萬字長文,從知名遊戲設計師角度談遊戲設計概念,上篇

篇目1,Dan Chao推崇基於商業視角的遊戲設計理念

下文是Funzio首席設計師Dan Chao的訪談節選內容。Dan涉足各遊戲設計領域,作品遍佈硬核、休閒、社交和手機平臺。Dan曾擔任Xbox遊戲《New Legends》的玩法機制工程師,休閒遊戲《Wandering Willows》的首席設計師,及最近剛推出的社交/手機遊戲《Crime City》和《Kingdom Age》的首席設計師。

kingdom-age-classes(from googlegameslist)

kingdom-age-classes(from googlegameslist)

首先能否談談什麼是遊戲設計?

遊戲設計包括很多版塊。我覺得這歸根到底就是具體類型的遊戲設計師。有人擅長創作故事及塑造人物角色,有人喜歡和數字、調節及經濟學原理打交道。

然後就出現機制關卡設計;遊戲的具體運作模式。“定義核心循環機制”已變成大家慣用的說法。

但在我看來,這裏的關鍵是如何將所有機制組合起來,構成連貫、清晰的設計。

聽起來你好像更注重機制設計,這是否是你比較感興趣的版塊?

這無疑是最令我着迷的內容。我傾向讓設計配合公司的侷限條件(遊戲邦注:編程或美工元素過多過少之類的資源侷限)。正如大家所說的,這些人才有點像是公司的DNA。

目前社交領域最令我欣賞的一點是,遊戲不僅僅是圍繞趣味性。你需要基於其他的參數數據完善遊戲,而這在有些人看來,顯得有些不妥。但事實情況是,這促使遊戲獲得豐厚營收,得到病毒式傳播。再來就是留存率,我覺得這和趣味性一樣重要。

傳統遊戲的商業模式是,你購買一個60美元的盒裝產品,然後它就會體現在你的Metacritic評分中,是吧?。若你的Metacritic評分很高,意味着遊戲頗具趣味,或者你掏錢請知名評論者當托兒,是吧?也就是說遊戲所維繫的是評論分數。所以遊戲最好是頗具趣味。

只要你購買產品,就萬事大吉,是吧?他們已經向你付費。

他們也許會討厭遊戲,也許會在玩過半小時之後,將其退還給GameStop,從中換得35美元。

是的,但若遊戲足夠傑出和有趣,那麼就會形成口碑傳播,評論分數就會變高。

在社交遊戲領域,情況就有些不同。因爲你擁有衆多免費玩家。你會促使某些玩家掏錢買東西。遊戲包含衆多元素, 因此我們很難下定論說在此成癮性多過趣味性,但我覺得MMO遊戲也是如此。其中有些內容也許不那麼有趣,但其極富沉浸性。

這些內容在遊戲創收方面發揮重要作用。如今在遊戲設計中融入大量商業構思變得越發重要。這回到我在行業的最初經歷(《New Legends》)。

的確。

《New Legends》這款遊戲最終以失敗告終。我發誓絕不讓同樣的情況再次發生。所以我覺得你需要考慮方方面面,但在我看來,遊戲設計的本質就是機制關卡設計。

New Legends from ign.com

New Legends from ign.com

關於參數,我最近剛完成一款免費遊戲,如果你去參加GDC,定會聽到很多人談論此話題,稱此做法有些不當。你顯然將參數看作是“如今的遊戲設計世界”。在我看來,以60美元出售遊戲作品也好不到哪裏去。最終帶來這樣的商業模式:以60美元出售遊戲作品,然後將數百萬美元投入營銷活動中。但你已習慣於滿足營銷部門或預算控制人員的合理要求,“犧牲”作品的“藝術美感”。

現在這一對象變成玩家。你的傾聽對象是真正體驗你遊戲的玩家,從中獲悉他們的真正所想,真正表現情況。

其中確有存在些許不當之處。我覺得和其他活動一樣,其中都涉及一定的成癮性和操控性。但我覺得這體現在各類型的遊戲中。沒有人會抱怨《魔獸世界》,但這款遊戲也植入相同的機制。

顯然這一領域還存在其他有趣的玩法機制。我覺得社交遊戲正在逐步朝此靠攏。我們努力將某些內容變得饒有趣味。但另一方面,要求玩家每日返回遊戲的約定機制仍舊存在。

聽起來你似乎基於務實角度着手遊戲設計,注重把握合作人員、團隊和預算的侷限性,且真正靠此激發設計靈感。

能否列舉具體事例,說明你如何發現團隊或公司的侷限性所在,以及過去你是如何提高設計的質量?

《Kingdom Age》就是個很好的例子,遊戲目前搭載Google+,即將在Facebook推出。我覺得其中的侷限性在於,當時我們剛着手《Crime City》引擎。我們不敢過多偏離《Crime City》設計。

植入遊戲的很多功能都是基於《Crime City》內容做出進一步完善。但對於工程師來說,落實這些內容輕而易舉:不一定簡單,但要避免出現重複。

《Kingdom Age》頗令我滿意的一點內容是,你現在可以訓練自己的單位。但之前在《Modern War》/《Crime City》中,玩家直接購買這些元素,能夠立即獲得。這更多像是RTS機制,所以我們在此融入訓練時間。

雖然這會令玩家覺得頗爲不同,但最終內容獲得簡化,編程方面不再顯得那麼令人抓狂。“我們已獲得這一道具,我們需要在此道具中添加時間元素。”我們還添加許多其他元素。但遊戲範圍有其侷限性。

我清楚我們需要儘快解決這一問題。

Crime-City(from insidemobileapps)

Crime-City(from insidemobileapps)

在製作遊戲的過程中,工程師經驗在遊戲設計方面起到多大作用?之前擔任過工程師能夠起到什麼促進作用?是不是體現在同工程師的溝通方面?還是能夠在機制方面達成折中方案?

是的,我設計的機制執行起來很方便。所以如今我開始考慮既定功能的數據庫模式。我探索出能夠輕鬆控制內容的方式。

因此我發現,單通過添加乘數和若干沉浸性元素就能夠改變遊戲內容。而且工程師執行起來也不困難。

這就是許多RPG遊戲的運作模式。這裏僅圍繞若干龐大的電子表格,我覺得若你能夠在電子表格中新增一欄,情況可能就不會這麼糟糕。並非所有內容都基於這一模式。但我會計算功能所需的成本,主要基於執行過程所耗時長及其中涉及人員。想想這將帶來的回饋。

在外界看來,那些尚未開發過遊戲的人士多半不會考慮內容的執行難度。你通常只是希望獲得出色的內容。就你看來,提議開發新功能時,考慮其成本爲何如此重要?

在我看來,這歸根結底就是個商業決策,根本來說,就是你的投資回報。若你所開發的內容無論如何也無法收回成本,那麼這就不值得你進行投資,你就需要尋找更好的解決方案,或是不同的賺錢方式。

把握開發過程所需耗費的時間,不是所有人都懂得如何進行計算。最終,你需要和工程師、美工進行溝通。但瞭解項目的各個方面非常重要。不僅是編程成本,甚至包括資產成本。你需要生成多少美術資產,方能促使這一功能得以形成,且帶來收益?

我覺得這點對社交遊戲更加重要,在此你可以直接在已推出的遊戲作品中發佈新功能,然後查看其創收情況。

是的,就經驗來看,這就是項目各工程師、美工投入整整一個月時間製作某功能,然後將其推出,玩家在此體驗一個星期後完事。你可以計算自己投入多少資金,玩家在此體驗多長時間。然後你就會說:“噢,我的天啊”。這是個慘痛的教訓;經歷1-2次挫折後,你就會說:“我再也不要開發耗時超過1周的內容。”

就這種情況來看,尤其是在社交遊戲領域,客戶端功能是最佳選擇。它們無需用戶進行安裝,你只需要對數據稍加調整。

關於遊戲設計方面,什麼最令你感到沮喪?

我覺得是各種決策。有時這也許是關於你是否要呈現故事內容更豐富的遊戲作品,但這意味着玩家將享有較少的選擇性。有時這意味着你需要在此突出虛擬交易,但你會因此無法強化遊戲的真實趣味或選擇性。

我覺得主要體現在決策方面。我不確定這是否一定會令人感到沮喪,但無疑是最艱難的部分。

能否列舉一個當時你覺得異常艱難的決策,但現在回過頭來看,“你覺得自己的決定是正確的,遊戲因此活得完善。”

笑。

或者現在你回過頭來看,頗爲懊悔?

(笑)其中無疑存在許多遺憾。這裏我舉個反面例子。(笑)我覺得社交遊戲的棘手部分在於病毒式傳播或創收之類的內容方面,設計師很難做出着眼於這些目標的決策。和添加更多材料,建造建築一樣,你必須尋求好友的援助。顯然,這其實是令人生厭的內容,你要求他們在自己的公告欄發佈消息或是發出請求。這將延緩他們獲得材料的時間。

但最終,這將帶來更好的病毒式傳播。我覺得現代遊戲的另一特點是,傾向在遊戲表面加載衆多精彩內容,這樣用戶就會看到所有這些元素。就像《龍騰世紀2》,是吧?在初始的指導教程中,你會看到許多精彩內容。

是的,你變成Super Hawke。

然後你將逐步喪失這些元素。同樣的情況也出現在休閒可下載內容領域。這一領域由一小時的試驗內容主導,所以你必須在這一小時裏植入儘可能多的傑出內容。

但這意味着你的遞進設計將完全一團糟。這就像是“現在我要如何繼續從此逐步前進?”,這在社交遊戲領域也是如此。“他們現在接觸的是指南教程。他們從中看到精彩內容。”其中包含從天而降的龍或精彩的坦克射擊。

隨後你開始圍繞小小的粘連鐵塊。或者也許你向他們提供一把很棒的寶劍。但你要如何在此繼續推進遊戲?你如何呈現更精彩的內容?這無疑有些令人沮喪。我是從商業視角出發。這80、90年代的遊戲無疑不是這個樣子。

開發《New Legends》期間,《絕地武士》就已問世,它是否始終是PC玩家的遊戲首選?

差不多。

《絕地武士》的設計者是Justin Chin?

是的,是Justin Chin。

當時他是全球頂級的遊戲設計師。我仔細閱讀其中所有期刊;在我看來,它們就像是設計寶典。配備曾經創造出傑出遊戲作品的精英團隊,投入如此多的時間開發《New Legends》,此後我們再沒有遇到過這種情況。

你清楚沒有基於商業角度考慮業務發展將發生什麼情況,這是否能夠讓你更簡單地做出病毒式傳播或創收決策?因爲你清楚發生什麼情況?

是的(笑)。我曾接觸過很多在項目結束後就關閉的工作室,例如,掌機項目結束後,你沒有從中得到版稅。然後你就爭取下筆交易,四處給各發行商打電話。

沒有人想要陷入這種境地,沒有人想要失去自己的薪資。我顯然想過這點,這令事情變得更簡單。

篇目2,前Zynga設計總監Soren Johnson談“何爲遊戲設計”

作者:Ethan Levy

(Soren Johnson曾是Zynga設計總監,此前還是《文明3》聯合設計師,《文明4》主設計師,《孢子》設計師/程序員,《龍騰世紀傳奇》主設計師。)

首先,讓我們先說說什麼是遊戲設計?

Soren Johnson:這是一個宏觀的問題,所以你將獲得一個宏觀的答案。而最簡單的回答便是,遊戲設計是關於你如何挖掘一個項目的樂趣。

這的確是在管理着玩家和機器間的循環,在此你將呈現給他們某些決定;他們將做決定,然後你提供相關反饋,從而讓他們知道自己的行動的結果,從而才能做出其它決定。

設計師的角色是爲了確保每個循環步驟能夠發揮作用,因爲遊戲會因爲很多情況遭遇失敗。遊戲可以擁有非常有趣的決策,但是它卻不能基於玩家的行動給予他們合理的反饋。從而導致玩家會覺得自己像在黑暗中前進似得。

或者一款遊戲能夠提供給你有效的反饋,但是決策本身卻只具有微小的變化,並不存在任何真正的區別。或者只有一個決策能夠完全主導策略,從而導致遊戲並不具有真正的樂趣。

你是否遇到過一些真正讓自己敬佩的例子,即提供了非常有益的反饋?

Soren Johnson:《幻幻球》便是一款時常浮現在我的腦海中的遊戲,但是我卻不確定這是不是一種諷刺的說法。這款遊戲因爲某些內容設置太過火而備受矚目。你將從最突出的箱子中拿到球,這時候遊戲便會使用慢動作進行放大。接着彩虹和星星便會跳出來佈滿整個屏幕。有人會說:“如果背景音樂還播放着《歡樂頌》的話,這難道不會太多了嗎?”他們便會說:“不,怎麼會多呢。”

這點很重要,因爲這就像是一條鼓勵性反饋。《幻幻球》中有許多我所喜歡的內容,我不知道自己是否把這當成一回事。遊戲是否會因此而嘲笑我?我並不清楚。但顯然,它在反饋方面做得很出色。的確,PopCap在自己的遊戲中都很重視反饋這一元素。

peggle-deluxe(from peggle-deluxe.softonic)

peggle-deluxe(from peggle-deluxe.softonic)

我的意思是,這是一種半諷刺的做法,就像《Spinal Tap》的創造者並不是真的在諷刺重金屬搖滾樂。相反地,他們熱愛重金屬搖滾樂,但是他們也享受着它的荒謬性。我認爲這正是《幻幻球》的創造者想要表達的。他們喜歡休閒遊戲,但同時他們也想要調侃自己的呈現方式的荒謬性。

遊戲設計師扮演着怎樣的角色?

Soren Johnson:如果你是從職業角度來看的話,我認爲存在不同類型的設計師。既有項目領導型設計師,即必須牽掛一切工作。如遊戲是如何出現在玩家面前?像廣告圖像等內容是如何呈現出來的,箱子的外觀怎樣?我們該如何告訴人們這款遊戲是關於什麼?我們該如何推動合適的人去購買遊戲,而不是任何人都去購買遊戲。遊戲系統該如何維繫在一起而有效運行?對於《Legends》來說,這就像是城堡與戰鬥間的調和,並伴隨着消費品循環。這便是最頂級的設計師的任務。

在首席設計師之下還有所謂的系統設計師和內容設計師。就像我便屬於系統設計師。這些角色的作用便是創造桌面遊戲(遊戲邦注:如果沒有計算機的話)。

系統設計師會想出規則,系統和循環。如果他們能夠想出有趣的決策循環,有趣且具有吸引力的主題,那麼他們便算出色地完成了任務。

隨後還有一些內容設計(這是我不擅長的),你需要在此將遊戲與機制有效地整合在一起。他們可以採取一種機制系統,然後想出怪物的進程,任務的進程或引導人們前往某處的故事。

並不是每一款遊戲都需要這些內容,我認爲遊戲也有自己的範圍。我想說的是這裏主要存在三種主要元素。遊戲是策略集中型?還是更加專注於轉變?或者它是基於故事展開?而有些遊戲也同時具有這些元素。

就像《神祕海域》便擁有出色的故事設置,適度的轉變元素,但卻沒有策略內容。《文明》則具有非常強大的策略機制,並擁有少量的故事元素,而沒有轉變元素。我認爲每一款元素都會有自己關於這些元素的比例。實際上,我認爲透鏡便是着眼於授權和續集的有效方法。因爲當授權和續集陷入麻煩時,那便是它們未能有效處理策略,轉變和故事元素的整合。

如果遊戲突然變成一個全新版本,即全部關於故事內容,這便會導致玩家難以接受。或者設計師將大量轉變元素塞進一款策略遊戲,這也不是玩家願意看到的。

你可以做出許多改變,但是卻必須保持恆定的比例。

作爲項目領導者,你是怎樣做到儘早做出重要決定?

Soren Johnson:在某種意義上,你只有在真正創造出一款遊戲後纔可能得出該問題的答案。我始終都強調設計師需要儘早創造出遊戲的可遊戲版本。不要讓任何人阻礙你。

關於《文明4》,我們在開發後的幾個月內便創造了一個可遊戲版本。不過當你着眼於該版本時,會發現它還很糟糕。我們的單位是基於2D圖像的小小看板,即會出現在不同層面間。這並不是動畫,這裏也不存在地形系統,反倒只有一些模糊但卻不能真正發揮作用的內容,但至少你可以看到單位在不同層面間的移動。這是圍繞着多人遊戲所創造的。我們是爲了創造遊戲而創造了這一系統,但至少它是有效的。我們需要擔心的事物還在後頭。

Civ 4(from carrandas.blogspot)

Civ 4(from carrandas.blogspot)

你必須想出哪些事物會阻止你的遊戲獲取成功。在項目早期,很多團隊都會專注於各種技術問題。怎樣才能讓動畫系統發揮作用?我們是否需要串通各種事物?

我們是否擁有實時服務器或無狀態服務器?

Soren Johnson:有的。多人遊戲該如何運行?玩家該如何相互連接?我們該在圖像中使用怎樣的格式?這些都是你在發行遊戲前需要回答的問題。

但這也是你能夠想出的內容。項目並不會因爲你答不出這些問題而遭遇失敗。所以你必須專注於那些未擁有明顯答案,或者至少有一個你想不出答案的問題。

就像是我們在某一時刻將擁有一個動畫系統。但我們並不是在說:“你知道什麼?我不認爲我們可以解決這一動畫問題。許多其它遊戲已經做到這點了,我們只是在空白內容上進行繪製。”

這是靜態精靈。

Soren Johnson:是的,這是靜態精靈。不要爲此擔心。《文明4》所存在的問題是,我們正在嘗試着創造許多全新且隨機的內容。我們正在嘗試一個關於偉大的人類和宗教的理念,以及如何將多人遊戲功能整合到遊戲中。比起從技術角度出發,你應該基於遊戲玩法去測試這些功能。我們便是如此創造出基於團隊的系統。如果你是與團隊一起遊戲的話便能感受到《文明》的多人遊戲樂趣。你能夠在此分享技術,分享奇觀。你可以讓所有人都朝着同樣的方向前進。

像我們想要嘗試的公民系統,一個新的推廣系統,以及一個完全不同的戰鬥模式纔是真正的問題所在。所以不要讓任何事物阻擋了你去測試這些內容。

你能否將自己所知道的問題推向一邊。

Soren Johnson:當然。

關於共事的設計師在看待遊戲設計的角度是否與你相同這點重要嗎?

Soren Johnson:我想這是我所面對的最大挑戰。通常如果我與共事的程序員或美術人員不熟的話,我也能夠有效地與之相處,因爲我們擁有着共同的目標。儘管我們擁有不同的技能組合,但是我們卻始終嘗試着去解決同樣的問題。

而當面對的是不熟悉的設計師時,這將更具有挑戰性,特別是當我們可以基於同樣的主題分別創造出一款優秀的遊戲時。你總是希望首席設計師能夠儘可能遵循一個特定的方向,而不是周旋於兩者之間。

所以當與我共事的設計師對於我們要創造的遊戲類型具有不同見解時,我便會很沮喪。適合一款遊戲框架的不同優秀理念間總是有所區別的。如果雙方設計師都具有自身優秀的理念,但是這些理念卻必須呈現在不同產品上時,他們便會因此而受挫。

這便回到了之前我們關於定義可能性空間的談話中。

Soren Johnson:你肯定需要刪除某些內容。我在《文明4》中經常使用的一個短語便是:“看,創造一款有關世界歷史的遊戲存在數千種方法。我們正在創造其中的一個世界。所以我們需要找到一個最好的方法去做到這點。”

我們並不是在嘗試着解決所有問題或者提出所有優秀的理念。我們只是想要找到該問題的一個合理答案。

當你致力於像《文明》和《孢子》這樣需要歷經多年的大型項目中時,最終產品中還會保留多少你們的最初理念?

Soren Johnson:《文明4》便非常接近我們的最初理念。我們知道自己想要涉及的領域。我們並不需要清楚它們是如何發揮作用。在項目早期,我們想要涉及宗教內容。我們想要射擊偉大的人類.我們想要涉及多人遊戲元素。我們希望遊戲是剋星的。我們想要創造出面向單位的RPG推動系統。

所有這些都配合得很好。但是不同遊戲間還具有巨大的區別,就像在授權遊戲中便不存在這些懸而未決的問題,而在《孢子》這樣的遊戲中則會出現“我們正在探索一個全新的境界。我們正在探索這個完全空曠的領域。”你也許可以在那裏發現金子,也許又不能。

我的意思是,這主要取決於你所創造的遊戲環境。這也是爲什麼會出現各種續集內容,以及這些續集不像電影或書籍那樣糟糕的主要原因。

我認爲遊戲在傳達具有吸引力的續集內容方面具有獨特的能力。通常情況下,只要續集能夠越做越出色,我便很樂意去接受它們。

Soren Johnson:沒錯。就拿系列書籍來說吧,儘管它們的內容仍保持着同樣的樂趣,但是它們卻不能真正完善讀者閱讀書籍的方式。如《哈利波特7》便未包含一些全新的閱讀技巧。

即使加個分號也無濟於事(笑)。

Soren Johnson:說得好。這也是遊戲所迎來的巨大機遇。

篇目3,Sojo Studios創意總監Andrew Mayer談遊戲設計

作者:Ethan Levy

照例,首先我也要問你什麼是遊戲設計?

Andrew Mayer:好的。你總共有多少問題?因爲……(笑)

有8個左右吧。

Andrew Mayer:好的。對於我來說,我總是會用“巧妙的挫折”這一短語進行描述。遊戲設計是關於適當拉開你和用戶間的距離。

所以當你與那些非傳統意義上的遊戲人合作時,他們總是想要堅持用戶和遊戲間的關係。並簡化內容。這是一個合理的本能,但是最終如果將其簡化到玩家能夠隨時獲得自己想要的一切內容時,這便不是遊戲了。

遊戲設計也是如此。我所說的巧妙的挫折是指你希望遊戲足夠有趣,並且不會讓玩家因爲感到挫折而不再玩遊戲。這是一個良好的標準。

我們還可以談論更多細節內容。但是我認爲如果你正在尋找適合每一款遊戲的萬能“藥水”,那這便是你要找的。你可以創造任何可以輕鬆體驗的遊戲,或者你可以讓玩家輕鬆地戰勝遊戲。計算機便可以做到這兩點。

所以你需要平衡這兩個內容,並創造出可以放置其它行爲的平臺,我認爲這便是一種有效的方式。

你似乎一直堅持着呈獻給玩傢俱有合理複雜度的挑戰,而合理的複雜度便是我們所謂的有趣的情感。

Andrew Mayer:也就是挑戰和機遇。你不能只是呈獻給玩家挑戰。回顧《馬里奧2》和《Yoshi’s Island 3D》那個時代,你便會發現宮本茂先生便在這方面做得很好。他總是能夠有效地平衡這兩個元素,就像“這真的很困難。的確這非常瘋狂。但是我將會經歷這一過程,並且當我到達另一邊之時一定會發現其中的價值所在。”

他真的很擅長做到這點。他知道提供瀏覽路徑記錄去告訴玩家,如果他們能夠繼續前進便會發現一些真正有價值的內容。

所以將挑戰和機遇捆綁在一起?

Andrew Mayer:或者假裝挑戰後面就藏着機遇。我認爲我們可以採用無數種方法做到這點。但是我們也必須想辦法讓玩家清楚這麼做的原因,或者他們付出努力後能夠換來哪些價值。

所以遊戲設計師扮演着怎樣的角色?

Andrew Mayer:最近嗎?那就是遵循着一些指標去創造出更出色的遊戲。

這主要包含兩個階段。首先便是遊戲開發階段,即創造一個平臺去管理用戶,並讓他們開始理解遊戲模式。

其次,當他們進入遊戲中時,設計師的工作便是着眼於各種參數並想辦法根據這些參數進行優化。我的意思是,可能因爲遊戲聽起來並不吸引人,從而導致玩家並不願意嘗試它。但是我認爲對於遊戲設計師來說,這便是我一直在尋找的做法。基於社交上。

通常這也是玩家所提倡的。我認爲我們在這點上便做得很好,不管他們是否能夠意識到。但是我認爲隨着受參數驅動的社交遊戲的出現,這變成一份更加機械化的工作。需要更多定義。

並不是說他們的重要性不值得進行衡量,事實恰恰想法。但是在某種程度上你卻不能像美術人員那樣說着“我是硬核遊戲玩家的擁護者”這樣的話。就像John Romero(遊戲邦注:電子遊戲領域著名的製作人,和卡馬克在1991年共同創立了idSoftware)或Cliffy B便可能會說道:“我代表着這些人,這是我的部落,如果我能做到這點,他們便會擁戴我。”

我認爲這等於剝去了這份工作所具有的浪漫主義。

Andrew Mayer:這是一些實用的知識。

我認爲比起其它元素,遊戲產業在這個產業中具有更多浪漫主義。

Andrew Mayer:並且比起其它產業來說,更多人在這裏產生了幻滅感。

成爲一名遊戲設計師需要經歷兩個階段。首先他們需要非常想要做這件事。然後當你已經開始落實行動時也必須願意繼續做下去。

這是兩件完全不同的事。起初你想到的是自己想要做一件很棒的事。然後當你瞭解這件事時,你便會想:“我是否真的想要這麼做?我能從中獲得什麼?”

是否存在某一特定時刻會讓你對自己的職業產生這樣的想法?就像“現在我知道遊戲設計是……”

Andrew Mayer:我仍然會時不時敲敲自己的腦袋。

不過這對我來說還太早了。在創造《Twin Dolphin》時,我是作爲聯合制作人進入該團隊,這也是我所參與創造的第一款遊戲。很快地,我便發現項目製作人會一整天將自己關在辦公室裏玩電子遊戲,從而導致工程師們不斷開始反感。

而我的工作便是創造一張地圖,我需要在一張萬×1萬的方形地圖上鋪設磚塊。如此算來我便需要鋪設1億個磚塊。

即使我每天每秒都在做着這份工作,即每秒鋪設一個磚塊,並假設不會出現任何差錯,我也不可能在遊戲發行前完成這項工作。但是當我找到製作人並告訴他這件事時,他卻只讓我閉嘴。

我便因此大開眼界了。我想這便是每個人離開自己第一份工作的理由吧?不管你的第一份工作是什麼,你都會出現自己真正想要的什麼,以及自己這麼做是爲了什麼等想法。然後當你嘗試着去找尋答案時,你會意識到這一點用處都沒有。

然後當你開始尋找自己的第二份工作時,你便會帶着完全不同的態度。你可能會說,我不會再做這樣的事了。我將尋找份能夠讓自己的辛苦付出有所回報的工作。

這是否有意義?這聽起來是否真實?

這聽起來很有道理。

Andrew Mayer:我們都有點天真不是嗎?我們都因爲最初的嘗試而傷痕累累,之後我們便會基於此去做出其它決定。

作爲創意總監你所面臨的最大挑戰是什麼?

Andrew Mayer:對於現在的我來說,面對一個我並不熟悉,或者不是很喜歡的類型便是一個巨大的挑戰。我一直在想辦法喜歡它。並明確如何劃分遊戲動態。

我將告訴你這是什麼。我們必須質疑每一個假設。在過去你可以做出某些可靠的假設,但是現在,基於某些參數,你也需要對每個假設提出疑問。就像是你腳下的土地一直在發生着改變似得。這可能會讓你感到不安。因爲只要任何一點內容出現差錯,所有的一切便會都錯掉。

對於我們這些長期致力於這項工作的人來說,在過去,我們總是會獲得相關信息,並能夠嘗試着分析這些信息而明確發生了什麼情況。

而今天,如果你看到一個數字,你便會說:“噢,如果我這麼做,我便會多獲得5%的用戶。”

5%算是一個很大的數目了。

Andrew Mayer:是的。你並不需要去分析這些假設,你只需要不斷進行嘗試,直到它不再發揮作用,然而再執行其它假設。

這便是現在與過去的區別。當你正在創造一個更大的圖像時,你便不需要再創造更大的圖像了。

作爲遊戲設計師與作爲創意總監有何區別?他們分別扮演着怎樣不同的角色?

Andrew Mayer:因爲我需要負責項目的整體方向和願景,以及一些更大的圖像。所以從我的經驗來看,創意總監便是負責前提和願景。我們正在創造什麼,它將如何發展,爲什麼我們要超該目標前進等等?同樣的我還必須回答“我們該如何實現那一目標?”特別是關於一些全新的理念。

而遊戲設計師的工作便是進行分解並創造遊戲體驗。這給如何運行?我的工作更傾向於我們將做些什麼?爲什麼?而設計師的工作則是我們該如何做到這點?

game-designer(from abbeygames.com)

game-designer(from abbeygames.com)

在談論等式中的不同元素時,你已經提到大量投資者,首席執行官,工程師,參數,市場營銷和用戶。

Andrew Mayer:還有美術人員。

對,甚至還有QA。需要如何定義願景纔算是創造一個願景?需要與其他人一起付出多少努力才能實現該願景?

Andrew Mayer:前階段付出10%,後階段付出90%。這是一種通力合作。並不存在捷徑。我在早期所學到的便是,對於每一款遊戲你必須先想出一個有效的理念,不管你是一名設計師還是創意總監,或者其他角色。

然後你的目標便是盡力去發展該理念,嘗試着將優秀的理念整合在一起,直到遊戲最終發行。你擁有一個優秀的理念,隨後一切內容都會圍繞着該理念發生改變。如果該理念能夠存活下來,你便完成了自己的工作。

這便是關於“遊戲的前提是什麼?我們在創造什麼?”所有的事物都將圍繞着這些內容發展並改變。並且即使是在遊戲發行後也會出現相關改變。

作爲創意總監,最讓你興奮的事是什麼?

Andrew Mayer:對於我來說,將現實世界與數字世界整合在一起便是件很棒的事。我們現在所做的便是如此。所以我認爲我們其實也正在吸取着各種祕方。並且做着其他人未曾做過的事。

這點對我來說真的很有吸引力。現實世界和虛擬世界之間的牆壁開始倒塌。當你看到iPad和其它觸屏設備這類型事物時,我們其實正在一個數字領域中重新繪製着現實世界。我認爲這對於我們的遊戲方式將產生巨大的影響。雖然我仍然很擔心計算機會變成平板電腦。不過我想我們將很快便會超越這一水平,即到達一個設備和計算機之間不存在實際差別的領域。

我們將基於一種基本方式用數字技術去感染世界。就像將電力和自來水結構等通過電纜等介質整合到我們的生活中。我們將推動這個世界的數字化。

相反地,作爲創意總監有什麼是讓你沮喪的?

Andrew Mayer:我認爲這只是一種純粹的妥協。所有的內容都需要通過參數進行過濾。並不存在正確的標準,並且實驗也是非常有限的。我只能基於某種方式進行實驗,即將目標作爲一種參數。這便是讓我很沮喪的情況。在這裏根本說不了大話。我們不可能像Don Draper那樣大聲說出:“我做這些事已經20年了,所以我知道自己在做些什麼。”

在你做各種嘗試前,你都需要好好檢查自己的數字及其準確性。

我想隨着你的事業的發展,你會發現堅持正確變得不再重要。或者說,如果你可以放掉這種堅持,你便可以進行一些更公開的對話。

Andrew Mayer:我同意這一說法。如果這能發揮作用的話真的很棒。但問題就在於……

我們很難做到這點。

Andrew Mayer:我們不僅很難做到足夠開放,同時也很難保持耐性。因爲有時候你只是希望做好某些事。

篇目4,Paul Barnett談遊戲設計及設計師角色

下文節選自Paul Barnett的訪談內容,Paul Barnett是BioWare/Mythic高級創意總監,目前負責監管BioWare家族的若干項目,其中包括《Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes》和《BioWare Social》。

首先先來談談什麼是遊戲設計?

如果我知道的話,那我就是百萬富翁了。我贊成史蒂芬·金的看法,這多半是心電感應。我覺得關於什麼是故事創作,心電感應是最佳答案就。遊戲設計也許也屬於心電感應。

在現代社會中,大家多半都有自己的想法,他們基本分爲兩派。那些竭盡全力試圖創造簡單構思的人士終於在經過長期努力後創造出《星球大戰:舊共和國武士》之類的作品。構思簡單。可以說是大型多人“星球大戰”撞上“舊共和國武士”。但這需要衆多人員、時間和資金,而且落實過程也非常困難。

另一極端例子是在家裏編寫代碼,這種圖隊也許只有1、2或3位人員。你有具體的目標,期望有所成就。然後你開始埋頭苦幹。

我剛從史密森尼的“Art of Computer Gaming”展會回來。在此我被問到同樣的問題,我借用詹姆斯·卡梅隆的話來闡述:“遊戲設計師就是投身遊戲設計的人士,無論他製作何種遊戲類型,他人說些什麼,遊戲質量如何,誰想要試圖阻止他。他們以自己的方式呈現作品,他們毫不在乎他人是否喜歡自己的作品,無論這是否能夠給他們帶來收益。他們只是投入製作當中,然後將其發行。”

從這個角度來看,他們就是遊戲設計師。從那以後,他們生活中的其他事情都圍繞範圍、預算和構思。

所以就是純粹的製作遊戲,進行最後潤色,然後將其呈現給他人。

是的,完全正確。進投入其中之後,所有焦點都圍繞你是否擅長設計,是否發揮重要作用,是否從中創收。你是否表現突出?是否富有創造性?是否能夠同他人合作?是否瞄準特定平臺或構思?這些都是進一步延伸的問題。

設計就是創造性活動。提出構思,將其落到實處。其他一切都只是紙上談兵。我有位朋友是作家,他也發表同樣的觀點,“大家手中都有一本書。只是我不太確定這些書籍是否是值得閱讀。”但幸運的是,鮮少有人基於此撰寫自己的書籍。因此我們得以免受煎熬。“

遊戲設計師扮演什麼角色?

這個問題習空見慣。在我看來:若你投身遊戲創作,那你就是遊戲設計師。你是負責音效、用戶界面,還是加載頁面完全無關緊要。這些都屬於設計範疇。每個參與至遊戲項目中的人員都是在進行設計工作。編寫存儲用戶數據代碼的人員也是在進行設計工作,無論你是否贊同這點。因爲組合數據,存儲數據,保持畫面簡潔性及簡單性都屬於遊戲設計範圍。

BioWare Social from social.bioware.com

BioWare Social from social.bioware.com

設計限制條件通常會在遊戲其他部分變成強制決策。

所以大家都是遊戲設計師。這一可憐傢伙通常經受最多磨難。因爲他們處在最不公正的地位,他們所有的工作通常都遭遇反對、妥協、輕視、誤解,並常眼睜睜地看着自己的作品被判死刑(並且通常是由他們親手取消這些項目)。

所以痛苦是遊戲設計師的一大要素?他們通常經受大量困難。他們就像是好萊塢的編劇家,就如威廉·戈登書中所述。他述說那些關於你聞所未聞的編劇家的故事,他們從未贏得過什麼,他們從來沒有出現在談話節目中,他們從未得到過讚美。若你詢問他人:“列舉10位傑出劇作家”,大家能想到的多半不會超過4位。

但若是要他們列舉導演,他們通常能夠脫口而出。而列舉10位演員,則“完全沒有問題。”但若是真正創作故事的人員,“從沒聽說過他們。”

我喜歡設計。我喜歡和其他人一起設計內容。我喜歡幫助他人完成設計工作,這意味着需要承受許多痛苦。你也經受很多苦難。

是的。

痛苦,我喜歡這個答案。

是的,遊戲設計是個痛苦過程。從某種意義上說,團隊所有人員都是設計師。但主要的是真正構想出遊戲的人員。

對此你怎麼看?

在我看來,遊戲設計師工作的最簡單定義是,他們負責創造供用戶欣賞、觸碰及感覺的內容。因此他們承受最多磨難,因爲我們很難就其他內容發表評論。我們很難就代碼進行評論。在很多情況下,我們也無法就美工元素髮表評論(遊戲邦注:雖然有時候要評論這一內容非常簡單)。

但在我看來,遊戲設計師在組合內容,將其呈現給用戶方面扮演着主要角色, 他們需要確保內容富有趣味。因此,這是大家能夠輕鬆進行查看和評論的內容。優秀的內容能夠讓遊戲或設計免受批評,這是最終面向用戶的內容,是吧?所以越快越好。

在最近的Art of Computer Games座談會上,我被問及一個有關遊戲設計的問題。當時我給出的答案是遊戲涉及3個要素。它是個雙向溝通,同時體現卡爾·馬克思的觀點和Monty Python的看法,我覺得他們都觸及遊戲設計的根本之處。卡爾·馬克思主要圍繞疏遠話題,他認爲要避免出現疏遠情況。我覺得遊戲設計師的首要職責是讓儘可能多的人員參與到項目中,瞭解即將製作的作品及其重要性所在。這樣他們就不會被疏遠。

他們需要受控於自己的信念。Monty Python主要給出如下建議:寫下構思,然後將其傳遞給不瞭解情況或存在誤解的團隊成員,讓他們寫下自己對此的看法。然後這就會變得傑出的遊戲構思。這有點像聽不見的意外事件和樂趣。

概括首席設計師的詞彙除痛苦外,還有愛和關心。每位傑出設計師都會傾注滿滿的關心。每位傑出設計師都深愛着遊戲設計。將此比作愛情故事意味着你有時會顯得有些無能爲力。你有時會受到傷害。你有時會非常痛苦。你有時會欣喜若狂。你有時是能夠摧毀衆天神的挑釁之龍,而有時則受到孤立,處於不公平地位。

倍受尊敬的遊戲設計師通常都是如此,他們不畏懼失敗。我遇見過的優秀設計師總是持續設計內容。數量是他們的一個工作特性。他們不僅僅設計一款遊戲。

我覺得人人都可以出色完成一項工作。傑出設計師的特點是,他們存在弱點,經歷失敗,但依然繼續前進。優秀設計的最佳典範是溫斯頓·丘吉爾,他屢遭失敗, 但熱情絲毫未受打擊。

這非常有趣。

丘吉爾是個了不起的人物。看看他的遭遇,他屢遭失敗,但熱情卻絲毫沒有因此受挫。他後來拯救了整個西方世界。

這使我想到兩個問題。1)爲什麼設計師會經常遭遇失敗?2)爲什麼熱情是成功的關鍵。

我們窮困潦倒。我們是唯一沒有收入的人員。想想你碰到過幾個富有的設計師,“幾乎沒有”,出於某種原因,公司所有者、財務人員或營銷人員似乎都持有衆多資金。我很難理解這點。我們並不是靠這些回饋驅動的。我們的刺激因素在於期望通過遊戲設計進行溝通,表達自我。我們會因強烈堅持這些(遊戲邦注:將此置於原則之上)而被炒魷魚。我們都是極端分子。我們發現要說服自己不關心遊戲很難。我們在毫無疑義的瘋狂事情上堅持不懈。這股熱情源自渴望做某事的沸騰熱血。我們爲設計元素而奮鬥,因爲我們心裏知道一切值得。

我還發現:出於預算和限制條件而進行某項目(他們覺得這是唯一出路)的設計師最終都會深陷遺憾之中。或在悲傷和遺憾之中離開項目,或最終退出項目,然後說道:“你知道嗎?我最終有將項目推出,但我其實不該這麼做。”

這非常有趣。我們就是這樣。美工若被告知“畫這一內容”,他們就會進行繪製,若代碼員被告知“學習這種語言”,他們就會照此進行編輯。AQ會檢驗規定之中的各項內容,因爲這就是他們的做事方式。但設計師每次只要偏離正確道路,進行我們並不相信的工作,我們就會將自己置於毀滅境地。詩人,我們是數字領域的詩人。

我們已經談論很多有關遊戲設計的挑戰。在你看來,投身遊戲設計的最大挑戰是什麼?

體現在功能、動作、資源和時間方面。功能、資源和時間就好比是三角形的三個頂點,動作置於三角形之中。作爲設計師,你需要確定遊戲功能,爭取資源和時間,同時持續調整動作內容。

完全正確。

我在這些重要元素中投入衆多時間,時時刻刻都沒有鬆懈。

我覺得,當你進入社會,或者開始成長時,你通常會覺得這是個理想職業,充滿激情,依靠純粹的創造性。這些的確是重要元素。但是就如你所說的,沒有人會給你一張空白支票,50位工程師及20位美工,然後說:“做你想做的事。我們相信你。這裏有1億美元。”

最奇怪的是,若出現這種情況,這最終也會變成一場災難。

的確如此。

如果有人給你一張空白支票,建議你捲款走人,因爲你最終多半會陷入困境。

篇目5,Ray Mazza談對“何爲遊戲設計”的理解

作者:Ethan Levy

本文摘自與Ray Mazza的一次談話。Ray Mazza是Playfish公司的首席遊戲設計師,代表作包括《模擬人生2》、《模擬人生3》、《模擬人生社交版》以及該系列的所有拓展包。

FamousAspect(以下簡稱F):首先,什麼是遊戲設計?

Ray Mazza(以下簡稱R):什麼是遊戲設計?就是想出什麼是樂趣。就是理解樂趣的概念,然後把它轉化爲有意思的體驗。我認爲這就是遊戲設計。還有很多不同的說法。

the sims social(from raymazza.com)

the sims social(from raymazza.com)

F:在你的職業生涯中,有那麼一段時期,你確定了一些你認爲有趣的東西,無論是交互作用還是機制;然後你想,“如果X有趣,那麼我心裏就明白。”最後你把X變成遊戲,看看它是成功還是失敗?

R:呃,是個好問題。我的回答是“是”。設計師一直在尋找樂趣,所以通常必須反覆設計許多次,直到找到樂趣。我舉個例子吧。有那麼一段時間,我們正在製作《模擬人生3》的多個原型。我認爲有趣的原型之一是組合東西,也就是做一些有關基因的遊戲結構,讓玩家自己組合東西再看結果。

那時,我使用的是抽象的形狀,程序性圖形。我把那些放在畫布,發現不是那麼有趣。因爲沒有任何玩法。它至多是一種令人討厭的、計算機科學的“這是一個有趣的東西”的方法。但你心裏認爲有趣的東西不一定做出來也是有趣的。

那時我還是一個菜鳥設計師。我還在學習樂趣很大程度上是關於反饋、你給玩家反饋的方式、使你碰到的所有東西都讓你產生滿足感。那正是當時我不足的地方。

F:遊戲設計師在團隊中的角色是什麼?我們談論的遊戲設計是,作爲樂趣的學者,把樂趣變成現實。遊戲設計師的工作是什麼?

R:理解樂趣及其含義,使用所有樂趣的元素來製作吸引人的體驗。但不同設計師有不同的目標。

有些設計師希望敘述故事或傳達信息。有些設計師更傾向於用遊戲如《Carmen Sandiego》或<Number Cruncher》教育玩家。有些設計師只想製作使人上癮、欲罷不能的機制。如Spry Fox的《Triple Town》一類的遊戲。當然還有其他很多類型的遊戲也是這樣的。

我認爲,作爲遊戲設計師,必須明確你的目標是什麼,然後朝着目標努力。這並不意味着你不能做其他許多事,但這個目標應該主導你的設計。

F:你自己屬於哪一類設計師呢?

R:(大笑)我把自己歸類爲體驗設計師。我的遊戲設計過程是從思考“我想爲玩家提供什麼體驗,如何實現?”開始的,然後圍繞這個問題展開設計,而不是另取其他角度。如果我想設計一款關於X的遊戲,那麼我設計出來的遊戲就要讓玩家覺得像X或者讓他們按玩X的方式玩我的遊戲。

我的設計思路就是故事與機制設計相給合。

F:作爲遊戲設計師,你遇到的最大挑戰是什麼?

R:老實說,是找時間玩遊戲。有時候玩遊戲其實讓我覺得像工作。遊戲設計的一部分工作是讓你自己瞭解其他的興趣領域。因爲遊戲設計師要利用許多不同的學科:建築學、政治、數學、社會學、心理學,等等。

學習這些東西是很有用的。多年以前,我開始寫作,決定寫一本小說。所以我花了很多時間,寫作對我的遊戲設計是有用的,因爲我可以寫出更好的文本和創作出更好的故事。

但在我學習寫作的時候,我是不玩遊戲的。或者說,我不能像其他人那樣玩那麼多遊戲。我身邊一直圍繞着玩遊戲的朋友們,他們談論最近在玩的遊戲、LOL比賽、《荒野大鏢客》和其他新發布的遊戲。

我的書架上積壓着許多我必須玩的遊戲。對我來說真是艱難的挑戰,因爲我覺得我沒有像遊戲設計師那樣工作。

F:設計師要玩的遊戲太多了……

R:很棘手,因爲你覺得你必須玩這些遊戲。你應該想玩遊戲。而且我確實想玩。一個彌補的方法是,我玩很多遊戲,但每次只玩很短的時間。我通常一款遊戲我只玩一個回合。我就是感受一下。如果不是好遊戲,我就永遠不會再玩它了。60美元就這樣沒了。

F:這對我來說也是很熟悉的事。以《變形金剛:塞伯坦的戰爭》爲例。這款遊戲的評價很高,聽說很有趣。我喜歡變形金鋼,於是玩了一個小時。然後我就知道我在這款遊戲中學不到什麼對我的工作是必須的東西。

作爲專業遊戲設計師必須知道的關於變形金鋼的知識,我就是在這個小時裏學到的,我不需要再玩9個小時。

R:多少是破壞體驗了,對吧?我玩過《天際》,那是一款可能讓人玩很久的遊戲,也是少數我不只是感覺一下的遊戲之一,我玩了25個小時。我認爲我沒學到什麼其他東西。玩它也許只是浪費了我本可以用來做其他事的時間。但《天際》就是一款好遊戲啊!

然後我告訴我自己:“好吧,也許再多玩一下可以讓我對它更難以忘懷,我從它當中獲得的靈感比在其他遊戲中更多一些。”

F:我可以想象,閱讀IGN和GameSpot、購買大量遊戲、總是關注最熱新遊戲的玩家可能沒有料到《模擬人生》的設計師是這樣工作的。

我見過許多設計師也是像你一樣,比如《死亡空間》的設計師們。

R:我不認爲我們就是玩家們想象中的樣子。我認爲一般玩家會認爲我們的工作日復一日就是那樣。

但我們確實要從許多這些硬核遊戲中汲取靈感。再說《模擬人生3》,老實說,我們借鑑了許多《魔獸世界》的東西,比如升級系統、技能系統等。我們還創造了一個“情緒點”的概念,其實就是狀態。這些設定可以讓你隨時瞭解你的角色。

我們沒有照搬那個系統。我們按《模擬人生》的需要調整了它。我們的玩家很喜歡它,因爲可以看到什麼在影響他們的角色以及爲什麼、如何影響。

所以,我們就這樣的人。

F:再回到我們的談話的開頭,如果你確定某些東西是有趣的,只要你根據玩家的需要調整它,玩家們就會覺得它有趣。

R:是的。是個好做法。

F:當你自己不是主要受衆時,你覺得製作那種遊戲會有什麼挑戰?

R:事實上,我喜歡《模擬人生》。在我參與開發這款遊戲以前,我就已經是《模擬人生》的資深玩家了。我對它的喜愛僅次於《暗黑2》。我在《模擬人生》中花了N個小時。但我仍然不是主要受衆,即使我喜歡它。因爲我不屬於核心玩家羣體。

所以,困難就是真正理解核心受衆的期待是什麼,而不是根據我自己的要求設計遊戲。因爲我可以設計出我自己覺得非常棒的《模擬人生》,但那並不表示這個系列的百萬玩家也會喜歡它。

爲了理解核心受衆的需求,我們花了很多時間逛論壇。我們有一個非常好的《模擬人生》玩家社區,他們都很喜歡錶達自己的想法。真是慷慨的人們。主要是通過他們瞭解他們的遊戲方式。玩家的類型是很多種的,比如成就者、經營者、建築師、故事家,等等。

the sims 3(from joystiq.com)

the sims 3(from joystiq.com)

關於社區和玩家期待以及如何調整你的觀點,這裏有一件非常有趣的事。

有一個《模擬人生》的拓展包——《深夜》,是關於城市夜生活的拓展包。當我們在論壇上尋找建議時,我們發現最熱門的一條建議是“我們希望我們的角色的胸部再豐滿一點。”

因爲這就是最大的趨勢,所以你要好好考慮它。在《模擬人生3》時,你已經控制角色的許多特點了:頭髮顏色、體重、眼珠顏色、面容特徵等。當然還有服裝。但我們不允許你調整角色的胸部大小。

看到這條建議,我們意識到許多玩家都希望能實現這一點。所以,這成了一個必須認真考試的東西。但我們很猶豫,因爲我們知道這是一個敏感的問題了。我們不想因爲這款遊戲把女性角色的胸部變大,而讓別人認爲我們的遊戲在刻意體現女性特徵。

但是,隨着我們更加深入地分析這個傾向,我們發現了另一個有意思的分支——女性玩家也提出同樣的要求。因爲她們希望塑造自己,而胸部是身體的一個典型特徵。

最後,我們意識到應該滿足他們的要求,這樣他們才能塑造想要的虛擬角色。所以我們就滿足他們了。玩家也很高興。這是件冒險的事,但正是他們想要的。

F:所以,反思你遇到的這個敏感話題,你的玩家說的東西其實比“我們想要大胸”更微妙。因爲他們真正的意思是“我們想要更有表現力的身體類型,這樣我們才能在遊戲中塑造自己。”

R:確實。當你已經給他們那麼多角色的自定義選項時,卻不允許“大胸”,那纔是讓人難以接受的。某些遊戲只允許玩家選擇基本面容加上胸部大小,這纔是對女性的“物化”。

F:《模擬人生3》大概開發了多久?

R:我們在2004年9月發佈了《模擬人生2》,啓動《模似人生3》項目是在2005年初,發佈是在2009年6月,也就是說開發了4年多。

F:所以,對於這麼一個開發了多年、大投入、大團隊的項目,很多時候是在削減設計。有多少設計是沒有放進遊戲中的?又有多少是放進遊戲中又因爲玩家反饋而被削減掉的?

R:真是好問題。我們大概削減了70%的初始設計。

然後我們又重製遊戲,到了生產階段,我們對遊戲有了更好的理解,大概又削減了50%。在項目接近完工時,因爲有些東西不符合計劃或不太有趣,所以又削減了5%到10%吧。

所以,我們削減了不少內容。部分是因爲我們的目標太高了,像我們對許多項目的期望一樣。如果我們保持原來的程度,我們可能現在還在做基礎的東西。在成爲資深設計師的過程中,我學習到的重要一課就是,必須開始得簡單;否則你一開始就會浪費大量時間。

頭腦風暴是個好開頭。但之後要縮小範圍,留下核心和最有趣的想法,而不是照單全收。因爲在開發過程中,你必然會添加更多東西進來——削減掉一些東西才能爲更適合處於開發後期的遊戲的新東西騰出空間。

F:所以,四年後,再看最終成果,大概只保留了最初想法的10%。但是,那是最精華的10%。

R:是的。但我得強調一下,那是因爲我們當是還是新人,對項目規模把握得不好——不是時間或資源不夠。《模擬人生3》其實比《模擬人生2》大很多,因爲它有無縫連接的街區、更豐富的技能、更華麗的房子和更多的角色自定義選項,等等。

然而,設計師永遠無法擺脫的就是,我們往往有非常多的想法,但其中99.99%是永遠不會見天日的。這是比較困難的地方,既是詛咒又是福音。因爲你雖然有大量好創意,但同時知道這些好想法只能存在於頭腦中,除非我們有了某種神奇的工具能把它們變成現實。真是令人沮喪。

F:是的,當你說90%的東西被削減掉了,就是說只有10%的東西是一致通過的。所以10%不等於存在於腦海中的大量想法,後者也許是前者的10倍之多。

R:是啊。你必須做出遊戲,而且是在確定的預算範圍內。你必須在許多限制條件下工作。否則你的工作就完了,因爲你做不出遊戲。

但是有時候當你看到論壇上有人說:“我希望遊戲中有這個設定。”,你會想到“我早就設計出來了!”我們只是爲了控制規模罷了。

F:有點像維基百科啊(笑)。

R:然後你會想,也許應該在設計中加入那個東西而不是其他東西。但這個說不準。最終,一切都爲下一次積累教訓,你要在限定的時間內做出最好的遊戲。我的最終目標是讓玩家開心。如果他們開心了,那我也就開心了。

篇目1篇目2篇目3篇目4篇目5(本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao)

篇目1,“What is Game Design” with Ray Mazza

by FamousAspect

The following are excerpts from a conversation with Ray Mazza, Lead Designer Worldwide for Playfish. Ray’s titles include The Sims 2, The Sims 3, The Sims Social, and a whole host of Sims expansion packs.

To start with, what is game design?

Ray Mazza: What is game design? It’s figuring out what is fun. It’s trying to understand the concept of fun and then turning that into a meaningful experience. I think that’s what game design
is. There are many different ways to do that.

Has there been a time in your career where you’ve identified something that you know to be fun, whether it’s an interaction or a mechanic. You think, “X is fun, I know it in my heart.” And then you tried to turn it into a game and watched it sputter, just die on the canvas?

Ray Mazza: Oh, jeez. That’s a good question. I feel like the answer is “yes.” It happens to designers all the time, and it’s why you often need to iterate on designs many times until they’re
fun. I’ll try and think of an example… there was a time when we were doing a lot of prototypes for The Sims 3. One of the things that I thought was fun was combining things genetically, making
some game structures that have genetics, and then letting the player see what they like about them and having them combine those things and see results.

I was using abstract shapes at the time, procedural shapes. And, the way I put that on the canvas, it was not fun. Because I didn’t have any gameplay around it. It was more of a geeky, computer science-y “this is a fun thing” approach. But what you think of as fun in your mind isn’t necessarily fun on the canvas.

That was when I was a fresh designer. I was in the midst of learning that a lot of fun is about feedback, the way you give feedback to players, making everything you touch very satisfying. And that was some of what I lacked back then.

What is the role of a game designer on a team? We talked about how game design is about being almost a scholar of fun, trying to bring fun to life. What does a game designer do?

Ray Mazza: It is understanding fun and what fun means, and to use all those elements of fun to make compelling experiences. But every designer tends to have different goals.

Some designers want to tell a story or communicate a message. Other designers are more about educating their players, with games like Carmen Sandiego or Number Cruncher.

Some designers just want to make a compelling mechanic that is addictive and you can’t stop touching it. That’s more of Spry Fox’s Triple Town sort of game. There are plenty of paths.

I think, as a designer, you have to figure out what your goal is and work towards that. It doesn’t mean you can’t do many of those things. But that will drive the way you approach design.

What sort of designer are you?

Ray Mazza: [laughs]. I categorize myself as an experience designer, which is approaching it from like, “What experience do I want a player to have? How do I want them to feel?” And then designing around that, rather than approaching it from the other angle, where I want to design a game about “x.” So I want to design a game that makes a player feel like “x” or makes them play in such a way.

It’s a combination of storytelling and mechanic-centric design.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a game designer?

Ray Mazza: So, honestly, it’s finding the time to play games. Sometimes that actually feels like work. Boo-hoo, I know, right? But part of game design is immersing yourself in other areas of
interest. Because game designers can draw on so many different disciplines: architecture, politics, mathematics, sociology, phsychology, etc.

It helps to go and learn these things. A number of years ago, I got into writing and decided I wanted to write a novel. So I spent a lot of time on that and that helps me in game design, because I
can write text a lot better and craft more compelling stories.

But all the time I was learning about writing, I wasn’t playing games. Or I wasn’t able to play as many games as other people. And I’m constantly surrounded by friends who are talking about all
these games they’re playing, and all these LoL matches they’re having. Playing Red Dead Redemption and every other new game that comes out.

I have a long backlog of games I need to play sitting on my shelf. That for me is really challenging because I feel like I’m not doing my job as a game designer.

And there’s just this avalanche of hundred-hour experiences…

Ray Mazza: It’s rough, because you feel like you need to go and play these games. It shouldn’t feel like that. You should want to play. And I do want to play them. One way of helping make up for that is I play a lot of games, but for a very short amount of time. Often I will spend only one session playing a game. I’ll sit down, I’ll play it, get the feel for it. And if it’s not an
awesome game, I will probably never play it again. And that’s $60 bucks right there.

That’s pretty familiar to me, too. A good example is I picked up Transformers: War for Cybertron. Strong reviews, sounds like fun. I love Transformers. Played for an hour. And I know that there’s nothing else in this game that I’ll necessarily learn for my craft.

Like, everything I need to know about Transformers as a professional game designer, I’ve learned in this hour and I don’t need to see the other nine hours.

Ray Mazza: That partly ruins the experience, right? I was playing Skyrim and that’s one of those games that can suck you in for a long time. It’s one of those games that I’ve played for more
than a sitting and, 25 hours in, I don’t think I’m going to learn anything else. And playing it is probably wasting my time that I could spend doing something else. But it’s such a good game!

And then I tell myself, “Well, maybe the experience of playing it more will make it even more memorable and I’ll be able to use that inspiration a little more strongly in other games.”

I would imagine that the typical gamer who reads IGN and GameSpot, buys a bunch of games and is always on the hottest releases, might not expect the pedigree of designers in Sims.

I know from meeting a couple of you that the same type of game designers that work on Dead Space work on The Sims.

Ray Mazza: I don’t think we are who they think we are. I feel like the typical gamer thinks we’re just doing a day job.

But we do take inspirations from a lot of these hardcore games. Back on The Sims 3, we took a lot of inspiration from World of Warcraft, honestly. It shows up in a lot of the progression systems, like skills. We also have this concept called moodlets, which are really just buffs. They let you see how your Sim is feeling at any point in time.

We didn’t copy that system. We made it applicable to the Sims and our players actually love it; being able to see what’s affecting their Sims and why and how they’re feeling.

So, we are those guys.

So, to bring it back all the way to the start of the conversation, if you identify something that’s fun, it’s probably fun for everyone, so long as you adapt it to their needs.

Ray Mazza: Yes. That’s a good way of putting it.

What are the challenges you face making a game for which you’re not the primary audience?

Ray Mazza: Well, the thing is, I love The Sims. Before I started working here, I probably played The Sims for a really long time. Right next to Diablo 2. Many, many, many hours sunk into the The Sims. But I’m still not the primary audience, even though I love it. Because I’m not in the core demographic.

So the difficulty is really understanding what they’re looking for and not just designing a game for myself. Because I could design an awesome Sims game for myself that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to the millions of players that love the franchise.

To help us do that, we spend a lot of time on forums. We have a great Sims community and they love to tell us their thoughts. Very generously. And it’s about understanding the ways they play. And,

there’s a split in different types of players. Achievers, doll-housers, builders, storytellers.

Here’s an interesting thing that happened, regarding the community and what players are looking for and how you need to adapt your views.

On one of the Sims expansion packs – Late Night, which was a city, nightlife, sexy expansion pack – there was a point on that project when we were looking at the forums and one of the hottest
trending threads was, “we want our Sims to have bigger boobs.”

And when it’s one of the hottest trending threads, you want to give it consideration. At that time in The Sims 3, you had control over a lot of the aspects of your Sim: hair color, body weight,
eye color, different facial features. All the clothing. But we didn’t give you control over their chest size.

And, looking into this thread, we saw that many tens of thousands of people had requested this. And it had hundreds of thousands of views. So that became something to seriously consider. But we were hesitant, because we knew that there was a lot of sensitivity around this sort of issue. We didn’t want to be viewed as a game that lets people objectify women by giving them big chests.

But, as we explored the thread more and more, we found that there was an interesting divide where, it was the females that were requesting this. Because they just wanted to make themselves, and they use that as a defining characteristic of their bodies.

In the end, we realized that it’s control players should have so they could create the Sims they want to create. So we ended up giving that to them. And they love it. It was a risky thing, but it’s what they wanted.

So, once you actually look past the sensationalism of the topic, what your players were saying was more nuanced than “We want bigger boobs.” It was “We want more expressive body types, so we can create ourselves in the game.”

Ray Mazza: Exactly. And when you give them so many ways to customize their characters already, but you’re holding that back, it’s almost oppressive. As opposed to other games, where they only let you choose your basic look plus your boob size. That’s more objectification.

How long of a project was the The Sims 3, roughly?

Ray Mazza: We launched The Sims 2 in September, 2004, and started working on The Sims 3 in early 2005. Then we launched The Sims 3 in June, 2009. So it was in development just over 4 years.

So, on a big, multi-year, expansive, big team project like that, a lot of the process of design can be about cutting. How much design do you think was done that never made its way into the game? Or made its way into the game and then got cut due to user feedback?

How big is the piece of marble that you’re carving away at?

Ray Mazza: That’s a really good question. In the first scoping process, from all the designs that we had written and all the designs that we had planned to write, we probably cut 70% of that away.

And then we did another iteration later on, once we were in production and had a better understanding of our velocity, and probably cut another 50%. And then, closer to the end of the project, when some things weren’t going as planned or just not turning out to be fun, then it’s maybe another 5 to 10%.

So you end up cutting a lot. Part of that, though, is because our sights were too high, like they tend to be with a lot of projects. If we’d kept the original scope, we’d still be working on the
base game right now. One of the things I’ve learned becoming a seasoned designer is that you need to start simple. Otherwise you’re going to be wasting a lot of time upfront.

It’s good to do expansive brainstorms. But to then go and scope right from there down to the core and the most interesting ideas, rather than planning to do it all. Because you will inevitably add more as you go, anyway – some of the cuts later on are to make room for new features that suddenly make sense as the rest of your game falls into place.

So, four years, all the resources in the world. End game is maybe 10% of what you imagined in the beginning. But it’s the best 10%.

Ray Mazza: Yeah. But I’ll stress that it’s because we were fresh designers without a feel for scope – not a lack of time or resources. The Sims 3 was actually a much larger game than The Sims 2,
with a seamless neighborhood, richer skills, incredible house and Sim customization, and so on.

Yet one thing that designers can never get away from is that we tend to have thousands of ideas and 99.99% of them will never see the light of day. That’s the hard part. It’s a curse and a
blessing. Because you need a huge pool of ideas to pull from, but knowing that there are all these cool things that could exist if only we had some kind of magical tool that would just instantiate
them. That’s frustrating.

Yeah, when you say something like 90% of the scope gets cut. That was just the agreed-upon scope. So that’s not even the pool of ideas that exist, which was probably ten times larger than the

agreed-upon scope.

Ray Mazza: Yeah. You need to get the game out there and it has to be a certain budget.You need to work within a lot of restrictions. Otherwise you wouldn’t have a job because you’d never release the game.

But then sometimes you see stuff on forums that are like, “Well, I wish the game did this.” And you’re like, “I had that in a design!” But we scoped it.

It’s somewhere on a wiki somewhere [laughs].

Ray Mazza: And then you think, maybe I should’ve included that instead of some other part of the design. But you never know. In the end, everything is a lesson for next time, and you try to make the best game you can with the time that you have. Ultimately, the goal is to make your players happy. If they’re happy, then I’m happy too.

篇目2,“What is Game Design?” with Soren Johnson

Post on 22/03/12

To start with, what is game design?

Soren Johnson: Well, it’s a broad question so you’re going to get a broad answer. The simplest way of putting it is, game design is how you find the fun of a project.

But, it really is managing that loop between the player and the machine, where you’re presenting them with decisions; they make a decision and then you give them relevant feedback, so they know the results of their action and then they make another decision.

The role of the designer is to make sure every step of that loop works out, because there are lots of ways a game can fail. A game can have really interesting decisions, but it doesn’t give the player good feedback on the results of their actions. So then they feel like they’re just playing in the dark.

Or, a game can give you really good feedback, but the actual decisions themselves are all very tiny variations of each other and there really isn’t any distinction. Or, there’s just this one completely dominant strategy, so the game is not particularly interesting.

Are there any examples of something you’ve worked on or played that you’ve admired, where feedback trumped mechanics that you as a designer would spend a lot of time on?

Soren Johnson: One thing that always pops into my mind, and I’m never sure how much of their game was satire or not, is Peggle. Because that was a game that was infamous for going way over the top whenever you do something right. You get the ball in the best bin and it’s going to zoom in with slow-mo. There’s going to be rainbows and stars popping out all over the screen. Someone’s like, “would it be too much if we also played Ode to Joy in the background?” They’re like, “no, it’s not too much.” You know?

So that’s important, that sort of feedback as encouragement. Peggle treads so much where I was like well, I don’t know whether I can take this seriously. Are they making fun of me for enjoying this or not? I’m not really sure. But obviously they did a really good job with feedback. And PopCap generally does a good job with feedback in their games.

I mean, I think it’s sort of half-satire in the same way that the people who made Spinal Tap, they’re not actually cynical about heavy metal, right? They love heavy metal, but they also enjoy the absurdity of it. I think that’s kind of what’s going on with Peggle. They love casual games but they also enjoy poking fun at the absurdity of how they’re presented.

What is the role of the game designer?

Soren Johnson: Well, I think if you’re asking from an occupational point of view, I think there’s different types of designers. There’s the project lead/lead designer type role, which is where you have to be concerned about everything. How the game presents itself to the player. How even just stuff like what’s the banner art going to look like and what’s the box going to look like? How are we telling people what this game is going to be about? How do we get the right people to buy the game, as opposed to just anyone to buy the game? How the systems work together at a meta level? For Legends, that’s like thinking about how the castle interweaves with the combat, with the consumable loop. So there’s that level.

Below lead designers, there are what I would call system designers and content designers. My natural aptitude is as a system designer. These are the type of people who, if there weren’t computers, would be making board games.

System designers come up with rules and systems and loops. If you come up with interesting, loops of interesting decisions that are also fun thematically, engaging thematically, then these people are doing a good job.

Then there’s content design – which is not something I’m super good at – where you figure out how to interweave narrative with game mechanics. They can take a mechanical system and then come up with a progression of monsters or a progression of quests or a story that leads people someplace.

Not every game needs that and I think games have a spectrum. I’d say there’s three major elements. Is a game more strategy focused? Is it more twitch focused? Or is it more narrative focused? And I think some games have a variety of all those things.

Uncharted has high narrative, medium twitch and no strategy. Civ is very, very high strategy, no twitch and a little bit of narrative. I think every game has some ratio of that. In fact, I think that lens is a good way to look at franchises and sequels. Because I think when franchises and sequels get in trouble, it’s when they screw with that mix of strategy, twitch and narrative.

They move forward to a new version that suddenly became all about story, when that’s not what people are interested in. Or they threw a bunch of twitch into some of the strategy game, and that’s not really what players wanted.

You can change a lot, but keep that ratio constant.

As a project leader, how do you approach deciding what’s important early on?

Soren Johnson: Well, in some sense, you don’t know the answer to that question until you make the game. If there’s one thing that I emphasize a lot, and I’m not the only person to emphasize this, but try to get a playable version of the game going as soon as possible. And don’t let anything hold you back from that.

With Civ 4, we had a playable version of the game within a few months of starting. And if you look at what it looked like, it’s kind of horrifying. Our units were little billboards of 2d art that popped around from tile to tile. There wasn’t animation, there wasn’t a terrain system, there was just some kind of vague, heightmap thing that didn’t really work all that well to begin with, but you can see units move from tile and tile. It was built as a multiplayer game immediately. There was no lobby. We had this crazy system for hosting a game, but it worked. That stuff we’ll worry about later.

You have to figure out what are the things that are going to keep your game from succeeding. Early on in the project, a lot of teams get very focused on a lot of tech questions. How is the animation system going to work? Are we going to be streaming stuff?

Do we have real-time servers or stateless servers?

Soren Johnson: Right. How is the multiplayer going to work? How people are going to be connected? What kind of format are we going to use for the art? Just all of the stuff that has to get answered before you ship the game.

But these things are things you can figure out. The project is not going to fail because you were never able to answer these questions. So you have to focus on the questions that do not have an obvious answer, or, at least an answer you can’t just brute force your way to.

Like, we will have animation system at some point. It’s not like we’re going to say “You know what? I don’t think we can figure out this animation issue. Hundreds of other games have done it, but somehow we’re just drawing blanks.”

Static sprites it is…

Soren Johnson: Yes, static sprites it is. Just don’t worry about that. The questions for Civ 4 was, okay, we’re trying a bunch of new random things. We’re trying an idea of great people and religion and how should multiplayer function within the game. Testing those features out, not from a technology point of view, but simply from a gameplay point of view. That’s what led us to the team-based system. Civ is actually fun to multiplayer if you’re playing with teams. And you share technologies and you share wonders and line of sight. You get everyone pointed in the same direction.

The civic system that we wanted to try out with, a new promotion system, a totally different combat model, those are the real issues. So, don’t let anything stand in the way of trying to test those out.

The problems that you know can be solved, shove them to the side.

Soren Johnson: Right. Yeah.

Is it important that other designers you work with view game design from the same frame as you?

Soren Johnson: That’s probably my biggest challenge I think. Usually I’m able, if I’m not familiar with what a programmer or artist is capable of, I can still work well with that person because we’re kind of orthogonal to each other. We have different skill sets but we’re both trying to attack the same problem.

It’s more challenging with designers, especially when we could both make a great game on the same topic. I feel like you want the lead designer to really follow a specific path as far as possible, instead of some average between the two.

So if I work with a designer who has a very different philosophy about what type of game to make, it can be frustrating. There’s the difference between a good idea and a good idea that fits the frame of this game. It’s frustrating for them too, if they have a bunch of good ideas, but the ideas need to be in a different product.

That goes back an earlier conversation we had about strong decision making at the outset to define the possibility space.

Soren Johnson: You definitely have to cut certain things off. One of the phrases I used a lot during Civ 4 is “look, there’s a thousand ways to make a game about the history of the world. We’re making one of those. We need to find one good way to do that. That’s it.”

We’re not trying to solve all the problems or put in all the good ideas. We’re just trying to find one cohesive answer to that problem. There’ll be other ones.

When you’re working on big multi-year projects, like Civ and Spore, how much of the initial vision ends up in the final product?

Soren Johnson: Civ 4, it was pretty close. We knew the areas we wanted to tackle. We didn’t necessarily know how they would play out. Early on in the project, I was like, we want to tackle religion. We want to tackle great people. We want to tackle multiplayer. We want a game that is accessible. We want an RPG promotion system for units.

So that fit pretty well. But, there’s a huge difference between games that are in a franchise where there aren’t these big unanswered questions and games like Spore, where it’s just like “Okay, we’re plowing into a new frontier. We’re going to go explore this totally empty area.” You might find gold there and you might not.

I’d say, it largely depends upon the context of the game that you’re trying to make. That’s why there’s a lot of sequels. It’s also why sequels aren’t necessarily that bad of a thing in the games industry, unlike movies or books.

I feel like games are unique in their ability to deliver sequels that are compelling. Oftentimes, I find myself more and more excited about each sequel as long as they keep getting better.

Soren Johnson: Right, right. Like a book, a series of books, the content might keep being enjoyable, but they’re not actually going to also improve the method by which you read a book. Like, Harry Potter 7 didn’t have some radically new reading technology involved.

Semi-colons never get better. [laughs]

Soren Johnson: Right, right. So, which is kind of a neat opportunity for games.

篇目3,“What is Game Design?” with Andrew Mayer

So the question I start everybody out with is, what is game design?

Andrew Mayer: Okay. How many more questions do you have? Because, uh, [laughs]

There are eight more.

Andrew Mayer: All right. All right. I think for me, the phrase I always use is “artful frustration.” Game design is about properly placing distance between yourself and the audience.

So, when you work with people who aren’t game people traditionally, they want to start pushing back this relationship between the audience and the game. And simplifying stuff. That’s a good instinct but, ultimately, if you simplify it to where the player can get everything they want whenever they want, there isn’t a game there.

And that’s what game design is really. Artful frustration, by which I mean, you want to make it so that it’s fun and it’s pleasant but not so frustrating that players don’t play the game anymore. And that’s always a good rule of thumb.

For me, I think there are more specifics we can talk about. But I think if you’re looking for the universal solvent of every game, this is it. You can make every game impossibly difficult to play or you can make games like pathetically easy to win. The computer can do either.

So, balancing those two things out and creating a platform on which other behaviors can be layered, that to me is the way I think it works.

Riding that fine line where you’re presenting players challenges that are the right level of complexity, the right level of difficulty to be this emotion that we call fun.

Andrew Mayer: Challenges and opportunities, right? The thing is you can’t just present people with challenges. I think this is what Miyamoto did so well if you look back at the heyday of the Mario 2, the Yoshi’s Island/Mario 3D days. What he got there perfectly was this balance of, “Okay, this is really hard. Yes, this is crazy. But I’m going to get through it and there’s going to be something worthwhile when I get to the other side.”

He was really good at that. He was really good at leaving out the breadcrumb trail to show you that there was something worthwhile that was going to be happening as you were going along.

So, bundling a challenge with an opportunity?

Andrew Mayer: Or holding out the promise of an opportunity beyond the challenge. I think there’s almost an infinite number of ways to do it. But, to let the player know that there is a reason to do this and that it’s worth the effort.

So, what is the role of a game designer?

Andrew Mayer: These days? Follow the metrics. Make the game better.

There’s two phases. There’s the game development phase, which is to create a platform for onboarding users and beginning to understand their play patterns.

Then, once they’re in there the designer’s job is to look at the metrics and figure out a way to optimize those metrics. I mean, that’s probably not what anybody wants to hear because it doesn’t sound very glamorous. But I think for the game design position, that’s a lot of what we’re looking at right. In social.

Classically, it was to be a player advocate. I think we did it well, whether they realized it or not. But I think with the advent of the metric-driven social, it’s become a much more mechanistic job than it used to be. Much more defined.

Not that they’re not worth their weight in gold, because they are. But you can’t be the artist to the degree that you can go in and go, “I’m an advocate for the hardcore gamer.” Like John Romero or Cliffy B, where it’s like, “I am the representative of these people and this is my tribe, and if I do it, they will love me.”

I think that’s a very accurate take at stripping away the romanticism of the job.

Andrew Mayer: Hard won knowledge.

And I do think with game design, there’s more romanticism than any other function within the industry.

Andrew Mayer: And more disillusionment from anybody who gets into it than any other industry in the world.

There’s two phases to being a game designer. There’s really, really wanting to do it. And then there’s wanting to do it after you’ve done it for a while.

Those are two very different things. Because you come into it with this idea that it’s going to be this amazing thing. And then when you find out what it really is, you think “Do I still really want to do it? What am I getting out of it?”

Was there a specific moment where you had that point of reflection in your own career? Where you felt like, “I know what game design is now…

Andrew Mayer: And I’m still going to hit myself in the head with a hammer.”

Yeah, it was early for me. At Twin Dolphin games, I came in as an Associate Producer for the very first game I’m going to work on. And it quickly became apparent that the Producer of the project was locked up in his office playing videogames all day and the engineers were basically on the verge of revolt.

And my job was to do a map, I was supposed to laying tiles on a map that’s ten thousand by ten thousand squares. Well, if you do the math on that’s it’s one hundred million.

I don’t think there’s actually one hundred million seconds in a year. So, even if I was working every second of every day, and laying one per second, assuming that nothing went wrong, it would still have been impossible for the game to ship. And when I went to the producer and told him that, he told me to shut up, basically.

So that was an eye-opener. I think for everybody it’s when you leave the first job, right? Because I think whatever your first job is, you come in with a sense of what you want and what you’re working for. And then you try to achieve that and you realize that it didn’t actually help.

And then you start to have a very different attitude when you go to your second job. And you say, okay, well, I’m not going to do that again. I’m going to advocate for something I believe in within the context of the company that I’m working for.

Does that make sense? Does that sound true to you?

It makes perfect sense.

Andrew Mayer: We all come in a little na?ve, right? We all come out of that first gig a little scarred, and then we make some decisions based on that.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a Creative Director?

Andrew Mayer: I think, for me right now, it’s working in genres that I’m not either familiar with or excited about. And trying to figure out how to generate excitement. And also figuring out how to layer game dynamics.

And I’ll tell you what it is. It’s every assumption must be questioned. It used to be that you could make some solid assumptions and now, with the metrics, every assumption must be questioned. So it feels a little bit like the ground is shifting underneath your feet all the time. And that can be disconcerting. Anything can go wrong. It may all go wrong.

The other thing I would say that is disconcerting for someone like me who’s been doing it for a long time, is it used to be that you would get information and you would try to deconstruct that information and figure out why something was happening.

These days, if you see a figure, “Oh, if I do this, I’ll get five percent more users.” Or one percent more users, two percent more users, right?

Yeah, five percent would be gang busters.

Andrew Mayer: Right. So, it’s like, “Okay why is that working? Doesn’t matter. Just do more of it.” You don’t need to deconstruct the assumption necessarily, you just work it until it stops working and then you go work something else.

So that’s a little different than where it used to be that you needed to understand why. When there was this bigger picture that you were building. You don’t always get to build the bigger picture.

Right. What is different between being a game designer than being a creative director? How are the two roles different?

Andrew Mayer: Because I’m responsible for the vision and the overall direction of the project, and for that bigger picture. So the creative director, at least in my experience, is responsible for the premise and the vision. What are we making and where is it going and why are we going there? And also asking “How are we going to get there?” Especially for new ideas.

The game designer’s job is to actually break it down and make the experience. How is this going to work? I’d say my job is more, what are we going to do? And why? And the designer’s job is more, how are we going to do it?

Talking about all the different factors in the equation, you’ve mentioned investors, CEO, engineers, metrics, marketing, audience.

Andrew Mayer: Artists.

Artists, right? And even QA. How much of the job of defining the vision is creating a vision? And how much of it is working with other people to get buy in on a vision.

Andrew Mayer: Ten percent the former and 90 percent of the latter. It’s collaborative. There’s no way around it. What I learned early on is you get to have one good idea per game, whether you’re a designer or a creative director or whatever.

And then the goal is to shepherd that one good idea as far as you can, and try to keep that good idea held together for as long as you can until the game ships. You have one good idea and then everything else is going to change around that good idea. And if that good idea survives, you’ve done your job.

I think with social, it’s just “What is the premise of the game? What are we making? What is the thing?” Everything else swims around that and changes. And changes after launch now, too, which is amazing.

When you look at your role what excites you most about being a creative director?

Andrew Mayer: To me, it’s the integration of the real world and the digital world. So what we’re doing with the real world integration for the game that we’re working on now [at Sojo Studios] is we have these real world causes and integrating real cause into the game is really, really exciting. So, there’s a lot of secret sauce there that I think that we’re learning about. And things that we’re doing that nobody else is doing.

So that’s really exciting to me; the walls between the real world and the virtual world are starting to crumble. And, when you see with the iPad and touch devices, these kind of things… we’re repainting the world in a digital palate. And I think that’s going to have major impact on the way that we play. I was a little worried that computers were going to become pads. But I think that we’re going to go beyond that so quickly, to where there’s going to be no effective difference between the device and the computer.

We’re about to infect the world with digital technology in a really fundamental way. Just like we wove the structure of electricity and running water, and all that stuff into our lives through the wires and stuff we put everywhere. We’re about to digitize the world.

On the converse side, what frustrates you about most about being a creative director?

Andrew Mayer: I think a lot of it is just the purity of the compromise, right? It’s that everything has to be filtered through metrics. There’s no being right, and the experiments are limited. I’m only allowed to experiment to the degree that I can express it as a sense of metrics. So that’s frustrating. Especially because it’s harder to bullshit. It’s harder to be like Don Draper “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I know what I’m doing.”

You can get away with some of that. But you damn well better have checked your numbers and be right before you try and do it.

Yeah. I think as you career goes on, you learn being right isn’t important. Or, if you can let go of being right as being important and instead be someone who fosters open conversation.

Andrew Mayer: I totally agree with that. And it is good when it works. The problem is. . .

It’s very hard.

Andrew Mayer: It’s very, very hard to be that open all the time. And it’s very hard to be that patient all the time. Because sometimes you just want things to get done.

篇目4,“What is Game Design?” with Paul Barnett

The following are excerpts from a conversation with Paul Barnett, Senior Creative Director at BioWare/Mythic. Paul currently oversees a number of projects in the BioWare family, including Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes and BioWare Social.

To start with, what is game design?

Paul Barnett: Oh, dear, crikey. If I knew that, then I’d be rich. I’m with Stephen King. It’s probably telepathy. I thought that was the greatest answer to what is story writing is telepathy. Game design is probably telepathy.

People have ideas in the modern era they’re basically two groups. Lots of people trying desperately to get a straightforward idea made over a long period of time, for something like Star Wars TOR. Simple idea. Massively multiplayer Star Wars meets Knights of the Old Republic. But it requires hundreds of people, years, millions of dollars and it’s supremely difficult.

The other extreme is bedroom coding, where you just get one, two, three people maybe. You have a vision and generally just a desire to get something out to the industry. And you just do stuff.

I just came from the Art of Computer Gaming show at the Smithsonian. I was asked this exact question and I stole James Cameron’s quote, which is “A game designer is someone who goes out and makes games, any type of game, regardless of what anyone says, regardless of the quality, regardless of who tries to stop them. They make it available any way they can and they don’t give a damn whether anyone likes it, whether it actually made any money. They just make it and release it.”

And in that point, they’re a games designer. From then on, everything else in their life is merely about scope, budget and ideas.

So the sheer act of making game, finishing it, and putting it in front of another person.

Paul Barnett: Yes. Absolutely. Once you’re into that, then it’s all the arguments about, are you good at it, big at it, commercial at it. Are you smart at it? Are you innovative? Are you capable of working with other people? Do you work from certain platforms or certain ideas? They’re all just subquestions.

Design is nothing more than the sheer act of creativity. Taking an idea and making it available. Everything else is just talk. My friend’s an author and he says the same thing, “Everyone’s got a book in them. I’m just not too sure they’re books worth reading. Thankfully though, very few people have it within them to actually write their book. So we’re saved from torment.”

What is the role of the game designer?

Paul Barnett: It’s a title thrown around all over. I would say the following: if you are involved in the creation of a game, you are a game designer. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing audio, doing user interface, whether you’re doing the loading screen. It doesn’t matter. It’s all in the design. Every single person involved in the game is designing. A guy writing the code that is going to store the player data is designing. Whether they like it or not. Because how they put that data together, how it’s stored, how compact it is, how easy it is for us to see it is game design.

And what its limitations are often force decisions in other parts of the game.

Paul Barnett: So, everyone’s a game designer. The poor sod who actually has the title is generally the person who is the highest position of pain all the time. Because they are the person in rawest place because everything they do is thwarted, compromised, belittled, misunderstood and butchered, in front of their eyes, often by themselves.

So pain would probably be my number one thing of what is game designer? Someone who is in a lot of pain. They are the screenwriters of Hollywood, again, like in William Goldman’s book. He tells this great tale about all the screenwriters that you’ve never heard of, who’ve never won anything, they’re not on talk shows and they’re not lauded as greatness. If you pull someone aside and say, “Name me ten great screenwriters,” a lot of people struggle to get beyond four.

Whereas you ask them to name directors, oh, they’ll nail it. And ten actors, oh, “I’ve got that, no problem.” But the people who actually create the story, “No, never heard of them.”

I love designing. I love designing with other people. I love helping people to design and it means that I have had a lot of pain. You’ve had a lot of pain.

Yes

Paul Barnett: Pain, I like that answer.

Right. Game design is pain. It’s everyone on the game team is a designer in some sense. But then the person who actually gets the title…

Paul Barnett: What do you think?

I think that, to me, the easiest way to explain what a game designer does is that, they are the person responsible for what the user sees, touches, feels. And because of that, they are the person who’s in the most pain, because everything else is very difficult to comment on. The code is difficult to comment on. And a lot of times, much of the art is difficult to comment on, although sometimes it’s fairly easy.

But the game designer, I always feel like, is important for wrapping things up and putting it in front of a player and they’re responsible for making it fun. And so, it’s the easiest thing for anybody to look at and criticize. Which is good, because ultimately shielding a game from criticism or a design from criticism, well, it’s going to meet people eventually, right? So the sooner, the better.

Paul Barnett: I was asked a question recently at Art of Computer Games, I was on a panel with Ken Levine and some guy brought it up. I thought that game design was three things at that point. It was communication, both ways, and then it’s a point from Karl Marx and something Monty Python said, which I think sort of captures game design. Karl Marx was all about alienation, how you shouldn’t have alienation. And I think a designer’s number one job is to ensure as many people as possible are engaged in the project, understand what the hell we’re trying to make and why it’s important. So that they can stay away from alienation.

They’ve got to be vested in their belief. And then Monty Python, which was all about, you write down an idea, then it gets communicated to your colleagues, who miss-hear it, misunderstand it, write down what they think you said, and that becomes the great idea. And it’s sort of like that inaudible accidental happenstance and joy.

Words that would sum up lead designers or main designers, apart from pain… love, care. Every great designer gave a damn like you wouldn’t believe. Every great designer is in an eternal love affair with design. And accepts that it’s a love affair, which means, you’re at times powerless. You’re at times destroyed. You’re at times miserable. You’re at times elated and ecstatic. You’re at times challenging dragons, bringing down heavens and, at other times, are the most isolated and raw you can ever be.

The great ones, the ones that are really deeply admired generally do that, and they’re fearless of failure. The best designers I ever met, they design all the time. Quantity has a quality about what they do. They don’t just design one game.

I think anyone can pull off one thing and it can be cool. A great designer is defined by the weaknesses they have and the failures they have and the fact they carried on going. Great design is Winston Churchill, it’s going from failure to failure with no lack of enthusiasm.

That’s funny

Paul Barnett: That’s Churchill. He’s an amazing man. You look at his life and it is failure to failure with no lack of enthusiasm. Then he saves the Western World.

That actually even leads me to two questions. One is, why do we designers fail so frequently? And two, why is that enthusiasm the key to ultimate success?

Paul Barnett: Because we’re all broke. That’s easy. We’re the only people who don’t get a payout. When you think about how many designers you meet who are rich, the answer is “hardly any.” They’re all people who owned companies and finance people, marketing people for some reason seem to have a lot of money. I never really understand that. And we’re not driven by those rewards. We’re driven by the desire to communicate, express ourselves through game design. We will get fired from projects because we believe in them so strongly, over a matter of principle. We’re lunatics. We find it very hard to design games we don’t care about. We fight for the craziest things that make no sense whatsoever. That enthusiasm comes from that boiling blood desire to do something. We’ll fight for design elements because we know in our heart they’re right.

I also know this: every designer I’ve ever met who has agreed to do something because of budget and restrictions because they thought it was the only way of getting it done, has ended up in deep regret. And has ended up either leaving a project through sadness and deep regret or bringing a project out and going, “you know what? I did get out over the line, but by hell, I probably shouldn’t have.”

It’s a funny thing. We’re the only people like that. Artists, if they’re told “draw this,” they’ll draw it and if a coder’s told “learn this language” they’ll code it. QA’ll QA anything that they’re told to do because QA are good like that. But designers, every time we go off the true path, every time we bother to do something that we didn’t believe in, we throw ourselves on the rocks of ruin. Poets. We’re digital poets.

So, we’ve talked a lot actually about already the challenges of game design. What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a game designer?

Paul Barnett: FART. Features, action, resource, time. So, features and resource and time being the three points of the triangle, action being in the middle of the triangle. Spells fart. The big fart is the single biggest thing a designer has to wrap their heads around. Because farts smell, no one wants to take the blame, no one wants to point at another person and suggest it’s happened. And, as a designer, that’s it. Deciding on your features, fighting for your resources, desperately trying to get the time. All the while, altering your actions.

And so if there’s anything that we do, farting would be top of the list. And it sounds sort… it’s cheeky. But, when I look back, I so very rarely got given a pen and told, “Okay, Paul. Off you go. Let’s go! What do you?”

Right

Paul Barnett: I’ve spent all my time dealing with the big fart. It happens minute to minute, day to day, week to week. So, if you do one thing, dealing with farts would probably be the big thing.

Yeah. I think when you’re on the outside, or when you’re growing up, it’s easy to think this is a dream job and a passion and it is pure creativity. And it is all those things. But, like you said, nobody ever gives you a blank check and 50 engineers and 20 artists and says, “Do anything you want. We believe in you. Here’s $100 million.” [laughs]

Paul Barnett: What’s weird is, I think if they did, it’d be a disaster.

Oh, absolutely.

Paul Barnett: Yes, if ever you get given an open checkbook, run, because you’re going to crash.

篇目5,“What is Game Design” with Ray Mazza

by FamousAspect

The following are excerpts from a conversation with Ray Mazza, Lead Designer Worldwide for Playfish. Ray’s titles include The Sims 2, The Sims 3, The Sims Social, and a whole host of Sims expansion packs.

To start with, what is game design?

Ray Mazza: What is game design? It’s figuring out what is fun. It’s trying to understand the concept of fun and then turning that into a meaningful experience. I think that’s what game design
is. There are many different ways to do that.

Has there been a time in your career where you’ve identified something that you know to be fun, whether it’s an interaction or a mechanic. You think, “X is fun, I know it in my heart.” And then you tried to turn it into a game and watched it sputter, just die on the canvas?

Ray Mazza: Oh, jeez. That’s a good question. I feel like the answer is “yes.” It happens to designers all the time, and it’s why you often need to iterate on designs many times until they’re
fun. I’ll try and think of an example… there was a time when we were doing a lot of prototypes for The Sims 3. One of the things that I thought was fun was combining things genetically, making
some game structures that have genetics, and then letting the player see what they like about them and having them combine those things and see results.

I was using abstract shapes at the time, procedural shapes. And, the way I put that on the canvas, it was not fun. Because I didn’t have any gameplay around it. It was more of a geeky, computer science-y “this is a fun thing” approach. But what you think of as fun in your mind isn’t necessarily fun on the canvas.

That was when I was a fresh designer. I was in the midst of learning that a lot of fun is about feedback, the way you give feedback to players, making everything you touch very satisfying. And that was some of what I lacked back then.

What is the role of a game designer on a team? We talked about how game design is about being almost a scholar of fun, trying to bring fun to life. What does a game designer do?

Ray Mazza: It is understanding fun and what fun means, and to use all those elements of fun to make compelling experiences. But every designer tends to have different goals.

Some designers want to tell a story or communicate a message. Other designers are more about educating their players, with games like Carmen Sandiego or Number Cruncher.

Some designers just want to make a compelling mechanic that is addictive and you can’t stop touching it. That’s more of Spry Fox’s Triple Town sort of game. There are plenty of paths.

I think, as a designer, you have to figure out what your goal is and work towards that. It doesn’t mean you can’t do many of those things. But that will drive the way you approach design.

What sort of designer are you?

Ray Mazza: [laughs]. I categorize myself as an experience designer, which is approaching it from like, “What experience do I want a player to have? How do I want them to feel?” And then designing around that, rather than approaching it from the other angle, where I want to design a game about “x.” So I want to design a game that makes a player feel like “x” or makes them play in such a way.

It’s a combination of storytelling and mechanic-centric design.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a game designer?

Ray Mazza: So, honestly, it’s finding the time to play games. Sometimes that actually feels like work. Boo-hoo, I know, right? But part of game design is immersing yourself in other areas of
interest. Because game designers can draw on so many different disciplines: architecture, politics, mathematics, sociology, phsychology, etc.

It helps to go and learn these things. A number of years ago, I got into writing and decided I wanted to write a novel. So I spent a lot of time on that and that helps me in game design, because I
can write text a lot better and craft more compelling stories.

But all the time I was learning about writing, I wasn’t playing games. Or I wasn’t able to play as many games as other people. And I’m constantly surrounded by friends who are talking about all
these games they’re playing, and all these LoL matches they’re having. Playing Red Dead Redemption and every other new game that comes out.

I have a long backlog of games I need to play sitting on my shelf. That for me is really challenging because I feel like I’m not doing my job as a game designer.

And there’s just this avalanche of hundred-hour experiences…

Ray Mazza: It’s rough, because you feel like you need to go and play these games. It shouldn’t feel like that. You should want to play. And I do want to play them. One way of helping make up for that is I play a lot of games, but for a very short amount of time. Often I will spend only one session playing a game. I’ll sit down, I’ll play it, get the feel for it. And if it’s not an
awesome game, I will probably never play it again. And that’s $60 bucks right there.

That’s pretty familiar to me, too. A good example is I picked up Transformers: War for Cybertron. Strong reviews, sounds like fun. I love Transformers. Played for an hour. And I know that there’s nothing else in this game that I’ll necessarily learn for my craft.

Like, everything I need to know about Transformers as a professional game designer, I’ve learned in this hour and I don’t need to see the other nine hours.

Ray Mazza: That partly ruins the experience, right? I was playing Skyrim and that’s one of those games that can suck you in for a long time. It’s one of those games that I’ve played for more
than a sitting and, 25 hours in, I don’t think I’m going to learn anything else. And playing it is probably wasting my time that I could spend doing something else. But it’s such a good game!

And then I tell myself, “Well, maybe the experience of playing it more will make it even more memorable and I’ll be able to use that inspiration a little more strongly in other games.”

I would imagine that the typical gamer who reads IGN and GameSpot, buys a bunch of games and is always on the hottest releases, might not expect the pedigree of designers in Sims.

I know from meeting a couple of you that the same type of game designers that work on Dead Space work on The Sims.

Ray Mazza: I don’t think we are who they think we are. I feel like the typical gamer thinks we’re just doing a day job.

But we do take inspirations from a lot of these hardcore games. Back on The Sims 3, we took a lot of inspiration from World of Warcraft, honestly. It shows up in a lot of the progression systems, like skills. We also have this concept called moodlets, which are really just buffs. They let you see how your Sim is feeling at any point in time.

We didn’t copy that system. We made it applicable to the Sims and our players actually love it; being able to see what’s affecting their Sims and why and how they’re feeling.

So, we are those guys.

So, to bring it back all the way to the start of the conversation, if you identify something that’s fun, it’s probably fun for everyone, so long as you adapt it to their needs.

Ray Mazza: Yes. That’s a good way of putting it.

What are the challenges you face making a game for which you’re not the primary audience?

Ray Mazza: Well, the thing is, I love The Sims. Before I started working here, I probably played The Sims for a really long time. Right next to Diablo 2. Many, many, many hours sunk into the The Sims. But I’m still not the primary audience, even though I love it. Because I’m not in the core demographic.

So the difficulty is really understanding what they’re looking for and not just designing a game for myself. Because I could design an awesome Sims game for myself that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to the millions of players that love the franchise.

To help us do that, we spend a lot of time on forums. We have a great Sims community and they love to tell us their thoughts. Very generously. And it’s about understanding the ways they play. And,

there’s a split in different types of players. Achievers, doll-housers, builders, storytellers.

Here’s an interesting thing that happened, regarding the community and what players are looking for and how you need to adapt your views.

On one of the Sims expansion packs – Late Night, which was a city, nightlife, sexy expansion pack – there was a point on that project when we were looking at the forums and one of the hottest
trending threads was, “we want our Sims to have bigger boobs.”

And when it’s one of the hottest trending threads, you want to give it consideration. At that time in The Sims 3, you had control over a lot of the aspects of your Sim: hair color, body weight,
eye color, different facial features. All the clothing. But we didn’t give you control over their chest size.

And, looking into this thread, we saw that many tens of thousands of people had requested this. And it had hundreds of thousands of views. So that became something to seriously consider. But we were hesitant, because we knew that there was a lot of sensitivity around this sort of issue. We didn’t want to be viewed as a game that lets people objectify women by giving them big chests.

But, as we explored the thread more and more, we found that there was an interesting divide where, it was the females that were requesting this. Because they just wanted to make themselves, and they use that as a defining characteristic of their bodies.

In the end, we realized that it’s control players should have so they could create the Sims they want to create. So we ended up giving that to them. And they love it. It was a risky thing, but it’s what they wanted.

So, once you actually look past the sensationalism of the topic, what your players were saying was more nuanced than “We want bigger boobs.” It was “We want more expressive body types, so we can create ourselves in the game.”

Ray Mazza: Exactly. And when you give them so many ways to customize their characters already, but you’re holding that back, it’s almost oppressive. As opposed to other games, where they only let you choose your basic look plus your boob size. That’s more objectification.

How long of a project was the The Sims 3, roughly?

Ray Mazza: We launched The Sims 2 in September, 2004, and started working on The Sims 3 in early 2005. Then we launched The Sims 3 in June, 2009. So it was in development just over 4 years.

So, on a big, multi-year, expansive, big team project like that, a lot of the process of design can be about cutting. How much design do you think was done that never made its way into the game? Or made its way into the game and then got cut due to user feedback?

How big is the piece of marble that you’re carving away at?

Ray Mazza: That’s a really good question. In the first scoping process, from all the designs that we had written and all the designs that we had planned to write, we probably cut 70% of that away.

And then we did another iteration later on, once we were in production and had a better understanding of our velocity, and probably cut another 50%. And then, closer to the end of the project, when some things weren’t going as planned or just not turning out to be fun, then it’s maybe another 5 to 10%.

So you end up cutting a lot. Part of that, though, is because our sights were too high, like they tend to be with a lot of projects. If we’d kept the original scope, we’d still be working on the
base game right now. One of the things I’ve learned becoming a seasoned designer is that you need to start simple. Otherwise you’re going to be wasting a lot of time upfront.

It’s good to do expansive brainstorms. But to then go and scope right from there down to the core and the most interesting ideas, rather than planning to do it all. Because you will inevitably add more as you go, anyway – some of the cuts later on are to make room for new features that suddenly make sense as the rest of your game falls into place.

So, four years, all the resources in the world. End game is maybe 10% of what you imagined in the beginning. But it’s the best 10%.

Ray Mazza: Yeah. But I’ll stress that it’s because we were fresh designers without a feel for scope – not a lack of time or resources. The Sims 3 was actually a much larger game than The Sims 2,
with a seamless neighborhood, richer skills, incredible house and Sim customization, and so on.

Yet one thing that designers can never get away from is that we tend to have thousands of ideas and 99.99% of them will never see the light of day. That’s the hard part. It’s a curse and a
blessing. Because you need a huge pool of ideas to pull from, but knowing that there are all these cool things that could exist if only we had some kind of magical tool that would just instantiate
them. That’s frustrating.

Yeah, when you say something like 90% of the scope gets cut. That was just the agreed-upon scope. So that’s not even the pool of ideas that exist, which was probably ten times larger than the

agreed-upon scope.

Ray Mazza: Yeah. You need to get the game out there and it has to be a certain budget.You need to work within a lot of restrictions. Otherwise you wouldn’t have a job because you’d never release the game.

But then sometimes you see stuff on forums that are like, “Well, I wish the game did this.” And you’re like, “I had that in a design!” But we scoped it.

It’s somewhere on a wiki somewhere [laughs].

Ray Mazza: And then you think, maybe I should’ve included that instead of some other part of the design. But you never know. In the end, everything is a lesson for next time, and you try to make the best game you can with the time that you have. Ultimately, the goal is to make your players happy. If they’re happy, then I’m happy too.