RCI really needs to give us a game with multiplayer capabilities. A strategy game would be great. Obviously not anything like C&C Red Alert (massive license fee) but something less well known. Something like Pax Imperia or maybe Conquest Earth or Dark Reign? Something that didn't get anywhere (so the developers would be happy to at least make a bit of money from it from selling the license). As the Dreamcast advert says, We all play games, why can't we play together.
John Bain 31/7/99
I couldn't agree more with John. We need some sort of reliable multiplayer game desperately. However, don't forget that network multiplayer support is to be a major feature in Artex's forthcoming strategy game, TEK. I say forthcoming because the project is not dead as some have said, Jan assures me it is still on the way.
I suppose the big problem is that networks of Acorns don't really exist in many places except schools so developers have to fight with the packet loss and time-lag problems encountered over the 'net.
Alasdair 'Games Boy' Bailey 3/8/99
There are several problems with multiplayer games under RISC OS, most relate to the size of the market:
I would estimate that the average RCI conversion would sell 200 or so copies. Of those 200 people, a large percenatage won't have Internet access, and quite a few won't use the multiplayer options due to complexity or because they're worried about the resulting phone bill. So how many online players does that leave?
This means that if you suddenly decide you want a quick online game it's very unlikely there'll be anyone else online for you to play, so you'll always have to sort out a time and a place with specific people beforehand.
What about hosting? There are speed problems with hosting yourself (unless you only want to play against one other person), and who's going to run a public server running RISC OS games? Argonet? Perhaps (and it's an idea I hope they'll consider), but the situation is far from ideal.
It wouldn't be so bad if the games are compatible with the PC versions, but I believe this is rather tricky to accomplish (certainly in the case of Acorn PC Doom). As for multiplayer over a network, how many places (other than schools) have Acorn networks these days?
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see multiplayer options in games, but unless they're easy to implement I'd rather the programmer spent the time on other things (like their next game!).
Peter Davies 8/8/99
Peter, you say you'd expect that RCI's conversions would sell on average 200 copies. Do you know this figure from market experience, not necessarily from RCI, or is this just a wild guess? If this figure is close to the reality then no wonder we've not been getting any decent games for a while (exceptions of course). I find it hard to believe that 200 copies can come close to paying for development. Look at the development of TEK, how much time and effort has gone into that? If they sell say 500 copies I think they'd go bankrupt!
How many copies would you expect to sell of a natively developed game? These figures need to come out so people who are thinking of writing games have something to base their estimates on and not going into the market hoping to sell far more copies than is realistic. I think this could help game developement a lot. I know this is very sensitive information but it could be gathered by an independent organisation that would release these figures once or twice a year. No excact numbers, just estimates.
Gunnlauger Jonsson 24/8/99
Competing against PC users: As regards the problem of finding another player with the same game on the internet - surely this is an advantage to a very accurate PC conversion - there will be other players awake and online out there.
Serial Networking - the missing link? Another possibility that certainly should be investigated is serial linking (or parallel). I guess many people with two Risc OS computer in (even infrequent) close proximity would be more likely to spend 15UKP on a serial lead that 180+UKP on network interfaces and cables. Also, code written for serial connection should not be difficult to adapt for other networks. Thus I would see supporting serial connections as good not only for budget users but for people wanting games with 3+ players.
Hosting: This really depends on what sort of hosting you are after. If you want some sort of online chat area where people can meet up and agree to open direct connections then perhaps the excellent Acorn Arcade would be interested in helping. Alternatively, if there was sufficient interest (and of course suitable popular games) then I might be able to help with our solutions.web server. What do people think?
New Games: I think TEK is exactly what we are looking for, and look forward (eventualy) to an online fight to the death against YOU! (or against other people on our LAN).
David Youngs 6/9/99
I would agree that there may not be many players on (line?) and PC compatibility would probably be the answer. It wouldn't be all that difficult to accomplish as long as a server was interpretting the signals and not the other person's computer. It could be done. As for Acorn users with internet capabilities, I'd think that most of the people who bought the game would have internet capabilities as that was probably the way you'de get to hear about it.
John Bain 15/9/99