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Which is more important for a TBS game: AI or MP?

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I'm in the very beginning stages of putting together a turn-based space strategy like Master of Orion, et al. Lately, the few TBS games that have come out have tried to push multiplayer as a selling feature. However, designing this kind of game for multiplayer support is going to be a LOT of extra work, possibly not worth the trouble for my project. My questions for you are: Is it more important for a TBS game to have enjoyable multiplayer support or a good solid AI for single player? If you had to make the game only single player or only multiplayer, which would you rather have? In my small design circle, we are all leaning towards "concentrate on single player, flesh out multiplayer afterwards." So my current idea is to leave multiplayer "hooks" in the code but not actually program all the networking. Of course, it would be faster to simply program the game strictly as a single player experience. Personally i would almost never play multiplayer. I'm looking for input from as many people as i can reach. What do you think i should do?

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Even with insanely complex systems like the Civ series, AI becomes predictable. I have long favored MP strategy games, although some are not conducive to MP.

Something like FF Tactics, for instance, is dependent on AI units being quite different from player units, and players being able to beat them by using different skills or by being more efficient with certain strategies. AI characters might have infinite magic, or be immune to status ailments, but they only have two or three different attacks, and use them randomly. Thus, a multiplayer gametype would be wholly different from the singleplayer game, and alien to players.

It's up to you. I don't play AvP: Extinction anymore. I don't play FFTA or Kessen either. I still gt on batle.net and play StarCraft, though. Multiplayer is the "next step" of the game. When players finish the campaign, they go to MP. If there's no MP, they stop playing.

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If it were up to me as a designer, I would make it a solid single player experience, but I'm biased a bit that way towards single player games (and love designing AI).

I think it makes more sense from a potential market point of view too. I'd wager that many more people play Civilization (any version) single player than multiplayer. Single player is a lot more popular than multiplayer as a whole of the gaming market, especially for turn based strategy games (that aren't a popular board game like chess).

However, if you design the code right, as you've said, it should be a snap to put in mulitplayer as an afterthought.

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personally, I like taking my time during turns. In final fantasy tactics, there are so many aspects you can tweak and plan like equipment, skills, even setting up your players in the battle field.

Making a TBS multiplayer will change this playing style. Nobody wants to wait 10 mins for the opponent to move. Having limited time to move will remove many options and stategies that some players in normal TBS games may have become accustomed to. Also balancing issues. how long will the turn be? too short will become a RTS and too slow will frustrate other players.

In response to the question, I prefer single player TBS with good AI and tons of detail that I can control. [grin]

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I recently played a game called Dofus (MMO-Strat/RPG) and I've always loved the TBS Tactic games like FFT, but this was just bad. Waiting five minutes to take your next turn was just so boring.. I don't see how multiplayer TBS can be fun. With AI an enemy will move through a unit's turn in a couple of seconds.

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I agree, with RTS I would rather play multiplay, but with TBS I would like a really deep game with great AI. As has been raised already, nothing is *less* fun that waitong for other to take their turns in TBS'.

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Hang on, don't write off TBS multiplayer too quickly. Simultaneous mode reduces downtime considerably, and turn timers etc can help keep the pace up.

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That is a good point, though timers can defeat the purpose of TBS, where you can have "ultimate" control, and tweak everything. However if the TBS game is more action oriented, by all means, timers are good (Worms).

I hand't thought of simultaneous mode, and it is quite a good idea, though some people would be up against people who are less serious and could get annoyed by long turn times.

I really don't know now, but I'm pretty sure that in TBS games, I would go for AI over multiplay.

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Timer's still wouldn't be good enough.. it could still take too long to not be boring before control returns to you. Say you have 6 on 6 in Human vs AI, the AI takes two seconds per unit, so that's about 12 seconds there, while you have an infinite amount of time on your turn.. with Human vs Human a good timer might be about 45 seconds, that's a potential 4.5 minutes before getting back to your turn. It's pretty much a different genre depending on what you're playing against.

Most people that don't like the Human vs AI TBS Tactics genre usually complain about the battles taking so long.

What do you mean by simultaneous mode? Never heard of this in a Turn Based Game.

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I personally would prefer for a turn based game to focus more strongly on the AI, and add multiplayer afterwoulds. After all, when I play a multiplayer game of Alpha Centauri there are still several AI players in the game, and I want them to put up a good fight.

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