Saturday, June 11, 2011

Asymmetric Multiplayer

In my WiiU piece, I talked about how the new controller will allow for hidden information and asymmetric multiplayer opportunities. This has actually an idea that I've had on my mind for quite some time. Way back before the PS3 came out and and Starcraft: Ghost was actually still in development, I had an idea for a mixed mode RTS/FPS game where one player, using a PSP that was connected to the PS3 would control the RTS elements of play and the PS3 players would each take individual control of a unit on the battle field. Granted my idea was sloppy, but someone else has actually come up with a similar idea that should work out much better.

This idea has actually come to light in the form of Dust 514, a PS3 shooter that takes place in the persistent EVE Online universe. EVE players take control of the RTS elements and the Dust 514 players take control of individual soldiers.

At Nintendo's conference they showed a tech demo called Chase Mii where one player, using the tablet controller, is chased by the players that are using the Wii Remote. Because they are using the tablet controller, the location of the chased player can't be spotted by the other players. This solves 'screen looking.'

Up until now the significant majority of multiplayer games, both cooperative and competitive, have been symmetric, where each player plays the same way, has access to the same things, etc. So what are some ways that this new multiplayer paradigm can be leveraged?

I say shooter because it needn't necessarily be an FPS. One player could control the RTS elements using the tablet while the other player(s) control characters on the field. This idea could also be applied to PC gaming. Cooperative play could be done to get through the campaign and people could form teams that would play against each other online (this part actually sounds amazing).

In a competitive version, the RTSesque player would actually set up defenses and units to resist an enemy invasion, as if the RTS player is setting up a campaign for the other players to work their way through.

Tower Defense
The cooperative version of this would be rather similar to the previous example. One person controls tower building, placement and upgrading and the other players would control certain turrets. In a competitive version, one player does the tower defense and the other players control the units that are trying to invade, possibly attacking the towers.

Team Infiltration
This one might not be as fun, but one player plays the commander while the other players are the troops on the ground. The commander relays orders to the troops so that they can coordinate successful attacks. Campaign or Team Versus.

Survive to the Goal
One player designs an arena/course/level that has to be traversed. The level would have traps, enemies whatever (if applicable for the game format). This could work for racing games, shooters, adventure games, etc. The level designer would have to have limitations placed on them. What if Left 4 Dead could be played with one person as the director? What about a racing game where survival is the key and traps are set?

Or as another twist on the racing example: one person designs the course and the others see who can survive the longest/farthest.

Xv1 God Mode
A team of players are tasked with killing a singular opponent, but that opponent has some sort of "god mode" (extra powers, abilities, information).

Protect the King! or Great Fox is here to help
This is a team defense format where the Wii Remote players are charged with defending the tablet player. The tablet player could have access to extra information and but less firepower (for example). This could take the form of a waved defense mode, or as a great online multiplayer mode.