• DER NACHO - November 7, 2012 10:43 a.m.

    While I may not agree wholly with the concept of only playing multiplayer for competition or increasing skills, I understand where you're coming from. The only stance I can take for this topic is that I play multiplayer modes as casually as I can. Believe me when I say that I don't buy Halo or Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty just so I can jump online and progress my career. I there for the fun of it...
  • db1331 - November 7, 2012 10:37 a.m.

    Also as for this bit: "You level up in the game, not in your real life gaming skills." That's true of pretty much any game. If you've been playing games for any substantial amount of time, you're probably about as good at gaming as you're ever going to get. You can learn new things about game mechanics. You can find the gun that does the most damage, or has the lowest spread. In the end though, nearly every MP game boils down to reaction time. Increasing your reaction time or reflexes is extremely difficult, if not impossible to do. You've either got it or you don't. Case in point: You can study every map in Black Ops. You can learn the spawns. You can learn where to throw grenades for a high kill chance. After doing all this, you are going to be substantially better at the game. That doesn't mean that your real life gaming skills have leveled up. It just means you've learned the game. Now that you have "mastered" Black Ops, you purchase BF3. It's a shooter, so you'll do great, right? Wrong. You're going to do pretty poorly, until you learn how to spot, how to account for bullet drop, etc. After mastering those, your score will improve. Not because you leveled up your real life skills, but because you have learned the game. Same is true for XCOM I'm sure.
  • Godzillarex - November 7, 2012 9:53 a.m.

    This is such a well written and on the mark article. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling this way. When I was playing the Transformers: Fall of Cybertron multiplayer, I also went through a period of being addicted to it because of that carrot dangling system. Play a little more and you get a better gun, play a little more and you get better armor. But in the end, your skill doesn't really increase, only all the shit you carry with you. Just like you said, you're not becoming better at chess, your are just getting pieces that allow you to do stuff that others can't do. And that's a little sad. It's so much more rewarding to know that you beat everybody else on a leveled playing field, rather than knowing you beat everybody else because you have the most powerful weapon in the game available to you. Nicely done David :D
  • FoxdenRacing - November 7, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    Thank you, Dave. I've been on about this for a few years now, especially with the shift towards 'you had to be there' in these kinds of games; if you're not playing obsessively from the first night, then you're up a creek. It's no fun being stuck with a peashooter while the other guy's invisible to your radar, you're on his even while you're not moving, he has a far meaner weapon, and even if you do manage to get the drop on him he gets to shoot you with his dying breath...but as a 'dirty peasant' you're not afforded the same luxury. Oh, and after he shoots your fish in a barrel a few times, he gets a one-use 'power' that makes it even easier for him to kill you. And no, 'You should have bought/played it on launch day' is not a proper solution to that problem. Unlocks are a fine way to work the power curve in single-player. It has no place in multi.
  • Aarononymous - November 7, 2012 8:42 a.m.

    Ideally, elo systems as used in LoL (which come from chess) would solve this problem. Unfortunately, players still end up caring more about the number than their skill and you have the problem of everyone thinking they deserve to be about 200 higher elo than they are.
  • CRYP71K - November 7, 2012 8:38 a.m.

    i think that there could be a very happy balance made. Too many games follow very strict physics and boundaries - COD, as an example, doesn't give the players any opportunity to mess with physics or play creatively. But what it does right is give the player a good sense of progression with their gear and perks - something to work for. Now, if they could merge the playful and skillful aspects of games like Quake III and place progression and unlocks from the likes of COD, then that would be a game to play.
  • db1331 - November 7, 2012 8:24 a.m.

    I enjoy unlocks in MP. I like having a little checklist in the back of my mind of things I should try and do during the match. For instance, I need to really focus on getting 5 headshots with my M16 this round, or, if I can throw back an enemy's grenade and kill him with it, I'll earn an extra 10k points to spend, or I'll get a new camo. It gives me something to think about while I play. Sometimes they encourage you to try things you wouldn't normally do. Later unlocks shouldn't be overpowered though. It's not fair to new players. BF3 does a good job of this. Some of the best guns in the game are available from the start. My one weakness is gold weapon camos. I'm not proud of it. I just loved investing the time to get the golden guns, and seeing all the noobs flock to pick them up off my corpse each time I die, or messing with the "how u get gold gun?" kids you would meet every other round.
  • ParagonT - November 7, 2012 11:08 a.m.

    I think they fix the overpowered unlocks by the rank separation and pairing.
  • RabidTurtl - November 7, 2012 8:23 a.m.

    Seems like great timing for this article, with BF42 released for free via origin. I haven't played that game in a while (lost the cd key ages ago), and playing it again showed what I really loved about that game. Both sides weapons are roughly equal (either just skins of the same weapon, or a trade bullet count for damage). There are no guns to unlock. The entire game is skill. BF3 on the other hand always felt like figure out which gun/vehicle unlock the most recent patch made OP, and just use that while you destroy anyone who is trying something different.
  • Pwnz0r3d - November 7, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    What I have noticed (in most players) is that for in CoD (haven't seen this anywhere else) 0 Prestige LvL 20-30 players are the best in the match. They somehow always out kill the 10th prestigers, it's like some sort of mid-level cap boost or something. I've experienced it myself in MW2, and then I got back to being decent and then average. I don't know, maybe I'm the only one that noticed it, I just thought it was an interesting phenomena.
  • Cyberhero18 - November 7, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    Wow, you couldn't be more right about this. I didn't even realise how much it bothers me when games don't keep everyone on equal footing in terms of what's available to them. If you win in competitive multiplayer it should be because you were better than everyone instead of being because you had better gun mods or power-ups. This was a brilliant read.
  • ObliqueZombie - November 7, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    "It used to be that the sole purpose of playing a game online was to enjoy an online game." It seems that, right there, you changed your focus. You talked about progressing "as a human," developing legitimate skills within the game space. But honestly, what you described, was just another form of grinding. I'll "grind" away at Quake III to reach the skill those who've been playing for years already have, and while that's not the same as the addictive grinding of gear is, it doesn't strike me as fun. I'd have have to trudge through a loooooot of shit just reach that point, especially now never having played it. In fact, I don't think there will ever be a point in my playing Quake III now that it's been out for over a decade and GOD KNOWS how good those people are now. Still, I agree and I don't. Something like Call of Duty and Halo (now, at least) don't make REAL improvement's to a player's skill in-game in large ways, but they still do, however slowly. Remember quick scoping in Call of Duty? Or no-scoping immediately after switching to the sniper rifle in Halo? Those things were ACQUIRED, and honestly, still very hard to pull off, at least for me. While I understand that it's not the same as manipulating the physics to the extent of Quake III, but you know what? It's FUN. I like unlocking things, it fulfills my basic human need to succeed, and I have a damn good amount of fun doing so. I still improve my steady shots in Halo, or my reaction times in Call of Duty, or my team-building skills in Battlefield, but it keeps me there not only because of the fun and experience, but because I'm guaranteed to constantly unlock knew toys to play with and new sweet cosmetic items to mix and match. Quite honestly, I don't want such a "hardcore PvP" environment, because those always make me a bitter, angry person more than half the time--I want a competitive environment where I play to win, but ultimately to have fun. And isn't that the point of every game in existence? Alas, this is my opinions, and I completely respect and see where you're coming from, Mr. Houghton. Well-written, as always.
  • bass88 - November 7, 2012 9:09 a.m.

    I think Mr. Houghton's argument is that he practiced to get where he'e at in Quake 3. Whereas COD asks you to play long enough and then allow you to press one button to put one over other players. You're still not a better player. You just wasted more time than other players. Mr. Houghton's argument still stands. I'm not completely against unlocks in multiplayer. Twisted Metal pulled it off wonderfully, in my opinion. You can unlock extra vehicles or side weapons the more multiplayer you play. These new vehicles and side weapons are not more powerful, however. They just offer something new to try. I recommend giving Quake 3 ago. I hadn't played it years but tried it out the other week. Some players were insanely good. But three matches in I started getting a few kills and my rank hovered in the 3-7 range.
  • ObliqueZombie - November 7, 2012 9:32 a.m.

    It just seemed to me that he went from legitimate skill imcreases through practice, then to how "fun" or not grinding for gear is. And isn't the point of games to have fun, no matter what? That said, you DO get better at CoD when you play it more often. Hell, my friend's dad is testament to that. He absolutely reeks at the game, but the more he's played it, the more he progressed--at least from what I've seen over last summer. The only thing is, is that games like Call of Duty don't HAVE the seemingly limitless alterations of the game's physics, what with the lack of jet packs and on the steady gravity of Earth. Even halo, they have a set weight to each Spartan and a set distance that each one can jump and one has to compensate for that jump if they plan on missing or making that ledge. I guess what I'm trying to say without rambling is that Quake III had an engine capable of being a sandbox of shooters, per se. It allowed the players to do whatever they damn well pleased with the physics, whereas games nowadays try to ground themselves in believability. Unlocks are just the icing on the cake.
  • ParagonT - November 7, 2012 11:09 a.m.

    "Whereas COD asks you to play long enough and then allow you to press one button to put one over other players. You're still not a better player. You just wasted more time than other players." Could you elaborate more on that please?
  • bass88 - November 7, 2012 11:45 a.m.

    Do you really want me to? ;-)
  • ObliqueZombie - November 7, 2012 1:16 p.m.

    Killstreaks are one thing, but that still doesn't mean you "haven't progresses." Unless you LITERALLY stood in one place and MAYBE got some support streaks by taking bases or whatever, there's literally no way you say you haven't progresses. Being completely unbiased.
  • ParagonT - November 7, 2012 1:40 p.m.

    Do you really want to? ;)
  • bass88 - November 7, 2012 2:54 p.m.

    Do you really want me to want to tell you? ;-)
  • ParagonT - November 7, 2012 5:24 p.m.

    Do you really think I want to? ;)

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