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Cooperative games

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I've been contemplating the idea of a new form of cooperative game, something that would potentially appeal to everyone, including those who rarely play games. The reason behind this is having spent New Year around my girlfriend's friends house, and having sat and played Donkey Kong Bongo's or whatever it's called. Everyone joined in and had a go, including my girlfriend who rarely ever has a go at any game. I started to wonder what it is that makes the game appealing aside from its inherrant simplicity, and I believe it is the cooperation between 2 players, the funny moments you get when one player f00bars their part of the tune and the satisfaction when everything is going smoothly. This then caused me to consider the idea of a cooperative game where players work together in the kind of scenario where you have a blind man relying on on a deaf man for directions, with the deaf man relying on the blind man to hear for him. Now, I'm not implying that this should literally be the design for the game, but just presenting the kind of scenario I think would create for a fun game. What I'm looking for is alternative ideas along the same lines as this that would make for a fun game. Something where players compliment one another and must try to work together. I would also like to make it something as simple as possible so that people can easily pick it up. One idea would be an abstract game type, where one player controls a bubble floating around a world with many obstacles. With simple controls to make it accessible to all standards of gamer, the bubble has to navigate the world and finish a course of sorts without being burst. Perhaps then we could have another player type such as a bird. This other player type would compliment the other player in abilities and perhaps work with them to achieve the objective. Again, I know this idea is not perfect, but I'm just using it to illustrate what I'm thinking of. I also think that in such a design, particular emphasis should be placed on having a large number of possible results of combine dplayer actions, from a very simple setof actions so that beginners can immediately get into the game and have fun seeing the many possible effects of cooperation, or lack of in some cases! Would anyone like to throw any ideas around? Cheers, Steve

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One cooperative form that I enjoyed was same player combat in Age of Empires. Two people could select the same player and be able to control all of the same units. This is the way I and a friend in college would play:
Early game- I would control town building & resources / he would scout
Mid game- I would control building, unit production / he would harass with whatever units I could give him and would request units he wanted
Late game- I still control unit production but would grab a squad of guys in a heated battle / he would control 75% of the units and plan the attacks.

It worked well. It helped that we both enjoyed our own parts more than the others.



If you want an innane idea how about something as simple as a sack race, with controllers.

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Does anyone remember The Lost Vikings? Three characters with unique abilities were switched between by the player. Mostly a puzzle game, but some neat action. Enemies often had a weakness that only one of the characters could exploit, and if that guy's busy elsewhere, you've got some shuffling to do. A game like that, with three players instead of one, would be faster, smoother and more engaging.

I think Full SPectrum Warrior does something like this. SIngle-player mode is one player controlling two teams, switching from one to the other. On XBox Live, you can team up with one other player, so you each have one of the teams all the time. That's also mostly a puzzle game.

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I love co-op. If it were up to me, every game would have co-op in some way. One problem, though, I think it should get more difficult with more players.. Halo was a dissapointment, co-op just made it far too easy.

And now I realize that I didn't add much to this thread.. oops. Let's see. I like your idea, where the player must completely rely on a team mate. Me thinks that the reward should be high, for having to depend on another player.

Have you played the Zelda Four Swords game? It is like this, you can not play the game on your own. It worked well as a mini-game on the GBA port of the SNES Zelda. You have the option to go through the team-play to unlock a new dungeon and items. That was one of the best set-ups for co-op, IMHO.

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The idea posted of a sack race is the kind of thing I'm going for I think. Something that would make for a nice party game. I don't think I want to go for complete dependance upon the other player but rather a partial dependance, something where the other player has a notable effect upon the outcome of the game, not one where a player can be a pain in the backside and ruin the game if they don't do their bit.

As I said, the idea of a sack race is along the right lines, but I feel that particular idea doesn't have a great deal of scope as it wouldn't be very involving, but it is closest to what I'm envisaging so far.

I think I want something where the gameplay is not about coordination which would perhaps alienate older gamers, and not about deep strategy. I would like something that concentrates purely on the aspect of having a fun experience. Perhaps something where the player is offered a simple series of choices but where the choices made can combine to form a more deep and involving gameplay, basically making it shallow and easy at the outset but complex and involving the longer you stick with it. This would then allow casual gamers (or even non-gamers) to have fun, while allowing hardcore players the depth to keep playing.

I can see the game having a diablo-esque point and click interface as for a PC game I think this is the most straightforward form of interaction that everyone will be able to pick up in seconds, rather than a first or third person perspective that can be difficult for a non-gamer to pick up easily. I say this because I know my girlfriend and many others like her would be put off by having to wrestle with understanding how to control a 3d perspective.

I plan on possibly taking this on as a secondary project to my RPG, that would be easy to program but accepted by as wide an audience as possible. The reason being that I have accepted that my RPG is going to take a long time to finish and I'd like something to show for all my time spent programming, so I feel a small secondary project would be nice to show off my talent (or lack of!) more immediately in the meantime.

Some other possible (very rough) ideas along this lines could be something like:

- multiplayer monkeyball style game where players can ram one another off of the course or into traps or perhaps even work together to complete a map, although this may focus too much on coordination and reflex gameplay. Not too original either!
- game where one player must complete an obstacle course, while other player can build sructures to aid the other completing the course
- game where players can shapeshift into various forms in order to complete a course
- game where players aim to construct something together (could be funny to see combined results of people with differing ideas)
- game where players work together to nurture/protect a creature/community of some description


Well anyhoo, I know the ideas are incredibly vague at the moment, but I think that should also give some more idea of what I'm looking for, something that is either creative in some way or pure arcade style fun, rather than focusing on a theme of violence, deep strategy or twitch gameplay (not that I'm necessarily against these things myself!).

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