide if your game should(could) be multiplayer

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by MaximumTre, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. MaximumTre

    MaximumTre

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    This is for those of you who have made multiplayer games, as in online/networked games, not local multiplayer.

    I know this is one of those "Well, do YOU want it to be XYZ?" questions, but hear me out.

    Not all games are worth multiplayer. I'm working on an 3D person Action/Adventure project right now and the magic system I've created is kinda cool (I think). I often wonder if people would feel the same if I introduced lag, hackers, and high ping into the mix.

    What helps you come to the conclusion that your game idea is worthy of the effort to make it online multiplayer?
     
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  2. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    I think in most cases, multiplayer is something that runs very deep throughout the game design. It's hard to make the same game work well as both single-player and multi-player, except for competitive games (e.g. strategy games) where a strong AI can substitute for multiplayer.

    But if it's an action/adventure game, it's hard to see how you can have it both ways. What sort of multiplayer would this be? Are you thinking MMO, or several friends getting together for co-op adventure on a private world instance? Or something else?
     
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  3. MaximumTre

    MaximumTre

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    No, nothing like an MMO. I was thinking something closer to the Borderlands style drop in/out. I'm solo so there will be no MMO's for me lol

    This is of course purely hypothetical. My project is single player and will stay that way. However if I am lucky enough to garner enough money for a sequel, I might consider multiplayer.
     
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  4. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    I agree with other Joe. Typically multiplayer will be part of the game's idea from the start if multiplayer is even appropriate. If you are unsure if the game should include multiplayer, then it should probably be single player.

    The truth is adding a multiplayer feature is likely to take at least twice as much effort as the rest of the work on your game combined. It is not like adding any other feature, as pretty much every system in your game has to be designed around it being multiplayer and will end up far more complicated. A 6 month single player project can easily become a year and a half by adding multiplayer.

    Now is that worth it? Well it might be, but only if the game being multiplayer is pretty much the primary draw to play your game. Otherwise you shouldn't be spending 2/3 of your time to add this one feature if it isn't what would be bringing in the players. If not, you're probably better off churning out 3 separate single player games with that same amount of time and effort.
     
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  5. Steve_Stevens

    Steve_Stevens

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    I wouldn't put lag, hackers, and high ping on your list of cons. These can all be mitigated in one way or another. Multiplayer, IMHO, becomes difficult when you have a lot of players from a management and hardware stand point. I understand the multi player coding, packets, etc... What trips me up is having servers all over the world to lower your ping/lag. As far as hackers go, there's plenty of ways to catch them (server side and client side). My anti cheat would entail CONSTANT lag, lobby drops, hanging while trying to join lobbies, etc.. just anything I can to irritate someone who wants to cheat. Of course, you'd have your logs of when,where,and why this happened so that if/when they submit a support ticket, you just copy and paste a section of your logs pertaining to their nefarious activities. The thing with multiplayer is it MUST be planned from the beginning. You can create your networking classes, work on your predictions and anti cheats all without needing a real server (you just fake the server responses while in early development).
     
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  6. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    Check out Divinity Original Sin 2 for example of just that. It's great as a single player and as a multiplayer (co-op) experience as well.
    Also the For the King! is very similar, only in indie-style and volume.
     
  7. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    I think some singleplayer games can be adapted for multiplayer (meta-mechanically, not necessarily via code) in clever, and unique ways... you just gotta creative!
     
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  8. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    For the majority of indies, multiplayer is a technical and business decision first and foremost, not a design decision.

    The first bar is having the technical ability and experience to implement solid multiplayer and not just some shaky setup from a random video tutorial.

    The second bar is having the time and budget, since as Joe-Censored mentioned it will likely more than double your development time (and thus your budget), not to mention much more QA time and post-launch support time. Even if it's not a commercial venture, you might prefer to spend that extra time on a new game, or with friends and family instead of a monitor.

    If the game would depend on multiplayer, such as an MMO, there's another business decision. For an MMO, unless you're absolutely certain you'll be able to sustain, say, 200+ simultaneous users, it will quickly enter a death spiral where players say the game is empty and dead, causing more people to jump ship and accelerating the dropoff even further.

    That said, plenty of indie games like Minecraft, Rocket League, etc., prove that it can be worth it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
  9. Ryiah

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    This, and Dark Souls is one of the games that comes to my mind as having an interesting implementation. I haven't played it myself but you essentially can see other players as a "phantom" that you can't interact with as well as see messages that they've left behind. There is a form of co-op and PvP beyond that but those are the two relevant to single player.

    https://darksouls.wiki.fextralife.com/Online
     
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  10. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    Nothing ever will convince me of that, because it's just not worth the trouble imho and too much risk.

    You should try it some time. There's lots to learn from the games imho.

    Personally I think the non-interactable phantoms don't add much to the game and the invasions (pvp) are rather annoying. I never played coop and you can summon NPC phantoms if you need help with bosses. I've played large parts of DS1 Remastered offline because the game wouldn't find the server through my firewall and I didn't feel like I'm missing out on much.

    Those would be fairly easy to implement compared to actual multiplayer gameplay, so the should be within reach of indies. They only allow messages made from pre-selected building blocks to avoid things like the N-word being spammed everywhere. The feature should add some value in theory, but in reality you'll see countless messages like "Try jumping" before many bottomless pits, "Amazing chest ahead" in front of many female NPCs, and "Try tongue but whole" in front of every corpse that lies bent over a railing somewhere. And for every useful "illusionary wall ahead" in front of an actual secret room, you'll find 3 more in front of regular walls to troll you... I'm not entirely convinced that feature was a good idea.

    The blood stains make more sense imho. Those get spawned where a lot of people die and you can touch them to see a replay of their movements just before their death. So you can see how jumping down a certain hole might be a bad idea for example, or that there might be an enemy right behind you, just about to murder you, that you would have seen yourself, if you hadn't been focused on watching that damn phantom from the bloodstain... double-edged for sure, but at least that adds an element of a risk/reward choice.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  11. MaximumTre

    MaximumTre

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    Thanks for the great responses. Like I said, I kinda gathered adding multiplayer would be a huge effort, that is why this project is most assuredly single player. It's always good to consider the reasoning behind what makes a decision worth it, and I thank you all for your opinions.

    Oh and that bit about introducing lag etc was just a joke ;)

    I own all of the Souls series and their implementation is very interesting. The leaving messages and bloodstains as Martin_H alluded to are also interesting and I felt, fun part of the game. Stuff like that shouldn't be too hard, but I'm not even touching online stuff.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  12. Volcanicus

    Volcanicus

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    Pretty much this.

    I thought of adding multiplayer elements but the limitations and support required is too much for an indie like me.
    So here's some issues to take into account other than what you mentioned:
    - If you do it with client hosting, how to deal with disconnections and host migration
    - how to deal with players' bandwidth difference (lag)
    - if you host it yourself, you need to find a hosting service or set up your own at home; you also need a backup in case of crashes/power outages
    - cheating prevention, unless you do not care
    - meta analysis; static games get boring quickly
    - managing an in-game shop (maybe?) another business decision
    - CUSTOMER CARE!!! You will have to do this for player-player interactions now. Why isn't my MAC connecting to my friend's PC? etc...

    I could go on but those are the major ones. As such, if you are a solo indie, I would recommend NOT dealing with this OR move onto another engine that can support multiplayer much better than Unity.
     
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  13. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    In my previous reply, I didn't mean to come off as anti-multiplayer. It's just something that needs to be given deep consideration, including your current capabilities, resources, and restrictions, not just platonic design decisions. But if you have the resources to implement multiplayer and the design calls for it, Unity is a fine platform for multiplayer.
     
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  14. MaximumTre

    MaximumTre

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    Oh no, your matter of fact statements were well received on my end. It won't do to have crap systems attached to any game I make. I'm in this for the win, so not biting off more that I can chew is the plan.
     
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