3 Approaches used by developers to maintain fairness in multiplayer gaming

Online Gaming

Let’s face it, making a fast-paced multiplayer game is hard. Trying to keep a standard experience for everyone playing online at the same time has its difficulties. The most important aspect developers always keep at the heart of their process is maintaining fairness to all players – where even defeat is judged to be a fair result.

The Lock Step Approach

One of the first considerations for developers was using the lockstep. When internet speeds were low, it meant locking the game until all the information needed had been gathered, ensuring all players had equal opportunities.

Originally seen in turn-based games, so opponents couldn’t have their turn until the others’ had theirs, it was essentially a three-step piece of programming. Firstly, it meant acquiring the user’s input and sending it to the other player; secondly, it had to wait for the other player’s input. And, finally, it had to update and restart the game with everyone’s input. A process that took from microseconds to seconds to action-and-repeat meant risks for game stalling, but with faster connection speeds it is still the basis for multiplayer turn-based and interactive games.

Using Lensing For Fair Vantage Points

Lensing, where all the information a player needs is transmitted through the screen, relies on the perception and imagination of the player to understand the fairness of it. The location of the camera within gameplay can be different for each game, but it remains an important element for a game to be playable and fair to all players.

A fixed point camera doesn’t move but it is the player’s vantage point of the world. For online casino games like poker and slots, the fixed point is vital. Video games with that single viewpoint allow the focus to remain on the core skills of the game – to figure out what cards other players hold and then rely on the different permutations alongside their skill to win – dictating a fair environment for all players.

Lensing is paramount for all casino games but has not always reached any further than the game itself. Increasingly though, it is breaking away from the actual gameplay to broaden perceptions of fairness. For instance, there is a new breed of casinos making it fair to the players to withdraw their bonus, like PlayOJO, who offer free spins with no wagering deposits, and anytime cash out options. It also has a wide range of games to play that goes one step further by offering stats on the game including record prizes and how many times the game has been played in the last six hours too. A fair playing field that just isn’t common in the industry.

Scenario vs Campaign

When fixed point cameras like those in a casino or a point and shoot game aren’t being used, developers utilize the scenario vs campaign breakdown to make games fair, balancing the role of the individual scenario against the overall game objectives. So ‘storm the castle’ or ‘win the race’ isn’t as important as the greater goal of the game, which could be ‘win the war’, ‘defeat the enemy’ or ‘finish at the top of the league’ at the end of the season. Players can deem the game fair, even if they lose, so long as it offered a realistic perception of the existence of a winning chance.

For anyone playing an online game, a weak player needs to believe that there is some chance, however small, of them being able to topple a stronger or more dominant opponent – just like in real life. Fairness, especially the plausibility of it, makes a player return again and again and this is true for multi-player games, casino gaming and player vs player games.

3 Approaches used by developers to maintain fairness in multiplayer gaming