Multiplayer Functionality

A place to ask and talk about Astrobase Command.
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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby Dave » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:18 pm

SAMsite wrote:The one thing I would say from personal experience is that I play multiplayer games for a considerably longer length of time than their single player brethren, because the interaction with other players creates more varied gameplay that simply cannot be programmed.


This is completely true.

I think about how much time I put in the Civilization series multiplayer vs singleplayer (specifically Civ IV BTS). Or the Total War series. There are few greater pleasures than playing a great game with your friends. The issue with traditional MMOs is that people's lives run at different paces. In linear-progression MMOs, unless you are at exactly the same point in progression as your friends, it's not fun to play with them. On the other hand, with multiplayer games that have a set game where it begins and ends and takes a few hours you lose the feeling of an epic continuity. You have no attachment to what you build when it's over in a few hours.

So I found in MMOs, I made "online friends" who had the same play schedule as me. And I played multiplayer games with my "real life" friends.

What we're planning to do with Astrobase Command is have multiplayer play where you can enjoy it with your real-life friends even if they're putting in 4x time per week as you. But also capture the permanency of an MMO, where you have an attachment to what you make in your sandbox. I could get into that, if you're interested.

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby SAMsite » Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:06 pm

As a second point here, the more important thing about player interactivity is that it shouldn't only be adversarial. Certainly PVP/combative interactions are plenty of fun but equally are collaborative projects.

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby Adam » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:09 pm

SAMsite wrote:As a second point here, the more important thing about player interactivity is that it shouldn't only be adversarial. Certainly PVP/combative interactions are plenty of fun but equally are collaborative projects.


I totally agree. I'm very excited about the possibilities of cooperative interactions. Not only are there opportunities for enjoying shared content, but things like trading stand to become much more dynamic when it's happening with other players.

Also, it's incredibly satisfying as a developer to see players celebrating a shared accomplishment in a game I made.

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby PensiveElephant » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:32 pm

As with everything - execution is key.

When I look at the homepage of astrobase command it doesn't strike me as a multiplayer game - the promise of narrative, actually, is more proper for singleplayer - immersive narrative at least.

MMO style could have the impact of detracting from immersion, for the simple reason that you don't know which of the players you interact with care about immersion themselves.

A "gentler" style multiplayer, where you have control over who you play with could work well. Perhaps something akin to Facebook games, where you can add friends as your galactic neighbours, take a look (or stroll?) around their station, send each other resources - that kind of thing.

In this micro version multiplayer could offer players the chance to participate in each other's storylines, e.g.:

a) There is an asteroid headed for your Station. You have a means of deflecting it but it would send it on a collision course with the starbase of your friend. Do you take the hit or deflect it?

b) You are approached by a space pirate gang, offering you money for using your station as a refuelling stop. You know that this will mean that they will use your base to strike against your friends. You also expect, that if you decline their offer, they will go to neighbouring starbases with the same one, which might put you in the pirates' crosshairs instead. Do you trust all your neighbours to be as noble as you?

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby Adam » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:05 pm

PensiveElephant wrote:As with everything - execution is key.


I totally agree. Depending on how far we decide to go with our intended multiplayer functionality, we'll likely have to give players the ability to choose between an 'open' interaction experience versus a friends' list.

PensiveElephant wrote:A "gentler" style multiplayer, where you have control over who you play with could work well. Perhaps something akin to Facebook games, where you can add friends as your galactic neighbours, take a look (or stroll?) around their station, send each other resources - that kind of thing.

In this micro version multiplayer could offer players the chance to participate in each other's storylines, e.g.:

a) There is an asteroid headed for your Station. You have a means of deflecting it but it would send it on a collision course with the starbase of your friend. Do you take the hit or deflect it?

b) You are approached by a space pirate gang, offering you money for using your station as a refuelling stop. You know that this will mean that they will use your base to strike against your friends. You also expect, that if you decline their offer, they will go to neighbouring starbases with the same one, which might put you in the pirates' crosshairs instead. Do you trust all your neighbours to be as noble as you?


If the social element isn't a requirement for success so much as a way to increase your chances of success, I'm all for it. I also see opportunities for triggering mission opportunities as a result of 'systemic' interactions like player trade and the like. We've got a lot of ideas to experiment with in this area and we'll be looking forward to hearing what all of you think.

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby MaxShields » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:00 am

I like what Pensive is proposing.

Another possibility is to look at how Tom Clancy's the Division will be integrating mobile players.

Perhaps multiplayer elements could be introduced in terms of controlling external game play enablers for the primary player. For example if we go back to the example of orbital bombardment, the main player's away team asks for a barrage, it is the supporting player's job to bring in the fire while using an orbital support interface, clicking as best they can to drop the rounds where they are asked for while accounting for issues like orbital procession, wind direction, etc.

Or maybe they can provide drone overflights to provide extra situational awareness? In another optic, they could represent the flow of travelers going to and from the station on starships and aboard, making requests that of the station owner? Successfully completed requests provide a boost to either player's station's performance/acquires loot/funds?

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby Dave » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:14 pm

MaxShields wrote:I like what Pensive is proposing.

Another possibility is to look at how Tom Clancy's the Division will be integrating mobile players.

Perhaps multiplayer elements could be introduced in terms of controlling external game play enablers for the primary player. For example if we go back to the example of orbital bombardment, the main player's away team asks for a barrage, it is the supporting player's job to bring in the fire while using an orbital support interface, clicking as best they can to drop the rounds where they are asked for while accounting for issues like orbital procession, wind direction, etc.

Or maybe they can provide drone overflights to provide extra situational awareness? In another optic, they could represent the flow of travelers going to and from the station on starships and aboard, making requests that of the station owner? Successfully completed requests provide a boost to either player's station's performance/acquires loot/funds?


I really want to talk about the nuts-and-bolts of our multiplayer ideas and see what you guys think (it came up at our last meeting). Because I don't think anyone at Jellyfish wants a traditional MMO. I think in Astrobase Command when you play with (and sometimes against) other players, it should really be about competing with yourself . Like golf in that respect. In Astrobase Command, everyone will be competing with their own decisions/mistakes to keep their base going, and I think this alone creates a different dynamic.

But yes, PvP will be completely opt-in *and* regardless of anything else we do there will be an offline, single-player version.

Currently I'm working on the skill system so we can have a functional skill sheet for characters, so Adam can continue work on the personnel folder :)

Next blog-post we were planning to be about ranks, skills, and progression in general.

But if I get a chance, I really want to to get into the MP stuff because it all kind of ties together. Such as: Officer Exchange Program!

What do you guys think, should the next post be about deeper multiplayer or progression?

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby PensiveElephant » Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:45 pm

I would have to say progression - there is still so much of the core game to discuss (and for you to show us) that it would be difficult to speculate about Multiplayer.

As somebody pointed out - multiplayer should be planned as early as possible, however, it is easier to plan its aspects if we know more about the core gameplay.

That's my take on this anyways.

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby MaxShields » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:53 am

Every time I hear multiplayer, I can't help but cringe. I get a mental picture of devs hitting the Easy Button knowing that they don't have to spend resources coming up with a coherent storyline, or building content that may not be accessed by most users. This is soon followed by a bunch of high 5s and bottles of champagne popping everywhere as they celebrate the fact that the assumption that throngs of gamers whose attention span has been shortened to a nanosecond by the six gallons of Redbull and Monster drink that have been consumed before the morning is through jostle each other out of the way to toss themselves at hour after hour of gameplay cloned from the previous 8 iterations of the game they have just bought. Soon after, Hollywood decides to give cameras to random passers by cameras and a script written in crayons on a napkin and let them film next Summer's big blockbuster.

Okay, so I may be exaggerating a bit, but I hope it helps illustrate my feelings about the dearth of meaningful single player experience because so much effort seems to be placed on multiplayer these days. I have a full time (++) job that keeps me from being able to spend hours coming back consistently to learn how to optimize game play to thump everybody else around me. I don't tend to seek high scores out of games, but immersion that allows me to feel as if I am living the experience being presented. I seek the same suspension of disbelief that I get from reading a great book or seeing an enthralling movie. The last thing I want to do when I fire up a game is tear my hair out watching a bunch of players bouncing about trying to see who can come up with the most novel profanities to shout out loud to the audience at large.

It also means that I can quickly loose interest if I am playing in a forum where other players who are able to regularly tend to their online affairs (in this case the astrobase) build sprawling and powerful empires that crowd me out of being able to do anything because I can only afford to play on an infrequent basis.

I don't know if it makes me rare amidst other gamers today, but it is what it is.

I agree that building the mechanics of a successful multiplayer game from the start will doubtless help avoid significant setbacks in the future. I am also happy to hear that you are looking for ways to step away from traditional MMO concepts.

All this to say: "Officer Exchange Program, eh? I'm listening!".

But since I'm a bigger fan of single player, I vote for Progression for the next blog entry.

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Re: Multiplayer Functionality

Postby PensiveElephant » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:48 pm

As Max and I were discussing systems and base design it occured to me that it might be as fun to attack a base as it would be to defend it - exploiting design weaknesses to cause overloads and whatnot.

Which made me think of multiplayer. Now, I don't want my base attacked by people, nor do I want to assault other people's bases, but being able to share your stations, and having the stations of other people into your game would be far easier (I think) then writing an AI algorithm for constructing random Astrobases.

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