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  • Controlling Pacing Of Core Gameplay Mechanics in Multiplayer Games

    - Filip Coulianos

  • Conclusion

    Even though the three game types have many similarities, they differ a lot when it comes to pacing in multiplayer. So what conclusion can we draw from the study of these three action games?

    The pacing curve for Deathmatch is seemingly random and could be compared to many real-life competitive games such as soccer or basketball. This is because both teams are playing on equal conditions and have the very same goals. At any time the players could score, hence the randomness.

    Because of the bomb and hostage scenarios, Counter-Strike has stronger narrative than the game mode Deathmatch. It is also far more competitive since it has very clear victory conditions and its round-based nature naturally creates a build-up and often a climax each round. It has also been the number one competitive game on e-sport events around the world for more years than any other game.

    If one wants to have control over the pacing curve, the player's opposition and goals has to change over the course of the game. Left 4 Dead has so many rules that control the flow of the opposition that the pacing curve can almost be exactly what the designer wants it to be; this is true any other for coop experience as well. In addition to this, Left 4 Dead with its player versus player mode has definitely taken a step in the competitive direction (player versus player) but hasn't been picked up by any professional gamers. My question is: Can you make experiences with a strong narrative and still have them be strictly competitive?

    Currently the trend for the big and heavy titles that are considered as strong competitors both on multiplayer and single player tend to separate multiplayer and single player and have them target different audiences with titles such as the Bad Company series, Call of Duty series and Medal of Honor.

    But what about when you are making a game yourself and shipping both single player and multiplayer in the same box? How will the multiplayer pacing curve work together will the single player? Will they be similar, or are you focusing on different target audiences with the two? Should they perhaps even be sold separately? If your studio and Intellectual Property is strongly related with good narrative, a linear experience and a controlled pacing curve, then perhaps you shouldn't be adding Deathmatch (that has such weak narrative) just because people nowadays want multiplayer. Perhaps there are other games modes or scenarios that would work better? What would happen if one chooses a curve for multiplayer before designing the core gameplay mechanics? What sort of pacing curve could attract your target audience?


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