開發者談F2P遊戲在長生命週期運營下的設計理念

本文原作者:Alexander Shtachenko 譯者ciel chen

遊戲平衡長久以來都是一款遊戲能否成功長久運營下去的關鍵成分。

遊戲做的太簡單吧,賺不了錢;遊戲做得太複雜吧,很難留住玩家。

從現在F2P成爲了遊戲主要的付費模式的形勢來看,讓遊戲達到平衡狀態以留住玩家並鼓勵玩家消費就起到至關重要的作用了。

這種非對稱平衡模式主要由三個支柱組成:

時間

資源短缺

session頻率

這是我們iLogo公司用來平衡遊戲採用的系統模式——自從我們基於該理論基礎進行實踐後,我們在用戶留存率和KPI上看到了顯著成效。

平衡關係

這三個支柱都是以爲達到目標而付出努力的那些玩家爲基礎的,我們將這些目標定義爲——玩家爲了取得進步而必須完成的一項操作或者是一系列操作。

要想達到這些目標,玩家就要在遊戲中花費資源、時間和金錢。

第一個微目標可能是讓玩家花更多的時間,其次是讓玩家在遊戲中進行更多操作,而第三個目標則需要玩家結合前兩個目標。

從某些角度上來講,玩家對花錢比對被要求在遊戲中進行操作更有所準備。

尤其是在教程中,目標和時間需要保持一致

goals and time(from pocketgamer.biz)

goals and time(from pocketgamer.biz)

首先,這些目標最好在短時間內達成,這樣玩家才能儘快熟悉遊戲機制。在這個階段,最好要在5到15分鐘內達成這些目標。

隨着玩家被遊戲吸引,這時目標達成時間可以增加,但是一天實現的目標不要少於一個,因爲這裏似乎是玩家容易變得沮喪然後棄遊的臨界點。

我們發現最佳的目標達成時間是12小時,也就是每天2個目標。

舉例:《Hay Day(卡通農場)》中的“裝船”

貨船每天僅抵達農場一次,過了一定時間後離開。每次它都會讓玩家收集一定量的某類貨物,但是其平衡的方式表明玩家是無法憑一己之力在給定的時間內完成貨船所指定的量的。

玩家農場以最高的收成效率也只能完成規定量的70%左右;另外的30%則需要玩家通過真實貨幣來彌補,或者是用外掛(?)。

創造性地利用赤字(所缺少的資源)

達成目標的第二個指標參數是赤字。

balance(from pocketgamer.biz)

balance(from pocketgamer.biz)

正如你在下圖表中所看到的,我們對產品對每個等級的產量下了定義,現在我們就可以形成一種赤字——玩家在達成下一個目標所缺少的資源量。

通過這種方法,我們預先確定了操作量(以及其等價的現金數)然後把這個赤字放到目標中。

F2P遊戲要確保玩家實際掌握資源與所需資源之間存在差距

例如:爲了升級,我們不得不完成3個有關聯的相似目標。第一個是在花園裏收穫17個蘋果作物。不過這裏有個問題——你的花園裏只有5顆蘋果樹。因此,在一個session中,玩家只能收穫5個蘋果作物。

在第三個session中,現在玩家已經完成了三個目標中的兩個了,而爲了完成第三個目標——就是收集蘋果——玩家還缺少2個蘋果(5X3=15)。升級的希望就在眼前了,但是這2個蘋果讓玩家沒法完成升級。從這點上來看,很多玩家都會選擇去買未完成的這2個作物,而不是去等第四次收穫。

這裏怎麼設置費用?

問題來了,2個蘋果作物值多少錢?

讓我們把目標時間設爲X軸。由Newzoo進行的研究表明,美國玩家可以接受每天在遊戲上花費10到20美元。

因此,我們把這個數額分配到赤字上,會看到目標價格會隨着達成這個目標的時間增長而增加。

如果需要2個小時來種蘋果,那麼2個蘋果作物的目標斥資就應該不超過2美元。

玩家在實際擁有資源和所需資源之間的差距需要在IAPs成本方面有所延遲。

如果每個新目標需要玩家投入更多的精力才能完成,最終他們都會放棄遊戲的。

爲了保持遊戲的新鮮感,你得通過改變消費曲線來進行遊戲內容的混合,所以在某些時候它等於0,而在其他時候它有可能超過最高值。

所以有時玩家會“贏過”遊戲,有時卻需要購買額外資源來繼續遊戲。

良好的設計會讓玩家不停遊移在兩條曲線之間

當赤字上升到超過最高水平時,流失率越高,這種假設是有邏輯的。因此通過謹慎地管理赤字,我們將能夠對流失率形成有利影響從而避免收益降低。

你可能注意到了,赤字在前四個等級基本爲零——這不是巧合!

從新手教程到了解遊戲再到投入遊戲這整個流程會一直持續到玩家遇到遊戲中的第一個困難爲止。

如果你想要讓他們持續享受遊戲一個禮拜再要求付款,並假設你用的是同樣的時間框架,那麼這時赤字會持續爲零直到第10級。

把它分解爲多個sessions

我們已經解決了所有關於目標時間和赤字的問題了。

我們目標的第三個組成部分是玩家遊戲操作的頻率。

我們可以假設要達成目標需要3個遊戲sessions——就和“收集蘋果”的例子類似。但是這次,爲了達到一個新的層次水平,我不得重複3次完成這個目標。

我每次達成目標時,可以多種五棵蘋果樹,由此我便減少了完成下一個所需的session數量。一旦我升到了我想要的等級,這時目標就改變了,而且難度也會基於赤字圖表所示而增加。

那麼現在,玩家要求達成的目標從15個作物變成了45個——而且同樣需要3個sessions(重複3次完成目標)……

另外的例子——目標包含了兩個無法在一開始的時候就通過單個session完成的動作。

在遊戲每個session中繪製出越來越多的目標

在《Hay Day卡通農場》中,你需要種植小麥、收小麥、用小麥做雞飼料餵雞、然後機會下蛋,蛋又能用來做培根煎蛋。目標是製作10個培根煎蛋。

通過管理操作的頻率,我們預先確定了sessions的數量和它們的長度,設置了計時器、推送通知並調整遊戲難度。

最終的目標

目標管理的第四個參數是每個等級所應設的目標數量。

正如你在上文圖表中所看到的,每上升一個等級就增加一個session。但是你可以按照你的喜好調整這個參數從而生成最高收益。

作爲一種選擇,一個目標還可以基於多種資源設定。如果你的遊戲使用了多種資源,你可以變換赤字——根據等級對赤字資源進行組合。

把多種赤字資源進行組合從而管理目標設定。

你還可以改變一個等級內達成目標所需某種資源的赤字、或者對一些目標循環使用、還有致力於提高遊戲LTV指標而進行各種實驗。

希望這個解釋(我已經儘量簡化了)可以幫你建立有效的非對稱平衡來保證你的遊戲的指標具備競爭性,至少對iLogos來說,它行之非常有效。

平衡多種資源的範例:

爲了升到新的一級,我得收穫不止15個蘋果,還有同樣數量的草莓。蘋果的手機很順利,於是我開始投資草莓。當我進入下一個等級,收穫了很多蘋果和草莓以後,好的新的赤字目標出現了——土豆。

爲了升級,我不得不升級武器的傷害值來打敗我的對手。這個傷害值對下一個等級來說也足夠了,不過現在我需要先升級我的盔甲。等升了級以後,光升級武器和盔甲已經不夠了——我將還得升級我的魔力。

爲了贏得比賽,我不得不去獲得更高能的引擎,換制動器。

概括地說來,你在平衡一款遊戲時需要將哪些內容銘記於心?

sessions-per-goal(from pocketgamer.biz)

sessions-per-goal(from pocketgamer.biz)

定義衡量你的遊戲進度的指標(比如說等級)。

玩家需要達成什麼目標(或者如何操作)來在你的遊戲裏取得進展?

玩家達成每個遊戲目標所需要花費的時間是多少?頻率如何?

每個目標的赤字(所短缺的資源)是什麼?

遊戲中每升一級需要完成多少個目標?

玩家每達成一個目標需要進行多少遊戲的sessions?

正如我們在正文引入中所提到的,iLogos就是用這個模式將遊戲平衡化且達成了遊戲的變現(盈利)。我們發現這個模式非常有效。

雖然這些原則被解釋得很有道理,但是當然了,這個模式還需要進一步的反覆試驗以及用戶反饋來進行微調。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Game balance has always been a key component in a game’s success and longevity.

Too easy and your game will never monetise properly, too hard and you will find it difficult to retain your users.

Now that F2P is the main payment model, balancing is even more vital in order to retain gamers and encourage them to spend some money.

Game balancing has been viewed as a black art but perhaps after reading this article it will seem more of a science.

The asymmetrical balance model is based on three pillars:

Time,

Deficit, and

Frequency.

It is the system we use to balance our games at iLogos and we have seen great results in terms of user retention and KPI since we have put this theory into practice.

The balance

All three pillars are founded on the player working towards attaining goals which we define as an action or a list of actions players have to complete in order to achieve progress.

Pursuing these goals the player spends in-game resources, time, and money.

The first micro goal might require the player to spend more time, the second one, to perform more in-game actions, while to achieve the third goal the player will have to do both.

At some point, the user is ready to spend money instead of performing in-game actions.

Especially during tutorials, goals and time need to be aligned

Initially goals should be quick to achieve as this allows players to become familiar with the game mechanics. At this stage, goals should be reached in 5-15 minutes.

As players are drawn into the game then the time to attain goals can be increased but never to less than one goal a day as this seems to be the tipping point into frustration and players quitting games.

We have found that the optimal goal time is 12 hours i.e. two goals per day

Example: Ferry in Hay Day

The ferry arrives and leaves the farm once a day at a certain time. Each time it features an order the player has to fulfil, but the way it is balanced suggests that the player is unable to fulfil it by himself for the given time.

The farm at the most effective production rate will only be able to provide 70% of the required amount. The other 30% is compensated with real money or utilizing the viral mechanics.

Creative use of deficits

The second parameter of a goal is deficit.

As it can be seen from the chart below, we have defined the production volumes for each level, and now we can form a deficit – the amount of resources the player will lack to achieve the next goal.

In this way, we predetermine the number of actions (and their real money equivalent) and put the deficit into a goal.
F2P games need to ensure a gap between actual resources and what’s required

For example: in order to level up we have to complete 3 relatively similar goals. The first goal is to harvest 17 apple crops in the garden. But there is a problem – you only have 5 apple trees in your garden. Thus, during a single session, the player is only able to harvest 5 apple crops.

In the third session, the player completes 2 goals out of 3, and to complete the third goal – the apple one – the player lacks 2 crops (5 x 3 = 15). The next level seems so close but those 2 crops prevent the player from reaching it. At this point many players will opt to buy the outstanding 2 crops rather than complete a fourth havest.

The cost question

The question is how much the 2 apple crops should cost?

Let’s add the goal time under the X axis. Research conducted by Newzoo shows that the players in USA are ready to spend $10-15 in a game on a daily basis.

Therefore, we distribute this amount over the deficit and see how the goal price increases related to the time it takes to achieve that goal.

If it takes 2 hours to grow apples, the goal deficit for 2 apple crops should cost not more than $2.

The gap between actual and required resources needs to be delinated with respect to the cost of IAPs

If each new goal requires the player to put much more effort into completing it, eventually they will quit.

In order to keep a game fresh you need to mix things by changing the consumption curve, so at some points it equals zero, while at other ones it goes over the top.

So at times the player will be “beating “ the game and other points will need to purchase additional resources to continue.

Good design will constantly move the player between curves

It would be logical to assume that the churn rate will be higher at the points when the deficit goes over the top. By carefully managing the deficit, we will be able to influence the churn avoiding declines in revenues.

You have probably noticed that the deficit of the first 4 levels equals zero. It is not a coincidence!

At times the player will be ‘beating’ the game and other points will need to purchase additional resources.

Tutorial, acquisitions and engagement should last as long as it takes to lead players to the first difficult point in the game.

If you want to entertain them for a week, and only then ask for payment, the deficit will equal zero up till the 10th level if you use the same time frame.

Breaking it down to sessions

We have already figured out everything regarding goal time and deficit.

The third component of a goal is frequency of actions.

Let us assume that achieving a goal will require 3 game sessions – as in the “apple” example. But this time, to get a new level, I have to complete this goal 3 times.

After each time I complete the goal, I can plant 5 more apple trees, thus, reducing the number of sessions I need to play to complete the next goals. Once I gain the desirable level, the goals change, and get more difficult based on the deficit chart.

Now completing the goal requires harvesting not 15 crops but 45 – and again, 3 sessions…

Another example is a goal that consists of 2 different actions which can’t be initially completed during a single session.

Mapping out an increasing number of goals per play session

In Hay Day, you have to plant wheat, harvest wheat, use this wheat to produce food for chickens, feed the chickens, the chickens will lay eggs, and the eggs are used to make Bacon and Eggs. The goal is to produce 10 Bacon and Eggs.

By managing the frequency of actions, we predetermine the number of sessions and their length, set timers, sends push-notification, and tune difficulty of the game.

The final goal

The fourth parameter of goal management is the number of goals per level.

As you can see from the chart above, one more session is added with each new level. But you can tweak this parameter as you like in order to generate the highest revenue.

Alternatively a goal can depend on several resources. If you use several types of resources in your game, you can alternate the deficit, and combine it depending on the level.

Combining multiple resource deficits into goal management

Also you can change the deficit of a certain resources for each goal inside a level, reuse the goals, and conduct wide range of experiments aimed to improve your LTV indicators.

Hopefully this explanation (which has been simplified as much as possible) should help you, as it has helped iLogos, to compose effective asymmetric balance to ensure competitive metrics for your game.

Examples of balance with multiple resources:

To gain a new level I have to harvest not just 15 crops of apples, but also the same amount of strawberries. It goes pretty well with the apples and I start to invest in strawberries. When I get to the next level with high apple and strawberry production rates, a new deficit is introduced – say potatoes.

To level up, I have to beat my opponent by upgrading the damage value of my sword. This damage value is enough for the next level, but now I have to upgrade my armour. The level after that, upgrading my sword and armour is not enough – I will have to upgrade magic as well.

To win the race I have to get more powerful engine, and change the brakes.

In summary what do you have to keep in mind while balancing a game?

Define how you measure the progress in your game (e.g., level).

Which goals (actions) the player has to complete to make progress in your game?

How much time the player has to spend to complete each game goal. What is the frequency?

What is the deficit for each goal?

How many goals per level your game has?

How many sessions the player has to play to achieve a goal?

As mentioned in our introduction, iLogos has used this model to balance and monetise its games. We have found it very effective.

Once the principles are explained it makes sense but of course it still needs fine tuning through trial and error as well as user feedback.(source:pocketgamer.biz  )