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

开发者从多角度谈游戏设计的四要素(上篇,选择与挑战)

本文原作者:Darran Jamieson 译者ciel chen

要怎么给游戏下定义?说到这里就有很多理论了,尽管大多数游戏设计者都会在某些方面上达成一致意见,不过这个问题大家从来没有过一个公认确切的答案。

游戏设计现在还在起步期:尽管像国际象棋这类的棋牌类游戏已经有数千年的历史了,然而仅仅几十年前人们才开始认真对待游戏设计。随着棋牌类游戏和电脑游戏变得越来越流行,人们现在对游戏报以了更多的期望,这意味着——那些我们在80年代觉得好玩的游戏已经达不到我们今天心中所定的游戏标准了。

Fat Worm Blows a Sparky——尽管这个游戏当时倍受好评,创作者后来承认这个游戏在设计上是有质疑的:“玩家应该(和开发者一样)忍受折磨成了有逻辑可言的了。”

尽管游戏设计是一个复杂的功课,设计一款游戏的过程并不难。这里有一些需要遵守的简单规则,我们可以把这些规则看作是基础得不能在基础的原理——也就是游戏设计的几个要素。作为创作者和艺术家,我们不会总是按部就班遵守规则,但是要是理解了它们,这样我们就可以按照自己的方式来打破这些规则。

那么现在,游戏是什么?这个问题挺复杂的,所以我们需要把这个问题拆开来看。先来看看游戏设计的第一个层面:游戏中最基本的方面是什么?

挑战

一款游戏的核心就是挑战。即使是最简单的游戏——比如对着某个东西扔石子,或者“抓到你了,轮到你抓我”的这类游戏——这些曾几何时都是人类最重要的生存技巧——跑得快得人能够逃离捕食者的追捕,而投掷好手则可以更好地进行捕食。

从扔石头游戏好像不太容易和网络上的生死竞赛游戏联系起来,不过这些游戏都是为了满足我们内心的某些欲望而存在的——这些游戏都会让我们会为胜利而欣喜若狂,为失败而垂头丧气。人类这种想通过比赛赢得胜利的心是一种非常原始的欲望。

所以游戏为了满足这种欲望,就得设置一些挑战:比如说一个目标。传统意义上说来,我们的会设置输赢的不同情景(比如不能死,还要把公主救出来),不过挑战不只是通关那么简单——每个障碍,每个谜题,每次击败对手都是一次挑战。我们喜欢把挑战分解开来:有微观挑战(比如跳过一个坑,杀死一个坏蛋),主要挑战(通过关卡),以及宏观挑战(完成游戏)。

当然了,不是所有的挑战都必须由设计者制定:围绕着游戏概念(比如竞速破关)组成的社团;一些喜欢“Ironmade”游戏模式(一旦死掉就要从游戏的最开始玩起)或者“和平竞速”(游戏过程中没有攻击行为)的玩家都是挑战制定的影响方。(其中,一个特别有趣而复杂的挑战就是“按A键”挑战——评论员要通过尽可能少地按A键来通过超级玛丽的一个关卡。)

Spore(from gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com)

Spore(from gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com)

如果游戏没有了挑战,游戏还算游戏吗?

本质上来说,一款没有了挑战的游戏算不上是游戏了——它只是个玩具。然而,这并不一定是件坏事——比如《我的世界(Minecraft)》和《模拟人生(Sims)》就是非常受欢迎的游戏,但它们就是差不多可以归类到“玩具”类的游戏。(尽管玩家可以自己给自己设立挑战)
还有一些也很好玩的网络“玩具”类游戏,比如Danniel Benmergui出品的《Storyteller》或者Ben Pitt创作的《You are the road》。这些游戏没有所谓的输赢,但依旧那么好玩——如果你想走这条游戏设计路线,它们都是非常好的参考案例。

游戏内部也可以含有这种“玩具类”的元素。《Spore》就是一种你可以在里面做生物设计——小到微生物,大到太空物种。但是对于一些人来说仅仅是在制造器中创造出奇妙的怪物就感到满足了。如果你在RPG或者模拟人生风格的游戏中为人物创作花费过多于5分钟的时间,那么你可能就会意识到,要创造出符合自己想象的东西是多么重要的一件事了。

这里展示的是《Spore》中的生物创造机所制造的一个很奇怪的生命体。

也就是说,玩具和游戏不能划上等号。如果你想做一款玩具,可以。但如果你想做的是一款游戏,那你得设置有挑战。

如果我们没能合理地设置挑战会如何?

我们都会觉得说把游戏做的太简单或者太难就是属于“差劲的挑战设置”——这是游戏设置中很重要的一部分内容,我们在之前的文章有谈论过这个话题,不过这里还有更多的东西是值得一提的。对玩家的挑战应该设置得合情合理,这也就意味着不仅在难度上要合适,而且要确保玩家能够合理地完成任务。

一个很有说明性的例子就是Solitaire纸牌游戏(很多人把它叫做Klondike)。基于不同版本的统计,Solitaire中大概79%的牌局是能赢的。这意味着你甚至在还没操作之前,就已经有21%的概率会出现你根本赢不了的情况。

这79%的获胜率——这也是假设玩家每一步操作都很完美,他们完全知道桌面上的牌序和所有下一步的移牌动作的情况下的胜率。当然了,事实上,有时你会面对两种相同的选择(我是应该移黑桃4还是移梅花4?),这当中的一个选择会让你走到赢不了这局游戏的死胡同里。由于除了猜没别的方法来做下正确的移牌决定,Solitaire的“挑战”经常都让人觉得是它更多是对人们的“运气”的挑战而不是技巧。

尽管如此,Solitaire可以说是有史以来最受欢迎的游戏——一部分原因是因为它跟Windows系统捆绑在了一起,但也有部分原因是它的简单性和游戏时间够快够短。

接龙纸牌编号11982——这是一局不可能通关的接龙牌局

如果把我们的挑战做到难得不可理喻也不行,反过来——干脆没有设挑战了也一样不行。对于我们大部分人来说,游戏就是一种抽象的学习经历。当我们掌握了一款游戏,它对我们就失去了娱乐性。这也是我们为什么很少玩比如蛇梯棋或者一字棋这种游戏的原因——如果我们已经能轻松“解决”这个游戏,那它就没什么挑战性了,我们也因此就得不到什么乐趣了。

当然,解决游戏的能力取决于玩家的游戏技巧。儿童们喜欢一字棋是因为它能给孩子们带去游戏最需要最重要的挑战性,这大概就和大人喜欢玩四子棋一个道理。玩家只有在不断迎来挑战时才会保持他们对游戏的兴趣:这就是很多人都梦想成为国际象棋大师但很少人会想成为一字棋冠军的原因。

不过,游戏绝不仅仅只是挑战。如果我让你列出100种不同的动物,你可能会觉得挺有挑战的,但是你不会觉得好玩。像这样光列举出动物名字并不是真正的游戏——这只是对你知识的测试。所以是什么让挑战变得好玩的?测试跟游戏的区别在哪里?

选择

是选择让挑战变得有趣——再具体一点说应该是有意义的选择。当我们进入游戏,我们期待着做出选择,并我们做出的选择对游戏产生影响。这些选择可以是学术性的(你想成为展示还是法师)或者是在激烈的战斗时瞬间性的抉择(是攻击还是预测反击再或者还是要闪躲?)。

我们做出的选择是我们游戏中技巧的体现。随着我们玩游戏玩得越久,我们就越擅长,就越能做出“正确”的选择。如果游戏曾经人类的生存很重要,那就是因为它让人们能够训练自己在危险中应对的能力。能够做出选择是激起重要的,我们的选择将决定谁会存活,而谁会成为老虎的果腹之餐。

玩家的选择应该要在游戏中能够体现出来。如果玩家做了选择,而游戏内容却不会因为玩家的选择而出现变化,那我们就要问了,我们玩游戏来干嘛?大量的RPG游戏都会有一些对话中的选择是没有对应效果的,但是我们接收这些,因为从游戏总体上来看我们做出的选择是有意义的。

给玩家“假的选择”会让玩家对游戏更有投入感,但是如果太多假选择就会让游戏变得廉价并失去意义。免费独立游戏《Emiliy is away》是一款很有感染力的游戏(值得你花一小时去玩它),不过游戏的结尾是无论你做什么都没办法改变的。

“挺进地牢”中很典型的假选择——选择“抗争”会开启Boss战,而选择“放弃”会带你进入到下一个画面,这里你要重新做出刚才的选择。(也就是说你只能选择“抗争”)

没有选择的游戏会如何?

从很多方面来看,游戏就像是测试。如果你删减了让玩家做选择的能力,你就相当于让他们成为了被动的旁观者,把你的游戏变成了一个“交互式电影”。我们经常听到一种叫做“低选择性游戏”的游戏批评(包括一些RPG游戏)——就是玩家会感觉到自己在这个游戏中无关紧要,好像有自己没自己,游戏都照样进行的感觉。

所以,一款没有给玩家选择余地的游戏真的还叫做游戏吗?嗯,也许在某种程度上还算把——像蛇梯棋就被很多人认为是一种游戏,尽管表面上除了掀桌根本没有影响游戏结果的方法。不过值得注意的是,蛇梯棋基本只有小孩子才会想玩。

这个游戏给小孩子的挑战跟给成年人的不太一样:这是教会孩子们如何跟朋友一起玩游戏的一种挑战,数数你移了多少步,看看梯子会到哪里。因为蛇梯棋不需要技巧,这意味着大人和小孩可以一起愉快地玩这个游戏。对于我们大部分人来说,蛇梯棋算不上是“合适的”游戏——但是对于孩子们来说,它算得上是个不错的游戏了。

如果我们提供的选择不正确会怎么样?

在游戏中给出选择这个概念很普遍,所以,我们不打算在这里讨论所有的问题,我们来看看人们在设计选择机制时经常犯常见错误有哪些:

“无选择”——把玩家做出选择的能力剔除。犯这种错的形式有好几种,不过其中最常见的是玩家之间的能力对抗设置。当玩家可以使用晕眩或者无敌技能的时候,游戏内的交互就消失了,然后那些“受害者”会觉得游戏玩得特没意思。

这也是我们之前谈论过的话题,不过重点我们要保持游戏中玩家之间的交互性。如果你打算采用任何PVP战斗系统,你就要考虑设计一些能促进玩家做出选择的能力,而不是去禁用玩家这种选择的能力——防止敌人攻击的魔法或者使用魔法并且还能让他们逃跑或者喝药水补血补篮,这绝对比直接把他们打晕更有乐趣。

“没有实际作用的选择”——就是无论玩家做出什么选择,最后结果都是一样。这样做会让玩家失去经历感,这经常让玩家感觉他们在游戏里什么控制权也没有。

“唯一的正确选择”——当一个选项太强会让决策的过程成为一种形式化的过场。当游戏中特定人物或者卡牌特别厉害以至于它们主导了整个游戏meta——玩家总会去选择最厉害的角色进行战斗或者要当巫师的时候只会选精灵(最强)。

“没有头绪的选择”——当选择摆在玩家面前却没有任何解释。要与Clan Douglas还是Clan Fraser建立联盟?(他们是谁?有我什么事?)——玩家应该要能够了解他们做出选择的原因以及这些选择会造成怎样的长期影响。

一种常见的做法就是游戏会用选择来淹没一个新玩家。但一名玩家对游戏进行学习时,他们不太可能理解每个选项的预期结果。事实上,大量的选择可以导致玩家“分析系统瘫痪”,玩家会因为被太多选项搞得不知所措而无法做出选择。

这是为什么对游戏来说,“好的游戏教程非常有用”以及为什么 “游戏在让一个玩家掌握了基本技能之前,常常把其他方方面面内容先锁起来”的原因。对于类似《十字军之王(Crusader Kings )》或者《欧陆风云Europa Universalis 》这类复杂的策略游戏,很多新玩家玩还没玩就被吓跑了因为他们完全不知道他们在游戏里能做什么。

如果选择中一个选项后来被证明是“错误的”,那么这种没有头绪的选择所存在的问题就更加复杂了——举个例子,如果一个RPG游戏玩家升级错技能了。玩家可能会把自己想象成一个冰巫师,但却发现冰的法术在后期的游戏中远远不如火符。这些有时会被成为“新手陷阱”,虽然这些游戏一开始看起来很有吸引力,但是随着游戏的进展,玩家指会发现自己没什么作用处。

“选择”这个整体概念是为了让游戏有趣的。当玩家能够和游戏进行交互的时候,他们会成为游戏中积极的参与者。当玩家被游戏排除在外时,他们会成为被动的旁观者。想要吸引玩家,就得确保游戏的挑战能让他们对游戏保持兴趣。

结语

当然了,挑战和选择这两个概念还只是游戏设计的一部分。我们确实是给玩家挑战没错,但我们需要确保这些挑战可以让玩家的技能被充分地测试。当玩家能跳过一个陷阱,而我们却无法为此自动地认为玩家掌握了跳跃的技巧;或者当玩家杀死了敌人,他们却没还没有掌握战斗的能力——所以我们应该如何确保玩家能够充分地测试自己呢?

在下一篇文章中,我们将研究如何做到这一点(并谈谈游戏设计另外两个要素:变化与机会)

What is a game? There are a lot of theories, and while most game designers will agree on certain aspects, there has never really been a solid answer.

Game design is only really in its infancy: while board games like chess have been around for thousands of years, it’s only really in the past few decades that people started taking game design seriously. With the rise in popularity of both board and computer gaming, people now expect more and more from their games, meaning games which entertained us in the 1980s very rarely hold up to today’s standards.

Fat worm blows a sparky image

“Fat Worm Blows a Sparky”. Although critically acclaimed at the time, the creator later admitted that it suffered from questionable design: “it seemed logical that the players ought to suffer [as much as the developer]“.

While game design is a complex task, the process of designing a game does not have to be hard. There are some simple rules we should follow, and we can view these as the absolute fundamentals—the elements of game design. As creators and artists, we do not always have to follow these rules, but understanding them will allow us to break them on our own terms.

So, what is a game? Well, that’s a complex question, so we need to break it down. Let’s examine the first layer of game design: what is the most absolutely fundamental aspect of a game?

1. Challenge

A game is, at its core, a challenge. The simplest games—throwing rocks at things, or “tag, you’re it” running games—were, once upon a time, important survival techniques. Fast runners were able to outrun predators, and good rock throwers could hunt more reliably.

The path from rock-throwing to online deathmatch isn’t exactly clear, but it seems that games satisfy some desire deep within us. We feel elated when we win, and get upset when we lose. Gaming is a fairly primal desire.

So in order for a game to feel satisfying, we need some sort of challenge: a goal or objective. Traditionally, we set win-states and lose-states (save the princess, don’t die), but challenges are not just about winning the game. Every obstacle, every puzzle, every adversary defeated is a challenge. We tend to break these challenges up: micro-challenges (such as jump a pit, kill a bad guy), main challenges (complete the level), and the overall challenge (complete the game).

Of course, not all challenges have to be set by the designer: there are communities based around concepts like speedrunning, and certain players enjoy “Ironmade” mode in games (where if you die once, you start over at the very beginning) or “pacifist runs”, where the player isn’t allowed to kill anyone. One particularly interesting and complex challenge is the A press challenge, where the commentator completes a Mario level by pressing the A button as few times as possible.

What Is a Game Without a Challenge?

Essentially, a game without challenge is not a game—it’s a toy. This does not necessarily have to be a bad thing, however, as both Minecraft and the Sims are both fantastically popular and tend to fall more under the “toy” category (although players can set their own challenges).

There are also several rather fantastic online toys, such as Daniel Benmergui’s “Storyteller” or Ben Pitt’s “You are the road”. They do not have any real win or lose conditions, are great fun to play with, and are excellent examples of what is possible if you want to go down this path.

Games can also contain toy elements within them. Spore is a game wherein you design a species to go from microscopic life to space-faring race, but for some people simply creating wonderful monsters within the creature creator was enough. If you’ve ever spent more than five minutes in a character creator for an RPG or Sims-style game, then you can probably appreciate the importance of creating something exactly how you envision.

Spore creature creator image

The spore creature creator, showing off a suitably strange individual

That said, toys are not games. If you want to make a toy, go ahead. If you want to make a game, you need a challenge.

What Happens When We Do Challenge Incorrectly?

It’s tempting to think of “bad challenge” as making the game too easy or too hard. It’s an important part of game design, and something we’ve talked about in a previous article, but there’s more to it than that. A challenge has to be fair to the user, and that means not only setting the difficulty at a reasonable level, but ensuring that the player can be reasonably expected to complete it.

One obvious example of “bad challenge” is with the card game Solitaire (or Klondike, to use its proper name). Depending on the variant, an estimated 79% percent of games of Solitaire are winnable. This means that before you even make your first move, there is a 21% chance that you could not possibly win.

This 79% win rate also assumes that the player moves perfectly—that they have complete knowledge of the deck and of all future moves. Of course, in reality, there are times when you’ll be given what seem like two identical options (do I move the 4 of spades, or the 4 of clubs?) and one of them will put you into an unwinnable gamestate. With no way to determine the correct move other than guessing, the “challenge” of Solitaire can often feel more like blind luck than skill.

Despite this, Solitaire is arguably the most popular computer game of all time—partly due to being bundled with Windows, but also partly due to its simplicity and quick playtime.

If making our challenge unreasonably difficult is bad, then so is the reverse—making the challenge non-existent. For most of us, games are abstract learning experiences. When we have mastered a game, it no longer provides entertainment. This is why we rarely play children’s games such as snakes and ladders or tic-tac-toe—if we are able to “solve” the game, then there is no challenge, and therefore no enjoyment to be had.

Of course, solvability depends on the player’s skill. Children enjoy tic-tac-toe because it provides that all-important challenge, whereas a super-gamer might be able to solve Connect 4. A player needs to constantly be challenged to maintain interest: this is why many people dream of being chess grandmasters, but very few people care about tic-tac-toe championships.

But, of course, a game is more than just a challenge. If I asked you to name 100 different animals, then you might be challenged, but you probably wouldn’t have fun. Listing animals isn’t really a game—it’s simply a test of your knowledge. So what makes a challenge fun? What separates a test from a game?

2. Choice

Choice makes a challenge interesting—or specifically, meaningful choice does. When we go into a game, we expect to make choices, and for these choices to affect the game. These choices can be academic (do you want to be a warrior or a mage) or be split-second decisions in the heat of combat (do we attack, or anticipate a counterattack and dodge?).

The choices we make are reflections on our skill in the game. As we play, we get better at the game, and we make the “correct” choices more often. If games were once important for human survival, then it is because we were able to train ourselves for dangerous situations. The ability to make choices is central to that, and our choices show us who lives, and who becomes tiger food.

Player choices should be reflected in the gameplay. If the gameplay does not change as the result of choices the player makes, then we have to ask, why are we playing? A massive RPG might have some dialogue decisions which do nothing, but we accept them because overall we are making choices that do matter.

Giving “fake choice” to a player can allow a player to feel more involved, but too much fake choice is likely to make the game feel cheap and meaningless. The free indie game Emily is away is quite engaging (and certainly worth an hour of your time), but the game’s ending is arguably cheapened by being inevitable no matter what you do.

A typical fake choice from “Enter the Gungeon”. Selecting “resist” starts the boss fight, whereas selecting “give up” brings you to the second screen, which then returns you to make your choice again.

What Is a Game Without Choice?

Games are, in many regards, tests. If you remove the ability for players to make choices, you instead make them passive observers, and turn your game into an “interactive movie”. One criticism we often hear about “low choice games” (including certain RPGs) is that the player doesn’t feel like anything they do matters, and the story continues regardless.

So can a game without choice even be considered a game? Well, to some extent. Snakes and ladders is considered a game by many people, although there is literally no way to influence the outcome short of flipping the table. It is important to note, though, that snakes and ladders is played almost exclusively by children.

The challenges facing children are different to those facing most adults: learning to play with your friends, counting how many squares you move, seeing where the ladders go. Because snakes and ladders does not rely on skill, it also means adults and children can play together quite happily. For most of us, snakes and ladders isn’t a “proper” game—but for children, it’s good enough.

What Happens When We Provide Incorrect Choices?

The concept of choice within gaming is quite massive, so rather than attempt to cover it all here, we’ll take a look at some of the most common mistakes people make designing choice mechanics:

“No choice”— removing the ability of the player to make choices. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most common is player vs. player abilities. When players use abilities like stunlocks or invincibility, then in-game interaction disappears and the “victim” will find themselves having little to no fun.

This is also something we’ve discussed before, but the key is to maintain interaction between players. If you’re planning on implementing any form of PvP combat, consider designing abilities that promote choice rather than denying it—a spell which prevents enemies from attacking or using spells still allows them to run away or drink potions, and is infinitely more interesting than simply stunning them.

“Choice doesn’t matter”—a situation where no matter what the player chooses, all outcomes are the same. Doing this removes agency from the player, and often makes them feel as if they’re not the ones in control.

One notable example is from COD:BLOPs, specifically the Cuba mission. Rather than trying to describe it in detail, I highly recommend you watch the YouTube video. The player is able to complete the level with minimal player input, calling into question the “game” element of it. Noted video game critic Totalbiscuit also addresses the issue in a video below.

“One correct choice”—when one option is so strong it makes the decision-making process a formality. Games where certain characters or cards are so powerful that they dominate the meta—always choosing the best character in a fighting game, or always choosing to be an elf when making a wizard. Although it can be very hard to create a perfect balance, no one option should be automatically better than everything else. This even pops up in Monopoly, where the correct response to landing on a property is always to buy it.

“Uninformed choice”—when choices presented to a player aren’t explained. Forge an alliance with Clan Douglas or Clan Fraser? Who are they, and why do I care? A player should be able to understand why they are making choices, and what long-term effects those choices are likely to have.

A common way to do this is to overwhelm a new player with choices. When a player is learning the game, they are unlikely to understand the expected outcome of every option available to them. In fact, an abundance of choices can lead to “analysis paralysis”, where the player simply fails to make a choice because they are so overwhelmed.

This is one of the reasons why a good tutorial is so useful, and why it’s often useful to lock game aspects until a player has demonstrated mastery of basic skills. For complex strategy games such as Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis, many new players are simply scared off because they have no idea what they should be doing.

The problem of uninformed choice is further compounded if one of the choices later turns out to be “wrong”—as an example, if an RPG player levels up skills that later turn out to be wrong. A player might fancy themselves as an ice wizard, only to found out that ice spells are vastly inferior to fire spells in the late game. These are sometimes referred to as “noob traps”, as they initially seem appealing, only to reveal their uselessness as the game progresses.

The whole concept of choice is what makes a challenge fun. When a player is able to interact with the game, then they become active participants. When a player is removed from the game, then they become passive observers. When you engage the player, you ensure that the challenge maintains their interest.

Conclusion

Of course, the concepts of challenge and choice are still only part of game design. We can present a challenge to the player, but we need to ensure that the skill of the player is fully tested. If a player manages to jump over a pit, then we can’t automatically assume the player has mastered jumping. If they kill one enemy, then they haven’t mastered combat. So how do we make sure that the player can test themselves to the fullest?

We’ll examine how to do that (and look at the final two elements) in our next article.(source:tuts plus


上一篇:

下一篇: