1）据gamasutra报道，PopCap高管Giordano Bruno Contestabile在日前的GDC China发言中指出，数据分析虽然是社交游戏领域的一个普遍讨论话题，但趣味性才是“最重要的因素”。
2）Double Fine工作室UI设计师Joe Kowalski在GDC China发言中指出，用户界面（UI）绝非设计师事后才考虑的点缀，它是游戏给予用户的第一印象，如果游戏开场时拥有极具吸引力的菜单，这就有利于促进用户与游戏的互动。
3）NaturalMotion Games高管Struan Robertson在GDC China发言中指出，他认为视听及玩法元素在免费手机游戏中所发挥的作用将日益增长。
该公司旗下热门手机游戏《My Horse》目前下载量已超过1000万次，最高峰时拥有500万DAU；另一款游戏《CSR Racing》发布于今年初，首月收益超过1200万美元，这两款游戏均采用了高质量的3D画面和高级视听效果，以及富有吸引的玩法。
4）据gamasutra报道，Epic China创始人Paul Meegan（之前离职加入LucasArts）最近又重新回归Epic团队，担任产品开发副总裁，负责与Epic高管监管虚幻引擎等产品的开发工作。
1）GDC China: Metrics are important, says PopCap, but fun is paramount
By Brandon Sheffield
Metrics versus intuition has been a common point of discussion in the social game world ever since social games entered the scene. For Bejeweled Blitz maker PopCap, metrics are important, but “not the most important thing,” said Bejeweled franchise business director Giordano Bruno Contestabile, during a GDC China talk.
“Fun is the most important thing,” says Contestabile, but the designers also monitor metrics every day, in order to reinforce whether something is fun, or even visible to players. But metrics don’t trump all.
“If it comes down to follow the metrics or doing what we think is fun, we’ll go with fun,” he says. The Bejeweled Blitz team calls itself metrics-focused, not metrics driven.
Contestabile says Popcap is “not a very motentization-driven company originally,” which led them into some traps when it came to thinking about how to charge. “You should never underestimate how much players want to spend,” he says.
“We allowed players to spend more money if they want to, but we don’t force them,” he says. “We’ve always been a bit fearful, saying well, people are going to think we’re going to break the game, they’ll think we’re after their money. … But the lesson is, the players want to spend.”
People don’t like to pay if the perception is some sort of pay-to-play scheme, but “they win if you give them fun in exchange,” he says. If people pay for something because it’s fun, the team gets get zero complaints about it. “If the game is fun, people respect [the purchase],” he adds, and keep playing.
Engagement is the result of a fun game, not something metrics-driven. “Making a game fun comes first, and then everything else comes from that,” he says. “That’s the secret of making a game that has staying power.”
But you can’t stick with something forever, even if you think it’s fun. The stats don’t lie at that point. “Sometimes we launch something, and it’s not fun, nobody likes it, and then you have to kill it, and go to the next one, rather than sticking with it,” Contestabile concluded. “Never be afraid to kill your babies. It’s very difficult to turn around a game. You can sometimes turn it around, but it’s a lot of work.” （source：gamasutra）
2）User interface ‘shouldn’t just be icing on the cake’ says Double Fine’s Kowalski
By Brandon Sheffield
“You really shouldn’t think of user interface as just the icing on the cake.” These are the opening words of Joe Kowalski, UI designer at Double Fine, as he addressed the crowd at GDC China.
“That first interface can be an effective hook. When you’re setting a scene with an engaging menu, this is the first interaction players are going to have with your game. You can do interesting things with that, it doesn’t just have to be ‘new game,’ or picking things out of a list.”
“Sometimes the UI is really communicating something to the player without the use of language,” he adds. “There are other ways to leverage these opportunities to create something different.”
As a level designer, Kowalski has to balance two, often conflicting goals. Those are “to present information in a way that’s easy to use and understand,” and “to evoke the personality of the game in the work I create.”
“When there’s a conflict, your gut feeling is often to go with the first one, presenting information in a functional way,” he says. “And that generally is good advice, but (there are times) when you should go for personality instead. … This can bring out much more emotional responses in players.”
UI can give a game an implied narrative, even if it’s not explicitly about story. In Chess, for instance, the look of the characters you interact with gives you some idea of a story, since they resemble a royal court.
While a lot of good UI simply gets out of the way, he says you should go further. “Games are often trying to craft a unique world, so why not have an interface that can match that?”
Kowalski was UI designer on Guitar Hero and Brutal Legend, both of which had unique interface design that informed the player about the world and the tone of the game, but also stood out within the game itself.
The Brutal Legend main menu interface, which has player flipping through a gatefold vinyl album cover, has some usability problems. Kowalski the first to admit that — but it inspired a pretty positive reaction in players, because they could feel the love that went into the game. The menu made the game feel like a cohesive package, like unwrapping a new piece of vinyl.
“Inspiring a reaction is better than feeling nothing,” says Kowalski. “Even if they hate it, at least you gave them something to talk about.” （source：gamasutra）
3）GDC China: Why audio-visual quality matters in F2P mobile
By Simon Carless
Talking at GDC China’s Smartphone/Tablet Games Summit in Shanghai, NaturalMotion Games’ Struan Robertson discussed his company’s belief that advanced audiovisuals and gameplay are increasingly key to success in the free-to-play mobile market.
The developer of hit free-to-play drag racing game CSR Racing started out on mobile with premium iOS titles like Backbreaker and Jenga, eventually grabbing 20 million downloads for those relatively polished titles.
But the company – a sister part of middleware firm NaturalMotion – came to a belief that there was “a train coming” in free to play. Not only that, there was a gap in the market for high-sheen, polished 3D free to play titles.
And indeed, the company’s two titles in F2P have been big successes. My Horse, a “nurturing game” based around caring for a virtual pet, has had over 10 million downloads, and 500,000 Daily Active Users at its height. And Robertson believes that a “crappy looking 2D horse in a crappy looking field” would have never been such a hit – its high quality 3D mattered.
And CSR Racing, a drag racing title which launched earlier this year, saw $12 million revenue in its first month, and has now reached nearly 2 billion play sessions. Once again, it’s done it with complex 3D and high-flash audiovisuals, underpinned with solidly addictive, polished gameplay.
NaturalMotion Games hews to much bigger production values than many of the titles currently in the top-grossing games list. But the company doesn’t think full 3D is necessary for success, singling out DragonVale and Clash Of Clans for intelligent art direction and clever gameplay that break through the clutter.
Nonetheless, Robertson believes that it’s really tricky to stand out from the mass of green-grey ‘isometric city building and zoo games’, if you don’t have something that’s unique and visually differentiated. And there are some genres that you just can’t work in without high quality 3D, making titles like CSR Racing less easily clone-able.
There are even more advantages for going so audio-visually hi-def with F2P smartphone/tablet games, too. The hardware manufacturers are likely to get behind you if you have cutting-edge 3D, and high quality icons, and screenshots can suck in the average player rather effectively.
There’s clearly room in iOS or Android top-grossing apps for many complexities of title – but Robertson and his firm are betting that it’s the combination of complex addictive gameplay and high production values that are the ultimate differentiator in mobile. （source：gamasutra）
4）Former LucasArts president returns home to Epic
By Frank Cifaldi
Paul Meegan, the Epic China founder who departed for what ended up being a short stint as the president of LucasArts, is back at Epic in a new role.
The company announced today that Meegan is its new vice president of product development, working directly with Epic’s executive and development teams on products including its Unreal Engine.
When he departed LucasArts in August, Meegan was the third president to do so in just over four years. He was overseeing development of the new “dark and mature” Star Wars 1313 franchise, a game which LucasArts’ new owner Disney says is still coming to market despite the company’s focus on social and mobile development over the traditional console space.（source：gamasutra）