Galcon Games
Phil Hassey - game dev blog
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Galcon Multi-player on the iPhone?

So .. here’s a game design question for you to ponder.  Everyone, of course, says it would be awesome.  But why?

Here are the pros I see:

  • You could play against your friends who are in the same room as you!  Yay for LAN parties!
  • You could get ranked against many other Galcon players!

Here are the cons I see:

  • You can’t chat, so you might as well be playing against bots.  (Playing against complete strangers seems mildly pointless.)
  • You can still compete for rankings in the single player game if I set it up to score certain rounds, etc.

Anyway, I could use some feedback.  I’m likely going to be adding the MP game, but I need to know WHY, as that’s really important to how I design the interface.

11 Responses to “Galcon Multi-player on the iPhone?”

  1. Mike Verdone Says:

    Playing against humans simply feels different than playing against bots. Compare a race in Mario Kart Wii with computer opponents against an Internet race with human players. Despite no voice or text chat the competition feels far more fierce and the game is more fun against humans.

    But if you really want chat… simple solution– voice chat! Players can yell at each other remotely! Even during the game! Only a few minor technical hurdles…

    * build a voice chat server infrastructure with massive low-latency bandwidth
    * convince the iPhone mic to work in a way it was probably not designed for
    * feedback-reducing algorithms for the recording
    * audio encoding algorithms

    Yes it’s simple… okay it’s not… it may not even be possible…

  2. Anders Conbere Says:

    I remember my first AH-HA! moment with the DS. it happened on a long bus ride, and I had plunked myself down and was most likely wasting a few cycles banging at some game. Not too long in an older guy across the isle from me gets my attention and we chat a bit and he asks “Do you want to play mario kart?”.

    So the DS shares out the game and I download it and we play a couple rounds, pretty soon a friend of mine has his interest peaked and I hand the game off to him, and the other guys gets handed to his son and an impromptu tourney begins and the whole bus is playing. WAY COOL.

    Now the IPhone can’t share games like you can on the DS, but that’s way less important than the social aspects of all collectively playing together. The simple ability to play face to face has a HUGE impact on game dynamics. And the reality is that humans play very differently than bots. (even if you can’t chat in game, and only after the fact 🙂

  3. mrfun Says:

    Why no text chat? Some kind of iphone rule or just a UI issue?

    But I agree with the others, a nice lobby or some kind of streamlined matching system and MP will really make this a killer app on the iphone.. !

  4. Ian Clarke Says:

    I don’t think that lack of chat means that you might as well be playing against bots. As others have said, the “feel” of playing against another person, the tactics they use etc, is going to be very different.

    Secondly, couldn’t you have a simple chat system in a “lobby”? That way people can interact between games, but not during games (when, lets face it, they are going to be too busy to type anything anyway).

    You would want to keep the chat system very minimal, since there isn’t much point in reinventing the wheel (I’m sure there will be no shortage of iPhone chat apps before long).

  5. Kyle Says:

    I honestly could care less about playing against people online, but if you did include that functionality I’d think it would be best to just have text chat in a lobby between matches.

    Wifi local 1 on 1, though, would be incredible.

    This game is incredible though, very happy customer here!

  6. Rene Dudfield Says:

    you can’t chat on a phone? hehe. Yell into it at the others. Ok someone already said that. You can’t do voice on an itouch though.

    buttons for phrases. like in duke nukem… so people could tap, or press phrases 1-10.

    a way to select who you’re talking to. secret schemes and teams are a fun part of galcon mp.

    cu

  7. Chad Verrall Says:

    Just about everyone in the office has iphones and I can see us playing multiplayer at lunch if we had the option.

    In fact… seeing how I think I’m the only one who has Galcon on my iphone, it might end up being a selling point to get the others to get a copy so we can play against each other.

    So yeah for me, it would totally be a lan party thing.

    I think someone else mentioned that just knowing you’re playing a human Vs AI can also be enough, that you don’t need to chat with them.

    Seeing how I’m still slow as all heck typing on the iphone, I’d want just some quick chat phrases, “you suck, take that, need help, etc etc”

  8. Grant Says:

    Here are a few things that I found made other multiplayer games really fun:
    -Both local and worldwide play
    -Friend codes so you can play your friends over wi-fi even when they’re not near
    -Pre-programmable phrases that you can tap in-battle to “say”
    -full chat in a lobby between worldwide games (no need for chat on LANs because you can talk to one another)
    -up to four players and a team battle option for LAN and worldwide
    These features could easily double or triple the game sales because, if you look at any other strategy game, it is almost always played online as opposed to against AI.

  9. Grant Says:

    Here are a few things that I found made other multiplayer games really fun:

    -Both local and worldwide play

    -Friend codes so you can play your friends over wi-fi even when they’re not near

    -Pre-programmable phrases that you can tap in-battle to “say”

    -full chat in a lobby between worldwide games (no need for chat on LANs because you can talk to one another)

    -up to four players and a team battle option for LAN and worldwide

    These features could easily double or triple the game sales because, if you look at any other strategy game, it is almost always played online as opposed to against AI.

  10. Eric Moritz Says:

    @Anders Conbere you can’t share games on the iphone but the guy can open up the app store, and buy the game. More money for Phil!

  11. veerus Says:

    First poster had it right.. Look at Wii’s Mario Kart as a great example of how you don’t need to chat to play a greatly competitive game online. The beauty of Galcon is that it takes 2-3 minutes per game – there’s no need to turn it into a glorified chatroom. Plus it would probably clutter the UI too much. Here’s how I would do it:

    Once you enter multiplayer, the online “lobby” should display the following options:
    Which game do you want to play:
    -1v1
    -2v2
    -3v3 (or not? the iPhone screen probably won’t allow good gameplay for 3v3)
    -3 ffa
    -4 ffa
    -get in queue for all games
    -join private game

    If possible, display the # of people currently playing/waiting in each category for reference. The idea here is to check the queue after each game to see if there are any people waiting to join and add them to a new game (if anyone drops out). These categories would also allow for ladder ranking and all sorts stats. An option for a best-of-3 would also be welcome.

    Also, if possible, allow people to play a single player game while waiting in queue so they’re not staring at their phone while waiting.

    Private games would allow friends to join their own games. One person can create a private game, others join and play. Don’t even need a password.. just a game name that only the players know (like irc).

    Also, don’t worry about playing against bots online. The computer would have a hard time approaching the skill of a human. I consistently beat 3-stripes and sometimes can beat grand admiral if the map is favorable. But I would bet that I wouldn’t have such great results against other humans.

    All in all, great work. Looking forward to the multiplayer version.