How Multiplayer Games Ruined Single Player Games

    Back in a time when online gaming was a foreign concept to the majority of gamers I used to dream of playing some of my favorite games against other human opponents at any given time. During the N64/Playstation era this was a dream to most console gamers. Sure we had services like X-BAND(which hardly worked), and PC gamers were playing online for a couple years now(but who had a PC back then?) but for the majority of us we were content with playing mostly single player games or having our friends over on the weekend for some split screen action. My first online game ever was Starcraft for the Macintosh. Using my mom’s iMAC I would stay up until 4 am every night playing, making friends, and finally experiencing what I always wanted in my games. This summer was to be declared the summer of Starcraft and was the first of many summers that I would lose to online gaming. Starcraft was a huge revelation to me showing me that we didn’t have to play against stupid AI opponents over and over and that playing against humans was no longer just a very real concept but something that was really happening. The service Blizzard provided with Starcraft was almost as good as it got, being free, almost no lag at all, and the ability to play custom games with other people.

Eventually being so fascinated by Starcraft I wanted to try out more online games and my next was Unreal Tournament for the Mac. I have no idea how I chose this particular game or what compelled me to buy it but it was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. Coming off slow paced games such as Goldeneye, Unreal Tournament was a huge mind blower for me. This game was fast paced with people jumping and strafing all around, to say the least I was intimidated. It did not help that the game was made with a 2 click mouse button in mind left click for primary fire and right click for the weapon’s alternate mode of fire. Telling people online that I was playing with a Mac usually resulted in a collective “LOL” or “Get a Real Computer Noob”. At the time I was about ten or so and the computer choices my family made was not really in my hands or up to me. I saw the potential in how good UT could be but on an underpowered Mac that could hardly process the graphics and with an underwhelming control scheme the game just was not much fun. I returned UT back to the store promising myself that I would get it as soon as I got a PC.

Luckily for me getting a PC would not be long as my birthday was coming up soon and the desire to have one was growing tremendously. My neighbor would invite me over once in awhile to play some Red Alert over LAN and I loved every single bit of it. When I went to go buy a copy for my computer I found out how limited the Mac selection of gaming really was. Having a vast selection of games unavailable to me was just unacceptable, I needed a PC. So like any other spoiled kid I begged and whined every day until my birthday when I got my very first computer (a pretty well specced gateway). I played so many games on this machine over the 5 year course I owned it and it was some of my best gaming experiences to date. Somewhere in the middle of this computer’s lifespan Sega introduced the first real online game available, Phantasy Star Online.

To be able to sit back in my bed and play online with other console players was a great feeling. This feeling would last me over 300 hours I played Phantasy Star Online and I don’t regret a single moment. The game combined epic single player moments similar to those of a Zelda game with the online play of my favorite PC games. A concept I didn’t even imagine all those years back when online play of any sort was still unimaginable. Besides this game there was no real console online multiplayer until the next major advancement made by a familiar company to me. So I went back to my PC gaming spending tons of time on games such as Counterstrike, TFC, Diablo 2, and many more. PC gaming was just so much more fun than playing against a predictable boring computer AI or having to wrangle up all your friends and split your screen into 4 little squares. Besides the occasional Final Fantasy or fighting game I rarely looked at my consoles until Microsoft entered the scene.

As my first computer was becoming completely outdated Microsoft introduced their online service Xbox Live. At first I ridiculed my friends who bought an Xbox saying that there was no reason to own it and that GameCube was so much better. That was, until I played Halo. Halo had something that most pc games completely lacked, single and multiplayer balance. Games such as Unreal Tournament offer no single player experience; just a multiplayer game with AI controlled bots to replace the human opponents you would be playing if you were online. Half Life itself barring modifications had no multiplayer at all making it a onetime experience for me. Halo however had a compelling single player with massive outdoor environments like never seen before and a competent multiplayer. Sure I knocked other console multiplayer games for being a pain to get together with all your friends just to do some gaming. But Halo had the option of LAN play with hooking your Xbox’s together so each person could have their own TV which made into some sort of mega event that was worth the hassle somehow. Halo was the ultimate example of a game that I wanted to see with online play (in fact I was propheizising that Microsoft would make a Halo 1.5 of some sort in-between the release of 1 and 2 that would just be Halo with online play, never happened unfortunately). Xbox live was cool in that it was the first time I really used microphone chat, rarely dabbling in it with Counter-Strike. Unfortunately there were no games that I really played that much besides MechAssault that is until Halo 2 was released.

Halo 2 was the game that made me forget about PC gaming for a good amount of time and for good reasons. Now on my 2nd PC (a custom computer that was a beast of computer at the time) it came out a decent amount after UT2k4, Warcraft 3 was getting kind of boring by then, and it was easily accessible to all my friends who were not necessarily into PC gaming. Everyone I knew played Halo 2, all the friends I made at LAN parties, people from school, anyone and everyone played the online sensation that was Halo 2. The game was extremely polished, and most importantly completely ripped of the matchmaking service that was implemented in Warcraft 3. The matchmaking service would take either yourself or you and a group of friend’s rate them based on your skill and match them up automatically to a team with even skill. Not that you can blame Bungie, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it definitely applies here but was it necessary that Bungie called their service Bungie.net with Blizzard’s service being called Battle.net (making them both known as “Bnet”)? This matchmaking service was great as most gamers are put off by the irritating find your own server unpolished and unregulated type of play that all PC games use. Halo 2 led to even more great online console games and I probably would have completely forgot about my PC for a good year or two if it was not for World of Warcraft coming out in the same month (WoW being quite possibly the pinnacle of gaming for me, but that’s another topic). Looking back I have no idea how I made it through that school year, especially with a job as I don’t remember any of it except my time spent playing WoW and Halo 2.

Since WoW and Halo 2 came out we now have a WoW expansion (with another on the horizon) and Halo 3. Also the number of worthwhile PC games finally coming back to what it used to be with Unreal Tournament 3 coming out soon and plenty of others. Almost all the time I find myself playing some sort of online game and just looking at all the single player games I own that are untouched. It’s just that I don’t see the reason to play single player games anymore, sure once in awhile there’ll be a game that has to be experienced (such as the recently released Bioshock) but I find it so much more satisfying to play games with my friends or strangers online. When I look at my collection of unplayed games I see a lot of RPGs that are all identical to each other, a few forgettable single player shooters, and a bunch of play once in awhile sports games. Maybe the title of this article should have been a history of Spruchy’s gaming life but the point I really wanted to make is that single player games are truly becoming unappealing to not only me but to a lot of people out there. Even games that were made to be single player games nowadays are tacking on some multiplayer functionality onto it so the consumer is not worried by the legs the game has on it. Well I am going to go back to playing some CS Source, thanks for reading and please let me know if you enjoyed this blog at all it really means a lot.

 

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~ by spruchy on October 24, 2007.

2 Responses to “How Multiplayer Games Ruined Single Player Games”

  1. Great Blog-Great Article!

  2. Well, back in my day when someone wanted to write a blog it had to be good. None of this crap about crap games and masturbating to pooping girls and numbskulls.

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