Sunday Thoughts: Sharing

I’ve been playing the FIFA Street demo. Not a lot of it, just a few hours so far, but it really is wonderful. Everything about it seems very solid, very well realised. It feels like one of those games where the developers knew exactly what they wanted to build and then actually sat down and built it. The handling’s fantastic, tricks are great and even the UI seems to fit the game like a glove. I don’t mean to sound surprised by this, I just didn’t expect the demo to be quite as good as it is.

There’s one feature that really stood out for me though, and that’s in the very short demo of the career. You see when you start off you’re just playing a game of three-aside with your friends, and despite the stereotypically urban setting it feels very similar to just having a kick about with your mates (and right now I can foresee people moaning that I haven’t actually played football in far too long).

[drop2]The fact that you’re having a kick about with your mates is important here, it becomes a key feature. You see you’re not just playing with some guys the game’s picked to be your friends, you can actually import your friend’s created characters into the game. Of course this all assumes they’ve imported their Create a Pro character from FIFA 12 into the demo, or created one with the very limited tools given to you in the demo.

In the grand scheme of things this feature actually seems pretty minor, but to be perfectly honest it excited me nearly as much as the gameplay itself. It just works so seamlessly and is integrated into the game in the right places so that importing your friends’ characters into the game is completely effortless. It will even suggests people you might know, something that’s become ubiquitous in social networking but a feature I haven’t seen in a game’s online before.

Of course Street isn’t the first game to allow you to pull in some aspects of a friend’s game, although I believe it’s the first time I’ve played something that lets you bring elements into the single player in this kind of fashion. The most obvious example of this right now is games offering asynchronous multiplayer via things like ghosts. Oh yes, beating a friend’s time on an online leader board is all well and good, but actually racing against their ghost? That’s just so much better.

Bringing characters across into single player feels far superior to this though, a lot more integrated into the game. It’s an obvious extension to customisation, and something I want to see a lot more of. Whilst I’m not positive, I think there might be an RPG or two that let you do something similar that pre-date what FIFA Street’s doing, but the way it’s integrated into the team selection process of Street so perfectly just makes it feel like a completely natural part of the game. It’s almost so simple that it doesn’t feel like a stand-out feature, it’s just something that’s there that feels like it should have always been.

It’s perhaps surprising that with this generation’s huge focus on online play we haven’t seen this approach crop up more. There seems to be this idea that online is there for head-to-head or, if you’re lucky, co-op. The options for sharing are obvious and something that will, hopefully, see increased focus in this generation and next as online goes from strength to stregnth.

I’d be keen to hear the community’s thoughts on this. Do you feel online can be capitalised in this way to allow sharing of custom like characters? Will we see more elements like the player created missions from inFamous 2? Or would you rather online’s focus stayed on playing with others?

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9 Comments

  1. Well Demon’s Souls is a great example of single-player online integration that works.

    Then there’s Catherine with the answers, pretty minor but works too.

  2. I’m not sure if Forza is a good example but the amount of stuff you can borrow from others in there is huge.

  3. I like thee idea of uncharted goldenn abyss, where you can drop treasures and help others with getting the treasure, they should do a similar feature with the ps3 where you can do a near like thing with the ps3 & help each other by dropping items etc

  4. Demon’s Souls has a great interpretation & Uncharted Golden Abyss sounds a great idea too. Not played it but Forza sounds great and of course GT5.

    I really like Motorstorm yes, the original and that was the first time I came across ghosts, it was great going on to the leaderboard to download ghosts, it wasn’t just your friends so you could download the best in the world and follow their line.

    • Wait, we could do that in the original Motorstorm?
      I’d moved on to Pacific Rift by the time I’d gotten wifi for my PS3…

      Good article, the PS Vita is really pushing the sharing aspects of gaming, and just wait until Little Big Planet comes along!
      Especially with Near- if people would start dropping useful player-created objects or good levels, it’ll be brilliant.

      • Yeah, it came in a free update which added something else too, can’t remember what though.
        Never got to grips with later titles in the series despite loving the original, tiny bits of scenery in PR & later A ruined them for me.

  5. Motorstorm RC incorporates ghosts and friends challenges really well.

  6. Player ghosts and dropped hidden treasures and the like all help improve a games single player portion, but I think that if it is in place over a multiplayer portion then it is a poor substitute. These things should be as well as, not instead of.

  7. For me, this sort of thing started with being able to name characters in Xcom games. There was a real sense of danger when going into missions with avatars representing friends and family. If my bro and best mate were gunned down by aliens, you can bet there was an iminent restart :P

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