Author Topic: Multiplayer....  (Read 11874 times)

Offline MaxAstro

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Multiplayer....
« on: September 11, 2013, 10:45:13 PM »
(Editorial note from moderator: this thread is stickied to demonstrate our rationale for Bionic being a singleplayer game.  Until players can articulate what kind of MP would actually satisfy them, at least :) )


Let me start by saying this game is awesome.  Really, really enjoying pretty much everything about it.

Now on to the feedback: Multiplayer... is a mess.  As it stands, I'm not sure why you would even play multiplayer.  Both players have to use the same set of bots and the same customization parts, which is already a mark against it.

The real crippler, however, is action economy.  Every time any player takes an action, the enemies move.  This means, honestly, there's no reason for players beyond #1 to be there in a combat situation.  My g/f and I tried multiplayer and it quickly became apparent that I should just sit there while she killed things - otherwise I just got in the way.  The only time multiplayer becomes an advantage is in the rare situation that it saves you one action to switch bots - assuming the other player isn't blocking you from taking the action you need the other bot for.

Oh, one other thing.  Not sure if this is intentional, but it is really, really easy to get ambushed by doors.  I'm not really sure how to open a door without giving a bot on the far side of it a free attack.  Worse, you can't seem to see bots standing directly on the far side of doors on your sensors.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 02:01:39 PM by keith.lamothe »

Offline mrhanman

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 10:48:26 PM »
Not sure if this is intentional, but it is really, really easy to get ambushed by doors.  I'm not really sure how to open a door without giving a bot on the far side of it a free attack.

I haven't tried multiplayer, so I can't comment on that, but you can stand back in whatever cover you can find and shoot the door open.

Offline khadgar

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2013, 12:32:54 AM »
I agree. I tried some multiplayer last night, and I didn't really see the point. With only 1 action for the player's entire team, having multiple people control things seemed pointless. Worse than pointless, as my friends were getting quite bored and we were constantly "fighting" over who got to take the next action, often ending up with us all (hilariously) dead. That is to say, My assault would open a door, but then my sniper friend decides its a good time to travel 15 squares down his hallway because he is bored of waiting. I understand the game is intended to be balanced around one player action per round, not 2, 3, or 4... but as it stands right now multiplayer isn't something I would do again.

That said, I'm not sure what a balanced solution would be in terms of challenge versus fun in a multiplayer situation. Obviously giving each player one action per round is the obvious solution, but it might throw balance out the window. Perhaps if the enemy stats (probably only health) scaled for each new human player, so they might need to focus fire to achieve success? I think around 1.5x scale would be best, since although 2 assault bots are twice as powerful as a single assault bot, I assume that the player won't be rolling a 4 assault-exo team all the time. The science bot will never add too much firepower to a fight, so no need to scale up an enemy by a full 100% for having an extra player on science-exo duty.

Other options, just brainstorming them out here:

--Only enemy bots within a certain range of a player get an action, so multiple players can each be in their own sector
        pros: players won't step on each others' toes unless nearby.
        cons: probable balance / exploit issues, if players must be separate might as well not even play multiplayer

--Confirmation dialogue before a player can take an action
        pros: gives players a chance to tell their ally not to make a move because THEY need the action instead.
        cons: annoying, doesn't really solve the issue

--Turn order, assault, science, sniper, enemy, etc.
        pros: easy to keep track of who goes next.
        cons: might actually be hard to keep track of who goes next in a 2 or 3 player match with the players switching exos around

--Give the player +1 free action per human player connected
        pros: each player can get 1 move per turn, probably easy to implement.
        cons: very imbalanced, doesn't necessarily solve the problem, accident prone

--Multiplayer is changed to each player doing their own mission in a different location.
        pros: easy to implement probably. solves the key issues.
        cons: bots in 2 locations at once? outfitting while in a mission? exploit? continuity? boring MP implementation?


TL;DR
There currently isn't a reason to play multiplayer over singleplayer since you and your allies both share the same single action per turn.

Offline x4000

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2013, 06:34:17 AM »
A few notes:

1. Enemies already only DO get an action if players are within range 20 of them.  So if you and I adventure on entirely different sides of the map, then it plays like solo.

2. I should have mentioned before, although it sounds like that really hasn't been encountered yet, that the multiplayer here is entirely preliminary in terms of underlying bugs.  The design is considered pretty much close to final, which is of course what you are complaining about, though. ;)

3. In general, the goal of co-op for me is to have it be "the same game, but I can play it with my wife."  In other words, not some special other mode.  Having double the number of Exos, or quadruple even, would absolutely wreck the balance of the game in all respects.  We'd have to do missions that were twice as big or more, which again would wreck things.  So the whole thing with the shared bots is rather a necessity.  I understand that some folks may not like that, but I think it's unavoidable.

4. There honestly is a good reason that there are not many multiplayer roguelikes.  I feel like we've solved the problem pretty well, insofar as this is an intractable problem in the first place.  During combat, having it be so that each action is carefully placed is kind of the point anyhow.  But it's only really something that is solved if you have two methodical, tactical-minded people.  And the point about there being a point-person causing issues is certainly well taken.

5. That said, if it's not fun for you, then obviously that is a huge problem beyond any platonic ideals of balance. ;)

------

Here's how the turn stuff currently works: every time a player takes a non-free action, the enemies who are alerted within range X (currently 20) get to take a move.  Right now I think it's manhattan distance rather than flood fill, which is probably not the best.

--

One solution that we thought of prior to the private alpha, that was rejected at the time but which I see hasn't been mentioned here yet, was to have only the player closest to a given enemy give that enemy an action when that player takes an action.  The problem we saw with that was having one player stand back and fire while another player stands closer to the enemies and just stands there, granting them no actions and blocking them from taking them.

A solution to that problem would be to make it so that if an attack on a tile is closer than any player, OR the firing player is closer than any other player, the enemy gets a move.  That would solve all the exploits I can think of, although this solution is new in my mind so there may still be some.

--

The other thing we could do, of course, is just say eff the balance and let there be one move per connected player.  We could also cap the player count at 2 rather than 4, to prevent this from getting runaway crazy.  I'm just not sure this would be feasible with more than 2 players anyhow, in a fun or coordinated fashion.  That's probably something we need to do in any case.

If we needed to counterbalance the enemies in this scenario of having two moves per player team when there are two players, we could increase bot ranges by 1 or something.  Throw the balance off AGAIN in a different way, so that simply the MP is a different experience.  There are surely things we could do to make the balance there interesting, at least.

--

The other thing we could do is make this a single-player game, if this is just going to wreck impressions of the game or cause buyer's remorse for someone who buys a game to try to play multiplayer and then gets enraged by the implementation.

--

The other thing we could do is make this a semi-secret unadvertised semi-unsupported feature, where you have to enter a special code to get this to appear, and then that's that.  I say semi-unsupported because for a feature like this there's a limit to how much we can support it if it's that hidden and secret.  I'd be pretty tempted just to cut the feature when it comes to that, because if a secret feature is interfering with the main game, that's not good.
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Offline Gemzo

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2013, 11:55:56 AM »
In my opinion the only intuitive way for multiplayer to work is if every player gets a turn, with enemies being buffed or there being more enemies to compensate. All these extra rules on getting to play with your friends just don't seem like a fun way to go about things.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2013, 01:01:17 PM »
In my opinion the only intuitive way for multiplayer to work is if every player gets a turn, with enemies being buffed or there being more enemies to compensate.
But does that mean that if player 1 moves, and player 2 hasn't done anything, that player 1 cannot do anything until player 2 plays their turn?


That's one of the main problems that led us away from that kind of model.

Which isn't to say that the current model is acceptable, but it is the least disastrous we were able to think of ;)
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Offline mrhanman

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 02:18:36 PM »
In a turn based game, would players not expect to have to wait for the other player?

Offline x4000

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2013, 02:21:01 PM »
Walking down a hall gets to be muuuurous, trust us. It's absolutely terrible.
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Offline Tridus

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2013, 02:41:43 PM »
Maybe this should be a single player game at release, and add MP in an expansion just to give some more time to figure out how it works.

I was around for the launch of Elemental: War of Magic. That had quite possibly the worst multiplayer support of any game, ever. It would have been an improvement to not have it at all (which is what they did in Fallen Enchantress).

MP is one of those things were not having it at all is preferable to having it not work well.

Offline mrhanman

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2013, 02:48:26 PM »
I tend to agree.  I'd rather it not be there than work poorly.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2013, 02:54:18 PM »
I tend to agree.  I'd rather it not be there than work poorly.
That's my own opinion, fwiw.

One general question for y'all: if the problem of not being able to act close to one another without both triggering enemy responses were somehow dealt with, would that be a decent model or still fundamentally unsatisfactory?  Specifically, the points of "still only having a team of four exos" and "all players sharing the same parts inventory".  Are those dealbreakers in and of themselves?
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Offline x4000

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2013, 03:40:38 PM »
These are all good points.  We'll continue coding in an MP-safe way, but there's no way for us to tackle this problem now, with so few people, while also trying to finish the game, with so many likely changes for it, with the likelihood of failure of doing so.

So, yeah.  Boom.  Singleplayer. ;)
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2013, 03:44:00 PM »
Yea, definitely keep the actual sim/network model that makes MP possible, either way.

I'm pretty sure we can eventually solve this problem, but I don't have a clear solution.  And "no clear solution" 1 month from desired release means "don't try to solve it", generally :)
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Offline x4000

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2013, 03:45:04 PM »
This is quite true.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Multiplayer....
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2013, 03:46:41 PM »
It's crazy how easy that was.  6 minutes, and it's completely gone from visibility to players.
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