遊戲中的敘述與遊戲玩法間的關係

作者:Will Nations

許多遊戲玩家都會爲了優化自己的遊戲玩法能力而去犧牲本想進行角色扮演的願望。就像有些玩家在特定區域會爲了獲得新能力或新角色而使用本來很善良的角色去背叛其他角色或因此而錯過某些場景。

這裏所存在的一個重要問題是關於敘述遊戲玩法的不一致。即遊戲的沉浸感遭遇破壞,從而導致玩家不得不去面對一些現實情況。

1.遊戲具有難度。

2.你的最大樂趣便是爲了克服這些難度去優化角色。

3.選擇一種遊戲玩法對作爲玩家的你更有利,而不是對於角色而言,儘管這種選擇總是伴隨着一些敘述內容。

該怎麼做

任何角色扮演遊戲中最重要的一個元素便是玩家所擁有的沉浸感。如果遊戲缺少可信度,一致性和激情,那麼玩家的遊戲體驗便會遭到破壞。同樣地,當玩家去嘗試一款打着擁有強大敘述內容的廣告的遊戲時,這也暗示着敘述設計師與玩家之間的關係。即玩家願意投入時間和情感到遊戲角色和世界中。反之設計師們需要創造能夠讓玩家一直沉浸於遊戲世界中,並值得他們待在這裏的體驗。一種理想的情況是,在出現任何外部影響之前,玩家絕不會失去自己作爲遊戲角色的感受。

爲了處理我們所呈現出的問題,我們必須回答一些基本問題:

你是否想要將敘述與遊戲玩法相結合,如此玩家在一個區域的決定便能夠排除他們在其它區域所面對的選擇?

如果你希望玩家能夠出於敘述原因去做出敘述決定,並出於遊戲玩法原因去做出遊戲玩法決定,那麼你必須明確一系列全新的設計約束條件。

敘述決定不應該:

影響玩家所面對的遊戲機制類型;

影響難度水平;

影響玩家使用裝備/能力。

遊戲玩法決定不應該:

影響玩家使用角色/環境/裝備/能力;

影響情節點的方向(不管大小)。

有關這些原則的例子包括《巫師2:刺客之王》和《暗影狂奔:龍隕)。

The Witcher 2(from icili)

The Witcher 2(from icili)

在《巫師2》中,我可以選擇兩個完全不同的敘述方向,同時我們所遇到的環境/任務也會有所不同,但是我仍會遇到:

1.具有相同多樣性/頻率的遭遇戰和掉落裝備。

2.關卡挑戰中同樣的難度級別。

3.同樣的裝備質量。

在《暗影狂奔》中,玩家可以基於角色或其能力爲自己的角色創造一個特定的知識基礎。你可以是一個能夠召喚精靈的Shaman,他既瞭解街頭生活也瞭解上流社會。遊戲所呈現給玩家的敘述決定將基於玩家在一開始所做出的敘述決定(而非遊戲玩法決定)進行調整並影響玩家能夠得到的技能/能力。

例外

說實話,這些約束條件也具有一些注意事項;讓一個角色扮演決定去影響遊戲機制是非常合理的。讓我們舉個例子來說吧,假設你要玩《黑暗之魂》並基於角色所使用的機制去執行一個自然的遊戲難度分配。在《黑暗之魂》中,你可以以魔術師的形式去體驗一種“簡單的模式”。投入擁有自動填滿的彈藥的基於範圍的技能比包含更多風險的短距離技能能夠讓遊戲更容易被擊敗。然而值得注意的是,遊戲本身也是非常難被打敗的,即使是使用魔術師的角色,所以儘管面對種種障礙,這系列的遊戲玩法的相關假設還是有效的。

另外一個注意事項便是當玩家在遊戲一開始做出了能夠影響他們進入的遊戲某些部分或他們能夠使用的裝備/能力的決定。《星球大戰:舊共和國》會基於玩家最初的類別決定而呈現給他們截然不同的內容與技能。在這款遊戲中,玩家其實是在玩着不同的遊戲,但它們仍擁有同樣的機制。此外,這些機制也都是獨立的。這並不像在某個遊戲攻略中選擇成爲Jedi並且這會影響着玩家下一次想要成爲Smuggler的選擇。這種情況中存在兩種固有的危險。當玩家看到兩個角色都訪問了同樣的內容,但卻都受限於這些最初的角色決定時他們便會感到受挫。如果不同的“路徑”能夠轉變成一條核心路徑,那麼玩家便可能不願意面對只支持其中一種類別的敘述決定,並最終導致這種決定變成一種大概的估算。

建議

你是否想要避開這種情況呢?以下建議便能夠幫助你保證遊戲玩法與敘述決定始終是相互獨立的。

建議1:多個聯盟或可遊戲的角色

在進行敘述設計時確保與角色相關的技能與角色的屬性並沒有直接聯繫,相反地它們能夠在角色間進行獨立轉換。這裏的目標在於確保玩家能夠在爲角色選擇技能或能力以及在爲羣組選擇成員時維持一種優先的敘述狀態和優先的遊戲玩法狀態。

例子:

與角色相關的技能是基於能夠隨心轉換的武器包。對於特定角色來說這些技能是受到玩家所攜帶的裝備的影響。因爲任何角色都能夠填補任何戰鬥角色,而故事決定也是不受遊戲玩法決定的影響。不管我想要如何設計自己的角色和團隊,敘述互動都是由玩家所控制的。

建議2:故事線分支

這樣設計你的遊戲:

1可以在所有路徑/任務線上找到任何與遊戲玩法相關的內容(遊戲邦注:不管是來自任務的獎勵或在特定分支路徑中才有的內容),如此便沒有一種任務/一條路徑是爲了獲得這樣的內容而設計的。至少讓玩家能夠獲得同樣有用的內容,如此任何區別便不會影響到玩家克服障礙的成功率。

2.分支間的關卡設計是特別,但那些路徑都擁有較高水平的難度/遊戲玩法多樣性等等。

3.敘述難度是你所強調的主要區別。

例子:

如果我能夠解決一個城鎮所面臨的問題,那麼市長便會給我獎勵。農民和商人都需要幫助。我可以選擇想要先幫助誰。對於農民,我必須保護她的農作物免受土匪的搶奪。對於商人,我必須找出是誰偷了他的商品。而我選擇先幫誰都會影響到之後的分支內容。但不管我怎麼做,我都會面對同樣有趣的遊戲玩法,同樣程度的體驗,以及來自市場的同樣獎勵。即使我只能幫助其中的一人,我仍然會遇到所有的這些情況。我的決定還會影響到未來的敘述內容,這也代表着之後的故事/關卡設計會發生轉變。

建議3:獨有的技能敘述控制

這是關於你的角色能夠單獨擁有一種屬性或能力而讓自己能夠擁有獨立的對話選擇。特別是,如果你能夠沿着特定的路徑去創造角色以及玩家必須讓自己擁有特定的對話能力時,玩家變有可能失去自己所渴望看到的結合內容。

確保能夠使用超級對話能力的決定是區別於角色的整體能力。因此玩家不需要爲了探索一條特殊的敘述路徑而放棄自己的願望,因爲他們也想使用具有同樣技能子集的特殊戰鬥能力。我還會建議你們爲每個技能子集提供相關方法,從而爲對話決定提供具有同等價值的結論。

例子:

我可以基於角色屬性對別人進行撒謊,威脅,或控制他們的精神。如果我想參與混戰,我便需要更高的Strenth。在其它遊戲中,它們可能會設定無效的精神控制以及有效的威脅。同樣地,還有一些我想要體驗的特定遊戲部分只能在與精神控制相關的對話選擇中進行。幸好我最終能夠進行這些選擇。而不管我做出怎樣的決定我都擁有威脅或撒謊的選擇(同時也能夠控制別人的精神),並且我都會完成任務並獲得同樣類型的獎勵。

結論

如果你和我一樣會因爲敘述與遊戲玩法的相互依賴而煩惱,那麼你便需要好好理解所有的這些內容。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

Narrative-Gameplay Dissonance

By Will Nations

The Problem

Many gamers have experienced the scenario where they must sacrifice their desire to roleplay in order to optimize their gameplay ability. Maybe you betray a friend with a previously benevolent character or miss out on checking out the scenery in a particular area, all just to get that new ability or character that you know you would like to have for future gameplay.

The key problem here is one of Narrative-Gameplay Dissonance. The immersion of the game is destroyed so that you will confront the realities that…

1.the game has difficulties.

2.it is in your best interest to optimize your character for those difficulties.

3.it may be better for you the player, not you the character, to choose one gameplay option over another despite the fact that it comes with narrative baggage.

What To Do…

One of the most important elements of any role-playing game is the sense of immersion players have. An experience can be poisoned if the game doesn’t have believability, consistency, and intrigue. As such, when a player plays a game that is advertised as having a strong narrative, there is an implied relationship between the narrative designer and the player. The player agrees to invest their time and emotions in the characters and world. In return designers craft an experience that promises to keep them immersed in that world, one worth living in. In the ideal case, the player never loses the sense that they are the character until something external jolts them out of flow。

To deal with the problem we are presented with, we must answer a fundamental question:

Do you want narrative and gameplay choices intertwined such that decisions in one domain preclude a player’s options in the other?

If you would prefer that players make narrative decisions for narrative reasons and gameplay decisions for gameplay reasons, then a new array of design constraints must be established.

Narrative decisions should not…

impact the types of gameplay mechanics the player encounters.

impact the degree of difficulty.

impact the player’s access to equipment and/or abilities.

Gameplay decisions should not…

impact the player’s access to characters/environments/equipment/abilities.

impact the direction of plot points, both minor and major.

Examples of these principles in action include The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and Shadowrun: Dragonfall.

In the Witcher 2, I can go down two entirely distinct narrative paths, and while the environments/quests I encounter may be different, I will still encounter…

1.the same diversity/frequency of combat encounters and equipment drops.

2.the same level of difficulty in the level(s) challenges.

3.the same quality of equipment.

In Shadowrun, players can outline a particular knowledge base for their character (Gang, Street, Academic, etc.) that is independent of their role or abilities. You can be a spirit-summoning Shaman that knows about both street life and high society. The narrative decisions presented to players are then localized to a narrative decision made at the start rather than on the gameplay decision that affects what skills/abilities they can get.

Exceptions

To be fair, there a few caveats to these constraints; it can be perfectly reasonable for a roleplay decision to affect the game mechanics. One example would be if you wanted to pull a Dark Souls and implement a natural game difficulty assignment based on the mechanics your character exploits. In Dark Souls, you can experience an “easy mode” in the form of playing as a mage. Investing in range-based skills that have auto-refilling ammo fundamentally makes the game easier to beat compared to short-range skills that involve more risk. It is important to note, however, that the game itself is still very difficult to beat, even with a mage-focus, so the premise of the series’ gameplay (“Prepare to Die”) remains in effect despite the handicap.

Another caveat scenario is when the player makes a decision at the very beginning of the game that impacts what portions of the game they can access or which equipment/abilities they can use. Star Wars: The Old Republic has drastically different content and skills available based on your initial class decision. In this case, you are essentially playing a different game, but with similar mechanics. In addition, those mechanics are independent regardless. It is not as if choosing to be a Jedi in one playthrough somehow affects your options as a Smuggler the next go around. There are two dangers inherent in this scenario though. Players may become frustrated if they can reasonably see two roles having access to the same content, but are limited by these initial role decisions. If different “paths” converge into a central path, then players may also dislike facing a narrative decision that clearly favors one class over another in a practical sense, resulting in a decision becoming a mere calculation.

Suggestions

Should you wish to avoid the following scenarios, here are some suggestions for particular cases that might help ensure that your gameplay and narrative decisions remain independent from each other.

Case 1: Multiple Allied or Playable Characters

Conduct your narrative design such that the skills associated with a character are not directly tied to their nature, but instead to some independent element that can be switched between characters. The goal here is to ensure that a player is able to maintain both a preferred narrative state and a preferred gameplay state when selecting skills or abilities for characters and/or selecting team members for their party.

Example:

The skills associated with a character are based on weapon packs that can be swapped at will. The skills for a given character are completely determined by the equipment they carry. Because any character can then fill any combat role, story decisions are kept independent from gameplay decisions. Regardless of how I want to design my character or team, the narrative interaction remains firmly in the player’s control.

Case 2: Branching Storyline

Design your quests such that…

1.gameplay-related artefacts (either awarded by quests or available within a particular branching path) can be found in all paths/questlines so that no quest/path is followed solely for the sake of acquiring the artefact. Or at the very least, allow the player to acquire similarly useful artefacts so that the difference does not affect the player’s success rate of overcoming obstacles.

2.level design is kept unique between branches, but those paths have comparable degrees of difficulty / gameplay diversity / etc.

3.narrative differences are the primary distinctions you emphasize.

Example:

I’ve been promised a reward by the mayor if I can solve the town’s troubles. A farmer and a merchant are both in need of assistance. I can choose which person to help first. With the farmer, I must protect his farm from bandits. With the merchant, I must identify who stole his merchandise. Who I help first will have ramifications later on. No matter what I do, I will encounter equally entertaining gameplay, the same amount of experience, and the same prize from the mayor. Even if I only had to help one of them, I should still be able to meet these conditions. I also have the future narrative impacted by my decision, implying a shift in story and/or level design later on.

Case 3: Exclusive Skill-Based Narrative Manipulation

These would be cases where your character can exclusively invest in a stat or ability that gives them access to unique dialogue choices. In particular, if you can develop your character along particular “paths” of a tree (or some equivalent exclusive choice) and if the player must ultimately devote themselves to a given sub-tree of dialogue abilities, then there is the possibility that the player may lose the exact combination they long for.

Simply ensure that the decision of which super-dialogue-ability can be used is separated from the overall abilities of the character. Therefore, the player doesn’t have to compromise their desire to explore a particular path of the narrative simply because they wish to also use particular combat abilities associated with the same sub-set of skills. I would also suggest providing methods for each sub-tree of skills to grant abilities which eventually bring about the same or equivalently valuable conclusions to dialogue decisions.

Example:

I can lie, intimidate, or mind control people based on my stats. If I wish to fight with melee stuff, then I really need to have high Strength. In other games, that might assume an inefficiency in mind control and an efficiency with intimidation (but I really wanna roleplay as a mind-hacking warrior). Also, there are certain parts of the game I want to experience that can only be done when selecting mind-control-associated dialogue options. Thankfully, I actually do have this option. And even if I had the option of using intimidation or lying where mind control is also available, regardless of my decisions, my quest will be completed and I will receive the same type of rewards (albeit with possibly different narrative consequences due to my method).

Conclusion

If you are like me and you get annoyed when narrative and gameplay start backing each other into corners, then I hope you’ll be able to take advantage of these ideas. Throw in more ideas in the comments below if you have your own. Comments, criticisms, suggestions, all welcome in further discussion. Let me know what you think. Happy designing!(source:gamedev