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Diodor

Multiplayer?

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Is Starcraft a multiplayer game? Is Chess? Is Quake? No, no and no. What could be the strange definition of multiplayer I use? Well, how about a modified Turing test? When you are playing a multiplayer game, how important is the difference between an exquisite (theoretical) AI and a human opponent? In other words, does the game allow you to express yourself in a different way when playing against real people than you would while facing machine opponents? All of the games I listed are in fact shared single player games. The skills used are solitary skills, there isn''t a special kind gameplay that would be impossible weren’t'' t these games multiplayer (the only difference is when the available AI isn''t as good and varied as it could be). These games are about as multiplayer as playing pinball in turns to achieve the highest record is. Are there an alternatives? The game Diplomacy is one. This game is so focused on diplomacy and working together and backstabbing and spreading rumors and negotiating that a computer player would stand a chance. Poker is another example. A machine could play poker well perhaps, however the fun of poker is not that of probabilities but of guessing your opponents thoughts and hiding your emotions. Playing poker in a window is a worse game than solitaire. Real life poker is a great game.

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I don''t think it''s too far of a leap to extend what you say about poker to chess/Starcraft/Quake. Even playing a great AI in those games is much less fun than an actual human opponent, and my thought processes are different, too. When I play chess against a human, I try to lure them into traps and try to see the motives behind their moves. When playing a computer, there are very few "mind games" you can play in chess and the focus is more on absolute strategy (analogous to how a computer reduces poker to a game of chance).

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I''d have to agree with Way Walker. Just about any game is played a little differently in multiplayer than in single player. Half-life I''m sure would be on your list of non-multiplayer games, however, I get bored going around and shooting aliens when the computer controls them. I get a kick out of knowing that somebody, somewhere in another part of the world, is cursing at me for killing him with a knife from behind. Or even better, in a LAN party when we can yell at each other for encouragement or as a distraction. The multiplayer experience can be felt even when taking turns at pinball to try to get the highest score.

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