It's no secret that we like our video games. In fact, here at SWARM we even have our own Minecraft Server, and precisely because we like video games we've seen that there's a constant and ongoing problem with them, which is that unless you have a group of buddies to game with, multiplayer video games simply won't be as much fun for you.
If you want to jump into the experiment head over to PartyUpPlayer.com, otherwise read on.
Sure there are mechanisms in place, but they fall short. Random pairing, Multiplayer Only Content and LFG Mechanisms in their current solutions are patches to the a larger problem that being social in most games is an outright poor experience.In order to make this experience better, we have to think more intimately about the emotional reward systems of players in video games an apply mechanisms that will help foster those same rewards in more efficient and meaningful ways. While we've mapped a good bit of this out, the real insight will come from the App use and the MVP, and we simply can't wait to get PUP out into the wild.But before we can do that, let's look at a few of most common grouping systems in video games.
Random Lobby Pairing is Broken
Random Lobby Pairing is when you indicate to the game that you're looking for a squad, the algorithm on the backend then pairs you for quick PVP (player versus player) matches.Rapid, random pairing can often lead to folks jumping in and out of game sessions, or leave you in game with someone who you simply won't like playing with, example : the individual in the adjacent image.And while this image only shows one XBOX player, the problem persists across every gaming network, from PC, to XBOX, XBOX ONE, PS3, PS4, and STEAM.We feel that Random Lobby pairing is an imperfect solution to an ever growing problem, and can more often than not, adversely impact gamer user experience.
Playing Multiplayer Alone isn't Multiplayer
A lot of games these days will require players to group in order to pass certain levels and areas in the game. As a practice this is is becoming more prolific.But, if you've got no one to game with, it means you're either not getting through that part of the game, or will have to struggle to pass it alone. In either case the user experience for the gamer is decreased if not ruined, all because of a mechanic that when executed well improves the user experience.
LFG (Looking For Group) applets take too long
When it comes to MMOs (Massive Multiplayer Online Rope Playing Games) like World of Warcraft, other mechanisms to help group players exist, and aside from global chat channels these will typically be Looking For Group Applets.An LFG applet is when a player inputs her information into an in game pop-up box, then waits for people to find her and group.The problem here is that many of these live on multiple servers, those servers have multiple game instances, and players in these servers and instances will have varying schedules. While this isn't all, it's most.And when a game session can take three hours or more sometimes, LFG fails. Imagine you're 2.5 hours into a mission or quest, need 30 minutest to finish and a key party member leaves. The solution here is simply better planning which in game systems do not allow for.Then there's the second problem with in game LFG systems, which is that they're inefficient. Even when a player has positioned herself as "looking for group", it can often take hours to simply find a handful of folks to play with.
Why not make something better?
As gamers, solving this has been on our agenda for some time and we've finally gotten around to it. We've built out the initial architecture and are now going through the entire customer experience process for the app.With that, were also looking to garner a bit more interest from gamers, and get a few more folks onto the beta list before we start opening up the beta to the public later this year.As of the writing of this post we've got approximately 825 people signed up, but will need considerably more to start rolling things out.If all pans out we should see those come in pretty soon; and depending on the reaction from the community we may try and raise some cash for it through crowdfunding.With that, here's a preview of the mobile web app, and we'd love to get your thoughts on the product as a whole.For those of you who game, we'd love to have you beta test PUP.