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Multiplayer Games

Summary of Chapter-2 from the book Characteristics of Games
by

Gerry Paquette

on 4 February 2016

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Transcript of Multiplayer Games

Prevention
Skill control
Time pressure
Rules limiting communication
Hidden information
Role playing
Races, Brawls, and Interactivity
Little influence between players
Applies to many roll-and-move games
Basis for variant with 'take-that' mechanic
Losing players alter their strategy
Try harder
Press their luck
Play conservatively when ahead
Take risks when behind
Limits can be added to control amount of interaction
Reduces kingmaking and politics in general
Multiplayer Games
Play typically continues after one player is eliminated
No longer able to have fun
May decide to leave or do something else in long games
Can break session
Logical alternative
Can be worse for losing player
Races games prone due to positional heuristics
Can lead to frustration
Length of game largest factor
Poker Vs Monopoly
Strict elimination usually avoided in party games
Best to avoid player elimination - Eurogames
Multiplayer Games
Player Elimination
Interactivity
Term not used the same way as in computer gaming
Varies widely in games

Politics
When players can target other players in an arbitrary way that differentially affects their game states
Can be a mechanic within a game without dominating it
Choosing who to help instead of hurting
Chip-taking game
Emphasizes ability of players to damage the position of others by targeting
Voting game
Choosing a winner according to their tastes rather than skill or luck

Kingmaking
Players A and B in contention to win and C has no chance
If game has player interaction, C can determine the winner
Choice is political
Property of game with 3+ players

TEAMWORK
Players pursuing the same goal behave very differently than players pursuing opposing goals
Focus on roles of various players and communication
Cooperative games as a combination of 1-player games and team games

Races
Brawls
Built up from 1-player games
Logical elimination
Low interaction, politics, and kingmakking
Winner determined by performance scale
Point score
Time
Distance
Players cannot affect each other’s progress
Built up from 2-player games
High interaction, politics, and kingmakking
Winner determined through player elimination
'last-person standing’
Players can affect each other’s progress

Some games fall between these two extremes
Many don't fit this type of distinction
Gameplay better understood through related characteristics:
Strict
- removed from game
Logical
- continues to play with no chance of winning
Highly subjective
Nature of game plays a role
Lotteries - always a chance
Chess - will concede
1-Sided Games
Equivalent to 2-sided
Less pressure to resign against AI
Reduces elimination problem by half
2-Sided Games
Strict elimination poses no problem
New game can be started if players wish
Exception in team games
Sports injury
Elimination of units in RTS
Eliminated player becomes spectator
Logical elimination can be a problem
Losing player can concede or not
Lack of understand
Skill-based
Hidden information
Inadequate positional heuristics – more frustrating for skilled players
Stubbornness
Insists on conclusion
May be socially expected by some groups
Can be a problem where views differ – online
Desire to annoy
Less common among friends
More common in tournaments
Most common online –
few inhibitions against antisocial behavior
“hide the farm’ – RTS
Game mechanics should allow winning player to turn logically eliminated into a strict one
Automatically revealing buildings – RTS
Options and associated risks
Strictly eliminate players

unhappy
Logically or effectively eliminate players
u
nhappy and may disrupt others
Give everyone a chance to win until the very end
only the end game may be relevant

Playing for Points
Some games track points over many sub-games
Elimination in general becomes non-issue

Money particularly good
Matters even after game is over
Players continue to try their best

Playing for points in Scrabble
Playing for 2nd or 3rd

Losing player may focus on helping someone else win
Not looked on favorably in most groups

Online Play
Some games track points over many sub-games
Logic of player elimination shifts
Some things get worse
Behavior that would not take place face-to-face
Some things get better
Eliminated player immediately begins a new game
Making repeat play with same group more difficult
Players who are losing by just a bit quit and try again
Eliminated players have stronger recourse online
Join a new game
Grief other players
Gaining power at the expense of others
Anonymous nature of most online play provides challenges for designers

Targeted Interactions
Selecting a player and doing something bad to them
Meaningless in 2-player games
Very important in multisided games
May be positive such as trading

Interactivity and the Number of Players
Most complex and problematic in games with more than 2 sides
2-player races are rare

STRATEGIES
Lying low so that players do not perceive you as a threat
STRATEGIES
Waiting while others fight it out then mopping up the pieces
STRATEGIES
Cajoling, whining, or begging other players not to hurt you
STRATEGIES
Offering out-of-game benefits or making out-game-threats
STRATEGIES
Hurting the player who last hurt you (revenge)
STRATEGIES
Threatening revenge in an effort to get another player to choose a different victim
STRATEGIES
Deliberately taking an action that harms another player but also hurts your own chance of winning
STRATEGIES
Taking turns hurting other players, or deciding randomly who to hurt, to be ‘fair’ or to reduce victim’s desire for revenge
STRATEGIES
Explaining to the victim why your choice was the rational one given the current game state
STRATEGIES
Arguing that a player’s choice of you as the victim is not optimal, and that their chances of winning would be higher if they chose another victim
STRATEGIES
Arguing that some other player should “fall on the grenade”: make a sacrifice to stop the leader from winning (or getting too far ahead)
STRATEGIES
Deliberately passing up an opportunity to stop the leader from winning when your turn comes, so that the last remaining player who has a chance to stop them if forced to “fall on the grenade”
STRATEGIES
Kingmaking: near the end of the game, a player who has no chance to win determining which of the players still in contention actually wins
May dominate games with enough targeted interaction
Ability to win depends on skill with above behaviors more than anything else
Problems with Politics
Can override the rest of the game
Skill at the game may decrease chances of winning due to targeting by other players
Normal positional and directional heuristics become irrelevant
Replaced by social heuristics
Predicting who is likely to do what to whom
More prone to arguments

Advantages of Politics
Provide opportunities for low-skilled players to participate in high-skilled games
Tend to be exciting to the very end
Lead position will keep changing
“Pick on the leader”
Can be thought of as a catch-up mechanic
Some people enjoy the social interaction
Give-and-take
Alliance making and breaking
Best to keep these sorts of games simple
Can be fun to watch
Extra kingmaking step where eliminated player vote on final winner

Trick to understanding the place of politics in a game is understanding its audience
Kept to a minimum for players interested in differentiating their skills
2-sided
Less interactive
Hampering ability to target specifically
May be useful for casual players
Increases number of possible players
Less intense play required

Key Ingredients
Logical elimination
Targeted interaction
Players feel kingmaking is unfair
Especially one not chosen to win
Reason for avoiding logical elimination
Giving players a chance to catch-up
Ensuring strict elimination
Blind kingmaking
Player adds randomness to choice
Similar feel in real time computer games

Limiting Factors

Can be more fun than harm in small doses
Limiting Factors

Making game 2-sided
Players randomly assigned to teams
Individual success tracked over time

Limiting Factors

How strong is the interactivity?
Are they limited in which player is selected?
Are there reasons for choosing one over another?
In-game benefits that accrue

3+
Limiting Factors

Few games are pure races – multiplayer solitaire
Sending player’s piece back home
Collecting VPs
Making sets

Limiting Factors

Impose limits to targeting in brawls
Limiting Factors

Provide in-game benefits
Limiting Factors

Provide rewards for attacking
Prevents players from hanging back

Limiting Factors

Limit logically eliminated ability to influence game
Provide ways to convert logical elimination to strict one
RTS where losing player does not have enough power to influence game
Roles in a Team
A successful team game will need ways for all players to feel they contributed
Player contribution depends on assigned role

Team Fortress
Hockey
Systemic
Agential
Layered Roles
Balanced and offering unique abilities
Skill will determine contribution level when roles are identical
Modern expectation for roles to be balanced
Not so for sports
Rules that ensuring equal contribution
Team Leaders
Formal
Helps train players
Making team decisions
Giving advice during game
Informal
Most experienced player
Non-player
Multiple leaders in large or complex games
Cooperative Interaction
Varies widely
Little in bowling or swim meet
Who goes after the ball and avoiding collisions in doubles tennis
Passing of the ball between players in football & basketball
Generally considered a good thing
Introduces interesting heuristics

Telling Teammates What to Do
Games vary as to how much communication they allow
Problem of having one’s role being usurped by a player who tells you exactly what to do
Not present in traditional games
Most common in turn-based co-op games
Acceptable in modest amounts
Coaches
Team captains
Experienced players
Some less-experience players may ignore advice
Failure to understand
Inability to execute
May “go rogue” –
trying to kill opponent rather than guard position
Not passing the ball in sports –
pursuit of individual glory
May effectively remove beginner from the game
Cooperative Games
Relatively recent addition
Most common in computer games
Modern boardgames
Few instances otherwise
Naturally rare due to the value of having a real opponent
Changed with the advent of computers
Computer networks

Should I pass the ball or keep it to myself?
Should I heal dps or save mana to heal the tank later?
Impact of teammates on game experience will vary based on the amount of coop interaction
Player who dies frequently
Feeding experience points to other team
Making them more powerful
Such games tend to be very hostile to beginners or low-skilled players

Players personal achievement isn’t disrupted by teammate’s poor performance in games that used combined individual results to determine the winner
Alpha Player Problem
Huge pressure on content creators
Problem amplified by team nature
Repeating raids to help guildmates
Compensated by interest generated by other players
Limited replayability
Pros and cons can be understood as arising from issues pertaining to:
Single-sided play
Team play
Player interaction
Player Elimination
Interactivity
Politics
Kingmaking
Teamwork

Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre
Risk
Quake
Pseudo Game

Each players starts with 10 chips
Players take turns around the table
On a turn, a player can take a chip from any other player and discard it
Winner is the last person with any chips left
Pseudo Game

Players take turns voting other players out of the game
Cowinner are the last 2 people remaining after all others have been eliminated
Full transcript