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Friday, 16 August 2013

Synchronous Vs Asynchronous gameplay in Online Games


Lately there has been a lot of talk of implementing Synchronous gameplay in online games. Synchronous gameplay would pit human players against each other reducing the role of AI whereas Asynchronous gameplay works on the idea of pitting the player against the AI when the human player is not available (which is most often the case in online social games).

It is being said that by doing so, the developers would be providing the players with a lot of variety in gameplay as human players are much better in responding with different solutions to the same problem as compared to the AI.





After reading a plethora of articles advocating the same, it got me thinking as how much an improvement it would be in terms of gameplay experience when synchronous gameplay would become the norm.

It made me go over my experience as an online gamer and what was the difference in my experience while playing with a human opponent versus that while playing against the AI. I have to admit that the experience was mixed; sometimes it was incredibly different and better whereas sometimes it was just the same.

Why was it? Is it because the quality of human players I faced was different or was it something else embedded into the game? I believe it is the game which makes the difference whether synchronous gameplay would be better or just the same.

Let me take an example of games of the same kind but having different experiences when synchronous gameplay is concerned. First example is FIFA by EA. In this football game, playing with a human opponent offers a much more challenge as compared to playing with an AI.



On the other hand there is another football game GolMania which is on Facebook. In this particular game, the experience is much not different. Why is it so? The difference is in the kind of choices the game offers to the players. In Fifa, the choices being offered to the player are much more varied as compared to in GolMania.

In Fifa, you are in charge of a whole team of 11 players playing on a wide field and the number of things that you can do are enormous. You can choose to defend or attack and the strategic choices are numerous. When there are so many different choices being offered, the experience would be much more engaging when playing against a human opponent as compared to playing with an AI as a human would be able to take much more interesting decision which are going to have a more profound effect on not only the state of your game but also on the way you are strategizing.

The game GolMania would put you in charge of 4 players in a team and there is not much strategizing involved rather than running up the field and trying to score a goal. When there are not a lot of interesting choices to be made, it doesn’t matter if these are being made by a human or the AI as the decisions would be a lot similar as the options are limited.



I believe that Synchronous gameplay is going to play a huge role in the future of online games as the games become more and more complex in nature. When games like Call of Duty or Age of Empires are going to be played on social networking sites, synchronous gameplay would be much more engaging than asynchronous as the decisions by an human opponent would always be much more interesting that an AI opponent.


But for the difference to be noticeable and for Synchronous gameplay to be effective, we need to devise games which are capable of offering the players with interesting choices to make, to be able to decide between attack or defend, to befriend or to make enemy, to not only decide which resource is most important to generate but different ways to generating that most important resources. Unless that happens, unless we offer these interesting choices, it is futile to discuss which is better Synchronous or Asynchronous, as the outcome would be similar.

Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.
To know more about the latest in games, reviews and news, please visit http://www.facebook.com/videogamesunlimited

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Add the spice of Fun to your Games


What is fun and how do we define it? We all know that games should be fun and we know that a game is fun when we have just played it for a minute. If we all know what is fun and what feels like it, why as a community of game developers have we often failed to produce games, which are fun to a lot of people. If everyone knows how fun games feel like, would it not be obvious for them to make it more often.



However now a days games, which are truly fun and appeal to a very huge audience are very rare and far between. The perception of fun is also very divided. Some games come across as fun to some gamers whereas the same appear boring to others.

Fun cannot be defined, as it is more of a feeling. It needs to be felt by the one who needs to experience it. So if it is a feeling how can it be generalized? It can't be. Any feeling is unique to the person and the feelings of each and every one of us are different. For every situation we are programmed to react differently. And this programming had been done as a result of our past experiences.



The feeling of fun is unique to every person and if it cannot be generalized is there no way to make something that is fun for everyone. There is a way. Make a game, which is fun to play for you. Make something that you would want to play for a long time. If you have managed to develop such a game and you love it, chances are that there would be others as well who are similar to you in their likings, who would find it interesting. Then all that you would have to do is to find them and tell them about your game. That's the only way.

This is where so many of us fail. We listen to judgments of others who tell us that we need to figure out what is fun for the market. Figuring it out would be next to impossible. It is very difficult for me to figure out if my friend would also want to see the movie that I want to see. If its so difficult to guess what my friend would like, imagine how difficult would it be to guess what million of other people whom we don't even know would like. But we know what we would like and we know how to make that, so let's make it.



No matter how great a movie, there would always be someone who doesn't like it. No matter how great a song, there would be someone who doesn't quiet enjoy it. Any art form is of second order, which means that we can only ensure that it is produced but we can't ensure that others would like it. We can put in all the effort to make a movie but we cannot make sure that people would like it. But the chances of us liking that movie, which we have produced keeping ourselves and our satisfaction in mind is much greater. That should be our approach with making games as well.


Make games that you would want to play, make games that you would love to play and then try to find as many people who are similar to you (or hope and pray that your game finds them). That’s your best shot at being successful at making games, which are truly fun to a lot of people. 

Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.

To know more about the latest in games, reviews and news, please visit http://www.facebook.com/videogamesunlimited