Infinity Engine: High Water for Multiplayer RPGs?

So Jason Cross just let me know that KOTOR/PC is single player only. We’ve already seen the semi-broken multiplayer in Neverwinter Nights, and the complete lack of multiplayer in ToEE. So will the Baldur’s Gate games (and, to a lesser extent, the Icewind Dale games) mark the high water of epic, multiplayer, story-based CRPGs? Will players wanting a multiplayer RPG experience have to relegate themselves to paying a monthly tax to EA or Sony Online?

Yeah, kind of sucks. The only crpg multiplayer worth playing is Diablo or MMORPG’s. Like I’ve said millions of times, I’d love a MMRPG meets Diablo where you don’t have to play monthly. I’m sure somebody could do that… supposedly Guild Wars is going to be like that… and some other games I forgot.

etc

Well, it’s probably not fair to exclude Neverwinter Nights, since it was designed to be played in that fashion, and a lot of people do like it (I’m surprised at how many games are always ongoing on GameSpy). Diablo/Dungeon Siege, if you’re into action/RPGs (along with older games, like Darkstone). System Shock 2 was actually a cool coop multiplayer RPG game.

Semi-broken multiplayer in NWN? What are you talking about? Multiplayer in the Infinity Engine games was added far along in the design process where it was always a part of NWN. Have you played any modules out there lately?

What I really want is something closer to Freelancer mp and some of the semi persistent NWN mods, but in an mmrpg sized world with around 50ish people per server game. The main thing is that its playable online/offline like Diablo 2. As well as character storage on the server like Freelancer. I could care less for a story as long as the world was big (EQ), the character development deep enough (Diablo 2), and have the ability to mod the game (NWN), and all of it be in first person 3d. Hell, I’d pay a subscription for a game like this if it was done right.

etc

By “semi-broken”, I’m refering to the game design, not technical issues. The game is poorly designed for 4-6 player parties:

  1. It’s too easy.

  2. It’s like Los Angeles traffic on Friday afternoon. Most of the levels make navigation of that many players difficult.

  3. So you’re saying that the game isn’t complete unless you hunt down player-created mods?

Baldur’s Gate was party-based from the outset, but Neverwinter Nights just isn’t as much fun in a party of more than about 2-3 players.

I’ve been playing through BGII with a few friends lately and I’m living it. I guess after all the infinity engine games we can play Dungeon Seige, but it won’t be the same.

MP in NWN isn’t broken. I’ve played many modules with friends and had a great time. As Desslock said just look at the people playing it. There seem to be plenty who think otherwise.

The BG games maybe party based but when you play MP you can tell that it wasn’t a core part of the game. I had some fun with the IWD games MP because they were straightforward games, but NWN’s MP is better IMO.

I don’t agree at all.

Multiplayer isn’t broken in a technical sense, but party-based mutlipalyer is broken as a design element. The game that shipped in the box was designed for 1 player + 1 NPC. BG/BG2 was party based from the outset. With 5-6 players, which is our typical group, we became increasingly frustrated and disenchated with NWN – but we had a great time with Baldur’s Gate/BG II. Even simple things, like the frustratingly restricted view distance, is a pain. But the chief issue is the level design. And the crowding in some of the levels was terrible.

I don’t think it’s fair to say multiplayer in NWN is broken, even in a strictly gameplay sense. It just doesn’t play well with large groups as far as the main campaign goes. I tried playing with a group of four and felt much the same way as Loyd. For the main game, it plays much better with fewer people. Player modules, of course, can be designed to better accommodate larger groups.

I suspect no one is really disagreeing here except on the actual terminology being used. :)

I don;t think NWN was ever designed to have the main campaign played MP. That it was “Here’s a game. You can play it with the SP campaign. You can play it MP in the SP campaign. But the REAL treat is that there’s this huge toolset where people can make their own modules and you can play them MP (or SP).”

To that end, I think the MP has been pretty decent/successful. At least, there’s a lot of user-made modules out there, and people still playing NWN in MP.

"Multiplayer isn’t broken in a technical sense, but party-based mutlipalyer is broken as a design element. The game that shipped in the box was designed for 1 player + 1 NPC. "

There’s many quality end user mods out there. Do you guys not play anything besides just whats in the box? Your loss then.

" BG/BG2 was party based from the outset. With 5-6 players, which is our typical group,"

Many RPG’s are party based, but are still designed mainly from a SP point of view. IMO the IE games were too. They played clunky for the most part in MP. Having your screen freeze when someone else talked to a NPC was annoying. The feezing of the game for combat doesn’t go well with MP either.

I’d rather play Diablo II for my hack’n slash MP gaming than any IE game.

So you’re saying that the game was incomplete if you don’t hunt down user mods?

Freezing of combat? That was completely configurable. You could set the game up so there were no pauses during combat in multiplayer. Or you could set it up to pause when, say, someone took a hit. You could even set it up so that only the host could pause.

Diablo II? That doesn’t have nearly the tactical combat depth of BG/BG2. Baldur’s Gate captured (for us) the essence of the pen-and-paper experience without the bookkeeping or dice rolling. The pace was much more deliberate, not frantic exercise in mouse-clicking.

Yes, in the same way that Half-Life was incomplete because it didn’t include Counterstrike.

[quote=“Case”]

So you’re saying that the game was incomplete if you don’t hunt down user mods?[/quote]

Well, when they market the game in a manner that indicates that the multiplayer is provided with the toolset in order for the purchaser to make modules to be played MP, sure. But they also made finding mods blindingly easy, so it’s not like Zeus asked you to muck the stalls before having a good MP experience.

[quote=“Roger_Wong”]

Yes, in the same way that Half-Life was incomplete because it didn’t include Counterstrike.[/quote]
Half-Life was complete out of the box. It was a game, and a fun one. It was a lot more involving than the FPS games that it competed against. If we think that the original HL isn’t good enough now, it’s because every FPS game since has done everything that Half-Life did and it isn’t revolutionary anymore. It’s true that most people now play Half-Life for the mods, but that doesn’t mean that Half-Life needed Counterstrike to be successful. Counterstrike made it insanely successful instead of merely very, very successful.

Now contrast with Neverwinter Nights. Sure, it was aimed at the module-building crowd and online play, but a lot of people - including me - bought it, wanting a good single-player campaign. Even if it was a short one. I don’t think I have to review how much that got shafted.

Were you even AROUND for the initial wave of mods?

I bought NWN pretty much the day it came out. I played around with it for at least two months, and during that time almost all of the modules were basically crap - probably the best thing produced during that time was the Contest of Champions or something, which basically amounted to team D&D deathmatch. Don’t ask me to wait around for three or four months after buying a game just so I can finally download quality roleplaying mods. That’s just ridiculous. And once I wrote it off, it was really hard to bother picking up again. I tried, really I did, but I got so turned off by all the limitations of the game that I uninstalled it in about four minutes without even considering the quality of the SP campaign.

A friend of mine tried to run a campaign in NWN. It lasted maybe six weeks and died, because it was just so much work trying to put together modules, and there were so many things that, if you wanted to do them, you had to custom-write them. And I know how much work that was, because I wrote some custom stuff myself. And when you’re trying to hack up simple data structures using object variables attached to game-world objects via strings, it gets a little messy, and more than a little ridiculous.

cough

[quote=“Roger_Wong”]

Yes, in the same way that Half-Life was incomplete because it didn’t include Counterstrike.[/quote]

It came with Team Fortress Classic. That was cool.

No it didn’t. TFC came out something like five months after Half-Life hit the shelf. Half-Life originally only shipped with some very uninteresting deathmatch.

Yes, in the same way that Half-Life was incomplete because it didn’t include Counterstrike.[/quote]

It came with Team Fortress Classic. That was cool.[/quote]

Dr.Crypt is correct. Team Fortress came out later, and was a free mod even then. It wasn’t bundled with HL for several years.

HL itself was groundbreaking, as a single player game. The limited multiplayer DM was just added candy. You didn’t need an add-on or mod to have a complete experience.