Does Online Multiplayer Always Make Sense?

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I got all the respect in the world for Yahtzee. He's such an asset to the gaming world it's ridiculous. But I know, and a lot of other people also know, this article is a pile of dung.

AIs in fighting games are horribly hard to make properly, because the result is always one of the following;

1. The AI has one or more inherent flaws that can be easily abused, thus all you need is to abuse that precise weakness
2. The AI uses every move perfectly and is unbeatable. The exception is if there's a parry option, in which case you can usually figure out the pattern of the AI and beat it every time by parrying all its attacks, turning it into scenario 1.
3. The AI reads your inputs. This is done way too often, and it's annoying as fuck, as the AI is unbeatable.

You need that human factor to add guessing games and reads to the equation.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
and rather than letting the game screech to a halt every time a player drops out, adds a feature that secretly replaces the lost human player with a bot bearing the same name? Because these days we'd be none the wiser.

I'm sure someone else has said this by now, but Smash Bros Brawl already did this.

The only time I noticed the change was when someone I was totally destroying actually started playing decently. Well...He may have just passed the controller to his older brother. That's still a possibility.

Also, I'm all for this kind of thing.

I hate random disconnects, and I hate my match being interrupted. If the game can swap in a bot right on the spot and I don't even know, that's fine by me.

I couldn't finish this article. Here I was, ready for more of Yahtzee's usual thoughtful insight, but this article was just so wrong on so many levels.

I almost exclusively play online multiplayer games. Mostly Left 4 Dead 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Natural Selection 2, as of late. Here's a few reasons for online multiplayer that this article fails to consider:

1. I play with friends. My best friend lives about sixty miles away from me, and it's just not feasible to play local multiplayer together on a daily basis. Online alleviates this.

2. I play with voice chat. Whether with friends or complete strangers, voice chat makes for a completely different experience than playing with bots, especially in these games where communication is so important to success. But even if we didn't need it to win, it's still more fun to joke around.

3. I play on PC, for the most part. Ever try to local multiplayer on PC? It ain't pretty. Depending on the game, players may get stuck with unequal controls (gamepad vs mouse+keyboard) or cramped together on a small keyboard You Don't Know Jack-style. (As an aside, PC + voice chat is a lot more fun than 360 + voice chat, because there's so much less of the 10-14 crowd).

4. Split-screen kills framerates. Ever try local multiplayer on the 360 version of Left 4 Dead 2? It's near unplayable, it's so choppy. A lot of games have this problem, even if not to the same extent. Sometimes, even if local multiplayer is an option, it's still preferable to play online just to avoid this.

Now, that's not to say that online multiplayer is always the best choice. For games like Worms and Mario Kart, half the fun is being right there with your opponent(s). But to just say "it's pointless" because it happens not to be the best in a few hand-picked scenarios is lunacy.

P.S. Thanks

Fuzzed:
I got all the respect in the world for Yahtzee. He's such an asset to the gaming world it's ridiculous. But I know, and a lot of other people also know, this article is a pile of dung.

Gonna have to agree with this.
Yahtzee, I love ya man, but you got to understand this article is ludicrous. Shocking as it may be, some people actually like competition. Knowing you beat another human is far more satisfying (in most cases) than defeating the A.I will ever be.

Well, there is a transitional phase where players go from being totally unskilled, to complete expert. I'm kind of there myself I know some things, but haven't mastered everything.

That said, the point of Online Multiplayer is to compete against other people, without the social dynamics, it's a contest of skill, favoring the "complete expert" level of player who wants to prove their mastery without the issue of terrorizing an opponent. There is also a degree of glory in being able to climb up certain ratings ladders, that you either get or you don't. Of course as I learned the hard way, online multiplayer with fighting games also leads to a lot of douchbaggery where people do things like report everyone who beats them for unsportsmanlike conduct or whatever for payback... which is why I stopped doing them online.

Also remember fighting games have become one of the big E-sports out there, and are one of the generes that is actually working to turn competitive gaming into something more than a bad joke. Players like Justin Wong have gotten reasonably big followings, and there are a number of people who make a living (or just a decent supplemental income) playing these things competitively. Like many sports your not going to get better just by trashing your brother 57 differant ways again and again. Being able to go online, take on so-called experts who are also putting hundreds of hours into these things, and being able to build up huge win streaks and break the huge win streaks of other players doing the same thing is how you practice.

When it comes to online fighters in paticular, I think part of the issue is that it's not really about fun anymore for a large portion of the people who are into them. For those guys who are there for the fun, playing the AI can be enough, as can playing some friends on the couch. The online multiplayer can be seen as directed at the increasing number of people who consider themselves pros, or want to be able to consider themselves pros. If you listen to some of the discussions on say Gamefaqs when new fighters are released, a lot of the people there at least CLAIM to be pros, which says something about the core audience, as does the fact that there are enough people in that audience where they keep
making them. That said, it's not for everyone.

That said when it comes to many kinds of games, including "beat 'em ups", multiplayer modes seem like an excuse to neglext the single player content... recycle the few enviroments you created, throw in multiplayer, call it a done deal and if criticized just claim the single player was never the point of the game. If it's crap multiplayer people will just drop it and your not likely to get quite as much flak since the people who disliked it generally tend to just go on to whatever multiplayer they like instead of spending a lot of time harping (though it does happen).

My eyebrows! My beautiful eyebrows! I just poked my head in, and they're gone!

And we'd all be much better people if, when someone's dad walks in the convention hall and asks why everyone is dressed like Japanese cartoon characters, we didn't actually continue until we had an answer that satisfied him.

Why? If someone's dad doesn't like it, fuck him. What if no answer never satisfies him? Should everyone stop doing something they enjoy because one person's dad doesn't get it?

And what's the deal with the fighting game put-downs. Not every fighting game is casual slop like Super Smash Bros and the recent clone, Sony Smash Bros. I don't enjoy the genre all that much either, but even I can see that people can get incredibly skilled at it.

And again, why does anyone need to make someone's dad (or in more accurate terms, you) satisfied with why they enjoy it before they should continue? I have to agree with many of the other people who have already commented: this article reeks of "Stop liking what I don't like!" and is one of the worst I've read. What's the deal with this shit anyway? First it's "I don't like Mario anymore so it should die" and now it's "I'm tired of people playing multiplayer against humans so they should play bots". If you had something interesting or insightful to say on either subject, that would be one thing, but in both cases you don't. It's just "I don't like it so you stop liking it too!" How about you just stop playing things you don't like and let others enjoy them? Honestly, all the problems in the game industry right now (see yesterday's Jimquistion for a perfect example) and you just keep writing articles about how people shouldn't like what you don't like.

Anyone here played Zwok before? It's a simple little game where you shuffle a character across a 2D landscape, and huck various rocks (bouncy rock, rolling rock, cluster-bomb rock, etc) at the other team. Two teams, 3v3.

The strategy of it came from being... I'm not even sure of the term, I'm going to call it simultaneous turn-based. Each turn you'd have 10 seconds to move, pick your weapon and aim your shot, without being able to see what everyone else was doing. Then everyone moves, then everyone fires, all together.

So if your opponent was a little bit clueless you could run behind them, avoid their forward-facing shot, and pelt a brick into the back of their head, then next turn duck back the other way to avoid the shot they throw backwards and... pelt a second brick into the back of their head again, classic comedy. If your opponent was decidely not clueless, it became a cat and mouse game of trying to guess where your opponent would be next turn while being as unpredictable as possible yourself.

I'm not sure how long ago it's hey-day was, but it was damn good fun. It started out with a chat box, where you could type whatever you wanted (mostly in the non-interactive portions where you were either already committed to your shot, or watching events play out - no sense wasting your movement time). Sometimes though, it would revert to a pre-written list of options... turned out that bots had been quietly added to the game, and they couldn't take part in arbitrary chat.

I think some technical issue, or possibly just declining player numbers (I really don't know how it went down, I'm guessing from what I've seen on forums) made it necessary for the game to go full-bot - every opponent is now an AI, all of the time, and there is no chat at all. It's still sort of fun if you forget that you're not playing against real people, still kinda satisfying to run rings around a "stupid" player, or land a wildly improbable shot, but the heart is gone.

The trash talk, the off-topic chatter, the psych-outs, the congratulations and the grudging respect for or from a worthy opponent. It all made it feel like time spent with friends, or at least with people. When it comes to mechanically playing the game, the bots can do a passable job of it... they're not smart, if you're any good you'll likely win close to every time, but to an untrained eye they're alright. But it's about more than just mechanics - give us the smallest wedge of potential communication or social interaction and it adds a whole extra layer on top of whatever the game happens to be.

I don't know about fighting games, don't play them, but are they really so devoid of communication with other players that no-one would notice if you swapped them out for AI? Maybe that's why I don't play fighting games...

I like fighting with or against other people. Regardless of genre, there is just something thrilling about knowing that prick you just got vengance on is swearing into the mic somewhere, or knowing that guy you just saved from a zombie is actually a person and not just a bit of code. That said, I get where Yhatzee's coming from. I play a lot of UMVC3, and I swear to god, the vast majority of people I fight on there are either tourney-level bastards detemined to make everyone use the same Wesker/Morrigan/Doom combo, or there are more bots then there are humans.

There is one major difference between an AI player and a human: I've never seen an AI competently and consistently juggle an opponent. AI are designed to be beatable and not exploit that system to its fullest, whereas some human players just cannot seemingly lose.

With that said, I too don't see much of a purpose to online multiplayer. yes the human factor is there when playing online, but it is still missing that social element. Yahtzee is right in saying that no crowd and no face time with your opponent makes fighting games loses something. That social charm is lost. I can understand it if your play online to train for tournaments I suppose, but for regular players max level bots and playing offline with friends should be enough.

When it comes to casual friends I don't want to be "that guy" who destroys everyone in some game. I hate "That Guy" because s/he makes the game not fun. Eventually it is down to 2 "that guy"s and everyone else left half an hour ago. Personally when everyone is on the same relative level the game is fun. I may be better than others but I'll still lose or just barely win. When my friend (a "that guy") win 3 matches in a row and possibly has a few perfect victories I tell him he needs to stop. When he plays the game isn't fun. If you have a room full of "that guy" then everyone is on the same relative level and it is fun, but outside of tournaments how often is that going to happen?

If you're at the point where level 10 bots are easy and you don't play in a league, you should probably consider getting a different game.

poiumty:
Super Street Fighter 4 actually used a ranking system that pit you against players of your own skill level. I think it had something to do with button presses per minute. I thought it was a pretty good system.

That isn't how SSFIVs online matchmaking works. It matches people up based on their point totals. Said point totals are generated via some sort of bootleg ELO system. Selecting 'Same' for opponent matches you up with a narrow-ish range of players that are your point total +/- some amount. Selecting 'More Skilled' doesn't work very well as it seems to include the player pool from the 'Same' skill but then also allow for a higher ceiling in players that it will match you up with.

As someone who plays this game online quit a bit I am well aware of its shortcomings. To this end I tend to look at online opponents as training dummies who act in ways that I could possibly program into the actual training dummy. It's all about optimizing ones response to a given action or situation so that when you encounter that offline you'll have a better idea what to do. At this point there (still) aren't enough large communities for everyone to enjoy robust offline competition so a fighting game needs to come with online capabilities to support those who don't live near enough to other players. Any fighting game that's fucked this up in the last few years has been pretty much dead on arrival.

Why do I have the feeling Yatzee just wanted to stir up a shitstorm for his peronal amusement again? It's like his 40k article all over again....

OT:
As many before me said...

-friendslist
-voicechat

Plus there is just more fun in winning knowing somebody loses.

kagecrush:
This is the WORST article from Yahtzee that I've seen to date. Yahtzee yields that he may be ignorant on the topic, but he is the most ignorant person I've ever heard trying to spew some ridiculous nonsense about something he has no right talking about.

I will never watch or read anything from Yahtzee again because this is about the worst thing I've ever read about video games. This is probably the only thing I've ever read that has actually offended me.

Wait, what? What's so offensive about asking for feedback or differing opinions? If you're offended, calm down, take a deep breath, and provide the opposing perspective in a calm, rational manner. ;)

This is what Guild Wars 1 devolved into. You were playing an RPG with things shooting at what you told them to, and sometimes, your team was full of players, sometimes it was NPCs, but you could never tell.

More copies sold. On-line multi-player expands sales base because if anyone wants to play with their friends they have to purchase a copy of the game.

Economics.

Nice bait-and-switch with the edited title, but the content of the article remains really quite silly.

The problem with Yahtzees comparison between an AI and a person is that they actually don't act the same. Unless the game is very specific in what actions can be taken, such as in a turn based game, a computer can not be accurately programmed to simulate human learning. It can be programmed to be capable of learning, however.

Kind of wish I was more qualified to go into the details of the differences, but unfortunately I'm not quite that far yet in my major. The best I can say is that humans are extremely efficient analog systems, while computers are primarily binary systems.

Here I was thinking he was mostly referring to online fighting games, not the more traditional FPS games (as he pointed out in the article), yet I seem to be missing something as everyone is defending the games Yahtzee made a point of excluding. And, for once, I felt like Yahtzee was being entirely sincere, rather than overly sarcastic, for most of the article...minus where he starts wondering if we all exist.

If we talk solely of fighting games, I'm more than biased but I really dislike them and their multiplayer. When it comes down to it, you've either got the faster connection or reflexes (not necessarily skill) to throw the first punch. Once that happens, you've got to pray very, very hard to even get a hit in. I don't understand these games at all. Then again, I don't really understand multiplayer either.

I think the one, main point that multiplayer, as a system, has going for it is the social aspect that it creates, reaching to the very core of who we are as humans. I think MP takes away from what games are, story and gameplay combined to create an interactive medium, but it doesn't entirely detract from it either.

Although, maybe we all are just cogs in the machine...

The idea that playing the CPU is comparable to playing against another person is hillarious.

Anyways, I find that the only useful way to play online for fighting games is to set up a room with other people you know are competent. Ranked isn't really useful for advancement, unless you're just learning a new character, and I personally find it unenjoyable.

Yahtzee's opinion on fighting game online play may be influenced by the fact that the last two fighting games he's reviewed have had crappy netcodes. He's also probably never played any good players.

This is one of the few times I have to say Yahtzee is exactly wrong. AI and human players cannot be compared. They are so different it can hardly be called the same game. Without prior knowledge I could tell within half a round whether I was playing against a computer or a person. Even the highest difficulty AI will have a predictable, mechanical play-style and even the worst human player will have varying tactics and ways to execute them, even if it's just by accident. I've tried training against high-level AI and it helped me not one bit against human players who have imagination and attack variety instead of pre-programmed strategies. Yahtzee should just not talk about online multiplyer. It's not about the socialization. It's about the competition. It's about being better, smarter, and faster than your opponent, and there are many ways to do that beyond what a computer is capable of.

The earlier points made here already sum up the obvious disadvantages of AI, but theres a simpler explanation. The main points of fighting in real life is to see who is the best, to give yourself a challenge. The best way to do that is ranked, competitive ladder tournaments. Players are randomly assigned to fight 1 on 1, the losers get knocked out and then the remaining players are randomly assigned again, until theres only 2 players left.
This is the BEST experience to have, especially with spectators who can watch good players and learn how they fight,
a spectator can also act as a referee.
It's all about competition and the AI in this regards are awfully predictable or if you ramp up the difficulty become psychic & have a unfair advantage over you. Human players have tactics & reveal patterns. Thats the interesting part. You can adapt or die.

If you wish to keep the social aspect then you should try online tag team, where you can play with all 3 of your friends who each take control of a different character! So you can cheer each other on as you TEAM TOGETHER to take on other teams. Thats something revolutionary for the latest Mortal Kombat game, its another example of how online play can not only add challenge to a otherwise predictable or frustrating game, but also have your friends actually help you rather than fight you.

Its along with other PvP games it serves to complement the number 1 element of brawler games: competition.

This is going to fuel my nightmares for a while now, Yahtzee. Geez. Thanks for that.

I think this article was based on a very limited view point, like yahtzee wrote this with the street fighter II arcade cabinet in mind.

Fact of the matter is (at least from my very perspective, all I about fighting games is from watching STAR_'s street fighter 4 commentaries, I never play them myself) that modern fighting games have room for a ton of depth. The fact that playstyles can be radically different from player to player shows you right away why random matchmaking for fighting games makes sense; the same character can be played in different ways, and the better you are at the game the more apparent this becomes. An AI has to purposefully screw up to play any worse than perfectly, that or just make it act perfect but slow it's calculations down.
At the button mashing stage, put someone down at SF4 or soul caliber they might not be able to tell the difference between a bot and a player, but the better they knew the game the easier it would be for them to spot the inorganic way they played. Not saying it wouldn't be possible, but to accurately replicate a human so as to be indistuinguishable, I think the AI would need to be VERY advanced, and be completely re-tooled for every character. That, or program it to learn the same way a human would.

For my fellow escapees, I'd suggest you not be so hard on our good ol' banana friend; He speaks from a place of ignorance, like how I once thought of MOBA games requiring no skill, just knowing the correct strategy and executing. My way of thinking wasn't technically incorrect, just crude and barely scratching surface of the real truth.

"Online" is still pretty much like "the cloud." People still look at it and go "omg so cool."

Even in instances where it does make no difference.

godgravity:

kagecrush:
This is the WORST article from Yahtzee that I've seen to date. Yahtzee yields that he may be ignorant on the topic, but he is the most ignorant person I've ever heard trying to spew some ridiculous nonsense about something he has no right talking about.

I will never watch or read anything from Yahtzee again because this is about the worst thing I've ever read about video games. This is probably the only thing I've ever read that has actually offended me.

Wait, what? What's so offensive about asking for feedback or differing opinions? If you're offended, calm down, take a deep breath, and provide the opposing perspective in a calm, rational manner. ;)

It's a bad article and Yahztee is indeed shockingly ignorant on the topic. Sure, you might get away with switching in an AI for one session, but extensive play would make the change very obvious. You'd figure out highly effective tactics and wonder why no-one else ever used them, or why no-one ever seemed to have a counter, even when you knew they were counterable. You'd wonder why no-one else ever seemed to have any new ideas. You'd figure out really nasty counters to certain tactics and wonder why your opponents continued to use those tactics and never seemed to learn. Then you'd realise they weren't learning, because they weren't human.

And a large part of the attraction of playing humans instead of bots is that humans learn and don't keep falling for the same tricks, make up their own tricks to surprise you, don't inevitably act stupid in certain situations etc. It makes the game interesting. Switch in bots and you lose that.

And no, there aren't AIs that have the sort of learning ability humans do. There are AIs that learn certain kinds of things. There are AIs which can theoretically learn anything but take forever to learn simple concepts that would be obvious to a 5 year old. There are AIs that mimic humans, but have no real grasp of what thet are trying to do. None of these will be convincing in the long run.

The mistake a lot of non-fighting-game-players make is thinking the games are about reaction, when they're about prediction. Scissor-paper-rock with unequal pay-offs. That makes an interesting game. Though, yes, lag renders it kinda moot if it's even noticeable.

Also:
"How long before some slightly unscrupulous developer working on the latest needlessly four-player co-op shooter realises that his connection functionality is completely fucked, and rather than letting the game screech to a halt every time a player drops out, adds a feature that secretly replaces the lost human player with a bot bearing the same name?"
Super Smash Bros. Brawl

In regards to fighting games, the AI has never been up to snuff. Often, the strategy of any fighting game in 1P is to be continuously aggressive until you win. Certain bosses etc can bypass this with un-blockable attacks and perfect block/counters/combos, but even they can be patterned down to "rush them until you win."

Players, however, evolve significantly over time. It isn't long in a Fighting game's lifespan that you play against the same 2-5 in-game characters and must take all of their exploits to mind. Constantly ensuring you play to avoid those 100% death combos that were discovered after a couple of people learned that if they prepare a set-up just right, they'd ensure that you'd never be able to retaliate after getting launched in just the right way.

A fighting game, is a game to be fully mastered. Getting the best set-ups, follow-ups, and back-up plans that ensure the highest chance of success while playing against erratic opponents that respond to you in a split-second, altering their strategy to fit your character or play style. Unfortunately, there are no other games that are one-on-one against the world.

They're tournament games and are best appreciated as a battle of whits between one person and another like chess, checkers, or cards. Certainly you can get an AI to be great at board games with such simple rules, but unless the developer is willing to engage in a sophisticated study, the AI will always be predictable or so good that the average player will find them as frustrating as playing an overqualified genius.

Every person is a new pattern, and hence a unique AI. As such, little needs to be done to make the CPU competitive in arcade or story mode. Therefore, development can be focused on creating a more diverse roster of characters and balancing the existing mechanics to ensure that as many match-ups as possible are both interesting and fun.

Perhaps, Yahtzee, fighting games are too simple? If so, I don't see the issue of demanding that they take strategy to much further levels and add more variety to each character's repertoire at the loss of a large roster. Moves are currently very pre-set and are unfortunately too focused on arcade cabinet controls. Perhaps, as on-line connections get smoother and arcades finally become archaic, fighting games will see an evolution that'll -by contrast- turn the idea of having a squad of on-line shooters into a "Barbaric clashing of indecency and tastelessness."

EDIT: This is the era of Facebook and having multiple jobs to pay the bills. You can't always rely on someone always being there to play a video game with you when you're bored and have no time to finish a lengthy campaign. Online certainly fills those 2 hours of lethargy that are between job 1 and job 2 while the girlfriend is still working her nursing job..

EDIT 2: There are lots of non-competitive fighting games that are just there for huge rosters and stupidly balance-free console-only offline gameplay. As such, I'm particularly excited about Cyberconnect 2's Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-star Battle. THAT would be a funny ZP.

The tears of people who can't understand context in an article are so delicious =P

Guys, chill, I don't fully agree with it, but I understand the point of this article, the part I agree with is that brawlers online, skill is not what measures your worth as a player, I had peaks of latency that get me arse handed on a silver plate on MvC3, and locally I tend to kick ass, except my rival is using amaterasu, but I digress. The thing is, I agree partially with it, but I the part I don't agree with is that latency or any other online shenanigan influences more than actual skill. I agree with having my mateys on me couch next to me is more fun than having an unknown face on, but sometimes, they live in the other side of the Atlantic.

Again, I understand what's the question this ZP is trying to convey, but it all end on personal preferences, I played brawlers online and I don't find them as fun as with me mates on the couch, but I have a hell of a good time with Random coop on BF3, or competitive shooters, and I can't wait to have a zombie game like L4D but playing with a zombie, not an special infected, just a Zombie.

Ha ha this reminds me of Movie Bob's Big Picture about Mass Effect 3 ending, with bunch of bumhurts crying Bob was an ignorant fool... this is just as priceless.

Put 50 top SF players against the best IA you can code, and I guarantee you they will win 90% of the matches.
Fighting games are not only about knowing the counters, but at the top and most important level they are about mindgames and metagame.
And that's not something you can learn by playing against an AI.
Yet.

I suppose the overall question of this ramble is: what is the purpose of an online multiplayer aspect in which the actions (and evidence of actions) of other human players would, in a double blind trial, be completely indistinguishable from those of an AI or random number generator? What is the point when there's no actual socializing or creativity or any other benefit a human player ostensibly adds: no communication, complex tactics or completely unique appearance customization, a la Saint's Row?

I'd go further than that, and ask why AI can't be offered as a valid alternative to any multiplayer mode.

I'm sick and tired of people declaring that AI can never be as good as humans. I've seen it. Unreal Tournament and Perfect Dark pulled it off in complex, 3 dimensional space. If AI can beat world leading chess champions, it can beat you at your piddly little game if given the R&D required. Just because YOU haven't seen it yet doesn't mean it can't be done. Remember that guy in 1870 or whenever who declared 'everything that can be invented has been invented? Yeah. You all sound just like that idiot.

Kenjitsuka:
Hehehe, funny as always.
You know what though? I've always liked good bots way better than humans that I couldn't slap in the face after a match, in shooters too.

My wish: EVERY game with co-op and online multiplay would offer the exact same modes, maps and thus experience with offline bots. It's easy; there's 99% already AI in extremely cut down singleplayer anyway.
Would make playing for a long time much more appealing, even if no community forms and the DAMN publisher drops the servers after a few months.

Completely agree, especially in regards to being able to play the game as long as YOU want to, not as long as the online community wants to/developer the supports online portion of.

This also gives me the perfect opportunity to wheel out this old tireade:

*Humans can be better, but humans also tend to whine, abuse, teamkill, camp, steal vehicles, go lone wolf in a team game, spam chat, go AFK, ragequit, obstruct people, ignore special server rules/limitations etc etc etc. Bots always play properly, without complaint, whenever you want and HOW you want.

*Not everyone has fast internet, and telling them to just get it is pretty narrow minded. Even many that DO have internet prefer bots for the above reason alone.

*5 years down the line most people will move on from a game, and if you really like the game and can't find a group of similar minded people, bots allow you to keep playing for as long as you want. Forever, if you so wish. Personally I look forward to enjoying that luxury with Perfect Dark and Timesplitters.

*Split screen or LAN matches with just a handful of players take on the size of a full server when bots are included. Even if they're lousy bots, theres more action and you're friends take on the role of 'bosses'.

For some modern games like Bad Company 2, bots are a missed opportunity for people to learn how to best use vehicles and weapons in a combat situation. Since there is no offline mode for such games, people are forced to do their experimenting online, causing much frustration to the players around them- especially those that could use the vehicles to much better effect.

Bots allow you to explore an arena at your own pace, checking out the scenery or map layout and shortcuts without getting killed by people out for stat-boosting. In most bot supported games you can even walk around an arena alone, having a look at the architecture you'd otherwise be too busy to notice.

Even if you don't ever use bots, there will always be players that do. There's no excuse to keep them out. Games are full of features some use more than others, and bots are no different.

Let's face it though, of all the multiplayer games, fighting games would be the easiest to disguise AI as a good->expert human player.

But now that I think about it...sports games would probably be easier to do.

It may be the eisiest, but that's all relative... I love playing against other people. Not because I know them (I usually don't), and I don't want to listen to them either.

Against people you bested an actual intelligence, not an artificial one, not what someone programmed as an input-> output months or even years ago. Mind games, anticipation, revenge, unorthodox plays/tactics and you best them because you were better, not because the AI *ahem* artificially *ahem* limited it's reaction time or because it simply didn't have sufficient programming for a particular situation.

No, it doesn't always make sense and in many cases jamming it into a game that shouldn't have it makes for bad multi-player. Then in the sequel they make it all about the multi-player and ruin the single player (I'm looking at YOU Halo and every fps since.)

All I can say is that any game with ANY multiplayer element should have Local Multiplayer... Well, maybe not PC games, since the Keyboard gets crowded easily. Anyone every try to play old DOS games with 2 people?

Also, some sort of Player Vs. AI is good for multiplayer, local or otherwise. It's one of the reasons I liked Perfect Dark more than Goldeneye. 1v1, 2v1, and 1v1v1 weren't as fun as Player vs. AI, or Player+3 AI Vs. Player+3 AI Vs. Player+3 AI (or however many you could have on the N64).

Also, take LoL and DotA. Trying out a "joke" build or an alternate build, or even just trying a champion out in a PvP match could lose the game for your whole team. Having the PvAI allows players to experiment without the fear of losing. That is unless it's 2v5 because some players can't handle a death in a bot game... but I digress.

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