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Fuck Dave Lang.

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Multiplayer Games that I have loved down the years, going back a long time in fact.

Online multiplayer gaming is an intrinsic part of modern games, whether it be the juggernauts of WOW and COD, a Streetfighter session or more abstracted functionality like meeting another player in Nintendogs on your 3DS. However, when I started playing games, multiplayer games were pretty much non-existent and when they appeared as time passed and my passion never waned, some were seminal for me. Here is a selection.

List items

  • I was drawn to videos games by early home computers and of course, the arcade. Arcade games were often the cutting edge of game development and when the huge horizontally mounted cabinet of Gauntlet appeared in my local arcade in 1985 it was revelatory. Four large joysticks placed around the edges of the screen and coin slots for each player eager to swallow your coins at a rapid rate. Such a clever design really, you were forced to keep feeding the machine, or suffer watching your buddies carry on playing while you were sad panda. For me, the sentence "Elf needs food, badly" has stayed with me forever and is a permanent meme for me to express real life hunger.

  • In the early nineties me and my mates all had an Atari Lynx. A cool handheld with a frightening propensity to eat batteries it had some interesting games on it. One game that sat in the card slot almost constantly was Warbirds. Warbirds is a WWI biplane dogfighting game. What made it unique was the ability to play 4-player dogfights with all the lynx's linked up via a cable. I have vivid memories of sitting in my friends bedroom, four teenagers all wearing headphones lost in their own portion of the virtual sky. What a feeling it was , when a plane snuck up behind you, firing their machine guns, and you realised that the plane you saw on-screen was actually your smirking buddy sitting next to you. Good times!

  • This one is a biggie and in my mind, important. Let's talk about pedigree first. Developed by DMA Designs, who created Lemmings and went on to make one of the greatest game series of all time, Grand Theft Auto, this company is a cornerstone of the British Development scene. In this game, they yet again showed some design flex, and included features that shaped the future for everybody. At this point in history, the early nineties, my computer of choice was the Amiga 1200. Boy that machine had some awesome games on it, which is a list in itself, but Hired Guns stood out because you could have four guys playing it at once on one machine! It was uncomfortably cosy for four young men to be clustered around the screen, two on the keyboard, and two with joysticks, but the game experience was worth it. First-Person Perspective, co-operative gameplay in 1993? I'd call that seminal.

  • Ok, so I know the original Quake brought TCP/IP internet gaming to the party first but I arrived a little late. By the time Quake II appeared there was a community to support it both in players and infrastructure. I remember showing my Dad it, pointing out the other characters jumping and shooting explaining that these were real people in other places eating my rocket! The future had arrived.

  • This game is so special for me. I loved RPG's, being a big Paper and Dice player of games like AD&D, Runequest and Traveller, as well as lapping up the video game equivalents such as the Ultima series, eye of the beholder and Japanese examples including Phantasy Star and Zelda. This was something else though. Not quite the first MMO, you could argue Meridian 59 or even MUD's were doing this earlier, but UO had scope and freedom in spades. It also had other people. People were what made this so fantastic. I recall an early experience where I was wandering through the woods outside vesper, having tough battles against vicious sheep and chickens, collecting wool and feathers for crafting or trading, when I met a guy. We struck up a conversation and he offered to have a fight to allow me to train up my sword skills. "Hit me" he said and naively I did so, not realising that this would flag me as a criminal allowing him to attack me without impunity. He slaughtered me in that fair wood and danced around my corpse. Then a new feeling came over me, one I had never experienced in games before and one that made UO so special. That feeling was genuine fear. Fear of death, fear of losing your stuff. Something that has been removed from most modern MMO's. It seems no one likes to be a loser, but you know, losing can be a memorable experience too. I should mention that UO was my entry into games development myself. My passion for UO led to a job, and that job has spawned a career. Thank you UO, I will always love you!

  • My early career in games was as a UO GM, and that was pretty much a dream job, but after a 10 hour session at work, another session would ensue, where we would turn off our UO God clients and boot up EQ for some pleasure. Obviously we were all obsessed with the idea of MMO's, we could sense that this was the future, that these types of games would have a massive impact on gaming. Everquest with its 3D polygonal world was a glimpse of that future. In truth WOW is no different from it albeit with that Blizzard quality. It is a shame that MMO's have not really expanded on this early template too much.

  • I have a deep affection for the Saturn and a suitably comprehensive collection as a result. Amongst that collection is Saturn Bomberman and a 10 player multitap. We only managed to play it with ten players on a couple of occasions but when we did, it felt very special indeed. Big TV advised!

  • There are not many RTS's that grab me but when they do, they grab me good. Starcraft is of course one of them. Any game that can spawn cyber-gaming on a national level and create celebrities of its best players has to have special mention. Great units and a wealth of strategy. ZERG RUSH!!!

  • By this time I was playing every MMO that popped up, not many held my interest for long, but SWG became a huge part of my life for a few years. To be honest it wasn't a particularly brilliant MMO although it did have a fine crafting system, it had an ace up its sleeve. It was Star Wars! Shockingly lacking in content, but because the milieu itself was recognisable to the players and easy to role-play in, it became a game where we made the content ourselves. Hunting trips to Dathomir, Tourist trips to see C3PO or a Cantina session, we made our own adventures. I played a female cantina dancer which created many funny incidents. I recall telling some infatuated Rodian, "You do realise I am a bloke in RL right?". I didn't see him much of him after that. I was the first Master Dancer on our server, and became the Mayoress of our City. SWG had a strong hold on me. It almost wrecked my marriage (although I have managed to do that myself later anyway haha!), with the introduction of the NGE it managed to wreck itself instead.

  • Woohoo! What can you say about BF1942? A game so full of awesome it hurts. A great combative shooter in its own right, it was also the sense of freedom that made it special. Freedom to stand on the wing of a P51 Mustang as your buddy takes off. Freedom to wait at the wheel of a Personnel Carrier until it fills up with the rest of your squad and then stack it over the nearest hill killing everyone onboard to your eternal shame. This particular game feature has carried onto current Battlefield games but more often involves some idiot at the controls of a blackhawk helicopter.

  • The Dreamcast was the first console to have internet capability, but that may have been to its detriment as I don't think internet penetration was such that many users could experience it. If you could, and I was lucky enough to it was possible to play this odd yet alluring 4 player online RPG. Without any voice comms, it used a remarkbly capable text message translation system.

  • Probably not the best Multiplayer RTS, and possibly not the best C&C game either but one which I had a lot of fun with. I was working at EA at the time, so it was possible to have LAN sessions at work, and we had many, allowing me to get quite good at it, which is not usual as I always feel stressed playing RTS's. It's all click, click, click, build, build, argh, defend, argh, build, ahhh heart attack! Generals has some good graphics and some great humour. I remember the GLA workers wandering about saying "Can I have some shoes?" Classic.

  • There are many superb online racers, on a bunch of platforms and I have enjoyed a lot of them. However PGR4 sticks in the memory as a game that had great graphics, great tracks, a thriving community and a good balance between ease of access and skill. Oh and it had motorbikes too, even if they were a bit weird.

  • No list of multiplayer gaming can be complete without mention of COD4. Although I had heavily played earlier COD's, this was of course the big one. Level design, perk design and weapon selection made me and millions of others sink a lot of time into this. The template was set.

  • Fresh off the shelf and straight into the list! Gears 1 and 2 were memorable, their co-op was only 2 player and their versus modes were hampered by peer to peer matching. Everything has been ramped up for GOW3, and the 4 player co-op is great. The addition of Beast mode to Horde and the various other online modes make this a complete action packed multiplayer experience.