Wednesday, March 04, 2009

JOURNALISM RANT + ONLINE COMMUNITY GAME DESIGN

ONE MORE RANT ON GAMES JOURNALISM :)




AND A THOUGHT ON ONLINE COMMUNITY GAME DESIGN:

114 comments:

Archminion said...

I'd like to see Unlim weapon choices dropped- bad design design on those other car combat games I think

Archminion said...

Just to add...

A limit mod to decide a max number of players in any one match.

Freedom's good.

mango said...

speaking out of personal experience from Canada (its relevant because I assume people in the states are more "sue happy")

when an organized news organization misquotes or misrepresents you and you have hard evidence of that (ie. your blog) you could/should sue for defamation of character and or misrepresentation.

Not because you want money, not because you're hoping to destroy the organization, but because when people with some level of public access/power are misusing that opportunity you have to show them that you're not going to stand there and let them get away with it. especially at the level that you are at.

if you have the patience, get a good lawyer and stick it to 'em.

cheers,
Mango

ps. On your topic, I think the more options you give the better, and I don't think it looks badly on the developers if I change options in my host game and then the game sucks... it just looks bad on me. besides, not everyone is into the same thing, and when you get a bunch of your friends together and your all drunk, maybe grenades and swords are really the only two options considering that no one can accurately aim with those smg's after a few drinks (blatant halo reference I know...)

in the end its your call I guess, but I always like having the option to fuck up my own experience.

Anonymous said...

agreed. i think that too much control is given to the host in killzone 2. I really enjoy the "standard" matches in killzone and I'm a little turned off when the host doesn't have faction balancing and custom badges turned on.

MrDaBucket said...

I suggest you look at the "free market w/requirements" online community system that Dylan Jobe and the Warhawk team at Incognito used.
Sony hosts ranked dedicated servers and all players can make their own ranked games as long as they follow certain rules that are used in the official Sony servers. If they wanna change the rules, they can, but it'll just be unranked.


Also, they're lack of lobbies/dumb voting screens is great. Instead Warhawk has pregame that ends when the ranked game rule's requirements are met( ie # of players). Pregame is a great alternative to watching a probably static menut and waiting for others to ready-up.
Their sever management, matchmaking and gamefinding system is also a model most, if not all, online games should mimic.

Dennis said...

I can see what you're trying to achieve in limiting control to the host, so we can have a proper fun game where developers thinks worth for the price we paid for for the game. But at the same time we're paying $10-$60 for a game, shouldn't it be our choices what's fun and what's not?

On another note, I agree with the Killzone multiplayer settings. I have been on a several matches where the game ended really quick because the host forgot to change the limit of kill points for body count. I wished that Guerrilla Games provided more info on the settings (for e.g a small window of all the settings of that specified game).

Digimish said...

HOST CONTROL:

In my opinion, the key like always is to find that right balance between preset, unchangeable options and some modifiers that players can change.

If you're doing the whole ranked/unranked thing, then obviously, the player should only be able to adjust options in unranked.

Otherwise, there are some options that the player should be allowed to change: map, the win conditions, time played, start vote to kick player (any player, not host can start this) - those are all standard and basic.

In a case where the game has guns, letting the host choose what guns are available can be fun, and different from the rest of the game. For example - snipers and shotguns only.

The only reason those modifier options are there is to make the game more fun and enjoyable for the players by offering them a different experience from the standard deathmatch/assassination, etc.

Anonymous said...

I ran into the same exact problem playing killzone 2 yesterday.

Guy said...

I had the exact same experience with killzone the other night. Games were over in under 3 minutes and it was my first time online with killzone and it didn't leave me with a good first impression.

I think you should look at Burnout Paradise's online I played it yesterday and I got so addicted. I don't know if you have heard of or played Paradise online but it is so quick and easy. For example while driving round in single player you can press right on the D-pad 3 times and BAM your in a freeburn with 7 other players no lobby no loading nothing.
The choices your given as a host on it are very simple it's like (car) level limit, type of "burnout"(stuntrun, roadrage or race etc) then you set how you want that burnout to start/finish.
You can create a game in about 30 seconds.
So I really think you should check Burnout Paradise out if your looking for some good online inspiration. Considering it's been out a year and it' still going strong shows a lot.

Anonymous said...

I think that a clear interface for choosing which game you want to join is a big deal. As long as it is clearly shown which options the host has chosen, the user can then make an informed choice of which game will or will not be fun before deciding to join.

hiphopgamer said...

was up David dog i'm loving the videos man as always. Hey david if you have skype add me my skype contact name is HIPHOPGAMER ok when you get some time GOD BLESS and keep the vids coming you keep it real

TrevDogg said...

i like the choices but i hate looking forever to find a room that has the right settings. they need a display screen like R2 that tells u custom settings b4 u join. i LOVE K2 but the biggest mistake they made was not putting a party system. it is very annoying when the servers are full and u cant find a game for u and ur friends and when u do find one it has shitty setting. quite annoying but i really hope GG implements a party system in a future patch. overall K2 is 1 of the most addictive online shooters ever IMO :-P i cant wait for E3 i hope u and ur team announce something this year. i hope a new ps3 twisted metal is in the works ;-)that would be classic, or maybe a hd re-release of twisted metal 2/black. i know many ppl would purchase that off the psn as a DL day ONE. any way great post none the less, i hate gaming journalists(flame war starters) F'n noobs

Bigrhyno said...

I think the freedom for a user to make the game he or she wants online is a good thing. Personally, when I play online I usually stick to the more "standard" modes, but I know people who like to do different things. What I would like is the ability to see what the restrictions, time, etc. are for the game before I go in. I have joined games that when I join I realize this isn't going to be a fun experience, and it could have easily been avoided if the developer added a tab to look at the settings the game that I was about to join had.

grasshopper said...

I love having the option to choose whatever I want in a online game. When you have a friends match its nice to change it up once in a while. I think the safest thing is to give the options under certain circumstances...like have ranked games set up with pretty much zero choices and then unranked do whatever you want.
But nowadays I think you can do whatever you want and if people moan about it pop in a patch.

John Livingston said...

Hey Jaffe, speaking of online gaming, I'd really like to hear your opinion on local vs. online. As a kid growing up with the SNES, N64, etc. I have grown to love local gaming much more than online. Do feel that it's on its way out? Do you like it as much as online?

Thanks! love the blog!

-rallyRAYS- said...

Mr. J,
.... I can see your obvisouly upset about this, but I need to tell ya... i am SO happy to see ya speak out and defend your perspective.

cheers

Toyboxx said...

In regards to gaming journalism -

It's rough to get honest, professional, journalism from the gaming media these days without all the hyperbole and biased comments made by amateur's reporting whatever is happening within the industry. All we want is news, not opinions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In response to online gaming -

The problem I see with online gaming, that quickly is becoming even more boring with each new game that comes out, is the lack of interest with the way developers create the online experience. Whatever happened to the pre-set matches that was found in the Socom series where all the players have to do is enter a game and have fun, avoiding host maps all together? Now that is all replaced by host created/ host advantage maps. There are times where I want to jump into a game and go without any worries.

Killzone 2 is a great example of that where the player jumps into a game and the game type changes after every few minutes or so.

And what kills me the most, literally, with online gaming, is playing with people who constantly use the grenade launcher on small maps. That is my biggest pet peeve. It would be nice if the game would auto-calibrate itself to eliminate projectile weapons according to the map type.

Grayman said...

Too bad about the killzone game having poor settings. I always(played in the beta so i can say always) choose the warzone servers which are easy to pick out on the selection screen. I think that version had something where games with non-defaults coloured yellow. You may want to look at doing something for your game so it is easy to see weird setting games.

Unfortunately some of these issues come from ranking systems. In Killzone a body count game can give everyone more points(2 per kill, then 3 with a badge). In Metal Gear 3 people would play 1 minute timelimit rescue(one life) mode with grenades disabled to rank up. If your game has any rank or unlock system you have to be ready for people to game it.

Most hosting options cannot hurt a game too much if they have sensible values. I am guessing your bodycount problem came from using warzone's settings but turning off the other modes. This would leave body count with a limit designed to be played with 6 other modes in a map.

As long as your game has good defaults and reasonable high/low caps it will not get screwed up by a host. These things should be easily viewable by players if you are using a browser system.

I do not think you are going to be giving hosts the real knobs of the game. In twisted metal 2 you would not let someone turn off the dpad special bar combos(freeze, jump, shield, mine) i assume. The knobs a host should get should be outside your fun knobs and just be the game(team dm, capture the thing) how to pick winners(point limit, time limit), and length(point/time limit). I do not think that type could ruin your game.

I do think you should be careful about autobalancing teams. Killzone does this the wrong way by forcing players to a random faction. The maps are not symmetrical, players get used to shooting one team or another, in public PC games players trade places sometimes if it makes the game more fair, forced random teams ruin pick up games and playing with friends. Letting players choose which team just not letting it get too unbalanced is a better system.

Relin said...

I actually worked for a small "news" site, and ended up leaving in frustration. As far as the EIC and owner were concerned, you don't get paid unless you get hits, and you don't get hits with honest news coverage. Hits come from controversy, including misquotes, misrepresentation or misinformation, and when I tried to fight that, I found myself running headfirst into a brick wall.

As far as online games go, I think the key to successfully letting hosts tweak their matches is to give users, the people just trying to find a fun game to play, an easy way to decide if it's the game for them. In Killzone 2, for example, it's really freakin' easy to get teamkills when it's turned on, and playing in "FF On" matches just ends up pissing me off. If there was a way I could sift through games that have FF turned off, I'd be a happy camper.

On the flip side, too many hosting options makes sorting through matches even more difficult, so if you're gonna give control, limit what can be done. That should make everyone happy.

simon said...

Yea i just looks at the side when scrolling through the server list and make sure that all of the game modes are highlighted
I stay away from "body count" only games, and its a lot more tactical when it isnt too

Gothdom said...

on journalism: I feel that some journalist forgot the number one rule, which is rigor. I mean, I've stopped reading news on the net about games because they're almost all clone articles.

And poorly written. I mean, I don't give a shit about "top 10 reasons this sucks" or "why X is better than Y"... You don't trust me? Most article titles look like that, and almost half of them look like blogs, the other half as spelling errors or misinformation. Nobody bothers to verify their facts anymore. I'm pissed at journalism, these things happen and not only in the gaming department. Also, they're is so many news on some games that spoils the experience, like "Complete video footage of the game" before it comes out. That's just stupid.

On online: David, take 20min, and talk with Dylan Jobe on Warhawk. I tested the game, played to death for 450 hours and while the game is really fun and complete, they did a couple of things wrong, like ranking up takes too many points or some medals are too hard to get.

I know he's busy with his new project, but you have the chance to have worked for Sony, so my guess is you can talk to him much more easily than me. I think you'd find alot of info on online modes and libertty or not with his experience on Warhawk.

Jason said...

First time, long time :)

I think balancing online play comes from what you think the priority is/what you want the customer to experience. IE online is just a bonus to consumers so they can have more fun within that world and with others, or you want your game to be played a highly competitive level. Obviously there are more options within that I was just highlighting the 2 extreme ends of that.

I only play online games because I am incredibly competitive and unfortunately have come to a point where I just can't enjoy single player games anymore. Outside of a few series that I'm still loyal to (Twisted Metal, Final Fantasy) I won't buy a game that doesn't have online competition preferably with some sort of ladder/ranking system.

In the case of my own personal opinions, the game company Blizzard (Starcraft, Warcraft for PC) has done a great job of giving the best of both worlds. There is ladder/ranked play for various types of setup, but also fully customizable games that anyone can join if they wish to. They have chosen to give a lot of power to and fully support the consumer changing things to make a more enjoyable game for them and others.

On the other hand, they make a ridiculous amount of money and could be why they're able to afford so many luxuries but considering their games seem to have a shelf life of 10 years + (in the case of Starcraft) I'd say they're doing something right by the consumer.

It's hard not to write long posts, sorry for the novel but certainly take a look at all the diff online models of what worked and didn't work. I'm sure you'll have a very active community of beta testers that would love to give you their feedback. :)

PsychoRaven said...

You know David I'm glad that you are talking to the community about this.

For me I want a little tweaking of the game settings but nothing that takes forever to set up.

Here's what I want in a game setting wise when it comes to online.

I want a Game room list with connection quality and maybe a small popup that could give me the settings.

When it comes to setting it up I Simply want the ability to set it up as a dedicated server and the ability to kick or ban users. There is nothing I hate more then you get a good game going with people and some asshole comes in and just ruins the game for everyone but because you have no admin privilages you can't kick them out of the game or even ban them if they keep it up. This is honestly a trend I've seen as online gaming on consoles has evolved that I hate. Give the host the right to say who can and can't play.

My only other real requirement is a lobby or a map rotation. There is nothing more annoying then getting a good group of randoms and being able to keep playing with them without having to make a "Party" or other such crap. I think the best example of this is Return to Castle Wolfenstein back in the days. You could join a server. See a lobby as you load in then just play. It would switch to the next map and keep going.

Last request would be to make it use your PSN name and Friends list. I don't want to have to add my friends again just because the game requires it's own list.

Give me those 3 things and I'll be a happy camper.

yannickhill said...

Yes, I think host control, from the point of view of a game experience, is ultimately a bad thing. In my opinion, the same principles that dictate how a single player experience/campaign is crafted should apply to multiplayer design: in a sense, I want the limitations that make a single player campaign focussed and interesting cross over to the multiplayer component.

Anonymous said...

dont they put descriptions the host games cuz that would be the host fault or make it so what ever options the host chooses they show up on the game u choose whether its time limit or kill limit or score limit

Anonymous said...

also i dont like voting i rather have the host choose cut down time

Keith K said...

I like the Warhawk method: The map variant chosen determines most of the variables for the player. You only choose your map playlist and modes, player and point cap.

With the exception of dog fights, there's no "Pistols only", etc, no headshots only, the time limit is always the same unless the score limit is reached. Weapons are always in the same places and they're all available.

mango said...

hey dude, i just came across something that said Paul Jenkins was involved with Twisted metal Black and God of War. IS that true?!!

he's like my fav comic book author.... how cool is it that you got to work with him?!!

lb003g0676 said...

Amount of options doesn't matter at all.

Look at Horde for example. I didn't pertsonally enjoy it, but it's clever right? It's fun for the majority of people.

You win't get 'dinged' for it in a review, if no matter what, that online element is fun.

Perhaps if you think getting rid of that control is a good idea, make something else about the online system distinctively different, perhaps the lobby system.

That way there is no paradigms for reviewers to unfairly knock it, and you can focus purely on how fun and functional the system is.

xx21xx said...

Online Gaming - Host Control

Jaffe, do yourself a favor and everyone that is going to play your new game a favor and do your best to copy/improve the best in the business. I am of course talking about Halo 3.

Regardless or whether your a Halo hater or not there is no denying the numbers. People keep coming back, and back and back. Yes the gameplay is top notch, but without an amazing online matchmaking system people would just move on.

Matchmaking controlled by ESP should be the primary focus. You should also include the option for users to create Custom games (these are invite only, not joinable via the larger network).

If you haven't spent hours and hours playing Halo 3 for research already, seriously, go play online. It simply has the best Online component of any game ever made. I promise I am not just some Halo fanboy, I am on your blog so you must recognize that.

There are of course some improvements that could be made to the Halo 3 system but if you can even get close to replicating it then you will deliver a much better online experience than most developers do.

There is no shame in copying the best.

xx21xx said...

Me again...

I forgot to mention the single most important feature that you MUST include. A very quick way to Mute another player or the ability to choose who you want to hear. Check out the Halo 3 settings, you can mute someone in two button presses or you can just avoid other players you don't want to hear altogether by selecting "Team and Party Chat."

This is the single greatest advancement in online play in years. I am dead serious. It is amazing how quickly one person can ruin a game experience.

F1REST0RM said...

On the first video, definitely agree. I went onto G4 for the first time today just because I heard they said something about you and I was interested (I didn't hear anything about the quality of the article to tip me off), and I was quickly reminded of why I stopped going to their site.

It's fucking ridiculous that they get away with this shit, I agree with you completely on that, and I wish I could take back that hit I gave them because that's what keeps them going is visitor traffic. It's really sad the quality of journalism today.

I mean, GamesRadar is like that to a degree, but at least they're fucking honest that their priority is entertaining games articles, and don't pretend to be ultra-professional games journalists. At least with them, you know what you're getting into. But this shit with G4 is ridiculous, I agree with you.

As for the second video, I know what you're getting at, and here's me expressing my opinion that you should absolutely go ahead with it, even take all choice out of it and leave only the general experience of how well the players play and play together to decide things, and let the settings just be what the developer intended for it to be.

I don't play console games online much at all (partly because I have found this problem much more prevalent on consoles), so I can't speak for Killzone or the rest, but on the PC space, I find myself deliberately drifting towards online games that don't allow for that much customization.

For example, my 3 favorite PC online games are Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, and Battlefield 2, all of which leave the settings pretty much set how the designers intended, with only little bits of customization (pretty much only with map size and map order).

On the contrast, I have Halo PC online, which is quite fun I must admit...when we're playing by the rules that Bungie set up for us. Instead, all too often, instead I find myself on a server where they play nothing but Blood Gulch, with sniper rifles, no shields, and people who devote way too much time in their lives to playing the game suddenly have an unfair advantage that ruins the fun factor for the rest of us. Like you said, shitty settings.

Anyway, you can count that as my opinion, and rest assured that if you limit the host's ability to affect the gameplay experience, you just might end up being the first console game I end up seriously playing online. =P

F1REST0RM said...

I went onto G4 for the first time IN A LONG TIME today*

Sorry, saw that when looking back on my post, just wanted to clarify. ;)

Granata said...

I was thinking this same thing about Killzone when I was playing earlier today. The only way to see how the host completely made the game was to join it... and that to me is frustrating if the host set up the game in a way I don't like playing, because then I exit the game and go searching for a new one.

IMO I believe all of the features taken out or put into the game should be shown and the menu screen before you join so you know what it is you will be getting involved with and you will know whether you like it the way it is set up or not going in to the game.

Anonymous said...

David, you are 100% right about journalistic integrity and responsibility. I think your point would be more valid or atleast taken more seriously if you presented it without profanity. It's easy to dismiss what you say based on how you present it, but that shouldn't be the case since you are absolutely correct. I am by no means telling you to change or telling you how to talk to people, but the gaming industry has changed with fanbased journalism hurting the market more than anything. The hardcore gamers that used to help promote a game are now the ones killing them with their fanboy bias. What it needs now more than anything is leaders that can counter the bs with truth. Integrity and honor are gone and professional reviews and magazines have been replaced with the unregulated internet which can do as much harm as good. Do what you think is best, but know the opportunity is there for you to set an example of how things could be.

-Death

ezermb said...

Hey jaffe i totally agree with the whole limited hosting thing. I think that people should play the game that the developers had in mind when they made it, and not change anything. Hey and i love killzone 2 multiplayer,but some people really dont know how to create a game. I would love to play killzone with you sometime add me my psn is ezermb

CleanNJerk101 said...

On the second video I disagree with you half & half David. Even though a host has to much control for match types, weapon load outs, etc, the fact is going into a game all the info you need to know for this host's setting has been laid out for you, the match types amount of people & whether it will be continuous b2b modes etc... Most of this can be said for how developers input variety in many of their online games. What if someone wanted to improve with their secondary weapon(pistol)? Why can't they look for a match type which is "pistols only" as the host set it up? I think there's more depth & better experience in the long run for players when they have diverse selections in their online game.

Btw David God or War 2 OWWNZZ. I haven't got to it enough yet but I beat the first Colossus.

Sam said...

Hey David, glad you spoke out on Killzone 2. IMO the big responsibility the multiplayer game designer has is to protect the majority of players from the minority (be that griefs, jerks, or the host himself as you say). There's nothing that ruins a game for me like having to suffer through childrens' inept host settings. The most fun I've ever had in multiplayer games has been in matchmaking scenarios like Halo or CoD, or with minimal options for the Host (basically, they can start a game, ala Battlefield: Bad Company, and not much else.) DON'T BE AFRAID TO LET YOUR GAME DESIGN STAND ON ITS OWN! The host is the weakest link the multiplayer chain in many games.

Hellhound30 said...

I play alot of games.... alot!! The one thing I love in any video game is the option to do what ever I want. Ulimately with out a doubt I want to be a GOD in that little piece of interactive entertainment. ( I suppose most gamers do..) I want the option to do what ever I want! I want to skip cut-scenes, save anywhere in the game, see something and get it what ever it may be. The more options I have the better. The less, and it really becomes frustrating to me.(example) I never finished a game called DemonStone for the ps2 because it kept forcing me to watch the same old cut-scene death after death....(Hey and thats because I really liked the whole tone of the game. I don't want to be held hostage by any game.... Speaking on that subject in games as of late things have improved a whole heck of alot since the last 5 years....
I haven't had the chance to play Killzone 2 (I thought the first one was pretty good), but I intend to. My experience from playing online is some of those options you're talking about shouldn't be forced on anyone. In Halo 3 you get the option to play custom games where everyone can say yes or no. If I don't like a game I simply just leave. I'll play ranked matches or just go social...
I think the major reason you found that game so fustrating was because of who you are. You're a game designer so in essence you are all about balance. So if you're playing a game that is one sided its going to piss you off. Well thats the way I take it any ways... I'm with you no one should be forced to play games that weren't originaly balanced out by the developer. I think it should be the freedom of the gamer to choose whether or not he/she will allow the host to subject them to new rules on the battlefield.

chad said...

For me it's the kind of choices we are given.Not the depth of choices.Like a 3 min game should not be a option.People normally go online to play more than 3 min.I think bad host options are the problem.Plus some people host to gain the upper hand of the match.Some might make a round with just grenades because they are best at that.Then they slaughter everyone.Like motorstorm 2 I love that game.But people who cant race host the monster truck tracks.Then run over evryone and you don't have a chance.I think a good thing would be able to see the options of the game.So you could see and choose the best game that suits you.But host games to me can be good or bad.A menu guide would be great though. peace Chad

Chad said...

One more thing David.Don't worry about these journalist.They are just trying to climb to the top where you are already at.They would cover a story on dog shit if it got them press.Just some bitches just ignore them.

Anonymous said...

I think that it can be fun to customize a match.....but for the love of GOD don't give people shitty options! (like 2-3 minute MATCHES)give them options that will reflect the game well, but not overly limit their creativity. If that means less "nobs to tweek" then so be it.

Hughes. said...

I do like quite a bit of freedom if I'm hosting, but I also like to be able to clearly see what choices another host has made when deciding to join a match. I don't like it if I have to actually select and enter a lobby just to see what I'm getting into, then have to quit out if they've chosen an hour long deathmatch with only knives available.

Getting booted back to a lobby is a pain in the ass if it happens frequently. Resistance 2 annoys me with this, as no matter what you do, after every game you get dumped back to the front page where you have to set up a brand new game. R2 is great when you're actually playing it, but not being able to chose to immediately play again, or chose another map without 2 sets of long loads was not a smart decision on Insomniac's part.

Map voting is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but just slows things down too much in reality, and in some games will have people abusing each other over voice chat trying to get people to change their vote. I think CoD4 just randomly scrolled maps, which I think worked as well as anything, and kept things from getting stale.

So far I've had pretty positive experiences with KZ2, but I've only chosen the rolling modes, which are pretty similar to Resistance 2's, although there's a longer wait for the next mode to be chosen in KZ2.

I'd agree with a lot of others, that Warhawk offers a great model if your game has combat in quite a large area, you know, if it were something like a Twisted Metal game? *whistles*

thatguy0130 said...

Hey Jaffe
Probably won't make it down this far in reading comments but I think it important to remember that alot of people don't play the games online at all. Not that you haven't thought of that but I personally don't play games online, I prefer the company of someone in the same room that you get with split screen. I understand that I am the minority but just remember us in your game making process.

Roddra said...

The tear between expanded control and 'developer-intended' settings is interesting. Both sides seem to hold entirely valid arguments that are easy to relate. So why not both?

On the surface, to meet the consumers' initial impressions, the best direction would be minimal influence from hosts. Pre-determined settings to show off various mechanics or structures of gameplay would keep the field even.

Players that wanted to take it further, tweak the experience to their liking, would be able to do so as an aside rather than the primary function of multiplayer. The Resistance series would be natural examples; official, experience/ranked related servers were relegated to Insomniac's defined rule set. Players wanting to goof around with single-shot kill capture-the-flag were welcome to do so in lobbies separated for such custom experiences. A useful difference is clearly defined parameters. For whatever reason Guerilla Games didn't see fit to let players see what they were jumping into.

Take the MS Paint and Photoshop analogy I like. The former may provide a (mostly) unified, stream-lined experience for many but to get in-depth options for those that want them, one has to open that other .exe and get their hands dirty. The added complexity is worth the extra complication.

animexplorer said...

Hey there,

I am not sure if it was mentioned before but why dont you look in the MMO market for PS3 platform. in particular Guild Wars model where the world is created of hubs. lets say this project will be called God of War online where gamers can experience Greek Mythology.

GW model allows game developers to keep online free an entertaining plus it will allow you to release frequent updates to the game and keep the community together.

I am pretty sure that fans of GoW 1,2 and myself included would love to see you take over such project.

i am a huge fan of twisted metal and gow and i think it is time for you to make big steps and experiment rather than playing it safe. *thinks of 'that' PSN game*

anyway, keep this blog running, it is interesting and not many devs communicate with general public (lol sounds like prison term).

regarding game journalism - think of it as yellow press where facts are killed with rumours and speculations.

TheHater said...

You should have a close beta for you game David Jaffe. And invite me :)
PSN: TheHater2

Casey Cannon said...

Yes, online option should be limited to whatever really feels fun. I stop playing a lot of games online for that very reason, Halo 3, Gears, TF2 for the 360, they all have settings people can choose to really fuck up the whole experience. I hate 2 minute games, and I REALLY hate 2 hour games, games that last for fucking ever without being challenging. I mean, I love those intense 2-3 hour stand-off games where you're completely "one" with the game and so focused you could snipe the wings off a fly, but 99% of the time, long games are just you wandering aimlessly trying to find somebody to kill.

SonyJunkie said...

Games should have options, but not enough to completely change the game. You guys are making a game to be something you want so if people can go and change the game into something it is not, it could ruin what you guys were aiming for. You guys should make the best online component that you can and give a few options to switch if certain things don't work, like number of players, game modes and things like that, but turning off guns and perks or whatever you have in your game is changing what you guys were aiming for. As long as it is fun, it won't matter what i do.

GOD, I want to be in Game design so bad. I just want to make games.

Arash said...

AMEN Jaffe!
i ahte when i spend more time waiting in the lobby than actually in the game!

TheEggplant said...

Gotta disagree with you on this one David. The amount of options available on TF2 is what keeps that game fresh. Sometimes you're not having any fun but it is so easy to find another server I've never felt it was a problem. Other games might not feature this ease of use, but any game that does as wells gives large options for hosts means I will be playing it for a long time.

Bob said...

Mr. Jaffe,

How about giving lots of controls to the host... but, as the game developer, create recommended pre-sets. Then, optionally, users can choose to only see games using these pre-sets... or, if they're feeling adventurous, they can choose to see any and all.

You can take this a step further by allowing people to vote (maybe even just a simple thumbs up/thumbs down... or maybe it can simply see the number of times people re-play a particular configuration)... and the vote isn't for just a specific host, but for the settings themselves. So, if a particular configuration gets uber-popular, any host which uses these same settings will also have their game be ranked high.

This will still give those who think that "fun" is "relative" controls to do what they want to do... but for the majority, the true art-form can be enjoyed... or if hosts out there come up with a "better" configuration that wasn't build into the game, this can be discovered and everyone wins, and it gives more guidance for the future in terms of what the players are really entertained by.

pao said...

Couldn't you just have chosen a host that was like the previous one you enjoyed? The list is there telling what of games the host has.

Anonymous said...

I've got what I think is quite an elegant solution to the game option problem for hosting MP games - but I myself am a games designer. I need my ace-in-the-hole so to speak so I'm not quite up to sharing at this stage. Will be interesting to see what you come up with though.

maartyrrTMA said...

I'm all about the match making as well like in motorstorm 2 and halo 2/3, this helps group people together of similar skill and it does keep them coming back for more to try and improve and face the next level of competition.

I also agree to ban the unlimited weapons mode (thats IF you are making a new TM) I felt as if that mode took away from tm:black online

i'm a bit iffy about putting in a kick button, i mean that can be abused so easily.

Twisted Metal black and head on gave the host several options to choose from such as what game mode to play, turning on and off the healths and setting how long each player could hold relics for. The things that I hated were some of the matches were set up as the host chose the car for everyone or the 1 weapon mods in which i was stuck using machine guns or AA - to me that wasn't fun.

On a side note, both of those games were easily avoided thanks to the icons displayed when you clicked on the info button- you could easily tell if the game was unlimited weapons or had relics on ect.

I would love to see your game with a ranking system and a clan support and worst comes to worst you can always patch it I guess

greekdude247 said...

I always believed in giving the player as much option as possible without effecting the game. An idea I had is on one side of the lobby, there's user host games. There you can have all the bullshit with mods/grenades-only/ what not. And the other would be the official developer's choice games. Death match with set amounts of kills, spawn placement, etc. That way the player knows what to expect. Going into the player host games they know there's a possibility that some jackass could have made a horrible game (or on the bright side there could be some great stuff). But the main part is you didn't force anything. The player should always know that the developer made games would always be fun. The player host mode is for some variety. Just my thought.

TaZZ said...

I disagree with not giving the consumer more options when hosting games but there are alternatives. For example, make custom games which allow players to host whatever they want and then make ranked matches which already have the settings set-up the way you guys want. Another thing you guys can do is, when a player is searching for a game, have an option which allows the player to see the settings being played before he/she joins.

Mikee said...

I don't think it's bad for a lot options for the host to choose. Personally, I think it sets up for a competitive community. All the options can be changed for league play rules (depending on what ever they are). I think your hinting more to a better server"filter" that would exclude time limits (or what ever you, the gamer, would like to play).

Another possibility is that you can rate the how good of a game the host is actually giving out. This rating could then be posted on the server's name and gamers could get a better understanding.

Overall, I think having all those options is rather interesting. Because maybe someone like yourself (someone who loves warzone) didn't like the match you played but other people might love to play it.

Anonymous said...

As just a casual gamer, I sometimes wonder why i regularly visit Jaffe's blog but video blogs like the first one he just posted remind me why. I'm more interested in his strong opinions and how he says it how it is. haha i got a great laugh outta that post. Jaffe is the man. And he made my favourite video game franchise ever GOW! haha

tdh said...

There's a fine line between too many options and just the right options. I immediately thought of Warhawk when you got to the end of your post. Warhawk has a ton of options.

1) Do you want dog fights?
2) Do you want ground fights?
3) Do you want vehicle fights?
4) Do you want combat bottle necks to keep the fight hectic?
5) Do you want a camping sniper to run a muck?
6) Do you want jetpacks?
7) Do you want NPCs?

The list goes on, and depending on your game play favorites some of the above may not appeal to you, but could to somebody else. I suck in a Warhawk but I'm a force on the ground with a handful of grenades and a machine gun. A friend of mine is a beast in a tank or on the back of a Jeep. I don't like certain maps or game modes with the jetpack as it breaks the map, but another friend loves CTF with jetpacks.

Giving the person hosting the game, and the people joining the game a range of options helps them get to the "last mile." As a developer you made a great game, but you can't make everybody happy. These extra bells & whistles could help you win over everybody else.

Now this applies to a FPS, or a shooter deathmatch like set up, but it may not work in some others. I think ~too~ many options could kill you, but I also feel too few could kill you as well. The challenge is finding that medium that will get people interested in the game, and coming back 6 months down the road because of the fun you're enabling them to have.

It's also a great way to extend the life of a game. You know all to well that the first month (For lack of a more researched figure.) of a game could be all you have. How many games have you bought, enjoyed and then ultimately beat only to never revisit it again? Giving the consumer a way to mix things up could bring them to tell somebody else and bring a new player to your game.

Bob said...

By the way, to those who are saying "the more controls, the better"... I hear you. But, you have to look at this from the viewpoint of "the artist". I enjoy a good paint-by-numbers every now and then, but imagine if Leonardo just drew up some paint-by-numbers "paintings" and left it up to everyone else to color in the spots the way it suits them.

True art is something which is designed to only exist AS the artist intended... and if people don't like it, tough... they don't need to buy it. If people like it, great. If people want to debate about it, wonderful. This is all about what art is.

So, I think where David is coming from, is he feels that by giving more and more control to the player, while it may make more players happy... the original art becomes less "complete", leaving it up to each player to create their own mini-masterpiece whereas the original artwork was more loosely defined.

This is why I think that controls SHOULD be given to the players, but the settings that the artists intended should be pre-defined settings... and if you only want to stick to these ones, there should be a filter to only show hosts using the pre-defined settings. If not, that's great... but at least you know you'll be setting yourself up for possible disappointment... not because the game sucks, but because you chose to venture outside of the developer's canvas, so-to-speak, to play another person's take on the artwork.

On a side note, I still think there should be a simple voting system on hosts that decide to tweak outside of the pre-set configurations... and those configurations which are ranked higher are more widely shown to those willing to venture towards other people's canvasses.

David Doel said...

I agree with you completely Jaffe. And the living example of that is the SOCOM franchise.

In SOCOM 1 & 2, the maps were designed around 1 mode, and you could not play any other mode on that map except for the one it was designed around. In SOCOM 3, Combined Assault, and now Confrontation, they threw away that idea. And those games are not nearly as popular or addicting as SOCOM 1 & 2 were.

That's not to say every shooter needs to be designed like that, but the original formula for SOCOM had each map built for 1 mode, and once that was tampered with, it really changed the entire experience. None of the maps since SOCOM 1 & 2 are as memorable as any of the maps from those first two games, and its for that exact reason.

HairyAsHell said...

I think its ok to give the host a lot of control as long as you give everyone else the option to SEARCH for the right type of game they wanna play. Having said that, it means not only giving control to the host but also those looking for hosts. So in the end, people can setup any game type they like but those who wanna play a specific kind of game (short or long bursts of play) will atleast have the ability to easily find the game type they want.

Then again, as for any multiplayer design, every feature added/removed has its pros and cons. Hope you make the choice you are happy with, Dave! :)

Matt said...

So it seems that the issue of Online play has brought out the arm-chair developer in everybody. Well as a soon to graduate student of Game Art and Design I guess I'm as good a contender as any to throw my hat into the ring. Please humor the ramblings of my syphilitic mind.

One thing I've always wanted to see in a game's multiplayer is direct feedback as to how the game might play out according to the host's settings and current player count. Some simple UI showing a prediction of how long rounds might go, how frantic it might be, how high scoring of a match it'll be etc. etc. would be amazing.

And if this secret project of yours is indeed a sequel one of your less celebrated games ( I of course mean the rumored Mickie Mania II: Pluto's Revenge) a series of bars rating each category on a scale of one to five would fit the already established interface.

KonKat said...

I read the article that you were talking about, and it just isn't made well at all. He goes through the entire and said nothing of any general interest.

As for your online topic.. as you said, I think freedom is good to an extent, but too little customization can have a constricting feel and that isn't good either. Resistance: Fall of Man had a problem with this as well, after about 6 months of being out, all custom games were strictly one hit kill matches, and no body played ranked team matches by that time. So it was either play one hit kills in custom, or play free for all. That was an issue that I didn't like as a gamer, and I just couldn't play online any more after that.

GrYnder said...

Forget that. In many cases, too many choices is a bad thing. If you're going to give host a large amount of tweaks, at least offer an in depth game-search feature or something. I don't want to be thrown in to an online game with crappy settings just because I didn't have the choice to join a game with settings I'd prefer.

Also, as Archminion said, whatever the game you are making is, do not add an unlimited weapons option. It takes away from the experience. Massively.

Other posters are bringing up the Ranked/Unranked game possibility. If you can go this route, DO IT. In most cases I like to play the game as it is intended (ala single player). All game modifiers such as weapon restrictions, health modifications should be limited to unranked mode.

R2D2 said...

Please, don't give to much power to players. Every player has its own preferences. The more options there is, the more disperse the game will be online. Just make sure you have some features that you please everyone, even knowing that hardcore gamers may complain about it. It’s a risk you have to take.

R3XMUND1 said...

TBH I think choice is good.

Killzone has a nifty screen before you enter the game search that allows you to tweak your search to include/exclude the paramters of your choosing.

I found the only drawback was the list of available games being too small cos they were all full.

I did also notice the gimped manner in which friends can join your game... And this is coming from a killzone fanboy.

But seriously choose BEFORE searching then you get no more gimped games. Also some of the titles give away the game style too, just sayin'

Jesper Bylund said...

Great post about community game design David, this might seriously be the most interesting and well presented post on your blog (I've read it for... 2 years I think?).

A great question and a huge problem, it's going to be interesting to see how you solve it!

Good luck

Harlequiine said...

David,

About the press: fuck them. Journalists have never heard of the word opinion, seriously.

About the online game design; I have the exact problem you did online in KZ2, in Australia. The reason the game was so short was becase the host decided they only wanted Body Count, therefore there was no other games like Search and Destroy. One game, then switch level.

Maybe to avoid this problem, players connected to the server for the first time could all vote for certain rules, etc. Might work :)
Otherwise, a tad bit less choice but I still love having a lot of abilities when making a server.

Have a good week.

Archminion said...

I know many ppl want a bigger online presence with 16 players max.

Would it be possible to have different player max parameters depending on the actual size of the map?

I've heard in one of your earlier blogs that you like the smaller more personal 4 player DM's and I can relate with that (hell, I still love 2P split in TM2).

So why not try pleasing everyone by having some of those smaller battles (4-8 players maybe) in smaller more simpler maps. Then have some epic sized maps (TM2 Cyburbia, TMB prison Ship style) for bigger 12-16 player games?

I understand that weapon balancing could be a problem if you have 16 guys constantly leaving the map empty but then put more weapons in those bigger maps...

With so many games these days having 32+ players your new game might seem a little sparse if it happens to only ever support 8 players max.

I wouldn't mind having 16 vehicles/gods tooling around my arenas/temples...

Darren Arquette said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo4hkKO3cNk

Bob said...

For those who are saying "give lots of control and give players filters and search ability to find the game type they want"... while this IS a "solution", it isn't as perfect a solution as it may sound.

Imagine a world of 1000 players. Imagine 10% of the world hosts. So, there are 100 hosts. Imagine this game has only one mode type... one mode type which is the most fun, as dictated by the developers. There are no options or tweaks. All 1000 players will equally have 100 games to choose from.

Now, instead, imagine a complex game with various knobs and switches and controls and tweaks. Imagine that these controls result in 1000 different possible combination. However, 9900 of these combinations are mostly left untouched. Now, we have 100 hosts with 100 different settings types. If each player has their own "favorite" configuration they want to search or filter for, they will each only have 1 host they can find... if they find a host at all.

This is an exaggerated scenario to show the problems imposed by this solution. Create only one mode, and you have tons of choices for hosts. Create many possibilities for the host, and suddenly players are spending lots of time seeking hosts, hoping to find a host that has their own tastes, etc...

This isn't necessarily a problem with the GAME, per se... it's a problem with PEOPLE. Give people control and, unfortunately, they'll USE this control just because they can. Much of the time, you end up with host after host who is just "experimenting" or doing something that is whimsical to them at that moment in their life. Sometimes you get lucky, and it creates a great experience for other players... most of the time, it just turns into a frustrating searching experience for everyone else's whimsical tastes.

Somewhere there is a balance between the two worlds. No controls but, hopefully, just the right kind of game play... or lots of controls but, hopefully, not so many that good hosts are rare at 2am when you just wanna play. This is the struggle of the game developer. On both sides of the spectrum are complaints... somewhere in the middle is the mysterious sweet spot that avoids the two evils as much as possible and provides just the right amount of common ground.

ThrustyNinja said...

I completely agree with you. One of the reasons that COD4 had such a successful online component was because it was easy and quick to get into a match. The fact that all of the ranked matches had the same basic rules and they could not be changed by the host helped ensure that you knew what you were getting into. In most cases you never even knew who the host was until they quit.

In Killzone 2 for example, imagine how much quicker it would be when starting an online game, you choose what type of game you want to play and you are thrown into a lobby. That's it your in! The rules and match settings are standard for all games of that type. Personally I think less is more in terms of accessibility for online games. Maybe there should be a separate mode for those who want to play custom games, but for me I don't want to spend the majority of my time trying to navigate an overly complicated menu system just to find a game that is set up by a 6 year old who has no clue what the host options mean and think that its cool to have a 5 minute match with pistols only. Sure I could create my own game with the rules the way I want them but if I do that I have to wait even longer to play because I have to wait for my lobby to be populated before the match starts. I've never been a big fan of waiting when playing an online game.

Archminion said...

There should definitely be an option to jump into a quick fix match as I was under the impression it's meant to be 'pick up and play' anyway?

I would like to see some customisation but some of the needless options of some of the earlier Incog online games (Black Online and head On) don't need to be in here.

As many of these guys are saying it would be good to have a ranked style of play with developer fixed settings and an unranked style that still only concentrates on the more popular online modes of those other games.

I love freedom and there needs to be some but it doesn't have to be to deep in keeping with this style of game.

I would just want to be in a match within a couple of mins of connecting.

Bob's post hits the spot really.

I've already stated that Unlimited weapons and such was pretty crap, I'm not even all for fixing single weapon types for a match.

I do think some control over using certain 'characters' should be excercised if that's the way the game is going.

Anonymous said...

I realy think that games like battlefield bad company on-line, and MGO are the bests, cuz they run of the usual, I mean is, there is nothing better on gameplay today, FOR ME than guard a gold crate, in battlefield, or beeing snake, taking the enemies almost alone, those two games are completely diferent in the host choices, but they are fucking greats....


sory my english, but Im from Brazil
thanks ;)

---
Igor Navarro

GrYnder said...

Bob wins.

Hire him.

GrYnder said...

The more I think about it, the more I don't like the idea of limiting weapons.

I'm going to hate it if 50% of the games are 'Special Attack' only or something equally lame.

The above of course assumes you are working on a Twisted Metal. Other games with limited weaponry can also be equally frustrating.

Owwie said...

The media has gotten out of hand. It's probably because they've gotten away with abusing it that they continue on about it...this bad habit hasn't been dealt with and because of that it will only continue to grow as it gets exploited. That's something that saddens me. Yet well if we as a whole don't do anything about it then we will continue to hear this pile of apeshit that they continue to spout.

It sucks this liberty that was given to the press has ended up being used in such a way. Since freedom of the press wasn't made to be used like it's currently being used by the media and if I'm wrong well I'll be damned.

As for the online aspect freedom is great who doesn't love freedom? Yet too much freedom is bad....so maybe something along the lines of "controlled" freedom. Since well the ones making the game are the ones that have initial access to that freedom that will be given to us gamers/consumers. Not sure how you guys do your job on testing parts of the games you make cause honestly I don't know shit about any of it. Yet if theirs a way in testing the online and features given to the consumer how it affects the experience of the people playing then you basically can figure out what to keep and what wont be missed. Having standards isn't a bad thing after all. Especially when taking into account that such experience can be downplayed if not taken into consideration. So hopefully you guys figure out something that works all around. Good luck on that.

Butthead said...

Hi,

you said many things in the 2. video were i was thinking about too in the last month since i brought resistance 2.

But i know how such problem can be solved and i think the key is to look on PC shooters(games in generelly but mostly found in shooters).

What allmost every shooter and game on console lacks is a good server browser.

When i play halflife² or counterstrike or team fortress 2 on pc with steam i can filter everything out i dont want to see in my server list.Mods,Modes, Settings,Ping,Players,Bots,Nation etc.

I hate to play online on consoles because i allmost never get what i want and that is not the hosts responsibility its the developers,the developers have to give me a way to find a certain server.

Thats something the console developers have still to learn, on pc its like that since allmost forever (take a look at quake 3 Arena).

i hope my english didnt hurt you its not my first language xD

greetz from germany

Caleb said...

thanks for the OWNAGE post. looks like the fucktard took done the article.

Bob said...

I hate to say this because I hate that things are headed in this direction. However, this problem with the media is not confined to gaming news. Here is what I think is happening.

Before the Internet, the organizations which had a broad reach to people were large conglomerates. Big news organizations like CNN, NBC NEWS, etc, etc... Sure, you had your fluff stuff like National Enquirer and The Sun, but these were known for being questionable. Also, you had your fashion magazines or paparazzi magazines, but nobody reads these for important news like where industries are headed or which country is being invaded... people just read these to be entertained and to learn new recipes or find out how to dress like their favorite Hollywood actor.

And then came the Internet. Suddenly, the livelihood of these large organizations was threatened. Any Joe Schmoe with a computer could suddenly have a distribution of millions of people, without having to seek out paying subscribers. At first, the media laughed this off. After all, what made THEM important was employing highly paid journalists with expensive degrees in journalism.

Nonetheless, the Internet proved one thing - you don't need to be a good journalist to gain subscribers to your free blog, you only need to be a good writer. You can disguise fiction as news. I'm not talking about good satire like The Onion. I'm talking about camouflaging your personal opinion as fact or as the opinion of the masses.

As this started happening, and viewership of traditional media continued to decline, the large conglomerates like CNN, NBC, etc decided to fight fire with fire. They started allowing some journalists write articles in this "blog" style. Suddenly the opinion of a "journalist blogger" became just as hard-hitting as the opinion of, say, a true analyst or scientist. Who cares what the author's name is, what their background is, whether or not they know what they're talking about... after all, they work for CNN... for NBC... they MUST be important, right?

This lead us to the downward spiral we are still riding down today. The true journalism of yesteryear is spiraling towards the anything goes blogging style meant to entertain before educating. It is designed not to give people facts so that they can form their own opinion... it is designed to give opinion, hoping people will either disagree or agree... but above all else, see ads.

The problem with this is that people who used to understand the media as being "fact" are suddenly believing and trusting the new media of "opinion". This is a very powerful machine, where media organizations are no longer arming people with information, but are brainwashing people with complete garbage. This, in turn, is turning media companies into TOOLS by which large corporations can sway people to their products... to their way of thinking... to secure the financial futures of their companies.

In fact, one of the most popular methods of advertising these days is Press Releases. Of course, with the fuzzy line between the press and the blogging community, press releases are losing their meaning. Now, a simple email to a random yet popular blogger will suffice.

At some point, this needs to stop. I'm all for a lot of people giving their opinions. After all, this is a free country... if you have something you want known, let it be known. However, as far as opinions are concerned, it shouldn't be about whoever has the most money gets their opinion heard most. Jerry Springer proved that by simply only showing a certain group of people you can make an entire nation appear to be inbred. Media is a very powerful weapon. If it should be wielded at all, it should be wielded by everyone equally, not just those who happen to own a large corporation or who happen to work for one.

Again, this isn't a problem of bloggers. It's a problem of blog posts looking like news articles. Blog sites looking like news sites. Labels like CNN and NBC appearing on blogs disguised as news sites. The level of trust is being shattered. You can never know how professional the journalism is anymore. There is now so much disinformation that you either decide to believe it all, or believe nothing. This has got to change.

Joshua Wills said...

David,

The matter of host customization is not whether or not you provide it, it's HOW you provide it.

I think what pissed you off most in Killzone 2 was that you did not consent to the changes being made to the game.

The reason is the same for a wide range of people.

I have no direct resolution, but often people get angry without knowing why.

Gazzo said...

I was going to withhold from posting a comment on this one simply because I don't play online against people very often, (although I do love a good FPS every once in awhile.) but I think I disagree with you a little on this one David. (OH NOEZ!) I definitely see what you're saying, and yes, playing using rules you don't like really sucks, BUT...that's part of online gaming. Player-to-player connection. It's all about the freedom of being able to set up a game the way they want to play against people who want (or don't want, in your case) to play the same way. If they want to have a wacky match using nothing but rocket launchers, I think they should go for it.

However, I DO hate the "voting" system. I think that's pretty stupid.

Geta-Ve said...

Just another opinion for you to read, or not as the case may be.

My personality leans towards the side of choices. I love choices in games, in software, in life. Specifically though I like choices that customize a small percentage of the big picture. I like to be able to choose each little thing to suit my (using case in point) play style. If I want a match with only pistols, one shot kills, 2 minute limit, and everyone is wearing gorilla suits, I should, as a gamer / KZ2 game creator, be allowed to have that.

At the same time however, if I am the player I should ALSO have the choice to filter out every type and style of game I do not want. If I only want to see games with all weapons, regular clothing, regular shot damage, I should be able to.

The problem I see with games like KZ2 and a lot of other FPS for that matter is that while they give a lot of control to the creator they leave out half that control/choice to the player. This is unacceptable. The same amount of control needs to be given to both parties.

Think about it, you didn't like the fact that your game ended early. How about if you were given an option/choice to filter out games under XX minutes? Or XX kills? Because you can certainly create games with both of those in mind.

Being unsure as to the game or game type you are creating I certainly can't comment re any opinion I may have pertaining to your online design, but I think you may find a vast majority of gamers prefer choice over not.

Main point though, give both parties the same amount of choice/control! :p

Geta-Ve said...

Also, re the point about looking bad on developers, this is irrelevant. Unless you are making a strictly online game then how the developer looks will come out in the single player campaign.

That is the point of it.

The point of MP is to open up the world to allow players to play how they wish.

The only way developers look like assholes re MP design is when they take away control from the player. In my opinion at least. This leads back to my point in my last post. Give choices, but make sure both parties have the same options available to them. This in turn I think will eliminate a lot of the frustration folks like you (and I) have when joining games in such fashion.

The1stMJC said...

Well you can still give the host a lot of power just set it up to where we can see all the details of the game like time and what not. Problem with Killzone is they only show you what game mode it is and number of players.

I like the option of seeing more of what I am getting into.

Christopher G. said...

First you give the online players what you want to give them, which is what you think are the best options in terms of balance, time, effort, and overall gameplay. Once you've got that done, then open up the options on each of those one at a time to give hosts a bit more of control.

The reason I say this is because while most people are perfectly fine with just playing the defaults, myself included if you could get me to play online, there are a ton of extremely vocal (ie annoying) people who want to tailor the game to their own design and ignoring them isn't really going to help you but can possibly hurt you depending on the type of online game you're developing. So, give them that and let them have it, people will migrate to what they find more rewarding over time, which will more often be what you guys come up with, rather than towards the customizations of the others.

Perhaps one thing that would help is to separate out those hosts who use default settings and those who customize them with a tab/filter method. People who don't want anything changed and want to play the game as intended get the default list of hosts, people looking for something different can go to the list of custom designed game options.

Alastor Mused said...

One thing I hate about KZ2 is not knowing if Team Balancing is on or not until I join. If it's off I exit and find a new game = pain in the ass.

An option would be to allow people to see the full settings before joining. That way if the settings are shit we can see it. Or even better, let the search game feature have ALL the options the host has, therefore you can select what you want and not want. (For example a basic search would give you 5 basic search criteria, an Advanced option would allow you to select pistols, round count, time limit etc (more advanced options))

Draicus said...

I think it comes down to the very point you hit on; everything is subjective. Out of all of the people that buy your game, there are going to be a lot of them that simply don't exactly like your designer's vision of how the game should be played (even though you're the designer :-P).

Giving players the option of tweaking a bunch of settings when they host a game allows them to keep the things they do like and leave out the things that they don't. In the end, there's usually going to be other players with the same ideas and they're going to gravitate to these games with the settings that they like. Which means that they'll stick with your game a little longer and gain more enjoyment out of it instead of just returning it or trading it in.

I think it's most important that you find a clever and apparent way to display the settings that the host has chosen without making it all look too complicated or boring as hell to try to find the game that you want to play it.

Warhawk did a decent job of listing the host settings on the side of the game select screen when you had a server highlighted. It wasn't perfect, but it was a pretty astute way to find out if the host had made a stupid decision that you weren't going to like once the game started.

Dominic said...

Thank you for saying what we all have been thinking David. There's a difference between journalism and regurgitation. The worst part of it all is that this Raymond guy is actually getting paid for making such posts with unnecessary notations. I guess he was tired of regurgitating on companies closing up.

Cartman86 said...

I think Ranked matches should have standards that a host cannot change (or if he can then only effect very little). Unranked Player games should be all about the host, and what he wants. All of which should have Quick Match/MatchMaking options (Halo, COD4). Maybe even add a lobbby system (Warhawk) for the unranked. But really all that matters is matchmaking with party system so you can get together with friends and play one match after another quick and easy.

Anonymous said...

Well, i really think that you should have as many options as you can give to the gamer to host a game. But i also think that you can choose to look at a game before you go into it.

Say a little data box that pops up and tells you (for killzone 2 for instance) Bodycount: 100 kills ... just show the gamer what choices the host made to give the host and the gamer the options of doing what they want.

Anonymous said...

Please for the love of Zeus don't give the host most control.

Nothing kills a multiplayer game for me than ending up in a game where it's set to: time limit: 40minutes, Speed: 400%, Gravity: 0, Weapons: Rocket Launchers only, Ammo/Nades: unlimited.

Anonymous said...

I remember you talking about no left wing media and called it all BS. See the press has a point and skew it in there favor. Your only squinting at the bigger picture. You got to wake all the way up you fuck.

Bob said...

Thank you for joining the intelligent discussion, Anonymous.

superjp said...

Dear David,

regarding your second post, I think what you are saying may come from the fact you don't know yet all the settings of a killzone match.

I understand that it is quite frustrating to play 2 minutes then it is over...

I think the guy who hosted the game made it in order to have quick level up.

Now when you search for a game the settings are shown with the time affiliated to each game so after some matches you can guess if it is a fucked up hosted game or not.

Personnaly I prefer GG giving us all the tools because then when you are part of a clan usually you always play with the same options.

So as you said you prefered the warzone mode then just search for games named warzone, it means those are standard 5 minutes games with all modes one after another.

In addition, what you can do is try to set up your own game and you will see all the options possible.

On the other hand, it may be due to a lack of time, but it is true that after all those game trailers videos, GG could have made a video showing how to tweak all possible settings while creating a game.

see you on the psn !

Archminion said...

Just a quick mode idea:

I mentioned on TMA about a Team Boss Rush MP game.

After checking out Warhawk a bit more I realised it sounds similar to Hero mode.

2 Teams. Each team has one player as a tough Boss character (you know the ones).

Take out the other teams boss.

Could work.

Wyatt said...

I think a good compromise would be to create two separate tabs/screens/whatever when choosing an online host. One that was for standard, preset game modes that you, the developer had made, and then another area for custom games where the host has the ability to tweak certain things. This way, most players will get to experience the online play that you designed and intended, but those that wish for something different have a separate area to seek out their own form of play.

Anonymous said...

Jaffe!!!!!!!!!!!!!



the killzone 2 mp thing you are ranting about is called "100 pts 15 mins" people purposely create games like that so they can rank really fast to unlock all the classes.

Bob said...

Anonymous!!!!!!!!

Explaining why the train wreck happened doesn't exactly make it anything less than a train wreck.

The fact of the matter is, while some super hard-core gamers may enjoy applying filters and search criteria when seeking a game, then applying heuristic logic and analyzing hosting behavior to determine which game they wish to enter and which games they wish to avoid... some people, who just like having FUN, would rather jump into a hosted game without having to think twice. In other words, some people want to just trust a game that it will always be fun, no matter which non-developer tweaks settings.

The three solutions are usually:

1) To remove all controls from hosts, which isn't very fun for those who like playing with switches and knobs for a hobby.

2) To give limited controls to hosts, making sure that the result of any combination of tweaks will always meet developer expectations of a good time for most.

3) To give lots of controls, making sure to let those who wish to just jump in and have fun an easy (read, one step with little thought) way to only play games that are guaranteed to be fun. In this instance, it could only show games hosted with settings that have been pre-approved by the developers to be considered fun by their artistic standards. For those who like playing with knobs, or who like playing games with hosts who like playing with switches, they can just flip a switch to see all possible games, regardless of the fun factor.

Anonymous said...

Jaffe you do relize how easy it is to tell what the host has modified in KZ2, right? to very right of the game name in the main lobby you can see what game modes are grayed out or not. its 5 icons. then once your int he lobby you can see some of the other settings that may or many not be customized.

i think giving controls to the host is a good idea, especially in FPS, maybe in car combat games, not as much, i dunno. but i dont really see a problem with it as long as you make it obvious to the user which games are modded. Maybe GG didnt do this as well, cause you missed it. i thought they did though.

Kilrahi said...

Very tough question. Some games have struggled with it (TMB: Online as much as I loved it) and others have rocked (Warhawk). I more understand a set of rules that must be maintained then specific game choices (you kinda have to know the game to know that).

1. You have to force the players to experience the gameplay the game was designed for. Gamers are inherently lazy, so if you give them an easy way out (i.e. unlim weapons or some other uber cheat like nothing but rockets) then they will take the lazy way out and never learn your real game - which is what has actually been polished.

2. You have to protect newbs and pros. There's gotta be a good way so that new people can jump in and have fun, and pros can stay challenged. This one is extremely tough. Warhawk was great at first, but then fell apart (I think they should have just quickly promoted players who constantly kicked ass instead of letting them sit in rooms and own newbs).

3. You have to make it easy to experience tons of games as quickly as possible. The best way to do this seems to be official server rooms, where it's easy to stay in a game for a long time. Some online games boot you into the lobby after every match, which is nuts, and others (like Socom) have players sit in a room for minutes at a time sometime while everyone readies up. This is absurd for those of us who are adults and only have about an hour of game time every few days.

4. You need unofficial servers too, for those who do chat as much as talk, and hang with buds. It's okay providing a bit more flexibility to hosts if no ranking is involved, but again, too much power and you'll find your server flooded with garbage games, and no one sees the real product you created.


There's my blab. I've played lots of online games and those things seem to be what I run into the most. Good luck, hope an online component stays since, for someone like me, that's the part I live for anymore. When done right it is SO sweet . . .

Mindblower said...

I'be been playing Killzone 2 a lot recently, and I completely agree with you that some players set up their matches pretty badly - only pistols to use/no friendly fire (so no real use to play saboteur)/too much people (result is total chaos and lack of squad play) - and so on. So I can't just quick join to any game and be sure that I'll get decent online experience (but there are many great games going online anyway, so it's better to pick manually). I think this problem can be solved by dividing all servers to ranked and not ranked. You can start ranked server and change nothing, or you can change some options but your server won't be ranked in this case. Resistance 2 has it like that and this is great. But let players actually set up their ranked servers (and lock them from other people - this option in Killzone 2 is really great), so you can play clan wars or with your friends only.

Protopet said...

Make sure you include a lot of the game info in the server list and also during the game so people can replay that level or game mode again if they like it.
You should allow full customization, just highlight the custom changes in the server list/game info.
Make sure you guys have all the good online features. Party mode, join friend's game, clan, no lag, mute, etc.
Please include split-screen if possible!

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the amount of customization given to the hosts, it's the lack of customization given to players to find a server they want to play on.

The first problem I've noticed is that there are way too many screens in a lot of games. Usually they serve no real purpose other than wasting your time. You go through 5 screens hoping you'll find a game you like, which is a gamble. If you do find one and the game ends, you're brought to more screens just to move on to the next map. In some games you have to wait for everyone to hit the ready button, but there's always gonna be a few that decided to take a nap. The host has to kick those players now, wasting more time. This is really bad design... Rockstar! Ready buttons are good for competition games and that's it.

A good design is something like RTCW. There is one screen for finding games of all types. That's it. You can use filters to narrow down servers to your liking. Player limits, host ping, map, and game type are just a few of the filters that you can use. You can save servers to a favorites list as well. All you have to do is click the favorites button and you can see if the servers are online and alive. It's simple and effective.

There's no waiting game in between games. Instead of that there's a map rotation. When one map ends another is loaded right after. The only screen you'll see is a loading screen. 30 seconds of warmup on the map and the game starts. The 30 seconds is there to compensate for players with slow computers. It should be quicker on a console since everyone is running the same system. And if a player wants to change the map to something not in the rotation then he can do that through his options menu in game. That way the rest of us can continue to frag. Map/level/whatever rotations should be in just about every online game and should be customizable as hell. Being able to put weapons restrictions on different maps or changing the game type from death match to objective based depending on the map are just a couple of examples.

I don't know a lot about gaming online on consoles. I've tried to play online in a few games, but they've left such a bad taste in my mouth that I don't even bother with it anymore. Resident Evil 5, Resistance, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, and Metal Gear Online are notable examples. I'll stick to single player games on my console and online gaming on my PC until sensible systems are in place.

Hun0410 said...

I'm glad to hear you're considering adding an online multiplayer element to your next game. I guess it's because of all the Call of Duty 4, Far Cry 2 and whatever else game I've played online extensively that I kind of expect a great game to have an online multiplayer component. And I know there are some amazing games that don't have a multiplayer aspect but if it works with what the game is I think it's definitely something that should be part of it. Obviously it shouldn't feel like it was forced into it and that's one of the dangers of online multiplayer. Sometimes it feels really sucky and not worth playing. I don’t know if you agree but an example of this, well actually a partial example would be Metal Gear Solid 4. The single player alone is beyond amazing and just really well done except for some unnecessary cutscenes at the end so I just don’t know why a multiplayer was necessary. It’s nice and well done but just not something I play. I just don’t feel the need for it. Whereas COD4 would obviously suck without a multiplyer. My point is, that you should be careful not to force the multiplayer into the game. Make it innovative and fit well with the game. It should be similar to the game. That’s the reason I don’t play Metal gear Online (MGS4 online). It’s nothing like the actual Metal Gear Solid 4 single player. It’s not about sneaking around and all that, it’s all shooting and nonstop conflict.

Customization of the multiplayer match or whatever it may be, is important. It’s good to have a variety of settings to experience the multiplayer in different ways. Interestingly though, after a while the majority of servers/hosts tend to implement the same settings. It’s like it becomes a standard among the online community. Look at Far Cry 2. Virtually all serves will not allow the use of the granade launcher (MGL) you will get kicked if you choose it. Why? Because it’s so cheap. It’s a one shot kill weapon that requires little skill. Just like the grenade launcher in COD4. But Far Cry 2 makes up for it with the user made maps. This way the variety is huge. There are so many great maps online made by users. So you should do something that establishes variety. Different maps, game modes, weapon upgrading … etc. So getting back to customization, there should be well established boundaries as to how much differentiation there can be between one host and another. Making sure those boundaries contribute to a balanced game every time can be tricky because the more you restrict the customization the more the consistency is but the players may get pissed off for that. From my experience I would say, allow for basic customization with competent restrictions. I don’t think there is a need for too much customization. If I can set the map cycle, time frame (make the limits sensible so the 2 minute problem doesn’t occur) and other basic stuff I’m happy. It shouldn’t instigate problems or conflicts because multiplayer is all about interactivity between players and they can be easily pissed off by things that are sucky in the game.

I don’t know if that’s of any use or if you’ll ever read it but I thought I’d start commenting on some of you videos.

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