游戏邦在:
杂志专栏:
gamerboom.com订阅到鲜果订阅到抓虾google reader订阅到有道订阅到QQ邮箱订阅到帮看

游戏即服务对于独立开发者意味着什么?

发布时间:2014-04-08 15:43:24 Tags:,,,,

作者:James Batchelor

“游戏即服务”很长一段时间以来都是游戏开发的流行词,但是这个经常出现在我们眼前的术语却逐渐开始失去其含义。

英国公司Mediatonic刚刚公布了一个游戏服务平台Game Fuel,这一大胆的尝试将帮助独立和小型工作室去利用这种越来越多产的业务模式。在此,Mediatonic的首席执行官David Bailey将与我们分享“游戏即服务”包含了哪些内容,工作室将如何从中受益,以及之前的开发者是怎么滥用它的。

David Bailey(from develop-online)

David Bailey(from develop-online)

游戏即服务到底意味着什么?你是如何定义它的?

当我在思考游戏即服务时,我认为因为游戏会使用基于网页的基础设施,所以它们可以不断地进行更新。开发者利用这点去回应用户行为并传达事件和功能,从而推动了长期的用户粘性发展。

这是对于消费者转变的回应,这不仅影响了游戏产业,同时还影响了娱乐领域。互联网鼓励人们通过各种设备去吸收内容并访问媒体,而基于同样的方式消费者更是不断受到像Netflix和Spotify等平台的吸引。

世界上最大的技术公司正朝着物联网(游戏邦注:一个基于互联网,传统电信网等信息载体,让所有能够被独立寻址的普通物理对象实现互联互通的网络)奔去。这意味着我们可以期待看到更多娱乐设备的出现,并且云端也将成为连接它们的常见元素。结果便是,游戏即服务将成为现代游戏公司的一大主要运营模式。

但是开发者和发行商经常低估了一个组织在传播一个成功的设备中所发挥的不同作用。我每天所遭遇的最大问题便是这些组织的肌肉记忆。好几十年来,电子游戏一直都被当成产品进行发行,许多决策人和影响者也通过这种经历获得了根深蒂固的行为。

在这里最困难的部分便是,谜题与受数据驱动,快速,以消费者为中心,避免创造“一个人的愚蠢内容”的原理是相互维系在一起的。

传统的电子游戏公司总是想尽办法去确保无数工程师和美术师能够创造出少数管理者的设想。这在发行了十几年的盒装产品的产业中是一个很难被改变的方法。

在使用这一模式时,最大的挑战是什么。我们该如何克服它?

从操作上看,这更像是同时运行一个网络应用业务以及游戏开发工作室。所以从逻辑上来看,我们还有许多事要做并且需要克服许多新的技术障碍。

关于所有这些挑战的最简单的解决方法便是通过云端基础设施传递更多服务,从而让你能够通过一个核心领域在每个设备和区域去管理游戏。然而,这创造了引擎和操作的复杂性,并且通常需要你在经过多次处理后才会注意到它们。

关于游戏业务你看过的最佳例子是什么?为什么它们能够有效运行?

日本人仍然很擅长这点;当我们与日本公司合作时,我们选择尝试计划中的一年现场运维事件。我同样也向倾向于在自己的业务中创造服务文化的Supercell等公司伸出了橄榄枝。

你是否想要强调哪些特别糟糕的例子。

《Super Monster Brothers》便是一个特别显著的例子。

这一模式如何造福独立开发者?

游戏即服务正在模糊发行商(作为传统的决策和赚钱力量的来源)和开发者(创造性智慧和劳动力的来源)之间的关系。对于开发者来说,游戏即服务意味着现在延伸游戏寿命的能力(从而从中提升你的收入)是处于你的掌控之中,而非发行商手中。

Mediatonic发布了一个名为Game Fuel的服务平台。它是如何运行的?

Game Fuel是我们多年来辛苦努力的产物,同时也是与像微软,迪士尼和Time Warner等公司合作发行游戏的经验结果。

从根本上看,技术允许开发者或发行商去分析并管理来自中央云端应用的数据所驱动的任何一个游戏方面。这包括大量的游戏功能,如内容,盈利,难度,关卡设计等等。

尽管游戏被分布到像手机和网页等各个平台,或者许多不同的区域,但Game Fuel让你能够只点击一次便轻松地利用这些内容。从根本上来看,这意味着团队成员可以使用调整和新内容(无需工程师的帮助)而直接面向玩家推动这些改变。

当你在玩一款受到Game Fuel驱动的游戏时,你将与玩任何其它游戏一样,在一开始下载整个产品。但连接上时,游戏将从云顿寻找更新。这一切的发生非常顺畅,并且无需打断用户的体验。当游戏离线时,你也能够继续玩最后一次连接时的游戏版本。

实用计算的发展推动着我们去使用这一方法。现在,当我们点击一个按键时,我们拥有强大的计算能力和存储空间能够做不久前所做不到的一些事。这意味着我们可以不用花太多时间去思考对于业务来说不是特别重要的内容,从而能够专注于真正重要的工程计划:创造优秀的游戏。

我们努力更详细地了解玩家的行为:他们喜欢什么,更重要的是他们在哪里受挫。这种细节与灵活性层次并不能用于现成的解决方法,所以我们便大力投资于分析基础设施。巨大的数据面可能会蛮吓人的,因为它将快速地发展,并仍然是一个相对利基的技能组。最近我们在Windows Azure中转向了HDInsight,这让我们能够使用熟悉的工具链和语言,同时通过移向一个PaaS解决方法而减少操作开销。

你们目前获得了怎样的成功?

我们已经在一些项目中多次使用了Game Fuel,其中包含一些大型发行公司的项目。最近的例子有《疯狂外科医生3》,在美国和英国的AppStore排行榜上位列榜首。

在《疯狂外科医生3》中,我们能够在软发行时分析玩家的行为并相对应地调整游戏。例如,我们发现自己在早期的外科手术时失去了许多玩家。于是我们便调整了难度,从而在面向全球市场进行首次展示前双倍提高了玩家留存。

这也意味着我们能够传递新内容—-我们能够很轻松地做一些很酷的事,如我们今年年初所运行的《疯狂外科医生》与《Pocket God》的交叉推广。

服务同样也推动着许多虚拟世界和手机游戏能够出现在国际市场上—-跨越不同国家而传播一些完全不同但却具有区域关联性的内容,这也是Mediatonic在内部所创造的。经过证明这是非常灵活的一种方法,能够跨越许多不同的区域管理无数玩家。

你期待2014年的游戏服务会有怎样的发展?是否会有更多人使用它?它是否会继续发展?

硬件方面,我们看到了设备和服务在位置方面的竞赛。谷歌以32亿美元收购了Nest,出现了苹果iTV的传闻,微软投资于Windows Azure和Xbox One—-所有的这些技术业务都将把颠覆性的网络连接设备带向市场,这也将提高游戏即服务的重要性和普遍性。

对于游戏即服务将从当前作为一种颠覆性理念的状态转向人们创造并玩游戏的简单方法,我一点都不会感到惊讶。

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

Games as a Service: What does it mean for indies?

By James Batchelor

The term is batted around the industry all too regularly, but Mediatonic CEO David Bailey explains what the model really means for smaller devs

The phrase ‘Games as a Service’ has long since become a buzzword in games development, a term used so often it is beginning to lose meaning.

UK firm Mediatonic has just launched Games as a Service platform GameFuel, an initiative that helps indies and smaller studios harness this increasingly prolific business model. Here, Mediatonic CEO David Bailey offers more insight as to what ‘Games as a Service’ really involves, how studios can benefit from it, and how previous developers have abused it.

What does Games as a Service actually mean? How do you define it?

When I think about Games as a Service, I think about games that deploy a web-based infrastructure so that they can be continuously updated. Developers use this to react to audience behaviours and deliver events and features that nurture long-term engagement.

It’s a response to a consumer shift that has impacted not only the games industry but entertainment in general. The internet encourages people to graze on content and to access media through lots of devices, in the same way consumers are gravitating towards platforms like Netflix and Spotify.

The world’s biggest tech companies are racing towards an Internet of Things. This means we can expect many more devices to emerge for entertainment and the cloud will be the common element that connects them all. As a result, Games as a Service has become a critical operating model for modern games companies.

But developers and publishers often underestimate how differently an organisation needs to act in order to deliver a successful service. The biggest problem I encounter day-to-day is muscle-memory within these organisations. Video Games have been shipped as products for decades and many decision makers and influencers have deeply ingrained behaviours from this experience.

The hardest piece of this is puzzle is in aligning teams with the philosophy of being data-driven, fast, customer-centric, and avoiding building “one person’s folly”.

Traditionally video games companies have been organised to ensure that hundreds of engineers and artists can build out the artistic vision of a handful of mangers. This can be a tough approach to change after decades of shipping boxed-products.

Developers and publishers often underestimate how differently an organisation needs to act in order to deliver a successful service.

What is the single biggest challenge when using this model, and how can it be overcome?

Operationally, it’s much like running a web application business in parallel to a game development studio. So logistically there’s a lot to do and many new technical hurdles to overcome.

The simplest solution to all of this is to deliver as much of your service as possible through a cloud infrastructure so that you can manage your game across every device and territory from one centralised place. However, this does create engineering and operational complexities that aren’t always obvious until you’ve been through the process a few times.

What are the best examples you have seen of games as a service, and why do they work?

The Japanese are still the best at this; when we work with Japanese companies we go to market with a year’s worth of live ops events already in the plans. I also take my hat of to companies like Supercell who have managed to keep their teams lean and have built a services culture throughout their business.

Any particularly bad examples you want to highlight?

Super Monster Brothers was pretty special:

How can this model benefit indies in particular?

Games as a Service is blurring the relationship between publishers (as the traditional source of decision- and money-making power) and developers (as the source of creative ingenuity and labour). GaaS means that, as a developer, the power to extend the life of your game – and therefore extend your income from it – is now largely in your own hands, rather than in a publisher’s.

Mediatonic has launched a Games as a Service platform called Game Fuel. How does this work?

Game Fuel is the product of several years’ work and hard experience in publishing games as a service with companies like Microsoft, Disney and Time Warner.

Essentially the technology allows a developer or publisher to analyse and manage almost any aspect of their game that is driven by data from a centralised cloud application. That includes a massive amount of game features such as content, monetisation, difficulty, level design and son.

Even if that game is deployed across multiple platforms such as mobile and web, or across many different territories, Game Fuel means you can deploy content (or roll it back) with one click. In essence, it means that members of the team can deploy tweaks and new content without the need for getting engineering involved, and push those changes out immediately to players.

Games as a Service means that, as a developer, the power to extend the life of your game is in your own hands, not the publisher’s.

When you play a game that is powered by Game Fuel, you download the whole product in the first instance just like any other title. When connected, the game will look for updates from the cloud. This takes place seamlessly and without interrupting the user whilst online. When the game is offline, you continue playing the version of the game that was true at the last time you were connected.

The rise of utility computing has been the catalyst that’s enabled us to take this approach. We now have a huge amount of compute power and storage available at the click of a button, allowing us to do things that just wouldn’t have been economically viable even a relatively short time ago. This means we spend less time thinking about things that are secondary to our business, and allows us to focus our engineering effort on what really matters: building great games.

We strive to understand player behaviours in as much detail as possible: what they enjoying, and perhaps more importantly where they are getting stuck or frustrated. This kind of level of detail and agility isn’t available in off-the-shelf solutions so we’ve invested heavily in our own analytics infrastructure. The big data landscape can be intimidating as it’s evolving very quickly and is still a relatively niche skillset. We’ve recently transitioned to HDInsight on Windows Azure, which allows us to use a tool chain and languages that we’re familiar whilst reducing the operational overhead by moving to a PaaS solution.

What success have you had with it so far?

We’ve been using Game Fuel for some time on projects that involve large publishing companies. A recent example was Amateur Surgeon 3 which hit No.1 in the AppStore charts in the US and UK.

In the case of Surgeon, we were able to analyse player behaviours and tweak the game accordingly at soft launch. For example, we found we were losing a lot of players in one early surgery. Dialling back the difficulty, we were able to double player retention even before going to global rollout.

It also means we’re able to deliver new content – and do cool things really easily, such as the Amateur Surgeon and Pocket God cross-promotion we ran earlier this year.

The service also powers a number of virtual worlds and mobile titles available internationally – with totally different, regionally relevant content across countries, which Mediatonic has built internally. It’s been proven to be super-scalable, managing many millions of players across numerous territories.

All the major tech businesses are going to be bringing disruptive web-connected devices to the market and this will only increase the importance and ubiquity of Games as a Service.

What developments do you expect to see from the Games as a Service model in 2014? Will more people use it? Will it evolve?

On the hardware-side, we are seeing a race for position in devices and services. Google’s acquisition of Nest for $3.2billion, Apple’s iTV rumours, Microsoft’s investment in Windows Azure and Xbox One – all the major tech businesses are going to be bringing disruptive web-connected devices to the market and this will only increase the importance and ubiquity of Games as a Service.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Games as a Service moving away from its current status as a disruptive concept, and towards being simply the way people make and play games.(source:develop-online)


上一篇:

下一篇: