1. #1
    UbiSkyBear's Avatar Community Manager
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    Trials Garage Update #2: Multiplayer

    Greetings Riders,

    We’re back with an all new topic for discussion in the Garage. What are we talking about this month? Multiplayer. This is a big topic so settle in, we’ve got a lot to cover.



    Many of you might remember a time when competition in Trials was only about improving your own times and climbing a leaderboard, never seeing your opponents in head to head races. In Trials Evolution we made our first attempt to change that, introducing both online & local multiplayer modes. The quest to bring multiplayer racing to Trials has come with many challenges. After two iterations of Trials multiplayer in Evo and Fusion as well as a number of updates we’ve made many improvements but we feel that we have yet to get Trials multiplayer to where we would like it to be.



    Trials Evolutions multiplayer was a fun fresh new way to play Trials but as the first iteration there was plenty of room for improvement and players agreed. Single player remained the primary mode for players with 92% of tracks completed happening in single player modes. 87% of Evo players never played an online or local multiplayer match. Looking at the public multiplayer modes, Supercross, Trials & Hardcore Trials, the stats get even smaller. Overall, players spent more time in Trials Evo customizing their character than they spent in public multiplayer modes.


    Because of the performance of the feature in Evolution we decided to take a step back and completely redesign online multiplayer for Trials Fusion. Among the biggest changes were the increase in players from 4 to 8, allowing every player to view themselves in the first lane of the track, all new scoring and the end game podium. We also had to take a hard look at matchmaking. With only the small number of players that were playing online multiplayer back in the day, and their wide range of skill, matchmaking is a really big challenge. Of course we want matchmaking to be fast but we also want to match players as closely as we can with opponents at similar skill levels. To address these concerns we consolidated the public multiplayer to just 1 mode. Finally we had to look at ranking where we needed both a system that wouldn’t become too static and could be used to help matchmaking. To achieve this we went with a Glicko ratings system.



    Rebuilding a multiplayer mode from the ground up is no small task. The time needed to develop the feature combined with our big plans for post launch support and the low usage of multiplayer in Evolution led us to the decision to release online multiplayer as a post launch feature in Trials Fusion. Ultimately this has been proven not to be the optimal choice. While players didn’t spend much time in the mode it became clear after the launch of Fusion that it was something that many expected.


    Before we go any further this is a great time to point out one of our big learnings from Trials Fusion; don’t launch a core Trials game without online multiplayer.



    There were some other lessons to be learned from Fusion’s multiplayer mode as well. While the Glicko system is great for assessing a player’s skill level, it wasn’t very easy for players to understand it. We love what the Glicko system does for matchmaking but we also think multiplayer could benefit from a more clear method for ranking players on multiplayer leaderboards.


    It’s easy to forget that Fusion is only the second time a Trials game has had multiplayer. We’re very happy with the improvements we’ve made over Evo but there is still plenty of room to improve.



    We think one thing we could do to get more players using the mode is to improve the meta-game around multiplayer. We think that creating a stronger link between single and multiplayer modes and giving players some extra goals to achieve through meta-game will help attract more players to online competition.


    We’ve taken some steps towards this direction already with the introduction of multiplayer seasons. This was a good first step but in Fusion multiplayer is still very separate from single player. Not only do we want to make the mode more fun to play but we also want to make it more visible and attractive to players who focus mainly on the career mode. These are ideas we are currently exploring with the team.



    Another thing we think about is the intensity of multiplayer matches. Online competition should be exciting both for players and spectators. This means finding ways to keep the stakes high throughout matches as well as having a multiplayer mode that is easy to understand. Providing an environment that creates intensity is particularly challenging in Trials because unlike most multiplayer games there is no direct interaction between players. Players can’t bump into or otherwise try to affect each other and these are things we don’t want to do as it starts to significantly alter some core elements of Trials gameplay. Winning should still be about mastering the bike and obstacles.


    Finally we want multiplayer to be interesting for players of all skill levels. One method we think is important is different sets of tracks for different skill levels. This is something we do already have in Fusion but it’s not really working as intended because it’s rare to have a lobby where all players are ranked high enough to have the hardest tracks appear. Multiplayer will be more fun for everyone if they are playing with opponents at their skill level.



    In this month’s Trials Garage Radio podcast we speak with Lead Game Designer Stanislav Costiuc. During our chat we talk about his history with games and touch upon some of the ways we go about designing new game modes or features. Check it out now on the Trials Radio Soundcloud.


    Now we’ve spent a lot of time here discussing public ranked multiplayer. This will always be our primary focus when discussing multiplayer since this should be the pinnacle of online competition in Trials but we do recognize that a lot of players also enjoy playing multiplayer privately with their friends. Not only is private multiplayer a great way to enjoy some friendly Trials competition but many track builders also use this mode to test their creations before releasing them to Track Central.


    While our vision for public multiplayer is very focused on competition, when we look at private multiplayer our attention shifts towards freedom. In private multiplayer we’d like players to have the control to create the types of matches they want. We added adjustable parameters to multiplayer so players could create some crazy and fun scenarios. We also created the spectator mode to improve the possibilities when it comes to streaming competitions. We continue to look at how we can expand on these ideas or add new ones to provide players with more freedom in private multiplayer.



    Last but certainly not least we should touch upon local multiplayer. We have a small but very active portion of our players that often play local multiplayer so we can’t forget this mode. As more of a party mode the focus for local multiplayer should be on fun. Including the parameter system from private multiplayer is one idea we’ve had to spice up local play but we’d like to find even more ways we can make local multiplayer more interesting for those who enjoy playing with their friends IRL.


    Do you have thoughts on what could make public, private or local multiplayer better? Don’t forget to fill out our Trials Garage survey and leave any suggestions in the comments section below to let us know.



    That about does it for our Garage update this month. Stay tuned for more Trials discussions in the Trials Garage next month. Until then, we’ll see you on the leaderboards.
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  2. #2
    Originally Posted by UbiSkyBear Go to original post
    . Not only is private multiplayer a great way to enjoy some friendly Trials competition but many track builders also use this mode to test their creations before releasing them to Track Central.
    I hope this doesn't mean that there will
    be no update in how the community
    can share tracks for testing in the future.

    I hope for a choice when publishing a track
    to either publish it to standard TC or to publish it
    to a WIP-feed, if you choose the WIP-feed
    you should also get the opportunity to
    create a password.

    That way you can choose to make the track
    available to all, or only a select group who
    knows the password.
    A padlock icon on the tracks in the WIP-feed
    that is password protected should make
    this a painless experience.

    Sertainly much more fluid than inviting to
    a multiplayer, getting stuck downloading
    UGC tracks in the hundreds etc..

    Really hope redlynx will look into a better
    way for us to test tracks.
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  3. #3
    RidingMower's Avatar Member
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    -Scoring System: Change to Evo's. Have the scoring system with Fusion hidden and use it for match making purpose (or get rid of it entirely if it is hard to implement in the game if it were to cause conflict of allowing inviting friends to play with online multiplayer being invited).

    -Main game and multiplayer Leader board: I would like to see how I am ranked to others by way of the donkey and also each individual ride. I also feel the addition of Seasons to the L.B. was making more of a hassle. The Seasons added lots of pages to shuffle with the longer it goes on.

    -Add track difficulty and type for multiplayer's options: Supercross for 1, regular Trials beginner-med for 2, regular trials med-hard for 3, regular trials hard-extreme for 4, and a fifth option being a dice roll of all the others for those that like to gamble with chance.

    -Have a poll here on the forums asking what they think should be the appropriate player count with online multiplayer matches: I didn't like the 8 player matches as much as I expected. I believe 6 players would be a really good balance. Having 3 taking podium finishes is equal to non podium finishers. Building tracks would be easier with less lanes too.

    -Make it user friendly, easy to navigate the menu and easy to invite friends: Not much else you can do. It's either a great feature of the game to enjoy, or it's just not the Persons' preference to play at that moment in time, if ever. Just have it available at their convenience.
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  4. #4
    I think a cool feature should be allowing players to PB inside of multiplayer, obviously taking into account no parameters have been changed, maybe even just public MP to allow PBing would be cool.

    I also would love to have some form of leaderboards for 'MP only' tracks, one of the things that got some popularity in Fusion was trying to get the quickest times on the SXS tracks, but sadly there were no leaderboards so it was just comparing times by messages or in a party chat. Maybe even adding 'Mp only' tracks into track central or something so at least they are available to play and compete on.

    It would be cool to have the option to have more than one spectator in an Mp session. Maybe even an option to join an Mp match that is already started to put you into the spectator mode.

    I did really enjoy the different MP types in evo with 'hardcore' and 'supercross' so you can play which one you prefer.
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  5. #5
    VEGASTRASH's Avatar Senior Member
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    Different modes would be welcomed. I know the player base isn't that large for MP, but something a little different possibly.
    2 vs. 2 mode, where the control switches each checkpoint.
    A bracket style tournament.
    A very poor rider gets a small head start based on seconds behind in the last race.
    Bike switch, where the bike changes each race...but everyone gets the same one.
    Tail on fire, like the skill game...you get as far as you can while on fire.
    Acorn entry...everyone puts up X amount and the first 2 get all.
    There are much better ideas I haven't just named...I'm sure the team could think up something decent.

    Having the 1st lane view was a great addition to Fusion. Same for 8 lanes. I'd prefer 10, but mainly to have a good race for everyone. The greater the number, the better chance many will have close race with someone. Far too often I wouldn't have competitive matches.

    Off topic note: In HD and Evo the dynamic lighting was much better...why? In Fusion it appears like many dynamic shadows are extremely pixelated and stopped down to 15fps. Evo/HD didn't have this issue.
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  6. #6
    RidingMower's Avatar Member
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    Originally Posted by VEGASTRASH Go to original post
    Having the 1st lane view was a great addition to Fusion. Same for 8 lanes. I'd prefer 10, but mainly to have a good race for everyone. The greater the number, the better chance many will have close race with someone. Far too often I wouldn't have competitive matches.
    I just want to pick on you Mr. VEGAS about this. Your experiences among playing Trials has been acquired from the past three installments. You're a great rider and I've seen you get top 100 runs on tracks. For yourself to say that "Far too often I wouldn't have competitive matches" on a smaller player base playing 8 lane online multiplayer, seems to me like it would be a given no matter how many lanes you were playing.

    The match making combined with players skill playing against you, sounds to me like what it is you've encountered. With the limited number of players playing online-multiplayer, just end up getting what we get with it. By adding more lanes right now you'll see the same results and really that is more people loosing to you per/match. Proving this is easy and also proves having more lanes is not a step in the right direction at all. You said "Far too often I wouldn't have competitive matches", meaning you have played a lot and seem to be getting lack of people able to overtake you. This seems to happen often and you even noted it as "Far too often". The different times playing or even back to back matches, if we take the matches side by side, instead of one after the other. We could see these in a sort of 16 or 15 lane race with the same lack of "competitive matches".

    The extra lanes cause delay in loading times. With the eight lanes we have now. The task of your console / comp retrieving the info on other players can be noted as another reason why having more lanes being a bad call. Even the time before the matches start, the other players different style and color of bike and rider is being retrieved. The more players, the longer it takes, but that's not all that could be affected here. To cut down on loading times with this, we could see less options in the garage towards our own cosmetic upgrades. Something like we are seeing in Fusion right now, where individual plastic and bike parts can't be colored.

    I'm going to be brutally honest with you and say with Trials in particular, say less is best. I'm firm on the 6 max. With internet connections and 60fps game-play, believe it would be the best of the middle ground in multiplayer.
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    RidingMower's Avatar Member
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    Originally Posted by UbiSkyBear Go to original post
    Finally we want multiplayer to be interesting for players of all skill levels. One method we think is important is different sets of tracks for different skill levels. This is something we do already have in Fusion but it’s not really working as intended because it’s rare to have a lobby where all players are ranked high enough to have the hardest tracks appear. Multiplayer will be more fun for everyone if they are playing with opponents at their skill level.
    This is another reason why I believe a 6 player max would be a more balanced multiplayer experience. With you saying "because it's rare to have a lobby where all players are ranked high enough to have the hardest tracks appear".

    It would also be a way to easier navigate Track Central. Seeing as Fusion's Track Central uses slots with:

    -new super-cross (4-lane local)
    -top rated of the month super-cross (4-lane local)
    -top rated all time super-cross (4-lane local)

    and the 8 lane section with superXcross

    -new superXcross
    -top rated of the week/month superXcross
    -top rated all time superXcross

    A six lane could combine the two types for play-styles in regards to playing multiplayer. Easier building with a single build mechanic towards multiplayer tracks. With a 6 lane super-cross track, speculating here but it might be able to include builders the option of having the use OPE's or Physics enabled joints to track creations.
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  8. #8
    VEGASTRASH's Avatar Senior Member
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    8 or 6 player will have no impact either way. You can prefer 6...I'd prefer 12.
    Load times would probably increase the more you have, but not much. Look at COD. Loads up quickly. And framerate and load times aren't related.
    Regardless of player count, everyone wants a fun competitive MP. The question is...what is the most efficient way of doing this?
    More players doesn't mean more fun...I'll take my Battlefield gameplay for example vs. Gears of War. Higher player count does give you a better chance of playing someone with a higher skill level or one close to you. It's simple math on that end.
    As far as creating the tracks...4,6, or 12 lanes doesn't take much more to create. It's a lot of copy/pasting.

    I don't see developers shooting for more than 8...which can work if it's launched with the game...as it was stated in the original post. It's hard for something to have a fair chance when it's released 10 months into a game. The first lane view again...was a great change to MP. MP is difficult. So many people who can't play trials. To make it engauging for all is a challenging task....while keeping people playing the same modes.
    Cross play would greatly help the player base. Much like Rocket League. It's possible, but more hassle dealing with the companies and coding I'm sure is more involved.
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    RidingMower's Avatar Member
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    With the implementation of each track used in multiplayer having its own Leader board. Would definitely help in match making and make for better competition towards how they, as players rank with playing it.

    The lobby has (X amount of players in Que ((let's say 60))) and the game has already determined 4 tracks to have these players play for that minute in time. The server checks the players LB positions and adds their respected times to a total number for each player. That is then compared to allow the fastest player to be matched with the next fastest player, and continues in that order with the entire Que.

    Also I would like to see online players have their badge level be shown. The one that was implemented in the likes of Evo. It was also in Fusion but that was hidden and could only really be compared within the friends list. It was a nice intimidation feature to have. Showed how much you've accomplished and time spent in the game. I knew if I seen someone with a highly evolved one, that they were really good and it gave myself a goal to try and overtake them. If they had one that was just starting, but they were mastering the multiplayer match and just dominating everything, then they were obviously a 2nd account of a top rider. Having a LB for the individual multiplayer tracks would help with this sort of thing also when it comes to match-making.
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  10. #10
    RidingMower's Avatar Member
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    Originally Posted by VEGASTRASH Go to original post
    8 or 6 player will have no impact either way. You can prefer 6...I'd prefer 12.
    I like your perspective on this if we were actually talking about beers. I would prefer a twelve pack over six with that sort of thing, but this game would taste pis poor with longer loading times, less customization, and sub par internet service. There is a real good chance of coming across a couple of these if we were to allow more players. As for First Person Shooters go, wouldn't that be a better discussion to have in the Trials of the Blood Dragon forum? With a 12 player multiplayer campaign, Rip Battlefield and GoW.
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