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Cooperative Gaming.

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Three's picture
Joined: 08/31/2011

To me games with co-op driven into their mechanics tend to succeed in places where confrontational games fail. Theirs still the focus of overcoming some obstacle, but in this case it isn't the other player. Players either work together against an AI deck or against the games rules itself in order to win. They either win or lose together as a team, to me that makes for a more fun experience. When your game is fun to play it's more likely to be played over and over again, right? Take games like Left4Dead, or better yet, Sentinels of the Multiverse. In either case it's extremely difficult if not impossible to beat the game by yourself, the support of your friends is absolutely essential.

With L4D there are too many zomb--infected roaming around that can easily overwhelm you and your measly pistol and painkillers. You have to rely on your partners to pick you up when you're downed, heal you when you're running low on health kits, save you from falling off a ledge, save you from a swarm of zomb--infected (assuming you're blessed with competent partners of course) if you plan on seeing your name during the end credits after all the remaining survivors have escaped. I've never had the chance to sit down and play SotMV myself, but from what I've seen and read of it the game runs a similar set up. However, instead of a zombie horde to face there is a central villain, giving players a tangible goal to pursue in lieu of their defeat. Other than that the only major difference I see in the games is that you can still ''die'' for good in L4D, as there are no rescue closets during the final act. Does this hurt the game compared to SotMV, where ''death'' only means that you're downed but not out?

Long story short, what do you guys think makes a good cooperative game, really really good? What mechanics in any cooperative game you've played do you favor the most?

Cogentesque's picture
Joined: 08/17/2011
Well I forget where, but

Well I forget where, but somewhere (either in an older post or in bgg) we were talking about what makes a good co-op game.

To answer your first point: l4d you can "die" where as the other game you are merely "KO'd" for a bit. This is completely down to levels of the player.

Take the examples to the extreme: CS:source - you are alive for approximately 4 seconds. Then you are dead and you wait until game close: normally 5-20 min games.

And something like (uum......) medal of honour?? (I cant think of the right example right now) but I think it is that, and basically you are "rezzed" at every stage when you die: you may well lose some gold or what have you, but you will essentially be hand-held and molly-coddled the whole way through. Both of these are not great, as soon as there is a high chance for me to fail, success becomes all the more wanted and sought after. So a healthy medium I think should ne found on this subject: yes it should be possible to die, but you may well get "rezzed" at a big loss to your progression - but not big enough to wipe you out of the game until game end. But there should still be a point in which you CAN be wiped out.

A nice exmplae is Mansions of Madness - if your hero dies, you can instantly pick another hero from the "box of heroes" until they are all dead (there are too many for you to run out of) and towards the last quarter of the game, the "main quest" triggers; it then gives you the conditions you need to win and the conditions to lose (Kill this dude to win, don't kill this dude in 5 turns to lose) and at this time, if people die, that's it they are out

So this gives the most part of the game an easy, dont worry, second-chance kind of game that everybody can enjoy "playing a game" in. But at the end, the screws are tightened to make your actions actually have some kind of bearing. This gives the players both fun and purpose.

Secondly: What makes a good co-op game?
No "Alpha geeking" - one player having played the game a a few times so he knows what you need to do/have to win, therfore takes control of everybodies turns.

No tertiary co-op: co-op by proxy. I've been told that race for the galaxy is like this too, the co-op element comes about almost accidentally and the decisiosn one player has will effect the next, yet neither of them really have any deep control on this element: you could essentially play the same game with a random number generator instead of a fellow human player.

No War. Co-op not vs. is the key, at any point where there is war, this changes the game: First one to get potion X gets +3 points, well everyone will run to it and try and get there way.

In my atom-punk boardgame im making three, what I have taken from everyones advice is the best way for a co-op game to urn while having enough gameplay elements is:

1) Either everybody wins, or everybody loses.
2) If everybody wins and a certain player doesn't fullfill objective X, he loses.
AND (maybe)
3) If everybody wins, a certain player can be number 1 of the winners.

I think this is what I have distilled my co-op game down to be. I think it's a good set of principals tbh.

Let me know your thoughts man

mindspike's picture
Joined: 09/06/2011
Some interesting thoughts

Some interesting thoughts here. I'm struggling with something similar in testing out co-op rules for Atomic Earth 2.0, where everything is already geared toward competitive play. One of the solutions I've come up with is to give each player separate goals, and everyone must achieve their goal before the game can be won. Finding ways to make the goals interdependent is the toughest part.

Relexx's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010
An interesting challenge

An interesting challenge indeed. I have a game that is competitive, however I wish to add an option to play it cooperatively. The game has the option to "turn the screws" in its latter stages as well. Thanks for the well constructed reply, it has provoked some new ideas how I should approach my games co-op (multiple players acting as a party)

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