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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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27. Re: Spec Ops: The Line MP Knocked By Dev Aug 29, 2012, 19:16 Bhruic
Beamer wrote on Aug 29, 2012, 17:47:
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.

I'm not sure how this is an issue, as I didn't say every game should be an open-ended world. I said that is one of the ways people look at games in terms of perceived value. For most people, the value of a game is increased the more they play it. If you play a game for 5 hours vs 500 hours, the second one is considered to be the better value, regardless of the inherent quality of each game. That's why multiplayer is considered a good selling point, because when you have stuff like BF X, or CoD X, people that like them tend to spend a lot of time playing them. In their minds, multiplayer = game longevity.

And the internet isn't full of people annoyed Skyrim doesn't have multiplayer, the internet has a number of people who would have enjoyed it if Skyrim had coop play.

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.

Perhaps you're unfamiliar with the term "hypothetical"? You were making a big deal about how customers claim to want multiplayer, so I gave you a scenario where customers would overwhelming prefer the game without multiplayer to the one which had it. In other words, "multiplayer" isn't an automatic selling point, which you've been suggesting is the case.

As for the issue of "extending" games, that's not my problem. It's up to the developer/publisher to convince people that an 8 hour game is worth the money they are charging for it. For a lot of people it's not, because as I said, many people approach games from a time/value perspective. If someone wants to convince them otherwise, they have to convince them that quality is better than quantity. It's possible to do, but quite difficult to pull off.

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.

Again, that's not my problem. It's the problem of developers who want to make 8hr games and sell them for $60. And again, the reason that they use "multiplayer" to try and sell a game, that has nothing to do with multiplayer, and everything to do with changing customers' perceived value. A game with multiplayer is considered, rightly or wrongly, to have a longer lifespan than a game without. That's fine, as far as it goes, if people get suckered, that's their loss.
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