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An Idea On Betrayal
by Axel Cholewa on 07/25/12 08:06:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I am eagerly waiting for Assassin's Creed 3. Although AC was repetetive and surely had some other flaws, I still loved it for what it was: simple, great gameplay in a beautiful and unconventional setting (for the most the strongest point of the whole series). AC2 feature all of ots predecessor's strength and erased improved on all of its shortcoming. Especially at the beginning I found the world much more engaging simply because there was a deeper connection to NPCs than in the first installment, simply because they were your family.

After Ezio's father died and the family escaped from Florence Ezio was rather disconnected from the rest of the family. From that point on the story became centered around Ezio and the politician he had to kill. While there's a lot of intrigue, scheming and betrayal going on, this doesn't affect the player or the gameplay at all.

The Setup

How can a game create the feeling of betrayal in the player, rather than just in the character? Suppose you have a single player game with a character named Bob. In a Resident Evil 5 manner Bob has a companion named Alice, who is a playable character for Co-Op mode.

At one point in the game, Bob and Alice part ways. In Co-Op this not only means that the players don't see each others characters, this also means that all communication between the players like voice chat is cut off. For just one "level", say half an hour or so.

At some point after the seperation Bob's mission is to disguise himself as Christian -- a character unknown to the players -- and attend a cocktail party to get some information. Alice, on the other hand, is assigned to kill someone on the cocktail party, someone called Christian.

When Bob, in the guise of Christian, sees Alice, he'll probably try to make contact with her. Even if not, the player will not feel threatened at all by her presence. He'll rather feel happy to see her again and be excited about talking to player 2 again, who probably is his friend. Alice, on the other hand, will not even know that player 1 is present on the party. And because player 1 isn't aware of any danger, player 2 has no problems in taking out Christian, i. e. Bob, so that player 1 will undoubtedly feel this as some sort of betrayal.

The Outcome

Of course this is not the end of the game. Bob survives the attack with the help of Dorothee, who is his companion from then on and can be played by player 2. And there are more ways of how to elaborate on this idea. For example, the players could be seperated more often before that scene and happily reunite, so that they don't have a clue what will be happening.

The game could also offer player 2 the choice of how to proceed:

  a) Stay with Alice and play disconnected from player 1, but still in the same game session. Simultaeous single player is the term that comes to my mind.

  b) Play Dorothee for standard Co-Op.

  c) *happy for ideas in the comments*

This is just a short blueprint. While there are of course drawbacks to such a scenario -- Alice's story essentially becomes a second game after the betrayal scene, technically this all might difficult to implement and so on -- I think this approach to Co-Op play certainly has potential.

"I wanna see some games!" (Johnny Chung Lee in Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays Using the Wiimote)

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Jonathan Jennings
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I remember in one of my classes my professor discussed the concept of the " Prisoners dilemma " ultimately the idea that you place players in a situation where they have a reward for working together but also have a reward for separating ( kind of like what you mention above) . The best example i can think of is Kane & Lynch, in those games there is a multiplayer mode where the players re in a bank heist or the heist of performing some act of crime .

The player has two options at any point during the game they can work together , watch each others back , and try to gather as much money as possible and get out together or at any point you can kill your partner , cut them out of their share of the loot and try to leave the level alive with the under standing that as your teams numbers dwindle the situation becomes more difficult to survive AND you are marked as a team / player killer for all of your other partners to see.

it makes the game a lot of fun and especially as the players' team gets closer to completing the level because that is the best point to kill your partners and escape with a bigger share of the earnings .

i know what i mention is a little different , your scenario is more along the line of story or level-driven gameplay but i definitely think kane and lynch does a good job of making players work together to accomplish one collective goal while they may individually have separate ones. some games the last 20 seconds of it can be a sprint for all of us to get away and other times it has been one large betrayal fest with every one reaching for their gun and a desire to escape with their cash .

Axel Cholewa
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I was actually thinking of Kane & Lynch when I wrote this, but I neve really played it, let alone multiplayer. It's a shame, though, the games have personality. Maybe I should pick up some nice price version and try to find a friend who wants to play it :)

Jonathan Jennings
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haha well if you do get a copy feel free to e-mail me i'm unsure if the servers are still on for the original but i am considering getting a copy of kane and lynch 2 and would love to share the multiplayer experience with you ! My e-mail is

Adam Rebika
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Nice idea but there is a problem: the player 2 will immediatly recognize that Chrisitan is not an NPC since he'll certainly have a very different behaviour from the other characters.