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以产品为例,开发者谈物理学如何让游戏更有趣

发布时间:2018-11-07 09:02:01 Tags:,

以产品为例,开发者谈物理学如何让游戏更有趣

原作者:Peter Stock 译者:Vivian Xue

为什么我喜欢物理游戏

我一直喜欢基于物理学的游戏,并且我自制的两款游戏(《犰狳空间》和《路西法原子》)都是严格遵照现实世界的力学机制进行设计的。

《路西法原子》的开发花了我六年时间。尽管在此期间我玩了无数次这款游戏,但我并不感到厌倦——如今我仍在开发新内容。为什么会这样呢?我认为这是物理学与玩(play)的本质完美匹配的结果。

什么是玩?

玩是一种交互体验式的学习。你进行了一些操作,看到了结果,也许从中学到了一些东西,然后重复这种行为直到你完全掌握了你正在研究的系统。于是你就感到了厌倦。逗猫时,如果你让玩具的移动方式不可预测,猫咪就会对它保持更长久的兴趣——一旦猫咪能预测玩具的运动情况,它们会丧失兴趣。

因此,如果玩是对游戏空间中可能性的探索,那么为了做出一个有趣的游戏,我们要让游戏空间足够的大。但除了规模大外,一些其它的条件比如局部连续性和内在一致性也是必要的,只有满足了这些条件,游戏空间的探索才能令玩家满意。

物理学的属性

物理学中存在简单的规则…

-在没有外力作用的情况下,物体会以相同的速度朝着相同的方向(恒定速度)持续运动

-当一个外力发生时,实际上形成了作用在两个物体上的两个力(大小相等、方向相反)。

-力影响物体的速度。物体速度大小与物体质量成反比。

还有一些其它的规则,比如物体在彼此碰撞、接触(固体与固体摩擦)或互相穿越(固体与气体/液体摩擦)时是如何相互作用的。但如果只有这些简单的规则,物理学怎么会有趣呢?正如我上面提到的,人们很快就会了解这些规则,然后感到无聊。或者更糟的是他们已经从经历中了解了这些规则,那么他们还没开始游戏就会感到无聊了。

……这些简单规则能衍生出无穷的复杂性

我们周遭的现实世界充满了有趣的行为。昆虫、鸟类和蝙蝠各自养成了不同的飞行方式,其中昆虫的飞行方式尤为有趣——你可以搜索一下 “振翅拍击和挥摆急动”(Clap and Fling)。然而,这些有趣的行为都遵循那些简单的基本物理规则。

举一个简单的例子。单摆的运动是可预测的,它是人们250多年来测量时间的标准方式。但是在它底部加上一个钟摆变成一个双摆,它的运动轨迹就不再那么容易预测了。

……这种复杂性适用于游戏设计

从简单的规则中挖掘复杂性是游戏设计界众所周知的理念,也常常是游戏设计者们的追求。简单的规则有助于新玩家熟悉游戏,而复杂的突发情况能够让玩家做出一系列有深度的选择。如果一个游戏能模拟我们在现实世界中看到的一些丰富的行为,它将提供玩家一个能让他们尽情地探索的空间巨大的虚拟世界。用一个词形容就是,有趣。

World-Of-Goo(from edge-online)

World-Of-Goo(from edge-online)

让我们用自然界中的情况做一个类比。你应该选择用2条腿还是4条腿行走呢?要保持稳定至少需要6条腿。不过8条腿能让你在保持稳定的同时具备灵活性。0条腿怎么样?所有这些情况,我们都能从自然界中找到很多对应的例子——甚至更多。并不存在一种通用的最佳选择,只不过在具体情况下,不同的选择的效果不同。听起来很熟悉?这是对一个优秀游戏设计的描述!

不同类型的物理游戏

重力游戏

《突击》(Thrust)是最早的物理游戏之一,游戏中玩家需要预先计划移动方向,由于:

-飞船的动力较高而玩家控制力相对有限,不便于加速。

-游戏采用了一种延迟玩家输入的操控方案,玩家无法立刻变更方向。

-牵引射线的设计要求玩家同时预测他们所拖拽的物体的运动轨迹。这些物体会在飞船附近自由地摆动,因此拖拽的物体的移动方向和速度也会干扰玩家的控制力。

此处,物理学原理被用来增加控制难度。玩家探索空间即是在预测二阶系统。玩家通过直觉了解集成系统。

车辆操纵游戏

属于这一类的有《疯狂摩托车》(Elasto Mania)和《特技摩托:进化》(Trials Evolution)和《GT赛车 6》(Gran Turismo 6)。

摩托车操纵游戏的设计挑战是建立一个心智模型,这个模型能够展示玩家的控制如何同时对摩托车的加速度和角加速度产生影响。就像魔方一样,二者是捆绑在一起的——你无法只改变其中的一个。此外,骑手的重心和倾斜角度进一步决定了加速度和旋转加速度。

所有赛车游戏的核心都在于车辆的操纵——轮胎和道路之间的相互作用。它是这样一个小物理元素,却能产生极大的丰富性,从而使玩家保持对赛车游戏的兴趣(尽管我的看法可能有误,玩家对赛车游戏的热衷也许出于他们对收集赛车和品牌的爱好)。在我所知道的赛车游戏中,《GT赛车》第一个还原了赛车重量如何影响其抓地性,从而影响车辆的控制。这款游戏中赛车依靠感觉或技巧,同时受到车辆抓地性的限制,我认为它是一种对重量-抓地力关系的心智模型的优秀应用。

身体控制游戏

《滑雪特技模拟器》(Ski Stunt Simulator)是一款画风美丽的游戏。玩家只需控制滑雪板上的小人的身体姿势,在不发生碰撞的情况下滑下山,同时完成前后空翻。与《突击》、《疯狂摩托车》和《特技摩托:进化》一样,这些操作都无法即时执行,你需要提前计划。

由于这款游戏采用连续的输入设备(鼠标),因此它允许微小的输入变化。因此当你起身跳跃至空中时,你不知道效果会是怎样(我会旋转两次还是三次?),随着你看到动作的进展情况,你可以做一些小调整比如下蹲(使旋转加快)或直立(使旋转变慢)以确保最终双脚落地。这种控制使玩家产生代入感,并且让他们能够自由施展技巧。

结构设计游戏

这一类游戏有《桥梁建筑师》(Bridge Builder)、《犰狳空间》(Armadillo Run)和《奇妙装置》(Fantastic Contraption)等。

与让玩家控制单一的硬编码物理对象的游戏不同,这类游戏让玩家自由组合自己的物理对象。因此,游戏设计者面临更高层次的挑战——玩家需要深入了解的不是单一系统,而由各个元素组合而成的不同系统的表现。谨慎地挑选元素能够创造巨大而丰富的游戏空间。

当游戏设计者给玩家这样的自由度时,他们也许失去了一些控制权,但他们获得了一个巨大的内在一致的游戏空间,玩家们在这个空间内探索并寻找各自应对挑战的解决方案,而非仅依靠设计者所设想的方案。

类似设计的游戏代表作还有Scrap Mechanic,《废品机械师》(Scrap Mechanic)、《围攻》(Besiege)和《路西法原子》(Lucifer’s Atoms)。

这类游戏开发的目标是让玩家进行自由创造。这些游戏为玩家提供了不同元素的组合,但它们的共同点是它们都具备一个有趣的探索空间,很大程度上多亏了从简单规则中产生的巨大复杂性。

结语

简单的物理规则中能产生有趣的复杂性,并且能自然地应用到游戏玩法设计中。我们可以通过定义一个有趣的对象(如上述的重力、车辆控制和身体控制等类型游戏)或通过允许玩家定义对象(如结构设计类型游戏)来利用这一点。

也许在未来,游戏甚至可以让玩家自己来定义物理学规则或常量?

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Why I love physics-based games

I’ve always loved games based around physics, and my two games (Armadillo Run and Lucifer’s Atoms) both have gameplay heavily reliant on the magic of simulating real-world mechanics.

Lucifer’s Atoms has taken me over six years to develop. But even though I’ve played with it so much over that time, I’m not bored with it – I’m still drawn back to make new things and play around with them. Why is that? I think it’s because of the wonderful match of the rules of physics to the nature of play.

What is play?

Play is interactive experimental learning. You take some action, see the result, maybe learn something from it, and repeat until you have full knowledge of the system you’re investigating. Then you’re bored with it. If you play with a cat, making the movement of the toy unpredictable will keep their interest longer – as soon as they know what will happen, it’s not so fun any more.

So if play is the exploration of the possibilities in a play space, then to make a fun game we need to make that play space large enough. But there are other factors apart from size alone. Things like local continuity and internal consistency are required to make exploring the play space satisfying.

The properties of physics

Physics has simple rules …

Things keep moving at the same speed and in the same direction (constant velocity), unless a force acts on them.

When a force happens, it’s actually two forces (equal magnitudes, opposite directions) acting on two objects.

A force affects the velocity of an object. The change in its velocity is inversely proportional to its mass.

There’s some other things too, like how objects interact when they collide, touch (solid-solid friction) or move through each other (solid-gas/liquid friction). But if that’s it, how is physics interesting? From what I’ve written above, you might think people would learn these rules pretty quickly and then get bored. Or worse – they already know them from experience, so they’d be bored of playing a game based on them before they even start.

… from which springs endless complexity …

The real world around us is rich in interesting behaviour. Insects, birds and bats independently developed their own different methods of flight. Insect flight in particular is quite interesting – look up “clap and fling”. And yet it all follows from those simple underlying physics rules.

A simple example. The motion of a pendulum is so predictable that it was the standard way to measure time for over 250 years. But put a second pendulum on the bottom of it and it’s not so predictable any more.

… which is well-suited to play

This concept of complexity emerging from simple rules is well known in game design, and is often sought out by designers. Simple rules help make a game accessible to new players, and complex emergent behaviour allows for a deep array of choices. If a game can capture some of the rich behaviour we see around us in the real world, it can provide a virtual world with a large play space that’s satisfying to explore. In a word, fun.

Going back to the nature analogy, should you choose to walk on 2 legs or 4? 6 is really the minimal stable number. But 8 lets you be stable and dextrous at the same time. What about 0? There are many examples of each of these in nature – and more. There is no global best choice, just degrees of goodness for certain situations. Sounds familiar? It’s a description of good game design!

Types of physics-based games

Gravity

One of the earliest examples of physics-based gameplay, Thrust requires forward planning for movement because:

The relatively high ship momentum compared to the player control force limits acceleration.

The tank control scheme gives a further layer of detachment from player input, preventing instantaneous changes in direction.

The tractor beam feature requires players to also plan for the behaviour of the large mass that they must tow, which is free to swing around the ship. The position and velocity of the towed mass also affects the effect of the player control force.

Here, physics is being used to make the controls more remote. The play space being explored is developing player prediction of the second-order equations describing the system. You’re learning integration by intuition.

Vehicle control

For these motorbike games, the challenge is to build a mental model of how the player control force affects both the positional and rotational acceleration of the bike. Like a Rubik’s cube, they’re both tied together – you can’t change only one of these at a time. The position of the rider’s weight and the current slope angle are further factors that determine the position/rotation acceleration split.

At their core, all driving games are about car handling – the interaction between the tyres and road. Such a small physics element, but one that has enough richness to maintain interest in the driving game genre (although maybe I wrongly attribute player interest to the driving physics rather than extraneous things like collection mechanics and brand association). Gran Turismo was the first game that I’m aware of that modelled the effect of weight transfer on grip, and thus car handling. Developing a feel or skill for driving at the limit of grip is I think better described as having learnt a mental model of the weight-grip relation.

Body control

Ski Stunt Simulator is a beautiful game. Controlling only the body posture of a man on skis, you have to ski down a hill without crashing, and also perform forward and back flips. As with Thrust, Elasto Mania, and Trials, you can’t do these things immediately – you have to build them from a sequence of player inputs, planning ahead.

Because the game uses a continuous input source (the mouse), it allows small variations in input. So you can launch off a jump into a roll, without knowing exactly how it will work out (will I spin 2 or 3 times?), and then when you see how it’s progressing, you can make small adjustments to crouch (spin faster) or straighten (spin slower) to make sure you land on your feet. This control finesse makes you feel connected and you can start to play with flair and expression. Rare words to describe a game, but the kind of words people sometimes use to describe the way someone with great skill plays a real-world physics game like football (soccer to Americans).

Construction/design

Instead of having a single hard-coded physics object for players to interact with, these games let players define their own physics objects as compounds of atomic primitives. So now the challenge is a higher-level one – instead of learning a deep understanding of the behaviour of a single system, players are exploring the behaviour of all the systems that can be constructed from the available primitives. With careful choice of the primitives, a large and rich play space can be created.

Game designers lose some control when they give players such freedom, but they gain a large internally-consistent play space for players to explore and find their own solutions to a game’s challenges, rather than just one that the designer envisioned.

Letting players control their creations is the obvious development of this type of game. These games make different choices for their available primitives and combination options, but all of them have a play space that’s interesting to explore, largely or wholly due to the bountiful complexity thrown out by the interaction of a few simple rules. <pun>Physics rules.</pun>

Conclusion

Interesting complexity can arise from simple physics rules, which naturally suits play. This can be utilised by defining an interesting object (as in the gravity, vehicle control, and body control game types above) or allowing players to define the objects (as in the construction/design type).

Maybe a future game could ask players to define the physics rules or constants?(source:Gamasutra


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