NostalGeek

Don’t Hate the Game, Hate the Player

The Curse of Co-Op

Before I get too emotional to control my frustration let me say this: I like multiplayer and co-op like any other person, in fact there are several games in which i missed the lack of a co-op mode and I have been saying with friends for years that some games would be amazing with co-op play.
But what really gets me is that this current trend of focusing on the multi mode, and putting co-op in a game, mostly because it’s trendy and a good box to check out for the powers-that-be, is getting in the way of the actual game and its solo play.

Now let’s not mix apples and oranges. Some games main focus is the online mod and competitive play, mostly involving RTS and FPS. But even those genre do not tend to force co-op down your throat when you are doing the campaign mode.

The reason I am writing this now is because of Resident Evil 5 as you may have guessed. I have always loved the series, I’ve played 1, 2, 3, Code Veronica, Zero, 4… some several times.
I am not a fan of the new, more action-oriented, direction but they remain great games. With the release of RE 5 comes co-op play which is great when you actually use it… but becomes more then an annoyance if you don’t.
Sheva has no clue how to manage inventory, tends to really waste ammo and often gets in your way when you are aiming. Annoying? you bet!
Another game that had badly designed coop gameplay was Lego Batman. Robin would at times almost prevent you from going forward and you would have to plug in a second joypad to make him do what he needed to do.

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Now why would developers implement such broken design choices??
It wasn’t so long ago that the bane of games were parts when you had to protect someone. Remember Emma in Metal Gear Solid 2 (she got what she deserved but still ;)), your sister in Fatal Frame 2 is a useless child as well and there are many more examples.

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Still some games implemented the feature better than other such as Resident Evil 4 and ICO and in some cases the NPCs actually defend themselves and shoot enemies (or whatever might be required of them) but overall it very rarely enhances the game and is something we are glad to be rid of after the sequence is over.

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and now we have those games which basically force a protect mission on you for the whole game which doens’t seem like an adequate game design to me.
Like I said earlier I’m all for co-op but it needs some work and cannot ever be a problem for the solo experience. If a game’s main focus is story and immersion don’t design the whole gameplay around co-op. Or at the very least don’t make game continuation impossible without the partner.
Maybe design the solo campaign so that if there’s only 1 player it is played solo and if someone joins THEN you get the partner. And that partner could either be your friend’s own character for RPG or characters that are already in the game ready to play (like Sheva in RE 5).
Or maybe make the partner someone with a sort of auto-fire feature that doesn’t use ammo (obviously don’t make it overpowered because that could break the game too) so that you don’t have to spend hours moving items in the inventory or realize you are wasting precious ammo.

There are solutions because I know some games that have AI-controlled co-op in games and they work really nicely.
You have the system which lets you control everything the partners do in games like Baldur’s Gate and the recent Dawn of War II. These games feature groups of 4-6 people on average and you can tell each exactly what they should do which results in no frustration since you make the decisions.

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Another option is to have the partners not affect you. In games like Gears of War or Republic Commando you have a tiny group with you and they do their thing, but if they die YOU don’t and you can (depending on the games) either go and revive them right away or have them revive automatically at the next checkpoint. This results in you not becoming frustrated with your peers and creating a brotherhood of equal people.

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I am sure there are other options i am either not aware of or that I can’t remember at the moment. Bur the options do exist. And I will say it again I love co-op play but please please please do not break single player in favor of a feature.

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PS: Will be edited soon to add games that feature coop properly.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | Random Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jeff Kaplan Leaves for a New MMO

1001While the news that Blizzard is working on a new MMO isn’t exactly ‘news’ since rumors have been rempant ever since they posted new job offers for a “new MMO project” about two years ago.

However yesterday we got news that Jeff Kaplan, the lead designer on World of WarCraft, is effectively moving on to this new project. He will still keep an eye on his 11 million subscriber baby though.

No one knows exactly what the new project will be about since Blizzard has denied numerous time that it will be a World of StarCraft, or a project related to Diablo. Now I’d love to see Blizz try their hand at a Sci-Fi themed MMO and the potential battle between Star Wars: The Old Republic and World of StarCraft could be a fun one but aside from another brand new license there are still some old franchise that could fit the bill.

Lost Vikings is the first that pops to mind but I don’t see it and the protagonists would be too similar to the WarCraft Dwarves. One that could be really is Blackthorne, an old awesome game that came out on the PC and 32X. It was modern/futuristic, dark…in essence very different from WoW.

Anyway at this point it’s all wishful thinking so let’s wait and see…

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February 13, 2009 Posted by | Industry News, PC News, Video Game News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Wars: The Old Republic First Video Documentary

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Here is the post from the official website.

LucasArts and BioWare today announced that the first video documentary for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ will be posted on the game’s official website on Friday, December 12. The video gives an overview of the upcoming story-driven massively multiplayer online PC game set in the timeframe of the Star Wars™: Knights of the Old Republic™ franchise and provides the public with its first look at in-game footage

Be sure to check it out tomorrow.

December 11, 2008 Posted by | PC News, Video Game News | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment