My name is Legion. You collapsed my probability distribution, prepare to die!
September 23, 2007 7:15 AM   Subscribe

The Crossing is a new FPS game where single-player and multiplayer modes meld in one. At any point, any Non-Player-Character might not be an NPC at all, but another Player. It is likely that, as in a game of tag, players will just take turns to be "it" like Agents in the Matrix, but... wouldn't it be great if we could all be "it" at the same time? Quantum Gaming might just be the way to model such a swarm of gamers.

You can visualise the many-worlds interpretation of classical shooters in "Averaging Gradius". Greg Egan has already designed Quantum Soccer for you to check out how a probability distribution scoring scheme would work. And the "many-votes" implementation of Massively Multiplayer Pong proves the concept is viable, if difficult to pull out in higher abstractions than "ball meets paddle".

Even bright-guy Richard Dawkins says Quantumg Gaming might be a good educational tool.

Sure that, but, can we also make it fun?
posted by kandinski (30 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Argh, I previewed umpteen times, but I should have previewed at least umptyone: The proper link is Quantum Soccer.
posted by kandinski at 7:23 AM on September 23, 2007

Heh, "has a probability distribution" does not equal "quantum physics."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:42 AM on September 23, 2007

I don't know about the rest of the stuff, but that 'crossing' game sounds brilliant.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on September 23, 2007

TheOnlyCoolTim, please allow me the benefit of synechdoque for Metafiteretorhical purposes.

The post may contain a lot of metaphorical quantum handwaving, but it still holds together, and at least it's not a film with Marlee Matlin in it.
posted by kandinski at 7:54 AM on September 23, 2007

I don't understand your third sentence. Massively multiplayer games are common and don't require any insights from quantum physics to create or play.

Also, the quantum soccer idea is very interesting for modeling a game of soccer, but I don't see it's applicable to an actual video game.
posted by demiurge at 7:56 AM on September 23, 2007

Many more games along the same lines here.
posted by empath at 8:02 AM on September 23, 2007

Heisenberg says your favorite game may or may not suck.
posted by Avenger at 8:02 AM on September 23, 2007 [8 favorites]

Fortunately, "Quantum Soccer" is about "has a probability distribution": In the game of Quantum Soccer, the aim is to shape the wave function of a quantum-mechanical “ball” so that the probability of it being inside one of the goals rises above a set threshold. This is achieved by using the motion of the players to alter the energy spectrum of the wave function: when a player moves across the field, the energy that this action provides (or absorbs) enables transitions between certain modes of the wave function.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on September 23, 2007

If it were really quantum soccer, the ball would pass through both goals simultaneously, and then tunnel to the other side of the earth.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2007

Valve's idea sounds good, but also opens up a world of griefing.
posted by anthill at 9:41 AM on September 23, 2007

Schrödinger says your favorite game sucks and doesn't suck at the same time.
posted by sexymofo at 10:06 AM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

Schrödinger says your favorite game sucks or blows and doesn't suck or blow at the same time.
posted by mss at 10:13 AM on September 23, 2007

one more game to get Steamed about.

this game will crash and burn when no one can actually play the single-player because every NPC the single-player should interact with is missing because they're all camping sniper rifles.
posted by mr_book at 10:17 AM on September 23, 2007

Einstein says if your favorite game is dice, God thinks it sucks.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2007

As an avid player of Eve Online, a world of griefing sounds like a walk in the park. Eve has a whole UNIVERSE of griefing.

*refits Kestrel with Tech II missiles, flies off to pwn n00bs*
*pew pew pew*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:30 AM on September 23, 2007

this game will crash and burn when no one can actually play the single-player because every NPC the single-player should interact with is missing because they're all camping sniper rifles.

Off the top of my head, adaptive missions or dynamic objectives could solve that problem pretty easily. Sort of like what's being done with Left4Dead (also a Valve game, surprise!) and it's AI director, except that the mission would be changing, not the players. I think it's a pretty cool idea. The best AI should be the AI that has no A in it.
posted by tracert at 10:49 AM on September 23, 2007

I think it sounds boring.
posted by delmoi at 11:03 AM on September 23, 2007

I totally agree with anthill and mr_book.

At first I thought how great this would be to combine the campaign with multiplayer. But considering how sucky I am at multiplayer, no, I do not think this is a good thing.

Not at all. I just had a spasm of rage thinking about all those shit hot mother frackers who head shot me as I'm jumping through the air.

Bastards! Leave my single player campaign set to panzy difficulty so I can enjoy this game. Thank you.
posted by strontiumdog at 11:11 AM on September 23, 2007

On the Valve front, Team Fortress 2 is fucking fun as hell. Even though I'm getting my ass handed to me.
posted by strontiumdog at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2007

Bastards! Leave my single player campaign set to panzy difficulty so I can enjoy this game.

The solution would seem to be handicaps - just think of how NPCs weapons and armor are almost always less effective than equivalent ones used by the PC. I imagine (hope?) they would throttle the abilities of human-controlled NPCs the same way.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:36 AM on September 23, 2007

My opinion on this whole matter is that someone needs to make a part three to No One Lives Forever (I and II). And you can quote me on that one, fella!
posted by NoMich at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2007

Yes, NoMich, those were excellent games. Kick ass art direction, mostly, but she was a great character, too. Pretty straight forward FPS but it was still very fun to play through.

Now, Tron 2.0 and and Fear? What buggy pieces of crap from the same developers. Well, NOLF had their buggy issues too. But not as bad as T2.0 and Fear.

posted by strontiumdog at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2007

kandinski: " least it's not a film with Marlee Matlin in it."

HEY! Marlee Matin's a saint, a goddess, a talented actress, and a righteous babe; not necessarily in that order. Admittedly, What the Bleep Do We Know is an aquired taste, but considering what utter crap of a script she was given to work with, she did a fantastic job. Her work on tv shows like West Wing and Reasonable Doubt has been exceptional. Children of a Lesser God is still a great performance that has withstood the test of time. So you leave Marlee Matlin alone, or else... or else I'll...! I'll uh, write another paragraph! So there! Nyeah! =P
posted by ZachsMind at 12:45 PM on September 23, 2007

...oh. And uh, insert something significantly meaningful and snarky about the history and destiny of first person shooters in the current marketplace here.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:55 PM on September 23, 2007

Ha! I had a better version of this idea, where the NPCs are played by WoW farmers from the developing world. Griefers would be fired, of course.
posted by runkelfinker at 1:04 PM on September 23, 2007

Griefers would be set on fire? That works for me.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:12 PM on September 23, 2007

I don't know how we got on the topic of No One Lives Forever, but YES. It is to stuff like Splinter Cell what Team Fortress 2 is to stuff like America's Army—strip out the realism and complexity, leave in all the fun, throw in some fantastically goofy yet stylish graphics, and rake in the accolades.

Back to The Crossing: I saw a video preview and interview with some of the devs and it seemed like they'd been thinking a lot about issues like griefing, and were taking measures to ensure it didn't affect things too much. For example, instead of having a bunch of people fight the single-player character, there can also be people supporting the single-player character, which could offer the additional help a novice player needs to get through a level filled with expert headshotters. More details on how the gameplay might work.

What will make or break The Crossing is whether people stick around to give the game a critical mass of players. If you're playing through the story and no one arrives to take the place of the NPCs, then what's the point of cross-play? It's just another single-player game, which may work out just fine (Bioshock and Half-Life 2, after all, are "just" single-player games—and I think you can safely ignore HL2's deathmatch), but that'd be a lot of wasted potential. The worst case scenario is the game simply fails, another good concept in search of an audience. Take a look at Planetside for a good example of what happens when your game population drops to barely sustainable levels.
posted by chrominance at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2007

Something like this might work if there were single player content for when there weren't any other people around, but when you log in and there's already other people it'd be like... but that's what games like City of Heroes do now! You can play solo if you want but if you wanna interact with other people you join a team.

Why rebuild the wheel?
posted by ZachsMind at 2:12 PM on September 23, 2007

Why rebuild the wheel?

Narrative. Most MMOGs follow the same basic gameplay patterns: co-operative quests in dungeons/instances, designed to last a short while and can be repeated often; and PvP combat, which by its nature is unscripted and thus not really a narrative unless the players themselves impose a narrative on top. Though companies like Blizzard are apparently getting better at introducing complex narratives to MMOGs, arguably there's still a lot of freeform, non-narrative gameplay going on.

That's not to say such gameplay is bad; on the contrary, I think a lot of people play MMOGs because you're able and encouraged to create your own stories. But there's still a lot of people who like a good old-fashioned linear narrative experience, and if games like Bioshock have taught us anything it's that there's still a lot of untapped narrative potential in the classic single-player experience. If The Crossing can improve the experience by taking out the ability to play to the AI's weaknesses (ex. "hey, the enemy can't see my when I'm on this ledge, so I'll just pump grenades out at my leisure until it's dead!") while maintaining a rich, coherent narrative, then that's something worth pursuing.
posted by chrominance at 2:27 PM on September 23, 2007

I love the idea of playing through a game and then playing again as the villain trying to stop someone from doing what you just did. All those times in Half Life where you laughed at how stupid the AI was being, and then you get to show that you can do it better.
posted by empath at 7:34 PM on September 23, 2007

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