Thoughts on multiplayer LD games?

Posted by
September 5th, 2013 9:45 am

I’ve done two game jams now as the sole programmer(7drts and ld27). They both turned into multiplayer games, one being a single screen game and the other being a pure online system with a matchmaking component. I’m not sure why I prefer multiplayer, but all the ideas I come up with just happen to include it as a feature. Both online multiplayer and single screen multiplayer have extreme drawbacks for game jam titles in my opinion. For online games, the player traffic is VERY low for the most part on these online games, so only 1 in x people are going to actually encounter someone else on your game. To fix this problem in my game, I decided to implement an extremely basic AI  that players could play against, just to get the feel of the game. Not a perfect solution at all, because I feel like the experience is much better when you know that your opponent is actually trying to read what you are going to do, and not just randomly picking attacks.

On to single screen multi. The biggest problem is that most people who rate games, do it alone. I never have a friend present to jump on single screen multi games with me when I am rating jam games, unless I happen to be at the office(but even then it would look a little suspicious with people crowded around my computer).

Anyway, I guess my question is: what do you think of including multiplayer in an LD(or any game jam for that matter) entry? Is it worth while? And I guess there’s the larger, over-arching question of: does the fact that a game is for a jam limit what you can/should produce, or should you just make what you want to make even if there is not an audience that may be able to partake in the full experience?


5 Responses to “Thoughts on multiplayer LD games?”

  1. dekart says:

    I think that every multiplayer game should have a single-player mode with bots. It’s especially important for games with low traffic, like LD games during the voting.

    We developed several multiplayer games in past and most of the players spent about 80% of time playing with bots even when there were some online players. I think that many players are much more likely to enjoy playing game against a bot and win rather than play against another player and lose.

    So I would recommend you to develop the game as a multiplayer game, but do the bot first to emulate live player on the other end of the wire. In case of lack of time to make the game truly enjoyable in multi-player mode you’ll always have a backup – single-player mode.

  2. epaik says:

    I don’t think you should necessarily limit the types of games you make during a game jam, but you should definitely consider what you’re trying to accomplish.

    If you want a lot of people to play your game, then you should definitely create a single player game.

    If you’re creating a game for the sake of the idea itself, then go for a multiplayer game! It won’t be played by a lot of people, but when somebody actually does play it with a friend, their experience will be worth it.

    I’ve made over ten jam games, and I think four of them have been multiplayer. Multiplayer games rock.

  3. Merudo says:

    I think the multiplayer idea is great, but you do need to make is very easy for people to play with each others. Here are some suggestions:

    – Have some sort of alert system when new people log in, so that players can minimize the game and do something else while waiting for another player.
    – Try to play your own game when you know someone else is online waiting for a player.
    – Advertise and coordinate play sessions. If you tell everyone you will be online playing at 7pm this Sunday, players are more likely to show up for that time.
    – Create multiplayer games that do not require people logging in at the same time (tricky but possible)

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