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Weekly Topic Asymmetrical Multiplayer Game Design

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Buhlaine, Mar 20, 2017 at 8:37 PM.

  1. Buhlaine

    Buhlaine

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    Asymmetry can be a very beautiful thing in nature, but what about games? We’ve seen asymmetry used in many different multiplayer games and we are curious, how do you feel about them? Do you think they create a different atmosphere amongst the players? Are there any examples that stand out to you as great games? Have you made any yourself, and if so, what did you learn or take away from the project that stood out?
     
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  2. Buhlaine

    Buhlaine

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    Personally, I think my first exposure to this concept was in some of the earlier Mario Party games, where a mini game would be 1v3. They create a situation where players who are competing against each other on the overall game board, have to come together as a team to defeat a player who was given much more power.

    In more modern games, Crawl was a great example of a game to pull off a very fluid asymmetric style of multiplayer. What it did, which I hadn’t seen executed so well before, was create an environment where the teams were constantly changing. The way it works in this game, is you’re constantly battling one player who is designated as a human. A team of multiple little ghosts can work together to try to fight against the human player, but only the one who lands the final blow gets to actually take over the power character. This creates a very fluid game where teams and goals are constantly changing and is probably one of my favorite examples.

    Have any of you played Crawl? I would love to hear what you’re thoughts are on it!
     
  3. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    A bit vague. Asymmetry in games? What are you talking about?
     
  4. Buhlaine

    Buhlaine

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    Apologies if it was vague, I was trying to get across the idea of two or more players who are playing the same game in different ways. Some examples that come to mind are the Mario Party mini games, Crawl, Spy Party or even the board game Specter Ops (another personal favorite). These are all games where players are playing the same game against each other in different ways.
     
  5. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    What different ways? Like, they each have their own path through the game or something? How is it different to just a two-player cooperative game?
     
  6. Max-A

    Max-A

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    Asymmetrical multiplayer is when the various teams in the game have distinctly unique play-styles. One of the more polarized examples is Evolve. One team is four people playing the game as a more traditional FPS. The other side is a single player that is playing a more third-person hack-and-slash experience.

    Here is a list of asymmetrical multiplayer games:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Asymmetrical_multiplayer_video_games

    The key is that the game-play mechanics are different, so having a co-op game that splits players up (i.e. Gears of War) isn't asymmetrical mechanically.
     
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  7. Lime_x

    Lime_x

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    I definitely think that assymetrical multiplayer games create a different atmosphere amongst players. However, it could both be good and bad. The good part is that it could lead to very interesting dynamics between the players, where they might have to coordinate in a unique way to play efficiently.

    However, one bad thing could be that if there is a game where one player is on its own team against everyone else, then it could become a little bit of a lonely experience, which might sort of go against what multiplayer games are supposed to do (which is to get people to play together). In the scenario of playing 1 vs everyone else, my own experience has been that it is the most fun when you can see the other players that you're playing against. For example in a LAN or locally on one computer/console. I think it is in those types of scenarios where assymetrical multiplayers truly shine.
     
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  8. Buhlaine

    Buhlaine

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    Do you have any examples of games that do this? I'm curious to see more examples of how different designers use create different dynamics.
     
  9. Lime_x

    Lime_x

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    Most of the assymetrical video games that I have played have already been mentioned in this thread, like Evolve and Crawl. Both of which I think are pretty well designed when it comes to the assymetrical gameplay.

    However, I have had other ideas of assymetrical gameplay aswell, where the game perhaps takes ideas from traditional pen and paper roleplaying games. For example a game where there might be a party of four players which play the game in third/firstperson and then there is another player who plays the game in top-down view as the GM(Game Master). The GM then gets to control the enemies and NPCs against the players, either like a strategy game or the player could go into third/firstperson mode to control the enemies individually one at a time. This could potentially create some interesting scenarios where the GM could change the quests and encounters more dynamically in response to the other player's actions, which in turn might make for a more immersive experience for the other players.

    I have a vague memory of some game implementing something similar to this idea, however I cannot recall the name of it at the moment.
     
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  10. JoeStrout

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    For Christmas my brother introduced me to a classic asymmetrical board game called Tafl (or Hneftafl). One player is trying to escape; the other is trying to stop them from escaping; and you have different units and tactics to do it. It's quite interesting and surprisingly well balanced.

    And of course that's the elephant in the room which hasn't been discussed yet... it can be really hard to achieve balance in a competitive game where the different sides have very different goals and/or mechanics. I would guess it takes a lot of playtesting and tweaking.
     
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  11. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    "Bioware" (the MMO "Bioware" studio) came up with a game with this concept (Shadow Realms - there's a unique name, right?). It was kind of a mess and eventually canned.

    As for myself, I have almost no interest in multiplayer at all. However, something that is kind-of-sort-of like this...

    In Watch Dogs, you could play games against a person on a tablet (or perhaps a phone too). They would control the city, changing lights and sending helicopters and police your way, while you had to move from one point to another (like a race).

    That was incredibly fun, but that was because the mechanics of that game were so solid. Along the same lines was the "invasion" mechanic, though that wasn't really asymmetrical. I suppose whether asymmetrical multiplayer works or not is dependent on the mechanics.
     
  12. Not_Sure

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    I think that on the far opposite end of the spectrum Quake 3 was most likely the most perfect version of symmetrical gameplay.

    Since then any game that doesn't use asymmetrical mechanics on some level are attempting a fool's errand.

    Halo was specifically fun because you could team up on vehicles and have asymmetrical combat.

    Then of course TF2 came along and blew up the shooter genre.

    Since then it seems like every game is trying to be TF2 on some level.

    I think to have a successful asymmetrical game you need a few thing.

    1) You have to have each player fill a role. Which means that the need to have both strengths and weaknesses.

    2) Those strengths and weaknesses need to form a natural paper-rock-scissors mechanic with an overlaying secondary matrix of synergy combinations on top. So it would go something like:

    class A beats class B
    class B beats class C
    class C beats class A

    Classes A, B, or C beats class D, E, or F
    But D+E, E+F, and F+D beats A+B, B+C, and C+A

    All the while
    D+E beats E+F
    E+F beats F+D
    F+D beats D+E
     
  13. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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  14. Jacob_Unity

    Jacob_Unity

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    I love Crawl! It's not the most approachable Local MP games in my collection, but I am really fond of how the game works with the right skillset of players. There is a lot of great stuff in that game from the unlocks, playstyle etc. but what I like the most (from when I played it last time) is that if you are at the third attempt to kill the boss, and fail - your player profile gets deleted. :D
    Oh, and it's actually coming out of Early Access next month. :D :D :D

    Other great example of asymmetrical multiplayer is Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Also heard good things about Clandestine.
     
  15. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    How could I forget? Spies vs. Mercs in Splinter Cell. Never really played it, but I understand it was pretty popular.
     
  16. Lime_x

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    Hmm, I had not heard of that game before, until you mentioned it.
    Though, I can definitely imagine that it would be difficult to get it right, so it's a bit understandable why they didn't continue with it.

    I had almost forgotten about the PC vs mobile mode in Watch_Dogs. That was indeed very fun and very well balanced.
    It's true that part of what makes good asymmetrical multiplayer work is the mechanics, but I also think that JoeStrout had a point with balance having a huge role in whether it is works or not.

    I tend to prefer singleplayer games, but I think that a well made multiplayer game together with some friends could be incredibly fun. :)
     
  17. frosted

    frosted

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    I think the most popular asymetrical game ever made is probably Tag.

    Everyone cloned Tag, game designers are so uncreative. They made like Freeze Tag and Cops and Robbers and a billion other clones.

    I wish there was more creativity in the industry, everyones scared to try something new. :p
     
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