MediumEvil wrote:Multiplayer just isn't something that can be put into all games.
Its like trying to make multiplayer for games like:
- Cities XL
- From Dust
- Tropico series
- Papers, Please
- Surgeon Sim
It just doesn't always work.
This list is far from complete, by the way.
Prison Architect is simply one of the most recent entries into an extraordinarily large genre known as "business simulation game".
Just google that phrase and you'll find a plethora of games that are very similar to Prison Architect, though some have very different themes. And one thing that most all of these games have in common is that they are almost all single player. There are some that are multiplayer, but they are the exceptions--not the rule.
So if you're going to talk about Prison Architect as a multiplayer game, you need to compare it too other games in the genre that are multiplayer. The suggestions so far for making Prison Architect multiplayer have been for making people control individual prisoners... which isn't even close to the original theme of the game. You're taking people who have bought a simulation/tycoon game and saying "Oh yea, we've got an action/strategy multiplayer mode too, wanna play that?" That doesn't sound very appealing to me. If I want to play an action/strategy multiplayer game, I'll play a game that was built from the ground up with this intent, with or without the prison theme. Besides, the whole point to a Prison Architect multiplayer really just seems to be trying to escape, and how long is that going to be an interesting game mode? A whole 5 minutes I imagine.
But let's look at the business simulation games that have done multiplayer.
Sid Meier's Railroads offered LAN/network multiplayer. Can't remember if you could do it over the Internet easily or not. But the thing is... the multiplayer game mode was identical to the single player game mode, just you were playing against a human instead of the AI. You each control individual railroad companies and build up your own company, trying to drive the other companies out of business.
Can't really do this with Prison Architect. Prisons don't really open up across the street from each other and try driving one another out of business... there's not much of a competitive aspect to prison building. The only competitive part about it might be bidding for the initial grants.
The newest iteration of SimCity was built multiplayer, or at least multi-city with the multiplayer option from the ground up. Additionally, SimCity 2000 released back in like '96 had a network edition mod released eventually that allowed multiplayer play, and SimCity 4 released in 2003 could achieve a sort of simulated multiplayer mode via Dropbox and sharing save files. I'm not clear on exactly how the networked multiplayer worked in SC2k, but I can comment on SC4 and the new SC. The new SimCity, well... it's pretty broken. It was designed as an online-only game from the ground up, but seems most likely that it was done for anti-piracy reasons more than anything. So the multiplayer wasn't necessarily a design choice so much as a "hey, let's put this in as an excuse for the anti-piracy measures we're putting in!" Your residents are supposed to be able to commute to neighboring cities for work, school, shopping, tourism, etc. Your industries are supposed to be able to fill their jobs from workers in neighboring cities. Your shops are supposed to be filled with shoppers from neighboring cities. Your schools and tourism sights are supposed to be filled from neighboring cities. But none of this inter-city exchanging happens, at least not reliably, nor at a realistic rate (part of the problem is, a city with a population of 150,000 might have 30,000 workers, 20,000 students, and 100,000 people who apparently just sit at home all day). You can play an entire region single player, or you could invite your friends to play the neighboring cities. Either way, the inter-city interactions don't work reliably, and so you pretty much have to play each single city in a sandbox by itself and forget entirely that you have neighbors... so the multiplayer pretty much doesn't work except to say that I can easily go view my neighbors city... but that was already as easy as sharing a save file in previous iterations of the game.
As for SimCity 4's dropbox multiplayer, well... first off, it's essentially a mod, and not anything officially supported. But it still works sort of wonky. The game includes no periodic auto-saving. So if you and I are playing are neighboring cities for 8 hours at a time, growing our cities, but you're not regularly saving your city and letting my dropbox update your city, then at some point, your city may go from a little town of 2,000 residents to a large city of 200,000+ residents all in one save, and that can cause havoc on what's going on in my city. And what's most important to note here is that the neighboring cities in SimCity 4 don't have nearly as big of an impact on each other as they're supposed to have in the newer SimCity. The multiplayer is an okay idea, just a little pointless.
But either way, SimCity multiplayer is realistic, believable, and all of the people involved in the multiplayer are still playing the same kind of game as anyone who would be playing the single player version of the game.
There is one business simulation game that is designed as single player and has been single player for many, many years, but I can easily see as being a quite fun multiplayer game if properly implemented? Tropico. But my multiplayer version of this game would be every player controlling their own island. The decisions each player makes on imports/exports can effect the overall economy for the ocean, so you impact other players in that way. Also, relationships with the US/USSR can be globally effected by individual players to a certain degree. And, a player could have the option to send his militia over to another island to either straight up declare war on the other player, or to perhaps give some support to rebels attempting to overthrow the other player, or perhaps even provide some help fighting off a coup, or maybe even assisting the other player's militia in fighting off rebels, etc. It would all just depend on your relationship with the other player. Moreover, multiplayer could make the economy more interesting between the islands. For example, perhaps you've got plenty of lush farmland on your island and you want to use all of it growing crops. And I've not got much in the way of farmland. I could educate my island and build factories to can your crops and such, you send your crops to me to be canned, and we split the profits, etc. Win-win.