The lights are on
With Titanfall, Call of Duty, and the upcoming Halo and Gears of War titles, it’s safe to say that multiplayer gaming is alive and thriving. Chris Hecker, who is currently working on espionage title SpyParty, is concerned about multiplayer titles that don’t have big publisher budgets.
“It's definitely terrifying,” Hecker shared on Reddit. “I’m making a (currently) multiplayer-only indie game (SpyParty), and I am definitely worried about there being enough players that somebody can get a game when they want one.”
Hecker says that he’s working on some things to keep players in the lobby longer instead of hopping out and trying to connect to a new game. “I'm also doing all sorts of stuff to try to keep people in the lobby, including things like replays and spectation, practice modes that will hopefully eventually turn into interesting single player modes, keeping the updates coming, staying active in the beta forums and taking player suggestions, eventually supporting player created levels, and that sort of stuff.”
According to Hecker, those that are on the top of the SpyParty leaderboards currently have about 400 hours invested in the game. He doesn’t think that’s enough, though. “I have some design stuff I plan to do that I hope will take it from a 400 hour game to a 1000 hour game,” he writes.
Hecker is also currently attacking the problem of the new user experience, since he’s invested a lot in making the high-level game so deep. “It's important to not scare away new players, because then they don't have a good time and tell their friends, and you miss out on growing organically like that,” he says. “Anyway, yeah, it's super stressful, and hopefully all this will work out!”
Our TakeMultiplayer games live and die by their communities and the way they welcome new players. The best titles offer easy entry but enough depth to keep players engaged for the long-term. For small developers, this is even more crucial, and some seem to have cracked the formula.
Games with emergent narrative, like Rust and Day Z have captivated gamers, even in their early states. The success rate is going to be lower, as it’s more difficult for games to get attention without larger budgets, but the success stories are there (and Hecker likely has one on his hands).