How does multiplayer FPS between PC/Console work?

I only recently discovered that some multi-platform FPS games allowed console & PC players to play against each other in multiplayer and I wondered how that could possible work. Every console FPS I’ve ever seen has a control scheme that allows you to move & aim like a retarded toddler on sleeping pills. On a PC, on the other hand, the controls eventually become so natural they’re like an extension of your body.

Back in my Action Quake II playing days, I eventually mastered the sniper rifle to such a degree that I could spot an opponent in the corner of my eye, snap my rifle around to somewhere out of frame, hit them and then snap the rifle back before the next frame had drawn. And I wasn’t even that good.

I can’t imagine any matchup in which a console player has a fair chance against a PC player in an FPS. How does it end up working in real life?

I’m not aware of any games that do this, except IIRC something called Shadow Run or something experimented with this a few years ago. I seem to recall that they gave the console players a generous auto aim or something.

I would love if this became more common. As much as I hate what they did to modern warfare 2, now that the consoles and the PC had the same shitty multiplayer system, I would love it if they would’ve made them interoperable. I could at least have the satisfaction of stomping consolers.

It’s been done one other time that I know of; the Quake 3 version for the Dreamcast could play against PC opponents.

It should be the same now that most consoles are using TCP/IP. Even if it is not, just some ‘massaging’ of the data would work. Here’s a quick explanation.

In most real-time multi-player games, you are constantly sending out data packets of what you are doing to a server. The server would get those packets, work on the actions you have sent, and send back the response (the client/server model). Of course, not everything is sent to the server for processing - usually client-side stuff such as sound effects and particles are just performed without server-side checking.

Likewise, your PC/console does not rely on the server to update all the time. One example is a technique call dead reckoning. You press ‘W’ or push the thumb-stick to move forward. The client tells the server, “I am moving forward!”, and at the same time, you do move forward on the client side. Before the client gets the response back from the server, it will actually start moving your avatar/tank/whatever depending on your current acceleration, velocity and bearing. It may also show you firing your weapons. However, for the purpose of whether you are hit by enemy fire or walking in a wall is handled by the server side. Which is why sometimes you got ‘rubber-banding’ - you are walking into unoccupied space, but because the server is not responding, the client deems you are walking nowhere.

So as long as the PC and console can send data to a common server, and the server can push back th responses and outcomes in a format that both PC and console can understand, it is possible for both PC and console to play the same match. If there is not centralized server, a PC client could host the game as a server.

I think Xbox360 uses TCP/IP, but the protocol is not an issue because you can usually wrap data format around another to make them compatible. Of course, the software architecture has to be designed with support PCs and consoles in the same match at the same time. As long as both games have the same action sets, same type of rules, it could work.

I believe the OP was wondering about the difference in controol schemes, not the technicalities of TCP programming.

I don’t have time to do a search, but I recall at least 2 game studios recently pondering this possibility, and even carrying out experiments. I don’t recall the games or the studios off-hand, but it might have been Grand Theft Auto IV and Gears of War, but that’s just a wag. Their conclusions (IIR the article correctly): If they did not give the console players some type fo ridiculous advantage and denied the same to the PC gamers, the console gamers didn’t stand a chance. The problem then came in balancing the console “bonuses”. Too much and a good console player could own the PC gamers every time (by say an easy/fast auto-locking system) and too little and the PC gamers still had the advantage. Ultimately I think this wasn’t done not just because of the unfairness/balancing that would have to be done, but also because of console specific bureaucratic issues.

Ah, I had assumed from the modern warfare thread that this was the case. So PC players got the same networking model as consoles even though they can’t play against consoles? That’s messed up.

You don’t know the half of it. With the initial release (it might have been patched by now) the error message when a PC player lost connection was “Unable to connect to XBox Live.”

PC players would absolutely dominate console players if they ever mixed the clients together. The mouse control is just flat out better.

This is what happened with Quake 3 on Dreamcast.

What about the Wii controller? Can that compete with the mouse, or have there not been enough FPS for the Wii to really be able to tell?

I really like the Wiimote as a mouse for shooters. It’s not the same as a PC mouse but it has it’s own advantages. There’s a homebrew port of Quake that plays phenomenally well with the Wiimote. I haven’t tried network play with it (apparently it supports it) but I’d suspect it would be an interesting match between the amazingly accurate Wii players and the more maneuverable PC players.

simple. redesign the game so it’s a claustrophobic series of hamster tunnels that affords zero possibilities of a height advantage and give the consoles auto-aim. then when console players rub the floor with your intestines you can cry foul as much as you want, but they’ll think you’re nuts and that gaming has never been better.


Wiimotes might allow you to aim quickly on the screen. But I don’t see it providing anymore accuracy than a mouse. When playing things on my Wii, the reaction time I’ve seen with the wiimote is actually significantly slower than my mouse. Even in things like the menu systems. I suspect some of that is the processing required to track the wiimote movements and sync them with the system. At best, it could be a draw, IMO.

More importantly, I don’t think it would give you the ability to do the high speed turn that allow you to spin and shoot. I know from experience that in shooters like UT and CS that one of the most important abilities is the ability to quickly do a 180 and be accurate. With my mouse, that takes about 2 inches of lateral movement. That’s the amount of speed an accuracy that console controllers have to contend with.

The only console I don’t have, the PS3, is supposed to support mouse/keyboard play. I don’t know how many games support that or how well it works. But that would be the only way I could see a fair match between consoles and PCs. Either that, or they’ll have to develop some other control system.

That’s probably lag introduced by your TV. If I don’t use component cables with my Wii, everything is visibly delayed. However, once I plugged in the component cables, the delay completely disappeared, since (I’m guessing) it doesn’t have to process the component signal (this will vary from TV to TV). I say this as one who plays games for a living and is annoyed by even the slightest delay–I was irked about the whole ‘Killzone 2 lag’ problem well before anyone else mentioned it.

Roulette, I see your points and if we adapted any current shooter to use Wiimote aiming the Wii player would definitely have issues with maneuverability. On the other hand the Wii player can pick off shots more easily in a wide field. Tracking a moving target should be easier for the Wiimote player as well. In an open field the PC player takes it but a smart Wiimote player could easily negate their advantage.

Either way it’s much better than the clunky double analogue sticks.