rules that govern single player level design are becoming more and more
well known. They help make sure that the gamer’s experience is
controlled in terms of difficulty, rhythm, renewal etc. But multiplayer
level design does not follow the same constraints as those of single
player level design. I will start by describing the specific
constraints of multiplayer level design.
first technical constraint is the infamous bandwidth bottleneck. A game
machine may be high-powered and capable of processing a huge amount of
information, but if the “pipe” that links it to other machines is too
narrow, little information can be exchanged and the game is therefore
slowed down or impoverished.
What are the main
points of a multiplayer game that eats up bandwidth? First there is
character movement and animations. In most multiplayer FPS games,
character animation is very limited. What characters do most often is
run, jump or crouch. But in games such as the multiplayer version of Splinter Cell, the wealth of animations is at the heart of the game.
can grab each other, perform acrobatics, hit each other etc. This
wealth of animations is very demanding in terms of bandwidth. I am
convinced that such a high quality of animations will become more and
more present in future multiplayer games, not only because they provide
more realism, but also because they enlarge gameplay possibilities, as
it may be noticed when playing Splinter Cell in versus mode.
One of the numerous complex animations available in the multiplayer version of Splinter Cell – Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory
large bandwidth consumers are special effects, such as the explosions
with their particle display, and the dynamic events in the levels. The
latter are map animations, such as the movement of a crane or of an
elevator or the destruction of a wall. If it is possible to interact
with such events (by throwing a grenade into an elevator or by
positioning a character on a moving object), the exact position of
these moving parts of the map must be followed image by image. Once
again, I am convinced that maps of future multiplayer games will
contain more and more special effects and map animations.