May 12, 2009
One serious problem with older multiplayer “arcade” games on Xbox Live is that it’s almost impossible to find anyone to play against. Any search for opponents will simply yield an unhelpful “no matches found” message, leaving you none the wiser as to whether you’ve missed the last person by five minutes or five days. You can’t see which gamertags have played the game more recently, although those would be a likely place to start for inviting someone for a match.
Imagine what this was like when you could find a human opponent rather than cheating AI!
The upshot is that these titles – Settlers of Catan, Chessmaster, Carcassonne, and so on – are of considerably less value than their still-high price would justify.
Solution: Xbox Live should have a feature letting people see which gamertags have played a multiplayer game most recently, and how recently that was, so you can organise games with them.
May 5, 2009
Playing “Cops & Robbers” (the new add-on for Burnout Paradise – don’t bother with it; it’s not worth 800 MS points) this morning reminded me of a few more things about multiplayer on the $100-a-year Microsoft Live “service”.
- It staggers me that there’s no standard option on the service to select only local matches. Given how serious a problem that is for every Live subscriber who doesn’t live in the US, it shouldn’t be on a title-by-title basis; it should be an option on the system. Every game should have a standard interface for picking matches (within the pointless “player vs ranked” matchmaking system) which shows the ping of each match BEFORE IT STARTS so you can opt out. Which shows a LIST OF AVAILABLE MATCHES ORDERED BY PING so you can find one that’s actually playable. Burnout Paradise doesn’t even let you know the ping of the match you’re in – it’s not until you’ve been flung off the road by your fifth invisible car that you realise “hang on – there must be a lag problem here”.
- Why is there no option to turn OFF other peoples’ voices coming out of your TV? If you have no headset plugged in (or your wireless headset has run out of charge because the battery in that thing is pathetic), then people’s voices filter out in an irritatingly muffled fashion from your TV. Your only option, if you don’t want random chatter broadcast around your living room, is to turn your TV sound off. That’s just stupid. I actually bought a headset not because I wanted to talk to random Americans in COD4, but because I was sick of their voices coming through the TV.
As for “Cops and Robbers” – it’s bizarre, but it’s made the 320 points I spent on a flying DeLorean ripoff (which IS awesome) look like a sensible purchase.
You get the feeling Criterion was too busy making silly videos to actually playtest the thing. With any lag it’s just complete chaos, and they’ve made really stupid decisions – like to constantly flag updates on the status of the gold RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCREEN so you can’t see what you’re about to hit.
Thank you, Google image search.
I can’t see it having any legs at all. Still, if you’ve bought it and you’re in Australia, please free to hit me up for a low-lag game so we can get SOME use out of the damn thing.