The ups and downs of doing online multiplayer as an indie
May 12, 2014 Page 5 of 5
"I wouldn't say the implementation of online multiplayer in SpeedRunners is perfect - in fact it's far from it," admits the dev. "But at least it's working to a degree at which players do believe that they're in the same game world as their opponents, resulting in an enjoyable game experience."
This is the most important advice that any developer looking to implement online multiplayer should take note of, he says -- don't try to make everything perfect from the start, or else you'll end up with months of creating complex systems that simply don't work properly.
"It's more important to get something working," he adds. "Once you've got that rough, first, buggy version up and running, you can start improving specific areas, while setting up tests so that people can actually use it in the wild. That way, you'll focus more on the important parts. It also gives you a better sense of progression, which is important in keeping up morale."
And, he adds, if you are planning to implement online multiplayer in your game, you should really be doing it from the get-go. "We tried to add it on after the main game was already more or less finished, which turned out to make everything that much more complicated," van Est says.
"It's not about creating a world that is the exact same for every player - it's about creating an experience in which each player believes they're operating in the same world as the other players."
For DoubleDutch, they were convinced that online multiplayer would add large-scale value to the game, and they turned out to be right. van Est doubts the game would have been as successful as it has been on PC without online multiplayer.
"People nowadays seem to prefer playing online against their friends, rather than invite them over to play on the couch, especially PC games," he reasons. "However, it's important to realize that online multiplayer and offline multiplayer are two very different things, not only from a technical standpoint, but also in terms of gameplay. A lot of things that work well in an offline setting, playing with friends on a couch, don't necessarily translate well into an online environment, where you're playing against strangers."
And another advantage of successfully implementing online multiplayer into your game, notes the dev, is that in the eyes of players, you'll have an advantageous selling point over your competitors.
"I'd love for our next project to be another online multiplayer game, even if that's going to be difficult," he adds. "In the end I think it comes down to what your passion is, and for me that's bringing people together using games; whether that's improving the bond between friends of making new friends."
"I believe the best way to do that is through online multiplayer games, so that's what I want to make, as difficult though that might turn out be."
Page 5 of 5