There's a long-running joke among game devs about how nobody pushes the magical "add multiplayer" button that plenty of ill-informed game fans seem to believe exists. But now, one developer has created this mythical button for thousands of indie games - sort of, at least.
Gomps, the Generic Online Multiplayer System, is an in-development tool that will be able to add "basic multiplayer functionality" to any Unity game. Unity is a game engine that's been quite popular with indie developers over the past decade, powering thousands - in fact, hundreds of thousands - of different titles. While the engine has gained an unfortunate reputation among some players for the amount of low-effort Steam shovelware it's powered, Unity is also the backbone of acclaimed games like Return of the Obra Dinn, Outer Wilds, Tunic, Firewatch, Cuphead, and many more.
Developer Raicuparta has shown a brief clip of Gomps multiplayer being used in Firewatch, Obra Dinn, and Ynglet, where you can see a bunch of adorable blobs representing players running around the game world. I will re-emphasize that this is "basic" multiplayer, so all you can really do is look around the environment as the main player actually progresses the game. But I can see this being a delightful way to spend time in a Discord chat with some friends.
A side project I've been playing with during my free time: Gomps is a tool that adds basic online multiplayer features to any @unity game with the press of a button. Here is Firewatch by @camposanto , Obra Dinn by @dukope , and Ynglet by @Nifflas. pic.twitter.com/XTQtqDhTfmMarch 22, 2023
Raicuparta says that first-person games tend to work through Gomps with little to no configuration, though other types of games can need some additional work. But Gomps is built to let you easily share configuration files, so that once one person has done the work to get a game running, everyone else can just enjoy the results.
Gomps already has a Steam page and is set to go live in Early Access within the next few days, for free. Over the course of development, features like real-time chat, emotes, taunts, and note-leaving are set to be added.
I'm not sure we're prepared for a world where the best single-player games can so easily become the best co-op games.