Ahhh the joys of online gaming! We all know the rush and thrill when we boot up our favorite multi-player game and start getting ready to a long and blissful career leveling up our profile, unlocking weapons and customization options.
That is until we actually start playing a few matches and the horrifying truth starts to reveal itself…the multi-player is ” BROKEN”!
So what does that even mean? Well in the competitive gaming community the phrasse ” BROKEN” referes to a game that has various elements of its features and or formal programming coding that is flawed and renders the multiplayer portion of the game extremely unbalanced and downright buggy.
Now to be fair here are various degrees of being ” BROKEN” but that statement is enough to summarize the best and worst of the games that have been accused of it.
Being ” BROKEN” can take the shape of various symptoms but the one in particular this article is going to address is the ones that impact your ability to have an enjoyable ONLINE experience.
In a competitive multi player game there needs to be a certain framework of systems that function in order to be considered an all around good competitive title
The short list is ; Balance, strong connectivity/server stability, smooth control scheme, Tested re spawning system, intelligent map design.
There are of course many sub categories and I could write a whole new article on Server reliability in itself!
Now all of the above points are extremely crucial when you are playing in the world of PUBLIC MATCHES. Without the ability to set rules and monitor your participants you are truly at the mercy of the games systems . Essentially strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.
In some cases that ” ride” ends up a fiery crash and leaves you screaming and yelling, whilst throwing your controller across the room ( editor note: see my article on gamer rage I posted awhile back)
But what happens when you fire up your game and decide to invite a few ( or dozen) friends and personal rivals into the game ala’ private match?
What ensues is a whole different experience…
In public matchmaking you literally have no control over the various game settings and parameters that you must play your match out in.The game chooses the mode and allocates players to your team and chooses sides for you. Its the fast food experience of multi-player gaming. Your in and out of the game in record time and just like a fast food restaurant you end up feeling sick an hour later…
Private matches is like the fine dining of multi player gaming! The game is opened up to you and you can customize your rules and settings much like a chef deciding exactly what ingredients to put in his dish. You decide what team the players are placed on and even what maps they will be playing on just like a server seating you at your table and deciding what table will be sitting next you that night ( In this case the other table will be hurling grenades and obscenity’s at you while you eat)
So how does all of this come together to create a different experience than a random public match and how does it alleviate some of the problems that plague public matchmaking?
For starters BALANCE is now completely within your ability to affect. As the game creator you can restrict and limit the choice of game weapons as well as choose to snip various game systems in the proverbial ass if you feel that they effect said balance to much.
A perfect example is the Call of Duty series. This is a game that has two dramatically different experiences when playing in Public versus a private competitive experience.
Call of Duty is known for its over the top ” Kill Streaks” which allow players who have accumulated enough kills to hit a single button and unleash an Apocalypse of destruction onto the map and in some cases quadrupling his/her kill count by shear measure of the destruction an AI controlled helicopter/attack dog/bombing run/Harrier jet/NUCLEAR MISSILE causes.
Take that same player and put him in a private match with Kill-streaks turned off and he/she now has to live in a world where skill with a rifle and reflexes trump hitting a button and watching your kill count soar.
By putting the tools of a multi player match in the hands of a responsible player you now have a shift in the way that game is played and also how the systems effect each player in the game. Previously a game of 8v8 in a public matchmaking lobby resulted in a bunch of players who barley knew each other running around the map shooting enemies without a care in the world to how his K/D affected his team and or the outcome of the match. Now you end up with a tight 4v4 ( team size varies of course) match wherein everyone is using mic communication and calling out tactics because they know that everyone on the team is important and they are accountable to their fellow player. Spawns become less erratic due to player count being smaller and random deaths from above less commonplace due to a focused amount of team work and buddy play.
In short the game becomes fun again.
So the next time you jump into a quick match on your favorite multi-player game take a second to consider that the best version of the multi player your about to play may in fact be worth ditching the drive-thru and heading inside for some reserved seating.
EDITORS NOTE: At the time of this writing there has been some well documented issues with both the newly released FPS ,BF4 and Call of Duty Ghosts; the latter of which has a very ” BROKEN” public matchmaking system. Be warned!
Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash