遊戲應該擁有多少遊戲機制?

作者:Rob Lockhart

首先我要承認這是一個錯誤的問題。更好的說法應該是:“我該如何決定我的遊戲應該擁有多少遊戲機制呢?本文便是我對於這一問題的看法。

但這只是我認爲的“遊戲機制”的定義。這有點難以形容,因爲遊戲系統通常都帶有分形特性,所以你可以去研究細節內容並考慮遊戲機制的功能。雖然這會讓事情變得複雜,但是我們卻必須經歷這一切。

依我個人淺見,對於“我的遊戲該擁有多少遊戲機制”這一問題的回答通常都是“比你現在所想的數量的一半還少。”

人們之所以會認爲遊戲應該擁有比他們所創造的還多的機制存在很多原因。首先便是煩人的現實世界。人類可以做的事情有許多並且這一數量還會不斷增加。如果玩家角色也是人類,你便會認爲這可能打破玩家想要約束這些角色的期待。你可能會對自己說:“如果玩家看到一個蘋果但是他們卻不能撿起它並吃掉它,他們的沉浸感便會被破壞!”而事實是玩家將從探索角色的能力侷限性開始,並且不管他們是什麼都會表現出與現實世界的不同。如果一款遊戲能夠長時間吸引玩家的注意,玩家便會逐漸適應虛擬世界的傳統,他們的沉浸感也不會輕易被破壞了。

第二個原因便是AAA級遊戲擁有許多遊戲機制。我剛剛玩了《殺出重圍:人類分裂》,這款遊戲包含了潛行,帶有掩蔽物的射擊,巨大的技術樹,鍛造,分支對話,敘述選擇,金錢,機制,探索以及其它我暫時未能想起來的巨大系統。

而這些遊戲該如何才能擺脫如此多的機制呢?首先,我敢保證他們不會這麼做。我發現AAA級遊戲都有點傲慢。當然了撇開這點也還存在其它原因。首先它們都非常長。遊戲必須分別教授給玩家每一個優秀的遊戲機制,然後讓他們精通這些內容,並將其與其它機制結合起來。所有的這一切都需要花費小型遊戲所不需要的時間。而40多個小時足以讓玩家去了解更多機制並探索其中的一些結果了。

其次便是他們的用戶已經非常熟悉這類遊戲中的許多內容。爲了玩這些遊戲,你必須真正投入於遊戲中,所以最好的情況便是你之前曾經玩過同類型的其它遊戲。通過創造玩家曾經看過的遊戲機制,設計師便可以略掉重新教授玩家的過程。

讓我們着眼於一款完全不同的遊戲,《超級瑪麗兄弟》。這是一款有關跳躍的遊戲。玩家可以在遊戲中奔跑,但是跳躍纔是主要行動。玩家可以通過跳躍去度過缺口,躲避敵人,踩死敵人,摧毀磚塊,獲得升級等等。這款遊戲真正探索了跳躍的結果,並且就像Steve Swink所指出的那樣,他們讓人覺得跳躍真的很棒。除此之外這裏還有什麼機制呢?這裏有蘑菇能讓馬里奧變大並提供給他額外的生命。蘑菇和跳躍都擁有多種功能,但是在特定情況下卻是不受歡迎的。玩家還可以在跳躍的同時使用火焰花。你們可以在前兩款馬里奧遊戲中看到所有的這些內容。而這也足以證明添加更多機制並不是增加遊戲深度和複雜性的最佳方法。

那麼擁有如此少的遊戲機制他們又是如何獲得成功的呢?答案便是多樣性。基於不同環境,每個機制都應該擁有多種功能,並且它們之間結合在一起將創造出一些有趣的效果。通過爲不同機制基於不同順序的結合去創造環境,你便可以創造出各種有趣的條件。而這裏最棘手的地方便是創造那些面向多種多樣組合的機制。

所以我認爲唯一的方法便是繼續創造機制。修剪機制是不可能的了,特別是當我們認爲當前的機制的存在並無問題。所以我們最好從一個核心機制開始去創造機制。

對於遊戲來說,機制和感覺是必然要素。這也是關於“玩家應該做什麼?”以及“當他們在做這些時應該有何感受?”的答案。如果遊戲機制是新的,那就夠了。如果感覺是與衆不同的,那也夠了。如果遊戲時間或開發時間存在現實條件,那可能也夠了。當你在創造一組機制並覺得夠了的話,你就應該止步於那裏。

如果遊戲的主要機制是那些玩家看過的內容,或者是遊戲時間所允許的條件下,你便可以考慮添加其它支持機制。你也可以添加一些組合內容。而你所添加的第二種機制必須能夠符合你想要呈現的遊戲感覺。並且它的存在目的不應該只有一個。它還應該能夠以一種有趣的方式和最初的機制結合起來。如果可能的話,你可以通過設置讓玩家可以同時執行這兩種機制,或者至少在其它機制失去用途前能夠激發其中的一種機制。

我們總是很難去概括這樣的內容,所以讓我們討論一個更具體的例子。我最喜歡的一款手機遊戲《瘋狂噴氣機》是一款一鍵式無限卷軸免費遊戲。這款遊戲包含了一些專門爲支持免費遊戲所設計的機制,不過我現在只想去談論起核心遊戲玩法。

他們最初的機制是使用控制方案去避免障礙並收集貨幣。因爲這款遊戲的名字叫做“瘋狂噴氣機”,所以我們可以假設設計師將嘗試着去創造讓人興奮且有趣的感覺。

有時候玩家可能會遭遇磚塊並給予他們隨機的汽車升級道具。就像馬里奧風格的升級道具將提供給玩家額外的生命;而當汽車被摧毀時玩家也將重新回到噴氣機中。升級道具的放置將會創造出風險/獎勵情況,例如磚塊可能太接近一個障礙或者會讓玩家未能注意到即將到來的導彈。而一旦玩家碰到了磚塊,他們將基於隨機選擇的汽車去獲取全新的控制方案。所以升級道具擁有三種額外功能:額外生命,風險/獎勵,創新的控制方案。

在大多數遊戲中,我認爲成就係統對於主要遊戲體驗來說都是多餘的,但是在《瘋狂噴氣機》中,成就係統卻是有意義的。遊戲中早前的成就係統便是作爲教程,能夠幫助玩家在某種程度上精通遊戲。在那之後成就係統將創造全新遊戲模式,推動玩家去執行像飛向導彈等危險行爲或通過告訴玩家故意死在特定範圍而改變遊戲目標。參考之前所創造的每個機制的成就係統能夠提供給玩家額外的動機。

雖然關於《瘋狂噴氣機》我還有很多可以分析的內容,但是你們應該已經看到這些機制是如何表現出多種功能並基於一些有趣的方式結合在一起了吧。

jetpack-joyride(from appszoom)

jetpack-joyride(from appszoom)

通過分離每種機制的功能,設計師很容易不能有效利用這些機制的內在作用。例如有些機制可能能夠提供給玩家額外的生命。設計師同樣也有可能不能在機制中創造有效的組合效果,如創造只和距離或貨幣收集有關的成就而不是使用它們去改變遊戲玩法或支持升級道具的使用。

希望我所說的這些能夠幫到你們。首先也是最重要的:如果你的遊戲並不有趣,那麼添加更多遊戲機制就不是你的答案。其次,關於如何添加遊戲機制存在確切的答案。先從一個機制開始(遊戲邦注:你最好能夠在設計更多內容前真正去執行並嘗試這一機制)並逐步增加,同時也要牢記一些要點:1.你嘗試去創造的遊戲感覺。2.新機制如何去呈現不同功能。3.新機制該如何與之前的機制結合在一起去創造一些有趣的結果。4.你是否真正需要額外的機制?這一方法論不僅能夠幫助你創造更棒且更可靠的遊戲,同時也能夠讓作爲開發者的你更有效去控制這些範圍。

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

How Many Mechanics Should a Game Have?

by Rob Lockhart

First off, I acknowledge that this is the wrong question to ask. The better question is: “How can I determine how many mechanics my game should have?” This essay gives my own opinion on that question.

However, just so we’re all on the same page, this is the definition of “game mechanic” I’m thinking of. It’s a little bit ineffable, as game systems often have a fractal quality about them — you can go up or down in level of detail and think of features at that scale as game mechanics also. That complicates things a bit, but we’ll have to muddle through.

In my humble opinion, the answer to “how many mechanics should my game have?” is usually “less than half of the number you’re imagining right now.”

I think there are a lot of reasons people assume games need to have way more mechanics than they really do. The first is the pesky real world. IRL is awash with verbs and their consequences. The number of things a human being can do is enormous and keeps growing. If the player’s avatar is a human being, you might think that it will break player expectations to limit them too much. “If players see an apple and they can’t pick it up and eat it, it will break their immersion!” you might say to yourself. The truth is that players will start by exploring the limits of their capabilities, exposing those differences from the real world no matter what they are. (Also, at that point you might think about just removing the apple). If the game holds their attention long enough, the players will grow accustomed to the conventions of this virtual world, and immersion won’t truly be broken unless those conventions are.

The second reason people think they need a lot of game mechanics is because AAA games have tons of game mechanics. I just played “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided,” and that game included stealth, cover-based shooting, a huge tech tree, crafting, branching dialogue and narrative choices, money and merchants, exploration, and probably a few more huge systems I’m failing to recall.

How can these games get away with having SO MANY mechanics? First of all, I’m not sure they do. I tend to find AAA games a bit bloated. That aside, there are a few reasons. First, they’re super long. Every good game mechanic must be taught to the player in isolation, then mastered, then used in combinations with the others, etc. All of that takes time that smaller games don’t have. But 40+ hours is a lot of time to get the player up to speed with a gaggle of mechanics and let them explore some of the consequences of them.

The second way they get away with having so much stuff is that so many things are already so familiar to their audience. To play these games at all, you have to have made a sizable investment in gaming, and thus have most likely played other games before. By making mechanics that are similar to ones players have already seen, designers can skip a certain level of player reeducation.

Let’s look at a game on the opposite end of the spectrum. Super Mario Brothers. The game is about Jumping. You can run, but jumping is what gets things done. You use it to get over gaps, to avoid enemies, to stomp enemies, to break blocks, to get power-ups…The game really explores the consequences of jumping, and as Steve Swink has often pointed out, they made jumping feel really good. What other mechanics are there? There’s mushrooms, which make Mario bigger and essentially give him an extra life. Mushrooms and Jumping both have multiple functions, and can even be undesirable in certain circumstances. And there’s the fire flower (which you can use while jumping). That’s all there is for the first two entire amazing Mario games. This should be proof enough that adding more mechanics is not the best way to add depth and complexity to your game.

How can they get away with having so few mechanics? The answer is dynamics. Each mechanic serves several functions depending on the circumstance, and all of them combine with one another for interesting effects. By crafting circumstances that call for different combinations of mechanics in different sequences, there is effectively no limit to the number of interesting situations you can create. The tricky part is creating mechanics that are open to that kind of combinatorial richness.

It’s my opinion that, process-wise, really the only way to proceed is to build up mechanics. It’s borderline impossible to pare away mechanics and rest assured that the ones that remain are the right ones. It’s better at that point to start from a single core mechanic and work back up from there. So, how to build up mechanics?

An idea for a game, at minimum, is a mechanic and a feeling. It’s an answer to the questions “What should the player do?” and “How should they feel while they’re doing it?” If the mechanic is new, that might be enough. If the feeling is unique, that might be enough. If there are constraints on the playtime and/or your development time, that might be enough. If, at any point in building a set of mechanics, you feel like it might be enough, stop there.

If the main mechanic is something the player might have seen before, or the playtime allows it, you could consider adding another supporting mechanic. This is your opportunity to add some combinatorial richness. The second mechanic you add should be consistent with the feeling you’re trying to create. It should serve more than one purpose. It should also combine with the first mechanic in an interesting way. If possible, set it up so the player can do both simultaneously, or at least trigger one before the effects of the other have worn off.

It’s difficult to speak in generalities like this, so let’s talk about a concrete example. One of my favorite mobile games, “Jetpack Joyride.” It’s a free-to-play one-button infinite scrolling game. The game includes some mechanics designed explicitly to support the free-to-play-ness, but I’ll just talk about the core gameplay for now.

Their first mechanic is to use the control scheme (hold the screen to generate a steady upward acceleration) to avoid obstacles and collect coins (two goals that are often at odds). The title of the game is “Jetpack Joyride,” so we can assume the designers were trying to achieve a feeling of exhilaration and fun (with a bit of transgression thrown in).

Periodically, the player encounters tiles which grant the player a random vehicle power-up. The power-ups, in Mario style, also afford the player an extra life; when the vehicle is destroyed, the player goes back to the jetpack. The placement of the powerups in the environment creates a risk/reward scenario — the tile might be too close to an obstacle, or it might distract the player from an incoming missile. Once captured, the powerup gives the player a new control scheme depending on which vehicle was chosen at random. For example, the Dragon reverses the control scheme entirely — now you must press and hold to accelerate downwards. So, powerups serve three additional functions: Extra Life, Risk/Reward, and Control Scheme Novelty.

To this they added an achievement system. In most games I think of achievement systems as very superfluous to the main experience, but in Jetpack Joyride the achievements add another dimension. Early achievements act almost as tutorial — coaxing the player to a certain level of mastery. After a certain point, the achievements create new modes of play, prompting the player to perform dangerous maneuvers like flying close to missiles, or totally reversing the goal of the game by telling the player to intentionally die at a particular distance. The achievements refer back to every mechanic that was previously established (Avoiding Obstacles, Collecting Coins, Getting Vehicles) supporting and giving them extra motivation.

There’s a lot more I could say about “Jetpack Joyride” but you can already see how these mechanics each serve several functions on their own, and all combine together in interesting ways.

The designers could easily have failed to take advantage of the inherent opportunities of their mechanics by separating out the functions of each. For instance, they could have had hearts in the level which gave the player an extra life, and removed that functionality from the Vehicle powerups, but it was far more elegant and more intuitive to combine them. They also could have failed to create the combinatorial effects amongst mechanics, for instance by making the achievements relate only to distance or coins gathered, rather than using them to alter gameplay or to explicitly support the use of powerups.

I hope I’ve convinced you of a few things. First, and most important: If your game isn’t fun yet, adding more game mechanics is not the answer. Second, there is a definite method to how one adds game mechanics. Start from one (ideally you should actually implement and play it before designing any more) and work up, always keeping in mind a few things: 1. The feeling you’re trying to create. 2. How the new mechanic can serve several functions 3. How this new mechanic combines with the previous ones to create interesting consequences, and 4. Do you really need to add another mechanic at all? Not only does this methodology produce better, more coherent games, it also allows you as a developer to tightly control the scope.

The only resistance to following this advice might come from people in marketing. They might argue that a few interesting mechanics does not make for as many bullet points on the box as a lot of uninteresting ones. It’s hard to say they’re wrong, given Will Wright’s assertion that the game experience really begins when they see or hear about the game and start imagining in their mind what it will be like to play. Perhaps it’s a matter of better communicating dynamics. This is something I don’t yet have a good answer for, and would love to hear your opinion in the comments.(source:gamasutra)