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分享独立开发者必须经历的5个阶段

发布时间:2013-12-25 13:52:37 Tags:,,,

作者:Cedric Guillemet

上周我同几个刚刚进入独立游戏开发者行列的朋友一起吃饭,我们讨论了游戏创意、理念、一些机制……酒过三巡,他们告诉我:“我们现在还没有什么可玩的作品,但我正在开发某个很棒的系统。”这让我想起自己正在遭遇的麻烦。我试图说服他们相信,如果你在首周开发时间内还没有什么可玩的产品,那么即使你花了10年的制作时间,也不会有什么好游戏出炉……甚至是不会完成任何一款游戏。根据我的个人经历,我制定了一个独立游戏开发者路线图。

遵循这些简单的原则并不能保证你就能制作出好游戏,但至少可以增加你发布产品的机率。

im indie(from makegames.tumblr.com)

im indie(from makegames.tumblr.com)

步骤1:第一个小时/第一个晚上

选择你最喜欢的想法、理念、机率和游戏。你应该有自己喜欢玩的东西。如果你是软件开发者,那就从技术层面入手,你可能会想编写X或Y游戏中的某个功能。但这是一个错误。技术是令游戏运行的一个途径,但并非制作好游戏的渠道。选择你所喜欢的游戏和机制。如果你只是喜欢某游戏中的摄像管理方式或者流体物理机制,那么这也不是很好的选择。游戏的历史、世界和主题只是华而不实的包装纸。专注于这些层面无助于制作出好游戏。想想《超级马里奥》,其中的整个世界是为玩法而存在的。如果你没有灵感,那就去泰国走一趟吧。我认为度假启发了很多独立开发者的灵感。

步骤2:第一个周末/第一个礼拜

新产品可能很丑陋,但至少值得玩上5分钟。这个步骤和步骤3是制作好游戏的最关键环节,若要制作出众的游戏,还需要步骤4(制作)。将最初的2-5天用于CCC(控制/摄像/角色),以及基本功能(射击,时间管理,NPC AI)。不要对使用软件表示不屑。要使用你最熟悉的软件,但也可以使用一些新颖的软件。有无数独立游戏是在Game Jams活动中站稳脚跟,所以这种活动是个很好的学习场所。如果你的原型没那么棒,也没有关系。你也可以学习到一种新框架并提高自己的技能。另外,你自己并非唯一的裁判,所以要看看测试者试玩的表现。

步骤3:第一个月

你骄傲自己完成了一个粗糙的原型。你还有许多想法。这个步骤极为重要。如果没有这一步,根本就不可能完成游戏!现在可以开发你的游戏机制了,测试小型关卡。迭代CCC元素,制作一些特效。某些重要特效例子包括:

*爆炸时的屏幕震动

*小声提示玩家某事正在发生

这些特效会让游戏更有吸引力。特效不需要很完美,但要很清楚。想想《马里奥》中的跳跃声吧。展示你的原型!每周去找一次伙伴,让他们看看你的进展。趁他们还没喝高之前展示游戏原型,让他们提供有价值的反馈。

你还无法完成所有的机制和完整的游戏进程。但你应该具备60-80%的材料。你可以从原型中学习如何让游戏运行。你学习越多,掌握的就越多。制作过程中遇到的麻烦就越少,效率也就会越高。也许你在第一个月中还很生涩,那就在制作过程中再试一次。

步骤4:制作阶段(12/18个月)

如果你跳过了步骤2,那就不要指望发布游戏了。因为你做不成游戏,也没有学到什么经验。为什么只能12-18个月呢?首先,这个阶段你很容易丧失动力。制作游戏很消耗精力,长期耗下去并不是办法。另外,之后还有一个营销环节要做。12个月是一个良好的持续阶段。如果游戏不能在此完工,那就要移除功能。人总是欲望大于能力,这在原始社会还行得通,但现在不同了。我们可以得到的东西越来越多,就需要时间来清除。不要害怕抛弃某些功能,你最终还是会保留足够的功能,相信我!要根据分配的时间来安排功能,而不是相反。在整个制作阶段,一定要关注生产效率。如果同一件事情你要做两次,那么第二次就只能花一半的时间。究竟是花500美元购买一个库/引擎更好,还是自己动手做一个好?买一个!制作或修复你自己的工具更需要高效率。使用开源数据(游戏邦注:例如免费的音效)。花点时间提升游戏价值。你相信自己可以不需要编写多数代码而制作一款游戏吗?那么制作游戏可能就不是你需要的业余爱好了。任何时候你都要有一个可行的模型。使用一些类似于Hudson或Cruise Control的工具。不要超过两天都没有一个可行的模型。不要分心!

晒出你的游戏进展,无需担心别人会窃走你的创意:

*人类本能让我们觉得自己的创意比别人更好

*你的创意(至少99%)已经被别人用过

*制作游戏是一个混合多种创意的过程

*你的多数创意仅适用于自己的游戏

*能赚钱的才是好创意。当你的资产只够制作一些短视频时,不要担心,其浏览量可能也只有1000次。也许可以到KickStarter这种众筹平台上碰碰运气,1年的制作周期+税费+外包成本大约5、6万美元。你要的越多,成功的机会就越少。在你推出KickStarter筹资项目期间,你要有沟通的耐心。这一个月中你得撰写大量邮件,同记者打交道,与YouTube观众等任何可能支持你的人互动。这个月中你几乎无法制作游戏。不要等着其他人来帮你制作游戏。多数人对你的游戏不屑。如果你的游戏需要你无法制作或购买的资产,那就更改游戏。自己动手或者购买资产。这一点也适用于位于稳定团队的开发者。在技术上要奉行简约原则,就像你自己编写了游戏中的MP3播放器,也无法保证销售出更多游戏。你处于制作模式而非R&D模式。你也不要制作中间件。你的源代码/资产是为自己的游戏而存在,不需要与其他游戏兼容。只管编写/绘制你当前需要的资产。此时你精疲力尽,睡眠不足,你认为自己制作这种垃圾简直是在浪费时间,也许把它们都删除了会让你感觉更好。但你已经努力了这么久,已经位列最先进的独立游戏开发者之一,为什么不继续走下去呢?

注:改变一个人只需42天,想象一个2年的辛苦工作究竟会把你变成什么样。

步骤5:营销和出售(3-6个月)

终于快要结束了,你决定马上在App Store或自己的网站发布游戏。如果能够获得GreenLight的通行证那就再好不过了!你创收超过200美元的机率非常之低。如果你不指望多少收益,那么你的目标就实现了。如果你更有野心,希望以此谋生,那么你有可能成为顶尖的1%开发者。据我所知,App Store中有50%的游戏收益低于200美元,80%低于2000美元。想想在麦当劳工作的时薪吧,这一结果真令人心酸。

*无论如何,你已经完成了自己的游戏,现在是时候展开PR工作了。要通过Email、新闻公告、游戏展会等各种途径宣传游戏。在PAX这种大型展会中租一个展位要花不少钱。但这是一项投资。如果我没记错的话,《Antichamber》开发者就曾经参与了17个展会。所以要在周围的展会活动中找机会。与数年前相比,现在的行业展会更多了。竞争更多,但也意味着机会更多!动动你的身子,没人在乎你的游戏,所以要想想让玩家在游戏中逗留5分钟以上的方法。靠游戏谋生是一回事,看到玩家喜欢你的游戏则是另一回事。如果你的游戏销量可观,那就有可能迎来你之前从未想过的问题。例如硬件上的麻烦、故障、AI漏洞……在白天做PR工作,晚上修复游戏。

告诉用户你所做的事情。不要丧气,他们会理解你需要2天时间修复游戏,所以要告知这一情况。人们不喜欢你隐瞒这一情况。最好谦逊而详尽地告知相关情况。这是一项受虐狂式的工作。无论你做什么,总有人会指责你和游戏的不是。如果你还有一口气,你可能会想重新开始。但如果你并非超级明星式的独立开发者,没有人可以保证你下一款游戏就能成功。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Cedric Guillemet

I’m a senior software developer at Golaem (http://www.golaem.com ) working on character animations. Prior to that, I’ve worked for large companies like Orange or Guillemot R&D. You can mail me at mailto:cedric.guillemet@gmail.com or on Twitter ( http://www.twitter.com/skaven_ )

The indie roadmap

Last week I had lunch with some friends who enjoy their new-indie game developer status. We discussed game ideas, concepts, some mechanics… And right after the first beer, they told me: “We don’t have anything playable yet but I’m working on the decal system.” This brought me back to my own troubles working on .the rush//. I tried to make them understand that if when you don’t have something playable within the first week of development, even if you spend the next 10 years in production, you won’t have a good game….or even just a game. With my humble experience I’ve made an Indie GameDev Roadmap.

It doesn’t guaranty you will make a good game but not following those simple rules will decrease your chances to release something worthy.

Step 1 : The first hour/the first night.

The universe, Minecraft or your game, all started with a big ambition.

Take the best ideas, concepts, mechanics, games you like. Blend it. You should have what you would like to play. If you are a software developer, working on the technical aspects, you will want to code the same feature as in X or Y. It’s a major mistake. The technique is a way to get there and certainly not the way to make a good game. Take the game and the mechanics you like. If you like a game because its camera management is great or its fluid physic is top notch, then it’s not a good choice. The history, universe and theme are ashiny wrapping paper. Not focusing on this part will not prevent you from making a good game. Think of Mario. Its whole world only exists for the gameplay. If you have no inspiration, have a trip in Thailand. I know it helped a lot of indies.

Step 2 : The first weekend/the first week.

Not everyone has the same vision of a great weekend.

As a newborn, it might be ugly but fun to play with for at least 5 minutes. This step and the 3rd one are the top most important ones to make a good game. It needs the 4th (production) to make an excellent game. Use those primary 2 to 5 days for the CCC (Control/Camera/Character), the main basic features (shoot, time management, NPC AI). Don’t give a shit about the software used. Use the one you are the most experienced with….or not. It can be refreshing to use something new. Numerous indie games find their root in Game Jams. It’s a good school. If your prototype is not that great, it’s ok. You might have learned a new framework and improved your skills. By the way, you are not the only judge. Look how your testers play through.

Step 3 : The first month.

You are the proud owner of a rough prototype. You also have a lot of ideas. This step is über important. Without it, no game! Now, juice your mechanics. Try any of them. Test small levels. Iterate on CCC and make some FX and emphasis effects. Some examples of important FX/Emphasis :

- screen shaking for explosions

- small sounds that explain the player what’s happening

Those effects will make the game more engaging. They don’t have to be perfect but they have to be clear. Think of Mario’s jump sound. Show your prototype! Once a week, go to the pub and show your progression. You’ll get a motivation boost and if you show them your prototype to your friends before they get drunk, their feedback will be valuable. That’s why the San Francisco indie scene is famous. In this microcosm, developers meet and share their ideas, prototypes,…

You will not have all the mechanics nor the complete game progression. But you should have enough material for 60 to 80%. Prototyping is learning. You learn how your game work. The more you learn, the more you’ll master it. The less troubles in production you’ll have. You are faster at making something when you already did it right? It’s the same for game design. Make your rough in a month. Then do it a second time during the production.

Find a pleasant home to make your game.

Step 4 : The production (12/18 months)

If you bypassed step 2, forget about a release date. You won’t make it and you won’t learn anything. Why only 12 to 18 months? First, you will lose your motivation. Making a game is exhausting.

Enduring a burnout won’t help. Moreover, there is the last step (marketing your game). 12 months is a good duration IMHO. If it won’t fit, then remove features. Humans always want more than they can eat. It was useful in our primitive days.but now, it’s different. As we can have as much as we want, it’s time to reduce. Don’t be scared, you’ll end with enough features, believe me! Plan your features for the allocated time. Not the other way around. During the whole production, productivity must be your moto. If you do twice the same thing, the second time must take half the time.

Buy a library/engine for $500 or make it? Buy it! Make or patch your tools to be more productive. Use open source data (free sound effects, …). Spend time improving your game value. You believe you can’t make a game without coding most parts? Then making games might not be the hobby you need. Try the demo scene. You must have a working build at any time. Use something like Hudson or Cruise Control if you’re experienced with. Use a .bat or do it manually if not, but you must have a game build every day. Don’t spend more than 2 days without a working one. Don’t lose your focus!

Show your game progress, fearing someone will steal your ideas is irrational:

Human nature makes us prefer our own ideas to others’.

Your ideas (at least 99%) have already been used somewhere else.

It’s the blend that makes a game. Think of Rock’n Roll.

Most of your ideas have limited meaning outside of your game.

A good idea is one that makes money.When you have enough assets make some short videos. Don’t worry; you’ll only have 1000 views. Nothing serious to lose the announcement effect. Just enough for some blog posts of nerdy game journalists. It also may be the perfect moment for a KickStarter. 1 year of production in “monk mode” + taxes + outsourcing cost around 50/60K$. The more you’ll ask the less chances you have to be successful. During your KickStarter you’ll have to communicate. It’s a month devoted to writing emails, to be kind with journalists, youtubers, … whoever will listen to you. It’s also one month you won’t work on your game. Don’t wait for someone to help you. Don’t wait any one to make you game. Most people don’t give a shit about it. If your game needs assets you can’t produce (or buy) then change the game. Do it yourself or buy it. This also applies when you are in a rock-solid team. Invest in technology with parsimony. You won’t sell more games if you coded your MP3 player by yourself. You are in production mode not in R&D mode. You are not doing a middleware either. You source code/assets exist for your sole game. They don’t have to be compliant with anything. You don’t ship your sources. A safe bet is that it’ll be crappy when the game will come out. Don’t bet on future features. Only code/model/paint/.. what you need. You are tired, exhausted, sleep deprived. You think you wasted your time making this pile of shit. Maybe deleting everything will make you feel better. Well, that’s possible but you did go a long way. Let’s get a bit further. You already are in the most advanced 1% of indie games. What’s next?

It takes 42 days to change a man. Imagine how 2years of hard work can change you.

Step 5 : Marketing and selling (3 to 6 months)

The end is near and you decide to publish your game in a rush on the Appstore or on your website. With a fast GreenLight approval as a bonus! Your chances to make more than $200 of benefits are very small. If you are a hipster, your goal is completed. If you are more ambitious, maybe to the point of make it a living, perhaps you can be in the top 1%. Some statistics I remember; 50% of games on the Appstore make less than $200. 80% make less than $2000. It’s an obsessive hobby. Considering the hours, think of working for McDonalds.

Anyway, you started speaking about your game 6 months ago (you did it, right?) and your baby is born! Email, press communique, expos,… it’s now a full time PR job starting. A booth in an expo like PAX costs money. It’s an investment. If I remember well, the man behind Antichamber, invested in 17 exhibitions. Find the events around you. There are a lot and a lot compared to just a few years ago. More competition but more opportunities! Move your ass! Nobody care about your game. It’s sad but true. So find ways to make players enjoy your game more than 5 minutes. To make it a living is one thing. To see players enjoying your game is another one. If your game starts to sell well, you’ll face all the possible shits you probably didn’t think of. Troubles on some hardware, glitches, AI bugs, … PR the day, Mr FixIt by night. Tell your customers what you do. Don’t be stressed. They can understand you need 2 days to fix something but tell them! People usually don’t like when you hide them something. Humility and comprehensiveness will help. It’s a masochist job. You work hard and whatever you do, there is someone, somewhere who will blame your work. You and your work. Just because you did something. Nonsense. If you are still alive and not totally burned, you’ll want to start again. You’ll be better. But if you’re not an indie superstar, nothing guaranties your next game will be a success.(source:altdevblogaday


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