Jodian's Blog

Being an online gamer, specifically one that thrives off the co-op experience with family, it often boggles my mind when I see some games that scream for multiplayer co-op and find them single player only. Somewhere along the development cycle either a single individual or a team got together and said that multiplayer would take too long, or be too difficult, or wouldn't fit the game and us co-operative players are just left holding empty bowls going "Please sir..." A few games that fall into this category, and some brief input on how multiplayer fits their style, are listed here. If you don't care to read the list, skip down;

Subnautica - The whole premise of this game is that you escaped from a doomed ship and ended up on a water planet. While there you get messages from other crash pods indicating there are other survivors, and even some of them mention that multiple people were in their pods. This already sets the lore for multiple people to be in YOUR pod, or found elsewhere around the world (maybe they have their own starting pods). There is really nothing stopping this game from being a shared experience, even the in-depth story would support it. In fact, there's a fairly buggy multiplayer mod that shows the game benefits from a co-op experience.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - This is another game that's setup from the get-go for you to have a cooperative experience. You start in a cart with other characters, on a path to a shared future. Why not allow players to escape the city together, choose their side, and then enter the world? Even if the host is the "Dragonborn" while the others remain support characters, it would still be a major improvement to the game experience. Again, there's a buggy multiplayer mod to show this game benefits from the experience.

Fallout 4 - For this entry, see Skyrim. It's virtually the same thing. Intro that's ripe for sharing with other players, and an open world. One player, likely the host, is the "son" while the other player(s) are support characters. Easy.

The Sims 4 - This goes without saying. For a game that's basically a life simulator to offer only a single-player option, where you control everyone, really doesn't meet with the whole "life simulator" aspect. Again, there is a mod for doing this, but it's fairly buggy and very in-depth to setup.

Now I hear some of you reading this spouting the same old argument I always hear whenever I talk about adding Co-Op to a game that's been developed for single player. It would cost too much. It's too late in development. It would be too much work. To that I say, "bullshit".

First of all, the developers already know their software and have full access to the source code. Thus they can implement multiplayer co-op easier and quicker than all of these hacked multiplayer mods, which work (sorta). Secondly, the fact these co-op mods exist at all is testament to the fact that players want it. Third, developers put out patches all the time so why can't one of those patches include multiplayer content?

Personally I think developers are afraid to admit they made a mistake. They don't consider adding multiplayer co-op because they don't want to admit that they were wrong. Plain and simple. Has nothing to do with the work or an actual business-related decision, because if anything sales would increase and grab those who didn't buy BECAUSE it didn't have multiplayer. So that's the only thing I can come up with. These games, which scream a desire for co-op multiplayer, have none simply because the developers are too prideful to admit their mistake in leaving it out in the first place. Or the developer just doesn't know how, in which case they're simply too proud to admit they need help doing it.

In any case, the argument can be put to bed. We're going to use trial (court of law) logic here and point to one little fact. Let's see John Q Public vs SCS. That's right! The developers of the hit games Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator. For years there had been development on a multiplayer system for Euro Truck Simulator and, while it wasn't perfect, it was very well received. It had it's issues, like not everyone in your convoy could grab the same load so you'd have to plan loads properly to get everyone driving to the same place. But it could be done. There were a few downsides though. There was no way to run your own server, players could easily "troll" other players by crashing into them, and there was no other traffic in the world other than your fellow truck drivers (which made for some boring driving).

Then SCS came in with a bombshell announcement that they would be adding actual co-operative multiplayer to the game itself! As of version 1.14, of both games, you can now have up to 8 players running convoys! Co-operative multiplayer is fully supported including the ability to host your own games, invite only those you want, pick the SAME jobs, and even leave traffic active so you lose nothing from the solo experience! Each driver has their own trucks, own garages, own money, and can hire their own company drivers as well. What an amazing thing!

So, to those companies out there who say "It's too late in development" or "It would be too difficult to go back and add it", I point you to SCS and simply say... "They did it. Why can't you?"

With a long history of gaming behind me, there are quite a few games I love to go back and revisit. You know, those games that stick with you. Some of those games in my past were massive multiplayer games, or MMO's as they're known. While these games had, literally, thousands upon thousands of players I would often play them solo or in a very small group. To me, it was more about the game experience.

Inevitably, MMO's come with one major flaw. Eventually all MMO's get shut down. In my past there were some absolutely amazing games that eventually met that fate. One of the big ones I loves was Earth and Beyond. The galaxy was so amazing to explore and a lot of fun to experience. The Sims Online was a fun social experience that I actually never got to experience as it shut down just before I had the ability to join it. Another of these games was City of Heroes, which was an amazing experience of character customization and hero roleplay. Star Wars Galaxies was yet another game that just blew me away and reached the end of it's life far too soon. All of these games have two things in common. First, they were shut down. Second, they've all been resurrected by server emulation.

Emulation is basically the process of creating a back-end server that can function just like the official servers used to. This is often done by reverse-engineering data that was captured while the official servers were still running. The legality surrounding emulation has always been questionable, but to a gamer like me that doesn't matter. What's more important to someone like me is protecting games of the past from being relegated to oblivion. Every time an emulator is created, one more game is saved from the abyss. That said, emulation comes with it's own dark side.

All of the emulators, for the games I've mentioned, have been kept and held privately by their creators. They push the community to support their single server with donations and that is the limit of what they allow. They don't provide the servers for public use. They don't provide access to the software. Nether you, or I, can run one of these servers. It's as if the corporations are back in operation and the threat of shutdown once again exists. Will these operators make the software public if they don't get their income to keep their server running? Will they do as the corporations did and hold back their server when they shut down? Are these games still doomed to the abyss? Who knows...

I hope and pray that one day these emulator creators, who were so bent on saving these games from the abyss, realize that putting all your eggs in one basket is a very unsafe practice. You'll always have your purists who will continue to return to the "official" server, and donate to the cause, but you don't want that to be the only option there is... I fear for the day when one of my beloved saved games once more vanishes into darkness.

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