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Thursday, August 11, 2005

The problem with multiplayer games is

The problem with multiplayer games is

"The other player. Anyone who has played Counter Strike knows what I mean. Anyone who has tried a multiplayer webgame will know what I mean. If you are lucky enough to find someone else to play with, they’ll either spend most of the time cheating, insulting you or, most frustratingly, not really playing. A large percentage of multiplayer opponents will most likely disconnect before the game is over.

I tackled this problem about a year ago, on holiday in Andalucia and sadly on paper only, with a number of robots that would run on Playaholics or within specific games (the first of which was going to be a Rong clone, complete with a morphing pitch) to take over from the drop-outs either seamlessly or with some kind of warning.

The Casual Games Quarterly has a much better solution though:
Brian Goble: In Jig Words, we expanded our networking systems to allow two more community features. Jig Words has a feature that allows you to add your own digital photos into the game, but we also created a server-based “Photo Sharing” feature that allows users to send packs of photos to their friends from within the game. This is a fun way to allow our users to spread Jig Words to their families and friends.

Jig Words also features a mode of play called “Letter Racing” which puts the player in competition against 3 other players that recently played online. Using recently recorded games for our multiplayer mode gave us several significant advantages:

Once the game has started, the connection is no longer needed so lag or broken connections don’t ruin the game.
We’re able to do “smart” player matching because we know the skill level of the local player and we know the results of the already-played games. This allows us to match people with other players close to their skill level. This makes for really close/fun games and avoids the problem of grossly mismatched players and one of them not having fun getting there butt kicked (and possibly not playing the game again).
The match-making is always instant since we have a large collection of already-played games to choose from. Thus, the player never has to wait for their multiplayer game to start.
The opponents will never leave during the middle of the game since the collection of already-played games only consists of games that were played all the way to the end.

Perfect, time-shift the users into a multiplayer game. That’s genius, that’s even better than my idea ;)"

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