Online Gaming Blues

Online Gaming Blues

When a game mixes solo play with multiplayer co-op, things don't always turn out for the best.

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I know this isn't possible on consoles, but it surprises me that when it comes to taking servers down for PC games the code for the multiplayer portion isn't released so that if there is still some kind of community presence it can maintain itself. Of course, there's probably legal reasons but as long as the fans aren't making a profit off it I can't see why publishers would object.

I'm worried that this will happen to me if I put off playing Dark Souls for too much longer.

I think that, for games like these, developers should be obliged to release a patch after about a year to make the game easy enough to complete single-player.

I think this only really happens on consoles. The typical console gamer will rent a game and blow through it in a few months (or buy it and sell it back afterwards), never touching it for a second playthrough or more multiplayer. This is only strengthened by the fact that console multiplayers have a very limited life because they have company-run servers that need to be maintained. PC gamers, on the other hand, typically keep their games forever, and it shows. Every single ancient multiplayer component I've ever played on a PC game, from a few years old to decades old, has had at least a few lag-free players ready to go.

However, this doesn't make the PC superior--it merely means game developers need to have console play-styles in mind more when they develop their multiplayer. Co-op should be separate and, preferrably, on a split-screen. When it's integrated into the singleplayer, it shouldn't be easier than singleplayer. This was one thing Brink actually got right (besides the crap AI that threw its intended design out the window). Games that rely so heavily on multiplayer to be completed should be advertised very strongly as such, and perhaps even deliberately kept alive with patches and DLC. Players that want a game-enriching multiplayer, like in Demon's Souls, but who don't have enough money to jump on all these games on release, are going to have to accept that it just isn't possible on consoles until developers start accommodating the blow-through-a-game style. Which sucks, because if they don't have the money to jump on all these games, I doubt they can go buy a gaming PC.

Let's put it this way, the ROTWK servers went down over a year ago and you can still find at least one game in progress when you hit Gameranger. Of course, most of the players are from Europe, so peak times are awkward during the week.

I all ways wanted to know this: is there a page where one can propose to play an old game online, something like a forum or chat that you could say "hey, who want to play a 1 vs 1 in Age of Wonders? this saturday 21.00 UTC-03:00"?

There are tons of people who like old games (just look at GOG), we just need a place to come together ^_^.

PD1: I know there is such web for age of empires series, but...... i mean more in general

PD2: is the author refering to demons soul or dark souls????????

Grinnbarr:
I know this isn't possible on consoles, but it surprises me that when it comes to taking servers down for PC games the code for the multiplayer portion isn't released so that if there is still some kind of community presence it can maintain itself. Of course, there's probably legal reasons but as long as the fans aren't making a profit off it I can't see why publishers would object.

Well, those publishers probably want you playing their new titles.

I'm not sure it's impossible on consoles, though.

Zachary Amaranth:

Grinnbarr:
I know this isn't possible on consoles, but it surprises me that when it comes to taking servers down for PC games the code for the multiplayer portion isn't released so that if there is still some kind of community presence it can maintain itself. Of course, there's probably legal reasons but as long as the fans aren't making a profit off it I can't see why publishers would object.

Well, those publishers probably want you playing their new titles.

I'm not sure it's impossible on consoles, though.

The real reason is that, in most cases, the code isn't owned by the games developer. They buy a developers license on one of the game engines which includes the net code.

albino boo:

Zachary Amaranth:

Grinnbarr:
I know this isn't possible on consoles, but it surprises me that when it comes to taking servers down for PC games the code for the multiplayer portion isn't released so that if there is still some kind of community presence it can maintain itself. Of course, there's probably legal reasons but as long as the fans aren't making a profit off it I can't see why publishers would object.

Well, those publishers probably want you playing their new titles.

I'm not sure it's impossible on consoles, though.

The real reason is that, in most cases, the code isn't owned by the games developer. They buy a developers license on one of the game engines which includes the net code.

What would be the legal position of a fan who made a hack to allow a custom built interface/network for their favourite game? Something like forged alliance forever for SupCom is what I'm thinking.

This is, of course, part of the obsession gaming industry has with the new. No other medium is so paranoid about keeping up what is going on right now. You can talk to people about music from a decade ago, movies from the sixties or books from the nineteenth century more easily than you can talk to people about a 2008 game. I always felt this should stop - it's why people equate the gamer subculture with mindless consumerism.

Of course, the devs are to blame too. If you release a game with multiplayer and then fail to keep it interesting enough that people come up to with, you have failed those who bought your game. But then again, this happens because the industry is built in a strange lopsided way so that pretty much only the first month's worth of sales matters, again because of the obsession with the new.

That said, if someone wants to play Quarrel or FUEL with me, I'm all for it.

Jimi Bove:
I think this only really happens on consoles. The typical console gamer will rent a game and blow through it in a few months (or buy it and sell it back afterwards), never touching it for a second playthrough or more multiplayer. .

hahahaha...

what? (I mean seriously?)

anyway...see this is my problem with multiplayer...as soon as it becomes important to the game then that game has a shelf life....

it also preasures you into "buying it ASAP before it dies" not everyone can afford the new releases, and as somone who often takes their time with games its an annoying trend

Vault101:

Jimi Bove:
I think this only really happens on consoles. The typical console gamer will rent a game and blow through it in a few months (or buy it and sell it back afterwards), never touching it for a second playthrough or more multiplayer. .

hahahaha...

what? (I mean seriously?)

anyway...see this is my problem with multiplayer...as soon as it becomes important to the game then that game has a shelf life....

it also preasures you into "buying it ASAP before it dies" not everyone can afford the new releases, and as somone who often takes their time with games its an annoying trend

Yeah, kind of like how LOTR: Conquest died out, though that was probably more due to the fact it was a bad game*

*According to all reports I've seen

The SM seems to think I have an Inkling. What's an Inkling?

Well.. that's certainly one way to combat used game sales.

I've said similar things for a long time now, and to be honest I think this is something that needs to be addressed legally. A game like the mentioned "Castlevania" might be unplayable without other people, but even well past it's prime they are willing to sell you the game knowing damn well that it's basically a lemon now.

I've been of the opinion that game developers should be required by law to make it so any game they sell is playable and enjoyable by the purchuser at any time. This means that if the community is dying they should be required to say intergrate bot support with appropriate and functional AI to simulate other players.

Games that require servers to function should be required to have a trust fund in force to continue the support of the servers and personel to run them indefinatly. Similar to say what a rich guy does for his spoiled kids to make sure they will never have to work. A big pile of money that generates an increasing amount of interest which is in turn able to be drawn on or used for a specific purpose.

I go further on the latter point in saying that anyone who sells digital property should be in a similar situation (STEAM, GoG, etc...) not to mention MMOs. I was there when they took down the "Star Wars Galaxies" servers and there was really no excuse for that other than pure greed. Had they been required to back the game with a trust that would have been a non-issue.

While I enjoyed both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls as an nearly exclusively single player experience, I can see the point the article was making. I do not agree that it's a shell of a game without the online component either. Anyone who has played those games extensively knows that you simply tune out the glowing runes on the ground that give you messages, and ignore blood spots too. I also have to say that nothing is worse than being in a part of the game that is hard and getting attacked by a black phantom.

This is the failings of an online world. A game with an integrated MP component to the main game is just a time bomb. It's gonna go off and people are going to get caught in the blast. For the most part, I won't touch a game like this. The exceptions for me were the Left4Dead franchise... well, that's it really. And that game is still going strong as hell. I have people on my steam friends list that play that game every single day. PC games tend to be aimed (at least the good ones) at the long haul. Console games are ridiculously short lived. What are the odds I am gonna find a functioning online component when I can buy it new for $20? There is little hope.

I don't mind there being an optional online component that will not be available one day. But I cannot purchase a game on a console that has a compulsory online component. That is why I avoided the aforementioned Castlevania game like the plague. It's just a short lived money grab with there being no intention of support in the next few months. What makes it unreasonable is the fact that you do hit a wall without cooperative help from others. This is part of the reason why the propensity for companies to make online games is just ridiculous and destructive.

Kwil:
Well.. that's certainly one way to combat used game sales.

I see it more as a reason not to buy the game at all. There's certainly plenty out there that offers a robust single player experience. Why spend $60 on game that's going to be, essentially, unplayable in a matter of months.

Therumancer:

I go further on the latter point in saying that anyone who sells digital property should be in a similar situation (STEAM, GoG, etc...) not to mention MMOs. I was there when they took down the "Star Wars Galaxies" servers and there was really no excuse for that other than pure greed. Had they been required to back the game with a trust that would have been a non-issue.

To play devil's advocate a bit, when you get basically any online service, you have to agree to this big wall of text. Part of that wall of text says, in short, "we can turn this off whenever we want for whatever reason we come up with."

I certainly understand the anguish of SWG players. Those people were dedicated to that game for years and had large social circles based around it and now it's gone. But, I think we all have to realize that some day all that stuff we have online is gonna be gone. Sooner or later, they will stop supporting it. It's an inevitability. No company is going to write up a EULA that says they'll support the functionality of a game for all eternity.

If you oppose the prospect that the game/whatever will be shut off some day, perhaps it is not something you should get involved in. I didn't get Castlevania HD for the exact reason listed in this article.. I didn't know anyone who played it and I didn't think the player base would last. But, lord knows I've bought plenty of MMOs that are now ghost towns or gone. It's just the way things go. My TV can't display my SNES without me getting some elaborate switcher system to upscale it.... time and technology march forward.

Baresark:
I don't mind there being an optional online component that will not be available one day. But I cannot purchase a game on a console that has a compulsory online component. That is why I avoided the aforementioned Castlevania game like the plague. It's just a short lived money grab with there being no intention of support in the next few months. What makes it unreasonable is the fact that you do hit a wall without cooperative help from others. This is part of the reason why the propensity for companies to make online games is just ridiculous and destructive.

exactally...and its also the reason a game with a "6 hour campagn" is UN-FUCKING-ACCEPTIBLE

its like selling me somthign thats half useless....thats becaue I generally feel that If Im not willing to play full price for it then I dont want it at all (and Im very genrious with what Ill pay full price for)

when are they going to get it through the thick heads..you tack multiplayer on where its not needed, give us somthing thats criminally short and sit their and scratch your heads as to why things arnt going so well...then point ans scream at used games

fucking idiots...the lot of them

The Plunk:
I'm worried that this will happen to me if I put off playing Dark Souls for too much longer.

.

in hignsight I probably shouldnt have got dark souls (but I was too curious to see how hard it really was)

considering the lack of time I have (on top of other titles) the diffuculty of the game and my lack of patience this one will probaby die on me

Grinnbarr:

What would be the legal position of a fan who made a hack to allow a custom built interface/network for their favourite game? Something like forged alliance forever for SupCom is what I'm thinking.

Largely depends on the license terms with regards to mods. So times you can pretty well mod everything, others nothing at all. I used to play guildwars a lot and one point 2-3 years ago some players were talking about making private gvg servers. They approached Izzy, the head dev, on vent one night and he basically said it was a no no. If it was attempted they would hit them a cease notice asap. The reason was that the same net coded is going into GW2 and if you could make a hack server for GW1 you could write hacks for GW2. The decisions are not always about money, its also about protecting the players in future games.

I agree with your analysis entirely. Left 4 Dead multiplayer usually has you playing with a few randoms who just picked up the game yesterday, against a full team of players who have been playing it for years, and just decided to play it that night for shits and giggles.

I remember playing Phantasy Star Online--both episode 1 & 2 for gamecube and Universe--and getting to a part of the game that would practically force you to have online multiplayer support. As anyone with a gamecube can tell you, online multiplayer is hilariously bad and hard to set up. I had the same problem with Universe for the PS2, I just couldn't get the online to work at all. So when I want to make a recipe that requires a material that I can only acquire from online... What do I do? When I want to beat a boss that is impossible unless you have a second player, what do I do?

It sucks that these games with such great campaigns fail because the online community has either died or is lousy to begin with.
Also, if you're going to say "lol, console fag" then don't even respond. The same problems happen on PC, and they happen more frequently too.

I may be social in forums, but you stick me in an MMO & I will do nothing but solo. FTP MMOs are about the only kind of game I can afford to play anymore.

As usual, Caveat Emptor.

I'll buy an MMO. And I know it will die one day.

And I'll buy a single-player game. And I expect to be able to play it forever (I still play Thief fan missions on Win7).

Hybrids won't get my money.

Yet another reason forced co-op is a terrible game mechanic and needs to be done away with.

The best multi-player co-op experiences are either dedicated campaigns alongside solid single player like Halo 1, or optional multi-player with scaling like Diablo or Borderlands.

Another really good mechanic was the timesplitters 3? co-op. If you were single player the other character had an AI but he didn't do any damage and didn't take any damage and the enemy generally ignored him. So he was still there for story purposes but only had an effect if an actual human player jumped in.

Really the solution is for the companies to release the servers for the community to run after a certain period of time. This would allow these games to retain their value at no cost to the company and would maintain a loyal fanbase for sequels or similar games.

But that almost never happens because most publishers have their heads up their asses.

The Plunk:
I'm worried that this will happen to me if I put off playing Dark Souls for too much longer.

Nothing whatsoever, I'd wager.
I'm still getting manhandled by random invaders the moment I turn human.
There's always people around, seeing as the multiplayer is global.
You could be co-oping with some Japanese guy while being invaded by a European.

I think that, for games like these, developers should be obliged to release a patch after about a year to make the game easy enough to complete single-player.

Fuck that.
Games like Dark Souls should never be nerfed.
There needs to be punishingly difficult games out there.

Bosses too difficult for Singleplayer? And you used Harmony of Despair?

Bitch, Peace Walker Custom S Rank.

When I purchase a game that I enjoy, I usually try to unlock all the trophies/achievements/bonus content so that I can consider it "finished". It makes the game more challenging and adds replay value if those additional challenges are well designed.

However, I hate it when a game asks me to :

- "Win 500 games in the Crappy Online Arena"
- "Complete and RATE 50 player-made challenges"
- "Get 10 comments on one of your player-made maps/missions/challenges"
- "Finish the Exclusively Online Coop Campaign"

All of these challenges are impossible to complete if no one is online to compete against or cooperate with, so I'm left with an game that will never be 100% complete. Also, I don't always have the time or will to play with another player consistently throughout the campaign.

The multiplayer in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls is a big asset that will clearly be missed when the player base is gone, but it is not necessary to complete (and enjoy) the game and its challenges. I think that makes it a well designed multiplayer element.

Of course, if the game's main asset is its multiplayer (FPS like Call of Duty and strategy games like Magic: The Gathering), then it's acceptable to have achievements that require online play. After all, if you didn't buy the game when it was at its peak, you probably will not buy it or play it only for it's single player content.

When they are not tacked on as an afterthought, trophies and achievements really can extend a game's life beyond the single playthrough... way better than some crappy online gimmick that will die as soon as the player base loses interest.

Well, two things to add from me.

1. This problem has existed for years. Oddly enough I was commenting on Phantasy Star Online earlier today on another website. The Dreamcast version was the first game with online mp that I ever encountered. Unfortunately at the time I had no way to connect my DC to the internet so I was forced to play the game solo. While it was and is doable, it took me many, many tries just to beat the first boss and I gave up soon after, and never looked at the game again. It really felt the game was crafted in such a way that it required multiple players to have success, but when it was released internet connections were far from robust and the amount of people with access were much less. The problem also followed me to my PSP, after my wife got the game for me as a gift. For that one, I just couldn't find anyone online. Boo.

There's a new PSOnline coming that will be on Vita and PC and have smartphone support as well, which I'm willing to try out. Hopefully players are more numerous and a decent wifi connection at home will equal good times.

2. I completely disagree that Demon's Souls at some point in the future will be a "mere silhouette" of what it is now. Personally, I played the game (and am actually replaying it because my saves were lost to a YLOD on my old PS3 phat) and rarely even think about the mp component. Sure, I read people's messages and even leave some, but I don't feel it has any impact on the game aside from a minor distraction. The game plays just as well without multiplayer and every single boss is defeatable on your own. Sure team up, invasions and seeing other people's ghosts and messages is fun and neat, but by no means is it game defining stuff.

Sylveria:

Therumancer:

I go further on the latter point in saying that anyone who sells digital property should be in a similar situation (STEAM, GoG, etc...) not to mention MMOs. I was there when they took down the "Star Wars Galaxies" servers and there was really no excuse for that other than pure greed. Had they been required to back the game with a trust that would have been a non-issue.

To play devil's advocate a bit, when you get basically any online service, you have to agree to this big wall of text. Part of that wall of text says, in short, "we can turn this off whenever we want for whatever reason we come up with."

I certainly understand the anguish of SWG players. Those people were dedicated to that game for years and had large social circles based around it and now it's gone. But, I think we all have to realize that some day all that stuff we have online is gonna be gone. Sooner or later, they will stop supporting it. It's an inevitability. No company is going to write up a EULA that says they'll support the functionality of a game for all eternity.

If you oppose the prospect that the game/whatever will be shut off some day, perhaps it is not something you should get involved in. I didn't get Castlevania HD for the exact reason listed in this article.. I didn't know anyone who played it and I didn't think the player base would last. But, lord knows I've bought plenty of MMOs that are now ghost towns or gone. It's just the way things go. My TV can't display my SNES without me getting some elaborate switcher system to upscale it.... time and technology march forward.

Yes but as digital technology and virtual property become a bigger and bigger deal things need to change to ensure the continued value of those products, hence the comments about a trust system.

As far as EULAs go, they only stand because nobody has challenged them properly. Most attempts to do so have more or less been directed by idiots. Of course part of the problem is that most lawyers who specialize in such things probably work for game companies or have received enough money to be unable to take cases due to a "conflict of interests", a lot of bis businesses seed lawyers just for that reason.

Strictly speaking the EULA didn't appear until AFTER you paid money for a product and were unable to return the product. As such it was not a binding agreement made as part of the purchusing process, effectively just being text and a button with no meaning. While challenged nobody has yet attacked EULAs on these grounds and if someone did, they would probably win.

This is to say nothing of the language of the EULAs themselves being challenged. Drama aside there are actually laws in force to protect people from predatory contracts. Basically contracts need to be presented in very basic, consise, terms and in many places there are even laws about length, and requiring all relevent documentation to be present and attached to the contract rather than simply mentioned. In cases where a contract by it's very nature is going to be too complicated to fly, notaries are usually brought in to act as witnesses to the signing and the spirit of the contract. While this can be abused (with say people acting as their own notary) the basic idea being that in the case of a dispute the witnesses are brought in to explain their understanding of the agreement. This can limit loopholes and "fine print". No matter what a contract actually says if you can say get 3 out of 4 notaries on a big contract to say they agree with you, there is a good chance your going to win a dispute.

It's not my area of legal expertise but I know a little bit about it. Basically for a video game EULA to be binding you'd need to have someone at say Gamestop hand you a contract as part of the check out process, and you'd probably also need to have a notary or two on staff due to length and complexity.

Now, when it comes to digital purchuses where you sign off on the agreement as you pay that's a little differant, and would be harder to dispute.

At any rate, this is why I'm sort of cheering for the SWG suit it if goes through, the biggest issue there is the money to fight Sony and if they can find a lawyer who picks the right avenue of attack.

I'll also say that I think the whole situation is stupid, which is why I think games of this sort need to be backed by a trust to operate perpetually, and why any kind of digital business or service should be required by law to have such a guarantee behind it. Then it's a non-factor, even if the company decides it's not worth running anymore, the trust keeps it running in case someone decides to break out older hardware and enjoy something they paid for and should be entitled to.

This is mainly what keeps me from playing online. I played Mass Effect 3 multiplayer since it released and enjoyed getting better weapons and characters, but it bothers me that I probably won't be able to play it years down the road.

Demon's Souls is fine without multiplayer. Black Phantom invasions can be exciting, but the game is designed to make you feel afraid and alone regardless of whether or not you're online. As far as Blue Phantoms go, it always felt like a cop out for me. Real men kill demons alone.

I played HoD not 2-3 months ago and found games. Regardless, I think this is a bit of a problem. It reinforces having to buy new games consistently to be able to play with others. Deliberate?

Mmm. Well played. (so goes the last note)

 

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