Single-Player Co-Op

January 17, 2008 at 2:28 pm (Brainstorming, Game Design, Game Mechanics)

I recently discovered an amusing little flash game called Cursor*10, which was described to me as a “one-player cooperative game.”  Like many other games, you control several distinct avatars that work together to complete the game, but unlike most games, you control these avatars in sequence, rather than in parallel:  after playing out the entire game with the first cursor, you move on to the second, and watch as the first cursor moves around and does all the things you did with it.  The knowledge gained and supporting actions taken by earlier cursors are critical to winning the game with the later ones.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this idea, though I think it’s the first successful implementation I’ve played.  In a talk I heard about Sly Cooper 3 (previously mentioned in this post), it was revealed that they had tried to develop levels where you’d play several characters in the same area, one at a time, with each character able to watch the actions of the characters you’ve previously played as they repeated what you’d done.  Sadly, Sucker Punch was unable to keep the replays consistent–even with extensive measures to synch up the random number generators, things just wouldn’t play out the same way.

Cursor*10 barely scratches the surface of what could be done with this idea, and I’ve already heard speculation on various ways the concept could be extended, but the failed attempt of another game to incorporate this idea raises a red flag.  What steps should future games take to avoid a similar fate?

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Why I Hate Hate

January 15, 2008 at 1:28 pm (Brainstorming, Game Design, Game Mechanics) (, , , , )

There is a particular game mechanic that is now used in almost all MMORPGs (and a few other game besides) for controlling group combat.  It’s variously called “aggro,” or “threat,” or “hate,” and it’s what makes a monster attack one player rather than another.

And it’s holding the genre back.

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