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Co-Op has started to vanish

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Rev6Studios    204

Hey guys,

 

      I feel like game companies now days are starting to focus less and less on a good Co-Op game. Is it possible to have a captivating story line and Co-Op multiplayer? Or do you sacrifice being able to make a character/player bond for Multiple players. Is a game like borderlands the way to go? Simple artwork and story line but enjoyable enough to entertain or a captivating Co-Op adventure with Rpg elements?

 

 

                           Thanks -Ethan Leslie

 

 

www.Rev6Studios.com

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Zervoxe    1263

Personally I see a few Co-Op games, but most of them tend to make bad decisions on how to make the story work while either playing alone or playing with someone.

 

in some cases they find a quite good balance between Co-Op and Single player being on the same story but this usually is rare to find. Either they make Co-Op to intrusive or they split the Co-Op too much that you barely notice that you are playing with another person. There is also the fact of single player where the AI might be "dumb as bread" and is completely useless or doesn't even partake in lets say 'boss' fights in a meaningful way.

 

There is one workaround which would make it work flawlessly and that is having two separate storylines one made for multiple people and one made for one person although this would probably increase development time quite noticably and thus not valued from a company's perspective.

 

Another issue in some Co-Op games is the Co-Op campaign where the story, rarely give the same immersion as a single player story would, even more noticed is tendencies to being too simple or overly complex making you feel like, "ahh, god I have to help my friend ontop of this ledge again to make him open the door for me" every other 5 minutes.

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Rev6Studios    204

Personally I see a few Co-Op games, but most of them tend to make bad decisions on how to make the story work while either playing alone or playing with someone.

 

in some cases they find a quite good balance between Co-Op and Single player being on the same story but this usually is rare to find. Either they make Co-Op to intrusive or they split the Co-Op too much that you barely notice that you are playing with another person. There is also the fact of single player where the AI might be "dumb as bread" and is completely useless or doesn't even partake in lets say 'boss' fights in a meaningful way.

 

There is one workaround which would make it work flawlessly and that is having two separate storylines one made for multiple people and one made for one person although this would probably increase development time quite noticably and thus not valued from a company's perspective.

 

Another issue in some Co-Op games is the Co-Op campaign where the story, rarely give the same immersion as a single player story would, even more noticed is tendencies to being too simple or overly complex making you feel like, "ahh, god I have to help my friend ontop of this ledge again to make him open the door for me" every other 5 minutes.

I couldn't agree more.There have been few games that I can recall that have had Great Co-Op experiences. Most of the time you are playing as just an entity and have no real impact on the game. Did you try Beyond Two Souls "Co-Op" Mode?

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wodinoneeye    1689

The Co-Op they did in Far Cry 3 wasnt too bad (I was thoroughly sick of the 'running crack monkey with ADD' gimmicky fantasy gameplay of the multiplayer pickup games  for FC3 and the CoD Modern War games).   Unfortunately the multi scenario campaign was still too short and Repeatitus set in after playing the same first scenario for the 40th time.

 

The Co-Op is even going out of the MMORPGs simply because of pickup team players falling too short of what necessary for competant play in anything interesting  (come to think of it their whole games have gone that way too).  People just dont have time any more (or the game isnt as captivating as they were when the concept was new)

 

Multiplayer dynamics make for more interesting action. But filling in the inevitable  team 'gaps' with 'smart' NPCs still is far from being achieved (and if players keep paying for the current pablum, no game company is going to take the risk/expense of significant improvements in that area)

 

 

---

 

 

 

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him"

AND THEN BEFORE HIM STOOD A CAT IN POWER ARMOR WITH A SWORD MADE OF LIGHT WHO ROARED "YOU SHALL NOT PASS."

Edited by wodinoneeye

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wodinoneeye    1689

By Victorian times it was competing companies (politics and commercial manipulations)  if not nations (which would be resolved by war/military positioning)

 

You might have original inhabitants who either have to be overpowered or bribed (or both) as a added element for 'costs' and possible events that shake things up  (opportunities for other players)

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powerneg    2010

There is no good reason to have Co-op for most games.

It's usually a combination of all the restriction of single player and multi player combined, for little to no extra added value.

 

The market are both solo-players and multi-players, if serving to the latter group there is no good reason to limit this to "X" players

(where X is often 2, sometimes 4, when getting to 8 it starts being a real multiplayer game)

From a player-perspective; a player wants to play with his friends, they 're not always online/available at the same time, sometimes there's only one or even no friends available, sometimes 10 want to play with you.

So from a design-perspective a games should be for many many players where players can team up with their own friends or strangers.

(or substitute with Bot-players/AI's )

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SuperG    1300

There is good reason for Co-op but the story must be coop related.

 

A chuck Norris or Rambo one man army action story doesn't work well. Some uses like QTE are disastrous. cut scene rather not. But handy for breaks. But doing squad based mission as story's. You are a team in SP with AI teammates. In coop with players with empty slot filled with AI.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warrior. We played GRAW 1 & 2 on 3 PC in a row each PPU powered :) I got this Black hawk down movie experience. Very Cool. It made the 3th guest gamer a Xbox360 console game buy a PC.  Operation Flashpoint 2 Red River. Same thing. except the cut scene NPC / actor was very irritating.

 

Co-op works with team based story's or plots. The problem is AI if the story demands a team even for solo play. This is a very complex problem. As a AI designer you design your AI with specific gameplay in mind. But gamers are unpredictable play as it often not meant to be played. Like hanging back get the flow out of the game. Starting a spawn wave notice. Or rushes like Rambo so aren't moving as team. get shot in the back. Hinder visa versa. Or find exploit to do things the AI can't adapt to. And often the AI get the blame. But its large the player who play it as the designer had in mind. Good AI should also address strange behavior of gamers. But also the game flow could adopt to the gamers so to the AI. Problem this is to much for a game with tight deadlines so often not done. So to me the AI works fine a bit limited. But I know I need to take a regular action flow and move the AI as team. Real gamers. well we start OFP2RR and the pure COD guy was fast to action and dead. So I said this is not COD move as team.

 

It would be nice if the story scales well up from solo to team you then need not to use such advance AI.

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ferrous    6137

This seems subjective, do you have any data on co-op disappearing?  Borderlands 2 and Wargame Airland Battle both had co-op, and are recent releases.

 

And Red Dragon, the Wargame sequel, will have expanded co-op.  Diablo 3 is getting an expansion, and is essentially a co-op game, etc.

Edited by ferrous

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Rev6Studios    204

There is no good reason to have Co-op for most games.

It's usually a combination of all the restriction of single player and multi player combined, for little to no extra added value.

 

The market are both solo-players and multi-players, if serving to the latter group there is no good reason to limit this to "X" players

(where X is often 2, sometimes 4, when getting to 8 it starts being a real multiplayer game)

From a player-perspective; a player wants to play with his friends, they 're not always online/available at the same time, sometimes there's only one or even no friends available, sometimes 10 want to play with you.

So from a design-perspective a games should be for many many players where players can team up with their own friends or strangers.

(or substitute with Bot-players/AI's )

You have a very valid point and I suppose bigger game companies wont make a game if they don't feel it will sell. Unfortunately most gamers now days only like run and gun shooters or games like flappy bird -_-. I suppose if the demand were there than more companies would do it. Or if one company actually produced a Co-Op driven game maybe the market would change

 

There is good reason for Co-op but the story must be coop related.

 

A chuck Norris or Rambo one man army action story doesn't work well. Some uses like QTE are disastrous. cut scene rather not. But handy for breaks. But doing squad based mission as story's. You are a team in SP with AI teammates. In coop with players with empty slot filled with AI.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warrior. We played GRAW 1 & 2 on 3 PC in a row each PPU powered smile.png I got this Black hawk down movie experience. Very Cool. It made the 3th guest gamer a Xbox360 console game buy a PC.  Operation Flashpoint 2 Red River. Same thing. except the cut scene NPC / actor was very irritating.

 

Co-op works with team based story's or plots. The problem is AI if the story demands a team even for solo play. This is a very complex problem. As a AI designer you design your AI with specific gameplay in mind. But gamers are unpredictable play as it often not meant to be played. Like hanging back get the flow out of the game. Starting a spawn wave notice. Or rushes like Rambo so aren't moving as team. get shot in the back. Hinder visa versa. Or find exploit to do things the AI can't adapt to. And often the AI get the blame. But its large the player who play it as the designer had in mind. Good AI should also address strange behavior of gamers. But also the game flow could adopt to the gamers so to the AI. Problem this is to much for a game with tight deadlines so often not done. So to me the AI works fine a bit limited. But I know I need to take a regular action flow and move the AI as team. Real gamers. well we start OFP2RR and the pure COD guy was fast to action and dead. So I said this is not COD move as team.

 

It would be nice if the story scales well up from solo to team you then need not to use such advance AI.

Could you do a storyline that was single player driven based off each character and you are only offered certain missions if that character were playing with you in a Co-Op game. Essentially Taking out the horrible AI that Co-Op games are usually faced with? If not that could there be a way to make an AI system that somewhat learned based off a players actions. Say you are playing with a bot Co-Op person, well based on what you did last mission it knows you are most likely going to do the same things and kind of adapts? Haha I suppose that is getting rather closer to actually AI isn't it? Sigh Wishful thinking at it's best.

 

This seems subjective, do you have any data on co-op disappearing?  Borderlands 2 and Wargame Airland Battle both had co-op, and are recent releases.

 

And Red Dragon, the Wargame sequel, will have expanded co-op.  Diablo 3 is getting an expansion, and is essentially a co-op game, etc.

It absolutely is Subjective. Borderlands and diablo 3 are Co-Op games but the storyline is rather dry and doesnt really change if you play it single player or Co-Op. It was a broad generalization however I feel like bigger companies are just focused on money now days and don't want to appeal to Co-Op fans because it isn't as profitable. I could be wrong. but a truly captivating Co-Op game that ran smoothly just hasn't happened. If it has it has been years since it did. 

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Rev6Studios    204


"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him"
AND THEN BEFORE HIM STOOD A CAT IN POWER ARMOR WITH A SWORD MADE OF LIGHT WHO ROARED "YOU SHALL NOT PASS."

 

Love It, haha It is the "logo/moto" of the game company I just started.

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LittleVikings    311

Perhaps what you're seeing is co-op moving house to places like Global agenda and Firefall, where it becomes the (or at least a) central theme. It works better that way, because it always seems to feel a bit tacked-on if gameplay isn't designed around it. The trouble is that if you take what is essentially a single-player game and allow players to co-op, the whole dynamic of the game changes; Players' focus moves away from the game's story to the other player/s as they work to maximize their effectiveness as a team. This can be surprisingly challenging (at least in part because most players are woefully undisciplined, no matter how fervently they believe they're a highly-trained warrior), and having played through the game solo already won't exactly help keep their attention focussed elsewhere.

 

Designing multi-player games is very different from designing single-player storylines (See what I did there?), so if you're looking for multi-player, single-player games are probably the wrong place to look. That doesn't mean that more couldn't be done in the hybrid multi-player storyline area, but co-op mode really has to be tailored to a multi-player experience, which often results in something that looks more like an MMO, and after all, since AI is a factor, wouldn't you and your buddy rather team up against the great unwashed than face the same old bunch of brainless NPC mobs?

Edited by LittleVikings

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Rev6Studios    204

Perhaps what you're seeing is co-op moving house to places like Global agenda and Firefall, where it becomes the (or at least a) central theme. It works better that way, because it always seems to feel a bit tacked-on if gameplay isn't designed around it. The trouble is that if you take what is essentially a single-player game and allow players to co-op, the whole dynamic of the game changes; Players' focus moves away from the game's story to the other player/s as they work to maximize their effectiveness as a team. This can be surprisingly challenging (at least in part because most players are woefully undisciplined, no matter how fervently they believe they're a highly-trained warrior), and having played through the game solo already won't exactly help keep their attention focussed elsewhere.

 

Designing multi-player games is very different from designing single-player storylines (See what I did there?), so if you're looking for multi-player, single-player games are probably the wrong place to look. That doesn't mean that more couldn't be done in the hybrid multi-player storyline area, but co-op mode really has to be tailored to a multi-player experience, which often results in something that looks more like an MMO, and after all, since AI is a factor, wouldn't you and your buddy rather team up against the great unwashed than face the same old bunch of brainless NPC mobs?

I suppose you are right. I think there is a balance and that it is possible to have a Co-Op game that is more story line driven. At least I hope being that is one of the main focuses on our first game. You have a good point that most Co-Op players are undisciplined and will act dumb at times. It isnt really something I had thought about. Why cant we all just be Highly-Trained Warriors that never mess up!

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Rattrap    3385

My buddies and I still get together for lan parties every once and a while.  We still love playing co-op games like Rainbow 6.  The older ones used to allow up to 8 player co-op, which was great (since we usually had 6-8 people).  Modern incarnations have reduced it down to 4 players max.  So we are pretty much forced to play death matches of some kind (until people start dropping out).

 

One game that stands out a little is Left 4 Dead (and 2) which allow for 4 player human co-op vs the zombie hoard with up to 4 human players playing as zombies too.  This is definitely adds to the difficulty (though usually ends badly for the humans),

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Meatsack    1032

I think this is a commentary on how people play games solo versus in a group.  When playing a solo game, the player steps into a character and stays in that character to get the full immersion of the story.  When more players are added, the character becomes less defined by the game and more by who the player is and their real world personalities.  Left 4 Dead is a good example of this since it does not matter, gameplay-wise, which survivor you play since they are all functionally identical.  The character comes out in the lines they say which are largely uncontrolled by the player.  Conversely, the Team Fortress series has many classes which are functionally different, but have no depth of character since there is no personal story attached to anyone in any given scenario.

 

I see the difficulty with developing Co-Op Story-Driven games is getting multiple people to willingly take on unique characters with defining characteristics.  Generally, there will be some real-world bickering (I wanna be the mage! You were the mage last time!) and likely some out-of-character gameplay that can ruin the story and immersion.  Add in the fact that ALL players are to be treated as main characters to the story, and you get added frustration when differing skill levels cause disadvantages in the gameplay. (Now you are 1 man down because of "noob" OR "elite gamer" is doing all the work and nobody else really gets to "play".)

 

So I don't see Co-op going away, but naturally settling into a shallow character, squad-based tactics style games where the players largely define themselves.  I'd LIKE to see a story game where 2 players play vastly different and defined roles.  Resident Evil 4(?) came close there, but even then, the characters were almost functionally the same.  It was a good try.

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alh420    5995

Hasn't it always been pretty far between games with good co-op experiences?

 

I don't really think there is much of a decline, co-op is just hard to do well, for reasons mentioned above.

 

Some recent titles come to mind, Trine and Dungeon Defenders for example.

And DotA and all the other MOBAs are both co-op and competitive at the same time.

 

I like co-op a lot better then competitive multiplayer, I hope game designers continue to go the extra mile to make their games enjoyable in co-op smile.png

Edited by Olof Hedman

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Rev6Studios    204


I like co-op a lot better then competitive multiplayer, I hope game designers continue to go the extra mile to make their games enjoyable in co-op

 

 

I couldn't agree more I feel like as long as there is some kind of market for it they will continue. One can only pray at least....

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Rev6Studios    204

My buddies and I still get together for lan parties every once and a while.  We still love playing co-op games like Rainbow 6.  The older ones used to allow up to 8 player co-op, which was great (since we usually had 6-8 people).  Modern incarnations have reduced it down to 4 players max.  So we are pretty much forced to play death matches of some kind (until people start dropping out).

 

One game that stands out a little is Left 4 Dead (and 2) which allow for 4 player human co-op vs the zombie hoard with up to 4 human players playing as zombies too.  This is definitely adds to the difficulty (though usually ends badly for the humans),

 

I agree with this. The only problem I have is that games like those are very shallow and have no real depth to them. yes they are fun but merely because there is enough enjoyment to last and distract from true lack of story line.

 

I think this is a commentary on how people play games solo versus in a group.  When playing a solo game, the player steps into a character and stays in that character to get the full immersion of the story.  When more players are added, the character becomes less defined by the game and more by who the player is and their real world personalities.  Left 4 Dead is a good example of this since it does not matter, gameplay-wise, which survivor you play since they are all functionally identical.  The character comes out in the lines they say which are largely uncontrolled by the player.  Conversely, the Team Fortress series has many classes which are functionally different, but have no depth of character since there is no personal story attached to anyone in any given scenario.

 

I see the difficulty with developing Co-Op Story-Driven games is getting multiple people to willingly take on unique characters with defining characteristics.  Generally, there will be some real-world bickering (I wanna be the mage! You were the mage last time!) and likely some out-of-character gameplay that can ruin the story and immersion.  Add in the fact that ALL players are to be treated as main characters to the story, and you get added frustration when differing skill levels cause disadvantages in the gameplay. (Now you are 1 man down because of "noob" OR "elite gamer" is doing all the work and nobody else really gets to "play".)

 

So I don't see Co-op going away, but naturally settling into a shallow character, squad-based tactics style games where the players largely define themselves.  I'd LIKE to see a story game where 2 players play vastly different and defined roles.  Resident Evil 4(?) came close there, but even then, the characters were almost functionally the same.  It was a good try.

 

Do you think a game that did have in depth Co-Op experience would have a market. Or would it get pushed under the rug because it isnt GTA or COD? I just wonder how much there actually is an appeal to Those types of games.

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Meatsack    1032


Do you think a game that did have in depth Co-Op experience would have a market. Or would it get pushed under the rug because it isnt GTA or COD? I just wonder how much there actually is an appeal to Those types of games.

 

That's the real $1M question there and the underlying concern of this thread.  It would take an actual marketing study to answer it definitively, but my hypothesis is that companies believe that the more competitive a game is, the more it will sell.  This leads to a sports-like mentality where the game is developed to be replayed with just a thin veneer of optional storyline as a setting.  Many games can be played in succession with little interference from a plot or character motivation urging the player to action.  CoD is pretty much a sport now.  The setting is near irrelevant.  GTA is a playground.  Again, the setting is irrelevant.  It could be just about anywhere.  The last big blockbuster game is going to be GTA: Fallout: Blackops.

 

The problem with a good story is that it eventually comes to a definite conclusion.  I have some favorite books and movies which I have experienced several times, but those times are not back-to-back.  Often times, there are years between readings/viewings.  Some games fall in that category as well.  They just don't have immediate replay-ability.  That's not to say that a good story won't sell.  Look at The Last of Us and The Walking Dead titles.  I hear they are doing well.  They just aren't co-op titles.  I'm going to have to think on how to make a good in-depth co-op experience.  I don't have an answer for that yet.

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ferrous    6137

Thinking about this, as others have said, part of it is that when you play co-op, especially with friends, not many people play, "In character", you end up playing as yourselves, and chatting away and bringing in all sorts of out of character knowledge and experience into the game.  In some ways, Journey manages to do a game with a story, as it completely limits the communication allowed between players.

 

 

Though games still tend to be designed for singleplayer first, and don't seem to attribute actions to one player or the other, but to a group as a whole.  Which can be a bit frustrating.  I recall the Neverwinter Nights series, where I would be busy shopping with an NPC, only to get status messages like, "Your actions have modified your alignment towards evil (3 points)", randomly, because another one of my party members was off causing trouble.

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Meatsack    1032

Do players that like story-driven co-op also like the co-op experiences possible in Minecraft or Halo3:Forge?

 

I can only speak for myself.  I don't much like sandbox scenarios like you mention.  I prefer a fully crafted story and clear goals.  But of course, that's just me.  Others may be more open minded and enjoy both.

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Rev6Studios    204

Thinking about this, as others have said, part of it is that when you play co-op, especially with friends, not many people play, "In character", you end up playing as yourselves, and chatting away and bringing in all sorts of out of character knowledge and experience into the game.  In some ways, Journey manages to do a game with a story, as it completely limits the communication allowed between players.

 

 

Though games still tend to be designed for singleplayer first, and don't seem to attribute actions to one player or the other, but to a group as a whole.  Which can be a bit frustrating.  I recall the Neverwinter Nights series, where I would be busy shopping with an NPC, only to get status messages like, "Your actions have modified your alignment towards evil (3 points)", randomly, because another one of my party members was off causing trouble.

I'm just picturing "The Last of Us" Co-Op now... Thanks -_-

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Orymus3    18821

Was there ever such a time when co-op was mainstream though?

I feel like this has always been an underdog game mode.

That being said, there's a lot of multiplayer sandbox games out there that allow you to play cooperatively (and an increasing number at that), so I'm not sure its actually in decline.

(referring to games that followed in the stead of minecraft such as the highly popular Space Engineers)

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Rev6Studios    204


Was there ever such a time when co-op was mainstream though?
I feel like this has always been an underdog game mode.

I suppose you have a point. I guess looking back there has never really been as big a Co-Op scene. I think want the gaming world to give us a captivating Co-Op game and so far there hasn't been that many to come close. I feel like with technology what it is today Sacrificing depth for Co-Op shouldn't Have to happen. Hopefully im right and that will change soon.

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Simon West    119

First of all i feel people may be confusing MP and Co op.  Minecraft for example is not a coop game, it is however a multiplayer game in which you can play co-operatively.  

 

Now this then leads to actual co op games.  They are far and few between, and i think most people have pointed out often a by product of the single player experience.  You have a few good example that took the extra steps a little like the gears series or dead space, but ultimately fell into the trap of stupid AIs at some point in the single player (Gears 1 i found almost impossible to complete in SP mode due to the AI dying within 5 seconds in the final boss stage).

 

The problem like so many have pointed out is the publisher wants to make money and thats either SP or MP.  It seems us here are the minority who want the coop experience and the majority want the esport that is now CoD MP.  I have always preferred coop but for more or less found nothing other the course of playing games for almost 30 years.  High speed internet has more or less killed the LAN scene.  In the past we needed to have LANs to enjoy certain games, nowadays we can all sit in our own houses with VOIP and happily play with 10 other friends night after night with out the hassle of lugging our PCs about.

 

As for actual coop games in my own honest opinion i dont see the market for them.  An AI isnt a substitute for your friend, and time constraints etc also make coop nigh on impossible (well for most people over 18 i would guess this is true) and this could then take away from the game as a coop or single player experience.  I feel really it is just a case of if you can play a mp co-operatively then fine, i love playing Minecraft, DayZ, BF etc with mates, but if they are not there i can still have fun playing by myself.  I am talking as a person who loves coop games, i would love to see someone make a truly fantastic coop game, but my head tells me it really isnt possible and would just flop as it would detract from either the sp or mp aspect of the game.  

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