Saturday, July 23, 2011

Four Swords DSiWare and Online Multiplayer

Ever since I've opened this blog I talked about the possibility of porting the first Four Swords game and adding online multiplayer. I wanted to play the game so badly, that I never really thought about how this should work. And still some people hope, that the upcoming DSiWare port will be online. But it won't. Never ever.

It's not just the fact that the game will be available for free, which means Nintendo won't put any big efforts into it. Actually there are three big issues which prevent this game from smoothly working with online play.

I already talked about quitting. May it be intentionally or accidently, as soon as a player quits the game all other players are screwed and can't finish the current dungeon. They just wasted their time. This game is not like Four Swords Adventures, where the levels are all predefined and where take over other players' Links when someone is missing. The dungeons are randomly generated based on the player count, all puzzles are designed with that specific player count in mind, there's no way that a player could leave or join the gaming session.

Another issue is coordination. Just watch the Four Swords footage from the recent Zeldathon, it's already hard to coordinate with four people sitting in the SAME ROOM. Especially if they're unexperienced with the game. Sometimes you just have to tell the other players what to do and you can't do that with some random stranger on the internet. It would be brutally frustrating to play with people, who have no clue what to do, while you can't do anything about it. They would need to add a speech chat to the game and even then there's no guarantee, because not everyone uses this or the players might be from different countries not understanding each other. And as soon as one player doesn't "get it", it might be a dead end for all players.

Third issue are griefers. People who have just fun in taking the fun from other players by sabotaging the game. And Four Swords would be the pure paradise for griefers. You can take someone and throw him into a pit. You can take a pot and throw it on another player to blindfold him. Or you can just kill yourself to make sure the team doesn't have enough rupees. How do you deal with that? It might even happen, that someone accidently sabotages a game. For example when he doesn't know what to do, when he idles or quits. All of this is not an issue in a local multiplayer session, where you can easily guide other players. And while you might have some fun with throwing other players around, you won't do it to a level where you piss your friends off.

These are the main reasons, why Four Swords just won't work with online multiplayer. Technically it wouldn't be a problem to add online multiplayer, but the game might be not the most enjoyable experience when played online, there are just too many issues. By releasing this game as free DSiWare, which works with a local wireless connection, Nintendo is already doing the best they can do to make Four Swords more accessible.

Well, Download Play would also be a nice option. So, you can also play with people who only have a Nintendo DS Phat or Lite. However, you can't save your progress then and if one player starts at zero, all do. ALL players have to be on the same key level in order to progress. So, using Download Play you would have to beat everything in one session, which would suck.

Actually that all players have to be on the same level is also a reason that speaks against online. You would have to find someone, who's as far as you are in order to progress. Imagine that all you have to do is getting one more Hero's Key, but you only find people, who are at the beginning of the game. That would suck. In local play you usually stick with the same people, so you're always on the same page.

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