Design Worth of Co-Op Multiplayer


I've been in the process of starting a new project and was wondering how much you guys thing implementing Co-Op is worth? Having 1 player who hosts and multiple players that connect is a bit more work for the users but a lot of people love it like in minecraft or Stardew Valley.
However it's a lot more work on my side of things and I'm not sure if you guys think the pros outweigh the cons. How much better does a game become because you can play with friends?


Here's the thing. It could be just because I hate people and in sociopath, but I play exclusively single player games only.
Yes, co-op is good, it helps popularizing your game, etc. But my thinking is, if you have e a great game, not having co-op won't hurt it in any way.
Skyrim, Bioshock, GTA, FarCry, Fallout, undertail, etc etc. Even Stardew Valley had co-op as an expansion and nor from the start.

Just make sure your game is good, it's working well, it's bugs free, and then you can add the co-op.


Having second thoughts about implementing multiplayer already means you probably shouldn't do it. Either your game is going to have co-op at some point or not, if you plan to have it halfway through development it'll seem tacked-on.


You can always start with LAN multiplayer, which allows friends to interact without a long-term commitment on your end. It is also technically simpler to set up, and lends to in-game architecture that allows for co-op online expansion later if opportunity arises for it.

The biggest problem with co-op online multiplayer isn't the initial development, it's the ongoing upkeep. Here are a number of common long-term concerns associated with so-called "online" play:
  • Player support
  • Moderation
  • Scaling architecture
  • Protection against attacks (e.g. DDoS mitigation, securing user details, handling fraudulent requests, etc.)
  • Compliance with legal requirements (e.g. age/time limits, chat filters, etc.)
If you do not have answers for all of the above (which isn't a comprehensive list to start with), you have no business getting started.

It doesn't matter how much you or your usually tech-ignorant players want this feature. If you don't have a sensible financial, technical and legal plan for keeping the lights on in the long run, you should forget about it until you do. Or you could force your way through and wait for reality remind you why.
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You can also try to make it local co-op first to test out how it feels. This takes much less time to create and if you have enough participants you can easily test it as well


Hey there CloseRange,

I have and will always be a co-op advocate for games and probably have way too much to say on the matter. That said Psycho_666 has a fair point that there are plenty of very popular and critically acclaimed single player games out there.

Co-op itself will not necessarily effect the quality of your game but it will effect your design. Tacking it on at the end, I feel, would be a mistake. There are so many things you will need to account for with gameplay, even when adding 1 additional player. Aside from system changes multiplayer will directly effect the feel of the game as well. Skyrim is a good example of this. Skyrim is immersive and it's designed to suck the player into the world. Adding the option for splitscreen or LAN multiplayer would be awesome, but it would change the feel of the game. Playing ESO(Elderscrolls online for those scrubs out there) and Skyrim are 2 very different experiences. Overall, in my opinion, Skyrim is more immersive but ESO has its own pros. like having never ending content and that the strength and skills of your player can be compared to other players around you (oh the MMO dream of being a respected ultimate baddass).

For me multiplayer is a big draw and one of the first things I look at when considering getting a game. I have been disappointed recently with the industry's focus on having 1 player per system, even with large multiplayer games. When I was growing up couch-coop was everywhere. If your console shooter didn't have splitscreen I was not interested. There was a brief period where it looked like couch-coop might even break into PC gaming. I mean, why can I play splitscreen Halo online on an Xbox with my friends but not on my PC even though it is the same game?

There are a lot of things to ask yourself about adding multiplayer into a game. Do you plan to simply clone the first player for the second? Will they be able to easily drop in and out? Would adding separate classes make things more interesting? Should the same modes be available when playing multiplayer or do new ones need to be created? How will the players interact, are they simply playing the same game along side eachother or can they somehow add to the other players experience and provide powerups or support directly?

Examples of games that have integrated multiplayer well.
1) Mario Bros. - 4 Player Mario? Hells yes! 'nuff said
2) Hyper Light Drifter - They decided to have the second player be a direct clone of the first and have them drop in and out easily. You can only play with 2 people but I think that adding 4 player support would have been too chaotic/unbalanced.
3) Rage - This is an interesting one. The coop in this shooter was added as almost a minigame mode where you go through different survival scenarios which worked out relatively well. In addition they added a more traditional multiplayer mode but made it in the style of Twisted Metal/Smugglers Run. A strange but kickass decision (although adding splitscreen for this mode would have been the bees knees). Excited to see what they do for Rage 2.

Examples of multiplayer less-than-desireables
1) Enter the Gungeon - I found the local coop fun but disappointing. This game was seemingly set up for an easy coop win as there are 4 classes and you always start from ground 0 with equipment. For some reason they decided to have the second player just be a nondescript character. This really bothered me as it would have been so easy (and sensible???) to just let the second player use another class.
2) Anything on the Wii U that is a classic download. Want to play Mario Party 2 with your friends and have 4 controllers including the Wii U gamepad? Well be ready to trade off then as the first player can use the Wii U gamepad but the first controller plugged in will also be the first player...wat? You essentially need to have 4 additional controllers to play with yourself and 3 friends. In addition if you downloaded anything from the Wii (regular) network to play like Starfox 64 or F-zero X you will need to make sure you have classic controllers for the Wii as Wii U controllers will not work with them. This is pretty frustrating as Nintendo has a large selection of amazing multiplayer games that they could have made more accessible. Clearly my gripe is hardware related here but it is something to consider.
3) PlayStation All-stars Battle Royal - A fantastic take on Super Smash Brothers with characters from the PlayStation universe. That said they chose to make it so that additional local players (which you would presumably be playing with in this type of game) would begin fresh each time with all characters at level 0. Meaning that they miss out on cool accessories mainly but also that they cannot help the player level up characters even on a minor level (for instance in Super Smash Bros you can track the stats of each character and some characters could be unlocked by playing with a character for a certain period of time or by getting a number of KOs with a character. This provided some incentive to grind with friends to unlock new things. Why have next to no rewards for playing multiplayer in a game that is designed for local multiplayer?)

Like I said I am an advocate for multiplayer local or otherwise. That said just having multiplayer will not necessarily make a game better. If you think your game would be improved by having multiplayer, I say go for it! Plan for it! Live it!

Friendly Regards,
I dont think you should add multiplayer later. if you dont need multiplayer dont add it, but if you do, adding it in is pretty much rewriting the whole thing (online anyways). Also the way you write your code matters too. Some code is easier to expand on to make it multiplayer. like if something is coded to link directly to the main character for example, It would be harder to link that to player_2. I hope that makes sense. in short, you don't need it.