iOS游戏《Where’s my Water》开发者介绍项目由来
Tim FitzRandolph刚加入Disney Mobile游戏团队时的起点非常之低——他在迪士尼的首份工作就是在QA部门担任游戏测试人员。
但FitzRandolph那时也在开发自己的游戏，希望能够借此接触迪士尼的游戏设计工作。在苹果宣布将推出App Store后，FitzRandolph决定尝试推出自己的iPhone游戏，其中有一款游戏被迪士尼挑中，也就是后来非常有名的《Jelly Car》系列。他为Disney Mobile开发的第二款原创游戏，也就是担任游戏设计总监时推出的作品就是最近备受赞誉的iOS益智游戏《Where’s My Water》。
他表示，“我真的不是很喜欢住在盐湖城，所以就回到了加州。在那个时候我还要四处推销关于《Jelly Car》续集的想法”。当时他已经在独立开发《Jelly Car》，原先打算将其投放于微软Xbox平台，“我当时就想，也许我可以制作一个物理系统，由此制作一个自定义的汽车，在开发过程中进行试验，于是我用它做了大量试验，但并没有一个明确的游戏想法。除了尝试做一辆小汽车，还制作了一件小物体让它进行物理运动。所以我想你也许可以利用一个小物体，制造些许障碍，然后理解类似这种情况的逻辑关系。”
当App Store终于登陆iPhone平台时，FitzRandolph感觉App Store这个系统可能适合运行自己的游戏，于是他就出去买了一部iPod Touch辅助游戏开发工作。“我把游戏放到iPod Touch上，发现运行效果非常不错。”然后他向迪士尼展示了这款游戏，并向当时正在寻找游戏开发题材的迪士尼移动部门推销这款游戏续集的想法，后者就同意与他合作发布这款游戏。
FitzRandolph称与迪士尼这种著名公司一起合作开发自己的游戏这种感觉很奇妙，但同时也难免产生压力。“我之前从没想过《Jelly Car》的规则或风格到底应该是什么样子，看到第一批资产出炉的时候，我觉得它们并不像《Jelly Car》，迪士尼团队就问我觉得这款游戏究竟应该是怎样。我并没有真正想透这个问题，因为它确实只是我的个人想法。但这段经历确实很令人兴奋，成为迪士尼团队的一分子真不错。”
除了《Jelly Car 2》，FitzRandolph团队后来还开发了《Jelly Car 3》，这两款游戏的表现都很不俗。完工之后他们都在寻思下一个项目该是什么游戏。他们参考App Store最热门的游戏类型，打算开发一款物理益智游戏，最后产生了很多带有实际玩法的头脑风暴和迭代过程。
据他所言，“当时我们有大量想法，后来决定采用水的元素，很少人在水的物理运动上作文章。但我们都知道水花飞溅和流动的样子，就认为可以由此制作一款与水有关的物理游戏。”这个团队根据在触摸屏上的水流转向效果制作了一个原型，这个原型造就了后来的《Where’s my Water》。“大家都很喜欢这个原型，得到足够的热烈反映之后，我们就开始动工制作真正的游戏。”
《Where’s my Water》确实为迪士尼带来了声誉和口碑，迪士尼也很看好这个产品，并将其中的Swampy the Alligator这只小鳄鱼称为新迪士尼角色，这可能是迪士尼首次通过iOS游戏得到的IP。FitzRandoph称创造出一个强大的角色是游戏开发的自然结果，并不是因为迪士尼需要IP才催生了这个角色。“我们希望创造一个具有许多个性的好角色形象，它可以为游戏中的谜题带来活力。另外也可以由此延伸出更多故事，拓宽其发展领域（游戏邦注：例如其他媒介形式），而不仅是局限于iOS游戏。”
谈到团队及其个人的下一个目标时，FitzRandoph表示他们仍在为《Where’s my Water》开发新内容，这款游戏最近刚进行了一次较大规模的更新，“我们还计划推出更多新内容，我们都在想法添加新玩法、新关卡等等……”他也有可能推出其他新游戏，但目前侧重于《Where’s my Water》这款游戏的开发工作。
Where’s my Water creator goes from QA to hit game designer at Disney Mobile
by Mike Schramm
Tim FitzRandolph joined Disney Mobile’s gaming team from the lowest rung possible: The Quality Assurance department. Game testers often work long hours on early versions of unfinished games, and FitzRandolph’s first job was no exception.
“I studied film studies and nothing to do with games, and also studied the Japanese language. And I had lived in Japan for a couple of years, so I was fluent in Japanese,” he remembers in a recent interview with TUAW. “I didn’t know what to do, and I settled down on a job listing on Disney for QA testing on an upcoming game, and they wanted someone bilingual. That was actually my kind of thing, my way in the door. I got to work on this game called Spectrobes, which was a DS game that Disney created with a team in Japan, so they needed someone to help do the testing and translate the bugs and communicate with the dev team.”
But FitzRandolph was also working on his own titles, continually trying to get into actual game design at Disney. When the App Store was announced, FitzRandolph decided to try and make his own iPhone games. One of those games was eventually picked up by Disney and became the very popular Jelly Car series. And FitzRandolph’s second, original game for Disney Mobile, in the position he eventually earned as Game Design Director, is the critically acclaimed and top grossing puzzler Where’s My Water.
It took a little while for FitzRandolph to join Disney’s mobile gaming department, however. From his position as a go-between for the US and Japanese devs on Spectrobes, he first got offered to go work on the console version of the Toy Story 3 game in Salt Lake City. He says that position taught him a lot, but Salt Lake City didn’t turn out to be the place for him.
“I didn’t really enjoy living in Salt Lake very much, so I came back to California,” he says. “And somewhere in that timeline I had also pitched the idea of doing a sequel to Jelly Car, which I had made on my own time as like a hobby project.” FitzRandolph had been working on Jelly Car on his own for a while, and says it was first concieved as a project in Microsoft’s XNA development system for the Xbox. “I was like, maybe I can try making a physics system that would sort of create a custom car, just experiment. When I got it working, I just did a lot of experiments with it, but I didn’t really have an idea for a game. Except for making a little test for a car, create a little object to do the physics work. So I thought you might have a little object and you can make obstacles and get across gaps and stuff like that.”
When the App Store finally opened up on the iPhone, FitzRandolph says he felt it might fit the system that he’d made, so he went out and bought an iPod touch to develop on. “I got it working on the iPod touch, and it worked well enough.” He then showed it around Disney, and when he pitched the idea of a sequel to the mobile division, which was looking for games to make at the time, Disney agreed to make and publish the title with him.
FitzRandolph says it was exciting to have a famous company like Disney working on something he’d created himself, but that it was a little overwhelming as well. “I had never thought about what was Jelly Car, like what are the rules or style or whatever. In the first round of assets, I’d look at it and say that doesn’t look like Jelly Car, and they’d ask what it was supposed to look like. I’d not really thought about that stuff, because it had always been this really personal thing. But it was really exciting, and it’s really cool to be a part of that.”
FitzRandolph’s team not only finished up Jelly Car 2, but then went on to make Jelly Car 3, both of which did well for Disney. And after that, he and the team (which they call “Creature Feep,” after a problem many devs will find familiar called “feature creep”) started thinking about what to make next. They wanted to make a physics puzzler, given how popular those have been on the App Store, but coming up with the actual gameplay involved a lot of brainstorming and iteration, says FitzRandolph.
“We had a whole bunch of ideas, and at some point along the line, it kept coming back that water, water was very fresh and people hadn’t done a lot of physics around water,” he remembers. “But it was also really successful in that we all know how water splashes and flows and it might be fun to make a puzzle game around that.” The team put together a prototype based around diverting the flow of water with touch controls, and of course that eventually became Where’s My Water. “People liked it, really loved the prototype, and then we got enough response on that that we started making the actual game.”
The other elements of the game, involving a cute backstory about underground alligators who need water to take a shower and stay clean, came later on. “We basically realized that this stuff was directly connected to earth and dirt, and there were a lot of little gameplay cues that we felt like were going to be hard to explain,” FitzRandolph says, “so we stopped and brainstormed about the story and what the visual elements could indicate.” The team wanted to use the water to fill something underground, perhaps to a certain line, but struggled to figure out what logically would need water in that way. “What kind of things could we fill up underground? A bathtub would be cool but that doesn’t make any sense underground. Well maybe it does,” laughs FitzRandolph, “What about alligators living under the city? And it sort of snowballed from that.”
Where’s My Water has done really well for Disney, so much so that the company says it has found a new official Disney character in Swampy the Alligator, probably the first time Walt Disney’s legendary studio has taken IP directly from an iOS game, instead of the other way around. FitzRandolph says coming up with a strong character was part of development, but not just because Disney wanted IP. “We wanted to come up with a really good character that had a lot of personality — it brings a lot of life to the puzzles. But also hopefully will have a big enough world that we might want to do a story about it that’s not just our game, also in another format.”
“We were concerned,” he adds, “that maybe alligators in general are not the most cuddly animals, but we felt like hopefully it will work out.” And so far, it has, as the game still continues to do well on the App Store.
What’s next for FitzRandolph and his team at Disney? He says they’re still working hard on new content for Where’s My Water. The game has just recently gotten a big new update, “and we have plans for several more of those, so we’re all coming up with new gameplay, new levels, and things like that. Especially as the game continues to do well,” he says, “we want to continue to support it.” Presumably he will eventually release another title, but right now it’s all followup on the current release.
As for FitzRandolph, he says he’s happy to be doing what he’s doing. Disney Mobile obviously appreciates having him around these days, making hit games for them, even if he did first get his foot just inside the door of the QA department.（source:tuaw）