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How to fix co-op gaming: The Co-op Gaming Bill of Rights
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Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:47 pm Reply and quote this post
If there's one thing we're a fan of around here at iVirtua Community,it's a game featuring strong cooperative play. We enjoy it so much, infact, that we sometimes offer our own solutionson how to make multiplayer sessions even better. Andre Vrignaud, betterknown as Ozymandias on Xbox Live, appears to be a big fan, too.Vrignaud, whose job at Microsoft is to take a long-term look at thegaming industry and predict where trends are headed over the next fewyears, was intrigued by some recent musings byPenny Arade's Tycho on the nature of cooperative play. In turn,Vrignaud sat down with a coworker to talk about the basics of co-opgaming.
The result of their brainstorming session resulted in what Vrignaud has labeled The Co-op Gaming Bill of Rights.The Bill of Rights is divided into two sections, one for things whichcould easily be implemented in current games and one discussingpotential—and much more challenging—design possibilities. While some ofthe suggestions don't seem all that likely, one that is easy to getenthused about is the following:"A game that allows co-op online play should also support co-op playlocally, either through LAN or split-screen (ideally both). An onlinesubscription should not be required to play co-op locally on a LAN."
It's still a bit confounding that titles such as Army of Two, which are built around the whole idea of playing through with a friend, don't implement local LAN co-op play. While disabling multiplayer features between regionsis understandable because of connection speeds, it seems ratherludicrous to not include a mode which is often considered essential formultiplayer games. That's as far as the Xbox 360 version is concerned,anyway, as the PlayStation 3 deftly avoids this problem, making it theversion of choice for those who would rather play with a friendlocally.
Something not mentioned in the Bill of Rights—but that I would liketo see—is the idea of adaptive puzzles in future games: if two (ormore) gamers are playing through a campaign together, certain sequencescould work differently than they would with one player. A simpleexample could involve distracting hostiles while the other playermaneuvers their character into a secure location and then trigger anevent which will allow their cohort to enter undetected. A more complexexample would be taking one of the multicharacter puzzles from a gamelike Indigo Prophecyand having two players work on it simultaneously (either in splitscreenmode or by relaying information to each other via voice chat).
As things stand, co-op gaming has yet to be deemed an importantenough in-game feature by most developers, so none of them try toimplement even a set of basic features to meet player expectations.Hopefully, this will change in the near future and some of thesuggestions offered by Vrignaud will become a part of standarddevelopment.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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