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Split screen Vs the Ubiquity of online play

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by TenKHoursDev, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Hey. First thread I've posted in some time.

    Anyhoo let's jump right in...

    There's a disconnect in the US between people of all walks of life. There is some research and some literature out there which correlates the increased ubiquity of devices with a decrease in social skills/social life/ and quality of life.

    What I want to focus on here is the gaming part of things.

    If you were old enough to play an N64 or a SNES you know what I'm about to say. This might be controversial but gaming was fun back then because of the social aspect. You typically sat in the same room (or building, ala' LAN gaming)..

    It was about having fun together, not competition. People didn't play to win, every. damn. time. I'm looking at you League of Legends and your bass-ackwards "must play to win" enforcement.

    I think many of us want games to be fun again. I think that's why some people play. They want it to be fun but the plethora of trolls, cheaters, and those who play to win make it a sordid experience 99.99% of the time.

    Have a look at Nintendo's recent games. Pokemon Go (ok it launched three years ago but hey) encourages people to play together, outside via the capturing of pokemon with AR.

    Smash Brothers is a honestly a college phenomenon. I cannot think of any other games which so many people play together (in the same room!).

    I think there is opportunity to improve the gaming experience by making cooperation among people happen more easily. There's also a lot of innovation that could be had.

    I think we could as game devs really improve our games by making them more about cooperation than the antonym.

    Discuss.
     
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  2. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Are you looking for a discussion about cooperative/fun play versus high stakes competition, or about local co-op versus remote online multiplayer, or something else?

    For the former, what about games like Journey? Or shared experience games like MMOs?

    For the latter, local co-op games are rarely profitable enough to sustain developers. People claim they want to play local co-op, but they don't back it up with their purchases. And, although I love local co-op, I can unfortunately understand why. I don't live in a college dorm with a bunch of roommates. It's a big production to get my friends to come over and sit down for some couch co-op. If I wanted to play a game right this second, it would need to be single player or online multiplayer.
     
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  3. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    "I think there is opportunity to improve the gaming experience by making cooperation among people happen more easily. There's also a lot of innovation that could be had."


    what do you have in mind?


    I think dark souls was a great example of fostering cooperation. The game would have faded to black if not for a small group of fans who built a wiki that allowed others to get a grip on the game that otherwise was too challenging to get into. Jolly cooperation. From there it exploded.

    That's all there is to it, I think. Make a game that's hard enough people have to band together to beat it. I don't think you need any novel gameplay mechanics. Like things where one player has to wait for another so they can both press a button at the same time to open a door. That's lame. That's not cooperation. That's just annoying and annoyed people don't cooperate well.

    Journey is a big one often mentioned, but personally I didn't get it. You didn't do anything. You just walked up a hill with somebody else. May as well have been a movie. But whatever, it did something for a lot of people so that's that. Certainly the charming visual experience did something to make people feel calm and happy. So that's good.


    over-the-top online competition may be in part due to big shot youtube gamers and gaming becoming a sport. I know back in the Halo lan party days I played to win. Didn't make it less fun, except for the one dude who always lost and we all picked on. That loser.

    Can't do much about that I don't think. Games like R6 Siege have ranked and casual modes, but people are still pretty awful in casual. Worse sometimes. But it's a competitive designed game. Something like Super Smash Bro's is a party game. Totally different vibe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
  4. JoeStrout

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    I've been on the Oculus Go platform a lot lately, as both a developer and (occasionally) as a player. Multiplayer games are very popular there. Some of them are traditional competitive games, but others are either social (no win/lose at all) or co-op (like QuiVr, for example — up to four people working together to defend the gate).

    Many players in the community have commented how much fun co-op is. On the other hand, lots of people still enjoy the competitive games. I think there's room for both.
     
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  5. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Honestly the only reason I say any of this is once you make it about winning it sucks the fun out of it. Playing with Rando's or worse "pub stomping" with friends may be fun for you and your friends but everyone else it sucks. I see it as a problem to be solved.

    @tonyli28 the thing about that is that its just one person's experience (though I think its valid). There are probably more people not in college who are gamers than there are, but I mean if American football fans can get together every sunday to watch a game why can't gamers?

    If it meant fighting off depression and loneliness why not?
     
  6. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    WEIRD ALERT.
     
  7. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I'm just saying that when a bunch of people already live together in a university dorm with time on their hands, it's much easier to start up a couch co-op game. If I want to play 4-player couch co-op with my older friends, they have to find babysitters, work around their work schedules and other life obligations, etc. There's a certain nostalgia about couch co-op, but it's hard to make it financially viable.

    Pokemon Go is good to discuss. You can pick it up any time, no matter where you are, and meet other people at hotspots. Even if you're competing with other people at a gym location, there can still be an in-person social aspect.
     
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  8. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Dude what are you smoking?

    I mean that is a kind of cooperation, but not what I had in mind.
    I mean for gods sake Battlefield even your own teammates will be ignoramuses out of malice or just plain incompetence. Point being that lots of people play to win but few play for fun anymore. Its a social phenomenon that MP games today are frustrating because of three problems: cheaters, trolls, and those who play to win. I don't think resorting to screaming and smashing things or rage quitting is an indicator of good culture.

    There are many ways to accomplish cooperative play. That community thing isn't even something designer's can affect.

    Way to oversimplify.


    I wouldn't want to play with you either.



    Yea that isn't casual or social because its not in-person. It sucks because its over the internet with a buncha rando's.
     
  9. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    what are "many ways" to accomplish cooperative play? Come on, you started the conversation, you should be supplying the meat.
     
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  10. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Oh, okay. By cooperative play I mean you could: display the whole game on one screen with 'x' players on it. Its been done lots in the old days but not enough today imho.There's so many First person shooters today its obnoxious. The perspective can be anything. Top down, 2d/3d side scrolling, a camera which stays in one position and rotates/zooms to keep players in focus, etc.

    The point isn't just the perspective though. I think players ought to be in the same room or building. Without in person socialization it just becomes play to win.

    I mean hell I just an intriguing idea... not sharing it for the time being :p
     
  11. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    why do you think in-the-same-room face to face play keeps things from becoming play to win?
     
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  12. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    People may still play to win, but it's less toxic than anonymous trash talking over the net.
     
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  13. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Maybe because in person people are generally not trolls and don't treat each other terribly? Granted some people might play to win, you're right about that, but still.
     
  14. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    why though?

    if you could answer why, then maybe you could engineer some way to get that answer into an actionable plan to solve the problems you see in online play. You've got to dig deeper. Erase assumptions, and get to the facts.
     
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  15. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Nah brah. Pretty sure I know what I'm talking about. Don't need to do any more thinking about it.

    Don't need to beat dead horses...
     
  16. RichardKain

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    Develop a game to run on a local server. Develop an app available for iOS or Android that serves as a "controller" for the game, and also stores player-specific data and customization. People go to the location of the local server, whatever that might be, connect to it via the Wifi LAN, and play the game with each other. Actual genre of game is irrelevant, it can be almost any game type. Rinse and repeat for whatever manner of game you are trying to generate.

    This is a design that I've been toying with in the design phase for quite some time. The only developer that has come close to something similar is Jackbox. And they've been insistent on taking a web-based approach in order to maintain greater control and pulling in user data.

    Location-specific design requires that the developer commit to the concept. Most developers aren't willing to go that far because it means forgoing the reach that on-line titles usually provide. There is ample potential in the concept. It just needs a few developers to properly dip their toes in. Centering it around smartphones-as-controllers makes sense, as it drastically lowers the barrier to entry. It would also reduce the potential for more action-oriented fare, but that is only a problem if that was your genre focus. For social-focused games, something less action-focused would be better for greater interpersonal interactions.
     
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  17. devotid

    devotid

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    Why would you play a competitive game not to win? In reality. Someone ALWAYS wins and Someone ALWAYS has to lose. Get over it. Call me "old school" though.
     
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  18. RavenOfCode

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    As someone who's been playing sports for the majority of my life and who's currently in college playing a varsity sport that statement is utterly false. Trash talk (ie. breaking someone's mental state down via words) is for assholes.

    Sometimes I play competitive games just because I enjoy the mechanics and I know other people do this too. However, I think the people who "don't play to win" (ie. just play for fun) shouldn't complain nor care about others winning.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
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  19. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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  20. Volcanicus

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    If you want split-screen, you are 20 years behind. The main reason Japanese companies implemented these was because culturally, videogames were played on the TV while PCs were used for work. In fact, this has reached an extreme where it is considered unacceptable to play games on PC in Japan as of this moment (for future game designers, know this if you make a PC game and want to adapt the language to the region).

    Split-screen had a plethora of issues including the size of the screen. Thank god those days are over.
    Shared-screen experience however is still good for social interactions. If you have ever played Divinity 2 Original Sin, it plays and feels like a board game during the combat scenes as the focus of the camera pans to other players. SSB and others also use a shared screen setting reminescent of older fighting games.

    But this wasn't always the case. Think Mario Party where it becomes a friendship wreck.
    I doubt the shared screen time and cooperation are related but rather the mechanics of the games themselves and the players' motivations.

    However this doesn't seem to be the main topic anymore.

    If you want to be a genius designer, you will have to incorporate Bartle's model and Nick Yee's research into a game that allows cooperation based on player motivation.

    (For more info on Nick Yee: http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/001298.php?page=2)

    This would mean that you want cooperation while making sure that enough motivations for players overlap and create a positive environment. And to that I say good luck. I think there are too many motivations out there to make it happen but you could always make it so that the outcome of cooperative play is a currency or trade-in object that can reward players according to what they want. WoW failed at this monumentally for instance.

    An aside, if you want cooperation online, disable chat/mic. This is probably the #1 cause of discord within online team games. Journey did so and did well.

    There are also several board games that block you from using some senses; that would also be a good strategy for a coop game. Someone is a nose, the other is the eye, the other is the hand, and so on... now make your way through a maze. Anyways I ramble on...
     
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  21. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Perhaps the way to ensure player motivations align is to make the game very niche -- you filter down to a smaller pool of people who are likely to enjoy the same game for similar reasons. Like Armaholics. Or Squadies. These military nerds are hyper-cooperated, compared to games like COD or R6: Siege. Big part of the reason is the reason they play these games in the first place : they want to believe they are professional badasses. So they all play out the story together.

    And of course there is always difficulty. If playing together makes something that is almost impossible to do alone possible, problem solved. Dark Souls is full of jolly cooperation for this reason.

    A very very niche example is One Hour : One Life. In that game, no matter what you die after one hour, so the only thing to do is cooperate as much as you can with the hope of building towards something special. Really an interesting game -- everybody should check it out. I believe it's Unity made as wlel.
     
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  22. angrypenguin

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    I don't know what you're talking about, and I thought that line of conversation was interesting.

    Most of the couch co-op I have played has been specifically competitive. Furthermore, a fair bit of it has involved people "trash talking" while still being a socially positive experience.

    The main difference I see between that and toxic online behaviour is this: the guys and gals playing the couch co-op already knew each other, and the "trash talk" is a part of their group banter. They wouldn't say the same things to people outside of the group because it would be easy to misinterpret. But within the group it's known, it's accepted, and it's even a part of how they bond. (Note that within a social group trash talk is not just open slather. There are subtle but important rules specific to each group. Understanding and following those rules demonstrates your membership within that group.)

    Then, look at online games. People often do play them with their mates, and often carry on with their "trash talk". But they're not the only people playing the game, so that talk is now exposed to others. I do wonder if a lot of online toxicity has inadvertently grown out of this as a bit of an echo chamber effect:
    • A long time ago things were harmless enough. It was all just friendly banter. Most people knew that, so no big deal... right?
    • Some people don't understand that. To them it's not friendly banter, they take it seriously. They return fire in ways that don't mean to be friendly. Others mistake this for someone else's flavour of friendly banter, so it's never corrected.
    • This carries on as a cycle for... however long it's been. The ante keeps getting upped, with different reasons for different people, but the results being much the same.
    • The people who aren't into trash talk are alienated. They just don't use the public chat channels, effectively being filtered out. Over time, this probably includes some of the people who's tolerance for what constitutes "friendly banter" has been surpassed by what is now normal.
    Obviously there's loads of speculation there, and a very one sided perspective. In reality I don't think that non-trash-talkers have been filtered out in general, but there are plenty of games where I take one look at the chat window and am just not interested in engaging. Public mic channels? Just... not even happening.

    Back to the point... I find it quite likely that when you're playing games face to face with people, the fact that you were able to get face-to-face in a social scenario in the first place already filters out many opportunities for negative interactions. Then, when things do turn sour face-to-face it's quite possible, socially acceptable, and even encouraged, for people to step up and do something about it. But online? Sometimes it's not possible, and often it's frowned upon.

    I think that's two things that developers of online or social games can definitely work on.

    - - -

    Separately, back to points in the OP, I don't know that cooperation vs. competition is a core issue. Looking at board gaming, plenty of board games are highly competitive while players still have positive face-to-face social interaction. By the same token, I've also had plenty of terrible interactions with people in cooperative video games. So while I agree that cooperative vs. competitive could be an influence, I'm far from convinced that it's at the core of the issue.
     
  23. Joe-Censored

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    Lots of people form groups of friends, and hang out on voice coms together, and play games for fun. All types of games. I believe the entire premise of this thread to be incorrect.
     
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  24. TenKHoursDev

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    Well the thing is I don't play with friends so I kinda am the butt of online play... wow that had more innuendo than initially intended.
     
  25. Joe-Censored

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    Well that would explain it. Generally if you're playing split screen on an old school SNES, you're doing so with friends. It is the playing with friends part which leads to the playing for fun part, not the details of how multiplayer is implemented.
     
  26. Resin

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    I like the JackBox games for in-person party games, they support a rather large group playing at once using their phones as input devices, and the structure is very informal and works for that type of atmosphere. I know a bunch of people that like over-cooked as an example of co-op in person or in-person/on-line hybrid, though personally I don't like the frenetic pace of it. I find for on-line gaming having a good guild is incredibly helpful, matching sites like the100.io can be helpful in this regard. I would love to see more games that are designed with co-op in mind though I do like having my own screen to play on.
     
  27. Habitablaba

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    Count me among the number who loves overcooked for their couch co-op. Also Crawl is pretty great for it. I do agree that the high speed chaos-inducing pace of both can be a bit off putting. Keep Talking and No One Explodes is also pretty great for local co-op, although the hardware required is a little more than just a switch.
     
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