Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bioshock 2's multiplayer shocker

Could one of the most anticipated games of 2010 become the biggest disappointment?
Thats the question facing PC gamers as developers 2K games revealed the company is following in the circuits of Infinity Ward and impelenting Bioshock 2's multiplayer without dedicated servers.
The original game harkened to the golden years of PC gaming. The developers of Bioshock had spent many obvious creative man hours building an underwater world immersed in art deco and technology frozen in time by the deep cold sea.
Creating an alternative past with 'Rapture' being able to 'splice' amazing abilities into the player brought a unique style of gameplaying layered onto a mystery storyline that would make Hitchcock proud.
The only dimension missing from the brilliant breakout hit of 2008 was a multiplayer feature, so when 2K revealed the follow-up would include the opportunity to pit Big Daddy's against in an online arena, forums filled with excited pc gamers and fans of the Bioshock title.
Now we're learning the multiplayer may not be with the dedicated servers so enjoyed by our genre.
On it's website in a FAQ titled 'Multiplayer and matchmaking Q&A', 2K answered the question 'Do you support LAN play on consoles or PC? Do you support dedicated servers?'
Short answer, no and no.
There is always a finite amount of time for the development of a game. Bringing Multiplayer to BioShock was a daunting task between the tech (there was no multiplayer support in the codebase from the first game) and the expectations of the community. Either you try to do everything and so nothing feels finished or you focus your efforts to do a smaller number of things really well like an accessible online experience. We chose to spend the time we had creating a solid game foundation and unfortunately that did not include LAN play or dedicated servers.
According to developers, Bioshock 2 will use the Games For Windows – Live servers. The absence of dedicated servers leads to the next obvious question, 'How do you deal with people who grief or cheat or are otherwise not making a good ranked experience? Can you kick them?'
Even though we are doing everything we can to try to find exploits in our own game, there will always be people who will find a way to grief a game. There is no kick option as we felt like it often leads to more unfair kicking than fair kicking. We hope that because there are a variety of player goals and a multitude of options for ranking up and killing, the player will always feel like he or she is gaining something in a match with mean people and griefers. If you do get matched up with one of those people, please report it, leave that game, and we'll try to smooth out the online experience as best as we can.
In other twists and Bioshock features to the familiar online world, the multiplayer doesn't have ranked/unranked distinctions, but a hybrid system where there is an in-game party system where you can invite up to four of your friends into your party to take into online matchmaking. You can also join in-progress games on any of your friends if there is space available.
Matchmaking will be done on player proximity in both distance as well as ranking, using it would appear 2K's hybrid system.

Tech Stuff
For those interested in the details of what the game will look like;
Bioshock 2 will support single-screen 4:3, 5:4, 16:9 and 16:10 resolutions. The game has been optimized to ensure that all game elements such as menus, HUD, UI, etc appear exactly the same regardless of what resolution the user is running the game at. The only major difference for 4:3 and 5:4 users will be the smaller Field of View compared to a widescreen resolution.

The FOV cannot be changed, and it is set to 75 degrees vertically. The default for users with widescreen monitors will be that they have a horizontally expanded viewport as compared to 4:3 or 5:4 monitors.

2K has implemented some DX10 specific options for users with DX10 compatible Graphics Cards which include DirectX10 Detail Surfaces and 3D Stereo Vision . Bioshock2 will auto-detect whether the user has a DX10 compatible Graphics Card and adjust the settings automatically.

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