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列举游戏设计需回避的错误做法(5)

发布时间:2011-12-31 17:59:40 Tags:,,,,

作者:Ernest Adams

本文主要盘点若干糟糕设计,这些情况不只是出现在不尽人意的作品中,有时这些不过是优秀游戏存在的小瑕疵。这些内容都是玩家提供的反馈信息。(请点击此处阅读本系列第12、3、46、7、89、1011、1213篇)

为设计“杰出功能”而破坏游戏平衡性

Bryan Buschmann写道:

“我最近收获的宝贵经验来自于《寂静岭》的开发者。他们基于第二次世界大战背景呈现众多回合制隐秘操作。游戏在某任务中植入坚不可摧的行进坦克,只有新武器能够制服此坦克,此新武器以两种形式呈现:a)闻所未闻的庞大激光大炮;b)能够安装于这些行进怪物中的激光器。只要你发现且运用这些激光武器杀死行进坦克里的人物,你就能够进入坦克中,将军队变成无法阻挡的主宰力量,完全破坏游戏平衡性。看到此风格和技术后来被荒谬游戏设计破坏着实有些令人难过。可喜的是,在后来的扩充内容中,他们听取玩家的意见,决定重新改造游戏执行方式。”

“有人在论坛发表此言论:‘若你忽略之前采取的所有策略,只是着眼于当前操作,没有关系!’我不喜欢在游戏中途被告知我之前的体验风格现已无效。”

Silent Storm Walking Tank from  gamasutra.com

Silent Storm Walking Tank from gamasutra.com

我觉得Bryan总结得很好。很多设计师都屈服于这种诱惑。他们植入杰出武器的欲望超越其适当平衡游戏的欲望。

就个人来说,我不知道巨型行进坦克在关于第二次世界大战的游戏中有什么意义;如今距离诺曼底登陆日已有60年,我们依然没有巨型坦克,我很怀疑我们是否会拥有此武器,因为这些完全不切实际。这在科幻故事中行得通,但这历史模拟内容中就行不通。

死亡对手在玩家沉睡时复活

或当你保存游戏时。有位玩家这样抱怨道:

“你刚成功杀死Krall的庞大泰坦恶魔及1.8万位随从。你的能量和魔法值都已耗尽,但由于所有泰坦恶魔都已死去,游戏会让你休息,这样你才能够继续探索。所以你就进行休息,然后发现巨型泰坦恶魔及其随从神奇般复活。然后他们阴险地将你杀死。此问题似乎也常在保存游戏后发生。”

“此糟糕编程会扼杀玩家的成就感,这令保存/休息变成遭遇潜在致命袭击的时刻,使玩家觉得非常沮丧。而且,这在RPG游戏中很常见。此问题存在于某些原本能够表现突出的作品中(如《魔卷晨风》和《博德之门》)。”

但这若是能够归咎于程序员就好啦!可惜的是这是游戏设计师的问题。繁殖和复活问题非常复杂,但我很清楚:当boss死去,它就应该保持死去,除非你重新加载游戏,回到你遇见boss前的时刻。我不是非常着迷boss,但我承认它们是必备元素,所以我们需要基于一定原则执行这些元素。boss不应获得重生,除非存在合理理由。此外,boss显然不应像常规士兵那样大量繁衍。

无所选择的控制装置

有玩家表示:

“我刚刚结束体验Xbox的《雷霆战队》,猜猜怎么回事?我无法以预期方式设置控制装置!这在Xbox平台日益演变成突出问题,我听说PS2也存在此问题。我见过的最佳控制设置方案是Dreamcast的《雷神之锤3:竞技场》,这是理想模式。就PC平台来看,《寂静岭 2》没有鼠标支持,而在《Gothic》中,我们无法以期望方式配置和运用鼠标。”

我非常赞同此看法。无法让玩家重新配置输入装置的大型商业游戏就不值得我们投以关注。这在需要高度灵活性的快节奏游戏中更是如此(游戏邦注:这类游戏通常需要玩家分秒必争)。支持玩家自主配置的控制装置很容易执行操作,能够让游戏变得更通俗易懂。

但这需要正确操作。

糟糕配置机制

Mr. Monroe说道;

“当我在定制游戏按键时,我可以点击动作按键,然后按下按键,但我怎么知道哪些按键属于免费,不是同其他物件绑定?关于此,有3种糟糕的处理方式:提示按键已在使用中的出错信息;从原始操作中窃取按键的新操作;在小窗口中上下滑动某无止境的列表,查看按键是否已被运用。”

“你觉得这样如何:a)呈现包含所有零散按键的列表,或b)通过4-5个栏目全屏呈现按键自定义列表,这样我就立即看到所有元素。”

把握好这点并不存在任何损失,那么为什么不将其设置好呢?

违反顺序规则的关卡

这有点难以形容,所以我就直接套用玩家的话语。这是他在GameCube《分裂细胞》中遇到的情况,只是“优质游戏的一个糟糕时刻”。

“我处在即将被炸弹摧毁的建筑中。我误读指令,觉得自己应该逃走,但在现实生活中,我应该找出且解除炸弹。在关卡A时,我被告知有炸弹及它还有多久会爆炸。在此关卡中,我以最快速度奔跑,跳过存在炸弹的房间,而且一路同敌军进行战斗。就在时间耗尽前,我穿过关卡B,以为自己已经成功,结果发现游戏在5秒钟后结束,因为炸弹发生爆炸。当我重新开始游戏,依然处在刚刚到达的关卡位置,所以炸弹又在5秒钟后发生爆炸。这种情况反复发生,让我无法原路返回解决此问题。”

他表示,这里的寓意是:“若玩家没有满足关卡A的要求就不要让他/她到达关卡B。”关卡B应处在玩家完全无法触及的位置,直到炸弹顺利解除。

这里,玩家其实遇到的是线性互动故事叙述中的一个基本谜题:叙述连贯性问题。你如何确保在没有控制玩家操作的情况下,玩家能够在到达故事高潮前完成所有必要操作?这里有多种解决方案,其中一个最简单的方式是:一次性解锁戏剧化高潮内容,这样玩家只会在准备好的时候接触到此内容。此玩家跳过游戏中的一个步骤,所以故事发展至错误方向,最终发展到尽头。

破坏沉浸感的元素

我曾提到过扼杀想象空间的元素:破坏游戏沉浸感的乏味或不当游戏元素。其中包含多种错误做法。Gregg Tavares罗列某些内容:

音乐不符合游戏风格。在很多游戏中,同游戏建立情感联系非常重要。音乐若设置合理,能够有效建立这种联系,但若运用不当则会起到相反效果。

指示现实事物的游戏对话。在《合金装备》中,Commander通过对讲机呼叫Snake,说道:“要打开舱口需按下控制手柄的A键。”在现实生活中,没有人会想到控制手柄,因为这是游戏以外的世界。《侠盗猎车手 3》的执行方式略胜一筹。在《侠盗猎车手 3》中,玩家始终处在自己的角色中,游戏相关的说明会呈现在屏幕上,同所有角色分离开来。

非常荒谬的情境。这当然也出现在很多好莱坞电影中。例如,你有18小时的时间拆卸原子弹。我们不妨腾出宝贵的几分钟同游戏角色进行互动(《合金装备》)。世界明天就会消亡,我们不妨去趟游乐场(《最终幻想 7》)。我刚从3英尺外的哨岗回来,所以不妨通过通讯装置同指挥官进行交流(《合金装备》)。

无法中断的视频内容

有若干玩家抱怨那些无法中断的影片。有时游戏设有冗长介绍视频,玩家每次开始游戏都要硬着头皮看完;有时这些内容是每个保存节点之后的过场动画。若你被杀死,需从保存节点重新加载游戏,你就得重新观看影片。还有就是:《最终幻想 8》中的不间断15秒钟魔法特效视频内容。这些内容初次出现令人印象深刻,3-4次后还是颇有趣味,随后就会变得有些乏味。一段时间后,这会促使玩家放弃运用此魔法,或者甚至退出游戏。

现在,我很喜欢游戏中的视频内容,只要它们制作精良,简短而有趣,视觉上同余下游戏内容相匹配,能够在情节中添加一定内容。遗憾的是,和谐融合这些元素的情况只有25%。而在其他情况里,这些内容通常都不尽人意,我希望跳过这些内容,直接继续游戏。同样,解决此问题的方法非常简单,所以不妨采取行动。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

The Designer’s Notebook: Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie! V

by Ernest Adams

It’s time once again for The Designer’s Notebook’s annual compendium of goofs, screw-ups, and errors of judgment or taste—those elements that make a videogame less than what it should be. These Twinkie Denial Conditions (TDCs) aren’t restricted to bad games only; sometimes they’re just one blemish on an otherwise good game.

Almost all of these have been sent to me by readers. Unfortunately, I’m not rich enough to afford a PS2, an Xbox, a GameCube, a Dreamcast, a GBA, and a top-end PC, all at the same time, so I haven’t been able to verify for myself all the examples mentioned. But even if a detail or two is wrong, it’s the principle that matters.

Wrecking a Game’s Balance for the Sake of A “Cool Feature”

Bryan Buschmann writes:

“The most recent gem I know of is from the makers of Silent Storm. They hand you a big box of turn based stealth action in a World War II setting. And then in the course of one mission, throw in walking tanks that are literally invulnerable to everything except the new weapon that exists only as a) a giant, unwieldy laser cannon you’ve never seen before, and b) a laser mounted on one of these walking monstrosities. Once you’ve found and used these laser weapons to kill the person inside the walking tank (not the tank itself), you can get into the walking tank and essentially turn your squad mates into a legion of unstoppable juggernauts and thus totally destroy the balance of the game. It truly was a sad moment, to see such an achievement of style and technology wrecked in the later stages by ridiculous game design. Thankfully in the expansion pack they listened to their user base and decided to rework their entire implementation.

“There were people posting on the forums with such brilliance as ‘Well, if you just disregard all previous strategy that you were doing and just do this one thing that I’m doing, it’s fine!’ … I don’t like being told halfway through a game that my previous play style is now invalid.”

I think Bryan has summed it up pretty well. A lot of designers succumb to this temptation. Their desire to incorporate, like, totally awesome weapons overrides their desire to, like, balance the game properly.

Personally, I don’t know what giant walking tanks are doing in a game about World War II anyway; it’s been 60 years since D-Day and we still don’t have giant walking tanks—I doubt if we ever will, since they’re totally impractical. Science fiction, OK—historical simulation, not OK.

Dead Opponents Resurrected While You Sleep…

Or when you save the game. Anita Ray (and several other people as well) wrote to complain about this one. As she puts it,

“You have just successfully killed the Monumental Titan Demon of Krall and 18,000 minions. Your health and mana are exhausted, but now that all the titan demons are dead, the game will let you rest so you can continue your adventures. So you rest… and discover that magically the Monumental Titan Demon and his minions have been resurrected (probably before you’ve been healed, too). You die a terrible, nasty death. This problem seems to occur a lot after a save, too.

“This is lazy programming that kills accomplishment. It makes saving/resting a potentially deadly encounter that frustrates the hell out of gamers (at least me). And yet, it doesn’t seem to be unusual in RPGs. I’ve had this difficulty with games that were otherwise decent (Morrowind and Baldur’s Gate pop to mind). It has caused more creative use of the English language than the current political administration, and that’s saying a lot.”

Ah, if only it could be attributed to the programmers! Sorry, Anita, this one belongs squarely at the door of us game designers. The whole issue of spawning and resurrection is a complicated one that I’ll deal with in a future column, but I do know one thing: when a boss is dead, it ought to stay dead unless you reload the game at a point before you met the boss. I’m not wild about bosses anyway, but I recognize that they’re a standard convention, so we need rules for implementing them. A boss shouldn’t be resurrected unless there’s some clear reason why it’s possible (and some way to prevent it). And a boss should certainly never re-spawn the way a normal grunt does.

Un-configurable Controls

Someone who signs off as “Deathbliss” rants:

“I just got through playing Brute Force for the Xbox and guess what? There is no way to map the controls the way I want to! This is becoming more and more of a problem on the Xbox, and I hear it’s the same for the PS2. The best control mapping-scheme I ever saw was in Quake 3 Arena for the Dreamcast—that’s the way it should be done. On the PC scene and loosely related we have titles like Silent Hill 2—WITH NO MOUSE SUPPORT! Or Gothic, with the mouse not being something you can configure and use the way you like.”

I couldn’t agree more. This is worse than a Twinkie Denial Condition; any big commercial game that doesn’t let the player reconfigure the input devices merits withholding all snack food. This is especially true if it’s a twitch game requiring high dexterity, where a tenth of a second counts. Configurable controls are trivial to implement, cost next to nothing in RAM and storage space, and make your game far more accessible. When are game designers going to realize that human factors engineering is not just something for fighter planes and nuclear power plants?

It needs to be done properly, though. R. Alan Monroe writes to complain about…

Bad Configuration Mechanisms

Mr. Monroe says:

“When I’m customizing the keys for a game (like an FPS) I can click on the action and press a key, but how do I know which keys are free, and not already bound to something else? There are three bad ways to handle this: an error message saying the key is already in use; the new action steals the key from the original action; or me having to scroll up and down an endless list in a little bitty window to see if it’s already taken.

“How about: a) showing a list of all unbound keys, or b) displaying the key remapping list full screen with four or five columns, so I can see all of them at once?”

Once again, getting this right is just as easy as getting it wrong and costs nothing, so why not do it right?

Out-Of-Sequence Checkpoints

This one’s a little bit difficult to describe in generic terms, so I’m going to let Jason Seip put it in his own words with a specific example. He says it happened in Splinter Cell for the GameCube and was just “a bad moment in a good game.”

“I was in a building that was about to be destroyed by a bomb. I misinterpreted my orders, thinking I was supposed to escape, when in reality I was supposed to find and defuse the bomb. Checkpoint A was the moment I was told about the bomb and shown how much time remained before detonation. I ran as fast as I could through the level, bypassing the room with the bomb, and further fighting my way past enemy soldiers. Just before time ran out I passed a checkpoint (“B”) and thought I had succeeded, only to have my game end about 5 seconds later due to the bomb going off. When my game restarted, it was at the newly acquired checkpoint, so the bomb went off again after 5 seconds. This kept happening over and over, with no chance of me backtracking to resolve the issue.”

The moral, he says, is: “Don’t let the player reach checkpoint B if he or she hasn’t satisfied the requirements of checkpoint A.” Checkpoint B should have been in some area that was completely inaccessible to the player until the bomb was defused.

Jason actually ran across one of the fundamental conundrums of linear interactive narratives: the Problem of Narrative Flow. How do you make sure that the player has done everything he needs to do by the time he arrives at the dramatic climax of your story, when you don’t control his actions? There are various solutions, one of the simplest being: unlock the doors to the dramatic climax one at a time, so the player can’t get there until he or she is ready. Jason actually got ahead of the story by skipping a step, so the story took a wrong turn and came to a dead end.

Yet More Fantasy-Killing Elements

In my very first No Twinkie episode, I mentioned fantasy-killing elements: elements of the game that are so stupid or inappropriate that they destroy your sense of immersion. As you can imagine, this covers a wide range of blunders. Gregg Tavares rings in with a few:

Music that doesn’t fit the game. In many games an emotional connection to the game is important. Music helps create this emotion when done correctly (scored like a movie, for instance) and detracts when not (generic peppy “game” music, licensed music, user-selectable music, and so on). [I would add that the popular practice of licensing completely inappropriate bands to do music for a game is just as aesthetically bankrupt as that of doing it for movies. M.C. Hammer for The Addams Family? Excuse me? That’s marketing gone mad. —Ernest]

In-game dialog that refers to real-world things. In Metal Gear Solid, Commander calls Snake on the walkie-talkie and says something like “Snake, to open the hatch press A on the control pad.” Huh? In real life no one would refer to a control pad, because it’s outside of the game’s world. Grand Theft Auto 3 has a better implementation. In GTA3 game characters stay in character 100 percent of the time, and gameplay-related explanations are printed on the screen, detached from any of the characters.

Extremely ridiculous situations. This of course happens in lots of Hollywood movies too. For example, you’ve got 18 hours to stop an atomic bomb going off. Oh, I know, let’s spend lots of precious minutes flirting with an in-game character (Metal Gear Solid). The world ends tomorrow, so let’s go to an amusement park (Final Fantasy 7). I’m around the corner from a guard about three feet away, so let’s have a conversation on the communicator with the commander (MGS again).

Uninterruptible Movies

Jerry Strand and “loganb” both wrote to complain about movies that you couldn’t interrupt. Sometimes they’re incredibly long intros that you have to sit through every time you start the game; sometimes they’re cut-scenes that play right after a save point. If you keep getting killed and have to reload from that save point, you have to see the movie again. I’ll add some more: the uninterruptible 15-second spell-effect movies in Final Fantasy 8. (I haven’t played the others in this series, so I don’t know if they’re all guilty of this or not.) They’re impressive the first time, interesting the next three or four, and exceedingly tiresome from then on. It discourages you from casting the spell or even playing the game after a while.

Now, I actually like cinematics in games (Dogma 2001 notwithstanding), so long as they’re well executed, short and sweet, visually compatible with the rest of the game, and actually add something to the plot. Unfortunately, a harmonic convergence of all these qualities only occurs in about 25 percent of the cases. The rest of the time, they’re corny, irrelevant, or both, and I want to button through them and get on with playing the game. Once again, the fix for this is trivial—so do it!

Conclusion

That’s it for this edition of Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie! Thanks to all those who wrote in and apologies to those whose suggestions I didn’t have room for.(Source:gamasutra


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