If I had to list one of the most significant changes in gaming from my past to my present, without a doubt the evolution of multiplayer would be in consideration for the top spot. When I started gaming, the term multiplayer wasn't even a thing. The closest thing to it back then was taking turns and passing the controller back and forth. How many of you older gamers remember mixing up which player's turn it was? The next step was games that offered more than one controller (we called them joysticks) and eventually it migrated over to a dial up connection where you played against another player. We didn't have 3v3 or 4v4...we had me against you, because that's all it could support. But yes, today we have dozens of people in game, and in some of the really big games, even more than that. I don't know how many people are "in-game" in Warcraft or EVE Online, but it is certainly more than, "Hey...Player Two, get over here. You're up."

And while I say multiplayer has advanced over the years, and clearly it has. It also has some of the most annoying issues that seem like they should be really easy to overcome. Then again, I'm not a developer or a programmer, so what do I know? Not much. But what I do know is this is an area where the PC still excels at, what...with many games offering dedicated servers and larger player counts. That's not to say all PC games do, or that all consoles don't...just that generally speaking...the issues I'm about to mention aren't as prevalent on the PC as they are on most consoles. And it might seem like I am singling out a game or two I've been playing recently, but I'm not. It might've led to this blog being written in the first place...but there are many examples to illustrate the following circumstances that annoy me to no end.

Joining a game that is over (or close enough to over to call it over)

Have you ever gone to the movies or an event where once it is almost over, the people who check your tickets just disappear...as if they don't care who comes in any longer? Do you know why that is? Because they don't care any longer. Who goes to a concert to watch the last 15 minutes (not many people although I have)? Let's be honest...when it's all over but the credits rolling nobody really cares but the winners. The losers and the spectators are ready to watch something else or go home. And gamers are very similar.

Again, I'm not a programmer, but I've dabbled in various programming languages and it just seems like it should be relatively easy to see how much time is left in a round, or what the score is...and not let any new players in the game. What makes this even worse is I always end up on the losing team. I might not complain if I were on the winning team from to time. Hey wait...if you're agreeing with me, and I'm always on the losing team and you're always on the losing team...who are these people that are always winning? Now, I realize there are some players who quit the round before it is over, and I will even concede there are probably more of them on the losing team than the winning team, so of course any new player is going to be added to the losing team - because of the balance. I get that...but why let anyone join at all? The losing team is already going to lose - who cares if the team is unbalanced. Have you ever seen a game too close to call that comes down to that final point...nobody is leaving those games early! But what am I supposed to do when I join a game that is ending and I'm on the losing team. Well, I tell you what I usually do...I suck it up buttercup and go home with a loss and a score that looks something like 0 kills 0 deaths and 0 assists. At least I'm consistent I suppose.

For the love of God, quit matchmaking me into a game that is over.

Oh, not quite as bad but equally as frustrating...

Launching a game with unbalanced teams (Can you say 6 versus 4)

I understand in the middle of a game it is quite possible for the teams to get unbalanced. The team that is losing has players bailing out left and right hoping to join a server where they will be placed on the winning team even though I already said, that never happens. But how or why does a game launch with unbalanced teams. Again, not a programmer, but it would seem like you could write a simple line of code that says, If Team A equals Team B Then Launch. And If Team A has more players than Team B, move a player over until they equal. And if there aren't enough players to even the teams up, then don't launch. I'm even okay with launching if the numbers aren't there...you know, five versus four or something like that. But sitting in a lobby, watching the seconds tick by and my team is two players down...and the game launches this way. Well, I don't understand that. Do I want to quit a game that I've patiently waited to start because the teams are unbalanced and we're getting rolled the first five minutes of the game? Well, I want to. But I usually don't. I sit there and suck it up and take one for the team...because if I quit early, then I feel like I am contributing to all of the problems I'm talking about.

Of all of my grievances, I suppose the one about skill bothers me the least, because I understand it would be a challenge to figure this out in with a fair and balanced approach. But then again, I have seen some games, mostly on the PC, that only let players of similar ranks compete with similarly ranked players. This helps the new players not get immediately squashed and the veteran players be placed in more competitive rounds. But...BUT...I still think games on the console can do a better job looking at some statistic and then pairing me up with teammates and opponents that make sense.

Why are there three GEN 10 pilots on the other team and I have a bunch of new recruits on my team?

Seriously? But it happens.

Putting Me In A Game I Just Left

Oh, and one of the worst matchmaking disasters to ever happen - putting me back in the same server I just left. I'm sitting in the server lobby...I've just been automatically assigned to a team with a bunch of recruits and I'm down two or three players. Screw that I'm leaving.


So then I rejoin the game and lo and behold...it's the same server I just exited. As if to punish me for leaving before the game started. And...to make matters worse...now the game is in progress. And as I predicted, the team is getting crushed. And now, I'm there...and I'm getting crushed too. Nooo.

Look game. I appreciate you finding me a server to play on. But if I wanted to play on the server you forced me onto, then I wouldn't have just quit. Got it? If I exit a game before it starts, please consider there is a reason for this, and overlook this server as you search for a new place for me to play.

All of this seems easy enough to fix. I'm not saying dedicated servers are the answer, but there are games on console that let you browse the servers, see the teams and  perhaps a bit about the players on the teams, how much time is left in the round and who is winning.

Games that pick me a game for me and pair me up with unbalanced teams and players seems so rudimentary given how far we have come. Give me a choice or at least a fighting chance and let me see what I'm getting into when I join a game.