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Richard Garriott谈对当前游戏设计师的看法

发布时间:2014-01-28 12:36:01 Tags:,,,,

作者:Tyler Wilde

当《创世纪》的创造者Richard Garriott向我呈现了他的全新RPG《神使的裹布尸:孤独天使》(游戏邦注:实现了其100万美元的Kickstarter融资目标)时,他还带来了一些展示对象。首先,他创造了一个包含了厚厚一摞纸的文件夹——即关于《创世纪》的世界的最初记录,突出了Sosaria,Lord British以及邪恶的Mondain。

Richard Garriott(from pcgamer)

Richard Garriott(from pcgamer)

Garriott说道:“这是《创世纪》的创造文件,甚至先于《创世纪I》的存在。大约是在1976年间,即我开始编写代码之前。这是有关Moon城市和Sosaria世界的故事,伴随着Lord British和邪恶的巫师Mondain,借此我获得了英文课上少有的‘A’。这也是在个人计算机诞生前的事。”

“我认为大多数游戏设计师真的很糟糕”

Garriott继续呈现他(或其他人)曾经创造的第一款计算机RPG之一。这是编写在厚厚的一卷纸上的内容,并且早于显示器而存在,其输出内容是印刷在纸上的ASCII网格。Garriott说道:“所以这是关于每帧30秒。但这基本上是关于创造网格图像,甚至是在它们成为图像前。”

遗迹本身就是个故事——《创世纪》是最多产且最具影响力的系列游戏之一,但Garriott却在创造一个点。在呈现给我《神使的裹布尸:孤独天使》后,他希望将最佳的经典RPG与现代理念整合在一起,然后他转向谈论游戏设计的经典原则以及这对于一名优秀的设计师的意义。他认为后者在产业中是非常稀少的。

“事实上我从未遇到任何像我这样优秀的游戏设计师。”

Garriott说道:“回到当自己还是个程序员,美术师,以及文本作家等等身份的时候。我们曾经雇佣的每个美术师在美术领域的造诣都比我高。我从来都不是一名出色的美术师,音频工程师或编曲家。我曾是一名出色的程序员,但现在我们的所有程序员却都比我优秀——而如果我继续在编程领域中探索,我也会变得更棒。”

“但也有些例外,如Chris Roberts,事实上,在我们的游戏产业中我从未遇到任何像我这样优秀的游戏设计师。我这么说并不是因为觉得自己很出色。我的意思是,我认为大多数游戏设计师真的很糟糕,并且关于这种情况也存在原因。”

“去学校学习如何成为一名出色的设计师真的很难。

曾经与Garriott共同使用Origin System创造《创世纪》和《Wing Commander》的Chris Roberst并不是Garriott心中唯一的例外,他同样也列举了Will Wright和Peter Molyneux为优秀的游戏设计师。但是根据Garriott的分析,大多数人之所以成为设计师都是因为他们缺少成为其他角色的技能。

“如果你不是一名出色的美术师或程序员,但却仍然喜欢游戏,你便能够成为一名设计师。”

Garriott说道:“如果你喜欢游戏,你最终便会想要亲自创造一款游戏。但如果你在年轻的时候具有神奇的艺术才能,你便能够完善自己的技能并呈现一个作品集,然后说,‘我是一名优秀的美术师,请雇佣我吧。’如果你知道如何潜入计算机,并独自编写程序,你便可以到学校去学习适当的结构,创造代码样本,并说着,‘看,我是名优秀的程序员,雇佣我吧。’”

“但如果你不是一名出色的美术师也不是一名优秀的程序员,但却仍然喜欢游戏,你便能够成为一名设计师,前提是你跟着我做。你需要习惯于进行Q&A,并经常地设计内容。”

“创造游戏最有价值的一部分便是设计,即程序员基于技术去执行。他们将乐于执行部分内容。但在我看来,大多数美术师和程序员与设计师一样多是从玩家变化而来,在过去我也经常发现美术师和程序员就像设计师那般优秀。甚至有些情况下会更出色,因为他们更加了解技术或美术。”

“所以我们所面对的许多设计师都是因为比起其它工作更能胜任设计师这份工作才来到了这里。去学校学习如何成为一名出色的设计师真的很难。”

“四维电子表格”

所以一位优秀的游戏设计师是如何工作的?Garriott继续说道,并从高中时期的写作作业开始解释设计过程。Garriott表示自己是使用一个“四维电子表格”将每个角色,位置和道具记录在游戏中并将其混合成一个整体。

Ultima in its original packaging(from pcgamer)

Ultima in its original packaging(from pcgamer)

Garriott会问自己:“好的,这是一些魔法道具,我所分布的是否足够?它们该如何通过故事而迁移?道具通过游戏会展开怎样的旅程?”

“说实话,我所合作过的每个设计师都很懒惰。”

“我认为这是我如何分解讲故事的原则——但不只是故事,还包括每个区域,每个线程,每个对象,并且我是同时执行它们。从这层意义上来看我好像拥有一张四维电子表格,甚至是在‘电子表格’出现以前,这也是我在一开始如何分解它们的方法。”

“关于《创世纪》我有一些记录了各种内容的笔记本——经常需要2或3个夹子固定住,一本是用于记录线性故事,一本是任务属性表,即按照字母属性排列,一本是记录城镇,即谁待在哪个城镇之类,但这三个信息其实都是相同的,就像‘喔,我在Moon城市中并未设置任何人,该将谁置于此呢?或者我可以将那部分故事覆盖到这里?’”

“在此我该如何移动指针?”

Garriott对于世界,角色及其背景等细节的喜爱清楚地表现在《创世纪》的宇宙中(即自从80年代以来)。他的方法并未消失——他已经致力于《神使的裹布尸:孤独天使》的故事和设计的纸上内容,就像他之前所做的那样,他认为如今的设计师身上开始缺少这些技能,反而只是懒惰地在修改着早前的一些理念。

“我认为我们产业的设计人才远低于我们的需求,”

Garriot说道:“说实话,我所合作过的每个设计师都很懒惰,不能带给你其它不寻常的内容。”

“他们通常只会说,‘你知道的,我很喜欢《荣誉勋章》,但我将创造出更大的武器,或者更加有效的治愈包,或者其它,’你懂的。比起坐下并仔细思考‘在此我该如何移动指针?’,他们将只是对于自己喜欢的游戏做出1或2个改变。”

“你知道的,即使这只是一张地图。我也将推动整个团队致力于创造一张场景地图。你是如何看待整体的事情发展,‘这适合让玩家在此游荡,杀死一些事物,并在最后获得一个珍宝,但为什么呢?你这么做的动机是什么?还有什么其它故事?如果你设置了这些角色,那么在他们出现于地图上之前是过着怎样的生活?如果你并未想好,那就回头重新做。我希望你能够清楚这些内容。’”

Shroud of the Avatar(from pcgamer)

Shroud of the Avatar(from pcgamer)

他继续说道:“我认为真正优秀的游戏设计师真的很少。不过Chris Roberts,Will Wright以及Peter Molyneux便属于这些少数优秀的游戏设计师。所以优秀的游戏设计师是存在的,只是从总体上来看,我们产业中的设计人才远远低于我们的需要。这真的是一项很难掌握的技能。”

源于创造了最受尊敬的RPG之一,同时也可能是第一款计算机RPG的人的激昂文字可以追溯到1976年的一份高中英文报告中。如果说PC游戏具有“创造者”的话,那么Lord Brithsh便是其中之一。

其实当我问起他是否认为一些开发商,如BioWare在最近取得了一些不错的表现时,Garriott也是点头认同的。他的褒贬范围还是很广,但我推测,比起谴责整个产业,他只是在提出自己认为的设计人才所具有的一些缺陷。在他的心里仍存在理想的程序员,美术师以及设计师组合,特别是在当前的独立开发领域中,即保留着Garriott所怀念的早前设计师所具有的精神。

带着“回归最初的RPG根源,聆听早前作品的创造性”这样的承诺,Garriott的新游戏《神使的裹布尸:孤独天使》成功地在Kickstarter上募集到了资金。

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

Richard Garriott on why “most game designers really just suck”

By Tyler Wilde

When Ultima creator Richard Garriott stopped by to show me Shroud of the Avatar, his new RPG which just met its $1M Kickstarter funding goal, he brought along some objects for show and tell. First, he produced a folder containing a stack of loose, lined paper—the first record of Ultima’s world, featuring Sosaria, Lord British, and the evil Mondain. Holy crap, that should be in a museum, I thought.

“This is the founding document of Ultima, that predates even Ultima I,” said Garriott. “This is 1976-ish, before I ever programmed a line of code. This is the story of the city of Moon and the world of Sosaria, with Lord British and the evil wizard Mondain, where I received a rare ‘A’ on something I did in English class, which I usually failed. This is before a personal computer even existed.”

“I think most game designers really just suck”

Garriott went on to show me one of the first computer RPGs he—or anyone—ever made. It was programmed with holes in a roll of paper and, as it existed before displays, its output was an ASCII grid printed on paper. “So it’s about 30 seconds per frame,” said Garriott. “But it’s basically doing tile graphics, back, even before there were graphics.” That should really be in a museum, I thought.

The relics are a story on their own—Ultima is one of the most prolific and influential series ever—but Garriott was building to a point. After showing me Shroud of the Avatar, which he hopes meshes the best of classic RPGs with modern ideas, he moved on to talking about the classic principles of game design—the results of which he’d just been showing me—and what it means to be a great designer. He thinks the latter is rare in the industry.

“I’ve met virtually no one…who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am.”

“You know, I go back to the day when I was the programmer, I was the artist, I was the text writer, etcetera,” said Garriott. “Every artist we’ve ever hired ever is infinitely better at art than I ever was. I was never a good artist, or audio engineer, or composer. I was a pretty good programmer, but now all of our programmers are better than I am—but if I’d stayed in programming I could probably keep up.

“But other than a few exceptions, like Chris Roberts, I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am. I’m not saying that because I think I’m so brilliant. What I’m saying is, I think most game designers really just suck, and I think there’s a reason why.”

“It’s really hard to go to school to be a good designer”

Chris Roberts, who worked with Garriott back when Origin Systems was producing both Ultima and Wing Commander, isn’t Garriott’s only exception—he also identified Will Wright and Peter Molyneux as examples of quality game designers. The majority, however, become designers because they lack other skills, according to Garriott’s analysis.

“If you’re not a good artist and not a good programmer, but you still like games, you become a designer.”

“If you like games, you eventually get to the point where you’d like to make one,” said Garriott. “But if you had this magic art talent as a youth, you can refine your skills and show a portfolio and say, ‘I’m a good artist, go hire me’ If you’re nerdy enough to hack into a computer, programming on your own, you can go to school and learn proper structure, make code samples and go ‘Look, I’m a good programmer, hire me.’

“But if you’re not a good artist and not a good programmer, but you still like games, you become a designer, if you follow me. You get into Q&A and often design.

“And the most valuable part of creating a game is the design, which the programmers are technically executing. And they’d be happy to just execute some of them. But in my mind, most artists and programmers are just as much of gamers as the designers, and I usually find in my history that the artists and programmers are, in fact, as good of designers as the designers. They’re often better, because they understand the technology or the art.

“So we’re leaning on a lot of designers who get that job because they’re not qualified for the other jobs, rather than that they are really strongly qualified as a designer. It’s really hard to go to school to be a good designer.”

“Four-dimensional spreadsheets”

So how does a good game designer work? Garriott went on, explaining the design process which started back with that high school writing assignment. Using a “four-dimensional spreadsheet,” Garriott says he records every character, location, and item in a game and blends them into the whole.

“OK, here’s some magic items, have I distributed them around enough?” Garriott asked himself, miming his process. “How do they migrate across the story? What is the journey of that item through the game?”

“And every designer that I work with…I think, frankly, is lazy.”

“I think it’s this discipline of how I break down storytelling—not just the story, but each region, each thread, each object, and I kind of do them all simultaneously. I kind of have a four-dimensional spreadsheet in this sense, even before there were ‘spreadsheets,’ that’s how I broke them down in the beginning.

“I have the notebooks for Ultimas one through five—I would often get two or three binders, and one was the linear story, one was by character sheet, alphabetical, one was by town, and who was in each town, but it was the same information threaded thrice, because it helped go, ‘Oh, I’ve put nobody in the city of Moon, who can I put over there? Or what part of the story can I shuffle over there?’”

“How can I really move the needle here?”

Garriott’s love of detail in a world, its characters, and their backstories has been evident in the Ultima universe since the ’80s. His method hasn’t gone away—he’s been working on Shroud of the Avatar’s story and design on paper, just like he always has—and he thinks this skill, or something comparable, is lacked today, replaced by lazy rehashes of old ideas.

“I think that the design talent in our industry is dramatically lower than we need.”

“And every designer that I work with—all throughout life—I think, frankly, is lazy,” said Garriot, adding “to give you another zinger” in reference to my ribbing him earlier over his “game designers suck” line.

“But if you follow, they generally say, ‘You know, I really like Medal of Honor, but I would have bigger weapons, or I would have more healing packs, or,’ you know. They go to make one or two changes to a game they otherwise love versus really sit down and rethink, ‘How can I really move the needle here?’

“You know, even if it’s just a map. I really push my team on how to make a scenario map. How do you really think about the whole thing holistically, to go, ‘yeah, it’s fine to wander through and kill a few things and get a treasure at the end, but why? What’s your motivation for being into it? What are the side stories? If you have these characters in there, what were their lives before they showed up on this map? If you didn’t think of one, go back. Do it again. I want you to know it.’”

“I think there’s really very few great game designers,” he continued. “I think Chris Roberts is one of them, Will Wright’s another, Peter Molyneux is another. They clearly exist, but on the whole, I think that the design talent in our industry is dramatically lower than we need, as an industry. It’s a very hard skill to learn.”

Strong words, especially coming from someone who created one of the most revered RPGs ever—as well as what might be the first computer RPG ever, as evidenced by the punched tape he presented—and whose experience is traceable to a 1976 high school English paper. If it can be said that PC gaming has “founders,” Lord British is one of them.

To be fair, Garriott agreed when I asked if he thought some developers, such as BioWare, had been doing good work recently. His judgments are still very broad, but I inferred that, rather than condemning the entire industry, he was pointing out flaws he perceives in how design talent is assessed and promoted in specific parts of the industry. His ideal programmer, artist, designer combo still exists, especially among the current crop of indie developers, who I think retain the spirit of the early days Garriott is reminiscing about.

Garriott’s new game, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, has succeeded on Kickstarter with the promise that it’s a “return to his fantasy RPG roots, hearkening back to his innovative early work.”(source:pcgamer)


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