All About Multiplayer PC Computer Gaming
Multiplayer FPS Games
Multiplayer FPS (first person shooter) gaming first made headlines back in 1996 when a company called id Software, well-known for its DOOM and Commander Keen games, released what was considered a gaming phenomenon — a multiplayer test version of its Quake game.
Quake used a 3-D game engine that provided gamers with the capability to play a FPS game in a true 3-D world where objects in the game could be viewed by the player from any angle. Just as amazing was the technology that allowed gamers to play multiplayer deathmatch games via the Internet. Internet play was made possible through the use of a client/server architecture. Anyone could run a server on a computer, which would track the game environments, physics, and players in the game. Other players with the same version of the game could could connect to the Quake server and voila — multiplayer deathmatch!
Naturally, the game connections had issues. For example, a player in Eastern Canada on a 56kps modem playing on even a fast T1 server in the Western part of the United States, for example, would experience such horrid lag in the game that it would almost be unplayable. By the official release of Quake, however, id Software had addressed some of the many bandwidth problems in the game, but how fast and smooth your multiplayer game ran was largely dependent on your Internet connection and the location of the server you were joining.
In addition to the technological advances offered by Quake and the subsequent games that followed, the face of gaming changed due largely in part to the interactive nature of multiplayer games and the communication advantages of the Internet itself. Suddenly people could go into a store and buy a multiplayer game, go home and get online with it and find themselves becoming involved in the social and community aspects of the game. Not only did these games offer you the opportunity to play head-to-head against others, but it also allowed you to join teams and play co-operative multiplayer.
Groups of players would band together as a team, called a Clan, and challenge other clans over the Internet. Frag counts would be posted, people would banter back and forth in IRC chat rooms and on Web site forums bringing a whole new social aspect to multiplayer gaming. The image of a gamer also changed as time progressed. The stereotypical view of a gamer was that of a teen-age boy with a joystick in his hand, but over time people began to accept the notion that people from all walks of life; professionals, students and even women played these games.
While the mid to late '90s seems to be the time where games have made the most of technology and the way gamers played, this was not only happening with popular FPS games. Games like Activision's Interstate '78 racing game and Blizzard's Diablo RPG title, for example, were making the rounds. These titles along with many others put an emphasis on Internet multiplayer capabilities. For gamers on the Internet this increased the gameplay value of the game. Not only could you play a full-length single player game, but you could extend the life of the game by playing with friends and family on the LAN or connect to Internet servers to compete with others.
|Key Terms To Understanding Multiplayer Gaming
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Massively Multiplayer Games
In gaming circles there is some debate as to who started the multiplayer phenomenon. Many gamers, mostly those who have a passion for FPS games, credit id Software's Quake as being the game that started it all. In the RPG world of games, however, you'll find that the credit going to Origin for opening the Ultima Online alpha test in 1996.
MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) and MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) hit the scene and gamers quickly adapted to the concept of purchasing a game and then paying monthly for a subscription to keep playing the game. MMORPGs take place in a persistent game world, where the gameplay and game world itself is constantly evolving and changing. To this end, the game developers will continue to update the game servers and gamers pay the price of this persistent world through additional monthly fees.
MMOGs are truly massive and allow thousands of gamers to join the game world and simultaneously interact in that game. When you join the game you continue playing, regardless of who else is on at the same time you are. Unlike most games, MMORPGs do not offer an ending. Your goal is not to play the game to beat it. Instead it can be compared to a never-ending world which, if the game survives in the market, you could literally play for years with the same character. A character that grows, learns new skills, and acquires new items for as long as you play. Each game server in a MMORPG usually holds at least a thousand players and the server runs the environments for a particular part of the game world. Good MMORPGs will be made of of several servers, each providing a part of the world and will allow gamers to traverse between the servers in essence, allowing gamers to travel to different parts of the game world.
Much like the forming of clans for the popular multiplayer shooter games, the community aspect of MMORPGs is brought together through gamers creating guilds and making alliances and friends within the game. The heart of an MMORPG is based around a social aspect and the games will often offer additional support and help for clans and guilds which form in these games. The roots of MMORPG and MMOGs are believed to have stemmed from MUDs, Multi-User Dungeon and browser-based multiplayer games.
Multiplayer Internet Games
For those gamers not interesting in shooting things, taking tactical control of an army, or completing quests in a fantasy world, there are still other ways to be involved in multiplayer gaming. Internet multiplayer games are those that require a connection to the Internet to play, and is a type of PC game. Internet games are online only games which you play in your browser without having to purchase software. The game servers you connect to are provided by the game service such as the MSN Gaming Zone, Yahoo! Games, and Pogo to name but a few Internet gaming Web sites. To game on these services you generally have to create an account on the Web site and log in to play. Most of these services offer the account for free (although you may have to view an ad or two), and may offer exclusive features and games if you do decide to pay for a subscription to the service.
Internet games offer the casual gamer the opportunity to belong to a game community without having to commit hours everyday to playing at a time. On different game sites you'll find genres of games that include arcade, cards, casino, sports, and even mini strategy and action games. The Internet game service will track your statistics and offer forums and in-game chat rooms to communicate with other players in your game. You can also create a buddy list within the game service which will notify you when a friend logs on and what game room they are playing in so you can easily join them.
Multiplayer PC Games — The Way of The Future
Many of the PC games on the market today offer some type of multiplayer capabilities where you can play at home on your LAN or through the Internet in head-to-head deathmatch or competition. It depends on the game itself but some will even have options that allow you to play co-operative multiplayer against other people or computer AI players. The game itself will usually take you step-by-step through the process of configuring your game for multiplayer and offer a way to search for game servers right from the main menu of the game.
Many gamers prefer multiplayer games for the simple fact that these games will generally offer a single-player games plus the multiplayer capabilities add a whole new gameplay and replay value to the game. For those causal gamers out there who aren't interested in spending money and time on stand-alone multiplayer games, the popularity of Internet game services offers you many choices and a social atmosphere for gaming.
Regardless of the type of game you like to play in today's ever-changing world of gaming there is no doubt that you can find a multiplayer game suited to you!
Did You Know...
Internet gaming: At 10PM EST on April 20, 2005 over 130,000 people were online playing games at Pogo, over 73,700 players could be found at Yahoo! games, and over 94,700 gamers were logged into the MSG gaming Zone.
Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.
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