Hybrid Multiplayer Mess

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In your discussion I see two distinct problems with at least one of them already solved in the article.

Problem 1: games today are expensive, bloated things that cost millions, and take years to make, so by the time any new or hybrid idea hits the mass populace, there's an insane investment already.

Solution: Indy games, per your last paragraph. Instead of skipping right to the big-production number with fireworks, ninjas and monkeys, why not release a small scale version for the iPhone, XBLA or some other cheap market. Put the ideas out there on the cheap, see what kind of reaction you get. Using the "Yahtzee Choose Your Own Survival Horror Adventure Game" game (henceforth YCYOSHAG)as an example, you could make it a single player game, that anyone can DL and play for a few bucks... but switches to multiplayer if someone else with an iphone has the game in range. At which point it acts exactly as you described. Blammo, you've made a single- and multi-player hybrid game. If it's the next "angry birds" you can ramp it up to full scale, complete with a physics engine and jiggle physics.

Extra Credits actually posed an interesting idea on this. Big name AAA-game-producing studios should have their own "indy branch." A small subset of developers that get minor sponsorship, and total creative freedom. It would serve the very purpose mentioned above.

Problem 2: The very concept that EVERY SINGLE game must be this over-weight thing, crushed under the checklist of "gritty? check. brown? check. realistic? check. etc" before it can be taken seriously.

Solution 2: 2 solutions for 2, actually. solution 2-1: Don't. Pretty simple, eh? Hang the "standard" requirements for a game and make something different. It's scary I know, but it can work. Mirror's Edge has been getting some pub lately (or rather, it's potential sequel) and while that game was far from perfect, it did at least prove that a complete deviation from the norm can be met with modest success. Solution 2-2 (in no way related to your current review of two-worlds-too, or to a tutu) Just wait a bit longer. We've already reached the point where graphics are as realistic as they feasibly need to be. I mean, sure, we could start animating each individual hair, but that's just silly. Current gen games on the PS or XBX are as real enough that by the time the next gen of consoles are released, creating rich textured environments with realistic physics engines and all the bells and whistles should be fairly easy.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, this hybrid-concept is exactly what turned me off of the game we're currently whoring around here: Rift.

I played for a couple of weeks in the open beta. On several occasions, I'd be doing the standard MUMORPUGER thing of "kill 10 of these, collect 42 of those" only to come back to town and find it severely over-run with hostile NPCs, usually many many levels above me. All my quest NPCs were dead, I couldn't do a damn thing about it. The absolute nadir of the whole experience was when the NPCs started spawn camping. The enemy AI was literally standing in the graveyard insta-gibbing everyone as they tried to rez and flee for their pitiful lives. It all felt, as Yahtzee would say, like "a legitimized form of griefing." It feels like all the worst things about multiplayer are being forced into even the non-multi-player aspects of the game.

The part that bothered me the most, the game already HAS multiplayer. "World of Warcraft had a dual faction system, therefore everyone else has to." And lo Yahtzee's clairvoyance is truth, and thus Rift has a dual faction system. Admittedly I really didn't get deep enough into the game to know if the battlegrounds were any good (or if Rift had even bothered to change the name) but the presence of 2 factions along with servers marked "PvP" was a pretty good indication that if someone wants to get teabagged while they level, it's an option. And if they don't... HAHA TOO FUCKING BAD.

Formica Archonis:
The balance of power idea between tradition heroes and traditional villains when both are being played by a player is tricky one. Some board games have done it well, like Descent: Journeys in the Dark in which one player is the evil Overlord and up to four players are the heroes. It balances the four buffed-up heroes against the Overlord's fodder monsters quite well. (Does less well with fewer players, though, it's really optimized for a 5 player game.)

That's the most accurate game that I've seen that fits his description, but it's not the only one.

There are a couple of other games, well in particular modes for games, that could also fall into this category. Vampire The Masquerade:Redemption had a mode for multiplayer, featuring a single GM and up to 3 or 4 players. Neverwinter Nights had the DM mode, and could be used within specialty built in universes, creating unique stories. Of course, the games mentioned all have limitations, but people can figure their way around them.

So - a game where one player uses points to populate a randomly generated "Dungeon" with monsters, like for example, Dragons, against which players are pitted... Pray, what would we call such a game?

That's an awesome idea for a game. You'd really have to think about where you move so you don't make the enemy stronger while at the same time you can't styay still for two long or the monsters will find you. That would be a tense and thrilling game to play!

The game Yahtzee described is just like tabletop game called Space Hulk. I am shocked that no one has brought it up yet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Hulk

RTS-ers and FPS-ers are pretty different animals when you get to hard-core levels, look at yahtzee.
any game that tries to put them in a battle like this begs for griefers

No, I'm thinking more in terms of a game where the evil player drops baddies or groups of baddies RTS-style, with short-ish twenty minute matches, like some version of Left 4 Dead where a human player takes the place of the AI Director.

Y'know, there's actually a few little Indie mods like this. Case and point, Zombie Master (Requires Vanilla HL2)


The "insert MP into SP" thing actually has been done decently already, by Napoleon: Total War. Actual choice when you use the drop-in battle, combined with rather bad battle AI actually gave the game quite a bit more replay value.

Edit: that, and do people still remember Battlefield 2 for the Xbox/PS2? It let you swap between allied characters at will by targeting them and hitting the button. That concept is something that probably can be worked on, and possibly be made to also include an RTS overview.

that rts game sounds interesting... i know he said survival horror, that would probably mean limited healing for the lone survivor. what would be the survivors balance to that? much tougher than enemies wouldn't be very scary, so probably short lifespan on mobs. advantage in attack and speed would go to the survivor, so the enemy player would have to use various/mutiple mobs wisely and strategically.

the last thing would be game modes.the two i see working best would be a rush to the end, or a continuous fight. either could be timed to put pressure on both players.

The game he suggests sounds like the Mod called Zombie-Master...
Check it out, it's pretty fun.

what ever happened to yahtzees game? The space one.

If you haven't heard about the indie game Spy Party currently in development it is kinda like what he's talking about. It's a one on one multiplayer game where one person is a spy in a party (obviously) having to do specific tasks while pretending to be in AI. The other player is a sniper who has one bullet to shoot the spy. Both players are playing such a different game that it feels like one player but you always a re aware that at the other end of that laser sight which ever end your on is a real person trying everything they can to be smarter than you are. It creates an an atmosphere of extreme paranoia for both players. The spy worrying about if that last move was to clunky or to direct. The sniper franticly searching for that one mistake and tricking himself into seeing it every where.

Yahtzee's game idea rougly describes Space hulk (WH40k board game. that spawned a few rather unimpressive computer versions in the 90s)
But I always liked the concept, so I wouldn't mind seeing it as a fully fledged, competent computer game. =)

The game idea Yahtzee proposes is very close to Doom: the Boardgame, which itself is clearly influenced by Descent, Space Hulk, and others. Works very, very well as a boardgame, and I imagine with a similar "isometric" viewpoint as Alien Swarm it would work equally well as a video game.

And because the "overlord" in Doom gets points for monsters based on elapsed time rather than player movement, it creates a nice tension for the players -- stay put and heal up, knowing that every moment will make their further progress more difficult, or keep pushing forward and open new areas, getting closer to the finish without a pause for breath.

Hello Yahtzee. I think this is the type of game you're looking for.


Someone start a Facebook campaign for the video game idea proposed at the end there. Facebook's the only way things get done these days.

Actually the game Zombie Master is a bit like this, not completely, but it's similar. I do agree that this idea sounds pretty sweet, and I think it could be better than Zombie Master.



Look at #6. About 3:29.


EDIT: Goddamnit ninja'd.

One player sets up the monsters in the level while the other plays through it?

Sounds like a good use for that Phone to Xbox link up thing they demonstrated a while back. Phone guy places monsters, Xbox guy tries to survive.

Well, Yahtzee, you basically described the concept of boardgames such as "Doom" or "Space Hulk". :)

Sgt. Dante:
You might be interested in trying this half-life 2 mod.


It's called Zombie Master, and it's basically L4D but one player in the lobby is rendomly decided to be the AI Director.

Unfortunately development stopped a few years back but the code is open source so perhaps some budding young development team could take it and work on it some more?

I remember I used to really enjoy this game. Some levels are silly and stupid but some are rather well designed and give both the director and the players a chance. The problem comes in with someone who has played the map a lot and knows all the traps, they have a rather noticeable advantage over others. But even those can be caught off guard.

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