Left 4 Dead offers a single-player mode but the heart of the game is clearly in the multiplayer. Single Player is quite fun, although perhaps not quite robust enough to justify the
$60 $50 price tag on its own. The game is made with online or LAN play in mind.
I have the PC version. This past weekend I signed onto Steam to check out the multiplayer. I’ve never tried it before. Outside of MMO games, I don’t think I’ve played online with strangers since 2003 or so, when I used to play Unreal Tournament (original recipe) Capture the Flag. (I used to play with these guys. Can’t believe the site & server are still around, although I’m sure they’ve moved on to other games.) I clicked on the thing to join a game. Some people appeared. There was a long pause. Then somebody called us all “f**kers” for no discernible reason. I suddenly remembered why I don’t play with strangers and logged off. I haven’t been back since, although I still plan to give it another go.
Then there is this thread at The Escapist, where a player became frustrated with some random teammates who were most likely new to the game and struggling. Rather than communicating with them and expressing his frustration, he and a friend simply abandoned one and killed the other . His post is more or less a plea for ointment for his inflamed conscience. Most of his fellow Xbox Live players were all too happy to tell him he did the right thing, and brewed up a tray of rationales for him to sample.
My goal in this post is not to pick on that player. He’s a very typical XBL player and raging against him is about as useful as raging against the fact that people are usually rude in rush-hour traffic. It’s one of the immutable laws of the internet.
But it does seem to suggest that we need better tools for filtering out jerks and idiots. You can report users on Steam, but this is for serious, “I-will-hunt-you-down-and-rape-you” level misbehavior and asininity. Like rating sellers & buyers on eBay, it seems like we need a automated way to remark whether or not someone was a good playmate without resorting to flagging people as abusive. Simply having a system in place would probably cure a host of ills. If at the end of every game you had a chance to flag players as fun, neutral, or problematic, then over time the jerks would accumulate a large enough negative score that sane people would avoid them.
I will say I like the way XBL users can choose what sorts of people they want to deal with – hardcore, underground, casual, or whatever those pigeon-holes are named. I’d avoid “hardcore” types because they’re probably playing to win, while I’m playing to have fun.
At any rate, it does seem kind of odd that after all these years we’re still just leaping into a great big sea of random crazy people whenever we game online. And by “we” I mean, “all of you people who aren’t antisocial hermits like me and who socialize with other gamers”.
Do you have any tricks for filtering people before a game? How do you handle the inevitable idiot?
The Best of 2013
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2013.
A screencap comic that poked fun at videogames and the industry. The comic has ended, but there's plenty of archives for you to binge on.
Lost Laughs in Leisure Suit Larry
Why was this classic adventure game so funny in the 80's, and why did it stop being funny?
A look at the main Borderlands games. What works, what doesn't, and where the series can go from here.
Another PC Golden Age?
Is it real? Is PC gaming returning to its former glory? Sort of. It's complicated.