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Zorando

Thoughts on multiplayer only indie game?

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What are your thoughts on making a multiplayer only game?

I think there could be a lot of problems with player base, without getting a proper player base immediately the few players you have will quickly abandon ship. The upside of it is that if you get a bunch of players it could snowball into many players! I also find that making a multiplayer game is easier than a single player game since you don't have to create as much content, this of course is based on a story driven single player game or a puzzle game rather than a twin stick shooter.

What are your thoughts concerning making a multiplayer only game? Pros? Cons?

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[quote]
without getting a proper player base immediately the few players you have will quickly abandon ship. The upside of it is that if you get a bunch of players it could snowball into many players!
[/quote]

Unless you've already got a fanbase from previous games or plan to have a big advertising budget, the former option seems [b]way[/b] more likely then the latter.

Seems like a bad idea to me.

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If you plan to make a multiplayer-only game, you want to have a way people can play offline. For example, Minecraft has been hugely successful in multiplayer because people started by playing alone and then as it grew they started playing with friends more. It doesn't have to be a full-on single player mode to be playable "offline". For example:

- MMOs can often be played alone via PvE questing.
- First-person shooters can usually be played deathmatch-vs-bots (although this makes A.I. difficult).
- Games like Farmville are completely social, but they offer you a "fake friend" when you start so you have somebody to go visit (who doesn't actually exist).

Just be creative about how you make it playable when alone, and I'm sure you'll come up with something that fits your game without breaking the budget. If needed, you could also propose the game on the boards here and see if anybody else has a good idea of how to do it.

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We did pretty well with BaboViolent2. It is multiplayer only, we don't even support bots. And we still have a pretty big player base at the moment, 4 years later.
I think if you do it right, and have a place where the community can grow (Forums, etc) and a good way of listing / joining games. You will get your player base pretty quickly.

Now the problem is, to keep it!

[quote][color=#1C2837][size=2] players you have will quickly abandon ship[/quote][/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]This was exactly what happened with our "Madballs in... Babo: Invasion" game. The player base was high for some weekends after a sale, but then went go down and then people will say: Game is good, but the multiplayer is empty! Luckily we added a single player campaign to it.[/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]
[/size][/color]
[size="2"][color="#1c2837"]I think you just need to make a game that feels right and people don't get bored too fast. And mostly: Competitive. That is the key, otherwise player base will disappear quickly.[/color][/size]

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Obviously you could include a single-player side to the game in a multiplayer environment, but this takes time, especially if the AI has to be good. How well do you think the AI has to be able to play? For example, should the AI be able to use all the gameplay mechanics properly or could they simply use the basic ones? Can't think of a good example right now, hopefully you'll understand what I mean.

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Only sell it over a service like steam, and ONLY offer packs, not single licenses. That is, rather than having each player buy their own copy for $5.99, give each customer 4 copies for $5.99.

On paper this might look like you have just cut your profits to 1/4 of what they could be, but if you are selling a multiplayer game then people are going to want to play with their friends. And if you are just starting out and have no fan base? Well, now you just need to catch the eye of one customer, not four, and you have a playerbase of 4 people.

If one of those 4 then attract another customer then they will have to buy another pack and have 3 more games to gift out and spread your community even more.

Present the 3 extras as gifts, you are buying 4 for the price of one, not you are buying 4 for 4 times the price of one. Make it clear that you're willing to give away 3/4 of your games to help kick start the community. (You can even put it up as a limited time deal. There are a set number of free titles, which isn't disclosed to the public. If they don't buy now, they might not get in on the deal.


Let your customers do all your advertising for you. Don't 'pay' for it up front.

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I would sugguest to build up a fan base first, best to mod an existing game with an already huge multiplayer base. I.e. for a RTS like game something like SCII, for a FPS something like Halflife2 etc. This way you have access to a huge player base and a good game idea will draw enough attention to your game. Once you got a stable player base you could try to create a new version with an other engine, taking money for it etc. Games like [url="http://www.naturalselection2.com/"]Natural Selection[/url] go this way.

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I would say from a business perspective, it's a good idea. If you control the server, then you can always monetize your game, whether it's through subscriptions or some kind of freemium. With single player, you have to worry about piracy and also have to worry a lot more about distribution. There's no guarantee you can get onto Steam. Also, multiplayer has much more replay value, so it's good to concentrate on that anyway. Having done both multiplayer and single-player games myself, I don't think I would ever make a single player game again unless I had some amazing idea.

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Just random thoughts here:

Don't create one massive sandbox and let players roam in there. Make the game world scalable and accommodate arbitrary number of players without spreading them out too thin. You might have to throw in heaps of NPCs in the beginning to fill the void and to keep the few players occupied. Aim for a type of game play that is fun even if you are alone. The last bit is critical; if you can pull that off, MP is guaranteed to be more fun.

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[font="Calibri"][size="3"]A game were you play with other people??? I like the idea already :P

[/size][/font][font="Calibri"][size="3"]You’re looking at this the wrong way. Getting people to play the game, then play long enough so new players will find people to play with is not that difficult. There are many tactics and tricks out there to achieve a fan base, even after you have released your game.

[/size][/font][font="Calibri"][size="3"]The problem here is having a game that is good/fun enough for these tactics to work with. If the game sucks, there’s nothing you can do to keep the players on.

[/size][/font][size="3"][font="Calibri"]I good example is what Luckless suggested. If the game sucks I’m not going to bother giving the extra copies to my friends. I already suffered, why should my friends suffer too? :P

[/font][/size][font="Calibri"][size="3"]Cheers :)[/size][/font]

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