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Is co-op just too difficult for Developers?


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The reward offered by co-op gaming is very familiar to many Ghost Recon fans, especially those have have enjoyed playing in any of the many co-op tournaments over the years. Nine team mates playing together against the AI enemy, multiple mission objectives, built in scoring, and modding tools to easily create an endless supply of new missions, are some of the reasons that Ghost Recon is arguably unmatched in gaming history for quality tactical co-operative gaming. Todays generation of gamers would be overjoyed to hear that their favourite franchise was about to release a title with the above features, and probably shocked to hear that those same features are already available in a game released seven years ago!

The thing is, with the orginal Ghost Recon, Red Storm Entertainment seems to have created a game more than eight years ahead of its time, as todays AAA releases can't match Ghost Recon's impressive co-op feature list, infact those features seem to deteriorate with every new release. Look at Rainbow six Vegas 2, while we might hope that the 9 man co-op limit with Ghost Recon had been surpassed, it has apparantly been decreased to two!

A recent article on C&VG highlights the difficulties faced by developers when creating a game with co-op functionality. The question we should be asking is, if Red Storm could code it seven years ago, why isn't every game developer striving to expand on those Game of the Year features, rather than cutting back?

Thoughts? To me, PC's are so much more powerful these days, it's a crying shame that we see new titles coming out with less to offer than the games of old. Too much developer resouces are being spent on eye candy, and not enough on gameplay - and that's coming from someone who loves eye candy!

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I think the why of the lack of decent co-op features is obvious, and it's the exact same issue that causes many PC gamers to cry "console kid" when presented with a mainstream game:

Despite the fact that gamers have never been more connected, there is this tightly held notion in the mainstream that gamers are insular creatures, only venturing out of their individual caves to yell profanities at "the others". Since developers are predisposed to assume bad things will happen if more than one or two of these "gamers" get together for the same task (and please, don't look at games like WoW, since co-op works rather well there) someone will become a griefer, and all that hard work developing a complex co-operative game experience will be for naught.

Easier to just don't bother, and probably more money that way. :ermm:

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Can i just clarify in case there is any confusion R6: Vegas 2 co-op Terrorist Hunt remains 4 player, it is only the story mode which has decreased to 2 player. This was apparently after complaints the previous games co-op story mode did not include the cut scenes from the actual campaign and so they are creating a co-op story mode the same as sp. I do not know the ins and outs of coding so cannot comment on how that will affect whether its 2 or 4 players but just wanted to clarify its only the story mode which is dropping.

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My thoughts on this would be the fact that most if not all shooters are "shooters on rails" and it isn't worth it to developers to make a 9 man when there is only one street to go down, or at the most 2 for the "token flanking route" that I see in alot of games.

Perhaps the reason 9 man coop worked so well in [GR] is because they gave you a big square to run around in with 4 objectives to work on. Not a street, with a house at the end, then a right turn, then a house at the end of that street, with the rest of the city being barricaded off.

Edited by Kamakazi
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Games that are not linear, go on a per map basis, don't have cut scenes, those are the kind that need coop. Games like Vegas, Half-Life, Doom 3, Bioshock, those kind of games don't need it. Games that are open, like [GR] and Armed Assault, definitely benefit from coop mode (which should be easy enough to implement, just replace AI teammates with controllable players).

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Rocky as you know most if not all games have moved forward in the looks department, and gone backwards in the play department.

This is a fact and no one Developer/Distributer can say any different.

You will be told this when you ask such a question, oh yes we know but you must understand that so much more goes into your AI now than in years gone by, it is just impossible to do these things.

Yer whatever 2001 RSE say no more.

What drives this industry is profit, and a game that can be modded for a few years is not going to make such short term profits, ie fast turnaround of development and one game every 10 months.

My thought on more players ie 9 man in a team MEANS.

More profit 9 copies instead of 4.

More online players.

More online and bigger teams created.

More teams means larger communities.

More server leasing both game and ts.

Online tournaments.

In other words Ghost Recon made by RSE.

I just wish we would stop going backwards, the way forwards was introduced back in 2001 what in gods name happened.

I was quite calm when I came here tonight now Im well wound up.

PS sorry great post. :thumbsup:

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I don't really play co-op but here is my thoughts. I think the publishers want to develop games in 1 year or less with a good Single player and Possibly some multiplayer.

I think they let co-op out because when ai are battling more then 1 player not scripted, it is a resource and bandwidth hog. I also think that to troubleshoot the ai's reaction to 9 players attacking them in every possible scenario without it looking scripted would take well over that 1 year that the publisher wants to release and cash in.

I don't know this... but how long did gr1 take to develop?

The resources and such with added physics is why i think Grin limited the co-op to 4 players. Any more and it could compomise people with lesser pc's from playing or make a server unstable for example.

unstable for example.

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Roco pretty much said it.

These days games are being developed to stay for a short amount of time so that ppl get tired of it fast and buy the sequel/addon/new games being released by the publisher.

Putting in real efforts in a longer time so that the game will build a huge community that hangs on to the game for years and not interested in sequels, only free new content to keep them going is not wanted by most of the publishers around. I could name one perfect example, but it would be too easy to connect the dots to those 3 letters.

It is not about letting a game stay for 5 years due to perfect implementation of gameplay and support, it is about keeping them kids (no offence..but it is the kids that are like..wow look cool game let's play it..wow look there is new cool game drop this old poo and buy the new one) busy until new short-experiences are finished.

Currently the market is being overrun but the same 3rd-person shooters over and over again..just the levels and slightly the graphics differ...somehow I get the feeling that I am one of the few noticing it and feeling kind of messed with.

Keeping out Co-Op is a big portion - it is time-eating in the development because of many things to look out for - 8 peeps on a mission can do much more than 1 with AI moving through a mission and keeping the challenge up for this many players takes time to develop. Also it would keep people busy for quite a long time - with more peeps there is more you can do/try/play in a game.

All this leads back to the bigger picture, where it is about money than content to most huge companies - not seeing that a dedicated game packed with everything would mean lots of "Ching Ching $$$$".

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Wow, guess I need to start looking at the news page on occasion again :)

I appreciate Rocky putting this up as a lead item, and (as usual) I think Colin has probably nailed it.

From a business perspective, I just think that the publishers have not figured out if and how they can actually benefit from this. As has been pointed out, everyone is looking to roll out that slick new product in 10 months that will have all those new flashy graphic bits to sell it quickly. Well it seems to me that there are alternate marketing and sales opportunities that are being completely ignored. Maybe they donot produce a title that garners the recluse griefers that they seem eager to marker to, but there is still market out there. Just look at the Microsoft Flight Simulator community, there is a product that is pushing almost 20 years now and still going strong, sure it is a niche, but the publisher/developer keeps rolling out new versions and add on packs that people keep buying. Obviously RSE had been doing this for a while on their own, but that trend seems to have been eliminated since Ubi took ownership. Granted, I am not a big market watcher, but it seems to me that hardly anyone is marketing/producing add-on packs for their games these days -- that seems odd to me.

On the technical side of things, I really have to disagree with Roco (although I think his first paragraph is dead on). GR has relatively stupid AI that are combined with a reasonable scripting system and decent network code. The end result is that it is no strain on current low end gaming computers to easily deal on the order of 100 active actors + vehicles in the game. Sure writing mission scripts that are not strictly linear is harder than linear ones, but it is not orders of magnitude more complex if you have decent tools. I have been involved in writing enough tournament grade mission scripts to speak with some authority here, so trust me when I assert that if a few of us can (in our spare time) put together tournament missions, it is well within a developers capabilities to build similar missions on the schedule they have, if they want to.

The key challenge was the bit I mentioned about having the right tools, and this is where I think the trouble begins. Game play has been pushed so far down the priority list, while visual effects have moved so far up it, that when making early design choices (e.g. when picking an engine, and the like) developers/publishers have systematically made choices that hurt game play. So they end up with visually stunning systems that require "play om a rail", or only let you have 10 characters in play at a moment, or can not support more players, or ...

So, in the end, I think it is quite possible technically, you just need to set yourself up initially with the intent of building a game that will last for 5+ years. You need to pick tools and make design decisions that will support both you and your community of players over that period. And finally you need to shift part of your business over to producing high-quality add-ons / mods / conversions / ... so that you can continue to gather profit and benefit from the game system you have produced for its entire life.

Edited by Buehgler_AS
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One thing that I forgot and Im sorry to Grin for leaving it out.

We did moan a lot about the coop when GRAW1 came out, and to be honest the game mode [GR] did a little to help, in Graw 2 it worked ok too but still left massive holes.

The game mode was not really missions based but FF based that was the problem, as coop players we love MISSION BASED COOP.

The rosen mission was I would say the closest to stealth but only in part, it is similar to COD4 sniper mission, it does have tension and you have to plan ahead, but both were ruined because of the FF parts.

Buehgler_AS

My friend above in his post says it all really, ROCO did say about the kiddies side of it, I would agree to a certain extent but how ever.

Back in 2002/2003 I had the pleasure of holding the rains to the Junior SEALZ SQUAD, my Daughter Deanne as Rocky Knows liked to play mission based coop inspite of her age, many young members liked both type of game mission based objectives and Capture the Flag all forms of TVT this is where we get our future players. They Love it.

I have always looked at Ghost Recon as not just a game but an education in:

Long Term child development.

Guys this is true dont laugh, she learnt how to respect other players and kill them :whistle: be part of a team and learn where her place was within that team.

TS Rules when to speak and when not to at a critical moment.

Patience on the abush or waite for the ai to go past.

We sometimes forget the coop mode but we should not it is training for the future and should never be left out or placed into second or last place.

Edited by Colin
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@ Colin -

spot on with his theory of the longevity of a good coop over time.

take GR - well made coop, good tools, and despite all the mods, players snapped up every expansion as soon as they hit the shelves and would have done so for another 5 years if the expansions had continued to roll out.

compared to GRAW - halfbaked COOP which ###### players off so that buy the time they get to the third release - how many ppl will actually bother with it?

good coop= good game for up to a decade = profits.

addon - mods will never be as accepted as an official expansion, so selling a game with the line "and you can mod everything else you want into it is BS - duznt work" - must deliver official expansions and a completed game.

_______________________________________________

@ Bueghler (miss you all ...sniff)

agreed - Devs spend so much time with bells n whistles, graffix and 'the best AI' but ###### tools.

the fact is GR didnt have best graffix and the AI were actually very simple - it was the scripting tool (IGOR) that made it work so well.

so many Devs miss the Tools - its a last thought, a secondary addon - but it should be a major focus - make it intuitive, make it easy to script, and then we can make the AI dance.

how is it that all these new and amazingly intelligent AI do the most stupid things - something aint working.

my opinion is keep them stupid so they cant think for themselves and f^&@ up - provide the scripts so they follow orders exactly as they are told.

__________________________________________________

anyone who has opened GRAW editor and played with vehicles would notice how the 'dynamic' vehicles can behave so badly - why? what is the benefit really - a blown tank is a blown tank anyway you cut it - its the bells n whistles again. and with so much cpu demand forget the coop.

anyone who dropped some of the dynamic tents in GRAW would have seen the framerates nosedive from high 80s to low 20s - again, why? its a frikkin tent.

Devs need to stop with the BS and get back to the roots of what its really all supposed to be about. ITS ABOUT THE ######ING GAMEPLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

_____________________________________________________

Netcode - ###### is with the code?

It's 2008 ###### - how can it still be so krap?

If a Dev cant build good netcode - why build a frikkin MP game?

Drives me crazy, and makes me despise a company that allows a game to be released that can't get it right.

We play MP bcoz we want to enjoy the game with others online - if you cnat mkae MP enjoyable - DONT BUILD A ######ING MP GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!

____________________________________________________

Lazy - it takes a lot of skill to build good missions with open play - linear is easy.

And therefore when I see linear I think cop out.

In terms of linear - it's a niche which COD4 has sewn up quite frankly - noone does it better - but at the end of the day, it's lazy scripting.

Im losing my way in this post - starting to become a rant about everything I hate about the lack of COOP in other games.

I just hope Ground Branch nails it - even if it's only 6 players to start with.

Edited by SCE_Lightspeed
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Hmmm my thoughts would be that its a lot quicker/cheaper to make a game without coop, think about it. TVT maps need to be created and playtested to see if theyre fun so the devs run round shooting each other and see if it was any good.

Coop needs somebody to design the missions, playtest and refine them, to make sure that every possible idea that the player could come up with is tested so it doesnt crash the server or that the player will turn up in an area where the ai havent spawned because he didnt go over the trigger, to me that would take way more time than creating a map to go free for all on.

You want time and money to make a game good? LMAO hell no!

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Yeah, as many of you have noted: The whole GR1 game was, sort of, designed to let you run all over the map as you saw fit. For the same reason it was rather short on cutscenes and special effects compared to the current crop of games. There was no need to shoehorn the player into being at a specific location facing a certain direction in order to experience the "cinematic effects". So having 9 guys running all over the map was less of an issue, except perhaps for server CPU power (and that wasn't really much of a problem either).

If a game is designed from scratch in the same mould as GR1 (or the original Rainbow Six for that matter) co-op should be comparatively easy to create. Note how the article talks about the problems of making cutscenes work in a co-op context. I say screw the cutscenes, just build us a non-linear tactical game. With co-op.

Respectfully

krise madsen

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I know this is the PC part of this forum, but in the xbox versions done by RSE, GR2 and Summit Strike, GRAW1 and GRAW2 you can play co-op up til 16 people. [GR] and GRIT is up to 6 people. Americas Army 2: Rise of a soldier made by RSE is up to 16 people co-op.

So to me, it seems like it's up to the developer to decide what do and it seems like RSE knows how to do 16 man co-op missions, and I hope for your (PC-gamers) sake that RSE will develop the next Ghost Recon game for PC too.

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ROCO did say about the kiddies side of it, I would agree to a certain extent but how ever.

Back in 2002/2003 I had the pleasure of holding the rains to the Junior SEALZ SQUAD, my Daughter Deanne as Rocky Knows liked to play mission based coop inspite of her age, many young members liked both type of game mission based objectives and Capture the Flag all forms of TVT this is where we get our future players. They Love it.

I have always looked at Ghost Recon as not just a game but an education in:

Long Term child development.

Guys this is true dont laugh, she learnt how to respect other players and kill them :whistle: be part of a team and learn where her place was within that team.

TS Rules when to speak and when not to at a critical moment.

Patience on the abush or waite for the ai to go past.

We sometimes forget the coop mode but we should not it is training for the future and should never be left out or placed into second or last place.

Bravo for this one Colin, it really is a good point. I think it is just another reminder that kiddies (and mature members of a community) come at all ages. I know I always enjoyed whenever Deanne was able to join us on the AS public server for a few games. She was always a pleasure to play with and a great person to have on TS. I just figure she was avoiding her homework, I guess I never thought much about using the experience as a "learning tool".

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Most people here already know my attitude to the lousy way Co-op has been treated in the GR series and in the gaming world in particular, but one thing still never ceases to amaze me.

Why has no developer taken GR, updated the graphics, updated the mod tools, and released it as an expansion or upgrade.

We all (me included) like to vilify game developers, accuse them of wanting to make a quick buck etc, but surely doing the above to GR would need very little resource and a short timespan and would satisfy quite a few of us and make them a very easy profit.

I can dream ;)

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Most people here already know my attitude to the lousy way Co-op has been treated in the GR series and in the gaming world in particular, but one thing still never ceases to amaze me.

Why has no developer taken GR, updated the graphics, updated the mod tools, and released it as an expansion or upgrade.

We all (me included) like to vilify game developers, accuse them of wanting to make a quick buck etc, but surely doing the above to GR would need very little resource and a short timespan and would satisfy quite a few of us and make them a very easy profit.

I can dream ;)

Not that I'm any expert on game development (duh!) but I would say it would require just about the same amount of resources as any other game, except for the game design part. I'm just as puzzled as you though: With the games industry's infatuation with recycling proven, money-making concepts, why not recycle the proven, money-making GR1?

Oh, and don't call me Shirley ;)

Respectfully

krise madsen

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Most people here already know my attitude to the lousy way Co-op has been treated in the GR series and in the gaming world in particular, but one thing still never ceases to amaze me.

Why has no developer taken GR, updated the graphics, updated the mod tools, and released it as an expansion or upgrade.

We all (me included) like to vilify game developers, accuse them of wanting to make a quick buck etc, but surely doing the above to GR would need very little resource and a short timespan and would satisfy quite a few of us and make them a very easy profit.

I can dream ;)

Not that I'm any expert on game development (duh!) but I would say it would require just about the same amount of resources as any other game, except for the game design part. I'm just as puzzled as you though: With the games industry's infatuation with recycling proven, money-making concepts, why not recycle the proven, money-making GR1?

Oh, and don't call me Shirley ;)

Respectfully

krise madsen

"money-making concepts, why not recycle the proven, money-making GR1?"

Good point Shirley, sorry Kriss I could not resist :P

Dai good to see you on.

Edited by Colin
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Why has no developer taken GR, updated the graphics, updated the mod tools, and released it as an expansion or upgrade.

Exactly my thinking.

Same thing with Raven Shield - it had the whole deal. What is so hard in just brining Raven Shield 2 - continue the story, update the graphics, keep all the content in. I don't even want anything new.

Seems everyone except for the costumers is thinking only NEW and NOT BEEN THERE BEFORE is better. Obviously, it is not(always).

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So why is it that every artical I read these days about co-op based gaming only seems to mention 2 players ?

Ghost Recon came out of the gate with 9 and modders later upped that to as many as 27. Yup 3 9 man squads.

I will admit it got a bit busy with that many players on the limited sized maps we had for GR but it came with 9 man mission based co-op.Over and over in this artical it mentions only 2 players.

As the mighty Buehg has said it was the tools.

The community then took over and started experimenting with what could be done.

As a scripter I was still finding new things I could do with IGOR. Fog that got thicker over time or thinner. Random lightning effects the were in fact just fog settings but with the right env it was amazing to see what you could see during the flashes and what you could'nt when they were not there.

Eye candy while very nice is not always the saving grace of a game anymore. GRAW is a good example of this. Great sound, great effects, fantasic looking enviroments. But little to no content.

Give me the same Ghost Recon graphics with larger maps and a tweaked IGOR and I will be a very happy gamer.

Give me the long nights of prepping for the next touney mission or match. Give me the hours of playing Rattenkrieg with 18 or some of the custom FF's.

Give me the friends and foes and the community I had.

It is somewhat bemusing to me that RSE could do something that seems to be so long ago with by what todays standars would be hugely substandard. And even with all the breakthroughs in gaming nothing has come even close nor has anyone even attempted it.

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Why did you not continue?
I know it was rhetorical but...because if they had, everyone would be sitting on their wallets (in front of their PCs) instead of pulling them out at the check-out, purchasing the latest offering.

Planned obsolescence- they have to keep those developers employed, busy doing something. And if the market doesn't respond to the product...well there's always next year.

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Good point

:thumbsup:

I have GR1 , GRAW1 and AW2 all installed here. AW side is fine as long as you are playing that type of game, straight into battle mainly, enemy awaiting...

Biggest disappointment for myself is only having 4 guys playing the main missions. I hope they take this into account next time.

Vegas 2 news is pretty grim! I`ll not be picking that up, as story mode is what i like, and 4 guys is already bad enough, although it is manageable., 2 is not much fun at the weekend.

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My thoughts exactly Creatch,concerning the article mentioning co-op for just 2 players.Dont they know this is 08.........years ahead in "tech" from GR,which as mentioned came with 9 man co-op and then expanded to more.The article,to me,seems to imply that Co-op is something new and groundbreaking.

It has been mentioned in this thread that maybe one reason for less/no Co-op is it being a "resource and bandwidth hog". I dont buy into that ,because a lot of us were using dailup connections/less PC power for GR co-op and were doing just fine............well until you go to try playing "As Mod 2.6"/Rattenkrieg and a lot of players..........that doesnt/wont work on a dailup.

I dont have an answer to the "why they don't cater to "reasonable" amounts of Co-op slots",it may be that the "cost/return" numbers to create a good Co-op mode dont look good to the "higher ups".But it ISNT because it "can't" be done,we know better than that.

Just because someone has a "degree" in busniess management,doesn't mean they have good ole common sense. Colin pointed out,ie.......more= more players= more sales.....which should equate to more profit,and that makes sense to me.

I think and truely believe,if someone were to make a new game (squad based tacsim),which has the features/options of GR,.......includes Mission based Co-op for at least 9 players........good modding tools.......decent netcode..(just to name a few).....that would be "playable" on a midrange PC in todays terms........,it'd be hard to keep copies of said game on store shelves.

I don't think/claim to be the "sharpest knife in the drawer",but I fail to see why the above statements and other's mentioned in this thread isnt a goal for Devs/Producers,guess I'm "dull" at the moment. :unsure:

I guess the question is..........Do devs/producers want to create a "flash in the pan" game every 10/12 months ,try to cash in that way or do they want to create one with "staying power" for which "expansions" can be sold as long as they are produced,until time to update to better/more advanced engine. It appears to me,they have chosen the first option,which is a shame,IMHO.

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