解析《超級馬里奧跑酷》的閃光點

作者:Dan Felder

在我寫下本文的3天前,也就是12月15日的時候,《超級馬里奧跑酷》問世了。雖然就像我們所預計的那樣,遊戲的銷量迅速飆升,但同時這款遊戲卻只獲得2.5顆星的評級。不過如此低的評級底下其實是一款真正出色的遊戲。即儘管玩家抱怨着遊戲的盈利結構,始終在線的要求以及其它種種問題,但是當你真正投入去玩這款遊戲時便能夠感受到它的魅力。

將《超級馬里奧跑酷》稱爲跑酷類遊戲的後進者其實是錯誤的。這款遊戲的設計其實是關於優雅與基於技能的適應性的研究。《超級馬里奧跑酷》並不像一款以馬里奧爲主題的手機遊戲。它更像是帶有一個按鍵的經典的馬里奧平臺遊戲。

讓我們着眼於一些經典的馬里奧遊戲玩法。

這是一個競速破關世界,所以在最初的《馬里奧兄弟》中你會覺得這不像是自己的遊戲一樣。但是這也是遊戲的核心。即當你移向屏幕左邊時你便能夠跳躍。如果你能夠適時跳躍,你便能夠有效地玩遊戲。否則你將在此受挫。所以這款遊戲的核心便是關於適時跳躍。

讓我們着眼於《超級馬里奧跑酷》。

《超級馬里奧跑酷》的遊戲玩法與《超級馬裏兄弟》的競速破關非常相似。儘管前者只擁有一個按鍵,但是這款遊戲非常注重核心玩家輸入,即適時跳躍。遊戲強調了能讓馬里奧運行的元素並刪除了其它所有內容。

但是一個出色的馬里奧關卡並不只是按壓適當的按鍵。關於那些你需要暫時停下來的時刻呢?就像當你需要小心跳到一個移動平臺的時候。

那些帶有暫停標誌的紅色磚塊便是答案。當馬里奧在這些磚塊上奔跑時他們便會停止移動直至你在此輕敲屏幕。同樣地,當馬里奧降落在一個移動平臺時,他便會自動跑到平臺中心並開始等待,就好像那裏有一個暫停磚塊一樣。這意味着玩家始終都能夠完美地設置自己的下一次跳躍時間。

mario(from gamasutra)

mario(from gamasutra)

貨幣的佈局也是圍繞着遊戲的需求。即比起分散在一些你能夠隨機選擇進入的迷你平臺挑戰中,遊戲中的貨幣在不同關卡中形成了一些定向路徑。一個最典型的例子便是箭頭。

super-mario-run-screenshot(from gamasutra)

super-mario-run-screenshot(from gamasutra)

看到圖上的綠色箭頭了嗎?只要輕觸它便能夠創造一條從這裏開始的貨幣路徑(遊戲邦注:這是其它方法所做不到的)。儘管玩家可能會從原本存在的貨幣路徑中掉下,但是這一箭頭能夠有效吸引玩家的視線讓其朝着適當的方向前進。這同時也能幫助玩家在心中分析自己需要前進的路線並且不會讓畫面錯亂分佈着金幣。這種小小的決定便是這款遊戲的突出之處。

爲了能夠在關卡設計中添加一些靈活性,設計師同樣也需要使用不同類型的箭頭。

mario(from gamasutra)

mario(from gamasutra)

看到地上的那些指向屏幕左邊的藍色箭頭了嗎?如果你在這些箭頭上方跳躍,你便會向後跳躍。這種貨幣模式將設置一個特殊循環,即你能在向後跳躍的同時拾起貨幣,然後你將向後翻轉獲取粉色貨幣並朝着另一端向下跳躍。這些箭頭的使用以及沿着牆壁的跳躍也能讓玩家實現向後跳躍,如此便能讓設計師呈現更多靈活性。

雖然不考慮貨幣去完成一個關卡非常簡單,但是跟隨着貨幣能夠爲玩家創造額外的動機,這是比花朵系統更有吸引力的。畢竟你需要真正觸發一個區域中的所有花朵去完成該部分的挑戰。而在《超級馬里奧跑酷》中,貨幣雖然是人們想要的東西,但對於一些主要關卡來說它們只是可選擇的對象。玩家可以根據自己的想法獲得自己想要的貨幣。

這是關於關卡設計師用於創造基於一個按鍵系統的馬里奧關卡的靈活挑戰的一些工具。那敵人呢?如果玩家始終全速前進,他們將直接衝向goombas。

mario(from gamasutra)

mario(from gamasutra)

反覆猛烈撞擊敵人將會破壞遊戲流。所以《超級馬里奧跑酷》採取了與設置貨幣同樣的方法去設置敵人。在地上直接衝向敵人並不會殺死玩家。因爲馬里奧會優雅地躍過敵人。但如果你是在馬里奧跳起來時按壓跳躍,你便能夠基於自己所處模式獲得獎勵。這也將確保玩家始終身處關卡流中。

遊戲還通過在關卡中分配不同獎勵貨幣模式而區分了每一個關卡。第一種模式是在關卡中玩家能夠輕鬆到達的位置上放置5個粉色貨幣。如果玩家能在拾起這5個貨幣的同時完成關卡便能夠獲得獎勵並打開紫色貨幣。在遊戲中紫色貨幣是較難找到的並且往往需要玩家收集到更復雜的技能。而完成這樣的挑戰將帶給玩家黑色貨幣,通常玩家需要多次嘗試才能獲得所需技能去拾起黑色貨幣。因爲《超級馬里奧跑酷》並不會輕易讓玩家往回走,比起其它馬里奧遊戲,在這裏一次收集齊所有5個貨幣雖然更浪費時間但也更讓人滿足。

玩家在遊戲中能夠往後走的能力非常有限。不管何時當馬里奧死去時,他便會在氣泡中往後走。玩家可以輕敲屏幕讓他在自己想要的地方再生。玩家並不能在每個關卡中一直重複這麼做,但是如果玩家想要重新完成一次跳躍去獲取特殊貨幣的話便可以在馬里奧死亡前使用自己的一個氣泡。

這款遊戲的關卡是擁有時限的。因爲如果不這樣做玩家可能會在一個特定區域不斷地跳躍。而時限讓玩家只能適時在特定區域折騰自己,並不得不最終放棄而向後移動。雖然這種設置有時候會讓我很無奈,但這卻能夠幫助我去獲取完整的遊戲體驗。

結束前我們需要說說Toad Rally模式。

mario(from gamasutra)

mario(from gamasutra)

這是遊戲中最有趣的模式。在Toad Rally中玩家可以基於不同順序與其他玩家進行異步競爭。遊戲會聲稱你正在與其他玩家的遊戲風格進行對抗。雖然我不清楚這是如何決定的,但是我們會覺得這樣的競爭非常激烈。玩家將快速通過一個充滿貨幣的關卡,通過競爭去獲取比對手更多的貨幣並創造更快速的移動。在上圖的左邊屏幕上,玩家是基於全3D馬里奧模式在鋪滿貨幣的路徑上跳躍着。而玩家的對手則是基於2D馬里奧模式沿着屏幕下方路徑前行。

任何簡單的設計問題都可能導致玩家否認對方的貨幣。這將把整個模式變成始終贏錢的競賽,即玩家可能將所有貨幣盡收囊中,或者遊戲關卡將被分成兩條路徑。爲了避免這一問題設計師可以讓玩家進入同一過程的鏡像中。即玩家將能看到對手在做什麼,身處關卡中的哪個部分,並且玩家也可以同時拾起同樣的貨幣。這款遊戲的設計師留下了經典競賽中的一個元素並在關卡中設置了旗幟。第一個碰到旗幟的玩家便能聲稱獲得旗幟且得到大量貨幣。這也是玩家進一步向前的動力。

Toad Rally同時也摻雜了博彩心理,即在玩家奔跑的時候提供給他們多個“累積獎勵”。Coin Rush能爲玩家創造更多貨幣,也能夠暫時爲你創造一個黃色星星貨幣吸塵器。如果能夠同時擁有這兩個功能那就太棒了。

Toad Rally是以創造更多多樣性與即時目標爲動力。玩家總是希望馬上能夠打敗對手而不只是朝着戰勝另一個關卡不斷前進。如果玩家遭遇失敗,遊戲便會提供給你在同一個地方再次面對同一個對手的機會。勝者便不會面對這樣的選擇。而因爲玩家已經熟悉了這個關卡,所以將比第一次表現得更好。這也能夠更加公正地取代負面體驗。因爲玩家將可能贏得再一次的對抗。

我敢保證我們將在之後幾天或幾周時間裏看到更多有關《超級馬里奧跑酷》的盈利策略的描述。所以我纔不打算在此討論這些內容。今天我的關注點主要是任天堂如何使用一個按鍵去創造這麼一款馬里奧遊戲以及它是如何有效運行的。優雅是出色遊戲設計最難得的特性,適應性則是最獨特的挑戰。

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

The Brilliance of Super Mario Run

by Dan Felder

Super Mario Run charged out on December 15th, three days ago as of this writing. While its sales have skyrocketed as we’d expect, the game is currently suffering a shocking 2.5 star rating. However, these low ratings mask a brilliant game. While players rightly complain about the monetization structure, always-online requirements, and other issues surrounding the experience Super Mario Run shines like an invincibility star when you’re actually playing the game.

Dismissing Super Mario Run as a late-comer to the runner genre is a mistake. The game’s design is a study in elegance and skillful adaptation. Super Mario Run doesn’t feel like a Mario-themed mobile game. It feels like you’re playing a classic Mario platformer with just one button.

Let’s take a look at some classic Mario gameplay.

This is a world record speedrun, so it might not look like your own experiences with the original Mario Bros. However, this is the core of the game. You move to the right of the screen and time your jumps. If you time your jump well, things work out for you. If you don’t, you hit a setback. At its core, Mario Bros. is all about timing your jumps.

Let’s take a look at Super Mario Run.

Super Mario Run’s gameplay ends up looking very similar to the Mario Bros. speedrun. Despite having only one button to work with, the game focuses in on the core player input: timing jumps. It automates the rest for you. They focused on the essence of what makes Mario work and stripped away everything else.

However, a good Mario level often isn’t played just holding down the right button. What about those times when you need to stop for a second? For example, what if you need to carefully time a jump onto a moving platform?

See that red brick with the pause sign? That’s their answer. The moment Mario runs on top of that brick he’ll stop moving until you tap the screen again. Likewise, when landing on a moving platform Mario will automatically run to the center of the platform and wait as though there was a pause brick there. This means you’re always perfectly set up for your next timed jump.

The layout of coins also works around the game’s needs. Instead of being scattered across the screen in half a dozen mini platforming challenges you can optionally engage in, the coins form directional paths through the levels. One of the best examples of this are the arrows.

See that green arrow? Touching it will create a path of coins extending from its tip that otherwise won’t appear. While a player might otherwise fall diagonally through a coin path that already exists, the arrow gives players a focused section of the screen to jump in and a direct payoff right after. It also helps players mentally parse their paths going forward without cluttering the screen with golden coins. It’s these kinds of small decisions that really make the game hum.

The designers also used a different kind of arrow in order to get some added flexibility in their level design.

See those blue arrows on the ground, pointing to the left side of the screen? If you jump while on those arrows, you’ll jump backwards. This coin pattern sets up a fancy loop, where you pick up the coins on the ground while running forward, then time your jump to flip backwards up the path to the pink coin and down the other side. The use of these arrows, along with wall jumps that provide a similar backwards leap, gives the designers a lot more flexibility.

Completing levels without caring about the coins is often easy, but following the coins creates an ‘extra credit’ motivation that’s even more accessible than Flower’s similar system. After all, you need to actually trigger all the flowers in an area to complete that section of Flower. In Super Mario Run, the coins are clearly desirable but they’re entirely optional for the main levels. You can get as many or as few of them as you wish, but dang does it feel good to get them.

Alright, that goes into some of the tools the level designers use to create the flexible challenges of a great Mario level with a simple one-button system. But what about the enemies? Most players are going to run straight into goombas if they’re always charging ahead full speed.

Repeatedly slamming into enemies would kill the flow. Instead Super Mario Run takes a similar philosophy to enemies as it does with the coins. Running straight into an enemy on the ground doesn’t kill you, Mario gracefully vaults over them. However, if you hit Jump while vaulting you get a bonus depending on the mode you’re in. This keeps you in the flow of the level.

The game also gets extra use out of each level by scattering different patterns of bonus coins throughout them. The first pattern places 5 pink coins throughout the level in easily reached locations. Completing it while picking up all 5 coins earns you a bonus and unlocks the purple coins. The purple coins are harder to find and require more impressive acrobatics to collect. Completing that challenge brings out the black coins, which demand acrobatics that will take some serious practice to pull off. Because Super Mario Run doesn’t easily allow you to go backwards, collecting all five coins in one run is a much more time-consuming and satisfying feat than in other Mario titles.

You do have a limited ability to go backwards though. Whenever Mario dies, he floats backwards through the level in a bubble. You can tap the screen to respawn him when he’s at the place you want. You can only do this a limited number of times each level, but you can also use one of your bubbles even before Mario’s death if you want to re-do a tricky jump to pick up a special coin.

Finally, levels have time limits attached. Otherwise the players might spend forever in certain wall-jumping sections trying to make a particular jump over and over again. The time limit allows you a reasonable amount of excess time to frustrate yourself in these sections, but ultimately demands you give up and move forward. This limitation might annoy me while I’m experiencing it, but it’s definitely helped my experience overall.

Before we wrap up though, we need to talk about Toad Rally.

This is the most fun mode of the game. In Toad Rally you compete asynchronously against other players in mashups of various courses. The game claims you’re playing against the other player’s ‘style’. I’m not sure how that’s determined, but the competition feels intense. You race through a coin-rich level, competing to pick up more coins than your opponent and pull off more fancy moves (such as jumping while vaulting over an enemy). In the above left screen, you’re the full 3D Mario at the top going for a jump to pick up that rich path of coins. Your opponent is the 2D Paper-Mario figure taking a path along the bottom of the screen.

The easy design mistake would be allowing players to deny each other coins. This would turn the entire mode into a race to always be ahead, as you’ll get the lion share of all the coins, or else necessitate continually breaking levels into two paths. Instead the designers simply let players engage in mirrors of the same course. You can see what your opponent is doing, and where they are in the level, and you can both pick up the same coins. The designers did maintain one aspect of a classic race, spawning flags throughout the level. The first player to touch a flag claims it and gets a burst of coins. This is your incentive to be further ahead.

Toad Rally also taps into gambling psychology, providing multiple ‘jackpots’ you can hit during your run. Coin Rushes spawn far more coins for you to pick up, while snagging a yellow star vacuums in coins around you for a short while. Having both at once is exponentially awesome.

Toad Rally works by creating increased variety and an immediate goal. You want to beat your opponent right now, not just eventually progress toward defeating yet another level. If you lose, the game provides you with an option to play the same opponent again on the same course. Winners don’t get this option. Because you’re now more familiar with the course you’re likely to do a lot better than you did the first time. This helps replace a negative experience with a sense of justice. You won the rematch.

I’m sure we’ll see many pieces in the upcoming days and weeks about Super Mario Run’s unusual monetization strategy. That’s not my focus here. My focus is on how Nintendo made a Mario game with just one button and why it works so well. Elegance is the most elusive quality of excellent design and adaptations are uniquely challenging.

Excellent job Nintendo. Now let’s talk about that always-online thing…(source:gamasutra)