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开发者探讨:独立游戏如何衡量和定义成功

发布时间:2017-08-25 15:42:31 Tags:,

开发者探讨:独立游戏如何衡量和定义成功

原文作者:Ric Cowley 译者:Megan Shieh

成功对于不同的人来说意味着不同的事情,有些人可能认为活过了今天就是成功,但其他人可能需要跳进现金池里才会觉得快乐。

有人可能会觉得独立开发者的目标是前者,可是存活下来就真的成功了吗?怎么衡量呢?

为了找出答案,我们访问了独立游戏开发专家,意图找出他们对成功的看法以及衡量成功标准。

我们的具体问题是:

当你发布自己的游戏时,如何定义“成功”?

有没有任何具体的指标可以确定你的游戏是否“成功了”?

Tanya Short——Kitfox Games 创意总监

游戏不可避免地会出现问题,这些问题可能会影响到游戏的规模、预算、时间表、功能设置和游戏发布后我自己感觉,但是我认为作为初始概念的一部分,为项目定制一套目标是很重要的。

我们的目标可以是出售至少100万份副本、学习如何使用Unity、从发布中吸取经验、在IGF中获胜、或者其他你想要的东西,但是团队中的每个人都必须理解并相信这个目标。

目标是我作决定的原因和基础。不管是加入游戏手柄支持还是将开发时间延长两个月,重要的是让组里其他的队员支持这个决定,而不是试图往不同的方向发展。

Kitfox的目标往往是财务、评论和生产方面成功的混合:让我们把支出的成本赚回来;创造出一些出色的东西(或者是一些玩家喜欢的东西);并且在实现这些目标的过程中确保自己的生存。

如果我们能做到上述三件事中的两件,那就肯定会赢,但其中的任何一件都不容易做到。我们负担不起几个月没有薪水可以发的情况,所以工作室的生存必须是最低要求……然后在这个范围内定义可接受的创造性参数。

比起舆论反响,Kitfox的具体目标往往更侧重于生产和财务方面。

对于工作室目前为止的所有项目,我已明令禁止所有团队成员在任何项目中每周投入超过50个工时的情况超过两次;同时我会坐下来预测在发布几个月后可能会出现的“不好的”、“过得去的”、“超棒的”和“理想形的”销量,开发前期会作一次预测,然后在发布前会再次更新这些期望。

直至目前,Kitfox在生产方面已经取得了成功;并且我们的销售数量似乎都倾向于‘过得去的’销售预测;《Moon Hunter》甚至达到了80%的Steam用户评论;所有这些都不算是超级厉害,但已经足够成功了。

moon hunters (from pocketgamer.biz)

moon hunters (from pocketgamer.biz)

我们可以继续创造更多有人喜欢的游戏!我们活在梦里!然后希望能在这方面做得更好。

人们可能没有意识到的一件重要事情是:有野心、有创造力的人总是会想要进步。

因此,随着你不断地创造越来越多的游戏,你对表现的期望也可能相对上升,即使市场萎缩或外部因素可能会使你的目标更难实现。

Aaron Fothergill——Strange Flavour 联合创始人

我对成功的定义是:看到玩家在玩我们的游戏,听到我的玩家们试图再过一关的哀嚎…

在其他方面,成功的定义取决于具体的项目。第一个普遍的经验法则是,如果很多人都喜欢它,那么它就是一个胜利。

第二是“这能让我们再存活一年吗?”,因此,能让我们赚到足够的钱来至少完成下一个游戏或重大更新的东西都可以算作成功。

有些项目(通常是非常快的项目)可能纯粹只是为了实验一些具体东西的可行性。在这种情况下,成功便取决于我们得到的数据类型,以及其结果是否可以应用到其他游戏中。

从玩家那里得到的销量和反馈是我们的主要指标。我们经常遇到的问题是曝光率(让玩家看到我们的产品),所以玩家的反馈通常是一个更好的度量标准,因为我们总是可以找到更多的方法来出售玩家真正喜爱的游戏。

Pavel Ahafonau——Happymagenta 联合创始人

我同意Aaron的说法。

虽然每个独立开发商都梦想成为一个每年营业额过十亿的大规模(10-100人)公司,但是为了让这个目标在技术上获得可能性,独立开发商还有很多东西要学:理解和优化指标,货币化,UA,如何扩大规模,等等。

我敢打赌我们中的很多人都还不太关注这些话题,原因有很多种,包括缺乏经验、预算和整体的天真。虽然在网上有很多关于这些话题的信息,部分人还是无动于衷。

直到成为一个大规模的、有投资者投资的、还有高达5亿美元的银行贷款的、牛逼哄哄的公司之前,一个独立开发商有很长的路要走。

因此,独立开发者成功的定义就是像Aaron阐述的那样简单——做一个好的游戏,赚到足够生存的钱,学习,改进和创造更多的游戏

Erik van Wees——Arcane Circus 联合创始人

Arcane Circus发布《Crap!I’m broke: Out of Pocket》的时候,我们学到:要成功,你就应该尽早地在项目中定义你的成功目标。

在项目刚开始的时候,我们只是希望能设法拿回最初的投资。游戏发布后,我们注意到自己在调整对销售的期望。

在发布游戏的时候我们有幸登上了苹果的主页,这极大地影响了我们的销量,从而使得我们能够在投资和其他的一些方面取得回报。

局外人可能会得出这样的结论:“你的目标已经完成了,所以你的游戏是成功的”。但并不是这样的…我们的功能来了又去,销售也下降了,可是我们想要的更多了,因为我们刚刚根据新情况调整了对游戏表现的期望。

奇怪的是,我没有欣喜若狂的感觉…我不觉得我成功了。我知道这些数字意味着我们的投资得到了回报,但它并没有让我开心到想要大叫“好耶!我们成功了!”

我已经开始考虑为下一个更大的项目雇佣自由职业者所需要的钱了。

梦想着拥有一个办公空间,购买更好的设备来真正地让我们公司运转。是的…“发展公司!这就是我想要的”,无论需要付出多少代价。

成功似乎非常二进制,你要么成功,要么失败。它可以像单一规则一样简单,也可以像一整套需求那样复杂。

因为我们在该项目的早期就已经确定了一个初始目标,所以当我愚蠢的大脑试图让我相信自己已经失败的时候,我能把事情做得很好。

总而言之:确保你能衡量你所定义的成功,并从一开始就明确决定是否成功的分界线。

在评估最初目标之前,花一段时间与项目保持距离也会对你有帮助。

Matthew Annal——Nitrome 总经理

很多人都说成功就是生存,比如:赚足够的钱去做下一个游戏;在天平的另一端,Happy Magenta谈论成为一个100人超级大公司的愿望。这两个定义可能阐述了很多人的想法,但对我来说,成功是介于两者之间的。

Nitrome刚开始成功的时候,我们的收入是肯定足够支付下一个游戏的;但随着时间的推移,(Nitrome已经运营了10年),情况已经不再是这样了。

随着你的生活和收获的承诺……家庭、伴侣、抵押贷款等等。寻找下一份收入以保持不被肩上的重担压扁,当然不是成功该有的样子。

所以成功在我的脑海中的感觉是,赚足够多的钱——不只需要足够支付下一个游戏,还得让你可以完全停止对金钱的担忧。不必再为金钱担忧意味着我的注意力就可以完全集中在游戏上,这种时候我才真正感到成功。

回应一下楼上Pavel关于大公司的超级成功理论。这对我个人来说从来都不是一种渴望,因为我意识到我可能得因此对我想做的游戏和我想要专注的领域做出妥协,这根本不会让我感到高兴。我衡量成功的标准中从来没有“妥协”二字。

话虽如此,衡量成功的标准随着时间的推移而改变,一旦你舒适地达到一个目标,另一个目标就会在更高的层次上取代它的位置。

在某些情况下,我认为如果在不断变化的环境中没有抓住机会,那是害怕失败的恐惧造成的;而在另一些情况下,保持挑战的新鲜感可能会很简单。然而这也意味着我们可能永远低于我们所认为的成功。

Sebastian Lindén——Qaos Games 首席执行官&创意总监

若要取得成功,必须设定目标。对我来说,成功与期望一致,这通常与竞争对手或整个行业的假设和基准有关。

做好的游戏对我来说很重要。在制作游戏的早期阶段或帮助他人的时候,我倾向观察的唯一指标就是留存率。

我认为成功的关键在于创造人们想要的东西。做出人们想要的东西,让用户有回来的必要。虽然苹果的功能可以很有魅力,但它并不一定是可持续的,也跟玩家对你游戏的看法没有关系。

在定义成功的过程中,我认为设定可衡量的目标很重要。这些目标可以基于你的个人目标、期望、利益相关者、假设、以前的经验,以及你所追求的“成功”期限(短期/长期)。

你想要造出一个《Candy Crush》,还是想要创造出一个能够为你下一个项目买单的游戏?

成功与‘满足感’息息相关。对于一些开发者来说,成功可能是终于发布了他们的游戏;而对另一些人来说则是创造出下一个《Candy Crush》。对于我来说成功就是创造出人们喜爱的游戏。

Dan Menard——Double Stallion 首席执行官

我同意Matthew的观点,基本的生存在一段时间后会变得沉重。特别是考虑到每个人都有机会成本,如果你是自己在做游戏,那你随时都可以做其他的事情。

当我创建Double Stallion的时候,我告诉自己我会沿着这条路一直努力,但在追逐这个梦想的同时不牺牲我的理智或生活质量。

基本上,工作室的存在不仅仅是为了让我们能生存,还让我们能茁壮成长。我和Double Stallion其他联合创始人每年的期望都会比往年稍高一些。

如果工作室因为无法跟上这些期望而开始摇摇欲坠,我们通常可以离开。我们希望这能使我们的决策保持敏锐,并允许我们能随着时间的推移实现目标。

压力有时会让人难以忍受,但我认为如果我们所有的努力都只是为了生存而付出,那我们会感到更糟糕的压力。

在长大的过程中,我们都想发展自己的事业,但如果你在进步,而工作室却停滞不前,那就很难做到这一点。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Success can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people – while some may consider themselves a success simply by just getting to the next day, others may not be happy until they’re diving into a pool of cash Scrooge McDuck-style.

One would imagine that indie developers would be aiming for the former level of success, but is survival really success? And how do you even measure it?

To find out, we turned to our Indie Mavens to find out their thoughts on success and what metrics they track to determine their successes.

Specifically, we asked:

How do you define a “success” when it comes to launching your own games?

Are there any specific metrics you track to determine if your game was “successful”?

Tanya ShortCreative Director Kitfox Games

I find it essential to develop a set of goals for a project as part of the initial concept, even for game jams, which trickles down and inevitably influences everything about its scope, budget, schedule, feature set and my end feeling once it’s launched.

The goal could be to sell at least 100k units, or to learn how to use Unity, or to make the best snowboarding experience, or win IGF, or whatever else you want, but everyone on the team has to understand and believe in the goal.

Goals are how I can consistently determine what’s important and why, whether it’s adding controller support or extending development by two months – and have the rest of the team support that decision, without trying to pull away in a different direction.

Typically, Kitfox goals tend to be some mixture of financial, critical and production success: let’s make back our money, make something great (and/or something players love), and not kill ourselves doing it.

If we can hit any two of those things, we’re definitely Winning, but even one can be very hard. We can’t afford to bootstrap (go for months without salary), so survival of the studio has to be the minimum requirement… within which we define acceptable creative parameters.

Concrete Kitfox goals tend to specifically focus on production and finance more than critical reception.

For all of our projects so far, I have specifically prohibited and prevented any team member from spending more than 50 hours a week for more than two weeks at a time (no crunch allowed), and I do sit down to predict “bad”, “acceptable”, “great” and “ideal” unit sales for the months after launch, both when we start development and then update those expectations again before launch.

So far, Kitfox has succeeded production-wise (no crunch), and we tend to sit along the Acceptable sales projections, and we even reached 80% Steam user reviews for Moon Hunters, all which is not flying colors but it IS successful enough.

We can keep making more games! That some people seem to like! We’re living the dream! And hopefully getting better at it.

One important thing that people might not realise when they start out is that for ambitious creative people, you always want to improve.

So, as you go on and create more and more games, your base expectations of your performance may rise, even as the market shrinks or external factors make your goals more difficult to achieve.

Aaron FothergillCo-founder Strange Flavour

Is this a campfire “how do you define success”? In which case… to crush my bugs, see them driven before me and hear the lamentations of my players trying to beat just one more level…

Otherwise, it does rather depend on the project. The first general rule of thumb is that if lots of people play it and like it, it’s a win.

The second is, “has this helped us survive another year?”, so something that makes enough money to get us at least to finishing the next game or major update can be counted as a success.

Some projects (usually very quick ones) may be purely to see if we can find out if something specific will work. In those cases, success is more down to what sort of data we get back and whether the results can then be used in other games.

The number of sales and feedback we get from players are our main metrics. As the usual problem we have is getting people seeing our games, then the player feedback is usually a better metric for us as we can always work on more ways to sell a game that its players really like.

While every indie may dream of becoming a 10 to 20 to 50 to 100 people company that turns over billions a year, there are many things to learn first, so that growing to such an extent becomes (technically) possible – understanding and optimising metrics, monetisation, UA, how to scale up, etc.

I can bet that many of us do not pay much attention to those topics yet, because of many reasons, including lack of experience, budgets and overall naivety. Even given that there quite a lot of info on these topics is available on the net.

So, before an indie there is a long path to go until one can act on scale by effectively spending not just everything he earns on traffic and growth, but also money from investors and as big as $500 million bank loans, having a zero-to-very small actual margin to have a possibility to earn on stock price fluctuations or on a possible M&A deal in the future.

So, a success from an indie point of view is as simple as Aaron describes – make great games, earn enough to survive, learn, improve and to make more games

Erik van WeesCo-founder Arcane Circus

Something we’ve learned about “success” at Arcane Circus, when we released our game Crap! I’m Broke: Out of Pocket, is that you should define your success-goal as early in the project as possible.

Once we released our game we noticed we were adjusting our expectations regarding the sales. At the very beginning of our project we were hoping to settle on the idea of being able to recoup our initial investment.

During launch we were fortunate to have been featured on the main page by Apple which significantly impacted our sales. This led to us being able to make a return on our investment AND SOME.

An outsider would conclude: “Your goal has been accomplished, thus your game is a success”. Yet, I did not… Our feature came and went and the sales went down, but we wanted more because we had already adjusted our expectations based on this new scenario that had just unfolded.

Weirdly, I couldn’t feel joy… I didn’t FEEL I had “succeeded”. I knew the numbers meant we returned our investment but it didn’t register to me as “Hooray! We succeeded!”

I was already thinking about the amount of money we would need to be able to hire freelancers for a next bigger project.

Dreaming of a potential office space and buying better equipment to really get our company going. Yes… “GROW THE COMPANY! THAT’S WHAT I WANT,” whatever that entailed.

A success can seem very binary, you either succeed or you don’t. It can be as simple as a single rule or as complex as a whole set of requirements.

Because we defined a clear initial goal early on in the project I was able to put things into perspective after my stupid brain tried to make me believe I failed (a.k.a: not succeeding.

To conclude: make sure you can MEASURE your defined success and that the RULES ARE CLEAR FROM THE BEGINNING on whether something has succeeded or not.

It can also help if you take some time to distance yourself from the project before evaluating the initial goal(s).

Matthew AnnalMD Nitrome

A lot of people talk about success as surviving…i.e. Making enough to be able to afford to make the next game. On the other end of the scale Happy Magenta talk of aspirations to become a 100-person mega corp. Both may be true to certain people that but for me it’s somewhere in-between.

When Nitrome started out success would certainly have been making enough to make the next game but as time goes on (Nitrome has been running over 10 years) that is no longer the case.

Keeping yourself looking for the next scrap of income to keep you going weighs on you over time and as you move through life and gain commitments…families, partners, mortgages etc. it is certainly not a way to feel successful.

So, in my mind success is feeling that you are making enough of a return not just to cover your next game, but that you can stop the feeling of money worries altogether. Only then when your focus can be only on the games do I ever really feel successful.

Touching back on Pavel’s point of mega success on the level of the big players in the industry… That was never an aspiration for me personally, as I realised the compromise in the sort of games I would have to make or the areas I would need to focus on would ultimately not make me happy. Realising the compromise, it was never included in my measure of success that I would ever reach that.

Having said that, measure of success changes over time, and once you comfortably reach one goal another comes to take its place at ever higher levels.

In some ways, I think that’s led by fear of failing if opportunities are not taken in an ever-changing landscape and in others it may be simplify to keep the challenge fresh. What it also means however is that we may always be below what we perceive to be successful.

Sebastian LindénCEO & Creative Director Qaos Games

To make success tangible it’s necessary to set goals. For me, success aligns with my expectations, which often relate to assumptions or benchmarks against competitors or the industry as a whole.

It’s important for me to make great games. The only metric I tend to look at in early phases of making games or helping others is retention rate.

I think the key to success lies in making something people want. And to make something people want, users need to come back. Although Apple features can be charming, it’s not necessarily sustainable nor relevant to express what your players think about your game.

In defining success, I think it’s important to set measurable goals. These could be based on personal goals, expectations, stakeholders, assumptions, previous experience and whether you are looking for short-term versus long-term “success”.

Do you want to build a Candy Crush, or do you want to build a game to get enough profits to jump on your next game?

Success goes hand in hand with satisfaction. For some developers, success would be to finally launch their game, for some it would be to make the next Candy Crush. For me, it’s building products people love.

Dan MenardCEO Double Stallion

I agree with Matthew that simply surviving weighs down on you after a while. Especially considering that everyone has opportunity costs, and if you are not making games with your studio, you could always be doing something else.

When I started Double Stallion, I told myself I would go down the rabbit hole as far as it went, but without sacrificing my sanity or quality of life to chase an impossible dream.

Essentially, the studio exists to make cool stuff that will allow us not only to survive, but to thrive. Every year the co-founders and I run Double Stallion we have slightly higher expectations than the last year.

If the studio begins to falter because it can’t keep up with those expectations, we’re generally okay with walking away. The hope is that this keeps our decision making sharp and allows us to achieve our goals over time.

The pressure can be a lot to bear sometimes, but I think we would feel a worse pressure if all of our efforts were expended simply to survive.

We all want to develop our careers as we get older, and it’s hard to do that if you are running in place and the studio is stagnating.(Source:pocketgamer.biz  


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