Note: this is not (just) a theoretical question. I have been asked to develop a solo game mode for the game that I am working on, and I'm wondering if I should start with a cooperative mode instead.

Q 1: Given a solo game (i.e. a game designed/intended for one player), what qualities must it have - positive and negative - for it to have a natural extension for multiple, cooperating players?

One such quality would be the control of several characters: if the player is responsible for the movement/actions of several otherwise-independent characters, it would be reasonable to assign each character to a player (thereby creating a "cooperative" game).

Q 2: Given a multiplayer cooperative game (i.e. a game designed/intended for several players to work together toward a common goal), what qualities must it have - positive and negative - for it to have a natural... distillation to a solo game?

Most of what I've come up with on this end is a list of things/games that won't work.
Escape: Curse of the Temple and Space Alert are two popular cooperative games that are played on a timer (which is actually an audio soundtrack). Without changing the soundtrack/game length, it would be tough for a single player to do what 4-5 players are usually responsible for.

The game play of Hanabi relies entirely on the limited information that each player has, and on controlling communication. A single player... well, it would be hard to imagine Hanabi keeping its elegance in a solo mode.

  • You may get more poignant responses if you split this into the two respective questions. Also right now I am not sure this is answerable without opinion and conjecture. Could you potentially narrow the scope to make it more answerable?
    – Pow-Ian
    May 15 '14 at 15:35
  • @Pow-Ian: I appreciate that this is a challenging question (or two challenging, related questions). And while I agree that this - like almost any question that isn't "what is the rule on X" - might permit some subjectivity in the response, a good answer will make a claim and support it with objective evidence. This isn't a persuasive piece, but rather an investigation. May 15 '14 at 17:51

Q1: Two things it must have:

  1. Two or more opposing factions or teams. A solo player is simply on one side, then by expanding the game to allow players to be on either side, the game can become multiplayer and/or cooperative.

  2. A limit to the number of rewards or prizes the factions are trying to accomplish. This is what evokes the competition. A solo player is competing against the computer to be the first to win the prizes. Then to expand to multiplayer/cooperative, the players are on separate teams are now competing for the limited number of prizes (and be the fastest to do it).

  • 1
    I don't think having opposing factions makes for a cooperative game, but rather a competitive game.
    – Joe
    May 15 '14 at 17:01
  • The human users need not necessarily be on the opposite factions. Take Halo for example, where two users are cooperatively on the same team, yet there are still two opposing factions. May 15 '14 at 17:36
  • 1
    Your answer sounds like it is talking about competitive games, while the OP asked for cooperative games (where success is measured as a whole)
    – Guvante
    May 15 '14 at 18:09

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