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volume 1, issue 6

Today in loonygames:

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Guest Editorial:
The Separation of Singleplayer and Multiplayer


By John "Karbon" Vechey



My opinions are my own, they do not in any way reflect the World Opponent Network. If I ever become the president then at that time I might force any ideas I have onto the company so I may live in the role of corporate schmoozing idea killing president. But that's not going to happen. :-)

he difference between the multiplayer game and the singleplayer game is getting larger. In fact it's even getting to the point where gaming companies aren't even bothering with much singleplayer at all. It's getting economically viable to develop an online only game. Or a singleplayer portion so small that its goal is to emulate the multiplayer aspect. Other game development houses are doing the opposite, they are designing games to get your singleplayer experience to a higher degree, to create more realistic AI, better plot and giant worlds.

id software is commonly thought of having started the multiplayer phenomenon with Doom. They knew playing deathmatch was fun, but they didn't realize how big of a hit that it would be. Next came Quake and Quake 2, which brought the ability for players to design their own modifications with QuakeC and. DLLs respectively. Many single and multiplayer games have followed their lead creating games with new graphic and server engines like Unreal or Shogo, or creating new games from preexisting engines like Half-Life or Duke Forever. No matter what though, you can see the focus of these games, the split second action of deathmatch or the mind bogglingly suspenseful singleplayer game.

id has drawn a new line of separation with Quake 3: Arena. They've decided to concentrate practically solely on the multiplayer experience. The singleplayer experience will try to match the experience players will feel online using player likened bots. From a business standpoint this is considered a risky move, but id's known for their ability to stay ahead in the industry, even if that involves taking a few risks. Usually when id takes a risky move other companies will follow. The gaming industry is going to start seeing more games like Quake 3, games that have such a huge line between multiplayer and singleplayer that the singleplayer game is just an emulation of the multiplayer.

Then there's the other aspect the companies that spend most of their development resources honing the singleplayer experience. Where the developers spend as much of their time working on creating an atmosphere more like a movie, with a plot, with action points, with the same sort of suspenseful feeling. Half-life uses the same engine as Quake and Quake 2 but delivers a very different feeling. It's meant to be played alone, in the dark, all by yourself. Both Rainbow Six and Jedi Knight also concentrate on the singleplayer game.

So where does that bring the gaming industry in the future? Some singleplayer games will become so advanced that having a multiplayer part wont make any sense while some multiplayer games will have the singleplayer tacked on, to be a duplicate of the multiplayer experience. Online only games are going to start popping up in boxes and making as much money as other games. That one day multiplayer games will out sell singleplayer games. It's going to get to the point that games will be labeled Singleplayer or Multiplayer. Both types of games will always have the other added on, if not for reasons of marketing and sales only, but the games are going to be mainly one or the other. Labeled, judged and sold as a singleplayer game, or a multiplayer game. That of course, is the future.

- John "Karbon" Vechey is one of the co-creators of ARC, and a game technologies developer for the World Opponent Network.


Credits: Guest Editorial logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. More Creative at Second Glance is © 1998 John Vechey. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, golddarnit.