Co-Op: Lost Cause?

Personally, I've been saddened by the recent news of Doom III not having Co-op on the PC version of the game (why just X-Box?, stupid ID). When I first played Halo Co-Op on X-Box, I had the best time playing with a partner for a long time. I wouldn't mind seeing more games that had an extra partner or small group possible that offered that little extra (I feel HUGE extra) to the game. I think there is a huge market for this area of gaming (not "Multiplayer", that's been done to death). Doom III Co-Op will be an absolute riot I think. I wish Halo:PC was Co-Op too (*slaps Gearbox's wrist*). I doubt I'll see that soon.

For example: Player A is in room A. Player B in room B. Both players will merge from both rooms into room C. Player B needs to find a switch in Room B that will open a section in Room A for Player A to open both doors in Room A & B to Room C. (Confused yet? [:D])

It promotes teamwork, especially when individual goals are involved. I wish there were more Co-Op games available. [:(]

Any comments? [:p]

bullet21's picture

Yeah, class co-op is fun, i still luv ET as well. It requires a lot more "CO-OP", cos each class plays a specific role. It's a lot better when the game requires actual team work to complete objectives rather than just another extra gun and control to help fragging.

Blitz's picture

Bob: Re a Prince of Persia style (ie. platformerish) game using co-op, it might be interesting to look at the game "Sphynx" which was released recently. I don't think it actually has co-op, but you play alternately the roles of the two main characters, one of which is human and solves normal puzzles, the other is a dead mummy, and helps solve other problems that the other character can't, usually by getting himself killed (or re-killed) in some amusing way i believe. I don't think the two characters ever interact directly. Mind you, the info i have on this game is only from reviews :)
CYer, Blitz

Maitrek's picture

Blitz - Almost like lost vikings maybe???

Blitz's picture

I don't know, i've never played/seen Lost Vikings :)
CYer, Blitz

Kris's picture

Co-Op? Say hello to Nintendo :)

Final Fantasy: CC & Zelda Four Swords. Co-op doesn't come much better than that ;) Steep price (requiring all players have a Gameboy Adv. But worth it...

Daemin's picture

Co-op for a lan would be better though, since everyone is already playing a game then and has their computers with them.

arcane's picture

Sorry for digging up an old topic, but co-op gameplay is something I greatly enjoy. Anyhow, I digress...

I liked the idea of designing the gameplay/level design etc around co-operative play. However, how practical is it? How many players do you design your game for? If it's many (say 4+), you're going to sell few copies of the game - how many people are going to buy a game that requires 4 people to be present in order to play? Conversely, if you make the number small, say 2 people, you're going to frustrate those who want many people to play (as well as those wanting to play the game by themselves).

What about designing the maps to have small differences depending on the number of players? Not going to work - there'd be too much effort for those making the game. The closest solution would be to have AI substitutes for those players not present.

Now to look at things from a different angle. Someone mentioned giving people specific roles, so they each must perform different tasks to accomplish a common goal. This leads to a few problems:

1. The "cool guy" problem. In many of these games, there will be a character that is favoured when compared to the others. Failing that, there will likely be the character that no one wants, but is required to be used in order to accomplish a mission. Careful balancing is required to eliminate this problem, possibly with a combination of AI control, so that no physical player actually has to use this character (if they don't want to...).
2. The boredom problem. Many of these genres have specialised characters with novelty value, but prove to become quite boring. Consider the typical Rainbow Six-style game: A plane has been taken by terrorists, blah blah. There will probably be a team of assault specialists, and an expert sniper. The latter is the novelty role. At first it seems cool and fun, but after sniping the one or two guards patrolling the plane, they're left with nothing to do. Care must be taken in order to ensure that they are left with nothing to do (whilst retaining the correct "feel" of the genre etc.)
3. The one down, all out problem. Assuming we have a number of problems that can only be solved by particular individuals - what do we do if one of them is unable to complete that object (say they're incapacitated)? Ending the mission can be frustrating for the others, and "respawning" of characters can reducing the fairness aspect of the game. The best solution I can see is to make it so the mission can still be accomplished, but with added work.
4. The down and bored problem. This problem doesn't really have anything to do with specific roles, and is more oriented to co-op in general. What do you do when one of the players is killed? Granted, it depends heavily upon the game type, but for many games respawning does not fit in. This leads to the problem whereby a player is left waiting for the others to complete the mission. Having a "pool" of available "lives" for each character can sometimes works, but generally leads to the inevitable problem that was just mentioned. Having a collective pool for all the players leads to problems whereby the poorer players use up all the lives.

Obviously there are many more issues involved with co-operative gameplay, but these were a few that sprung to mind. As much as I love co-operative gameplay, I can't see it becoming too prominent in the near future. There's just too much extra work associated in the development for little (relative) gain. The best compromise that I could imagine would be to design a game for x players, then have those missing ones replaced by AI, with provision for control over this AI.

Just my 2c
- Tim

Maitrek's picture

arcane - I'll let you in on a little secret that I discovered about game design.

There is no 'right or wrong' way to do things.

In fact there are many solutions to your conundrum regarding the number of players in a game. This of course GREATLY depends on the game you are making, but one solution off the top of my head would be that the number of skills that a player has is inversely proportional to the size of the team playing.

quote:. There's just too much extra work associated in the development for little (relative) gain

I'd like to see you quantify that statement, too speculative for my tastes! First of all, how much extra work would it add? It's difficult to say - it depends on how well the tools for making the game have been developed and how scalable the game is. As for the little gain - that's also speculative. Would half-life be anywhere near the big-time seller that it is without Counter-Strike - which is essentially a form of co-operative play. In fact, WAY more people played CS than they finished HL.

Daemin's picture

arcane: I think that's why Serious Sam is such a fun coop lan game, that all the players respawn with weapons, run around really quickly, and just blast things.

Although it'd be a sad day when all other coop games got reduced to this level of gameplay and interaction. We can do much better.

codyalday's picture

Splinter Cell 3 is incorperating well thought out CO - OP games. Give your partner boost to higher regions that can't be possible to make by yourself, now that is cool.

Kris's picture

quote:Originally posted by codyalday

Splinter Cell 3 is incorperating well thought out CO - OP games. Give your partner boost to higher regions that can't be possible to make by yourself, now that is cool.

But old... Zelda Four Swords, whilst not your stealthy shooter game SC3 is, does that & more :) It's the ultimate in co-op, people who're really interested in co-op NEED to check it out.

WiffleCube's picture

Offtopic I know, but I've been a fan of Fallout for years, and only
recently did I hear that Fallout Tactics was actually written by
an Australian team. I am definitely in the right country [:)]