Crossplayer Is the Future

N. Evan Van Zelfden | 7 Sep 2010 12:04
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"I bet a lot of people have had this experience where they have a great idea, nobody believed in them for a while; then they see somebody else doing it," reflects Colantonio. "It's both heartbreaking and fantastic because you go, 'See, I was right!'"

Colantonio still sees producers and business development executives from publishers that passed on The Crossing. Invariably, he reports, they express regret for not signing the title. "It's staying in their memories, right?" he asks. "Whether or not it happened, the demo still exists. It's not wasted time for us. It's one of those projects that was fun to make, and we're still proud of. "


Colantino suggests there may be some hope for The Crossing to see light of day, but cautions that it would take "some effort" to update the game to current standards and get it ready for release.

"I don't know if we'll do that ever. If we do, it will probably be a reboot, [because] that was years ago," says Colantonio, saying the current focus of the company - recently bought by Bethesda - is on the immersive first-person games they specialize in, like Arx Fatalis and Deus Ex.

Colantonio remains a fan of crossplayer: "As a player, I think it's great, and I want to see more of that." He even thinks it should grow to be a required feature for the next great Call of Duty or Halo. "I just like the idea that I'm playing a linear campaign from A to B with scripted challenges and that my enemies are served to me through AIs that could be taken and controlled by a real opponent."

But there's still room for deathmatch, concludes Colantonio, who doesn't predict that all shooters will go crossplayer in the future. "But I think it's going to expand the range of possibilities."

Splash Damage's Wedgwood says that the first time he went online with Modern Warfare 2, there were around 500,000 people playing and cites research from Valve Software that says only 5% of a given audience is actually playing online at any one time. He reckons that tens of millions of buyers will play online at some point, but cautions that adding multiplayer modes to a single player game, just for the sake of capturing the multiplayer audience, is rarely a successful tactic.

"You get that sometimes with single player games that have very, very compelling stories," he says. "And then when you go online it just feels soulless. It doesn't feel like it is part of the same experience."

Crossplayer aims to change that, and could be the next "last frontier" in game development.

N. Evan Van Zelfden is the editor of Interactive Age, a peer-journal printed twice-yearly for an audience of executives, creatives, and decision-makers in the video game industry.

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