November 12th, 2010
Multiplayer is great. It's also an important component to PC gaming.
But so are really awesome single player campaigns, says Erik Johnson, developer of the upcoming Portal 2, which has no multiplayer outside of campaign co-op.
"The analysis that every product needs to be a competitor in multiplayer, or an MMO, is incorrect," Johnson told Gamasutra this week. "There are a lot of people who want an experience without the stress," he says, referencing the focused nature of single player campaigns that guide you to your final destination.
Additionally, Johnson says multiplayer can mean more than just lobbies and 16-person frag fests. "I think customers want to find ways to talk about the thing that they are a big fan of with other people, and ideally experience it the same way," he says.
"That could just mean that you want to be able to chat with other people who are playing through the same part of the game as you, or the fans can write commentary nodes in the game and everyone can experience those to take advantage of the fact that there is a huge community of people that want to interact with each other."
In my own experience, I was knee deep enjoying the crazy-good single-player campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops this week, while seemingly everyone else was complaining about multiplayer issues. Not that Treyarch should get a free pass in releasing a laggy and performance-riddled multiplayer mode (hopefully the new patch resolves the issues).
But that shouldn't take away from the inspired single-player campaign, at least on its own merits. Even one of the most critical Black Ops reviews praised the campaign. "The campaign pretty much does everything right," reported Destructoid, who rightfully panned the "unplayable" multiplayer. "Truly a magnificent single-player experience that manages to tell more in its one story than the Modern Warfare series has done with two."
In a perfect world, gamers want both great single player and multiplayer. I get that. But more often than not, I'm more than satisfied with great single-player, since multiplayer is a dime a dozen these days.