開發者談遊戲設計中的整體協調與拼搭硬湊

本文原作者:Lewis Pulsipher 譯者ciel chen

良好的遊戲設計都存在整體協調與拼搭硬湊這兩種基本內容。一款遊戲,如果缺乏整體協調性或者說存在不協調內容,無論成功與否,通常都稱作是有缺憾的遊戲。

幸運的是,大部分不協調的遊戲基本都沒發行出來,不過仍有部分這類遊戲仍舊是可以獲得成功的。玩家通常不會在這些遊戲裏意識到不協調的內容,不過它們的存在仍舊對遊戲不利影響。對於那些把自己的遊戲當“心肝寶貝”的設計師估計也意識不到這些不協調內容。不過作爲設計者,這是他們應該意識到並將其從遊戲中剔除的部分。

Free Realms(from gameogre)

Free Realms(from gameogre)

那麼什麼是遊戲的整體協調內容呢?好像很難說清楚。這就跟你在音樂裏感受到的那種和諧感一樣,你可以通過聽覺去感受,或者當這種和諧感不見的時候你也可以意識到。這裏有一則比較長的引用是來自1997年的Brian Moriarty的演講稿,這裏有對整體協調的概念說明(http://ludix.com/moriarty/listen.html):“這是一種你可以感受到的東西。你要如何獲得這種各個部分以一個整體的形式運作的感覺呢?要去哪裏尋找這種協調?那麼我來給你們說說吧,它不是來自設計委員會、不是來自焦點小組或者市場調查、也不是來自酷炫的高科技或者昂貴的市場營銷,它不會意外或者幸運地從天而降——遊戲的整體協調性只會來自具有明確意圖的基調之中。”

我認爲Moriarty在演講的過程中進入了感性模式,不過你可以看一下他想表達的是什麼。我現在把這個定義簡化爲:“遊戲中每件事物都處在他們所應處的狀態、爲同一個目標服務並且讓遊戲擁有完整感。”這就會整體協調性了。這是很重要的,因爲遊戲不僅僅是各種機制的集合;不僅僅是數據;也不僅僅是度量指標。遊戲會讓玩家在理智與情感上留下深刻印象,有時遊戲的不協調感會很明顯,有時候又很微妙——這種不協調不論在玩家的理智或情感方面都會造成不好的影響。

整體協調跟“典雅”可不是同一個東西,是事實上我很猶豫要不要用典雅這個詞,因爲這個詞是通常被某類桌遊粉絲用來攻擊另一類桌遊粉絲的詞彙,因此很多人對這個詞都有貶義的感覺。“優雅的”這個詞通常被當做“有智慧的”來用,經常被用來跟很多抽象遊戲來聯繫起來,這種抽象遊戲通常都是非現實性的。

整體協調性並非是說多有智慧,這跟遊戲整體性有關、這跟遊戲內的合理搭配有關。而合理的搭配有取決於人們所採用的標準,這些標準會隨着時間流逝而變化甚至很有可能變得越發鬆散的。你可以聯想一下這些年來的電影和電視劇。懂了嗎?透着屏幕通常都能感受到它們對“暫停懷疑”的強烈要求,但是那些娛樂媒體卻越發讓人難以相信了。人們會接受一切愚蠢的設定和巨大的情節漏洞,因爲這個節目本來就是用來娛樂的。所以我們對待遊戲的態度也是如此的。

我愛極了《星球大戰》這款冒險遊戲,但是當我從電影院看了原作《星球大戰1》之後我說“這電影真蠢”、我還說“情節漏洞真大”,不過我還是接受了它,因爲“它只是一部電影而已。”

不過電影還是有一些要求標準的。《星艦戰將》(打外太空怪獸的)這部電影把我們帶到了8萬光年以外的地方然後忘了我們可以用坦克和直升機!怪物衝着亂飛的導彈放屁、然而人類艦隊就帶在那邊緊緊靠在一起一動不動,倒真是讓自己做了更好的靶子!這可真滑稽。不過你可別小看它,這部電影當時可流行了還拍了好多續集。

同樣地,對懷疑標準的降低還發生在遊戲設計中。人們經常把遊戲看做消遣的工具或者看做一種適度有代入感的社交方式,而不是一種完全的娛樂項目或者是什麼值得“投注精力”的東西。所以他們對一些在很多年前還無法接受的遊戲接受度就比較高。

那麼,什麼是整體協調的對立面?——拼搭硬湊(Kludge)。我是從軟件領域借來的這個術語(“kludgy”通常被用作這個術語的形容詞)。拼搭硬湊就是指對某個特定問題強強想出來的解決方法,或者說是那種行得通不過跟項目中其他內容無法保持一致性的解決方法。

拼搭硬湊在遊戲設計裏很難去下定義的,因爲對於有的人來說的拼搭硬湊對於另外一個人來說是“不成問題的”。所以當遊戲是有參照模板的時候,你要如何注意到這些拼搭硬湊的內容呢?如果我所能找到的問題的答案是“因爲它彌補了遊戲設計上的瑕疵”,或者“因爲設計者喜歡它”,再或者“我不知道它爲什麼被設置在這裏”的話,那它就很有可能是拼搭硬湊的內容了。

那麼在抽象型遊戲中拼搭硬湊是什麼樣子的?——可能不會那麼明顯,因爲這樣的遊戲不代表任何事物(純粹就是遊戲)。抽象型遊戲就是各種遊戲機制的集合,這跟有參照模型的遊戲不同(其情節內容對玩家遊戲過程有幫助),而這些遊戲機制是人們希望能在現實中表現出來的。然而在抽象遊戲中,在抽象型遊戲中,你的遊戲機制可能跟其餘遊戲內容不匹配、可能無法融入到遊戲中或者似乎沒有有用的功能、或者很明顯已經有其他可以替代這個機制的東西了,或者最簡單的——是可以從遊戲中剔除的,這些就是抽象型遊戲中的拼搭硬湊內容。

那麼是這些拼搭硬湊的東西是從哪兒來的呢?通常它們是爲了解決在測試中出現的問題而添加進來的;或者也許是設計者在遊戲測試之前爲有可能發生的問題添加進來的 ;大部分時候,它們是爲了解決一個已經被證明的遊戲缺陷而添加進來的,但也有些時候,可能純粹出於設計者的喜好,而放到遊戲中的(也不管其最後是不是真的適合這款遊戲,記得遊戲成品最後經常都跟設計者的原本意向是有一定“距離”的)。他或她不願意拿掉這個拼湊上去的內容,因爲他們不想“謀殺自己的心肝寶貝”。還有可能這就是遊戲的最初構想本身,不過後來開發過程走偏了。從那個階段來看,設計者應該扼殺這樣的原作、把拼湊的部分剔除掉,儘管這對於設計者來說從情感上很難接受。

現在我來舉一些例子。這些都是一些廣爲人知的成功遊戲案列,所以你可以跟我正在解釋的內容聯繫起來。遊戲還是可以在拼搭硬湊的情況下成功的,只是這部分內容越多,你做出好遊戲的可能性就越低。

《Catan》,又以《Settlers of Catan》著名的遊戲:強盜卡和壟斷卡。記住這個遊戲中除了交易意外,玩家之間的交互並不多,從你遊戲起步開始,你就基本沒法做什麼阻礙其他玩家發展的事了。

我認爲設計者就是看到了玩家很難對相互的發展進行干擾,才決定添加“強盜卡”,這個卡的功能跟遊戲其餘部分毫無聯繫。總之它跟這個遊戲格格不入,添加進來純粹就是給玩家一個干擾其他玩家發展的方式,或者至少爲阻礙其他玩家發展製造機會。它跟整個固定的模板沒有什麼牽連。如果它代表純粹的土匪的話,那玩家的士兵就應該可以對其施加一定作用,而且強盜也不會像影響一個古老人多的區域那樣去影響剛萌芽的新建區域。

《Catan》被認爲是一款跟交易有關的遊戲,但是很少看到玩家在裏面交易。“壟斷卡”可以把其他玩家手裏的魔種特定資源轉移到使用“壟斷卡”的玩家身上。然後這些“其他玩家”就不得不爲了那些被奪走的資源進行交易,或者爲了讓被奪走的資源生產出來而等待很長的一段時間。也許在現實世界中有人能給這件事的發生想出一個解釋(不是藉口),反正我不行。我認爲遊戲設計者添加這張卡的原因就是爲了讓玩家去交易的,不然那大家都各玩各的沒什麼交易溝通。《Catan》是深受玩家歡迎並且設計得體的一款遊戲,它兼備了天時地利人和,儘管從技術層面來說它還是存在拼搭硬湊的內容。

那麼有關《大戰役(Risk)》呢(美國2008版,不是後來的新的任務版)?該遊戲的一些早現版本會有一些任務卡,不過不怎麼好玩。《Risk》2008版修正了任務的問題,成爲了一款跟其他版本大不相同的遊戲——老版《Risk》中的領土卡屬於兩個意義上的拼搭硬湊內容:首先,他們都是以人工的方式(這裏的人工我指的是跟現實不符)來鼓勵玩家去進行進攻,玩家必須通過攻擊他人領域來獲得這張卡。它的存在似乎是爲了試圖去阻礙玩家實行“重型防禦”策略,不過效果不太明顯,玩家依舊以防禦策略爲主;其次,這些卡可以增加敵方數量。因爲這些卡可以引來非常多的敵人,這也就讓遊戲能有個盡頭。該遊戲確實耗時長,但是沒有這些卡敵人數量就始終只有那麼多,所以我玩的次數就特別多。

所以這兩個意義上的拼搭硬湊內容是爲了解決(至少可以說是爲了緩和)遊戲的一個基礎問題的:遊戲沒辦法很自然地有個結尾,並且無法自然地讓玩家進行進攻——“領域卡”的誕生便是爲了解決這兩個問題的。

讓我們再對《坦克世界》和《戰艦世界》這兩款電子遊戲進行一下思考。通常在這兩種大型遊戲裏,遊戲設計裏的整體協調(harmony)和拼搭硬湊(kludge)會讓人很難辨別出來。我們都會覺得在相對小型的遊戲中做到設計的整體協調會比在那種大型遊戲中來的容易些。

在《坦克世界》中,15VS.15這整個概念就是個硬湊的內容(kludge),因爲這在真實戰爭中就是無稽之談,然而這對保持在線遊戲相對龐大用戶量確實是有所必要的。而在《戰艦世界》中,對戰場地大部分都是在羣島之間這種狹窄的地方,而現實中戰列艦和航空母艦根本不會到那麼這種地方。而且在這兩款遊戲中都存在着詭異的國家同盟組合:你會看到德、法、英、俄的坦克戰艦在統一戰線,還有可能在同一個聯盟隊伍裏看到15種類型的坦克是12中類型的戰艦。這些都是有存在必要的拼搭硬湊內容(kludge),然而這些內容跟現實完全不符。所以這兩款遊戲都打破了現實該有的模式,存在明顯的拼搭硬湊內容。

再舉個桌遊的裏子《Eclipse》好了,這款遊戲看上去跟歐標4X概念體系【eXplore(探索)\eXpand(拓張與發展)\eXploit(經營與開發)\eXterminate(征服)】的太空遊戲一樣。可以說它基本算得上一款戰爭遊戲、也基本算得上一款探索遊戲、或者也基本上算得上是這樣或那樣的遊戲,不過不管怎麼說都讓人不那麼滿意(至少對我來說)。這款遊戲中主要的混湊拼搭內容就是——玩家會因爲對戰獲得具有潛在價值的勝利點數、而且越是早期的對戰,得到的勝利點數越多,因爲你會將得到的勝利點數用於供給中。也就是說你被鼓勵去重複地進行對戰,這樣你就可以多次地獲得勝利點數。我覺得這個設計的添加是因爲該遊戲剩下內容基本很少需要對戰,所以玩家會覺的玩的不過癮。因爲沒有添加這個內容之前,玩家選擇進行對戰所冒的風險遠多於他們有可能得到的好處,所以從這點上來看勝利點數的添加是有必要的。

然而這種獎勵對戰的方式在4X模式或者其他任何合理模式的遊戲中都是說不過去的。是的,你存活下來的戰鬥單位會在對戰中獲得經驗,但是你還是失去了很多人口和戰艦,這樣的經歷在整個情景中都是不應該被獎勵什麼勝利點數的。軍事力量只是爲達到目的的一種手段,不能把其本身作爲目標。我看到一款遊戲裏面,六個玩家中有五個玩家的大概一半的整體分數是對戰得來的,這太可笑了。從長遠來看,你覺得什麼是更重要的?戰爭終究的目的還是爲了經濟不是嗎。

該遊戲還有一些其他的缺陷——比如,對於太空的探索,其結果大多是無路可通的。我認爲該設計是有意爲之的,主要是爲了避免遊戲變成徹頭徹尾的戰爭遊戲,但是這又跟“作爲完全開放領域的太空”這一概念不符。這讓4X中的征服(eXtermination)內容無效化,這是連勝利點數都無法彌補的。

所以,再問一遍,你覺得什麼是拼搭硬湊的內容呢(kludege)?我會說,在一款你不太喜歡的遊戲裏你才更容易發現這些拼搭硬湊的內容,反之則不那麼容易。在一些解謎遊戲中都存在一種侷限性(不論該解密遊戲是單人電子遊戲還是個人桌上游戲亦或是協作遊戲)——設計者會傾向於增加解謎難度。所以我非常贊同這句格言:“一個設計者所能達到的完美不在於再沒有可添加的內容,而在於再沒有可剝離的內容。”我認爲這是對整體協調的另外一種定義。鑑於這句格言,我發現很多出題者所添加的內容都是屬於拼搭硬湊的。

這(整體協調和拼搭硬湊)並不是什麼可以被嚴謹地定義或者很容易就被明確的內容,這要求我們要有自我批判式的思考。這跟你用的什麼特定的遊戲機制沒關係,無論這些機制是如今早已普遍流行的還是全新開發的(基本很少是全新的)——真正要緊的是:它們是如何作爲整體運作起來的。設計者需要意識到哪些是遊戲內部的不協調內容,並將其從遊戲中剔除出去!

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Harmony and its opposite, the kludge, are fundamental to good game design. Games that lack harmony or have in-harmonious aspects have a handicap, though some succeed. Fortunately, most of the in-harmonious games are never published, or only self published. Players don’t always recognize the in-harmony but its existence still affects the game. Designers may not recognize in-harmony if they think of the game as “My Baby.” But designers need to recognize it and get it out of the game.

So what is harmony? This is hard to pin down. It’s like harmony in music, something you can hear and can recognize when harmony is not present. Here is a long quote from a 1997 lecture where this concept of harmony comes from:

“It’s something you feel. How do you achieve this feeling that everything works together? Where do you get this harmony stuff? Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t come from design committees. It doesn’t come from focus groups or market surveys. It doesn’t come from cool technology or expensive marketing. And it never happens by accident or by luck. Games with harmony emerge from a fundamental note of clear intention.”

I think Moriarty moves into the touchy-feely as he goes on, but you can look it up and see what he has to say. I’m using a simpler definition: “everything in the game feels as though it belongs there and contributes to the purpose and feeling of the game as a whole.” That’s harmony. It’s important because games are not just collections of mechanics. Not just data. Not just metrics. Games make intellectual and emotional impressions on players, and lack of harmony is noticeable, sometimes clearly, sometimes in subtle ways. The effect is not good for the intellectual and emotional impression.

Harmony is not the same thing as “elegance,” in fact I hesitate to use the word elegance because it’s used by fans of certain kinds of tabletop games as a bludgeon to attack fans of other kinds tabletop games, who in turn react very negatively to the word. ”Elegant” is often used in much the same sense as “clever.” It’s usually used in relation to abstract games or practically abstract games, games that are not models of some reality.

Harmony isn’t cleverness, it’s something that affects the game as a whole. It’s about appropriate fit. Now what’s appropriate fit depends on what standards people are using, and those standards have changed and very much loosened over the years. Think about movies and TV shows over the years. What makes sense? The screen has always required a heavy “suspension of disbelief”, but those entertainments have consistently become less believable. People will accept all kinds of foolishness and huge plot-holes because the program is otherwise entertaining. and we’re getting the same thing in games.

I love Star Wars for the adventure, but when I first watched the original Star Wars I came out of the theater and said “this is dumb” and “that is a big plot-hole” but I (in the long run) accepted it because “it’s a movie.”

I still have SOME standards even for movies. The Starship Troopers movie (monsters in outer space) had us travel 80,000 light years and then forget that we can use tanks or helicopters! Monsters farted unguided missiles, yet the human fleet stayed tightly packed together in space to make itself a good target! It’s just ludicrous. Yet it was a popular movie that begetted a couple sequels.

The same kind of loosening of standards of disbelief has happened in game design. People often treat games more as time killers or something mildly engaging to do while they socialize, than as actual entertainment or something worth *focusing* on. So they let things go by that would not have been accepted many years ago.
All right. What’s the opposite of harmony? The Kludge. I borrow this term from software (“kludgy” is the adjective that’s used.) A kludge is a tacked-on solution to a particular problem, or a solution that works but isn’t consistent with the rest of the program. In software though not in games it’s also hard to understand and modify.

The Kludge is hard to define in game design because one man’s kludge is another man’s “nothing wrong with that.” How do you notice the kludges if the game is a model of something? The kludge will usually be inconsistent with the rest of the model, and may have nothing at all to do with what’s being modeled. It may be there to fix some design flaw. When I play games I sometimes ask, why am I doing this particular thing? If the only answer I can find is “because it fixes a design flaw,” or “because the designer liked it,” or “I have no clue why it’s here,” then it is probably a kludge.

What about kludges in abstract games? A kludge is less obvious because the game doesn’t represent anything (other than “a game”). Abstracts are collections of mechanics, different from a model where the context should help people play the game, and the mechanics are expected to represent something that happens in a real world. Nonetheless, in abstracts you can have a mechanic that doesn’t fit with the rest, that doesn’t mix well or doesn’t seem to have a useful function, or clearly should’ve been replaced with something else, or simply should have been removed from the game.

Where do kludges come from? Often they are added to games to solve a problem that appeared in testing. Or perhaps the designer realized it would be a problem, and added it before the testing. Most of the time it’s added to fix a demonstrated flaw, but at other times, it’s in the game because the designer liked it, even though it doesn’t fit with what he ended up with. (Remember, games often end up some “distance” from where the designer originally intended.) He or she isn’t willing to take it out, isn’t willing to “shoot their baby”. It could be the original idea itself, yet the game has developed in another direction. At that point, the designer should shoot the original, get it out of there, but it’s emotionally hard for a designer to do.

Now some examples. These are from well-known, successful games, so that you’ll be able to relate to what I’m explaining. Games can succeed despite kludges; but the more you have, the less likely that the game will be good.

Catan, which used to be known as Settlers of Catan: both the robber and the monopoly cards. Keep in mind there’s not a lot of interaction in Catan between the players except for the trading, and there’s little you can do to actually hinder another player after the initial setup.

I think the designer saw the difficulty of hindrance, and decided to add the Robber, which has *nothing* to do with the rest of the game. It doesn’t fit at all in any way, shape, or form, but was added to provide a way for a player to hinder another player or at least have the potential to hinder other players. It has nothing to do with the settling model. If it represented mere bandits, a player’s soldiers would be able to do something about it, nor do bandits affect a budding newly-settled region the way they can an old, over-populated region.

Catan is supposed to be a game about trading, but I’ve seen many players who don’t trade much. The monopoly card takes all of a particular resource from all the other players and puts them into the hand of the player who played the monopoly card. Then others are forced to trade if they want to get that resource, or wait a long time for more of that resource to be produced. Perhaps someone can come up with an explanation (not excuse) of how this would happen in the real world, I cannot. I think the designer added that card to make people trade, thinking of the groups where there’s otherwise not much trading.

Catan is very popular and is a decent design that was in the right place at the right time, although technically speaking it has these kludges.

How about Risk, the US pre-2008 version, not the newer version based on missions? Some of those earlier versions had mission cards, but they didn’t work well. In 2008 Risk was revised with missions to make it quite a different game. In old Risk, the territory cards are kludges in two senses. First, they were an artificial method, and by artificial I mean there’s no correspondence with reality, of encouraging players to attack. You have to a conquer a territory to get a card; it was something to try to discourage turtling, which is nonetheless quite common in Risk.

Second, you turn in the cards for armies. That’s there to bring the game to a conclusion, because you have an increasing number of armies that can get very large. The game is pretty long as is, but it’s very long without increasing numbers of armies, which I have played a number of times. Instead of going up to 50 armies and more I used 4-6-8-4-6-8-4-6-8, but that makes it a very long game.

Two kludges to solve (or at least mitigate) a fundamental problem in the game: the game didn’t naturally come to a conclusion. The game didn’t naturally encourage people to attack. So the cards were added for those purposes.

Let’s consider the online video games World of Tanks and World of Warships. In big video games like these both harmony and the kludge become obscured. We could probably say that it’s easier to make a harmonious game that’s relatively small and focused rather than one quite big.

In World of Tanks the entire idea of 15 versus 15 randomly assigned teams is a kludge, in the sense that it has nothing to do with real warfare, but it’s necessary to make the online game practical for a very large audience. In World of Warships the overall kludge is to play in a small area, usually amongst lots of islands, places where real world battleships and aircraft carriers virtually never went. In both games we have the bizarre mix of nationalities of equipment: German and French and English and Russian tanks or ships on the same side, and possibly 15 different tanks or 12 different ships on a team. It’s also a necessary kludge but has nothing to do with reality. So both games break down as models of reality, and the kludges are obvious.

But in video games there are many conventions, normal modes of design, that are ridiculous kludges but necessary to make a game of it. (Consider the ammo and medpacks sitting all over the place in shooters, or even respawning itself – awful kludges.) When is a kludge no longer a kludge? When almost everyone accepts it as necessary, I guess.

Let’s take a tabletop game such as Eclipse, which is ostensibly a Euro-fied 4X space game. It’s almost a wargame, almost an exploration game, almost this, almost that, but ultimately unsatisfactory (for me). The major kludge in the game is that players are awarded hidden-value victory points for fighting, and fighting early on tends to give you higher value points because you draw a number of VP pieces and throw some back into the supply. You’re encouraged to fight repeatedly as you can draw again whenever you fight. I think this was added when the rest of the game resulted in little fighting, because people didn’t gain enough from fighting. What they were likely to lose in assets was more than they were willing to risk for the possible gain. So the victory points were added well.

Rewards for fighting make no sense in the 4X model, or any reasonable model. Your surviving units gain experience when you fight, yes, but you lose a lot of ships and people, and that experience in the overall context should not be worth a lot (if any) of victory points. Military forces are a means to an end, not an end in itself. In a game I watched, about half of the overall points for five of the six players came from fighting, which is ridiculous. They were roughly equal to the points for holding the solar systems that had been discovered. In the long run what do you think is more important? Wars are economic, after all.

There are other flaws in the game. For example, the results of exploration are that space is mostly impassable. I think that’s deliberate, to avoid and out-and-out wargame, but it doesn’t fit one’s idea of space as wide-open territory. That makes the extermination part of 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) ineffective even with the fighting points.
Again, how do you recognize a kludge? I’d say it’s easier to find things you think are kludges in a game you don’t like than ones you do like. Also we have the limitation that some designers of puzzle-like games, whether they’re single player video games or solo tabletop games or cooperative games, tend to add things to make the puzzle solution more difficult. I come in heavily on the side of this motto: “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” I think that’s an alternative definition of harmony. Given that motto, I see many of those puzzle-maker additions as kludges.

This is not something you can rigidly define or easily pin down, it requires self-critical thinking. It doesn’t matter what specific mechanics you use, whether already very popular or brand new (the latter very rare). What matters is how they work together as a whole. Designers need to recognize the in-harmonious, and excise it!(source:gamasutra.com