How to Create the Perfect Multiplayer Shooter

By Danny Venom

May 13, 2010

I am an advocate of multiplayer gaming; it provides longevity to your favourite games and promotes healthy (sometimes unhealthy and crazed) competition between players across the globe. I rarely enjoy playing single player games, because they usually have little replay value and you don’t always feel you have progressively achieved something by the end of the game.

Some single player games do have replay value, but most have too much ‘this is so tedious I just might die’ replay value. I am all for getting trophies in a game, but when I have to complete the entire game again on light, dark, inverted, holographic, angel, devil, car, boat, tree, monkey, duck, cheese, and bread mode just for the final trophy, it gets a little tiring.

However, back to the actual topic – MULTIPLAYER!

Yes, multiplayer games. I have played numerous modern multiplayer shooter games such as Uncharted 2, Killzone 2, Metal Gear Online, COD, MAG etc. The common thing you will find in those games is that they each offer something unique, which greatly adds to the multiplayer experience.

I find myself moving to another game thinking ‘If they had that feature from game ‘X’, it would be so much better. In fact, if game ‘X’ had feature ‘Y’ from this game, that would be even better!’ I am constantly thinking that a game incorporating all of these features would truly be an awesome spectacle of multiplayer gaming.

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Some games do actually have similar systems, but usually one of them just does it much better.

Rather than let you guess what these particular features are, I am going to list some of them! Yes, this is turning out to be quite an informative article, you’re right.

So without further adieu, here are the features from their respective games (in no particular order):

  • Metal Gear Online – Survival Mode.

Sweet tap dancing llama, this is one of the most creative features I have seen in a game for a while. Basically, on a set day, you would either join a group of friends, your clan, or a random group of misfits who don’t fit anywhere else.
Once you are in your group, you get taken to a game lobby automatically and you get randomly matched to an opposing team in a random game mode/map.
This would happen numerous times, and it would keep track of your Win/Loss ratio. The more matches you won in succession, the more points you earned. These points would buy you new and sought after clothing in the game. You also had a survival mode rank, which was like waving your e-penis in somebody else’s face.
The downside is, if you aren’t very good, you won barely anything. That’s not really a downside though, it encouraged you to improve.
The reason this feature was so good, is that it removed the reason to have websites and ladders like ‘game battles’, it made the process very easy without signing up through a tedious system, then just begging that another clan would accept your challenge and hopefully not lie about the result.

Oh man I’d kill for that Red Beret. Oh wait, this is a shooter.

  • Killzone 2 – Clan location/joining & tournament features.

If a clan member was playing a game in Killzone 2, you could search for them and proceed to join their game. Some other games have this feature, but Killzone 2 just made it much more convenient.
After joining the game it would do its best to put me on the same faction and in the same squad as my brethren, the only time this wouldn’t happen is if it was full.
What’s the point of joining a game with a clan member, only to find yourself on the other team with no option of switching? Nada.
Now for the tournament features.
Unlike MGO which had survival mode on a specific week day, on Killzone 2, I could issue a challenge at any time I wanted to. I could risk a certain amount of the clans Valor (kind of like betting on your own team with in game currency) and whoever accepted would battle us for it.
It was like a potential survival mode every minute of the day. Once again it eliminates the need for tedious game ladders.

“Yes, Radec will be most pleased with our Helghan camaraderie. Oh and, KILL THE ISA!”

  • Uncharted 2 – Party features.

Now while I enjoyed the UC2 multiplayer, it was far from a complete multiplayer experience. It had little to no clan features, which didn’t promote team play much.
However it did have quite a nifty party feature in which you could have up to 5 players in your party by inviting them. Your team would then be 99% guaranteed to play together (unless another player dropped from the opposing team etc.)
However, it was quite annoying when a team of five extremely good players grouped up and you knew you had no chance of beating them with your mismatched team, or join them, as five is the max amount per team.

“I enjoy shooting people, if only I had someone to share it with…”

  • MAG – Bonuses for sticking with team leaders.

Now this wasn’t as such a clan feature, but it promoted team play. If I was within a certain radius of the team leader, I would get an exp. bonus or something similar.

Also if a leader issued a specific order and you completed it, you got a ‘FRAGO’ (fragmentary order) bonus, giving you extra exp. also.

I know this sort of feature can’t apply to all shooters, but something similar could be put in place, a bonus for completing certain team oriented goals. I play as a lone wolf sometimes in my games, but that’s usually because I find it pointless to use team play without any real direction. If you aren’t the lone wolf, somebody else is, and then you suffer for it.

Can’t we all just… get along? What, we can’t? Ah well, let’s just fight for war contracts instead.

Now these are only a few of my favourite features, I don’t want to go through every single multiplayer game and pick out each aspect because it would just become a long and tiresome list, that and I haven’t played them all. There is probably some awesome thing I am missing, but I am only one person. I urge you to comment any extra features you thought were a boon to a game and need implementing in every MP game.

If I ever found a game which had all of these features it would truly make me cry salty tears of happiness. Please do it, all gaming companies, please.

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