While introduced in the beginning of the series, only certain Grand Theft Auto games have official multiplayer features, and these are often limited in their usage. There have been numerous attempts by teams of fans to create multiplayer gameplay in GTA games, predominantly for those with no multiplayer support to begin with. Some of the modifications created by these teams have been critically acclaimed and have proved very successful.
Multiplayer was originally standard in the PC versions of Grand Theft Auto 1, although the process of creating and joining servers requires manual identification of the one's IP address and also those of the playmates. The choices of multiplayer modes in GTA 1 is limited to only two: Cannonball run (a checkpoint race) and the traditional deathmatch. Having been based on GTA 1, the Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 mission packs employ the same multiplayer mechanisms, but allows the player to play multiplayer games in London, as well as Manchester for GTA London 1961.
The processes of creating and joining network games remained unchanged in the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 2, but the game comes with a more user-friendly, Windows-based "GTA2 Manager" to manage and join multiplayer games. GTA 2 features three different multiplayer modes, consisting of the existing deathmatch, as well as "Tag" (players chase one player labeled as "it"; whoever kills "it" becomes "it" in turn, becoming the hunted), and "Points" (where players attempt to rack up as much points or money in the same way they would in single player).
The PC version of Grand Theft Auto III was at one point going to contain a multiplayer mode, however Rockstar cancelled this during development. One can view textures related to multiplayer mode menu screens in the file models/menu.txd, using a TXD viewer. Additionally, strings found in the game's GXT files suggest some of the modes and options that would have been available. The file american.gxt contains:
FEM_MAP - "Select Map" FEM_MP - "MULTIPLAYER" FEN_CON - "Connection" FEN_GAM - "Find Game" FEN_GNA - "Game Name:" FEN_NAM - "Name:" FEN_NCI - "NOT CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET" FEN_NET - "Network" FEN_PLA - "Number of players:" FEN_PLC - "Player color" FEN_PLS - "Player settings" FEN_STA - "START GAME" FEN_TY0 - "Deathmatch" FEN_TY1 - "Deathmatch stealth" FEN_TY2 - "Team Deathmatch" FEN_TY3 - "Team Deathmatch stealth" FEN_TY4 - "Stash the cash" FEN_TY5 - "Capture the Flag" FEN_TY6 - "Rat Race" FEN_TY7 - "Domination"
The PS2 and Xbox versions of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas featured a co-op mode, which allowed 2 players to either 'free roam' or go on a 'rampage'. This feature was limited, in that both players had to stay within close proximity of one another.
In 2005, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories was released on the PSP and featured a multiplayer mode for up to 6 players through WiFi ad-hoc mode. A total of 7 modes of play were available. In 2006, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories was released on the PSP with the same functionality as its predecessor, and an additional 3 modes of play available.
GTA IV contained the most developed implementation of multiplayer gaming in the GTA series. This has carried over into GTA IV's expansions, The Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony.
Multi Theft Auto was the first attempt by a team of fans to implement a multiplayer version of Grand Theft Auto 3. It saw its first release February 8, 2003 and quickly gained a large following. Development continued through the releases of GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas, and is still ongoing today. The current release for GTA3 and GTA Vice City is 0.5, while a separate version, 1.1.1R is available for GTA San Andreas.
Vice City Multiplayer started development in April 2005, and was used as a codebase for the later SA:MP. The release of GTA San Andreas led to much of the team focusing on that game, however some members continue developing VC:MP. It has so far proved to be quite popular, however SA:MP continues to dominate most of the attention. The current release is v0.3.
SA:MP started out as VC:MP (described above) in April 2005. Once GTA San Andreas was released on the PC, most of the team turned to development for the game. It has enjoyed a lot of success during public beta tests, as well as in releases. It has a large variety of game modes, the most of any third party multiplayer mod, and also supports custom game modes. The current version is 0.3a, released by the team on 17th October, 2009.
GTA:Tournament started out in April 2003, created by "DracoBlue", who envisioned the use of scriptable servers, support for up to 96 players, and the ability to have thousands of skins and vehicles in the game. It eventually saw releases for Vice City, and later San Andreas. On 29th April 2006, DracoBlue announced that development on the mod would cease. After talks with the SA:MP team, DracoBlue turned to scripting for that mod.
GTA Rumble was started in December 2005, and is assumed to no longer be in development; its homepage at gtarumble.co.uk is no longer active. The latest beta release was 0.1c. Its features included chat, spawning, scoreboards, screenshots, weather/time changing, and parachutes, among others.
SA-2P, or San Andreas 2 Player, was, as its name implies, a mod to bring the 2 player co-op mode found in the PS2 and Xbox version of GTA San Andreas to the PC, using online play. After having started in June 2005, version 0.1 only ever reached 10% progress according to its creator's website, which was last updated in July 2005. No versions were ever released. SA-2P's homepage can be found at SA-2P.com, and includes a few screenshots and videos of the mod in action, as well as a short FAQ.
|There is more information available on this subject at Multiplayer on the English-language Wikipedia.|
The term "Multiplayer" generally refers to the ability of most video games allowing more than one person to play the game at the same time in a non-campaign setting. Multiplayer can be conducted using split-screen, System Link, or Xbox Live. In the Halo games, multiplayer has been regarded as a core element to the game's design and a giant part of the success of the Halo franchise.
Multiplayer matches in Halo tend to focus on the completion of an objective, with the objective in question being determined by the gametype being used. Players use weapons, equipment, and vehicles to advance toward the objective while inhibiting their opponents' progress. These items are commonly used, as one might expect, to score kills. Scoring kills can be helpful even in non-deathmatch games, as a killed opponent will often respawn away from their objective and without their preferred weapons.
In more recent games in the series, modes of play are accessed through lobbies. While in lobbies, players can organize themselves into groups called "parties".[note 1] Each party has one Party Leader, who controls the lobby the party will play in and the settings they will use. Party Leaders can leave the party open (allowing players to join at any time) or restrict it to invite-only status (so that players must be invited by members of the party in order to join). They may also promote a different player to Party Leader.
Though some Halo games with support for online multiplayer have used (user-established) dedicated servers, most games in the franchise rely on a distributed networking model. In such a model, the players' consoles connect to each other directly, with one console acting as a server.
As is the case with virtually every competitive activity in human society, people have tried to cheat while playing Halo. Numerous arguably-unfair practices, such as camping, team-killing, and the Noob Combo, are used for the same reason.
Each Halo first-person shooter allows players to create profiles, which are used to store information about players. Halo profiles store both a player's game settings and some customized visual details to distinguish the player. In Halo games made for Xbox Live, profiles are bound to gamertags; all gameplay is conducted with a profile, and players without gamertags are granted temporary profiles for the duration of their session.
The profile creator in Halo: Combat Evolved was very basic. Players had the ability to create a unique name, customize their armor color, and change the game controls and settings. Halo PC's settings were more intricate, including various sound and video settings as well as the ability to create custom control schemes (as opposed to picking preset control schemes).
With the addition of online multiplayer through Xbox LIVE, the profile creator in Halo 2 was redesigned and altered. Halo 2 introduced additional armor colors and the ability for a player to use two colors for their armor. Major additions included the ability to play as a Sangheili in multiplayer and the addition of Emblems. Emblems were notable for allowing players to identify teammates at a glance -- a sharp contrast to the unmarked waypoints shown in Halo: Combat Evolved.
The updated profile creator in Halo 3 kept those settings and added more. Players could create a Service Tag consisting of a letter and two numbers; Service Tags are now shown over waypoints instead of Emblems. Additional Emblem designs, colors, and features were added. Bungie also added a gender option, which changes the player's voice when killed. Most notable, however, was the addition of Armor Permutations, which allow players to change the models used for their helmets, pauldrons, and chestplates.
The multiplayer component of Halo: Combat Evolved's Xbox version was limited to split-screen and System Link play. Five core gametypes existed: Slayer, Oddball, Capture The Flag (CTF), King of the Hill, and Race. Various stock variants with altered settings existed, and players could create their own.
Though the game did not support online multiplayer, network tunneling programs, such as XBConnect and XLink Kai, could be used to coerce the game into running online. However, the game tends to freeze and stutter while it works to keep things synchronized -- today's internet connection speeds come nowhere close to the 100 megabit connection that the game expects.
The PC version supports online multiplayer, and can run games with custom gametypes and up to sixteen players. Six additional maps were also added to the game: Danger Canyon, Death Island, Gephyrophobia, Ice Fields, Infinity, and Timberland. Two additional weapons -- the Flamethrower and the Fuel Rod Gun -- became usable in the PC version as well.
Players can host both listen servers and dedicated servers. A server browser, provided by GameSpy, comes with the game, though players can also use a LAN browser to find servers. (Alternatively, the IP address or domain name of a server can be accessed directly.) Unfortunately, the game lacks any kind of stat tracking, standardized rules, banlists, or cheat detection past what server administrators provide; this complicates competitive organization and the prevention of cheating and griefing.
Halo Custom Edition, a multiplayer-only expansion of Halo PC, allowed players to run user-created maps. Such maps could be created using the Halo Editing Kit. Amongst these maps were a number of Halo 2-based maps, such as Zanzibar and Coagulation. In addition, there are a vast number of non-canon maps set in Halo-inspired locations using only Halo assets, as well as many other maps which incorporate custom weapons, vehicles, locations, and player models.
Halo 2 's multiplayer functionality was completely redesigned to work with Xbox Live. Matchmaking allowed players to search for games in a variety of different playlists, such as Team Objective, Team Doubles, and Rumble Pit; players could find each other quickly, relatively anonymously, and without having to sort through their friends list. Players could also create and host their own custom games, and could invite other players to join them. The lobby system was also introduced; each form of multiplayer was given a lobby, so that players in a party could stick together after a match.
Putting Microsoft's Trueskill system to use, Bungie employed a ranking system that displayed a level (1-50) based on how well a player played in a particular playlist. Rankings were for individual playlists, and players who would continually win games in a certain playlist would rank up in that playlist. Bungie also split their multiplayer component into two major categories; ranked and unranked. While the ranked playlists offered players a chance to display skill, the unranked playlists were more social and relaxed, and allowed guests.
Halo 2 introduced the concept of awarding medals to players for various accomplishments during a match, such as multi-kills and sprees, as well as kills caused by certain weapons or vehicles. Medals are shown on Bungie.net's game viewers and in the Postgame Carnage Report.
Halo 2 Vista utilized the Games for Windows LIVE service, but in a much different way than its Xbox counterpart. Rank-based Matchmaking was done away with, and, like its predecessor, Halo PC, Halo 2 Vista added a server browser and allowed players to join games in progress. Servers ran a map cycle in the form of a playlist, where players would congregate in a lobby until the game starts, play the game, then go back to the lobby to review the Postgame Carnage Report and chat with other players until the next round started. LIVE Gold users could filter out servers not matching their interests, and quickly jump right into a game in progress by selecting a "Quick Match" option.
On July 27, 2008, the Gold-only limitations were removed, and all LIVE subscribers, regardless of membership level, could use all aspects of Halo 2 Vista multiplayer without restriction.
Halo 3 introduced many new features to its multiplayer experience. The most prominent feature was the ability to play the campaign cooperatively online and via system link with 4 players. Unlike Halo 2 's local Co-op, where players control "clones" of the same character, each player in Halo 3 is assigned control over Master Chief, Arbiter, or Elites N'tho 'Sraom and Usze 'Taham.
Custom gametypes were given a whole new level of customization. Numerous settings, including a player's weight, were added. Spawn-time specific attributes could also be assigned; these attributes would last for a set number of seconds after a player spawns. This can be helpful for preventing spawnkilling. Two new core gametypes, VIP and Infection, were added.
Matchmaking was enhanced with many under-the-hood features to help get better player matches and reduce wait time. Two very useful features were added to the pre-game and post-game lobbies: in the former, players can vote to veto gametype-map combinations that nobody wanted to play; in the latter, players could "Party Up", so that groups of people who enjoyed the last game could stick together. The number of medal types increased drastically, including medals for killing sprees with certain weapons, the Linktacular Medal for getting matched with nothing but Bungie.net members, and the Steaktacular Medal for winning a Slayer game by more than 20 points.
Finally, custom games were enhanced with the addition of Forge, a multiplayer map editor. Forge allowed players to manipulate various objects in maps. Altered object configurations can be saved as map variants and uploaded to a player's File Share. Glitches have been used to create particularly interesting map variants.
The ranking system introduced in Halo 2 was redone in order to balance out Matchmaking even further. The Trueskill system was still present on ranked playlists, but a new "Experience (EXP)" stat was added to player profiles. Whenever a player plays a match without quitting and is in a top position or on a winning team, the player gains 1 EXP. Players who enter a playlist, but disconnect or quit early lose 1 EXP for desertion. Players who end up in a losing position or team do not gain or lose EXP. In theory, this helps with player matching and balance by finding players who have been playing the game as much as you have based on their EXP level.
Auto Update 2, live on August 1, 2008, added another layer of EXP to even further balance out players. EXP is now tracked for each individual playlist, in addition to the player's Trueskill ranks and overall EXP. When in a Matchmaking playlist, players' Trueskill ranks (if a ranked playlist) and playlist-specific EXP are shown. When in a custom game, or viewing a player's details or service record, overall EXP is shown.
Halo Wars allows players to battle in a variety of multiplayer arenas. Players can choose from 3 different commanders from both UNSC leaders (i.e. Captain Cutter, Sergeant Forge, or Professor Anders) and Covenant leaders (i.e. Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee, Brute Army Commander, or The Prophet of Regret). Multiplayer matches are limited to six players and may be organized in evenly-matched teams. Computer-controlled players may be used. Halo Wars also used a ranking system similar to that of Halo 3, but the rankings were assigned based on players' scores in completed games.
The Halo Wars Strategic Options DLC pack gives players 3 more skirmish game modes to play for 800 Microsoft Points. The new game types include Keepaway, Tug of War, and Reinforcements. A Map Pack DLC called Historic Battle introduced four new maps for the same price.
Halo 3: ODST features a new Firefight mode. In Firefight, up to four players fight against waves of Covenant forces and try to survive as long as possible with a set amount of lives, while the difficulty progressively increases by changing the currently active Skulls. Firefight lacks any sort of matchmaking system or game browser; players must join lobbies though the Xbox Live guide (recent players with open parties, friends lists, invites), via System Link, or all play locally, on the same Xbox console.
ODST also contains the Halo 3: Mythic disc, which is a multiplayer-only version of Halo 3.
|Multiplayer Game Types|
|Slayer: Team Slayer | Rockets | Swords | Snipers | Phantoms | Elimination | Slayer Variants|
|King of the Hill: King | Team King | Phantom King | Crazy King | Team Crazy King | King of the Hill Variants|
|Oddball: Rocketball | Swordball | Team Ball | Low Ball | Fiesta | Ninjaball | Oddball Variants|
|Juggernaut: 2 on 1 | 3 on 1 | Ninjanaut | Phantom Fodder | Dreadnaut | Juggernaut Variants|
|Capture the Flag: Multi Flag CTF | CTF Classic | 1 Flag CTF | 1 Flag CTF Fast|
|Assault: Multi Bomb | Single Bomb | Single Bomb Fast | Neutral Bomb | Blast Resort | Assault Variants|
|Territories: 3 Plots | Land Grab | Gold Rush | Control Issues | Contention | Territories Variants|
|VIP: Escort | Influential VIP | One Sided VIP | Rocket Race | VIP Variants|
|Infection: Alpha Zombie | Hide and Seek | Save One Bullet | Infection Variants|
|Halo 2 ranked playlists: Double Team | Team Slayer | Team Skirmish | Team Snipers | Team Hardcore | H2 Challenge|
|Halo 2 unranked playlists: Rumble Pit | Team Training | Big Team Battle | Team SWAT|
|Halo 3 ranked playlists: Lone Wolves | Team Slayer | Team Objective | Team Doubles | Squad Battle | Team SWAT | Team Snipers | MLG|
|Halo 3 social playlists: Rumble Pit | Social Slayer | Social Skirmish | Big Team Social | Multi-Team | Social Team DLC | Team Mythic | Action Sack|
|Halo 3 other playlists: Basic Training|