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阐述游戏设计中的缺口定义及其作用

发布时间:2013-09-06 11:22:58 Tags:,,,,

作者:Mike Birkhead

你的角色阵容就是故事。故事也是你的角色阵容。这是不可分割的实体,如果你不能传达一个强大且吸引人的角色阵容,那么你的想象力将会像苏打水那样,无滋无味。

故事遵循着一个有意义的流程。主角,也就是我们的玩家所扮演的对象将采取行动,并期待着能通过自己的行动获得一个特殊的结果:他看到一个杠杆,并期待着拉动这一杠杆就能打开大门。而这个世界的反应是:他脚下的陷阱之门会因此而开启!这与我们的期待是完全不同的反应,突然一切就变得有趣起来了。

这便是所谓的缺口,它也定义了主角的期待和故事中敌对势力所创造的结果间的差异。没有这一缺口也就没有故事的存在,如果所有的一切都按照我们的预想发生,我们又有何观看/游戏的必要呢?如果所有大门都如我们设想的那样打开,所有的怪物都会一击就死的话,游戏该多无聊啊。我们需要这种缺口,我们需要这种冲突。

“如果不经历冲突,故事中的一切便不可能向前发展。”——Robert McKee

我们在环境,机制和角色中创造了冲突和缺口。但是如果阻碍玩家前进的内容是无意义的,那也不能推动故事的发展。这也是我们赋予敌人一些技巧,以及解答“这个人的技巧是什么?”这一重要问题的答案。

总之,你需要去定义缺口。

定义缺口——技巧

所有的战斗可以分为3个步骤:行动,反应和结果。我采取某些行动,这会引起一种或多种不同的反应,并且这将导致我们的一种或多种状态改变。你可以基于这种方式定义所有内容:

《Ryu’s Light Dragon Punch》

行动:上切

反应:快速回收并将敌人打上天

结果:130次伤害,200次击昏,30次策略,一方竖起胜利之旗

这很重要,因为这三个部分能够定义我们该如何反抗玩家的期待。当我按压一个按键时,我期待能够执行一个行动,我期待能够引起反应,我也期待能够看到一些结果。但是就像我们之前所说的,我们所期待的往往都不会发生。Kratos朝着步兵挥舞刀并希望能够给对方造成巨大伤害,但结果呢?他的刀从盾牌上弹回来了。这是不可预见的结果,但却非常有趣。

我们可以通过让其中一部分反着玩家所期待的方式运行而分裂现实性,并拓宽缺口。所以寻找技巧便是开始。例如步兵将直接朝着玩家跑去并发动攻击。玩家以为步兵会和其它敌人一样做出预期反应,但是他们却会朝着玩家进攻。虽然这让他们有点受挫,但却真的非常有趣。

如果只是这样的话还是很普通的,因为现在的设计并未提供给玩家完成或克服这些挑战的机会。如果你想要将故事带向更高的层次,你就需要允许玩家关闭缺口。

defining_the_gap_mckee(from altdevblogaday)

defining_the_gap_mckee(from altdevblogaday)

关闭缺口——精通

如果我们做的一切只是召唤敌对势力去纠缠玩家,那么他们便会因此而沮丧不已。只有允许主角可以通过自己的技能去关闭缺口,我们才能成就一个优秀的故事。让我们再次回到上述的步兵例子中,我们为他定义了这样的缺口:当他在奔跑时将能躲避攻击,这是违背玩家的预期。而我们的下一步便是考虑为玩家设置转折点。

在故事中,每个场景都可以让主角从优势变为劣势,或从劣势变成优势,这都是取决于你所阐述的故事类型。就像在游戏中,玩家可以从不精通转向精通,从不知道转向知道。所以我们是时候决定如何关闭缺口,并思考让玩家精通些什么。在步兵的例子中,目标是双重的:镇压行动是强而有力的,而投掷是了不起的。

考虑到这些目标,当步兵冲向玩家时,我们可以将此作为执行这些想法的机会。镇压行动——Kratos的重力攻击将阻挡步兵的攻击,并且就像你们猜的那样,步兵将被击退。实际上,你可以一整天不断将步兵投掷出去,直到对方死亡。这是抗击他的最佳战略,即能够有效地表现出投掷的力量。

你可以看到定义的威力,然后关闭缺口。你会愿意与朋友分享这种,一开始蔑视玩家的期待并在之后允许他们战胜敌人的角色阵容。也正是这种角色真人创造了故事。

一个较短的案例

定义缺口创造故事?这听起来就像一堆废话,但请相信我,我的朋友,你们已经同意我的观点了。我敢保证,你们肯定遇到过一些具有有趣抗战内容的游戏,也遇到过一些无聊的对抗。你可能根本就说不出自己为什么喜欢某些内容而讨厌其它内容,因为不管你的玩家具有多少闪光点,如果他未受到来自预期反抗势力的挑战,那么所有的闪光点便失去了价值。

我最喜欢的一款游戏——《生化危机4》便在这点上做得很好。已经玩了好几年僵尸游戏的我们似乎做好了迎接这款游戏的准备。知道看到一个僵尸就要射击他的头部。这便是游戏的设置,或者说是我们的想法。但是这款游戏炸开了一个缺口,提供了具有反应能力,并且能够做出防御的敌人。这并不是我们所熟悉的僵尸!他们甚至不能说是僵尸。

更棒的是,游戏还提供给我们关闭缺口的方法。我们只需要射击僵尸的腿部或脚步,他们便会膝盖着地;射击手部,他们便会丢掉武器;在僵尸奔跑的时候发动射击,他们便难以做出防御。我想所有首次玩《生化危机4》的玩家都会遇到至少一个有趣的故事。这便巧妙地定义了游戏缺口。

当未定义缺口

无间隙的敌人也仍是敌对的;我的意思是,他们仍会想办法去杀你。他们会尝试着去破坏你的游戏进程,阻碍你前进。然而无间隙的敌人是无聊的。不过平凡正是他们的优势。

《City 17》中的士兵在设计上便是无间隙的。他们是人类,携带着枪支,并会向你射击,但是游戏巧妙地在它所创造的环境缺口中使用这些角色。基于合理的开启顺序,玩家将穿过城市,并在他们到达每个回合时,实际情况都会与自己的预期背道而行。通过不断颠覆玩家的期望而创造游戏故事。当玩家进入一个楼梯间时,他们自然会朝下走,但是在这里,他们却需要往上走。可以说这是结合了环境的时刻,并因此成就了关卡故事。

这并不是全部,它们同样也能用于战斗谜题中。战斗谜题是复杂的,因为当你让人们在思考和战斗中做出选择时,他们很有可能会直接选择战斗。因此你需要设置一些较为乏味的敌人,我的意思是从违背期望的意义来看。《City 17》的士兵从设计意义来看具有视觉性,听觉性和主题性,所以尽管它们的功能同构发生,但是在玩家心理它却能够保持长期的乐趣。

结论

最后我想说的是,你的角色阵容中创造冲突并颠倒玩家期望的成员将能为你创造出理想中的水冷却时刻。在这些时刻中,玩家的期待将被反抗势力所推翻,并因此而成就有趣的故事;因此当你在制定角色阵容时,你需要问自己一个重要的问题:“这个人的技巧是什么?”

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

Defining The Gap: Tips From A Combat Designer

By Mike Birkhead

Your cast is the story. The story is your cast. These are not separate entities, and if you fail to deliver a strong, compelling cast, then your grand imaginings will be as flat as day old soda.

A story follows a meaningful flow. The protagonist, our player as avatar, takes an action, and she expects a particular result from her action: she sees a lever, and she expects pulling it will open the door. The world reacts: a trap door opens under her feet! It reacts differently than we expect, and suddenly things are interesting.

This is called the Gap, and it defines the difference between what the protagonist expects and what is created, in reality, by the antagonistic forces of the story. Without this Gap we have no Story, for if everything happens as we expect, then why are we watching/playing it? How boring would it be to have every lever just open the door as we expect, to have every monster die in one hit. We need this Gap, we need conflict.

“Nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict.” – Robert McKee

We create conflict, the Gap, through the environment, though the mechanics, and through the cast. However, being a simple, fleshy, moving barrier to the player’s progress is empty — gapless — for it’s not the kind of enemy that enhances the story. This is why we give our enemies a trick, and why it is such a painfully important question of your cast: “what’s this guy’s trick?”

In short, you need to define the Gap.

Defining The Gap – Tricks

All combat can be broken down to three steps: action, reaction, and result. I take some action, this may cause one or more different reactions, and this results in one or both of our states changing. You can define everything in this way:

Ryu’s Light Dragon Punch

Action: Rising Upper Cut

Reaction: Snaps head back and launches opponent into the air

Result: 130 damage, 200 stun, 30 gauge, sets the juggle flag

This is important, because these three parts define how to antagonize our player. When I press a button I expect to perform an action, I expect to cause reactions, and I expect to cause some result. But, as we’ve discussed, things that we expect to happen may not be what actually happens. Kratos swings his blades at the hoplite and he expects to do damage, but what’s this? His blades bounce off the shield. This was unexpected, but interesting.

We can crack reality open and widen the gap by causing any of the three aspects (action, reaction result) to act in a way that the player does not expect. So when searching for a trick this is where you start. The hoplite, for example, has a move where he runs directly at the player and then performs a double slash. While he is running he will tank through lights hits. The player attacks the hoplite expecting, like all enemies up to that point, to make him react, and yet he just runs right through it and smashes the player in the face. Unexpected, a little frustrating, but interesting.

This would be fine, mediocre, if left as it is, because as it is currently designed it does not provide the player with an opportunity to accomplish and overcome. If you want to bring it to the next level, you must allow the player Close the Gap.

Closing The Gap – Mastery

If all we did was conjure antagonistic forces to pester the player, then the game would be an exercise in frustration. Great stories are created when we allow for the protagonist to close the gap through their ingenuity and skill. So let us return, once again, to the Hoplite where, as stated, we have defined the Gap for this creature: he tanks through attacks when he is running, which will be counter to the players expectations. Now our next step is to consider the Turning Point for our player.

In a story, every scene is a chance for the protagonist to turn from the positive to negative or from the negative to the positive, depending on the kind of story you are telling. In the case of a game, though, it is a chance to turn from the unmastered to the mastered, from the unknowledgeable to the knowledgeable. So when determining how to close the gap, determine what you wish for the player to master. In the case of the hoplite the goals are twofold: crush moves are powerful, and throwing is awesome.

Given these goals, when the hoplite is running at the player we should use this as an opportunity to positively enforce those ideas, and that’s exactly what he does. Crush moves — Kratos’s heavy attacks like Square, Square, Triangle — will knock the hoplite out of this rushing attack, and he can, as you would guess, be grabbed right out of the rush. In fact, you can pretty much throw the hoplite all day every day right until he dies. It’s the best tactic to use against him, and goes a long way to showcase the power of the throw.

You can see the power of defining and then closing the Gap. A cast that defies the expectations of the player and then allows them a means to overcome that source of antagonism is going to be the exact kind of cast member that you talk to your friends about. It is the exact kind of cast member that creates stories.

A Short Case Study

Defining the Gap creates stories? I dunno, Mike, that sounds like a bunch of hogwash and hoojaz. I know. Trust me, my friend, you already agree with me. In your experiences, I’m sure, you have had games where you enjoyed fighting things, and games where you were bored to tears with every fight. You simply lacked a word to describe WHY you liked one over the other, because no matter how cool and flashy your player, if he is not challenged by expectation defying forces, then all that flash is for naught.

One of my favorite games, Resident Evil 4, is the king of this. Years of zombie games had us RIPE for that game. See a zombie, shoot the head. That’s just how it works … or so we thought. They didn’t just crack open a gap, no, they exploded it open; by giving us enemies that no only reactively put their hands in front of their faces, but who would dodge out of the way of your gun. These aren’t my father’s zombies! They weren’t even zombies at all.

Better still, they gave us a means to close that Gap. Shooting them in the legs or the feet, made them take a knee; shooting them in the hands made them drop their weapons; and shooting them while they were running (oh my god they are running) made them fall flat on their face. Just about every part of their body was useful. Who doesn’t have at least ONE interesting story about your first run through Resident Evil 4? That is defining the Gap with brilliance.

When Not To Define The Gap

A Gapless enemy is still antagonistic, though; I mean, it’s still trying to kill you, right? It’s still trying to ruin your day, to stand in your way of progress. A gapless enemy, however, is boring, it’s bland. But banality can have its advantages.

The soldiers of City 17 (Half Life 2) are fairly gapless in their design. They are men, they carry guns, they shoot at you, but the game cleverly uses them for the environmental Gaps it creates. Think of the opening sequence where you are running through the city, and at almost every turn they are there, subverting your expectations of where you should go. Brilliant level design that creates story through constantly antagonizing your expectations. You enter a stairwell and it feels natural to head down, but there they are, coming up the stairs, shit go the other way … almost every encounter where they appear is never simply about them. No, they are combined with environmental moments, the level’s story.

That is not all, as they also are used in combat puzzles. See, combat puzzles are tricky, because when you ask people to choose between thinking and fighting, chances are they are going to fight. Therefore you need enemies that are, strange as it seems, a little bland, and I mean this in a functional, expectation defying sense. The soldiers of City 17 are beautifully designed in a visual, auditory, and thematic sense, which goes a long way to making them interesting despite their functional homogeny.

Conclusion

In the end, though, it is the conflict-creating, expectation-defying members of your cast that are going to craft the water cooler moments you dream of creating. It is in those moments, where expectations are defied through forces of antagonism, that great stories are created; therefore, when laying down the structure of your cast, always remember the important question to ask: “what’s this guy’s trick”?(source:altdevblogaday)


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