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The Art Of FPS Multiplayer Design

Never Safe
Since no one likes getting shot, it’s instinctual for players to try and find safe zones and cover. Alderman says cover is certainly important, but you should never feel entirely safe. “Our designers think about things you normally wouldn’t even think about. They would be like, ‘You can get onto the roof, then you have an eyesight of a window over here, but this window has a view of this window over here.’ They put a lot of effort into figuring out every angle and eliminating any chance of someone camping somewhere safely. There’s a lot of refinement that goes into it, like putting a door here, and closing this off.” The team also has to factor in spawn points. No one likes appearing in battle only to be mowed down seconds later. “In our spawn code there a lot of checks that are made to see if the enemy can see you: Is there a grenade nearby, is there an air strike incoming? We have to avoid ‘spawn, die, spawn, die.’ The spawn points vary by map size, but on our average sized map I think we’ve implemented around 40 of them.”

No Achievements for Multiplayer
“We didn’t do Achievements for multiplayer,” says Alderman. “We found that people just farm for points and ruin the experience for others. And do you really want to force players to play 1,000 matches to get 20 points?”

Ease Them in and Blow Their Socks Off
“The first thing we shoot for is to make sure the gameplay feels good,” says Alderman. “We also wanted the experience to be deep with legs, yet accessible to everyone. The biggest challenge is to make a deep game accessible.” By offering a level progression system similar to that of an MMORPG, where players earn experience for each kill and unlock new weapons and abilities as levels are attained, it’s not uncommon for a new player to face off against a seasoned veteran. “We tried to balance it out. A level 1 assault class can compete with a level 55 who is completely decked out. Every weapon has its strengths and weaknesses, but in the end everything is balanced out,” adds Alderman.

Weapon of Choice
At the outset of each match, players can select their firearm of choice. This does away with the feeling that you have to go against your instinct of killing to search for a more powerful firearm. This system also gets players better acclimated to every weapon in a game. “We want you to feel powerful, and we want the outcome of battles to feel right. This is the deciding factor for most people when they determine if they will play a game or not. I think we are really unapologetic in how we treat this. You kill guys really fast, but that’s why you are going to like it. Kill more, and you’ll get more weapons to play with. We want people to get points, and we want to see them all on the scoreboard.”

This article was originally printed in Game Informer issue #178

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