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5:12 PM on 04.28.2011

How I believe MP games should be done PT1

Online multiplayer. Some people love it,and thats all they do. Others hate it, and won't touch it to save their life. Me, I love it to death if it compliments the SP in a game. I do believe that some games should only one or the other. But this is how I plan on fixing multiplayer in my games.

I'm going to be using a fictional title, one that has this premise. It is a 64 player per server title, and the game is persistant. The game world is 40 square miles, and it doesn't matter what system it would be running on. The game has alot of nooks and crannies that you can explore and find neat things in. The world has all kinds of objectives to complete, solo or as a team. You fight for control of places and items that at the end of a 24hr cycle the winner is announced.


The biggest thing is the fact that there are three factions when playing online. The Team players who work with each other to complete goals, Lone wolves who might or might not complete goals that are set by the game, and the douches. The douches will probably always be douches, but the lone wolves can be helpful in ways that game designers haven't figured out yet. I think though, we need to have an ingame system for communication with the larger community other than just the players that we are on the server with.

What I would like to see is the ability to report the douchebags in the game, and then have them be reported by several players so it's not just one person with a beef. Then once the report is done, an admin will come into the server, either as a player or observer and watch the behavior of the reported player to see if the report was justified. If so, an instant decision maybe made, either banning for a set time or a written warning by the devs. If you get two written warnings in a months period you will be banned for a certain amount of time.

The other thing is having the ability to connect to the forums or a feedback system in game. I would love it if gamers could be able to report issues that happen as they occur with snapshot of the gamestate at the time of occurence. this will allow us to debug or patch widespread problems easier.

Gameplay mechanics

A) Making the maps the right size.
One of the things that I hate about most titles is that the map sizes feel wrong, no matter how the devs want you to play. For example, COD:BO has alot of small maps. I have not played the title since the first two months it was out, but I know that alot of the maps, especially Nuketown were too damn small even for the 12 players the game is limited at. Wow. It was just wrong on how small it was. On the other hand, Fuel was too damn big to play on, because the 12 players were usually lost and trying to find the enemy more than actually playing. I know that the map didn't come into rotation that much, but if your going to have a large map, atleast make it where it comes up more often than a random choice.

If you want to have large maps and smaller urban style ones in your game, you will need to have a good sense of scale to give the player. You dont need to make your map so massive that the player feels like an ant, but dont make the player feel bigger than normal either. Battlefield has always been a series that the sense of scale from open world map to urban/close quarter combat feels right. I think the reason for this is the sense of scale presented visually, and gameplay mechanic wise. when you climb into a vehicle, either jet or hummer or what not, you feel as if your driving said vehicle, and your sense of scale changes. You climb a ladder, and the amount of time it takes is realistic, your weapons interact with the world in a realistic way (especially in battlefield 3 videos). You can feel the world around you as you play, even in boring maps.

By giving the player a sense of scale, he can then learn the weapons much better. I cannot tell you how often I have fired a gun in a game that I know in the real world has the reach of a god, but in the game, they changed the specs to make it fit the level sizes. I hate firing say an M16 knowing damn well that the current real models are accurate up to 300 meters or more, depending on the shooter. So when there is bullet drop at less than 200 meters, its bullshit. What the fuck?

B) Giving a sense of physical existence
By giving the player the ability the sense of realistic movement, kinetics, and mass, you can have a better experience also. If you were to play a platformer without the ability to feel visually the mass and momentum of the onscreen character, you feel off. Why should this be any different in an FPS? By making the player feel the physicality of the avatar they are using, they can then have a sense of being in the world a bit better, making the immersion real. I never feel as if I am in the game world, but more of a camera in the world with a gun. I would love to have a sense of mass and momentum going from running to stopping, climbing objects, and moving objects.

Something that games do is limit the player and the interactions with the world around them. This is done by either not allowing them to interact with objects in the level or world that you could in real life. For example, if your near a stack of crates or boxes that are waist high or even higher, you can climb them in the real world. In MP games, it seems that almost anything that is waist high or higher is unable to be climbed. WHAT THE FUCK? I'm sorry, but if there is a pile of barrels or junk that is in a corner of a large room, I would like to be able to climb it and use it as a hiding spot. Why can't I do this in games? Is it because they couldn't seal the levels correctly? Laziness? It would break their vision of the game and how its "supposed" to be played?!

I would like to see anything that is climbable by a 5'10" person in the real world, climbable in a game world. It would open up so many gameplay options for ambushes and tactics. If it would break the game play style you want for your game... Your just being a douche.

Something else that I would love to see is you to be able to interact with objects in the world. I would love to see doors that could be open and closed at will, by the player. If you have a desctructible environment, it'll be pointless, but you could do it. Or even just debris in the world like trash, bottles, shoes. I would love to be able to pick them up and throw them as distractions or traps. I want to make people have to think about that shoe, was it there, or did someone drop it there. If you can make the player feel as if he has to keep his eyes open, you can then have them pay more attention to the work and details that were put into the game.

C) Make the maps with gameplay styles in mind.
If your going to do a "sniper" map, make it a damn sniper map. I feel that if we can have a set of maps to choose from that are scaled correctly, we can make open map lovers and CQC lovers happy. I would ship a title with seven CQC maps and seven open maps that allow for CQC and long range combat. For example: You can have a large open map that allows for realistic sniping and long range fire from mounted, chain, and AA guns without sacrificing the CQC that the closed, smaller maps allow. by placing objectives near/in an close quarters area. This has been done constantly, but this makes sense. If your trying to force the players to have close quarters combat at some point, you need to force it. If you don't want to force CQC, don't! Look at "A bridge too far" from the Console versions of Battlefield 2, it had the ability to do an open world environment and really intense CQC combat. If you remember it, it even had the ability to get on sky scrapers to effectively snipe until you ended up getting caught. I loved this map, because of how perfect it was combat wise.

The way to make a perfect sniper map in my opinion is to separate the two sides, with no chance of CQC at all. If you were to have both sides separated by a natural canyon, river, or other environmental block without it being bullshit, it would be perfect. But how to effectively do so without having to suspend disbelief too much? You could use any form of natural disaster, from earthquakes to a lava flow. I would love to have a level layout like this:

LEGEND: Black - Buildings that you can snipe in an ontop of. RED - Lava/Environmental hazard Green-Land.

Now, on my really, really crude map, the scale would be about every inch would equal about .5 miles. The player size would be 64 players, 32 per side, so if every building held atleast 3 people per building, you would then have more than enough to cover each other. Now, in my perfect game, the sun would be moving at a realistic speed, so if you were on the western side, and the sun was rising, you would have to worry eventually about having the sun reflect off of your scope, unless you were using an electronic one that used an LCD screen. This is clearly a TDM map, but I would use this as a perfect example of giving the player a sense of scale. If even just four to five of the buildings were 10 stories apiece with full or mostly fully explorable areas, you have the makings for an intense sniper map. When making a sniper map, you need to have the players be able to locate targets without having to guess where the hell the enemies are.

Now, this comes to something else that pisses me off in MP games. Why the fuck would you have a god damned name tag floating above your enemies head? I hate nothing more than some asshole seeing my Gamertag and killing my ass because the game gave my position away because of this. If you seriously want to have a realistic or even semi-realistic online experience you need to remove the name tags above your avatars fucking head.

This is how I would make a CQC map:

LEGEND GREY- Ground, BLACK - Buildings/world objects RED-Control points

Scale would be maybe 300 - 400 feet per inch, imagine Faleva from MW2 only a bit bigger.

Now on this crude map, the black areas are all open to exploration and hiding in. But while in the buildings you have the usual debris that offices, houses, and stores would have. Now, within this environment, I would place the capable zones in places that were both hard and simple to attack and defend. If you have the cap zones surrounded by buildings or objects that are higher than the zone, attacking would be difficult depending on where the opposing side decided to defend. If it was me, the zone in the lower left with the wide open areas I would post one to two guys behind each building, facing out. This way you could have them be looking outward to protect the cap. But another person might have them all facing towards the east, or even north with one or two posted east. Attacking is simple if your opponents were facing in one cardinal direction, you ambush from the behind. But these are tactics we all use.

But the biggest problem is weapons sometimes, and not the map size or sense of scale.

D) Make your guns real or arcade like, but alert the player before they hop online.
If you make a FPS, you need to make several choices that will affect how your guns work. The first thing that you need to do is decide if your going for simulation, realistic, or arcade. You can have a blend of them, but mostly its either simulation/realism or realistic/arcade. To me arcade is more like COD, Quake, and other faster paced shooters. Crysis 2 is an odd duck because it tries to be realistic with arcade like features. I have not unlocked the Hardcore modes yet, nor do i know if people play them.

But this is the number one rule: YOU NEED TO INFORM YOUR PLAYERS WHAT ONLINE PLAY WILL BE LIKE. You can have a COD experience with a Hardcore mode, and I honestly prefer Hardcore over any other type because it is close to realism when it comes to damage detection. But the gunplay is still crazy and off balance.

If your going for realism, your sense of scale needs to be spot on. If your going for the more arcade style shooter like COD, you can tinker with the ballistics a little more. Balancing real world weapons and what players expect is a hard thing to do. Look at the Uzi, the real gun is very accurate and NOT pray and spray. In games, players expect it to P&S and not be very accurate nor powerful. I prefer the real version of the gun, especially after playing Far Cry 2 on the 360. The gun was a beast, but ever since then, I cannot use a Uzi in a game that doesn't depict it in a realistic manner.

So, when it comes to sniper rifles, I honestly believe that the online matches need to be based on what a real world player be doing with a sniper rifle first, then the mid-long range, then CQC combat. For example:

If your going to have guns that are mostly mid to close range, I would remove the ability to use a sniper rifle in that map. By removing the sniper, you remove the frustration for the player. It seems like a dick move, but by forcing the players to make a tougher choice, the combat will be more intense.

Explosions and grenades need to be configured for scale also. I cannot stress this problem enough. I am sick of having a grenade of mine go off maybe less than four feet from someone and it not harm nor kill them. Real frag grenades have a blast radius of at least 10 to 15 feet for the explosion/air compression alone. This doesn't even factor in the shrapnel of the grenade. I would love to have a realistic frag grenade that has shrapnel accounted for. Yes, a grenade that has shrapnel would be difficult to code, much less track the damage models in an online match, but it would neat.

Flashbangs, smoke and stun grenades to be more realistic, especially smoke effects from the weapons, grenades, and world objects.

When have you seen smoke dissapte quickly with no wind or even see smoke stay in one area when there is wind? Something that we need to work on is having smoke react correctly. If you have a smoke grenade, you chuck it, and it spends its contents. The smoke depending on the environmental situation has many things it could do. If there is breeze and the player can see visual clues of where it is going/blowing, the smoke should follow said path of the wind. If the area is a still environment, say in a building or a windless area outside, it should linger, and very slowly dissipate. While making the environment difficult to discern shapes, colors, and movement. Now, if the smoke is realistic, a player running or sprinting through the smoke will cause it to move around the player. I would love to see smoke that is interactive with the player. Also, you shouldn't be able to see the outline of a player when near the edge of the smoke, its mostly impossible to see someone until they are through the smoke.

But we might have to wait till the next gen to see this happen.

E) Making the player feel as if they have a role, team based or lone wolves.
If your a lone wolf by choice, you know that you are the one who usually snipes from the edges of the battlefield, or completes objectives on your own. If your a teamer, you know what its like. But this is how I would reward the lone wolves.

The first thing is I would have equipment, items or weapons that don't need to have kill streaks associated with them to give bonuses. For example, if you are a sniper and you prefer being on your own, why not give the player the ability to call in a radar sweep every few minutes for either the whole map, or even a small radius around the player. Anyone who makes a kill during this radar sweep gets themselves and the lone wolf bonuses for XP. Now, if your the type of lone wolf that likes to complete objectives without the hassle of dealing with team mates, I would give that person a slightly higher bonus than a team effort to complete it.

Now, when I say objectives your thinking taking caps, blowing away baddies. This is a list of things that I would love to see happen on a battlefield for objectives. Selectable, team and lone wolf objectives that can be completed in any fashion at your leisure. It could range from killing the entire enemy team atleast once, to capping a certain base by a set time limit. Something else would be having a contest to see who can kill the enemy VIP the fastest.

These objectives need to be easy, but have a good reward system for doing them. This is the next and biggest item I have to talk about. But I have written a long, long blog, so I will continue this tomorrow. Sorry for the abrupt end, but I'm tired and need to think. Please, comment on this if you will, and await part two.   read

12:08 AM on 04.24.2011

Crysis 2 and Gears 3 beta

While playing Cysis 2, i tweeted alot. About how much the game pissed me off, how much Crytek pissed me off. I finished the damn thing two days ago and now... I'm going back in for more. Last night, I was thinking about what the hell was wrong with Crysis 2, and I think Ive figured it out. Cryengine3 or Ce3 is one of the newest engines, and even crytek might not have known how to optimize it for consoles. I know that they focused mostly on the PC game, but... I think they don't know how to code for consoles. If you've never made a console game, how would you know WTF your doing?

Now, while for the last week Ive tried to blog, Ive been thinking. If I can use the Unreal Engine for my first title, and once its published, I think I'm going to seriously look at CE3. Its a good engine, and it looks great. But what I need to know is the costs of using it. will it be cheaper than using Unreal? If so, I think my MP title will be using CE3. My MP title will be a bit different than most on the XBLA platform, but every dev says that. I have some unique ideas on how to make an MP only title that will be accepted by the gaming community as a good alternative to COD, BF, and a few others. Unlocking shit is good, but when it takes forever to do it, it gets tedious and bullshit. One of the tings that I don't like about Crysis 2 online is the insane amount of time it takes to unlock different playmodes and the variants. I dont think I should have to wait to play hardcore more at all, it should be unlocked from the start. I don't care if I get my ass handed to me, I want to play it.

This is a list of things that I would love to do:

1. Make the unlocks quicker, but not neccesarily easier to do. For example, if I have a gun I want ASAP, and I have a weapon unlock, I should be able to use it on it. I can't tell you how many times I wanted even just an easier to use weapon than the shit starting weapons. I can not use a burst fire weapon anymore, I've been too used to full auto because of COD. Single Fire is even worse if the gun isnt a one shot kill.

2. Weapon balancing on the fly without title updates. I understand that even though you playtest the shit out of a game, you will have some people bitch and moan about how this weapon is too weak, this weapon is to powerful. I want to be able to effectively modify weapon and item stats without having to do a title update. If we discover exploits, I want to be able to modify the game on the fly, without having to title update. Another thing Im looking towards implementing is a feedback system in game to us directly, for all titles. If I can have this ability, patches and fixes will be better implemented and easier to find the cause if i can have a snapshot of what went wrong.

3. The ability to prove once and for all that MMOFPS games can work, and be profitable. I want to make an MMOFPS, either as disk based retail or XBLA title. I would prefer disc based because we can pack the shit out of the game with content. But if i can do a small scale one on XBLA, I will.

Now, onto the Gears 3 beta:

I seriously had no interest in Gears 3 at all, until my wife asked me to buy it when it game out so I could finish the story for her. She finds the story great for a console game and wants to see how it ends. That surprised me alot. i figured it was just another action game for her to see me play. But the beta came out, and I've been playing the shit out of it. I love it. Except I cannot for the life of me use the fucking retro lancer at all. Grr.

Thats it for today, but I'll have more stuff to blog about in a bit. gotta get more comfortable.

PS Twittername: Deathzmeasure   read

11:23 PM on 04.17.2011

What we should expect from game devs and publishers

I will be frank here. I am currently working on a game design for an XBLA title that is a bit... Common. As in it has been done before, but I feel it is a great way to introduce our game dev chops to the world. I cannot give any information out yet, but once Im ready to annouce it to the world, you guys here on will be the first to know.

Either way... I have a topic on my mind right now. Title says it all. Here in no particular order is what we should expect from devs and publishers.

1. If your going to make a game that is supposed to be AAA, damn well make it AAA.

Look, I of all people should know what its like to make a game that is supposed to be AAA. If your dev cannot fufill that need or order... Move the fuck on. Release it as a budget title, and make people understand that all the work done on the title was for the best of intentions. IE: Homefront. If Kaos Studios had just a bit more time and skill, Homefront would not be getting the middling reviews from critics and gamers alike. The short SP campaign, the half broke online matches... It all screams freshman outing. To be honest, even though Frontlines was really rough around the edges, it was fun, especially when the MP was chock full of idiots who didn't really know how to play a sandbox MP. :D God i had fun with this and battlefield 2 on the PC\Xbox. gamers didnt know what to try, or much less do for the first six months. :D I on the other hand realized exactly what I could do and not do. :D I took advantage of my imagination and good god was I rewarded for it.
Crysis 2 is another example. I love it and hate it at the same time. I love the fact that we have a Crysis game on consoles... But some of the technical and game play issues I have with the game detract from what could be a badass experience for me. I like the story ok, but I came for the feeling of being badass in the nanosuit. Instead i feel limited and constricted by the engine. Not the controller or the sandbox game... But the engine they used for the game and the suit make it difficult to be the ultimate weapon they want me to be. But the biggest issue I have is the laggy MP. Dedicated servers should not have lag, if much at all. I don't blame Crytek, nor EA. just fucking fix it. I would love to play a match where I dont have to guess if lag killed me or not. Id like textures to load properly. I want a game that doesn't have to be patched on release day to fix anything.

2. If your going to charge full price for a title, make it worth the money 6 months after purchase.

If I have the money to spend on a title, I usually rush and get it launch day. No more. I have to wait for online reviews from real gamers and critics anymore before I rush out and snag something. I don't have the money to buy every game i want, much less brand new. Too many times in the last several years Ive ran out and gotten a game, and bam, two months later its collecting dust on my shelf looking at me like a bad one night stand that got me syphilis. Im sick of buying games and going "Woot, this game kicks ass" or even worse "its meh". God damn that pisses me off, because usually in two months I either love the game still or I hate it to death. Games should be like a good book or movie, where your willing to reinvest time in it months or years after its initial purchase. Instead we gamers are stuck with games that we beat in a few weeks, maybe play the mp a little, and forget about it. This medium of entertainment shouldn't be so damn disposable. Its worse when it comes to xbla titles for me. I purchase the game, play it till im sick of it and literally forget I own it until months... or years later. Then i play it again, and get sick of it.

I guess my biggest bitchery right now is the fact that as gamers, our media is more disposable than others. With game trading we can feel some sense of worth when we get some money for games we dont like. But you shouldnt have to trade games in. You shouldnt feel that the title is worthless after youve beaten it and gotten all the achievements out of it. I want gamers to love and cherish games, to never want to let the game be traded or sold to someone else.

3. If your going to have MP make it worth our time

Well, this is a topic that can send people into frenzies over. To be honest, I love MW2's MP, and still play it occasionally. Black Ops on the other hand... yeah. That whole package can go fuck its self. I'm all for having several games or modes in a box that are well done and not just thrown together. Orange Box was a hell of a deal until i realized just how shitty the Source engine was.

If your going to have MP, especially if your planning on taking on the juggarnauts of the LIVE playlists: MAKE IT FUCKING WORK AND WORTH WHILE. Dont just sit there and think that youll be better than X title because you tell us. Show us with a beta, show us with an MP that is fun and worth while. I want to make a game that is MP only, hell an MMOFPS. But Im not just going to announce it, show some vids and some pics of it in action. I'm going with a beta. To me beta means this: you take the info that you collect and what is given to fix what is broken. if it means another month or two fixing the online portions, you fucking well do it. Betas are for stress testing and testing ideas that you are unsure of if they will work out.

IE: You have a server that supports 64 players at any given time fighting over a mass of land that is roughly 30 miles squared. There are dozens of control points that lend points to which side controls it. The match is literally who has the most points after 24 hours of playing. There is a mountain section that people keep getting stuck in. Forum and twitter messages inform you of this issue. You should take the map out of rotation for the duration it takes to find the issue. Then you add it back into rotation with the fixes in place. This is why I believe beta testing is important, in a public scale. If you have a community that is willing to talk and your willing to listen, you will go far. There is so many online and offline games that need patches and fixes for issues and no one is fixing them. I understand that sometimes the problem is so deeply embedded that you will not find the solution, if ever. If thats the case, tell the players. Tell them your sorry for fucking up and you can't fix it. Then remove the issue if possible with a patch. But dear god, dont fuck it all up because you decided that this, this, and this, are all problems if they arent.

Case in point: Sniper rifles are a big problem with gamers. They love one shot kills, but unless they have it happen to them. I'm sorry, but anything bigger than a 9mm round is going to kill you if you dont have some sort of bulletproof vest or shielding. Even then if you are using a shield like Master Chief or the Nanosuit, the kinetic impact could kill you instantly. What it comes down to for devs is this: make it realistic enough to make gamers happy, but if it's overly realistic, gamers will bitch if they don't expect perfect realism from the game. I will do this in advance: TELL GAMERS WHAT TO EXPECT FROM WEAPONS. If your going to have realistic weapon scripting online, tell them ahead. The second thing that I could do is limit the amount of classes or weapons on the battlefield at any given time.

IE: 96 players per server = 48 per side. 48 players/6 main weapon classes = 8 players per class. Now if you want to be a dick you could limit the snipers to 4 per side. That would be about right or even. If the snipers each had a spotter, that means 8 players that would be taken out of 48. That still leaves roughly 6 classes that you can fill. IE: Assault Rifles, Heavy gunner, Close range combat, Spec\Black ops, Long range, and Support. Any number of the rest can be chosen. Now, to make sniping fair, I would implement either a time limit without kills or a straight up time limit. If you spend 20 mins without a kill or a shot, your booted out and have to choose another class for at least 20 mins or until someone else stops being a sniper. Another idea is to cue up your turn as a sniper with a small countdown timer on the screen or in the class selection menu. But this doesn't resolve the power issue.

If you want to have one shot sniper rifles, go for it. Just enable a player to have a chance to avoid being trashed by a sniper. If you impose a 5 second invulnerability timer, you can possibly resolve the spawn killing issue. Now, some people will bitch and moan that its not fair... But lets be honest. Spawn killing is a cheap and bullshit method of getting kills/score. I love that Battlefield 1943 doesnt give you points for killing people at uncappable spawn points, its damn smart actually. But how to counter act this problem: Make an armor system that can give players a chance to take one hit, maybe drop them into the red zone for health. Then give them the ability to get to cover, penetrable or not. If your game allows for shots to go through cover, let it realistically affect the bullet. If you fire a shot through a quarter inch steel wall or barrier, the bullet is fucked and stopping power is almost gone if its smaller than a .50 cal round. Not to mention ricocheit, or even if the bullet doesnt fragment on impact or puncture. But thats a bit deeper than what I want to get into here.

I have gone off on a wild ass tangent, and I need to make a few closing comments.

All I ask for as a gamer is this: If your gonna do a game, and you promise its gonna be good, don't crap out a shit title for 60$ that I'm not going to keep or play after the initial run through. If you have a MP component for an untested franchise or game, open beta test the shit out of it, and if the MP sucks, fix it ASAP. If you have a game that isn't worth full retail price, find a way to sell it for cheaper.

I know this is a bit disjointed and strange... But welcome to my world!   read

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