Bioware的設計總監James Ohlen談什麼是好的設計環境

本文原作者:Matthew Handrahan(歐洲區域副主編) 譯者ciel chen

今天在Digital Dragons遊戲展會上的講話中,Bioware遊戲公司的James Holen強調了謙遜、共情感以及願意做出妥協作爲關鍵特質對於遊戲設計者的重要性——它不僅適用於Bioware,對整個遊戲行業來說都是如此。

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Ohlen是Bioware公司的遊戲設計總監,他指出——現在年輕設計者所接受的教育和培訓方式無法跟他們在進入遊戲行業時所遇到的工作環境相匹配。他說:“他們所認爲、所夢想中作爲一個設計師——可能是成爲一個擁有自我獨特觀點的人,就像個創意總監,是那個最後拍板下決定的人。”

很多遊戲設計師的第一份工作都是在一些像EA、Ubisoft或者Activision這樣的大型公司裏,而這些公司的團隊規模通常都是上百人;而在他們的學生時期的教學環境下,通常都是四五人的小組合作模式,團隊更小,團員關係更緊密。這樣教學環境下學生會被賦予一種團隊“歸屬感”和“自主權”,而這是在大型遊戲工作室中不無法提供的體驗。

“在遊戲行業裏做設計師是一件很棒的事——它可能是所有工作中最能提供成就感的,”他補充並強調:“不過在某些方面,這份工作的實際體驗跟你夢想中的樣子可能不太一樣。”

對於像Bioware這樣旗下有《The Old Republic》、《Mass Effect》以及《Dragon Age》運作着的遊戲工作室,他們要求新進的設計師要能“適應公司文化”(一種基於特定價值觀的文化)。據Ohlen所說,這些價值觀指“注重產品質量”以及“注重工作環境質量”,而這兩個價值觀的大前提必須是公司要有一個“謙遜的大環境”。

“我認爲謙遜不僅是作爲Bioware的設計者要具備的關鍵素質,而且是任何領域中的創意工作人員都應該具備的。我說的謙遜不是讓你缺乏自信、也不是把自己置身事外,更不是讓你丟掉動力;我是想讓你意識到總有解決事情的更好方法;問題的答案不會只有一個你想出來的單一答案,總有其他更多的答案,況且你想出來的那個也不一定會是最好的答案。”

最好的答案通常都是其他人想出來的。設計者的工作不應該是保證自己的想法能被採用於遊戲中,而是要隨時把這個特權讓給最好的創意(不論這些創意的誰想出來的),Ohlen這樣說道。

在Bioware遊戲工作室,設計者有兩個角色要扮演:一個是“架構師的角色”(他要有遊戲設計方面相關的創意與遠見);“另一個是翻譯他人創意的專家角色——能做到這點是成功的關鍵,而且如果你想得到設計總監的工作,你就一定得掌握如何翻譯他人創意想法。”

Ohlen承認做到這點挺難的——“尤其是你覺得他們的創意很爛的時候。(我肯定任何在遊戲行業的人都有過這樣的經歷。)我給大家的建議就是(同時也是我自己在用的)對這些創意心懷共情感,要對任何追捧自己創意的人都有這樣的共情感……總之要尊重每個想請你翻譯他的創意的人。”

Ohlen隨後還討論了他所描述所謂的“理想化”遊戲開發是什麼(而這樣的遊戲開發與遊戲產業最常見的方面相沖突了)——“遊戲行業無處不在的是妥協。在有限的預算、產品時間計劃下,你還要有能成爲一個好的設計師應該具備的做出正確妥協的了不起的才能。

“但是同時你還不能忘記你對理想中的遊戲形象。你要達成的目標是什麼?爲了達成這個目標,你得跟上游戲行業的發展腳步,並去了解遊戲行業中哪些東西是被賦予期望的。你現在從事的工作屬於哪個範疇?”

“你要時刻朝着你理想中的遊戲前進,然後在無法做出理想型遊戲時你需要去原諒自己。因爲沒有人能完全實現自己的夢想。有時你離夢想很近、有時你離它很遠,無論怎樣,你一定得要從中有所收穫,然後繼續邁出下一步。”

“能意識到自己的目標是什麼總是好的,這樣以後,即使你沒能達成這個目標也沒關係。因爲你下次一定會做得更好。”

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In a talk at Digital Dragons today, Bioware’s James Ohlen championed humility, empathy and a willingness to compromise as key attributes for game designers – both at Bioware, and in the games industry as a whole.

Ohlen, who is design director at Bioware, addressed what he believes is a mismatch between the way young designers are educated and trained, and the working environments they encounter when they enter the industry proper. “The way think about [being a designer], the way you dream about it, is probably you being the vision holder, the creative director,” he said. “The person calling the final shots.”

Very often, a designer’s first job will be at a huge company like EA, Ubisoft or Activision, where team sizes are frequently in the hundreds. Teaching environments, Ohlen said, are more intimate and much smaller, with students often collaborating in teams of just four or five people. This can give a sense of “ownership” and “autonomy” that “doesn’t really match” the experience of working at a big studio the games industry.

“Humility is a key attribute not just for a designer at Bioware, but as a creative in any industry”
“Working as a designer in this industry is an amazing thing. It’s probably one of the most fulfilling jobs you can have,” he added, but he stressed that “in some ways the reality of working in the games industry doesn’t match the dream.”

For a studio like Bioware, which works on huge games like The Old Republic, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, that means ensuring that new designers “fit the culture” – a culture based on a specific set of values. According to Ohlen, those values are “Quality in the Product” and “Quality in the Workplace,” but both are observed “in the context of humility.”

“I think humility is a key attribute not just for a designer at Bioware, but as a creative in any industry. When I talk about humility, I don’t mean lacking confidence, or not putting yourself out there, or not having drive. I mean you recognise that there is always a better way to do something; that there are many answers to a problem, and that your answer is just a single answer, and it’s probably not even the best answer.”

And the best answer will often come from someone else. The designer’s job is not to ensure that their own ideas make it into the game, Ohlen said, but that only the best ideas do, regardless of their source.

“You need to be always aiming at the ideal, and then you need to forgive yourself when you don’t hit that ideal”
The designer has two roles at Bioware: the “architect role,” which relates to the creative and visionary aspects typically associated with game design. “But the other role is to be an expert at translating someone else’s vision. This is very important if you want to be successful, and if you ever want to get that creative director job you have to become a master at translating other people’s visions.”

That can be difficult, Ohlen admitted. “It can be hard when you think their vision sucks. I’m sure that anybody who has worked in the industry has been in this position. Advice that I give people, and that I use myself, is to have empathy for the vision, and empathy for whoever’s championing it… Just having respect for whoever’s giving you this vision to translate.”

Ohlen then discussed what he described as “the ideal” of game development, which clashes with one of the most common aspects of the games industry: compromise. “The games industry has compromise all the time. You have a limited budget, you have a production timeline, and you have to be amazing at making the right compromises if you’re going to be a good designer.

“But at the same time you can’t lose sight of what the ideal is. What are you aiming to achieve? In order to do that…you need to keep up to date with the industry, and know what the industry’s expectations are. Where is the bar for what you’re working on?

“You need to be always aiming at the ideal, and then you need to forgive yourself when you don’t hit that ideal. Because Nobody ever does. You sometimes get close to it, sometimes you’re far from it, but you definitely need to be able to learn lessons, and move on.

“It’s always good to recognise what you’re aiming for, even when you miss it. That’s okay. You’ll be better next time.”(source:games industry.biz)