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GDC Canada: Ex-DICE Dev Talks Matchmaking Cheaters, Wall Jumps

Norwegian developer Bjarne Rene, formerly of DICE, offers tips for getting a game on the web, including the amusing idea of matchmaking cheaters with each other in order to minimize the effect they can have on legitimate players.
Bjarne Rene comes from the traditional game industry -- he started at Bullfrog, then went to Core Design, then later DICE in Sweden. It was during his time at DICE that he got the idea that online games were indeed the future, so he went back to his native Norway to create Vostopia.com, an avatar system for use in online 3D games, with a free-to-play business model. In a talk that aimed to give 73 tips on bringing your game to the web, Rene mostly related very familiar ideas for the space, such as “it’s a service, not a product,” and “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” But he did also provide some rather interesting tips, including the idea that you shouldn’t make your own engine. “At the moment it seems to us that Unity is winning,” he said, “so we’re kind of betting the farm there. No matter what you do, don’t roll your own.” They tried to do that at DICE, “based on the old Battlefield engine, and it was quite clunky.” “HTML is a cheap and powerful rendering engine -- use it,” he said, adding that it’s great for UI. “And an important thing to remember is that when you want to change the UI you don’t have to patch.” Even so, “Do not support Internet Explorer 6,” he says. “It is so not worth the hassle.” And if you’re thinking about adding a content management system, make sure you actually need one first. It could be a waste. “When you do a webgame, chances are most of your assets will be player-generated.” Think about cheating early, he cautions. “Protect the fair players, above all. You can’t beat cheaters,” he says, but adding that you’ve got to make it so cheating doesn’t affect the fair players in your game design. “This is really hard, but try to matchmake cheaters together,” he proposed. “Matchmake people you can reasonably assume are cheating, and then you remove part of the problem of them bothering normal players. If you have a game where the matchmaking happens entirely automatically, you can actually do it.” Make the game so your grandmother can play it, he advised. “A wall jump in Mario is really cool to do, and it makes you feel good when you do it, but it’s not conducive to 100 million users.” As a last word of advice, referencing his Norwegian heritage, he joked that “If you happen to live in a country that speaks a weird language that others don’t speak, you might want to consider launching in that language as a test market, before you go to a normal language that people can actually understand.”

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