我的意思是，不妨看看《Ravenwood Fair》、《Frontierville》、《Social City》和《Cityville》。我认为以玩家角度来看，这个观点最大的问题是玩家玩《星际争霸》，但是他们并没有参与其中制作。
Game Design is not a Game
This post is a response to a post by Brenda Brathwaite on Inside Social Games you can find here.
Go read the article. If you want a one-sentence summary, basically, it’s that with social games, the feedback loop between implementation & user response is so short that you can essentially iterate on design like you’re playing a round of Starcraft.
Sometimes when I read something like this, I have a really viscerally negative reaction, and it often takes a day or two of digestion to figure out specifically what about it rubs me the wrong way – and this really, really rubbed me the wrong way.
First, just to throw it out there, Brenda Brathwaite, the author, and a lot of the people she quotes, from John Romero, to Steve Meretzky, to Brian Reynolds are people who have tons of experience in all kinds of game design, who have created works I highly, highly respect.
But I had a really negative reaction to this article, and it took me a while to figure out why. It’s contained simply in a single word in a quote from Don Daglow:
Don Daglow, another veteran game designer, watches the numbers like a general. Social game design is unique,he says, because you get a score for every facet of your performance every day. It’s like SEO on speed. How many first-time players came back the next day after the latest tutorial tweaks? What’s our DAU? How is monetization changing since we adjusted item prices? Did the test players like the new gorilla suit costume? All of business is a game, but the social games business has 24-hour scoreboards on every corner.
Catch that? Mr. Daglow nails the distinction on the head. The social games business is a game. The feedback on all kinds of metrics, DAU, MAU, Stickiness, ARPU, DARPA, NAMBLA, etc. give the business aspect of running a live social game the kind of real-time feedback that we’re really not used to having on the business side of making games.
Usually, you put out a game, you get some feedback from focus groups, and in a month or two worth of sales, you either succeed or fail and that’s more or less all the feedback you’d get. With social games, you can tell from one day to the next all kinds of things about how a player’s played. You can find out whether they were online longer, chatted more, spent more, quit, came back, told a friend, etc. etc. And somewhere in all that, there’s probably a way to tell if a player’s had more fun.
But I think the fundamental problem with viewing game design as a game is quite simple, and it’s essentially the difference between reading a book & writing it… or more aptly, playing a game of Starcraft and making Starcraft.
And I get that the point that Brathwaite is trying to make is that we’ve gotten to a point where playing the game and making the game are the same, but I just don’t think that’s the case – and it shows in the games.
I mean, look at Ravenwood Fair, and look at Frontierville. Look at Social City and Cityville. I think that to me as a player, the fundamental problem with “Social Games” is that everyone’s playing Starcraft, and no one’s making it.
When a game designer designs a game, they create a system of mechanics that a player interacts with. The design of that system influences how players behave. You’re not going to play Halo as a casual simulation of mundane social interactions between the humans and the Covenant. If you do that, you’ll be killed, and you’ll lose. You’re encouraged by the systems to learn to kill – but not just in any random killing – you learn to manage your health, and shields – to watch for flanking routes, to manage your weapon selection and ammo. And while the player’s given a lot of freedom within those systems, they’re absolutely constrained by them. You won’t play Halo competitively and win by walking really slowly.
And I think that that’s what you get when you see game design as a game – you play within the constraints. If you’re playing to maximize your stats while you’re “improv(ing) the best of their games’ features,” then you’ll optimize those features in exactly the same way, looking at exactly the same parameters. You start with Farmville, and you end with a hyper-optimized Farmville by “playing” the Farmville game design game, because that’s the “optimal” way of playing.
Now, contrast that with the view that the business of Social Games, or even that the business of game development is a game, and I think that you take the optimization, the stat tracking, and the constant firehose of feedback and data, and you’re talking about something that’s really genuinely exciting.
And honestly, I’d like to hope that that’s the point that Brathwaite’s making and that I’m just interpreting it in a sort of obtuse fashion. But the problem is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in this case, the proof of how people are designing games is in the games. And when you’ve got clones cannibalizing clones, it really does feel like everyone’s playing the same game, and has basically lost the plot.
Our goal? Let’s make something new. Let’s say, okay, here’s this new way of understanding the business of making games – so we can analyze successful or failed features faster, so that we can take something weird and unruly and strange and understand whether people value it, or are having fun with it. But we’re not going to lose sight of the fact that what we’re making is art, and we do have a responsibility, both to our players and to ourselves, to make something that moves things forward. （Source：selfawaregames）