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开发者以实际产品案例谈游戏中的趣味选择设计

发布时间:2020-01-10 08:48:05 Tags:,

开发者以实际产品案例谈游戏中的趣味选择设计

原作者:Caleb Compton 译者:Willow Wu

Sid Meier,经典游戏系列《文明》的设计师,他曾说过游戏就是“一系列有趣的选择题”。事实上,游戏跟其它互动性不那么强的娱乐产品(例如电影、书本)相比,最核心的不同之处就在于玩家能够进行一系列的选择。不管这个选择为了保护还是去得到某个东西,还是只是为了挑一件喜欢的盔甲来穿,你做的这些选择都进一步塑造了游戏以及游戏体验。

虽说并不是所有的游戏都是这样的——就比如说节奏游戏,玩家只是简单地执行一组预先确定的动作,不需要做出有趣的选择——但在设计不同类型的游戏时抱着种良好的心态也是有益的。你在即时战略游戏中做的选择跟回合制RPG游戏的肯定不一样,但你还是得确保这些选择的趣味性。

今天我想来分析一下,究竟是什么让这些选择变得这么有趣,开发者在实际设计中要怎么做呢?

当我在思考游戏中的有趣选择时,一些东西立刻蹦到了我的脑海里。首先,选择是一定是有后果的(或者至少,你得想到它们会有)。如果你知道这无论怎么选,结果都是一样的,这种选择就没什么意义。

CivilizationV(from gamasutra)

CivilizationV(from gamasutra)

我想这就是为什么很多玩家厌烦了Telltale式的游戏。这些游戏都是以叙事为核心的,表面上看似乎是把剧情走向的控制权都交给了玩家,然而,由于这类游戏是以连载的方式发行的,开发者不能让玩家偏离既定的剧情线。拿我个人的经历来说,我起先认为我的选择对后续剧情的发展是有影响的,之后我发现其实选什么都无关紧要,整个游戏就变得索然无味了。

第二,玩家要能预测到选择会造成什么样的后果——至少一定程度上能猜到。光知道选择会产生影响还不够,玩家还应该能看出些端倪。

如果你有读过《选择你的冒险》(Choose Your Own Adventure)系列,你就知道这书里的情节发展有多出人意料。就比如你来到了岔路口,问你要走左边还是右边。走右边,被鳄鱼吃掉。走左边,迎娶公主!你完全猜不到接下来会发生什么。

但是这种不可预知性也是这类书的吸引点之一,因为故事都比较简短,如果你不小心搞死了自己,你可以很快翻回去重选,避免悲剧再度上演。然而游戏就不一样了。除非你故意把无厘头设定成游戏的核心特色之一,不然玩家在游戏过程中会觉得非常沮丧,认为玩它就是在浪费时间。

我认为包含对话树机制的游戏就有这样的问题。有时候游戏会给你呈现一系列非常简单的对话选择——“具有攻击性的”“讽刺的”“认同”这样的,你无法知道自己的角色具体会怎么回答对方,也无法推断这样的选择会产生怎样的影响。

最后一点,为了让选择变得真正有趣,选项设置不能过于浅显。例如,假设你在玩一个回合制RPG游戏,出现了两个选项。选项1:熊熊大火,消耗2点魔力,造成10点伤害。选项2:烈焰攻击,消耗3点魔力,造成5点伤害。你的选择当然是很重要的——不同的选择造成的伤害不同,消耗的魔力也不同。你一看就知道这二者的影响。但这并不是有趣的选择,因为你肯定会选熊熊大火,消耗魔力更少,攻击力还是另一个选项的2倍。在这种情况下烈焰攻击显然就是一个劣势明显的选项。

设计有趣选项还需斟酌选择出现的时间、地点。即使满足了前文三点,越多选择并不意味着越好。提供太多的选择,或者选择的结果太复杂,都可能导致分析瘫痪(analysis paralysis)。

分析瘫痪指的是玩家花了太多时间思考要选哪个,游戏进展过于缓慢,甚至于最后不了了之,扔下游戏不玩了。玩家,尤其是竞技玩家,想要做出最好的决定,他们会利用手头的所有信息认真推敲。如果选项太多,或者需要消化的信息太多,这会拉长决策过程,花更多时间才能完成游戏。虽说这对单人游戏来说并不算什么大问题,但是对多人游戏就很致命了。即使你的选择很有趣,但如果它们妨碍了玩家享受游戏,你就应该删掉或者加以简化。

选项太多还可能产生另一个问题:“选择的悖论(paradox of choice)”。这是由美国心理学家Barry Schwartz提出的理论,他认为提供更多选择,人们最后得到的满足感其实更少。

原因有几个:首先就是跟机会成本有关,也就是后悔本可以选择“更好的方案”。面对太多选项,无论结果是什么,人们总是会觉得自己本可以选择另一个更好的方案。相比只有很少的选择或根本没有选择的情况下,你从这种多选择中获得的满足感是更少的。

想象一下你在一家冰淇淋店。如果这里的冰淇淋有五种口味,你应该很容易就能选出自己想要的那一个,并觉得很满意。那假设店里卖的不是5种口味,而是20种——不只是巧克力味、香草味、草莓味,还有其它很多种冰淇淋。你或许要花一些时间才能决定要买薄荷巧克力碎口味,但你在吃的时候可能会觉得不是那么满足,因为你会想是不是应该选择曲奇饼干味。即使你的整体体验更好了——因为你能够找到20种更好的口味而不是只有5种——但你仍然会因原来可能发生的事而不那么满意。

第二点就是责备。如果你做了决策,但结果并不好,这似乎就只能怪你自己。这通常会发生在“公开信息”太多,玩家很难完全消化的情况下。比如你忘记了之前的某个细节线索,结果做了一个不太好的选择,很多人都会感到自责,但如果这种情况在某个游戏中出现得比较频繁,这可能是因为设计不合理,一次呈现了太多信息,游戏状态过于复杂了。

就拿《万智牌》来说吧,它可以成为一个非常复杂的游戏,其中最复杂的要属它的对战系统。你看到每个玩家都有一群不同的生物,要选择合适的攻击方式相当有难度。你得推测他们可能采取的各种防御措施,以及他们手中有哪些牌是可以阻止你的。在做这些推测时,你或许会忘记某个对手的生物的某个技能,从而导致战局大翻盘。这可能会让玩家产生负面情绪,觉得自己很愚蠢竟然没有注意到。而R&D也会特别注意去避免这种情况的频繁发生。

最后一个原因是期待值增加。选项变多,你对结果自然也就抱有更高的期望。选项越多,出现满足你需求选项的概率就越大,你对不完美结果的接受度就越低。当你从各种各样的选择中挑选出一个仍然不是绝对完美的选项时,很容易就会产生不满的情绪。

200年前,如果你的鞋子大小合适,基本贴合脚型,你应该感觉很幸福了。而如今,鞋子样式琳琅满目,找到真正钟意的那双鞋可能性看似非常小。有这么多的选择,你想要一双时髦但是舒服、轻便但支撑性好、牢固而柔韧性好的鞋子,能让你的双脚感到温暖而不至于出汗。选择越多,期望就越高,当你找不到一双完全符合你需求的鞋子时,自然会觉得不高兴。

请记住,我的意思并不是说让玩家做选择不好。恰恰相反,我只是想说选项多并不一定是好事。这些负面影响——分析瘫痪和选择的悖论——只会在玩家面临太多选择时才会出现。有趣的选择是游戏最具吸引力的地方之一,但可能会做过了头。游戏开始时,在3个入门级的宝可梦中选一个,这样挺有趣。要是是50个选项,那绝对是一场噩梦。

还有最后一种情况,添加选择可能会让游戏体验打折扣:那就是很少有选择(如果有的话)很重要,或者在绝大多数情况下都选了同一个选项。电子游戏版的《万智牌》就有这种情况,每当玩家需要做出决定时,他们就需要点击一个选项,点击次数多了,这就会让人觉得很烦。

假设你有一张牌,上面写着“如果你打这张牌,你可以选择让目标玩家抓三张牌”。所以玩家是有选择余地的。确实有少数情况他们选择不使用这个技能(比如他们的牌快用完了),但是绝大多数情况下都会使用,这样就多了很多重复的点击。

除此之外,玩家还得选择抓牌的人,这就意味着他们还得再点击。虽然这有点争议,因为你肯定会偶尔想让对手抓个牌,但这种情况也比较少见,绝大多数玩家会选择自己抽牌。虽然这张牌的文字说明为玩家提供了更多的选择,但如果它只是简单地“你抽3张牌”,而没有给玩家不必要的选择,玩家的用户体验可能会更好。

正如你所看到的,设计有趣的选择并没有表面上看的简单。然而,通过遵循这些简单的规则并注意可能存在的陷阱,我们可以为游戏增加一些有趣的决策环节,让游戏更上一层楼。

如果你喜欢这篇文章,可以去看看博客中的其它文章,订阅我们的新闻推送。如果不喜欢,请在评论区留下你的意见。之后我们会分析《超级马里奥制造2》!敬请期待。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Sid Meier, the designer behind the incredibly popular and influential Civilization series, once described games as “a series of interesting decisions”. In fact, it is the ability to make choices that is the core of what separates a game from a less interactive form of media, such as a book or a film. Whether it is the choice of whether to shield or grab, or the decision about which set of armor to wear, the choices you make help define the games and the gaming experience.

While this doesn’t necessarily hold true for all types of games – many rhythm games, for example, are simply about executing a pre-determined set of actions without requiring players to make interesting choices – it is a good mindset to have when designing a wide variety of games. The choices you make in a real-time strategy game are going to be very different from those in a turn-based RPG, but it is still important to make sure those decisions are interesting.

Today I want to take a look at what makes a decision “interesting”, and how you can design interesting decisions into your games.

When I think about interesting decisions in games, there are a few things that jump to mind. First, your decisions need to have consequences (or at least, you need to think they will). If you know that everything is going to turn out exactly the same no matter what, then the decision doesn’t really matter.

I believe this is what turned a lot of players off about the “Telltale” style of games. These games are very narrative-focused, and appear to give players control over the narrative. However, due to the episodic nature of the games they couldn’t actually allow players to veer away from the plotline that they were trying to tell. In my personal experience, I initially believed that my decisions would have an effect on the plot going forward. Once I realized that nothing I did really mattered, I began to lose interest in the games entirely.

Second, the player needs to be able to predict what the consequences will be, at least to some extent. It isn’t enough to know that your decision will have an effect – you need to have some inkling of what that effect will be.

ChooseYourOwnAdventureIf you’ve ever read an old “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, then you know how unpredictable they can be. You might be presented with a fork in the road, and asked whether you want to go right or left. If you go right, you get eaten by alligators. If you go left, you marry a princess! You really have no idea what will happen at any turn.

With these books the unpredictability was part of the appeal, because the stories are relatively short and it was very simple to go back and make the opposite decision if you accidentally kill yourself. However, this doesn’t hold true for games. Unless unpredictability is designed as one of the core appeals of your game, making choices where the player has no ability to predict the outcome can be very frustrating, and can feel like a waste of time.

I think this is a problem with a lot of games that provide dialogue trees. Sometimes the game will present you with a series of simple dialogue choices that tell you very little about how your character will actually respond – the options might be “Aggressive”, “Sarcastic” and “Agreement”, which don’t give you enough information to really predict what the results of your choice will be.

Finally, in order to really be an interesting decision, your choice should not be obvious. Suppose, for example, that you were playing a turn-based RPG and had two attack options. One option – we’ll call it “Big Burn” – costs 2 magic and does 10 fire damage. The other attack – we’ll call it “Bad Burn” – costs 3 magic and does 5 fire damage. Your choice definitely matters – depending on which one you pick you will do different amounts of damage, and spend different amounts of magic. You can also easily predict the outcome of each choice. However, this is not an interesting decision because you will always choose “Big Burn” – it’s cheaper, and it does twice as much damage. In this scenario “Bad Burn” is an obviously sub-optimal and obsolete option.

Another aspect of designing interesting choices is knowing when and where to provide your player with choices. Even if all three criteria above are met, more choices are not necessarily better. Providing too many choices, or having the outcome of the choices be too complicated, can result in a situation known as analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis is a situation where one player spends far too much time trying to make a decision, and grinds the entire game to a halt. Players, especially competitive gamers, want to make the best decision possible, and will use whatever information they have at their disposal to make this decision. If there are too many options, or too much information to process, this can prolong the decision making process and slow down the entire game. While this may not be as big of an issue in single player games, it can be a huge problem for multiplayer games. The lesson here is that, even if your decisions are interesting, if they get in the way of enjoying the game they should be simplified or removed.

Another problem that can occur with too many choices is the “paradox of choice”. This is an idea originally proposed by psychologist Barry Schwartz that claims that when presented with more choices, people can actually end up less satisfied with the outcome.

There are several reasons for this. The first reason is the idea of opportunity costs – that is, the regret of what you could have chosen instead. When you have too many options, no matter what outcome occurs it is easy to believe that you could have chosen another option that would have been even better. This can cause you to be less satisfied with your choice than if you had fewer or no options at all.

Imagine you are at an ice cream shop. If that shop has 5 different flavors of ice cream it would probably be pretty easy for you to choose the one you want – perhaps Vanilla – and you would be pretty satisfied with that choice. On the other hand, suppose it had 20 flavors instead – not just chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but many other flavors of ice-cream as well. It might take you a while to finally settle on Mint Chocolate Chip, but you still might not be satisfied because as you are eating you are thinking about whether you should have chosen cookie dough instead. Even if your overall experience is better, because you were able to find a better flavor with 20 options rather than 5, you might still be less satisfied because of what might have been.

Another reason for the paradox of choice is the idea of blame. If you make a decision and it turns out poorly, it can feel like you have nobody to blame but yourself. This can often occur when there is too much “open information” for a player to truly process it all. When you make a bad move because you forgot some little piece of information it can be easy to blame yourself, but if these sorts of misplays occur very frequently in a particular game it is probably due to the designer presenting too much information at once, and creating an overly complicated game state.

For an example of this situation, lets look at Magic: The Gathering. Magic can be a very complicated game, and one of the most complicated parts is the combat system. When you get into a situation where each player has a bunch different creatures on their boards, choosing how you would like to attack can be quite tricky. You have to take into account all the different ways that your opponent might choose to block, and pay attention to what sorts of cards they might have in hand to stop you. When making these sorts of calculations, you might forget about a particular ability on one of your opponent’s creatures that totally changes how the combat plays out. This can lead to “feel bad” moments where the player feels dumb for not paying attention to that ability, and Magic R&D specifically tries to keep an eye out to prevent these sorts of situations from happening too frequently.

The final reason for this “paradox of choice” is a raise in expectations. When you are presented with more options, you naturally have higher expectations for the outcome of your decisions. The more options that are available for a specific choice, the more likely it is that there is an option that will perfectly meet your needs, and the less likely you are to accept anything less than perfection. This can lead to dissatisfaction when, after picking from a wide range of available options the one that you pick still isn’t absolutely perfect.

200 years ago, if your shoes were around the right size and roughly foot-shaped, you would probably be perfectly happy. These days, however, there are so many options that finding the right pair of shoes can seem impossible. With so many options, you want a shoe that is stylish but comfortable, lightweight but supportive, solid yet flexible, that keeps your feet warm without making them too sweaty. With more choices comes drastically higher expectations, and when you cannot find a shoe that perfectly meets your needs it is only natural to feel dissatisfied.

Keep in mind, I am not saying that choices are bad. Far from it – I am only trying to say that more choices isn’t always better. These negative consequences – analysis paralysis and the paradox of choice – only occur when the player is overwhelmed by too many choices. Interesting choices are one of the best things about games, but it can be taken too far. Choosing between three starter Pokemon at the beginning of the game is a fun and interesting choice – having to choose between 50 different options would be an absolute nightmare.

There is, however, one last situation where adding choices might actually detract from your game, and that is when the choice rarely, if ever, matters, or one option is chosen an overwhelming majority of the time. An example of this can also be found in Magic: The Gathering – specifically, in digital versions of the game. In digital Magic whenever a player needs to make a decision it requires them to click an option, and it can become annoying if the player is overwhelmed with too many clicks.

Suppose there is a card that says “When you play this card you may have target player draw 3 cards”. Because this card includes the word “may”, the player is given a choice of whether they even want to use this ability or not. However, while there may be rare situations where they would not want to use the ability (such as if they are almost out of cards in their deck), they will almost always choose to use the ability, which makes this extra click unnecessary.

This card also says “any player”, which means that the player will also have an additional click to choose which player should draw. While this is a bit more controversial, because there are definitely reasons why you might occasionally want your opponent to draw, these reasons are also quite rare and the vast majority of players will choose themselves to draw. While the way the card is written provides players with more choices, the card would probably have a better user experience if it simply said “You draw 3 cards”, without giving the players unnecessary options.

As you can see, designing interesting choices is not as simple as it may sound. However, by following these simple rules, and paying attention to the potential pitfalls, we can all add interesting decisions to our games that help bring them to the next level.

Until Next Time

That is all I have for this week. If you enjoyed this article, check out the rest of the blog and subscribe on Twitter, Youtube, or here on WordPress so you will always know when I post a new article. If you didn’t, let me know what I can do better in the comments down below. And join me next time for a look at level design in Super Mario Maker 2!

(source:gamasutra


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