From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A multiplayer game is a video game in which multiple people can play the same game at the same time. Unlike most other games, computer and video games are often single-player activities because the computing power exists to create artificial opponents. In multiplayer games, players either all compete against each other, or team up to achieve a common goal such as defeating an enemy that can consist of either computer or human players. Usually multiplayer games either use computer networking to allow players to play together or require the players to gather around a single game system to play.
In modern computer games, the word multiplayer usually implies that the players play together by connecting multiple computers via a network, usually either a LAN or the Internet. This form of multiplayer is sometimes called "netplay" to refine the meaning. Networked multiplayer games tend to be most enjoyable when played on a LAN because it essentially eliminates problems common in Internet play, such as lag and rude, anonymous players. This is because it is played at a workspace, house, or other small area and only people directly connected to it can play. As a result, multiplayer games usually are the focus of LAN parties. Play-by-email games are multiplayer games that use email as the method of communication between computers. Other turn-based variations which do not require players to be online at the same time are Play-by-post gaming and Play-by-Internet. Some online games are "massively multiplayer" games, which means that a large number of players participate simultaneously. The two major genres are MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) such as Ultima Online or EverQuest and MMORTS (massively multiplayer online real-time strategy).
Some networked multiplayer games do not even feature a single-player mode. For example, MUDs and massively multiplayer online games, such as RuneScape are multiplayer games by definition. First-person shooters have become very popular multiplayer games and games like Battlefield 1942 and Counter-Strike gained their fame despite not featuring extensive (or any) single-player plot or gameplay.
Notable multiplayer games in which each player uses a different display include:
- Both incarnations of Neverwinter Nights, the AOL MMORPG and the BioWare version
- The Doom series and Quake series by id Software
- The Unreal Tournament series by Epic Games
- The Warcraft series and StarCraft by Blizzard Entertainment
- The Battlefront series by Pandemic and Lucasarts
- Any number of card games played on gaming web sites
This category of games currently requires multiple machines to connect to each other over the Internet, but before the Internet became popular, MUDs were played on time-sharing computer systems, and games such as Doom were played on a LAN. Spacewar!, created in 1962 for the PDP-1, is credited with being the first multiplayer computer game.
Gamers often refer to latency by the term ping, which measures round-trip network communication delays (by the use of ICMP packets). For example, a player on a DSL connection with a 50 ms "ping" will be able to react faster to game events than a modem user with 350 ms average latency. Another popular complaint is packet loss and choke, which can render a player unable to "register" their actions with the server. In first-person shooters, this problem usually manifests itself in the problem of bullets appearing to hit the enemy, but the enemy taking no damage. Note that the player's connection is not the only factor; the entire network path to the server is relevant, and some servers are slower than others. While latency is frequently complained about, lack of finesse and decent tactics is probably more lethal than a slow connection in most games. Major and frequent variations in latency, however, can be another story; these can make it very difficult to properly play the game.
Recently, games consoles have also begun to support network gaming, over both the internet and LANs. Many mobile phones and handheld consoles also offer wireless gaming through bluetooth or similar technologies.
As in most games, some players choose to cheat to gain an advantage in online multiplayer games. Often this is done by exploiting bugs or design limitations in the software. Games companies try to prevent cheating in a number of ways. Technologically, they use software such as PunkBuster or RSVP First which continually verifies that the game being played is unaltered. Games companies can also demand a subscription fee for access to the game network which is non-refundable, so they can effectively fine cheaters for cheating. They may also issue "patches" to the users of a certain game (usually via internet download) that effectively fix glitches in the code that cheaters often exploit to their advantage.
Even with the use of anti-cheat software, the FPS games are notorious for having the most cheats, which can sometimes turn people away from that type of game. This may be due in part because both clients and servers are run on private systems instead of on company owned servers. One of the most infamously hacked games is the original Diablo, a role-playing game with an online component. Nowadays it is hard to find any legitimate players on its online network Battle.net.
In modern console games, arcade games, and console-style games designed for home theater PCs, the term multiplayer usually implies that the players play together by using several controllers plugged into the game system and hooked up to a single television monitor. For home console games, developers often use split-screen so that each player can have an individual viewpoint on the action (important for genres such as the first person shooter), although most arcade games and some console games (ranging from the seminal Pong to the ever-popular Bomberman) make use of a single play area for all the players. Players can also immerse themselves in turn-based "hot seat" console games using a single controller, such as in the Worms series and perhaps through a game of Horse in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or Matt Hoffman's BMX spin-off.
As many game consoles now support online or network games, split-screen is often supported in combination with these multi-system modes. For example, in a network or internet game of Halo 2, up to four players may be playing in split-screen on each console in the network, for a total of 16 players.
Single-system games may also involve several gamers taking turns playing a game on the same system using the same input devices. In PC gaming, a multiplayer game where the players share a computer is usually called hotseat.
History of multiplayer games on consoles
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) allowed for 2 controllers to be plugged in simultaneously. Most early games on this system used a "take turns" approach, in which Player 1 (usually blue) would play until a life was lost and then Player 2 (usually red) would play until the life was lost, with the cycle then repeating. Contra for NES was a game that allowed simultaneous cooperative multiplayer video gaming. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) allowed for 2 controllers to be plugged in as well and used a variety of multiplayer inclusion. The Sony Playstation console also provided for 2 controller inputs. However, the "Multi-Tap" adapter could be purchased separately and allowed for up to 4 players. The Nintendo 64 console provided 4 controller inputs built into the system. This, in many peoples' opinions, played a great role in the popularity of the game GoldenEye 007, as no extraneous adapters needed to be purchased. Both the Sega Dreamcast console and the Microsoft Xbox included four controller inputs. The Sony Playstation 2 followed the format of the original. Players wanting 4-player gaming needed to purchase another "Multi-Tap." While many consoles in recent years have allowed four controllers to be used simultaneously, the number of games that take advantage of this capability has been somewhat limited. Even games that lend themselves to a multiplayer experience often don't take full advantage of multiplayer capabilities (e.g. The Lord of the Rings).
Number of players per machine
- Atari (2)
- Intellivision (2)
- Nintendo Entertainment System (2+2)
- Sega Master System (2+)
- TurboGrafx-16 (1+4)
- Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Genesis 32X (2+3+3)
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (2+3)
- Sega Saturn (2+ S)
- PlayStation (2+3+3 S)
- Nintendo 64 (4)
- Personal computer with USB hub (4 N)
- Sega Dreamcast (4 N)
- PlayStation 2 (2+3+3 N)
- Nintendo GameCube (4 N)
- Xbox (4 N)
- Xbox 360 (4 N)
- PlayStation 3 (4 N)
- Wii (4)
- Video game center
- LAN gaming center
- List of gaming topics
- List of multiplayer video games
- Multiplayer mobile games
- Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
- Xbox Live
- Online Multiplayer Games Network
- Underground multiplayers gaming page, also offers mainstream gaming news
- Multiplayer Online Games Directory
- Multiplayer Adult Gaming Community
- Multiplayer Movie Site for all kind of Online Games