EpicBattleCry - Skirmish 221: Toasters Are Off Limits

On this mechanized edition of EBC we talk all things Titanfall to evaluate the game’s human player count. Plus, does The Last of Us really need DLC?, Call of Duty runs out of ideas, SimCity goes offline and Brent has a baby (well, almost…)! Join us in the cockpit of this rapid-fire edition of gaming’s most brutal video podcast!

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TOPIC: THE NUMBERS GAME - After Respawn confirmed what some seem to be a limited amount of human participants in Titanfall’s multiplayer, we discuss the reaction and evaluate the developer’s recommendation for quality over quantity. Is bigger always better? We make a move towards our mechs in this numerical, mind-numbing debate.

REFERENCE: Respawn Confirms Human Player Count for Titanfall MP

BATTLECRIES:

Member: Averagus

I feel a little bit strange commenting a sport video game franchise because I have slightly less interest in sports video games than Brent does. That isn't to say I don't like them, I just favour arcade style over simulation and couldn't care less about how accurate the rosters are.

With that in mind, there is probably no better time for publishers to start doing what I and many have been thinking they should do for years. Subscriptions! Yearly sports titles are often dismissed as roster updates so why not make that more or less the truth? Let people buy Madden/MLB 2015 but then let them upgrade their game digitally the following year. Allow a yearly subscription that offers a bit more with updates throughout the year that keep the biggest fans engaged. Details? That isn't my problem but it is clear that this would be the best way to maintain some franchises by rewarding their most loyal fans and putting out a yearly retail copy that will get new players in the door.

I wrote about my most anticipated game last week and it is surprisingly still the Witcher 3! But Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze must once again be pimped. It is barely a month away and I am betting it will be the best game this year for at least a month.

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Comment by StarBound on January 16, 2014 at 2:14pm

I've played my fair share of multiplayer games over the years and I think we should simply let developers wow or woah us. I've said before that twitter, facebook and probably the entire connected world is a problem for developers. Do they really create the game they want to make or do they sacrifice their own vision for some extra digits in their bank?

The 24 player multiplayer of CoD4 was much more fun than the 12 players that MW2 had but that was also the move from being a more tactical game to an all out arcade shooter (and the drop of dedicated servers for p2p hosting). Looking back UT and the likes never had that many players. My hope is that the 12 AI mechs on the map will at least feel like people playing.

All we can do now is wait and see if that 12 player count is the sweet spot or not.

Comment by Tim on January 16, 2014 at 3:31pm

Here is my opinion on the matter. I'm a little disappointed, yet a little more excited at the same time, due to the player count of Titanfall. I am a huge Battlefield fan, when it works. I love the big scale warfare it has. That is what I was kinda expecting in Titanfall as well. I was expecting big maps and lots of players. At the same time however, I am more excited to see them doing something different. The first time I saw Titanfall I thought to myself, "That looks awesome! but it's another first person shooter... guess EA doesn't think we have enough of those..." When the news came that they were taking the player count down to six on six (with a bunch of bots), I kinda like it better, because they are doing something different than everyone else. Which is fantastic! The last thing I want is another COD/Battlefield clone. I think this will help Titanfall create it's own unique identity in the large pool of first person shooters.

The reason I think they did this, is because EA thinks it will be great for both hard core gamers and casual gamers at the same time. If you suck at first person shooters, you can probably still take out a couple of AI players before being annihilated yourself, so it will make you feel like you are still a bad ass even if you aren't killing any real players, thus making EA more money (which is all EA really cares about anyway). Will this hurt the game? I'll wait and find out to make my final decision, but based on the evidence given, I don't think so. To me it just makes the game more accessible. 

Comment by Emil on January 16, 2014 at 3:31pm

I think that the "only" 12 players in Titanfall is great. I've played A LOT of CoD4, 1000+ hours, I also have about 500 hours in Modern Warfare 2 and I even a bit semi-professional CoD4. The PC version of CoD4 allowed servers to have almost as many players as they wanted and I find that 12 players, 6v6 is the perfect size.

The servers that had more than 12 players were very chaotic even on the larger maps, it becomes less about the gunplay and more about luck and where you spawn and such.

A problem I see with having more players in Titanfall specifically is the fact that everyone gets their own titan, 12 players + 12 titans or so depending on if you're going to control the titan yourself or if you're going to let it roam around the map is almost too much for me.

I think it all comes down to the design of the maps and the amount of bots running around, and we don't know either of these, do we?

Either way I'll definitely pick it up on launch day and I'll probably like it.

Comment by DefGeoff256 on January 16, 2014 at 4:48pm

@ Tim, totally agreed.

I think Respawn has enough clout to make something that's fun.  Hell, they've been making games a lot longer than most of their current fans have been playing them!  I would trust them to make something fun.  They have the game design chops to really create something fun, regardless of the multiplayer numbers being different.  And, if you look at an MP mode like Last of Us vs. Tribes there's no way that you can say that the potential # of players = more fun.

do think that social media and the coverage of the minutiae of game making (and this game in particular) has played a seemingly detrimental role in the roll out of the game - and the Alpha access probably won't help things either - but only Time will tell.  And time is notoriously tight-lipped.

This is an interesting situation, however...

I think that larger companies/studios are having a tough time with the level of exposure that's required of them as they are still working on their projects.  As social media opens up a two way street of communication there seems to be a lot of competing goals coming to a head.  Publishers want sales numbers through exposure, and their studios want that as well.  Consumers, on the other hand, feel that this access means that they will ultimately have a say in the final product - something 99% of which are not qualified or educated enough with the project/process to know what they are talking about.  This leads to conflict and butt hurt feelings on all sides, and has the potential to really sour things overall.

Comment by Daracus on January 16, 2014 at 4:59pm

When Sim City initially announced an always online requirement, I pretty much lost all interest in the game. Now that EA has announced an offline mode, I could see myself picking it up. However, with some of it's other constraints, smaller "cities," I don't see myself picking it unless it drops below $15. At that price point, I am willing to take a gamble on it.       

Comment by Derto on January 16, 2014 at 5:40pm

I guess I'm gonna give my 2 cents on the Titanfall matter.

6v6 players isn't a bad thing by default; it does depend (as you guys already pointed out) on the map size and game mechanics. The small player limit means smaller maps, which I think will limit the other mechanics of the game. The speedy jet-pack mechanics would be confined into just looking cool, instead of actually being implemented into combat. The titans won't be properly utilized, since the possibility of a giant mech won't do much in a smaller map. In fact I only think of them as powerups, since everybody can get it simultaneously and honestly... Don't change much in terms of combat mechanics.

I also fear that the AI which will fill the non-playable combatant slots, will only be there to make the players feel awesome, but not offer any sort of challenge. I would also like to at least have the ability to chose a higher player count, even though 6v6 is "the ideal".

This of course is nothing but fears - the game isn't even out yet, so take it with a gram of salt. Maybe I just had another picture in mind when I first heard of Titanfall's concept, but it honestly looks like they're going for Bioware's philosophy: "when you press a button, something awesome has to happen: button --> awesome".

Comment by Helder Pinto on January 16, 2014 at 8:33pm

I'm with DK on this one. I play shooters since doom, played years of competitive (playing in clans) Quake 2, Quake 3 and Counter Strike. I live and bread for shooters. And the number of players in a server matters alot depending on the level you're playing on, the weapons you have at your disposal, etc. 
It's a very stupid and ignorant comment to say playing agaisnt more players is better, because in reality it just depends on many many factors, and that's what Respawn has spent so many years on, trying to analize these factors and come up with a good round number of how many people should be in the server. So I trust them with that, if they ever get to the realization that 6 is bad, it should be 5 or 7 they can always change it later. 
TL:DR decision of 6on6 was based purely on gameplay balancing facts, period.

Comment by Recon on January 17, 2014 at 5:03am

Best of luck to the Brentman and his misuse and the new battle child that is joining the battlefield known as life.  

Comment by Allan Sheriff on January 17, 2014 at 6:01am
Similar to you I was extremely peeved off with the way things were handled at SimCity HQ. Considering how much of a buggy mess it was EA still had to the cheek to charge it as a premium priced retail console release! Anyway, I've always been a fan of the series and when I kept seeing tidbits of information come out that were actually praising the game (despite the small plot sizes and always on connectivity) I decided I'd finally dive in BUT only when the price eventually came down. 
Christmas rolls round, I scoop it up for a fair price, and damn was I impressed! I literally have to force myself to stay away from it because it is pure gaming crack. I've had it for a few weeks, and I am working, but have still managed to put 43hrs away so far. Generally speaking, it's not a buggy mess, yes there are a few slight niggles that can come up but usually there's a simple fix on the forums. 
I've managed to get one friend on board so am looking forward to seeing what kind of creations we come up with. It's true, the game is great when you've got others to play with - playing alone is still great fun as the sense of achievement is still preserved but be warned it'll take you a lot longer to get things progressing as you're effectively managing everything one by one rather than simultaneously.
Ultimately, check it out, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's a shame any game can get so much better over time when it should've been released this way in the first place.
And yes, I still really dislike EA but there are hints of light starting to come through their cracks so I'm not going to write them off completely - no matter what the case, they are still hugely influential in our industry in both positive and negative ways. 
Comment by Allan Sheriff on January 17, 2014 at 6:02am

And good luck Viking, it's going to be a wonderful kid.

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