Insomniac Chief: It's More Fun to Play With Friends

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Insomniac Chief: It's More Fun to Play With Friends


The CEO of Insomniac Games says he can't imagine making single-player-only games anymore.

Electronic Arts executive Frank Gibeau caught some flak last week when he boasted [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/119449-EA-Turns-Its-Back-on-Single-Player-Games] that he's never given the thumbs-up to a "single-player experience" during his time with the company. EA isn't dropping single-player narratives completely, but solo action is now just one part of the overall, "connected" experience, which may also include conventional multiplayer action, tie-in games on Facebook and/or other social-networking options.

Not everyone was thrilled with the idea of mandatory "online applications and digital services" in every game they play, but Gibeau isn't the only one who sees connectivity as the future of gaming. Ted Price, the chief executive of Ratchet & Clank and Resistance studio Insomniac Games, says the times have changed and game developers need to change along with them.

"I can't imagine that any game we'd do from here on out will be single-player-only," he told Gamespot. "The [game industry] has changed. As gamers, we have always been social, but thanks to the way technology has evolved, it's much easier for us to play together. And it's much easier for developers to create experiences where you can play together. So we want to encourage that with all of our games because ultimately, in my opinion, it's often more fun to play with a friend."

He emphasized that Insomniac won't be cutting single-player modes; the intent is to enhance the experience, not force gamers to make an either/or choice. "I love single-player games but I also love multiplayer games," he said, adding that Insomniac's upcoming Fuse [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/reviews/previews/9916-Overstrike-Becomes-Fuse] won't skimp on either single or multiplayer action.

That's the concern, isn't it? Creating a multiplayer component almost inevitably drains resources that could have been put into the single-player game, and even if it's contracted out to an entirely separate studio (which still costs money), the result isn't necessarily going to be beneficial [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/119332-Spec-Ops-Multiplayer-Is-a-Cancerous-Growth] to the overall experience. I'm definitely a fan of playing with friends - multiplayer Mass Effect 3 was a blast, despite my frustration with the Galactic Readiness thing - but is everything really better online? I can't say I'm convinced.

Source: Gamespot [http://www.gamespot.com/news/insomniac-finished-with-single-player-only-games-6396320]


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Fappy

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They fixed the Galactic Readiness bullshit with the Extended Cut thankfully.

OT: I don't mind a developer saying that they want to make all their games multiplayer if they have a long history of multiplayer games. It makes sense and doesn't really impact that many releases.

However, I do have a problem when a large publisher wants to do this. Not only is EA forcing this policy on developers like Bioware (who have far more experience with single player games), but it also implies that far more games are going to potentially suffer from this.
 

Andy Chalk

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Well that's too bad. I can't imagine Spyro being better with a different dragon zipping around when I'm trying to do platforming shit. I had to dig that far back to remember a good insomniac game? Damn...

With very few exceptions, no game experience I've had has ever been "enhanced" by having multiplayer. Usually it just makes it worse (Why the hell do I need to wait in a lobby to play Halo Reach by myself??).
 

Woodsey

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Why? Most games with a multiplayer component die on their arse because the multiplayer is there to tick a box, and is complete and utter shit.
 

Bolt-206

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Andy Chalk said:
Insomniac Chief: It's More Fun to Play With Friends
What is this word, 'Friends'?

TBH, I'd actually prefer to go Co-Op with random people rather than an organised team; even if there are the occasional troll or unsporting player, it's a nice challenge to see how far you can get even with them. Even better is when you get those teams of highly coordinated players, where no one even has to speak a word~

So I was extremely disappointed to hear GRFS's Co-Op was friends only... :(
 

Krantos

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I am reminded suddenly of Yahtzee's Call of Juarez: Cartel review.

OT: I have a 9-6 job 5 days a week. My "friends" live three time zones away. Thus, I spend most of my time playing single player.

I am not pleased with this line of thought.

Sure, it's easier to play together. It's NOT, however, easier to play with anyone you'd WANT to play with. Matchmaking is a pit from hell.
 

Cid Silverwing

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Jul 27, 2008
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Woodsey said:
Why? Most games with a multiplayer component die on their arse because the multiplayer is there to tick a box, and is complete and utter shit.
This.

Stop tacking on Multiplayer on everything. It was a bad idea on R&C Gladiator/Dreadlocked and it was an even badder idea on All 4 One.

You assholes.

If I want to play co-op I'll play games that actually do it right, like Left 4 Dead 2.
 

Korten12

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Cid SilverWing said:
Woodsey said:
Why? Most games with a multiplayer component die on their arse because the multiplayer is there to tick a box, and is complete and utter shit.
This.

Stop tacking on Multiplayer on everything. It was a bad idea on R&C Gladiator/Dreadlocked and it was an even badder idea on All 4 One.

You assholes.

If I want to play co-op I'll play games that actually do it right, like Left 4 Dead 2.
Well to be fair, Fuse (formerly Overstrike) was co-op from the get-go.
 

Uber Waddles

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Mcoffey said:
Well that's too bad. I can't imagine Spyro being better with a different dragon zipping around when I'm trying to do platforming shit. I had to dig that far back to remember a good insomniac game? Damn...

With very few exceptions, no game experience I've had has ever been "enhanced" by having multiplayer. Usually it just makes it worse (Why the hell do I need to wait in a lobby to play Halo Reach by myself??).
Times change. Back on the PlayStation, multiplayer was a bonus, but the technology didn't exist to make an immersive multiplayer experience. Games were focused on single player because of resources and a different design philosophy, not because their wasn't an interest.

... AND now were in a time and place where multiplayer DOES work. Their has been a shift from single player focus to multiplayer focus because, as a whole, thats what the market demands. Even in single player experiences, the lack of co-op is often brought up and criticised. And rightfully so, I think.

Gaming has changed significantly from a mono-e-mono experience to social experiences. Its hard to justify spending $60 to a lot of people if you can only enjoy it by yourself.

As far as Insomniac goes, I agree with them. Their company has shifted with the generations, and their multiplayer is not really hap-hazard. Their first enterprise into online multiplayer with Ratchet and Clank, UYA, was by far their weakest. But even that was a HUGE success among the people who played PS2 Online, and each multiplayer iteration from Insomniac has been better and better, be it in their cooperative play and matchmaking options.

People need to stop thinking of multiplayer as a TDM/CTF/Territory thing and think of it more as ways to experience the adventure with multiple people.

Guess what. Shooting aliens/robots/whatever can be really tedious and boring.

Add a second player to that, and I guarantee the action will be way better.

Single player has its purposes. But looking at the way Insomniac does things, its not really in the cards for them.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Uber Waddles said:
Mcoffey said:
Well that's too bad. I can't imagine Spyro being better with a different dragon zipping around when I'm trying to do platforming shit. I had to dig that far back to remember a good insomniac game? Damn...

With very few exceptions, no game experience I've had has ever been "enhanced" by having multiplayer. Usually it just makes it worse (Why the hell do I need to wait in a lobby to play Halo Reach by myself??).
Times change. Back on the PlayStation, multiplayer was a bonus, but the technology didn't exist to make an immersive multiplayer experience. Games were focused on single player because of resources and a different design philosophy, not because their wasn't an interest.

... AND now were in a time and place where multiplayer DOES work. Their has been a shift from single player focus to multiplayer focus because, as a whole, thats what the market demands. Even in single player experiences, the lack of co-op is often brought up and criticised. And rightfully so, I think.

Gaming has changed significantly from a mono-e-mono experience to social experiences. Its hard to justify spending $60 to a lot of people if you can only enjoy it by yourself.

As far as Insomniac goes, I agree with them. Their company has shifted with the generations, and their multiplayer is not really hap-hazard. Their first enterprise into online multiplayer with Ratchet and Clank, UYA, was by far their weakest. But even that was a HUGE success among the people who played PS2 Online, and each multiplayer iteration from Insomniac has been better and better, be it in their cooperative play and matchmaking options.

People need to stop thinking of multiplayer as a TDM/CTF/Territory thing and think of it more as ways to experience the adventure with multiple people.

Guess what. Shooting aliens/robots/whatever can be really tedious and boring.

Add a second player to that, and I guarantee the action will be way better.

Single player has its purposes. But looking at the way Insomniac does things, its not really in the cards for them.
I disagree. I still can't think of a single time when I've thought having some random asshat stealing all my ammo and having mic feedback in my ear during a cutscene made the game better. An exageration, of course, but my point still stands.

Multiplayer has still made many games worse, such as Dead Island, where they had to strip out the story so no one was confused when they dropped in, Knights of the Old Republic, forced grinding and a story with more padding than a mattress factory just to have more bullshit quests, and Resident Evil 5, with the constant AI partner sucking all the tension out of the game almost as fast as she sucked up healing herbs. Now it looks like Dead Space 3 will continue this trend.
 

Yal

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Korten12 said:
Cid SilverWing said:
This.

Stop tacking on Multiplayer on everything. It was a bad idea on R&C Gladiator/Dreadlocked and it was an even badder idea on All 4 One.

You assholes.

If I want to play co-op I'll play games that actually do it right, like Left 4 Dead 2.
Well to be fair, Fuse (formerly Overstrike) was co-op from the get-go.
So was All 4 One, wasn't it? I never played it (guess why), but I've never heard anyone claim its multiplayer was tacked on. By all accounts it was a co-op game through and through, if you played it single player you were doing it wrong.
 

CrazyBlaze

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I'm not against multiplayer. And it is fun to play with other people or friends. But I also have a lot of fun playing SP. In fact I have more fun playing SP than I do MP often. Because before this current generation almost all my gaming was SP unless friends came over and played all nighters. Now with so few games having split screen or same screen gameplay its not as fun.
 

Epona

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I don't enjoy multiplayer, never have and never will. I have been playing video games for 30 years and if I were interested in multiplayer, I would know it by now. So if all studios follow EA into the No single player realm then I guess I will be done with this hobby. Sure, we can have great single and multiplayer in the same game but it's more likely that anything that doesn't come from Nintendo will have tacked on single player.
 

Therumancer

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I have to say that when it comes to most video games I see it as my "me time", when I want to play with other people I login to an MMO.

I can understand the logic of the game industry though, looking at the communities that built up around the multiplayer for things like "Halo" and "Call Of Duty" and how it affected their sales. In this era of greed it seems only natural that they would want to try and tap into the same thing with all of their products to make more money. In the end I think it will backfire though, a big part of what made those communities work is that they were differant and something people could get into when they weren't playing other games. If EVERY game winds up involving a social/community based component, those games will simply wind up dividing their player base between the differant communities due to the existing overlap of players (as opposed to bringing in entirely new players and duplicating the success with each game), and also people will probably buy less games if every game they pick up winds up being a massive social time sink, where they have to spend time on all these associated activities through facebook or whatever, and meeting up with other people to do whatever.

I believe that single player and multi-player should be developed in differant cosms. Regular video games, and MMOs. A few games that represent an exception is one thing, but trying to trn every game into that exception is pretty much asking for a disaster. I think what EA is likely to do here is blow a ton of money and then wind up splitting their player base among a bunch of other communities without bringing in any more revenue than they are already getting. The actual new players coming in due to this being minimal at best. I suspect they don't really understand their own market or how there is a finite number of gamers out there that can be tapped for this kind of thing.
 

Canadamus Prime

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Jun 17, 2009
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I don't mind if games have an online multiplayer component, but when EVERY game has an online multiplayer component that's when I get upset.
Besides for most games I don't want to play with friends. And I esp. don't want to play with assholes on the Internet.
 

Quintin Stone

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"So we want to encourage that with all of our games because ultimately, in my opinion, it's often more fun to play with a friend."
You know what they say: Opinions are like assholes.
 

dessertmonkeyjk

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Mcoffey said:
Well that's too bad. I can't imagine Spyro being better with a different dragon zipping around when I'm trying to do platforming shit. I had to dig that far back to remember a good insomniac game? Damn...

With very few exceptions, no game experience I've had has ever been "enhanced" by having multiplayer. Usually it just makes it worse (Why the hell do I need to wait in a lobby to play Halo Reach by myself??).
I was thinking more of Gauntlet with 3D platforming then anything else for a co-op experience. Each character are specialized in what they do making the players more focused and responsible for certain tasks. One character may be a better jumper for example and can create a path for others. Another can shoot projectiles to cover someone doing a jumping puzzle.

Alot of single player games that have co-op attached usually have characters with the same abilities and that's not always a bad thing but not always interesting either.
 

The Artificially Prolonged

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Yes because the thing I loved about Resistance: FOM was its completely unbalanced and boring multiplayer. Not the pretty good campaign and the excellent choice of fun weaponry. And come to think of it All 4 One was the best Ratchet and Clank game. /sarcasm.

I think I shall go grieve for Insomniac now, they haven't even released their first game under EA and already they are showing the signs of the EA corporate infection, and I'd rather get the whole mourning process out the way now instead of being gutted later. What happened to the "we want to be Valve" Insomniac?