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November 11, 2009

A Call to Duty

Filed under: Main — Dan Gookin @ 12:01 am

The gaming community is up in arms about the latest Call of Duty sequel, Modern Warfare 2.

Right away, know that the fanboy world is thrilled about the game itself. The graphics are supposedly wonderful. The gameplay is engaging. The plot is riveting. Et cetera.

The problem comes with the game’s multiplayer mode.

You see, like many of these first-person shoot-em-up games, there are two modes for Call of Duty: campaign and multiplayer.

The campaign mode is the traditional, single-player way to use a video game. You control your “little man” using the keyboard and mouse. The little man kills people (especially in Call of Duty), and goes on an adventure. You engage in activities and fight enemies generated by the computer. It’s not really static; there are variables and each time you play the game it’s a little different.

The multiplayer mode is where you engage other players across the Internet. Typically you join a game server, along with a bunch of other people.

Contrary to stereotypes, the people who play these games online are not all socially backward teenagers or 30-somethings who dwell in their parent’s basement. Nope, there’s a good cross section of people who play — including women.

Playing online with a multiplayer game is pretty fun, and always different. Plus, it’s a social thing as the players can chat, either by typing or through voice communications, while they play.

The problem the fanboys have with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is that the company that publishes it, Treyarch, has announced that there will be no private multiplayer servers. That means that, unlike in previous versions of Call of Duty, as well as other online multiplayer games, a private club or organization cannot host their own server.

Hosting a server is a big part of the game community. There are gaming guilds and clans that host servers for everyone to use. They also have their own private servers, where one guild or clan can “scrimmage” against another. It’s quite popular, and lots of fun.

With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, however, there will be no private servers. Instead, there will be only public servers run by the company itself. That’s really ticked off the gaming community. In fact, there is an active boycott movement right now for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

I don’t agree with the boycott, so I plan on playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. But the gamers do have a point: Public severs are never as well maintained as those put up by the private (and usually all-volunteer) gaming clans. The administration of public servers, specifically with regards to catching and banning hackers, is spotty to non-existent.

The bottom line for the gamers is that the public servers for multiplayer Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will, doubtless, suck. That’s what’s motivating the boycott.

I’ll see whether the boycott has any effect over the next few weeks. I’ll also see whether the public multiplayer servers will be as bad as the gaming community supposes.

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