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Reimagining Cooperative gameplay.

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Rethinking Cooperative play. Q. How can we improve cooperative gameplay modes? How does having several players working together change the dynamic of a game?, What kind of play modes can be made specificaly for cooperative gaming? Consider the cooperative games that you have played, and what their strong points and their weaknesses were.

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The important points are:

1) Both players play a "real" game. Most co-op games have one "lead character" and a few flunkies. That ain''t fun. Thus, if the game is story-driven, make sure that all players are equally important in the story.

2) Both players have to have something to do. In most co-op games, the game can also be finished with only one person. This means that, if you got a really good player, he is more or less playing the game, and the rest is just trying to follow him through the map, hoping that at some point they are the first ones to see an enemy, and they can finally make a kill...

Best solution for number 2: Classes. More or less. Like, in a tank game: don''t give both players the same thing, but rather, let one drive and one shoot. Or have one tank that kills other tanks on the floor, and a chopper that has to protect the tank. Or in shooters: have a "grunt" player walking over the map, and a "sniper" supporting him. Or have a "medic" trying to complete other objectives, and a "grunt" protecting him.

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Those are some pertinent points, I have played a few ''cooperative'' games, where there is very little need for the players to ever work together to defeat the challenge. It is like each player is just playing the single-player game, with a few extra enemies! There was no need to provide covering fire for each other, or to use different tactics like being the bait that makes the creature come for them, while the other player attacks the creature.

My personal preference is for games which allow two people to play on the same machine (either split screen, or with both players on one screen).

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Aye, we don''t have enough of those games.

Normal multiplayer games lack the communication you really need for nice teamwork. Typing is fun, but usually you don''t have time for that.

Splitscreen is always fun. A friend can come over, and you can have a lot of fun ^_^ Even with normal shooter games.

But, for now, I only know of one single game that has great teamplay: Ghost Recon. Basicly because enemies are so "strong" that you can die with one shot. You really need someone to watch your back ^_^

That reminds me of one great action: me and a friend were ordered to blow up a bridge. I was sneaking along the river, when an enemy patrol spotted me. I went like *OH SHIT!*, shot two of them with a burst, got hit, was bleeding and behind a rock, saw the last soldier walking around the corner, looking at me, and BLAM! He drops dead.

My fried finally made it to his sniper position, and killed the dude ^_^

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Co-Op gameplay is really something that hasn''t been explored enough. I''d love to see cooperative gameplay in a Single-Player Style game like Half-Life or Thief, where the main character(s) can work together to come up with solutions.

It would be excellent to see a game where the puzzles in an ongoing game (like HL and Thief) required more than one person to solve. It might be difficult to play with one player however.

Here''s one example of how it could be done, perhaps -- you could have a game where there are, say, 4 characters, regardless of how many players (1-4) are playing -- the AI characters can be given instructions like "hold position defensively" and "keep out of sight" and "watch my back" and "hold that position offensively" and so forth -- very much like Swat 3 or Ghost Recon actually -- but where the game is ongoing and (as I mentioned) has puzzles that require multiple characters, so that the player (if less than 4) has to switch to various AI team members to accomplish certain objectives. As a simple-and-not-very-creative example, switching to Character A, moving onto a weight-sensitive platform that holds a door open, telling Char A to "hold position defensive" while player switches to Char B, rushes through the door, stands on a second platform, then switches back to Char A and tell Chars C & D "follow me!" as he runs through the door.


Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Commandos 2 is a game like that . Most missions are with 3-6 commandos , each with very different style . And each mission can be played MP , so each player takes 1 or more commandos for the mission . it''s actually quite fun , for the strategist that is :-)

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I would think that the designers should go for Co-Op on the level of ''Player one ultimately needs to accomplish THIS1, but can only do so with the help of player two. Also, player two must accomplish THIS2, but can only do so with the assistance of player one.''

Kind of like creating a co-op level that requires BOTH players (or hell, even the squad) to be playing.

The game I''m writing right now consists of squad-based combat, and if you don''t have one of the members of your squad, plan on losing.

The squads are formed of a sniper, a heavy gunner/demolitions specialist, and two riflemen. (yes, that''s a Marine Corp squad).

When in combat, you will come accross things like mines that only your demo boy can disarm, while at the same time your sniper is giving him cover from those bastards trying to nail you with artillery and your riflemen are covering that foxhole that fire is coming from and that ledge where a machine gun is giving you hell.

Anyway, I''m just givin my 34.9 Pfennigs.

~ Jesse

The gl2D Project

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As an example of co-operative gameplay that relies on more than task differentiation consider the following:

The level is a mountain. Groups of various sizes must work out the fastest way to the top. Individual players can climb one another, bridge gaps or hoist other players up to their ledge. Fastest times for each group size are recorded.

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I suddenly remember one design I created for a fast multiplayer game:

Each player would control several soldiers. There is one large castle in the middle. Each team would have there own start/cap point. With four players/teams, they are at north-east-south-west.

Downstairs in the castle is a flag. Whoever gets the flag to his starting point, wins.

The castle is defended by AI players.

The fun part of the game: all four teams fight each other to get to the flag, but as soon as 1 team has the flag, it''s a game of 3-against-1 to prevent that player from scoring

Forced co-op with your enemies ;P

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