Created By: Makbeth on June 27, 2011

Divorce Mode

"Cooperative" gameplay modes that have a good chance of creating real-life fistfights

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Page Type:
Trope
The term "Divorce Mode" comes from Penny Arcade's Tycho discussing New Super Mario Brothers Wii, referring to the fact that you will die more often by your friends than by your enemies, even though (at first, anyway) you are all trying to work together.

Either intentionally or unintentionally, hardly two minutes can pass without someone taking power-ups they don't need, blocking progress, jeopardizing the entire party, collapsing platforms that everyone else has yet to get to, attracting undesired attention, or even directly causing the death of a team member or the party.

All co-op games have this, to some degree, but a true Divorce Mode means that these are both inevitable and frequent enough that it is unwise to play for more than 30 minutes at a time, and then only when everyone is in a good mood. Seriously suggesting a session of Divorce Mode while one or more participants is in a bad mood may be taken as an act of hostility.
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • June 27, 2011
    ayjazz
    Can overlap with Stop Having Fun Guys.

    One example is zombie co-op games, like Left 4 Dead, Nazi Zombies, and Killing Floor. These games, on their hardest levels, require good teamwork, and one player with one mistake can compromise the entire time.
  • June 27, 2011
    Earnest
    A Leeroy Jenkins will only aggravate the above.

    Compare Right Hand Versus Left Hand.
  • June 27, 2011
    MetaFour
    When Pokecapn and his friend Lets Play-ed Sonic Colors, they called the multiplayer mode "Asshole Co-op", and they noted its similarities to co-op mode in New Super Mario Bros Wii.
  • June 27, 2011
    billybobfred
    Battletoads. You can damage your partner, if either of you dies, you both start the level over... And if you make it far enough, a certain level is impossible to win.

    (maybe someone who has actually played it can elaborate)
  • June 28, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Card games: bridge.
  • June 28, 2011
    Confusion567
    Should this include competitive modes that can break up families (Mario Party, Mario Kart... Incidentally, Mario seems to be a real jerk as far as modes are concerned)?

    Even so, I'd say
    • Little Big Planet and the sequel frequently have cooperative events where players can only pass with the help of another player, particuarly in user-created levels. Depending on the players (and on the cruelty of the creator), this can lead to some serious frustration. When you include the Slap feature, which temporarily stuns and knocks down a slapped sackboy, it's very easy to cause an ally to be hit by a bomb or get knocked down a Bottomless Pit or meet any number of unpleasant fates.
      • It gets even worse since it's single-screen co-op, and staying off the screen too long means automatic death. The camera is also somewhat arbitary about who it follows, so one person falling down a long pit can drag the screen away from the other three, making them all pop like balloons.
  • July 1, 2011
    EnemyMayan
    It's possible, in two-player mode of Double Dragon (at least, the arcade version) to attack and even kill your partner. Most people do it accidentally the first time, then realize it's much more fun to attack their partner than computer-controlled targets and keep on doing it just to be dicks.
  • July 1, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    Any game that doesn't have "friendly fire" mechanics (that is, taking no damage from your own side's attacks) can be prone to this.

    Usually, a Griefer is responsible for a lot of the drama caused by this trope.
  • July 1, 2011
    BrightBlueInk
    Not 100% sure this is an example, but I thought I'd mention it--Castle Crashers usually has friendly fire off for it's co-op, but when a Princess is rescued it suddenly forces everyone playing to battle each other for her hand.
  • July 1, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    In Streets Of Rage, if one player takes the Big Bad's offer and the other one refuses, after he gets taken down, the two players then battle until only one is left standing. If the "bad" player wins, he becomes the new Big Bad in the Bad End.
  • July 1, 2011
    hevendor717
    The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords, and Four Swords Adventures even more so.
  • July 1, 2011
    Lomerell
    Worldof Warcraft: Raids and battlegrounds. "It may be YOUR $15 but when you wipe the whole raid, it's OUR $150.00."

    Contra: Jumping too high in a vertical level kills a player at the bottom. Hovering at the left end of the screen keeps the other player from advancing. Not to mention weapon stealing.

  • July 1, 2011
    Strife89
    Armagetron Advanced can be this in team play. Many, MANY deaths will be caused by the one newbie whose reflexes with the game haven't caught up with the other players'. (Guilty, incidentally.)

    In the NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project, both players can hurt each other, leading to many lost lives. If one player looses all their lives but the other player is still going, the former can steal a life from the latter. This can easily incite rage if the "better" player has less than three lives and is low on health.
  • July 2, 2011
    EnaiSiaion
    Moba games like League Of Legends do this. You need to depend on your team to get anything done, and if just one player on your team is not up to snuff you lose. Even if you're playing with real life friends, watching their mistakes kill you and make you lose can lead to frustration and insults.
  • July 2, 2011
    pinkdalek
    A frequent theme in Two Best Friends Play, who make every game into this. The best example of it in action is in their playthrough of Kirbys Epic Yarn, though.
  • July 2, 2011
    StarryEyed
    Ugh, this one definitely needs a Troper Tales page. Trying to have a "family game" of Age Of Empires against decently hard AI opponents WILL lead to a fight, because someone will be right next to the ultra-agressive AI who is doing its best to defeat them before they can make it into the Castle Age. And whoever is being attacked WILL bitch out the rest of the players for not sending enough troops/resources to their aid.
  • July 2, 2011
    Prfnoff
    We have something similar in Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode. Differentiate the two if we're going to have both.
  • December 4, 2012
    Lomerell
    Just had a serious look at Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode. According to the description, it applies to games designed for one player, which doesn't match some of the examples here. Whether games like Contra or New Super Mario Bros Wii are "designed for one player" is open to debate. Age Of Empires is certainly designed for multiplayer, but the mode cited for inclusion here is highly specific.

    My earlier example of high pressure MMO raiding doesn't apply to Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode, but it certainly creates enough drama to be considered a Divorce Mode.

    I'd say Divorce Mode doesn't apply to arena-style competition (Mario Kart) where the PURPOSE is to battle each other. Rather, if kept, it should refer to modes where your goal is cooperative, but either through mistakes, competitiveness or cruelty, players become detrimental to each other.
  • December 20, 2013
    Lomerell
    Bumping this because every time I explain "Divorce Mode" to a friend/gamer, they're like, "Oh yeah, that's a great trope." But every time I return here, zero progress. Clearly, I haven't had time to babysit it over the last 300+ days but I still believe it's a trope.
  • December 20, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    How can this have two hats when the draft doesn't even have a single example listed? Hat is a sign that the draft is ready to launch in its current state. This one isn't even close to that.
  • December 21, 2013
    DAN004
    Isn't this Griefer?
  • December 21, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ probably got some of OP's friends hatting it.

    btw, this is largely YMMV and even if it isn't it cannot have examples just like the other No Examples Please tropes.
  • January 7, 2014
    Lomerell
    I'm confused. There are examples listed on this page.
  • January 7, 2014
    Lomerell
    A griefer is someone who deliberately ruins gameplay for others.

    Divorce Mode is a gameplay type where the game mechanics make cooperating players as much a hazard to each other as anything in the game. Super Mario Wii would be the ur-example that I'm familiar with due to being the first Mario sidescroller with simultaneous multiplayer AND collision detection between players. Meaning that whether you make your jump across each hole depends greatly on whether another player got in your way or not... by accident. So it's easy to become frustrated with each other due to the difficulty of the game.

    A good rule of thumb would be any game where the cooperative multiplayer is HARDER than the single player mode. A griefer might exploit these mechanics but Divorce Mode are gameplay types where players interfere with each other even when they're TRYING to cooperate.
  • January 7, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Tell me, are you Makbeth?

    I like your description :)
  • January 8, 2014
    Lomerell
    I'm not; reading through his description I see where this ventures into "griefer" territory, but my interpretation was closer to what I wrote above.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=17bpbrse9gmtgvlf8wh7gwey