Spec Ops Multiplayer Is a "Cancerous Growth"

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Spec Ops Multiplayer Is a "Cancerous Growth"


Spec Ops: The Line Lead Designer Cory Davis has some very harsh words for the game's multiplayer.

I've heard some pretty good things about Spec Ops: The Line [http://www.amazon.com/Spec-Ops-The-Line-Xbox-360/dp/B00320JDWG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346187576&sr=8-1&keywords=Spec+Ops+The+Line], the third-person modern combat shooter released by 2K Games in June. It apparently combines decent gameplay with a powerful, compelling narrative that elevates it, at least in story terms, above most such shooters. But as good as it is, not everyone is satisfied with everything about it, including lead designer Cory Davis, who had some nasty things to say about the multiplayer component of the game.

"[Multiplayer] was literally a check box that the financial predictions said we needed, and 2K was relentless in making sure that it happened - even at the detriment of the overall project and the perception of the game," Davis said in a far-reaching interview with Polygon. The multiplayer side of the Spec Ops coin was developed by Darkside Studios, who Davis said produced a "low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person" that "tossed out the creative pillars of the product."

"It sheds a negative light on all of the meaningful things we did in the single-player experience. The multiplayer game's tone is entirely different, the game mechanics were raped to make it happen, and it was a waste of money," he continued. "No one is playing it, and I don't even feel like it's part of the overall package - it's another game rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth, threatening to destroy the best things about the experience that the team at Yager put their heart and souls into creating."

As is so often the case, the critical acclaim for Spec Ops: The Line hasn't translated into big numbers at the register, and Take-Two Interactive blamed its sub-par financial results for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year largely on lower-than-expected sales of the game. Did the presence of a completely separate online component drag the game down in the eyes of potential buyers? It seems unlikely, but if 2K attempted to position it as a competitor to online heavyweights like Modern Warfare or Battlefield, it certainly wouldn't have done it any favors.

Yet in spite of his harsh criticism - and you won't get much harsher than that - Davis gave props to 2K for green-lighting the game in the first place. "They took a hell of a risk with the project that other publishers would not have had the balls to take," he said. "I'm proud of what we were able to achieve, and it was not easy."

Source: Polygon [http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2012/8/28/3269504/her-full-story-behind-spec-ops-the-line-williams-davis-pearsey-2kgames]



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Catalyst6

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Apr 21, 2010
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Huh.

I suppose it stands as a testament to how good the regular game is that I completely forgot that there was even a multiplayer side to it. I didn't play it after finishing the campaign because I somehow felt that it would just be tarnish what I just experienced.
 

Scrustle

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Apr 30, 2011
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That's actually really good to hear from the perspective of a gamer. This guy has artistic integrity and knows exactly why tacked on multiplayer is a bad idea.
 

kir4

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May 1, 2008
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errr. Bad form man. Never diss your own project affiliation no matter how shitty it is.
 

Waaghpowa

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Apr 13, 2010
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Considering how much I liked the single player campaign, I can only imagine how much better it could have been if they didn't have to spend the time and money on the multi player.
 

josemlopes

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Scrustle said:
That's actually really good to hear from the perspective of a gamer. This guy has artistic integrity and knows exactly why tacked on multiplayer is a bad idea.
And even better, while he critics the publisher for what they did he also understands that the project itself was risky (which it was) and that having it greenlighted was probably a big sacrifice on their behalf

So props to this guy for using logic and sense on the internet
 

Sniper Team 4

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Apr 28, 2010
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Wait, Spec Ops had multiplayer...(goes to check game)? Huh. So it did. Never even touched it and judging by this guy's statements, that's a good thing. I guess now I know why there were no multiplayer trophies despite there being a multiplayer mode.
 

scw55

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Nov 18, 2009
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I wished he didn't use cancer as an analogy. It was bad taste.

He could have used a puss-filled boil instead. You know, something which 33% of all humans will suffer from in their life time and everyone knows someone close who has suffered from the disease.

In honesty, pointing out how bad the multi player is is only going to make people notice it more :\
 

daibakuha

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You know, I like this guys statements. You know what I don't like? How everyone is going to use this guy as a reason for ragging on why things shouldn't have mutliplayer. Multiplayer isn't needed for every game, but it can drastically enhance the longevity and fun of others.
 

daibakuha

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j-e-f-f-e-r-s said:
You know, the industry cannot be in a healthy state when greenlighting a third-person military shooter is seen as a 'hell of a risk'.

I'm not saying that as a jab at Cory Davis. From what I've seen, Spec Ops has some absolutely gripping narrative ideas going for it, and it's great to see the fetish for military porn given a cynical going over. But Christ, publishers have been trying to justify the endless stream of military porn as the only way for them to make money. If making a new military shooter is now seen as a risk, it makes me wonder just how fucked up the industry actually is?
New IP, new story ideas. These are risks, which is why you see more sequels than you do new games. Military porn games sell a lot of copies, so long as they have the name Call of Duty and Battlefield on them.
 

Schadrach

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daibakuha said:
Multiplayer isn't needed for every game, but it can drastically enhance the longevity and fun of others.
The first part of that doesn't get said *nearly* as often as the second, though.
 

Carnagath

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Wow, look at all the fucks this guy doesn't give. I thought people like that were pretty much extinct in today's gaming industry, guess I was wrong.
 

Tiamat666

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Dec 4, 2007
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daibakuha said:
You know, I like this guys statements. You know what I don't like? How everyone is going to use this guy as a reason for ragging on why things shouldn't have mutliplayer. Multiplayer isn't needed for every game, but it can drastically enhance the longevity and fun of others.
Yes, but what is unacceptable is that they had a vision for the single player experience and had to tweak it for the worse in order to accomodate the multiplayer part. The end result is that the single player main game is not the way it was meant to be, and for that we get yet another half-assed FPS multiplayer, in an already overflowing market which includes many free to play shooters, which do the multiplayer job much better because they are dedicated to it.

Thanks a bunch, marketing people.
 

chimeracreator

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Jun 15, 2009
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scw55 said:
I wished he didn't use cancer as an analogy. It was bad taste.

He could have used a puss-filled boil instead. You know, something which 33% of all humans will suffer from in their life time and everyone knows someone close who has suffered from the disease.
I am sorry for whatever loss you had that has made you more sensitive to the term than others, but that doesn't mean his use of it was in bad taste. The thing is the analogy works. Cancer is a malignant growth of cells the saps energy from useful cells, displaces them and can kill them along with the host if not caught soon enough, met with proper treatment and even then you need to get lucky.

He is claiming that the multiplayer component was a requirement by the developers that forced them to mutate solid components of the game which drained resources from the single player campaign which was their focus and nearly killed the entire project. A virus or parasite might have been better as using cancer as an analogy normally implies that there is some internal element of subversion, but for all we know that might have been a problem within the dev team as the requirement for multiplayer might have made some devs force changes to other components he would have tweaked differently for a single player only game.
 

razer17

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kir4 said:
errr. Bad form man. Never diss your own project affiliation no matter how shitty it is.
Errr, it should be the exact opposite. It's incredibly annoying when artists and game designers or whoever make out their game is the best thing since sliced bread, and it is completely perfect. It's refreshing to see someone actually come and say that parts of their work sucked. If more people had his balls, maybe the games industry as a whole would be in a better position.

OT: I literally didn't even know that this game had a multiplayer component. I mean, I haven't played it, but every time I've seen it discussed only the single player has been mentioned.
 

Drummie666

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Yeah. Never touched the multiplayer. I knew it was there. I just assumed that it would suck, based on the fact of how much work obviously went into the single-player and how damn good that was.

Good to know my powers of logical reasoning are still good.

Also, serious kudos to have the balls to say this about something that YOU made. Yager is quite simply on my list of trusted developers. They clearly know what they're doing.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Huh, I never even noticed it had multiplayer. I was just thinking how funny and ridiculous it would be for a game like this that completely deconstructs mainstream shooters to have a multiplayer mode just like mainstream shooters.
 

Plazmatic

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I find it funny they think it didn't sell well because of this. It didn't sell well because you wanted me to pay 50$ for a >5 hour campaign. If you made it 12 instead I MIGHT find the price warranted, or if you cut the price to 19.99, but you didn't so I didn't buy it.

Bastion has a longer campaign than this, hell, EVERY SINGLE CALL OF DUTY HAS A LONGER CAMPAIGN THAN THIS (even though the publishers got lazy and cut 2 - 3 hours off of every thing from the first modern warfare (not including world at war)).