“Multi-player Based Games Are Very Difficult For Indies to Succeed At”

The very first Insiders member Mr. Phil pointed out – after seeing my 2 player co-op ninja video – that doing multi-player based game can be a tricky beast to tackle. It might be difficult to find other people to play with.

Year or two back I’d be worried.

Today, I’m not.

I have a couple of reasons why:

  • Look at the game who won Indie Grand Prize at GDC 2010 – Monaco is a co-op multiplayer game.
  • Secondly: I’m not going to forget single-players, although multiplayers come first, and “solo play” is just an added bonus. How? Well, it’s in my interest to make so that one player can guide those 2 ninjas with one keyboard (perhaps by TAB-switching between the controlled ninja, or by simply controlling one with ASDW keys and the other with ARROW keys). With this being said and done, the game is designed for 2 player co-op.

But these two reasons for me are somewhat “external excuses/arguments over why one should do multiplayer” to which have quite little meaning to why I’m doing this stealth game prototype.

The most important reason:

  • I’m interested in doing a game that I’d wanna play. I’ve done some single player games earlier, but the games I play are only online multiplayer. (L4D, NHL ’10, Zombie Panic and so on). This is the biggest reason why I’m doing a co-op game. Perhaps it’s tricky to succeed, but… I have a good feeling about this. Going to follow my guts here.

After all, that’s why we are blessed of having guts. We need something to follow.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. The most fun I’ve had playing co-op was playing games where they are supposed to be single player but where the player controls two things simultaneously (with wasd and arrow keys usually). But then my preferred co-op partner lives with me. Totally keen to play this if you make it like this, though I do think you’ll get more appeal with online multiplayer.

  2. @Russell: everybody knows that winning the Indie awards are the True Winners. Rest of the GDC is just hollywoodish.


    @bob: online is the design I’m doing here.

    @Jake: I let you know…

    @hermitC: Keep flooding this stuff. Thanks :)

  3. Specifically, Monaco won the Grand Prize in the Independent Games Festival. The IGF and the Game Developer Choice Awards are both held during GDC, and have many categories each. So to say Monaco “won GDC” isn’t quite accurate.

  4. Back in 2006 I wrote a network layer for my then employer’s touchscreen arcade machines. After fixing the initial teething problems we were waiting for the players to come in. But only a few used this new online feature. So we checked out why.

    The problems were that the feature was not obviously integrated (players were not aware of its existance), the games were not planned for multiple players (they were single player casual games in their original versions) and therefore an empty lobby was the result. A wrong technology choice for the network layer core made the project a pain in the ass in the long run.

    What I’ve learned from this:
    – Don’t use P2P technology for players scattered around the whole globe.
    – Don’t try to make a single player game multi player if it does not feel 100% right.
    – Don’t use black box software, source code access is a must!
    – Rely on simple and established network protocols. TCP would be best (every router supports it!) but UDP is better suited for games.
    – Be aware of additional work for network issues, e.g. timeouts, delays, narrow bandwidth, dead reckoning algorithms, etc.
    – Prepare your game for scalability, e.g. throwing in additional servers easily.
    – Use a sophisticated server architecture, it will form the backbone for your game.
    – Playtesting multi player games is much more complex and needs more time and persons than single player games.

    Advice flood stop!

    Your stealth game does not seem to have a potential pitfall, as far as I can imagine its gameplay.

    Do it!

  5. will your game only be playable in coop mode on one computer?
    i would like to see an online coop mode. my coop partner is not living in range to meet up and play so we have to play over the internet. there are great coop games like Trine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trine_(video_game)) but some of them (like Trine) only support local coop mode which is sooo sad for us ;(

    so if you are going to follow this (great and beautiful) coop ninja game idea please think about making an online coop mode.

  6. Oh, ha ha, I don’t know what to say. Thanks for taking my input to heart. I definitely think if you pursue an idea that you love, you can overcome a lot of obstacles! Passion is powerful. Good luck!

  7. It was quite a challange for us to develop a volleyball multiplayer game, and once it was released I woried about empty courts. It was a huge surprise single player game was just forgotten, and the multiplayer game created a community around the game. Not only the rooms were full, we had to suply players with a better server and new courts. I think multiplayer games, doesn’t matter if they have a blockbuster production or have a small budget, are really apealling and have great chances to succeed.

  8. Yeah, for indie games it is harder for multiplayer because indie games don’t build up the huge hype that games like TF2 did/do. If there is a large user base in the beginning, then there are plenty of other people to play with. There aren’t just a few servers running with one or none people in it.

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