Tidalis:Multiplayer Basics

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Tidalis has a lot of flexibility for what you can do in multiplayer modes, and all of the content in the game can be played with at least two players (even 3-4 players during network play). The basic scenarios are so simple that anyone can just pick them up and play them, but some of the various permutations and options are subtle enough that the full power of what is available to you might not be immediately apparent.

Multiple Game Boards Vs Multiple Players

One very important distinction when discussing Tidalis multiplayer is the difference in having multiple boards versus having multiple players.


Two Players On One Computer In One Board

At any time in a single player game, you can use up to two cursors in a single board: the mouse cursor and the keyboard cursor.

On the one hand, this means that you can simply pick which style of control you prefer.

  • You can even use a hybrid of both, using the mouse cursor for most things, but the keyboard for specific hotkeys (like Fast Forward and Ultra Fast Forward, in particular). Most expert players are likely to find this to be the fastest way to play solo.

On the other hand, this means that you can have one player working the keyboard while another works the mouse.

  • In other words, at any time while you are playing "single player" with the mouse, a second player can walk up and start controlling the keyboard cursor (or vice-versa).

When you are playing with two cursors in one board, the game doesn't know if you have two players or just one; it assumes one, and logs a single name to the high scoreboards, etc. However, this is just as valid way of playing multiplayer as any other, and is the most robust drop-in/drop-out type of co-op that we can imagine.

That said, playing together in a single board has a number of limitations:

  • You are still only able to trigger a single stream at a time within that board (it's not per-player).
  • With two players moving around in the same board, that can be confusing for some folks (for others, it works just fine).
  • Only one player name is logged to the high scores, and you can't do things like set different difficulties per player.
  • Because of the way the networking works for the game, playing together in a single board can't work with players that are different computers; you can only share a board if you are sitting at the same computer with the other player.
  • You obviously can't play VS modes against the other player if you're both in the same board.
    • But, the two of you can play VS against the AI this way (more on this in the section on VS, below).
  • The co-op-specific modes are visible in this style of play, because they all require multiple game boards (more on this in the section on Co-Op, below).

Two Players On One Computer In Two Boards

We said the multiplayer options for Tidalis are flexible, right? The game lets you play with a second board in either single-computer or multi-computer play. To play with a second board while you are just playing with two people sitting at the same computer, click the "1 Player" button on the main menu.

On the Player Settings window that pops up, you can enable or disable the second player having their own second board. You can also change the name of both the first and second players, and you can set a handicap for each one, and you can turn on or off "co-op items" for each one individually (more on that in the section on Co-Op, below).

Normally the mouse controls the left (first) board, and the keyboard controls the right (second) board. However, you can switch this in the Settings screen if you wish. When you have two players each with their own board, this leaves no room for the AI to have a board of its own, so you can't play against the AI in VS mode with multiple boards. You can only play against each other.


Network Play: Two Players Each On Their Own Computer

There is an entire section on the specifics of network play, but the basic idea is that you have two players each with their own computer and their own copy of Tidalis, and they want to play together. These two players might be in the same room, or on different continents. It doesn't matter which.

In Network Play, you always have to play with two boards, players can't share a single board across the network. Each player has their own name and score and all that good stuff, and basically this works just like the "Two Players On One Computer In Two Boards" section above, just with two computers instead of one.

In this case, generally the game "host" is on the left, and the "client" is on the right. The host is just the player who advertises that they want to play a game, and the client is the player who sees that advertisement across either the local network or the Internet, and decides to connect. Other than that, there's no difference between the client and the host.


Network Play: Three Or Four Players Can Actually Play Together

During network play, each player has their own board, right? And their own computer -- each with their own keyboard AND mouse. Both the keyboard and mouse work just fine for each computer's game board, which means that each computer can support two players locally. That may have sounded confusing, but it's actually pretty simple -- here's an example:

  • Bob Is On Computer A
  • Mary Is On Computer B
  • When Bob and Mary connect via Network Play, each one can use their own keyboard and mouse to control their individual boards.
  • If Bob has Bob Jr. sitting with him, Bob Jr. could work the keyboard while Bob works the mouse.
  • Similarly, if Mary's friend Sue is sitting in the same room with her, Sue can take over the keyboard while Mary works the mouse.
  • And... voila. You have Bob, Bob Jr., Mary, and Sue all playing together using two game boards across network play.

Tidalis


Making Use Of Co-Op Functionality

Co-Op Play In Any Game Mode

Assuming that you've read the above section on "Multiple Game Boards Vs Multiple Players," most of the basics of co-op should be pretty apparent, for the two basic options:

  • When playing "single player," a second person can join in and control the mouse at any time. This also works when you're playing with or against other players in network play, so this is how you can have three or four players playing co-op (or VS) at once. Nothing special is needed here, a second player just sits down and starts using the keyboard controls while the first uses the mouse (or vice-versa). This also works for two players on one computer playing against the AI in versus modes.
  • Alternatively, there is multi-board co-op, where you have either two players on a single computer with their own game board, or two players playing together over the network. This also works in any game mode, and simply requires that you either connect via Network Play, or click the "1 Player" button at the bottom of the game menu, and enable the second player. Then you just start playing, and you're off to the races with two players each in their own board. The only thing you can't do together in this mode is play against the AI in versus modes.

At the most basic level, if you just want to play the game with two people instead of by yourself, that's all you need to know to get started. But there are some other features you may find helpful or fun, and that's what we'll talk about next.


Multi-Board Co-Op Features

When you're playing multi-board co-op (either on one computer with two boards, or via network play), there are some options you can use to fine-tune your experience in the Players window at the bottom of the main menu.

Handicaps

These can also be used in solo and in VS modes, but it's very helpful in co-op when you have two players with differing skill levels. It's no fun if one of the players is always doing badly and losing, or the other player is always doing so well that things are never a challenge and every level is won with ease.

Using handicaps, found in the Players window at the bottom of the main menu, you can make things either harder or easier for each player individually. That way every player has a chance to contribute, and no players are bored. For players that are struggling, give them a positive handicap and blocks will fall slower and they will get more bonuses like white blocks. For players that are breezing through, give them a negative handicap and blocks will fall faster and they will get fewer bonuses.

You probably want to start out without giving either player a handicap, but as soon as one player is struggling or bored, start tuning it to find what works for you. You can change this between each level you play, which makes it very easy to use. But you will need to restart the current level before the changes would take effect to it if you're right in the middle of an existing level.

During network play, players that select a positive handicap will have to get the approval of the other player before that handicap can be used. This prevents players from cheating in VS modes.

Co-Op Items

In normal gameplay, items aren't very common. Throughout the adventure story, items are rarely used, and they also aren't available in quick games unless you play the Item Survival mode. So really, items normally only come up in custom games or in specific levels that use them.

For purposes of co-op, this seems like kind of a shame, right? Because part of good co-op play means actually being able to interact with your partner, not just both working towards the same goal at the same time. This is where co-op items come in. When these are enabled (as they are by default), in multi-board co-op you'll get co-op items every so often. These are special versions of the various helpful items in the game -- they can only be used to help your partner, never to help yourself.

This encourages teamwork and cross-talk between the two players, and lets a player "save" a partner who is in trouble. This also has the side effect of making the game a bit easier, but you can easily compensate by either giving yourself negative handicaps, or simply playing harder levels. We leave that to you and your tastes. If you don't like the co-op items, you can turn them off for one or both players in the Players window off the main menu.

Brainteasers

Normally, solving brainteasers is kind of a solo activity, isn't it? So how on earth could you play co-op with this? Well, this mode certainly isn't as interactive as other co-op modes, but there are still a number of benefits to playing co-op here.

Here's how it works: each player has their own board, as usual, and their own copy of the brainteaser. As each player makes moves and tries to solve the brainteaser, their partner can of course watch. Cross-talk and joint strategizing is always helpful.

When one player fails the brainteaser (as will usually happen many times before a solution is found), it doesn't end the level -- instead, there is a little Revive button that pops up next to their board. The mouse player can click it to revive themselves, and the keyboard player can press R to revive themselves. None of this affects the other player.

This setup leads to many different possible ways to do brainteasers together:

  • Each player can simply try to solve the brainteaser independently, or the players can even race to see who comes up with a solution first.
  • The players can discuss the solution and keep their boards mostly in sync, just trying out different next steps on one board or the other -- an excellent way to "keep your place" if you're in the middle of a complex puzzle.
  • And of course there are various permutations of the above.


Co-Op-Specific Rulesets

If you're not playing with multiple boards, you won't even see these rulesets available (since the AI doesn't play co-op with you), so some players miss that these options even exist at first. But make sure you don't miss these, because they're extremely fun.

When you have either enabled the second game board on your single computer, or have fired up network play, go into either Quick Game or Custom Game under the Play menu. See that dropdown that says "Player Rules?" You'll now find three new options there:

  • Co-Op - Sun Or Moon
    • Sun and moon blocks can only be cleared in alternating order: sun-moon-sun or moon-sun-moon.
    • In this co-op mode, one player gets occasional moon blocks, while the other gets occasional sun blocks. Every time a player clears a chain, they gain one sun or moon item per 3 blocks in the chain (the item matches the blocks in their well).
    • To win, each player must use these items on the well of their partner in order to enable their partner to complete these sorts of chains.
  • Co-Op - Item Buddies
    • In this co-op mode, 4x as many helpful co-op items are seeded into each well compared to normal (even if a player has co-op items disabled). Players can only use co-op items on the well of their partner.
  • Co-Op - Block Vaporizer
    • In this co-op mode, every time a player completes a chain it vaporizes the most-dangerous block of the same color on their partner's well. One block is vaporized per every 3 blocks cleared.

Tidalis

Making Use Of VS Functionality

So you want to play some head-to-head Tidalis against another player or an AI, do you? You're in luck, there's a ton of functionality of this sort. Just start up a new Quick Game or Custom Game, and look under Player Rules. You'll find three different overall rulesets for playing the game, and you can combine various game styles, special blocks, and so forth to make your experience even more wildly varied.

If you are playing in 1 Player mode (or two players sharing the same board, which is the same thing as far as the game is concerned), then when you select a VS ruleset, it will pit you against an AI opponent. If you are playing with two players either over the network or via multi-board play on a single computer, then it will be a Player VS Player game between the two boards.

That's all there is to it!

Limited VS AI, Full VS Human

So what exactly does "limited VS AI" mean? Well, it means that the AI doesn't use items, and can't play in all of the game styles or with all of the special blocks. However, when you play against another person in VS mode, you can use absolutely any of the game styles and special blocks, and all the items you want. There are no limits at all on Player VS Player play.

So, why the limitation with the AI? The VS AI was a comparably minor feature for this game, and we didn't want to limit the special blocks and game styles to just the sorts of functionality that an AI would be good at playing with. So instead we just limited the AI to being able to use the functionality it would be good at using, which seemed the best way to satisfying the needs and desires of every group of players as well as we could.

VS Rulesets

There are three overall rulesets, but you can make the experience even more hugely varied by using game styles, special blocks, items, and similar to tailor the experience however you want.

  • VS - Garbage Battle
    • Play against the AI, or another player. Complete chains and combos to drop garbage blocks on your opponent.
  • VS - Endurance
    • Play against the AI, or another player. Automatically applies both the Speed-Up game style and and Endless time limit in addition to whatever other settings you select. The game gets increasingly fast until someone loses.
  • VS - Freeform
    • Play against the AI, or another player. There are no particular rules, it's just the last player standing. You can use game styles and other Custom Game options to really custom-tailor the type of game you want.

Handicaps

If you read about handicaps above, in the co-op section, you already know everything you need to know. For those who are only interested in VS mode, read on:

Handicaps can also be used in solo and in co-op modes, but it's very helpful in VS when you have two players with differing skill levels who still want to be able to play against one another. If the same player crushes the other one every time, you won't wind up playing for very long or having much fun.

Using handicaps, found in the Players window at the bottom of the main menu, you can make things either harder or easier for each player individually. That way you can balance out your skill differential, and both players stand a chance of winning your matchups. For players that are struggling, give them a positive handicap and blocks will fall slower and they will get more bonuses like white blocks. For players that are breezing through, give them a negative handicap and blocks will fall faster and they will get fewer bonuses.

You probably want to start out without giving either player a handicap, but as soon as one player is clearly starting to dominate, you can start setting handicaps for one or both players. You can change this between each level, which makes it very easy to use. But you will need to restart the current level before the changes would take effect to it if you're right in the middle of an existing level.

During network play, players that select a positive handicap will have to get the approval of the other player before that handicap can be used. This prevents players from taking unfair advantage. If a player ever decreases their handicap, or sets their handicap to a negative value, it doesn't seek permission from the other player -- you're only making it more difficult on yourself, which is your business.

Tidalis