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Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev

An article on Polygon offers an extensive look at Spec Ops: The Line, Yager's recently released third-person shooter set in a windstorm-swept Dubai. This offers a detailed exploration of some of the game's themes (warning of spoilers for those who are yet to play), and hears from lead writer Walt Williams on the topic. An interesting aspect of this noted by VG247 is Williams referring to the game's multiplayer support as "a cancerous growth" forced on them as a checkbox item by publisher 2K Games:

Against Davis' wishes, development on the multiplayer component proceeded and was farmed out to Darkside Studios. The result, according to Davis, was a "low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person," which "tossed out the creative pillars of the product." "It sheds a negative light on all of the meaningful things we did in the single-player experience," Davis said. "The multiplayer game's tone is entirely different, the game mechanics were raped to make it happen, and it was a waste of money. No one is playing it, and I don't even feel like it's part of the overall package it's another game rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth, threatening to destroy the best things about the experience that the team at Yager put their heart and souls into creating."

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23. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 17:47 Beamer
Bhruic wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 17:36:
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 11:55:
Customers are often wrong, yes, it's one of the dumbest myths in the world that "the customer is always right."

You know as well as I do that the "the customer is always right" line has nothing to do with the customer actually being right, and everything to do with the attitude service personnel are expected to take towards customers.

Duh. But some here have gotten angry at me for saying "the customer isn't always right," and having had that argument before on this very site I wanted to cut it off before it started, and given that he opened with an incredulous "you're saying the customer is wrong?"...

You're talking about perceived product value. The reason people say they'd like multiplayer in a game has nothing to do with multiplayer, it has to do with people thinking about how much time they spend playing a particular game. With some notable exceptions (stuff like Skyrim, or GTA), people spend the most time playing multiplayer games. So when you ask them what they'd like to increase the perceived value of a game, they are going to say "multiplayer". Because in their mind, multiplayer would increase the amount of time they'd spend playing the game, and therefore increase their perceived value.

But they could just as easily say "large, open-ended world". The notable exceptions I listed tend to have that, which is another avenue to longer play times.

But at the end of the day, if you asked people if they'd rather have a 6hr single player with a shitty multiplayer tacked on, or a purely single player 12hr game, almost everyone would choose the latter. Game developers (well, publishers) need to do a better job explaining to people the value of the products they are selling, if they really think they are worth it. If I can spend $60 and get a game like Skyrim that I play for well over 100hrs, or a game like GW2 where I can play even longer, why would I want to spend $60 for 12hr of single player? This isn't the hypothetical "well, what about movies" scenario, it's a direct apples-to-apples comparison. If you're competing for customers' dollars, you have to be able to convince them your product is worth their money. Tacking on shitty multiplayer isn't going to do it.

There are a few issues here:
1) Obviously a large, open-ended world is a way to add value in a single player game, but there are a few issues here. For one, not every game, not every genre, and not every story lends itself to such things. For another, people tend to get burned out on these games and often will play one for 80+ hours then look for something less vast for a while. Lastly, some games end up feeling open for the sake of being open rather than actually needing to be, creating worthless grind (see: GUN, Mafia 2, etc.) And, regardless, the internet is full of people annoyed that Skyrim doesn't have multiplayer.

2) But your choice of a 6 hour game with multiplayer or a 12 hour game without isn't typically the choice. What if it was an 8 hour, stellar single player or the exact same game spread out over 12 hours by adding filler to the story, putting in levels that feel out of place, etc.? Some games just don't extend well, and while they're a blast for 8 hours they start losing their welcome after that. Would you rather they extend it? For lots of games more isn't better. No matter how much effort is put into the more added, more just isn't better. Some games shouldn't overstay their welcome.

3) And as to developers needing to do a better job explaining the value of what they're selling... how? No one trusts previews, and only a few read them anyway. Do you know what one of the top methods for selling a game is? The box. But there's little to judge on. Again, an extremely large part of the population will judge based on having two games in their hand and reading the back of the box. With little else to go on, they will very often buy the one that says it has multiplayer. For this reason lots of games get a stupid, tacked-on multiplayer no one ever expects anyone will play. It isn't like the people making the multiplayer aren't trying, but it's often a game that doesn't lend itself to it and everyone knows people are too busy playing the latest and greatest game built around multiplayer to bother with whatever this is. But you'll still get an enormous amount of people that use the inclusion of multiplayer as a way to make their poorly-informed decision in the store.
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