I know this is quickly turning into a GalCiv II blog, and if you’re not into the game I apologize for the time I’m spending on it. However, there is just so much happening here as it relates to the world of gaming in general that I just can’t pass it up. The fact that the game has a real, honest-to-goodness blog and not some PR-spewing “news” site just makes makes it hard to not join in the conversation.
This post talks about their decision to focus on a great single-player experience instead of adding multiplayer to the game, and the fact that reviewers are penalizing them for it. In the past I’ve been critical of the recent trend to obsess over multiplayer gaming. Multiplayer turn-based games suffer from most of the normal multiplayer issues, plus the fact that you need to find other people who can sit down for a game that will take at least three hours, even for a very “quick” game.
Multiplayer gamers are hardcore gamers, and designing a game for the hardcore is usually a bad idea.
There is just a tremendous cost to adding multiplayer to a game. It goes far beyond the obvious stuff like adding all the networking stuff, dealing with lag and disconnects, and keeping the players in sync. If you want multiple humans to be able to compete against each other, you need all sorts of code for combatting cheaters, or cheaters will ruin the game and all that multiplayer stuff will be for nothing. You need a matchmaking service so players can find each other. You need to make sure the game is as balanced as possible, so that players who choose one particular race or configuration don’t have an advantage. You should also have a more complex saving system that lets people save a multiplayer game and then continue it later.
In short, you need to greatly increase the cost and time of development in order to cater to the small number of hardcore players that have the patience for on-line gaming.
Note to multiplayer fanatics: Not all of us want to play with you rotten brats.