街机游戏和赛车游戏在核心游戏结构中具有许多共同点。比起将玩家带入一个具有凝聚力的世界或体验中，游戏玩法将被划分成一些容易管理的关卡（或者路线/比 赛——以赛车游戏为例）。然后玩家将在这些较小的游戏玩法空间中处理每个游戏组件。在整体游戏的小环节中，玩家将变成专家。当基于逐块格式，而非 无形管理且严格的线性进程呈现给玩家时，带有关卡格式的游戏将鼓励玩家产生某种心态。这里存在一种潜意识意愿，并且只会在匹配某些标准时才会出现，而不管 游戏是否将其呈现出来。在游戏某一组块中的反复重玩行为将让玩家在玩特定的游戏块时变得更加熟练。如此的结果便是玩家也将通过每次经历游戏组块而提升自己 对于游戏机制的整体影响——只要游戏并会过度限制组块的范围。
让我惊讶的是Bizarre Creations是少数理解这类型游戏的基本竞争元素的开发商之一。在《几何战争2》中，他们在游戏的模式选择中创造了有关玩家好友的状态通知。大多数玩家从未越过最基本的界面功能去发现像“排行榜”等内容，所以Bizarre Creations将排行榜带到每个玩家都需要到达的地方：模式选择中。当你基于和平模式开始游戏时，你将看到自己与好友的排名比较。这并不是表示你在整个游戏世界中的位置（尽管你会看到自己名字旁边的数字），Bizarre Creations让它变得更加私人化。这也是他们的成功之处。
赛车游戏和街机游戏真的是关于结构上，机制上以及主题上（至少对于赛车游戏而言）的竞争。赛车游戏并不会鼓励比赛之外的竞争，这并不属于它的目的。当我着眼于《争分夺秒》的比赛页面时，我所看到的便是金牌。对我而言，正是如此我在游戏中的前进开始变得重要了。当我在玩《Blur》时，我发现Raven Software的程序员Ryan Hummer禁止了我所认为的第二层级比赛中最佳时间。紧接着，他使用游戏的社交功能呈现给我一个直接的挑战一次去提高分数。尽管事实如此，就核心游戏进程而言，我完成了整个层级（通过所有比赛并战胜一对一事件的全部进程），而为了打败好友我回到了单人玩家进程早前的比赛中。
A Structure of Mastery
by Trent Polack
In playing Split/Second lately, I am often overcome with the hollowness of my progression through the game’s so-called ‘season.’ I enjoy every race as I’m doing it, but once I get my first-place gold trophy for a race, I move on, without any care in the world. It didn’t occur to me until I started playing Blur and, strangely enough, Super Mario Galaxy what Split/Second was lacking in its core game structure: a reason to replay.
Arcade games and racing games have a lot in common in their core game structure. Rather than engrossing the player in a single, cohesive world or experience, the gameplay is divided into manageable levels (or courses/races, in the case of racing games). Players then tackle each component of the game in this little vacuum of gameplay. Within that small segment of the overall game, the player can become an expert. Games with a level format, when presented to the player in a chunk-by-chunk format and not an invisibly managed, strictly linear progression, encourage a certain mindset on the player. There is a subconscious willingness to not advance until some set of criteria is met, whether the game presents those or not. The act of replaying this chunk of game over and over results in the player becoming exceedingly skilled at playing that specific chunk of game. The byproduct of this, however, is that the player is also increasing his overall fluency in the game’s mechanics with every play-through of that chunk of game, so long as the game doesn’t overly limit the scope of the chunk.
In a racing game, every time I play a course I’m getting more familiar with the intricacies of the track and the shortcuts and the best spots to drift. These are skills that are only, really, relevant to this specific course (and, generally, all relate to memory whether it be conscious memory, muscle memory, or a subconscious internalization of the timing involved in playing a given course). Every time a player plays through that course, though, he is also learning to be a better ‘driver’ — to know how to maximize speed through a curve, how and when to best overtake opponents, and so on. It’s a parallel development of skills, with the most useful development, that of the long-term skill mastery, occurring at a more subconscious level.
In Blur (as well as every other game by Bizarre Creations), progress bars are presented to the player at every turn which encompass criteria for every imaginable aspect of the game. There is almost always a reason to replay a race and every race, if nothing else, increases the player’s profile progress, allowing him to unlock more cars. This long-term progress is, largely, nothing more than an arbitrary limiting mechanic with the intent of being the carrot at the end of the stick. It’s a system which does largely no foul within the game until it runs out and, in Blur‘s specific case, it runs out surprisingly early. That’s okay, though, because once that high-level progression is finished and the main suite of cars is unlocked for use in single-player, there is still the more useful forms of per-race/tier criteria: conditions to unlock one-vs.-one matches in each tier and, most importantly, the social integration of your friends list into the game interface.
The idea behind achievements, way back before they became this weird hybrid of extrinsic motivation and expected reward, seemed to me to be to encourage players to venture outside of their comfort zone and try things that the designers thought would be fun to try. This is sometimes still manifest in achievements for games, but often seems completely lost in the will to cater to gamer expectations about what constitutes 1000 Gamer Points. The race conditions to unlock one-vs.-one matches in Blur are able to transcend from pure stat porn or meaningless incentives to actually contribute something to the player experience: enforced variation. They are arbitrary, but forcing players to use one of the game’s power-ups to shove an opponent into the water is something that most players would never seek out (or, in my case, even think possible otherwise). The ideal case, of course, is that all of these situations exist in the game to surprise players willing to venture out and experience them, but such is the problem with emergent design: we’re all too often willing to let the coolest situations in our games be experienced only by the people willing to try and break our game. That’s not to say we should call out of everything, but there are times when a single nudge in the right direction, like the aforementioned event, opens a player’s eyes to a whole range of supported mechanics he may have never thought would exist. Games are so limited and directed these days, that the common gamer expectation is for his worldview to consist of what the game shows him.
It absolutely astounds me that Bizarre Creations is one of the few developers in existence that actually understands how fundamental competition is to these types of games. In Geometry Wars 2, they made notifications as to your friends’ status in game modes a first-class feature in the interface. Most gamers may never venture beyond the most basic of interface functionality to discover things like “leaderboards,” so Bizarre Creations brought the leaderboards to the place that every game has to go: the mode selection. Whenever you want to start a game of Pacifism, you see where you rank compared to your friends. It’s not some abstract representation of your place in the entire world (though you see that by the number next to your name), Bizarre Creations makes it personal. And that’s where they succeed.
Racing and arcade games, are really all about competition structurally, mechanically, and, at least with racing games, thematically. A racing game that doesn’t encourage competition outside of the race is not fulfilling its purpose. When I look at the Split/Second race screen, all I see is a gold medal. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all that starts to matter as I progress through the game. When I play Blur, though, what I see is that Ryan Hummer, a programmer at Raven Software, annihilated the crap out of what I thought was a good course time in a race in tier two. On top of that, he used the game’s social functionality to issue a direct challenge to me to top his score. And despite the fact that, as far as the core game progression is concerned, I completed that entire tier (full progress through all races and beat the one-vs.-one event), I’m drawn back to this race early in the single-player progression solely to beat my friendnemesis.
There seems to be an unwillingness for games to present their content in a gamey fashion in the current generation of games. The arcade presentation that a generation of gamers, myself included, grew up with, scores, lives, continues, levels, and so on die out in favor of a singular, cohesive gameplay experience. This is a great structural move for some games, but for others it’s not really an improvement, it’s just a lateral (if not backward) step in presentation. Having recently completed Super Mario Galaxy in order to prepare myself to then tackle Super Mario Galaxy 2 was a strange experience alongside the plentiful quantity of racing games I’ve been playing lately. Galaxy adopted the course structure in a way that wasn’t particularly unique for the series, as Super Mario 64 had done something similar, but the explicit manner in which it was presented to players was unique. Players are no longer going into a world to find the next, likely more complicated star, they’re selecting that ‘course’ through the level up-front and seeing the same galaxy in a new way as they do so. It’s a unique and compelling application of a gameplay structure used in different genres of games for ages, but SMG uses it for its own ends and it results in a unique feel to the game as a whole. Better yet, for me anyway, is the feeling that when I get a particular star, I go back to the menu screen/game hub and think “Yeah, I can do that better” and try again.(source:polycat)