Someone Make This: Multiplayer Bots
When reviewing new games, one of the problems for journalists is a lack of online play. It’s a sad life we live, getting free games a week before consumers and playing them without any preconceptions.
One of these issues is trying to capture footage of online play before anyone else is playing online. How do we review and criticize online play when there is nothing but a promise?
While reviewing Wheels of Destruction, I was one of the last reviewers attempting to capture footage, so no one was online. I drove around for 20 minutes, hoping another reviewer would hop online. Fortunately, Wheels of Destruction allows players to drive aimlessly while they wait for the match to begin.
But most games do not allow gamers to play while they wait for other opponents.
I know what you’re thinking: But all my games have online communities, so I never have this problem.
But what about your old games? What about games like Singularity or Blacklight: Tango Down? Long ago, I suggested publishers adopt a business plan in which third-party software companies begin hosting games, patches, and DLC.
Now, for the return of “Someone Make This,” I want to continue this idea. Rather than giving the support of a publisher’s game to a third party, publishers can keep buzz alive in their games by adding multiplayer bots to create the illusion of online play at all times.
When games get old, people sell them or put them away. In my rack of “newer” games with online functionality, I can see several great games that I simply do not play anymore. But I’m too selfish to give those games a good home, so that potential for online play sits idly on my shelf.
But I’m not the only one. Aging games lose their online community, and the less a game sold, the shorter its online life will be. Sadly, overlooked gems like Singularity lose their community and become ghost towns of lost potential.
Some of these games hold brilliant ideas that most gamers will never experience.
A few games have already adopted online bots. Essentially, the computer becomes a placeholder for a seat in an online game, but all matches feel like full and complete games.
Since people love drop-in and drop-out multiplayer, it is only logical for games to also allow a constant flow of gameplay. When reading the back of the box of an older game and seeing a fantastic description of multiplayer, used-game consumers (who are not criminals, by the way) get suckered into buying something that isn’t there.
Adding placeholder bots is not any great mystery. Single-player games already get AI programming of enemies, and when multiplayer is added to these games, it is incomprehensible for these AI enemies to only exist in one area of the game. If Dead Space 2 has aliens and creatures built into the game, and if the multiplayer games are designed for miners versus monsters, why aren’t the opponents online able to be controlled by bots?
Back in the day of GoldenEye, my younger brother and I would make full matches with the other characters filled by bots and making the game fair and fun.
When did that option end?
If a game will advertise 64-player matches, shouldn’t every match be filled by 64 players? Is there a single gamer who would be genuinely upset by getting exactly what they paid for?
Even if 62 of the players in the game are AI, knowing that the potential exists for other players to jump in and out of play as they please and the match continues creates a reason to keep and love a game’s multiplayer.
Who Should Make It
Everyone – Let’s face it, there’s absolutely no reason to ever jump into a multiplayer room and see a waiting screen. What is this? The 90′s?
I don’t know where that 90′s comment came from, but I do want you to know that GameTaffy will see some slowing this summer. While we try to pick up the equipment to continue video IMHO’s, #NewShow, and the podcast, we’re going to focus on our written articles and the “Let’s Play” series, hosted by Alex “Baer” Larrabee, exclusively on GameTaffy’s YouTube channel.