Announcement: coherence 1.2 is now released! See what's new with 1.2

Multiplayer Unlocked, Sanity Saved

Arguably, I’m not the most technical person. Still, I have a degree in computer science and am curious to understand the technology that on our website, claims to unlock multiplayer. My seemingly simple solution to starting to understand this was to request that everyone on the team draw a picture of coherence. Short of realizing some previously unrecognized artistic skills, not much came of it.

coherence is technically complicated. Not a little complicated. Really complicated. Tech that has taken the better part of 5 years to think about, build, design, and test by a collection of people much, much smarter than me. And yet, like so many things, it is paradoxically simple to use.

And here, I want to take a moment to relay a recent conversation I had with Jan, our Head of Production. Both of us have been making games for a donkey’s age. More notably, we’ve worked as Development Directors on large multiplayer games. If you squint a little, this means that we’re responsible for organizing the schedule and people needed to create the game, which is then supposed to ship on time and within budget. I assure you, this is about as easy as stuffing an octopus into a string bag. It would be hard enough if it were a single-player game, but multiplayer is 354,271 times harder, give or take. It hurts. It is painful. I am not exaggerating. Jan lamented that he felt that people, unless they had made a multiplayer game, would never truly understand the power and grace that is coherence. Giving it some thought, I could only agree.

The obvious benefit of coherence is that you won’t need a networking department. The not-so-obvious benefit is that you can play your multiplayer game within days, something that traditionally takes months regardless of the chosen external or internal technology. This simple fact alone means that designers can actually feel how their game plays, which means that the level designers know what the restrictions for a level are, which means that the artists know what level of detail and how much art to make, which means that… I could go on for a while further down the chain. The upswing is that none of this work needs to be redone, which means that you have a much, much faster and smoother production. As a Development Director it means that you can better schedule what people you need and when; you don’t have to build in a buffer for redoing work, and you won’t have to tell despondent, tired, creative people that they need to redo their work.

At this point, the conversation was picking up speed. What happens when the designers change their minds? Rest assured, it happens more often than you think. It is, after all, the very heart of the creative process. Instead of 4-on-4, they want 16-on-16. They now want a persistent world. Nope, now they want it back to 4-on-4, but it’s going to be a space shooter instead of an FPS. Oh wait, now it needs to be an open world. We slowly realized that with any other technology, these would result in weeks, if not months, of turn-around. With coherence, it happens in minutes. We shared a contemplative moment of silence like only two experienced project managers can and wondered if others understood that coherence can bring your dreams to life, and then, with little thought given to schedules, time, budget, or artists' pain, you can still change your mind.


Our discussion became still when we touched on the topic of testing. Not much was said as we each clearly remembered the pressures of hitting a beta deadline on Crysis 2. At one point, I remarked that it was not dissimilar to trying to suck a watermelon through a straw. And yet, so much of this pressure is released by coherence. The simple—there again, this word!— fact that you can quickly and easily send out a build to anywhere in the world for anyone to test already reduces the complexity by 50%. No longer would we need to coordinate between different test sites while smelling Thai food that had been brought in for the evening work. It just works. No Thai food required.

Feeling somewhat jaded, we wondered why we had to have struggled through these kinds of productions, and where was coherence when we needed it. We started speaking of a mobile free-to-play we had worked on. 2 million MAU. We needed a DevOps person to make sure that the servers scaled accordingly and that they were located in the most cost-effective locations. Again, coherence does that for you. Right now.

Yup, coherence unlocks multiplayer. It also unlocks the freedom to gracefully and efficiently be creative, to build social experiences at dizzying speeds, to save production time and money by metric boat loads. Multiplayer Unlocked. Sanity Saved.

Written By

Senta Jakobsen

Published in: Tradecraft
January 30, 2024