One Man Left创始人谈工作室情况及游戏设计
感谢你接受我们的采访，Adam。能否分享更多有关One Man Left的情况，谈谈此工作室如何形成？
One Man Left是双人工作室，由我这名美工和程序员Alex组成。我们从中学起就开始利用业余时间制作自己的PC和X-Box游戏，虽然上完中学我们就分开到不同城市。我的专业是电影，从没想过要以制作游戏谋生，但这是个有趣的创造过程。
大学毕业后，Alex决定制作“真正的”游戏，以此作为自己的事业。他通过iPhone开发工具独自制作出粗糙的倾斜模型。后来我们双双回故乡——阿拉巴马州蒙哥马利市，此时他首次同我分享《Tilter Space》（游戏邦注：后来被称作《Tilt to Live》）。玩过一会儿后，我一面告诉他游戏很棒，一面哀叹自己得腾时间帮他完善美工内容。当时我兼做平面设计，且还打算利用业余时间写剧本。
投身项目不久后，我发现自己依然非常钟情游戏设计，非常着迷于《Tilt to Live》。我们需要保持内容的简单性，因为我们所用的是业余时间，但武器和模式的潜在发挥空间无穷无尽。我们完全可以全职进行这项工作！幸运的是，《Tilt to Live》反响很好，我们完全可以放弃自己白天的工作，现在我们开始全心投入游戏设计。
我从小就拒绝玩电子游戏；我只看。我好看哥哥在NES玩《洛克人2&3》，《忍者龙剑传 2》是我的最爱。然后我就跑到外面，制作我自己的关卡&故事。我高中才真正开始玩游戏。《Silent Hill》系列将永远留在我心里，而《班卓与卡祖》至今仍然让我颇为兴奋。我喜欢注重氛围的游戏，因为这类游戏所营造的世界非常逼真。
One Man Left是相当新的工作室，自你们发行首款作品以来，手机游戏行业发生什么变化？
我觉得，主题和玩法从某些方面看互相渗透。二者都可以充当我们的着手点，我们会在开发过程中不断添加和调试这些元素。例如，在《Tilt to Live》中，spike shield最初只是纯粹的玩法设置。我们设有固定武器，能够让玩家所向披靡一小段时间，但我们需要让整个过程变得富有满足感。游戏最初就像翻版《Mario Star》，但其效仿意味过重，所以我们最终将主题定为spike grinder。而Frostbite模式最初的主题风格是“采用只基于冰的模式”；我们得判断其运作效果。我们对此都非常敏感，因为我倾向基于主题思考，而Alex则更注重玩法。
个性在我看来是必要条件，或是沉浸性。我们没有类似作品，但我是《塞尔达》、《Batman: Arkham City》、《死亡空间》和Retro Studios《银河战士》系列的忠实粉丝。游戏带我进入独特的世界，享受到很棒的音乐。我们在音乐方面还有很大的提升空间。
《Outwitters》是款多人回合策略游戏。玩起来有点像《超级大战略》，但其实不然。我们的目标是创造让不懂策略的用户也能轻松上手的游戏，同时确保游戏具有足够深度，能够留住高级玩家。游戏的目标是既呈现《Words with Friends》风格，又融入Pass n’ Play模式。
我不知道《Tilt to Live》最终如何取得成功；我们确实没有营销天赋。我们制作电子游戏，将作品发给若干从未听过我们名字的人士，然后获得可喜曝光，苹果跟风推荐我们的作品（游戏邦注：推荐若干次）。此时游戏便开始起飞。我们后来陆续推出更新内容，旨在维持用户的兴趣；这显然有所帮助。游戏并没有大红大紫，但对我们来说是个很好的开始。1年后，游戏在App Store不那么起眼了，虽然售价2.99美元，而非人们极力主张的0.99美元，但其运作效果依然比我们的预期好很多。
坦白讲，我投身独立领域的时间不长。但最令我印象深刻的是《Silent Hill: Shattered Memories》。游戏呈现非常独特的体验，会“观察”玩家，在体验过程中调整角色。游戏不会就角色进行细微调整，但此举非常有创意，我从未体验过这类游戏。就最近的来说，Twisted Pixel的Kinect游戏《Gunstringer》融入许多有趣的混合媒介构思，游戏将玩法同视频结合起来，变得统一的体验内容。
Interview with Adam Stewart, Co-founder of One Man Left
Thanks for joining us Adam. Can you tell us a bit about who One Man Left is and how it was formed?
One Man Left is a game designing duo, consisting of Adam the Artist & Alex the Codesmith. We worked on some of our own PC and X-Box games as a hobby through high school and college, though we moved to separate cities after high school. I was a film major with no intention of making games for a living, but they were a fun creative distraction.
Some time after college, Alex decided to make a “real” game, one he could start a career on. He got an iPhone dev kit and made a rough tilting prototype all on his lonesome. We were both back in our hometown of Montgomery, Alabama – I think at a burger joint – when he first shared Tilter Space with me (later renamed Tilt to Live). I played a little, said that’s nice, and lamented that I’d have to find time to help him with artwork. I had a freelance graphic design business to run, and wanted to write screenplays in my spare time.
It wasn’t far into the project that I rediscovered my love for game design, and got really excited about Tilt to Live. We had to keep things simple since it was being done in our spare time, but the possibilities for weapons and modes were endless. We could do this all day! Luckily, Tilt to Live did well enough that we got to quit our day jobs and now we really do get to make games all day.
Were you interested in video games as a kid as well? What were a few of your favorites?
I refused to play video games as a kid; I insisted on watching. I’d watch my brothers play Mega Man 2 & 3 on NES, Ninja Gaiden 2 was a favorite of mine (Ashtar, Funky Dynamite, “the Jaquio” – I loved the villains). Then I’d go play outside and make up my own levels & stories. I started actually playing games in high school. The Silent Hill series will always have a special place in my heart, & Banjo-Kazooie for some reason still gets me really excited. I like games that invest in the atmosphere, where the world you’re in feels authentic.
One Man Left is a relatively new studio, how has the mobile gaming industry changed in the past year since the release of your first game?
Well the technology’s improved, but that’s always a given. Biggest change has probably been the explosion of the freemium model. We’re giving that a shot with Outwitters in our own way, though I’m personally a little resistant to it. I like the “free demo with an IAP for the full game” approach; I believe in our games enough to let people try before they buy, but having a store within the game where people buy hats. I know someone will buy it, but I don’t want to be responsible for its existence. I prefer to sell game content, rather than superficial crap that makes my character designs look stupid. Plus, selling extra lives or cheat sheets… it just feels dirty. Its money left on the table, but I feel like that’s stinky money that I can live without. Having said all that, our next game will probably feature a haberdashery. It’s the future.
Being the artist of the team, how do you guys balance the art direction and programming in the game development process?
Theme and gameplay sort of inform each other, I think. Either one can come first, and they’re added and adjusted like salt and pepper throughout the development process. For instance, in Tilt to Live the spike shield started as pure gameplay. We had that obligatory weapon that makes you invincible for a short period of time, but we needed something to call it to make it satisfying. At first it was like a “Mario Star,” but that was way too derivative, so we eventually settled on the spike grinder theme. On the other hand, Frostbite mode started thematically as “let’s do an ice-only mode;” then we had to decide how that works. We have a good chemistry for this, because I tend to think thematically & Alex is wired more for gameplay.
As a gamer, what’s that one key element a game must have to make playing it a rewarding experience?
Personality is my requirement… or immersion, I guess. We don’t have any games that are like this, but I’m a sucker for Zelda, Batman: Arkham City, Dead Space, the Retro Studios Metroid titles. Games that take me someplace unique, and have great music. Music goes a really long way for me.
You mentioned that your next game, Outwitters, is currently in production. Can you reveal any details about what that game is about?
Outwitters is a multiplayer, turn-based strategy game. It plays kind of like Advance Wars, but not really. Our goal is to create something that’s easy to learn for people who don’t do strategy, but with enough depth to keep advanced players hooked. It’s intended to be played like Words with Friends (take my turns, check back later), but you can also sit down for a Pass n’ Play session.
My favorite part is the league system Alex has put together. You don’t have to get your friends playing; you can just be skill-matched to players globally and compete for rank. You have to be pretty lucky to have a friend that’s exactly as good as you are, anyway, so the league games will be the most interesting for me.
You touched on this a a little earlier with the freemium model, but as a smaller studio what sort of marketing strategies have found to be most effective?
I have no idea how Tilt to Live was successful; we certainly aren’t marketing geniuses. We made a video of the game, sent it to some press people who had never heard of us, got some favorable coverage, and Apple caught wind and featured us (a few times). That’s when it took off. We updated with new content for a while to keep people interested; that probably helped. It didn’t blow up huge or anything, but it’s a great start for us. A year later, we’re practically invisible on the App Store and our game is $2.99 (against the conventional wisdom that it MUST be 99￠ to sell), but it’s still doing better than we could have hoped.
Our #1 marketing strategy is to make a game people will like. If the game’s likeable the press will cover it, Apple might feature it, and you’ll get good word of mouth to keep it alive.
Who are a few indie developers that you feel are pushing the boundaries of game design?
To be honest, I don’t spend a whole lot of time in the indie space. For some reason Silent Hill: Shattered Memories comes to mind. That was a really unique experience, the way the game would “watch” you & adjust your character while you played. It didn’t make very nuanced judgments about people (you were either a sexual deviant, an alcoholic, a total pussy, or a family man), but it was really ambitious and I haven’t played anything quite like it. More recently, Twisted Pixel’s Gunstringer for the Kinect had some really interesting mixed media ideas, mixing their gameplay with video and staging the whole thing as a play.
If you could frag any video game villain who would it be and how would you do it?
Villains tend to be my favorite characters in games, it’s the NPC’s that really have it coming. I would frag Slippy from Star Fox. I would punch him directly in the face, to death. I would remove his legs, and I would cook them in garlic butter. I would eat them, pass the stools, and then punch those stools directly in the face, to death. You can’t find a better fourth pilot to join the team than that? How about that guy behind him, ramming him up the butt with lasers? We can’t recruit that guy?（Source：startfrag）