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如何通过游戏设计创造真正有效的游戏系统

发布时间:2015-11-25 15:11:41 Tags:,,,,

作者:Mike Sellers

系统非常重要—-它们甚至比游戏更广泛且更重要。我也相信游戏,特别是游戏设计是帮助我们了解系统是什么以及为何如此重要的有效途径。

当然了,单单本文是不可能全面讨论系统到底是什么。但我还是想分享一些基本内容。有可能乍看之下这些内容会有点抽象,但我还是想以我认为非常重要的游戏设计方式将其带到游戏中进行说明。

所有系统都拥有一些相似的内容:系统是由一些相互作用并构成一种带有目的的整体的部件所构成。这里存在一层又一层的内容,让我们一一将其揭开。

一个系统中的每个“部分”都可以作为软件中的一个对象,并伴随着它自己的状态(基于属性)和行为。重要的是,这种定义是递归的:每个部分本身就是一个整体,一个子系统,并带有自己的内在作用:一个部分的属性本身是带有自己的状态,属性和行为的对象。这种递归属性能够帮助我们更好地进行理解,但同时也会让我们有点困惑。我们总是希望依赖于(或设计)一个没有任何额外结构的独立的交互层。这会导致我们不能有效地理解系统以及世界的运行,并最终导致我们创造出肤浅且普通的游戏玩法。你必须清楚,不管何时当你着眼于系统时,你都能够揭开里面的各个部分,而系统本身也只是一个更大的系统的组成部分。

系统中一个对象的行为可能会改变其自身的状态,它有可能与其它对象进行交流,并可能潜在地改变它们的状态和行为。这种交流是指不同部分之间的互动。虽然不同对象会进行互动,但并非系统中的所有对象都会频繁地进行互动。就像我们在任何网络上所看到的那样,一些对象会进行频繁的互动,而其它对象则很少互动。这对于塑造等级结构将会产生影响:一组对象间的频繁互动会创造一个定义下个等级中的超级对象的界限。

结果便是两个或两个以上的子系统的互动将创造一个整体系统并伴随着带有目的的行为去推动整体系统向前发展。“向前”的行动可能是来自一个沿着糖梯度行走的细菌,在球场上奔跑的足球队,躲避捕鱼者的鱼群,或者朝着游戏世界核心潜行的游戏玩家。而不管是什么,“系统”都是一个由相互影响的部分构成的复杂整体,就像细菌,足球队,鱼群,以及游戏和玩家的组合。

最后一个例子引出了一个要点:尽管我们经常谈论游戏中的战斗系统,技能系统,但是我们还必须清楚创造了游戏体验的整体系统至少包含了两个子系统:游戏和玩家。它们都是伴随着自己的内部对象,状态,行为的复杂的子系统,并且它们都会与其它系统进行互动并创造整体的“玩游戏”系统。游戏系统是游戏内部一些相互联系的子系统,并伴随着游戏的玩家。

这也将把我们引向我们之前提到的定义的最后一部分,即“一个有目的的整体”。当被提起时,系统经常是关于带有一个目的或技术:就像鱼群躲避捕鱼者,足球队在球场上运球等等。同样地,游戏的设计目的便是通过使用它们的内部子系统去创造特定的体验,而它同时也是一个整体系统,结合了游戏与玩家,并创造了体验。而游戏体验便是任何游戏的目的与意义。

所以什么是游戏系统?这与我们所谓的系统游戏有什么关系?

接下来我将转向MDA框架(游戏邦注:它与功能–行为–结构本体论逻辑非常相近),并基于此去谈论游戏系统。

游戏系统的机制(或结构)便是它的对象和它们的属性。它们就像是棋盘上的棋子或RPG游戏中的武器以及它们当前的状态(棋盘上的位置和持久性)和行为(每个棋子是如何移动的,长剑长弓或大刀是如何攻击的)。

一个游戏系统的动态或行为便是作为游戏对象互动的行动(而我们需要记住一个关卡的动态将创造出下个关卡系统中整体部分的机制)。让我们举个例子来说吧,“控球”最初并不是出现在篮球的规则中,也不是作为游戏的一部分,直到它真正出现几年后才是如此。玩家可以将球传给其他人而在球场上移动着,并且他们最终会发现自己可以通过将球扔向地板而将球反弹回给自己。控球是源自游戏规则中的机制的一种动态行为。而就像在许多MMO游戏中,结合坦克,DPS和治愈角色去创造相似的动态是游戏系统设计中一个重要的部分。如果游戏对象并不能创造任何全新且重要的结合效果,那么游戏系统便不可能长期吸引玩家的注意。

football(from wallcoo)

football(from wallcoo)

最终,系统的美感或功能将指向系统的目的,或者说是玩家的预期体验:游戏可能会创造出成就感,快速的行动,恐惧感,爱,友谊,失落感,好奇等等。这种体验需要来自多个游戏子系统以及游戏体验整体系统中的游戏和玩家子系统的互动。

在这里,游戏系统带有一些定义明确的对象,并且这些对象都有自己的属性,状态和行为。这些对象必须基于某种方式进行互动并创造出能够支持特定游戏体验创造的全新集合行为(动态)。对象互动并不是随机的,它们将创造出对象之间的相关性,并以此唤起一些有意义的动态。如果一个对象并不能与其它对象相结合,或者如果一个机制并不能支持其它更大范围的游戏行为,再或者如果游戏内部行为不能为玩家创造具有强大凝聚力的体验,那么你的系统便是失败的。它缺少目的(也就是技术,功能,美感),你需要致力于创造一些能够改善它并更好地进行互动的组件。

值得注意的是,我们总是很难同时将所有这些内容装在自己的脑袋里。根据我自己的经验,不同设计师会倾向于其中的某一部分(游戏邦注:通常是机制或美感),并以其它部分为代价。有些设计师重视设计的“名词和动词”,但却不清楚名词和动词能够创造出怎样的游戏体验。也有些设计师清楚自己想要传达的感觉和体验,但却搞不懂该适应怎样的机制将其呈现出来。

Paul Stephanouk便总结了成为能够跨越这一范围的游戏设计师的必要元素,他说道,一位系统设计师必须能够“将游戏变成一张电子表格,并将一张电子表格变成一款游戏。”

那,到底什么是系统游戏呢?这类型游戏是依赖于它们的内部子系统为玩家创造重复且吸引人的游戏玩法。如今最常见的这类型游戏便是我们所熟悉的rogue游戏,因为这些游戏每次都能从程序上重新生成游戏世界,并提供一些新奇且有趣的游戏内容。

让我们将这类型游戏与那些外观华丽,拥有基于昂贵布景,角色,过场动画所创造的游戏玩法的游戏(通常是指高端的AAA级主机游戏)相比较。这些游戏每次都会呈现给玩家同样的游戏玩法,即带有最少的变量。游戏中可能也有“战斗系统”,但这通常都不是一个真正的系统:游戏中存在一把能够击败其它武器的狙击枪,一把能够近距离使用的猎枪,还有能够创造巨大威力的激光枪等等。在许多角色扮演游戏中,玩家总是能够快速转向最佳“角色创造”并获得最强大的坦克,DPS,治愈者等等。在许多策略游戏中至少会有两至三种获胜方法,而其它方法则注定会走向失败。这样的游戏设计虽然具有游戏对象,但却只有少数能够支持不同且有效游戏策略的互动内容。虽然玩家具有选择,但是这些选择很快便会被划分成“有效”和“无效”,而后者将会让玩家非常受挫。或者游戏中可能具有无数对象结合(就像《边境之地》或《暗黑破坏神》中的武器),但是这些结合只会偶尔创造出一些有趣的动态内容,而随机武器间的互动却一点都不深入。

还有一个我认为有时候会阻碍游戏设计师的例子是,设计师系统并不会创造出游戏系统。举个例子来说吧,如果你是一名设计师的话,你会认为《魔兽世界》拥有一个复杂且有效的任务创造系统。如果你是玩家的话,你便会认为同样的任务总是包含同样的障碍和奖励,并引出同样的后续任务。作为玩家,这样的内容在短时间内可能很有趣,但是当你意识到在90级时你还是做着与第1级同样的事,并且你所对抗的对手只是变得更大且更卑鄙时,你便会非常郁闷。这里存在一个系统能够帮助设计师创造一个复杂的任务网。而对于玩家来说,这里却不具有任务多样性。虽然这里存在预定决定好的任务线,但是却不具有基于互动性的任务系统。

相反的是,不管是设置还是可行的武器或工具,系统游戏都依赖于游戏对象之间的互动。基于根本的算式和系统互动,每次玩家游戏时游戏都会生成一些全新的内容。这意味着游戏设计师不能依赖于昂贵的静态组件,反而应该选择游戏对象与机制间的互动所创造的动态组件。这也意味着设计师必须创造他们自己的游戏系统,即通过子系统,该游戏系统每次都能够创造可游戏的内容,并且每次都能够提供系统多样性同时还能维持让人满足的游戏美感。

虽然做到这些很困难,但这却非常有效,能够帮助我们创造出具有较高重玩性且真正长久的游戏。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转发,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Systems, Game Systems, and Systemic Games

by Mike Sellers

Systems are a big deal — they’re much more pervasive and important than games. But, for reasons I’ll get to later, I believe that games, and game design in particular, are a uniquely effective avenue for understanding what systems are and why they’re important.

A full discussion of what systems are is beyond the scope of one blog post. But I want to lay out some basics as the foundation for some later posts. This may be a bit abstract at first, but I’ll bring it back to games in a way that I believe illuminates important parts of game design.

All systems have a few things in common: a system is made of parts that interact to form a purposeful whole. There’s a lot packed in there, so let’s take that bit by bit.

Each ‘part’ in a system can be thought of an object in software terms, with its own state (defined by attributes) and behavior. Importantly, this definition is recursive: each part is itself a whole, a sub-system, with its own internal workings: a part’s attributes are themselves objects with their own states, attributes, and behaviors. This recursive nature is vital to understand and can also be a little dizzying. We often want to cling to (or design to!) a single level of interactions without any additional structure. This leads to a poor understanding of systems and how the world works, and to shallow, lackluster gameplay. In terms of thinking about systems, just remember that whenever you’re looking at a system, there are parts within it to be unpacked — and the system is itself just a part of a larger system.

The behavior of an object in a system may change its own state, and it may communicate with other objects, potentially changing their state and behavior. This communication is the interaction between parts mentioned above. While objects interact, not all objects in a system interact equally often. As is often seen in any network, there are dense interactions between some objects, and far fewer between others. This has the effect of forming hierarchies: dense connections of interactions between one set of objects creates, implicitly or explicitly, a boundary that defines a super-object at the next level up in the hierarchy.

The result of this is that two or more sub-systems (with their own internal sub-systems) interact in ways that create a holistic system and drive the whole system forward with purposeful behavior. “Forward” might be a bacterium traveling along a sugar gradient, a football team traveling down-field, a school of fish evading a predator, or a game player working toward domination of a game world. In each of those, the “system” is a complex whole made up of parts acting together: the bacterium, the football team, the school of fish, and the combination of game and player.

That last example brings up an important point: while we often talk about combat systems, skill systems, etc., in games, we have to remember that the overall system that creates the experience of playing a game involves at least two important sub-systems: the game, and the player (or players!). Each is a complex sub-system with its own internal objects, states, and behaviors; and each interacts with the other to create the overall system of “the game being played.” The game systems are sub-systems within the game that interact together and with the player as the game is played.

This brings us to the last part of the definition I gave above, that of “a purposeful whole.” Systems are often spoken of as having a purpose or teleology: fish avoiding a predator, a football team moving the ball downfield, etc. In a similar way, games are designed to create a particular kind of experience through the use of their internal sub-systems, but it is the system overall, the combination of game and player, that bring that experience to life. That experience is the purpose, the meaning, of any game.

So what is a game system? And how does this relate to what we might call systemic games?

Here I’m going to turn to the MDA framework (or alternatively, its closely parallel cousin the Function-Behavior-Structure ontological framework) as scaffolding for talking about game systems.

In these terms, the mechanics (or structure) of a game system are its objects and their attributes. These are, for example, the pieces on the chessboard or the weapons in an RPG and, just as important, their current state (location on the board, amount of durability) and their behavior (how each chess piece moves, or how a rapier, longbow, or broadsword attack).

The dynamics or behavior of a game system are the events and actions that emerge as the result of game-based objects interacting (though remember that dynamics at one level create the mechanics of the aggregated parts at the next system-level up). As one example, “dribbling” was not found in the original rules of basketball, and didn’t appear as an acknowledged part of the game until several years after its introduction. Players could pass the ball to others to move it down court, and they eventually discovered they could also pass the ball to themselves by bouncing it on the floor as they advanced, passing it back to their own hand. Dribbling is a dynamic behavior that emerges from the mechanics in the stated rules of the game. Creating similar dynamics, as by combining the roles of tank, DPS, and healer characters in many MMOs, is an important part of game systems design. If the game objects don’t create any new, significant combined effects — if each object works pretty much on its own with little value gained by interacting with others — then the game system (if it’s a system at all!) is not likely to engage players for long.

Finally, the aesthetics or function of a system refer to the system’s purpose, or in game terms, the desired experience for the players: the game may engender feelings of achievement, fast-paced action, of hypnotic flow, terror, love, companionship, loss, wonder, etc. This experience requires the interactions of multiple game sub-system and the game and player as sub-systems within an overall system of the game experience.

In these terms then, a game system has well-defined objects with their own (typically recursively defined) attributes, state, and behaviors. Those objects have to interact in ways sufficient to create new aggregate behaviors (the dynamics) that support the creation of a particular game experience. The object interactions aren’t random; they’re carefully constructed to create dependencies between the objects in ways that evoke meaningful dynamics in their combined use. If an object isn’t used in combination with others; or if a mechanic doesn’t support some larger-scope game behavior; or if the in-game behaviors don’t create a cohesive experience for the player — then your system is failing. It lacks purpose (aka teleology, function, aesthetic), and you need to work on the pieces that make it up and how they interact.

It’s worth noting that it can be incredibly difficult to keep this all in your head (or even in your design docs!) at the same time — being able to go from “we have these mechanics to create these dynamics in support of this player experience” taxes the abilities of almost any designer. In my experience, different designers gravitate toward one part of that — usually mechanics or aesthetics — at the expense of others. Some designers are all about the “nouns and verbs” of a design, but don’t really have a solid, intuitive feeling for what kind of game experience the nouns and verbs will create. Others know exactly the feeling, the experience, they want to devise, but are fuzzy on exactly what that means in terms of the specific underlying mechanics that will get them there.

The necessity of being a game designer who can span this range was summed up nicely by Paul Stephanouk (@gamegeek) who said that a systems designer should be able “to turn a game into a spreadsheet and a spreadsheet into a game.”

Okay, given all that, what about systemic games? These are games that depend on their internal sub-systems to generate repeatable, engaging gameplay for the player(s). The most common of these currently are those often called “roguelikes” due to the fact that they procedurally re-generate the game world each time, providing at least some amount of novelty and engagement.

Compare that with other games (often high-end AAA console games) that depend on carefully crafted, often beautiful, and generally expensive set piece levels, characters, cut-scenes, and/or scnearios to create gameplay. These present the same gameplay the to the player each time, with at most minor variations in play. There may be a “combat system” for example, but this often isn’t really much of a system: there’s one sniper rifle that beats the others, one shotgun to use close, a machine gun that does lots of damage, etc. In many role-playing games, players quickly gravitate toward the one best “character build” for making the most effective tank, DPS, healer, etc. And in many strategy games there are at most two or three well-honed ways of playing to win, and all others are doomed to failure. In games designed like this there are game objects but few interactions that support different and effective strategies for playing the game. There are choices for the player, but they quickly separate into “effective” and “ineffective,” with the latter leaving the player frustrated (why have a choice in the game if it only leads to sub-optimal gameplay?). Or there might be endless combinations of objects (as in Borderlands’ or Diablo’s weapons), but these only sometimes create interesting (game-relevant) dynamics, as the interactions between random weapons-parts are too broad and not systemically deep.

Another example that I think sometimes trips up game designers are designer-systems that don’t result in game-systems. For example, World of Warcraft has a complicated and effective quest-creation system — if you’re one of the designers. If you’re a player, the result is much like the set pieces described above: the same quests always contain to the same obstacles and rewards, and lead to the same follow-on quests. As a player these are great for awhile, until you realize that at level 90 you’re still doing essentially the same thing you did at level 1, but the rats you have to fight to bring back ten of their tails are just bigger and meaner. There is a system in there for the designers that helps them create a complicated (but not complex) network of quests. For the players, there are no quest dynamics, as the interactions are all frozen at design time. There are pre-defined quest lines, but no interactive quest system.

Systemic games, by contrast, rely on interactions between game objects, from the setting to available weapons or tools. These are generated new each time the game is played based on underlying algorithms and systemic interactions. This necessarily means the game designers can’t depend on expensive, static set pieces, and so must lean more heavily on the dynamics created by the interactions between game objects and their mechanics. It also means the designers have to create their actual game system — the system that, via its sub-systems, creates the game-to-be-played each time — in such a way that it will provide both systemic variability and maintain a satisfying desired aesthetic each time.

As difficult as this is, when it works, it works extremely well, creating highly replayable games with great longevity. That leads us to the concept of game depth — but that will have to wait for another (hopefully shorter!) post.(source:gamasutra)

 


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