開發者以Home爲例談遊戲開發和發行中值得借鑑的一些邏輯

本文原作者:Benjamin Rivers 譯者ciel chen

7月1日是《家home》發行五週年紀念日——這款“獨特的恐怖冒險”類遊戲我在2012年一開始發行的時候收到期待值爲零,但後來卻取得了驚人的成績。而現在,距離完成並運作它的續作《與你讀出Alone With You》幾個月過去了,我想回顧一下這款遊戲並提出我們工作室五年來沿用至今的5點經驗之談:

要天真(以正確的方式)

對於《家》這款遊戲,我當時賭我可以通過音效和非常具體的遊戲機制——遊戲中的故事會隨着玩家的行動被重複地講述——以達到其他恐怖遊戲所無法達到的效果,來創作出一款低保真圖像的恐怖遊戲。但是這並不是什麼一些什麼由幾十年經驗形成的非凡假說;這只是我能想到的最好創意,畢竟我那時候的技能水平有限。

就是那種純淨天真的觀念讓我能集中注意力在那些建議明瞭概念上去理解——這也反過來讓遊戲變得既有趣又有市場,記者和玩家開始談論它。如今,隨着我處理的事情越來越多,我發現越來越難做到這點了——我把這種情況叫做經驗的詛咒。

Home Screen(from gamasutra.com)

Home Screen(from gamasutra.com)

經驗要點:缺乏經驗這點對避免常見的擔憂和陷阱來說非常有用,而且這點還能讓人看到別人難以看到的機會。(想了解更多有關這個經驗的內容,我推薦你們去看Liz Wisman的《Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work》。)

充分利用手頭現有的資源

對於開發者來說,在還沒寫遊戲設計文檔的第一句話之前,能擁有一個符合預先構想的烏托邦式環境是非常有誘惑力的——很多人覺得:作爲開發者你需要良好的工作場地、特定的電腦、談好的交易、開發用套件以及提前定下的整套軟件來開啓項目是說得通的。

而在製作《Home》的會後,我只有一臺裝Windows virtualizer系統的老舊MacBook Pro來運行Game Maker 8.1(一開始的時候),以及我之前用來爲客戶工作用的Adobe套件。這些就是我當時用的所有工具,我就是用着它們創作成的遊戲初始版本。

利用現有工具不僅可以降低財政風險,這樣情況下產生的限制還能有助於激發我們想出解決各種問題的創新對策。不僅如此,這樣還消除了我的憂慮與害怕;由於我“不知道我不知道的是什麼”,所以我就可以盡我最大所能地專注於創作遊戲。

經驗要點:別自欺欺人地有“如果我有X,我就可以做我自己的遊戲了”這種想法。如果你有一臺PC或者類似設備,你就可以馬上開始開發自己的遊戲——而且你甚至可能開發得比別人更快更省錢更靈巧。你要讓這些現有資源的成爲你的優勢!

不要孤注一擲

很多獨立遊戲開發者都拿自己的時間(和健康)作爲賭注只爲了開發出一款遊戲來。然而當他們做好遊戲發行之時,整個遊戲產業和市場已經今非昔比了,也因此他們遊戲能成功的概率也就大不一樣了。《Home》的開發時間短得不行——大概只用了六個月,但是之後的一年多裏我都用業餘的時間擴展它(因爲我那個時候大多數時間還在爲客戶工作)。

這種用夜晚和週末時間來開發遊戲的方式做起來是有其優勢的:我被迫要保持遊戲規模在可掌控範圍內;這樣讓我每天都有喘息的時間所以不至於一發火毀了它;還有關鍵的一點就是——這樣意味着我不是孤注一擲傾其所有地在它一個產品身上。

在我的工作室,我們所做的每件事都會圍繞着“預期風險”——也就是說我們做的每一個行動或項目都不是“不成功便成仁”類型的。我們希望在這方面做長期的努力,所以我們不會孤注一擲把自己弄得覆水難收。

經驗要點:在遊戲開發中,要點不在於你能造成多大的衝擊,而是你能接受多大的打擊。不要只爲了一個項目就拿自己整個人(尤其是健康!)去冒險。在Peter Sims的書《Little Bets》中有很棒的相關資源。

讓遊戲跳脫出遊戲行業來

《Home》能作爲一款遊戲能誕生主要是因爲我從沒看到過我想要的那種遊戲,所以我決定自己開發出來。《Home》不是什麼“《我的世界》混《生化奇兵》版遊戲”也不是什麼“《糖果粉碎》混《刺蝟索尼克》版遊戲”——事實上它的誕生靈感來源不是來自於遊戲產業內部的,它也不是爲了成爲在mixer party上吹噓的話題而生的。我相信,它之所以能如此熱賣並持續熱銷這麼久(有5年!)的原因之一就是它沒有去依附遊戲市場裏任何可下定義的遊戲趨勢。

而《Home》最讓我驚訝的地方在於它的覆蓋面擴散之廣——從世界各大報刊和像《Rue Morgue》這類的恐怖刊物再到電視節目,你知道在哪裏看不到《Home》的身影嗎?——在GDC、the IGF或者其他任何遊戲會展活動上你是看不到它的。遊戲開發社區從來沒有真正對《Home》感興趣過(儘管它在各個網站和雜誌上都被大肆報道過),不過終究他們都獻上了虛僞的祝福——我是從開始收到那些和孩子們一起玩這個遊戲母親們和家庭的email後才深諳這個事實的——他們都覺得一家人在屋子裏一起享受這個遊戲是件很令人毛骨悚然的事。

經驗要點:不要拘泥於你當即的設想,爲你的遊戲走一條讓人意想不到的道路。

起步於小

你可能跟朋友們聊到《Home》的時候會覺得它是一種一次性體驗遊戲,不過並非如此!

當《Home》2012年在PC上發行的時候,有些事情還是很讓人驚訝的,包括:

你沒法保存

這裏沒有訓練場所

第一層的一些房間是不存在的

只有Windows系統才能跑得動這個遊戲

現在,《Home》在Windows、Mac(通過Steam、the Humble Store以及其他平臺)、IOS(支持幾乎從iphone 4s開始之後的所有設備)、PlayStation 4還有PlayStation Vita這些系統都可以玩了。現在它有自動保存系統了;它在Steam和IOS平臺上有社交媒體hooks了;它支持21:9顯示屏了;它在發行後幾個月添加新場所了;它改寫了幾個主要代碼;它幾年來經歷了好幾次bug修復、腳本重寫、應用修正。我覺得我在《Home》上做的更新比George Lucas在《星際爭霸》做的改變還要多。

誰會知道這個小小的恐怖遊戲會五年來持續地進行更新和內容添加呢? 但是隨着遊戲越來越受歡迎、隨着我把遊戲帶向更多的平臺,我把我所學會的新知識都運用到它身上——所有這些都在快速、低價而有必要的做法下完成了,我做出的努力最後沒有讓我失望。儘管現在技術已經發生了改變,但遊戲始終保持着持續可行性和易獲性。

經驗要點:很少有遊戲是“一勞永逸”型的。但是發行一款可控範圍規模的遊戲意味着:即便它只是一個單機,而且故事長度總共也就1小時左右的遊戲,你也可以對修改內容、添加人們想要的特色、以及讓它能符合新玩家羣體喜好方面做出反應。
總結

在五年前《Home》的首次發行中,我學到了很多——一路上犯過新錯,不過也有新發現。我希望這篇文章能幫助你們解決一些自己在開發過程中碰到的問題。如果你還想了解更多,可以在評論中讓我知道!我很樂意跟你們分享更多內容。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

June 1st marks the fifth anniversary of Home — the “unique horror adventure” game that I initially launched with zero expectations in 2012 to surprising success. And now, a few months after completing and shipping its follow-up, Alone With You, I wanted to look back on the game and present five important lessons that continue to drive what my studio does, even five years later:

1. Be naive (in all the right ways)

With Home, I bet that I could create a lo-fi horror game that used sound and one very specific gameplay mechanic — that the game’s story is being retold based on the player’s actions — to do things that other horror games couldn’t. But this wasn’t some brilliant hypothesis formed after decades of experience; it was literally the best idea I could come up with, given my skill set at the time.

That pure, naive vision is what allowed me to focus on a concept that was simple and easy to understand — which in turn allowed the game to also be marketable and interesting for press and players to talk about. Nowadays, with a lot more at my disposal, I find this increasingly difficult — call it the curse of experience.

The lesson: inexperience can be a wonderful tool for avoiding common worries and pitfalls, and seeing opportunity where others don’t. (For more on this, I highly recommend Liz Wiseman’s book, Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work.)

2. Use what you have

There’s a temptation for devs to want to have some utopian, pre-conceived environment set up and ready before they even write the first sentence of their game design document — it’s easy to think that you need the right office space, specific computers, deals in place, dev kits, and predetermined suite of software to even get started.

With Home, I had an aging MacBook Pro running Game Maker 8.1 (initially) via a Windows virtualizer, and the same Adobe suite I was using for my client work at the time. Those were the tools I had, and so those were the ones I used to create and finish the initial version of the game.

Not only did this keep the game’s financial risk down, but those constraints helped fuel creative solutions to all sorts of problems. And it also kept me from freaking out and worrying all the time; I “didn’t know what I didn’t know,” and so I could just focus on creating the game to the best of my ability.

The lesson: don’t trick yourself into thinking, “If only I had X, I could make my game.” If you have a PC of any kind, you can make a game, right now. And you can probably do it more quickly, cheaply and cleverly than someone else. Use that to your advantage!

3. Don’t bet the farm

Many indie devs bet years of their life (and their health) to make a single game. By the time they release, the industry and the market might not even be the same anymore, and their game’s chance of success could be wildly different. Home’s development was unusually short — perhaps six months, but stretched out over more than a year on a part-time basis (because I was still working for clients most of the time).

The evenings-and-weekends approach to the game’s development actually worked to its advantage: it forced me to keep the scope manageable; it allowed for daily breaks so I didn’t burn out on it; and — crucially — it meant that I wasn’t risking everything on a single product.

In my studio, everything we do revolves around “calculated risk” — meaning that no single action or project is do-or-die. We want to be in this for the long haul, so we never make a bet from which we can’t recover.

The lesson: In game development, it’s not how hard you can hit; it’s how hard you can get hit. Don’t risk everything (especially your health!) on a single project. A great resource on this is the book Little Bets by Peter Sims.

4. Step outside the industry

The major reason for Home to even exist was that I didn’t see the game I wanted, so I decided to make it. Home isn’t “Minecraft meets Bioshock” or “Candy Crush meets Sonic the Hedgehog” — it wasn’t born of looking from within the games industry at all, in fact, or as a pitch line to use at mixer parties. And I believe one of the reasons the game sold well, and continues to do so (five years later!) is that it wasn’t based on a definable trend.

What surprised me the most about Home was that it got extended coverage — from newspapers worldwide, from horror publications such as Rue Morgue, and on television. You know where you’ve never heard about Home, though? At GDC, the IGF, or any other industry event. The game development community was never really interested in it (though it got coverage on every website and in several magazines, extensively), but this ended up being a blessing in disguise — a fact that I realized so deeply when I started receiving emails from mothers playing the game with their teenage children and from families who thought it was a creepy thing to enjoy at the cottage together.

The lesson: Reach beyond your immediate assumptions to find unexpected avenues for your game.

5. Start small and grow

Home was intended as a one-and-done experience that you’d talk about with your friends, but that’s not how things turned out at all!

When Home launched on PC in 2012, there were some surprising things about it, including:

you couldn’t save

there was no train yard area

there were rooms in the first level that didn’t exist

it only ran on Windows

Now, Home exists on Windows and Mac (via Steam, the Humble Store, and others) iOS (with support for pretty much every device from the iPhone 4s onward ), PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita. It has an auto-save system, it got social media hooks on Steam and iOS, it supports 21:9 monitors, it had new areas added to it months after launch, it got a major code rewrite, and it has had several passes of bug fixes, script rewrites and corrections applied to it throughout the years. I think I’ve updated Home more than George Lucas has changed Star Wars.

Who knew this tiny horror game would continue to get updates and content additions for five years? But as the game grew in popularity, and as I dealt with bringing it to new platforms, I applied all the new things I learned to improve it — all quickly, cheaply, and as-needed, without bogging me down. It’s kept the game continuously viable and accessible, even as technology has changed.

The lesson: Few games are “set and forget” anymore. But releasing a manageable game means you can respond to changes, add features people actually want, and keep it relevant to new audiences — even when it’s a single-player, story-driven title that lasts just over an hour.

Conclusion

I’ve learned a whole lot since first launching Home five years ago — and have made plenty of new mistakes and discoveries along the way as well. I hope this article helps you tackle some issues you might be having in your own development. If you’d like to know anything else, hop in the comments and let me know! I’ll be happy to share more.(source:gamasutra.com