Thursday, 22 March 2012 09:18
Games - Games
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Rockstar's Dan Houser belives that multiplayer shooters have just as much potential to tell a great story as single-player games, and the studio's latest project, Max Payne 3, is aiming to show the world how.
"Multiplayer, particularly in competitive first-person shooters, has almost completely forsaken any kind of story or attachment to character," Houser told IGN. "We wanted to keep the sense of competition that comes from multiplayer but we wanted to bring back a better sense of character, rather than just being a faceless member of an army."
Max Payne 3 hopes to accomplish that, in part, by linking together the rounds of a match with narration that reveal what the various Sao Paolo gangs were up to before, during, and after the events of the main game. But Rockstar also knows that potential narrative in multiplayer games goes much further than a few cutscenes between matches. Emergent narratives, those we build for ourselves as we play the game, are crucial, and Rockstar has taken steps to embrace them as well.
Perhaps the most visible example of this is the highly touted Gang Wars mode, which dynamically strings together objectives based on the outcome of previous rounds, ensuring that no two matches will play out exactly the same.
Beyond that, though, Rockstar has gone to great lengths to ensure that the game's underlying mechanics add another layer to the story by playing into rivalries and alliances. Take the Vendetta system. If you get killed by an opposing player twice, and you'll have the option to initiate a Vendetta against them. Once you accept, everyone in the match will be notified of you ill intent, and that player will now be marked by an X on your minimap whenever they're visible. Kill them during your Vendetta, and you'll nab some extra XP, but if your target survives, they get the bonus for themselves.
On the flipside of this is Max Payne 3's Crew system, which allows players to form their own groups via the Rockstar Social Club. You can think of a Crew as a clan on steroids. The basics are pretty much the same — join up with a group of friends, get a special emblem that's visible to everyone — but unlike most games, your allegiances will have an impact on gameplay. The matchmaking system will automatically team you up with fellow Crew members, and once you're in a match, you'll be able to earn XP bonuses by performing actions that help out your Crew — avenging a fallen member, for example.
Max Payne 3 also features a system that dynamically pits Crews against each other in Feuds, which are basically vendettas that rope in everyone in your group. If you're in a match with two or more members of a rival Crew, the game will start tallying how many teams players from each Crew kill each other. The first to ten wins, but if you fail to finish the job, the Feud doesn't just go away. The Social Club will keep track of the tally, and the next time you or another member of your crew encounters your rivals, it's back on.
Because the Crew system is tied into the Rockstar Social Club, Houser says the studio will be able to implement the feature in future releases as well, offering players a persistent identity across multiple Rockstar titles.
"The beauty of this system is that crews persist over time and across future games. Multiplayer is an ever-more important part of all our games moving forward. And by creating crews through Social Club, the crews that you create in Max Payne 3 will be ready and available for you to play in Grand Theft Auto V from day one. It's all part of our larger approach to make multiplayer deeper and richer than what's currently available, much more easily accessible to the newcomer and rewarding for the hardcore," he said.
"We are firm believers in the potential of third-person multiplayer and the attachment it can create to character, stories and worlds. This is at the heart of what we're doing with crews, and we think it opens up limitless new possibilities for the future. It's right at the heart of our goal to bring greater weight and context to multiplayer games while still staying true to what competitive multiplayer does so well."
We'll get a chance to see Rockstar's vision of the future in action when Max Payne 3 launches this May.
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Rockstar's Dan Houser belives that multiplayer shooters have just as much potential to tell a great story as single-player games, and the studio's latest project, Max Payne 3, is aiming...
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