Titanfall maps can contain nearly 50 combatants, between players and AI
As the semi-furore surrounding Titanfall's 6v6 maximum player-count reached its lukewarm fever-pitch, the game's producer took to the GAFcave, saying - among other things - "our playercount is not 6v6 because of AI - AI play their own role in the game." Despite that, the NPCs of the mecha-FPS will have an impact on proceedings. In an interview with Polygon, lead designer Justin Hendry revealed that - between man and machine - maps can contain nearly 50 combatants.
To break it down, each side contains not only 6 players, but potentially 6 Titans - one per player - and 12 AI soldiers helping out, for a total of 24 things per side. Given this, Respawn felt that higher player counts were breaking the game.
"The higher the player count, the more uncomfortable the game gets," he said. "Unlike in most games where you can sit there and guard the two ways in, in Titanfall the guy can come in through the window right behind you, he can come from the window to your left, he can come from straight ahead, he can come in from the stairway and he can come in from the doorway, or whatever. Essentially there are five directions you can get killed from and the higher that player count, the more likely you are to get killed from behind and the more difficult it is to kind of manage your surroundings."
"It just comes back to what makes the game fun," Hendry later said. "If you're making a game and you're making decisions that's not based on fun because you're trying to please someone or trying to match numbers, you're not doing the right thing.
"Why not make Call of Duty 256 players, or Battlefield 256 or 512? Maybe that would be awesome. Maybe that would be awesome for that type of game built around that, but you can't just jam players into a game and say this is what is ordained."
Part of the backlash seems to be about players wanting to define the parameters of their own fun, which - for the most part - is an entirely healthy and reasonable response. And, in a time when fewer games are allowing the potential mods, custom mutators or even dedicated servers, it's perhaps natural that any form of restriction is met with hostility.
The problem comes when arbitrary numbers are used as a yardstick of quality before the game is out. If, on release, Titanfall does feel lacking, that's a fair criticism to level at it. But until we get the chance to play the game and make that decision, we're guessing based on assumed information. And yes, player choice should be encouraged, but if a higher player count actively works against the game, it seems unlikely that Respawn would want it to be raised. Ultimately, we'll find out if that's the right decision on the 13th March.
You can read Hendry's full comments over at Polygon.