Brendan Greene谈battle royale游戏现状和他们的探索计划
Brendan Greene谈battle royale游戏现状和他们的探索计划
原作者：James Batchelor 译者：Willow Wu
我上次跟Brendan Greene谈话还是在2017年的EGX Rezzed大会上，那时Early Access版的《绝地求生》才刚发行不久。
上个月我们在GDC第二次碰面，他告诉我过去两年是一段“疯狂的旅程”，这样说还是比较谦虚了。Early Access版发行后，《绝地求生》成为年度最热门的游戏之一，几个月下来各方媒体头条都是它。游戏团队与Xbox达成了一项临时独占协议，成为Steam同时在线人数最多的游戏。除此之外，《绝地求生》也成为游戏行业的风向标，甚至那些巨头公司也开始发行自己的battle royale游戏。
Epic Games就是其中之一，他们把重点重新转移到了《堡垒之夜》的开发上，凭借大逃杀模式月入百万。动视的《使命召唤：黑色行动4》Blackout模式（也就是battle royale模式）取代的单机模式成为游戏的主要卖点。EA依然在享受Apex Legends带来的成功，另外《战地5》也新加入了“火风暴(Firestorm)”模式。
“并没有，”Greene告诉GamesIndustry.biz。“我们有自己的计划。有时候人们会跟随别人的脚步，因为大家都是同一领域的。但是看到battle royale游戏越来越多我还是挺开心的，而且未来肯定还有更多。这类游戏仍有增长空间，还可以做很多不一样的尝试。我还在等一个《荣耀战魂》风格的battle royale游戏，要有很多大关刀这样的武器。
然而，Greene现在已经调到PUBG Corp新成立的特殊项目（Special Projects）部门了。就如上个月所公布的那样，他会在阿姆斯特丹展开全新的工作，开发新的游戏体验。但是《绝地求生》当下势头大好，尤其是移动平台，做出这一决定的原因是什么？
PUBG Corp CEO Chang Han Kim说Greene的确在外工作很久了。Greene表明他愿意到离家乡更近的地方工作，只要能多看看他在爱尔兰的女儿的话。PUBG Corp已经在阿姆斯特丹建立了工作室，所以工作重心和地点一起转移也是有道理的。
在母公司Krafton (之前名为Bluehole)着手准备下一个热门大作期间，Kim给Greene机会去组建一支新的欧洲团队，进行新的试验，就跟多年前他创作出第一个battle royale mod和游戏一样。这不是施压让你创作出一个新的游戏类型，或者是对现有的类型进行革新，只是给个机会做出“用户想玩的东西。”这就是成立特殊项目部门的目的。
“这就是我们的探索方向，” Greene说。“大逃杀的概念很棒，但是我已经给出了我的答卷，我并不想再做《绝地求生2》。是时候跟battle royale告别，尝试点别的东西。有一些想法是关于如何建立人与人之间的联系，以及提供不同的用户体验。”
然而，尽管有新技术能将更多玩家聚集在一起，但这并不一定能保证游戏会比PUBG等同类产品得到更好的市场反响。Greene认为battle royale游戏是有上限的——指的是Automaton之前承诺新游戏《独行者：试炼场》（Mavericks:Proving Grounds）将会有1000人模式。
虽然Greene在一定程度上有所保留，但外界无疑对特殊项目部门抱有很大的期待。鉴于Greene对DayZ mod、H1Z1当然还有PUBG的贡献，人们通常称他为battle royale之父。他有没有可能再度引爆游戏界？从历史来看，概率真的很小。
他反复强调Chang Han Kim并没有给他施加压力，没有要求必须要做出一个公司能卖的东西，甚至没有要求他发行什么。这一阶段都是实验，Greene认为他们和EA SEED部门类似，是发行公司的年轻研发部门。
“除此之外，我想看到更多人出于乐趣创造出自己的battle royale游戏，而不是为了快速挣钱。Apex Legends团队做的很好，他们没有大肆宣传，只是宣布并发行了一款很出色的游戏。现在要进入这个领域没那么容易，肩负这个任务的开发团队我只能说祝你们好运了。”
I last spoke to Brendan Greene at EGX Rezzed 2017, just days after the Early Access launch of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
At the time, Greene was riding high on the game’s initial success — £11m taken in its opening weekend, a staggering start for any title let alone one that is openly still in ongoing development. Yet he had no idea what success lay ahead.
When we met again at GDC 2019 last month, Greene described the last two years as “an insane ride”, which is putting it mildly. PUBG went on to become one of the most-played games of the year, dominating headlines for months after its Early Access release. It scored a temporary exclusive deal with Xbox, surpassed the most popular Steam titles for concurrent users — oh, and kickstarted a shift that saw even the industry’s biggest players providing their own battle royale offerings.
Inspired by PUBG’s popularity, Epic Games refocused development on Fortnite and continues to reap in millions per month with its last man standing mode. Activision’s PUBG-esque Blackout mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 became a main selling point instead of a single-player campaign, and Electronic Arts is still enjoying the success of surprise hit Apex Legends and has just added Firestorm to Battlefield V.
And that’s without the likes of Netease’s Knives Out, or the countless other titles building on the battle royale concept Greene has helped define throughout his career. With so much competition to his own title, has PlayerUnknown’s approach to its design changed at all?
“No, not really,” he tells GamesIndustry.biz. “We have our own plan for what we want out of the game. Sometimes, they’ll sync up with what other people are doing because we’re all in the same space but I love seeing the growth of the battle royale genre. It’s been wonderful — and there’s more coming. It’s a good genre that has space to grow — last man standing deathmatches, there are so many different takes you can have on that. I’m still waiting for a For Honor battle royale, something with big, big knives.
“It’s wonderful to see this level of creativity around what I thought was a simple idea.”
Greene has now moved on, however, to PUBG Corp’s new Special Projects division. As announced last month, he’ll be based in Amsterdam and working on new types of games experiences. But with PUBG still faring well, particularly on mobile, what brought this move about?
“It wasn’t that I wanted to move onto something different, it was that the team we have… you know, I’m super happy with them. They have the reins of battle royale, they know what PUBG and our battle royale is, they understand what we want from the game and what we want to do to it moving forwards, so I saw it as a good chance for me to announce Special Projects.”
Announcing ahead of GDC was no accident either, as it better positioned the new team to recruit — “That’s very hard when everything’s under NDA,” adds Greene. With Special Projects’ existence now in the open, he was able to head to San Francisco and talk to potential recruits about what they are doing.
So what are they doing? Greene’s quote from the initial announcement post — “exploring, experimenting, and creating new technologies, tools, pipelines, and gameplay” — doesn’t exactly shed light on the company’s purpose, so can he boil it down for us?
“To take what’s in here,” says Greene, pointing at his head, “and turn it into something that may be playable”
He offers a little more detail on its origins: Chang Han Kim, CEO of PUBG Corp, recognised that Greene had been travelling a lot. Greene, meanwhile, expressed an interest in moving closer to home, if only to be able to see more of his daughter in Ireland. With PUBG Corp already establishing an office in Amsterdam, it made sense for Greene to shift location as well as focus.
While parent company Krafton (formerly Bluehole) searches for its next big hit, Kim gave Greene the chance to form a new team in Europe and experiment, much in the way he had when coming up with his first battle royale mods and titles all those years ago. There was no pressure to start a genre, or redefine an existing one, just the chance to “make something you want to play.” That is the purpose of Special Projects.
“I have lots of other ideas in my head for games I would like to play and we’re going to see if other people would like to play them too,” says Greene. “That’s where we’re at. We haven’t really started anything yet because we’re team building.”
Greene can’t go into details “because I don’t have them yet”, but multiplayer is inevitably still a particular field of interest. He wants to “explore online experiences and how to connect people in ways that we haven’t really done before,” as well as seeing what new and reimagined technologies might enable.
It’s interesting that he uses the phrase “connect people,” suggesting his next project might not be as competitive as PUBG. For all the game’s influence, encouraging more developers and publishers to put increasing numbers of people in an ever-shrinking arena, the concept still boils down to killing everyone else. Perhaps there’s room for an online multiplayer experience that’s a little more cooperative.
“That’s something we’re going to explore,” says Greene. “The last man standing concept is great, but I’ve done that. I don’t really intend to make PUBG 2. I’ve done battle royale, it’s time to try something else. There are ideas about how we connect to people and how we provide the different experiences I have.”
There was plenty of tech on display at GDC that might help power Greene’s next vision. In addition to Improbable’s SpatialOS, which we’ve written about at length, it was also the first big showing for tech startup Hadean. This firm’s collaboration with CCP Games saw an EVE Online with just shy of 4,000 players and 10,000 AI ships simultaneously. It’s a project that fascinated Greene, although he adds, “I’ve done the killing thing.”
“It’s fun,” he says, “I think I’ve provided others with a good way of killing each other. But I want to explore some other things.”
Yet for all the ability to bring more players together, this is not necessarily guaranteed to improve upon the likes of PUBG et al. Greene believes battle royale “has an upper limit,” pointing to Automaton’s promise of 1,000-player battle royale for Mavericks: Proving Grounds.
“I don’t think it’s going to work,” he says, “I think it’ll be too big and the matches too long — but I could be shocked, right? Hadean’s demo looked really interesting and their tech, just the way they’re thinking about it, it’s an interesting paradigm shift.”
He continues, “Bigger is not necessarily better. The simplest games have been among the most successful. Look at Minecraft, it’s a simple procedural world that breeds massive complexity. Feature creep can obviously affect games and you end up having stuff that you don’t need. For me, I always like to keep things simple.”
While Greene is somewhat reserved in the pressure he’s putting on himself and his new team, externally there will be high expectations for a special project to come out of Special Projects. Greene is often credited as the father of battle royale, given the work he did on the DayZ mod, H1Z1, and of course, PUBG. But is he likely to find another Next Big Thing? There are so few in this industry to have made such lightning strike twice.
“Oh, yeah, I’m fucked,” he admits. “But that’s why I feel so lucky to work with PUBG Corp.”
He reiterates that Chang Han Kim is placing no pressure on him to find that Next Big Thing. There are no orders to come up with a product PUBG Corp can sell, or to even release something. This is purely about experimentation at this stage, with Greene likening it to EA SEED, the publisher’s young R&D division.
“We’re not doing this for profit,” Greene continues. “Eventually someday, we may do, but right now it’s just about having time to explore. There is no deadline here, this is us with a few years to play. Gaming and the industry has become so hard, this is a very lucky thing to have. We can genuinely explore and be curious for some time.”
This lack of pressure alone is a testament to how successful PUBG has been in the past two years. £11m is an incredible opening for any game, but to fund an operation like Special Projects, you need to be raking it in on a long-term basis. While much of the industry narrative seems to be that Fortnite has essentially stolen PUBG’s lunch money, the company backing Greene isn’t exactly dealing in loose change.
“We’ve been far more successful than any of us ever thought,” he says. “But I want to take advantage of this opportunity. I don’t want to fritter away years doing stupid things. I’m very lucky to have this year, two years, three years to develop some ideas. It would be foolish of me to just fritter them away because they don’t come around all that often. I want to have some fun but also see if we can do some good.”
And although Greene may not be directly contributing to the evolution of battle royale in the years to come — beyond his role as consulting creative director on PUBG — he’s still keen to see where the industry takes the concept, and still has a few aspirations of his own.
“I want to see battle royale esports,” he says. “I think the team we have are doing a good job — it takes a long time to create a successful esport. It doesn’t happen overnight, especially the systems and procedures you need to run. I don’t care who does it — I’d love it to be us, I think it will be us — but that’s my dream.
“I’d also like to see battle royale stabilise, and see more people making their own battle royales out of pleasure rather than just trying to make a quick buck. Apex Legends did an amazing job, they didn’t hype anything, they just announced and delivered a great game. It’s hard to enter the space right now. I don’t envy the developer teams with that task.”