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Dino Patti's mission to trigger the indie multiplayer revolution

Coherence CEO discusses his new company's tech and why smaller studios can have the biggest impact on multiplayer games

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Dino Patti wants to see more interesting and unique multiplayer games – and he believes those will come from the indie space.

Alongside his ongoing work at Jumpship, the Inside and Limbo producer is co-founder and CEO of a tech startup Coherence, which has developed a Unity SDK of the same name to make it easier for indie studios to add multiplayer functionality to their games.

Speaking to ahead of launch, Patti laments the "lack of innovation in the big games," noting that so much attention goes on the technology, that the core idea is often underwhelming.

"But with indies, just looking at what people have in their minds, if you get a game like Papers Please, it's single-players that fuck with your mind," he says. "How would that work if you gave Lucas Pope this technology where he could do multiplayer?"

Given his own experience with single-player games, he acknowledges that working on multiplayer tech may look like "such a weird shift" but insists it's the next natural iteration for his career.

"If indies knew they could make multiplayer and just get the idea out, we'd see so many crazy ideas"

"Single-player games lie so deep to my heart. But I have also been looking up to games like Journey," he explains. "The way you have this game that's essentially a walking simulator but the multiplayer part... ask any person about their experience there, they'll talk about the person they met. If I were to make a new game, it would be with user-generated stories.

"I kind of thought I could make games using user-generated stories or I could build this tool and do something that could revolutionise the way game developers look at multiplayer. It's easy for them to iterate, innovate and all these things and make a bigger change. So I thought if I make a cool that does these things and I help a lot of creative minds that are more creative than me to make games I could make a bigger change."

In a video demo, the Coherence team claim developers can transform a single-player game into a multiplayer experience within five minutes, demonstrating this by adding a second playable character to a simple fox-themed platformer. Patti describes the SDK as an "off-the-shelf network stack" which should negate the need for studios to build their own – an endeavour that's often time-consuming, expensive and difficult without the right expertise.

It's fitting that Coherence is available for Unity first (although a Unreal version is in the works), as Patti says it was inspired by the way the engine provider helped democratise games development.

"Before Unity, there was no single developer making games, and they made that person with an idea go back to their bedroom, sit for three years with this amazing idea and then come out with it," he says. "A lot of indies, if they knew they could make multiplayer and just get the idea out, we'd see so many crazy ideas that would go in any direction and a few of them would talk so deep to you and do something different that you haven't seen before like this."

He continues: "I have this dream of having a really quick developer building a game in a weekend and adding multiplayer and then they launch it [on the internet]. There's 50 people playing it. The next weekend, the dev looks at what happened, maybe it exploded, they had some boundaries, look again at it now. Every week, they release a new iteration and people follow this and it becomes bigger and bigger, and it's a game that's been built from the ground up around multiplayer and around testing for multiplayer. That's one of the big things in game development, as a game designer you want to test it out as faster as possible, see the user interaction.

"After a year would be such a crazy game that has never been possible before because this person would have spent six months developing a network stack for six months, then built the game on top of that."

Patti wants to see more indies explore the possibilities for multiplayer, similar to how Journey delivered a unique experience

While Coherence aims to make the implementation of multiplayer much easier, Patti notes that the biggest challenge still lies with the developer – actually making good multiplayer games.

"What's the gameplay like? What's fun? That's where the challenge will be – how to make this fun. We can easily connect players, but what's the interesting interaction?"

Again, he points to Journey and the unique nature of its multiplayer, enabling players to wordlessly share their struggles to reach the game's end goal atop a treacherous mountain. Despite the fact your actual interactions with other players are minimal – merely pinging them to get their attention – the impact of their presence is felt.

"Just having the option of bringing other people into your world and play together to come look at it [would be great]"

"In Journey, I had to leave at one point," Patti recalls. "I was with some random person, no idea who this person is. I came back and I remember I was so desperate to find this person again. He was gone and I looked around in the snow. I was trying to find this person because they meant so much to me in this moment. Then the game ended and it's a beautiful ending, but I was like 'What the fuck happened? Who am I? Did I leave him there to die or did they also have this beautful ending? What did he think?'

"Why has no-one else taken that blueprint and done a single-player where the single-player game stands on its own, but you have the chance of meeting somebody. Why is that not there? There are these amazing experiences to be had in multiplayer."

Similarly, he points to single-player games that have been hugely popular for enabling players to create their own experience, their own character and world, and yet it's nigh on impossible to share that with people. Skyrim, for example, lets you build a house via its DLC, display the weapons and artifacts found from your adventures, but the only way to show friends or family is to have them sit next to you as you play. The same, he says, applies to The Sims and SimCity.

"Just having the option of bringing other people and friends into your world and play together to come look at it [would be great]," he says. "Sometimes it's so stupid, these small things that you just want to do but do with other people. My son plays Roblox and he's playing something that is a really crappy clone of a big MMO and there are so many better MMOs but he played the Roblox version because he can play with friends."

Coherence is available today, and is free to download. When asked why this tech does not come with a price tag, Patti observes that running multiplayer games using involves paying for other online services.

"That means for a lot of people, it just stopped them right out," he explains. "They want to experiment and there's no money in experimenting. We make the majority of what we do free."

Free users receive 30,000 credits that can be "converted into concurrent user hours, simulator hours or even bandwidth," according to the website. More credits are available via paid plans, but Patti says the company has tried to make this as affordable as possible.

"If you really want to have something that's really creative, you need to make it free for longer," he concludes. "For us, it's all about unlocking this space. I went into this to revolutionise this and if we threw a hefty price tag on it, we would not revolutionise anything."

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James Batchelor avatar
James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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