A year and a half ago, Mel and I decided we wanted to play some Civilization V multiplayer. So, we looked at our options. Not only did we learn standard Civilization V multiplayer had some bugs and caveats, but it also meant we would have to try and figure out times in our busy schedules to coordinate playing at the same time. Then, we learned about the hot seat game mode. It sounded like exactly what we needed – its asynchronous gameplay would allow us to play Civilization V more casually. However, being programmers, we realized that we could automate passing the save file between us. Originally, our plan was to write a simple desktop program for our own personal use. But then we asked, why not make it a web service so that it’s easier for us to access anywhere? But wait, if we’re making it on the web, why not make it available for everyone?
And thus, Giant Multiplayer Robot was born.
After we launched in March 2012, I remember being excited when we hit 100 users. It was great to see that something we made was useful to others. Now, as we edge closer and closer to 10,000 users and beyond, it’s time to take Giant Multiplayer Robot to the next level. (And out of beta finally, before we approach Google levels of beta length)
So, today, we’re announcing the next generation of Giant Multiplayer Robot, which we’re simply calling Multiplayer Robot.
We’ve learned a lot about how people use Giant Multiplayer Robot over the last year and a half. Now, we’re using those lessons to design Multiplayer Robot. Some of our goals include:
- Redesigned website that’s super fast and responsive
- Streamlined game creation: the website will define all game options, and simply give the host a game configuration file to use
- Easier to use mod support
- More intelligent usage of your time zone, such as automatically ordering a game’s players
- A permissions system that will allow a game’s host to give other players permission to revert a turn, etc.
- A voting system so that a game’s players can vote to perform tasks such as removing an unresponsive player
- The ability for a player to play more than one civilization in a single game
- A more fully featured community (including forums integrated with your Multiplayer Robot account)
- More automation in the desktop app
- Dramatically easier ways to download and upload your game saves from the website
- A public API
Additionally, we’re looking forward to Firaxis releasing a stand-alone pitboss server (which will hopefully happen soon). As this approaches, we’re exploring the viability of hosting pitboss games in addition to hot seat games. However, unlike hot seat where we can afford to run lots of free games and offer permanent account upgrades, pitboss will likely require enough server horsepower that it’ll be on a pay-per-game basis. That being said, we do want to make our pricing as affordable as possible, and we also want it to make sense. So, we’re looking into ways we can allow all players in a game to split the cost. Furthermore, charging servers on a traditional $x/month basis doesn’t make sense, because what if your game happens to end two days into a month? To address this, we want to do more fine-grained billing, hopefully on a per-day basis at no more than a few cents a day.
As we develop Multiplayer Robot over the next few months, we’ll be providing more updates via this blog. We’ll be going over lots of new features and want feedback every step of the way, starting right now. Sound off in the comments about what you think of our goals or what you want to see in Multiplayer Robot!