開發者從QA角度談如何從測試層面優化遊戲最終體驗

本文原作者:Sean Clearver 譯者ciel chen

在《文明6》的發行後,Sean Cleaver和Sarah Darney(Firaxis公司的副製作人)進行了一次座談,聊了聊她在QA的相關背景是如何對她在遊戲行業工作產生根本性影響的。

《文明》系列遊戲已經有悠久的歷史了。一個有着25年曆史的老品牌系列遊戲——至今發行了6款系列遊戲,還有另外至少四款周邊產品遊戲,如果沒有一個堅實的基礎是無法做出這般成績的。如今,這隻策略型遊戲巨獸翻開了該系列歷史轉折的第六篇章,我們可以公道地說——隨着遊戲的發展,遊戲團隊也在進步。

對《文明6》的發行我們已經等了太久。還記得上一款遊戲《文明5》的發行是在6年前——它可以說是遊戲史上的嶄新力作,它爲遊戲提供了新的設計方向——將傳統的方形板換成了六邊形。這一大膽的舉措讓地圖、行動和軍事衝突上升到了新的層次。“勇敢新世界”補丁包引進了了一個巨大全新的子系統——該系統是基礎是一種所有舊的社會政策和宗教樹都被不同獎勵制度和技能樹所替代的意識形態。而且所有這些添加的內容都有一個相同效果——它們極大地改變了遊戲的平衡和感覺。

這次,Firaxis公司在整個遊戲中引入了意識形態系統。但是最大的改變是在城市的形式上以及你建造這些城市的方式上。現在,當你擁有一座城市,你需要對特定的場地範圍進行制定,這樣才能限制你在該範圍內所能建造的東西並且限制你所擁有的空間。

比如說,像一座劇院這樣的文化建築就不得不建在指定的瓷磚材料上,如果你沒有建或者制定指定的瓷磚材料,你就建不了劇院。這種限制對奇蹟建築也生效,這讓遊戲從本質上把屏幕中的城市變成了一個迷你城市建築遊戲。由此可見進化即是《文明》的一部分,也是歷史的起源。

可以說,Firaxis已經在策略引導上有所成長——該工作室公司不僅滿足於對《文明》的製作,他們還重新啓動了XCOM系列遊戲,並取得了巨大的成功。

CivilizationVI Building Madrasa Arabia(from develop online)

CivilizationVI Building Madrasa Arabia(from develop online)

工作室現在已經發展起來了,並且團隊在很多其他產品上也越來越專業了。我們要和Sarah Darney談談,他是遊戲的副製作人。

Darney的工作歷程非常有趣——她有着關於在QA(質量保證)的工作背景,這聽起來讓人覺得簡直是做遊戲製作人的完美資質。但是你要讓一個大型系列遊戲在遊戲性上做一個如此巨大的轉變,這時QA和遊戲測試就變成了一個大難題了。

“我覺得有QA的背景對開發者來說很重要,這讓開發者至少能明白程序的運作原理,而對於我來說,我覺得這點對我現在的工作很有幫助”Darney這樣告訴我。“尤其我曾經還是QA經理,工作內容和QA部門的製作人很相似。”

經驗保證

Darney在XCOM《未知敵人》和《內部敵人》兩個系列遊戲的重新啓動,以及《文明:太空(Beyond Earth)》“潮起(Rising Tide)”DLC製作中都有參與,但是《文明》系列遊戲帶來了全新的挑戰。“那很讓人害怕,”Darney說道。“這是一份巨大的遺產——《文明》系列遊戲已經有25年的歷史了,要想做出令人滿意的成果將會是非常艱鉅的任務。”

在對遊戲做出改變的同時,Darney始終希望能確保遊戲不失去其本色。“當你一款系列遊戲中創作下一個迭代時,你會希望能保存同系列遊戲的相似性,你會想讓粉絲感覺到‘嗯,我在玩的是《文明》系列遊戲沒錯。’”

“不再堆疊建築物的城市建設是的一大改變——這就像在你城市的每個中心都出了個謎題,”Darney繼續道。“這個巨大的改變甚至影響了遊戲中全部的其他功能。那麼同時我們還保持了那種‘感覺’,那種‘屬於《文明》系列遊戲的感覺’,那種《文明》粉都懂得的感覺——這種感覺變得更加奇妙了,因爲我們確確實實做出了很大的改變,但這種改變讓人依舊保留有屬於《文明》的遊戲感,卻在此基礎上做到了對常規的突破。”

《文明》裏令人上癮的遊戲特質多年來一直受到人們的嘲諷:你已經可以看到在清晨的早上已經有PO到網上抱怨這是‘又一輪’陷阱的推文了——當一個新的特性出現在遊戲中是,它可以打破這個魔咒,這時Darney在QA方面的經驗就成爲無價之寶了。

“即使有來自QA的背景,但我無論何時聽到遊戲會有巨大的系統更改我還是會有怯意。”Darney開玩笑道,“因爲這會讓我立馬想到我要寫出所有的測試計劃。但是我認爲這對我來說是很有幫助的,因爲我工作的很重要一部分內容就是試玩遊戲然後給開發者提出反饋。我可以把存檔發過去然後說:‘這裏似乎感覺不對勁,你可以看看嗎?’我說的感覺是確切的,因爲我仍然有着QA的思維模式,這讓我有了優勢可以通過不同的方法來處理事情。”

平衡的歷史

《文明》系列遊戲對很多電子遊戲類型進行了延展——舉幾個例子,有策略類型、城市建設類型、架空歷史類型和科幻小說類型。尤其是當需要平衡遊戲中這些新特色和新功能的時候,Darney在QA方面的經驗在遊戲中的運用幫助確保了這些遊戲類型的結合是行得通的。

“這是QA中的一大部分內容。我們在Firaxis內側就是讓《文明》遊戲系列的狂熱粉絲來進行對遊戲的測試,”Darney解釋道。“他們要做的就是尋找漏洞,同時他們也會專注於遊戲是否有趣,然後就是每天都認真地玩它。總有些時候我們會錯過系統的一些最佳位點。”
“知道這點對於平衡和數值來說尤其重要,”Darney繼續舉例道:“比如這裏放大100——好像太過了,那就50倍吧——好像還是不太對,那就調到75倍好了——然後發現行得通了。”

“這種事情真的太重要了因爲我們的有很多種獨特的單位建築,”Darney補充道。“我們要有基礎的單位建築建設、每個領導人的獨特能力、整個宗教體系的獎勵、政府系統,我們還要保證所有的數值都要正確才能讓所有遊戲內容共同運轉起來——這非常地有挑戰性。”

QA大概是遊戲開發中最重要的一部分了——因爲除了修復漏洞之外,你還有機會消除工作室泡沫。你會看到遊戲是如何運作、如何操作、以及最根本的問題:遊戲是不是真的有趣——這也是在一天的結尾,每個人(從玩家到遊戲的副製作人)都想從《文明》系列遊戲中得到的樂趣。

“我喜歡開發過程的這個部分,因爲我們做的遊戲就是爲了讓它好玩有趣的,”Darney說道。“如果我見到遊戲的粉絲,然後如果他們願意跟我擊掌,如果他們能告訴我他們有多愛這個遊戲以及這個遊戲讓她們有多開心,那將會是對我來說非常溫暖的安慰和鼓勵——而這也是我工作的動力源泉以及我熱愛這份工作的原因。”

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Following the release of Civilization VI, Sean Cleaver sat down with Sarah Darney, associate producer at Firaxis, to talk about how her background in QA has been essential for her role on the game

Civilization has a long-standing history of quality. You don’t become a 25 year old franchise that has released six games, and at least another four spin offs without having a great foundation behind you. Now in its sixth entry of the historical turn based strategy behemoth and it’s fair to say that as the game has evolved, so have the team making it.

It’s been a long time coming for Civilization VI. The previous entry, which came out six years ago, was a new and successful direction for the game. Changing its traditional square based board for hexagons was a bold move that opened up the map, the movement and military conflict to new levels. The add-on pack Brave New World introduced a huge new subsystem based on ideology with different bonuses and skill trees that replaced all of the old social policy and religion trees. All of these additions do one thing – they drastically alter the balance and feel of a game.

This time around, Firaxis has included the ideology system in the full game. But the biggest change comes in the form of cities and how you build them. Now, when you have a city, you have to designate a tile to a certain speciality which limits what you can build inside it and the space you have.

I think it’s so important to developers to have an understand of how the process works.

For example, culture buildings like a theatre have to be built on a specialised tile and if you haven’t build or assigned that specialisation then you can’t build it. That restriction also carries over to wonders, essentially turning the city screen in to a mini city cuilding game. Evolution is as much a part of Civilization as it is the history it sources.

Firaxis have grown in to their strategy boots, so to speak. Not content with just Civilization, the studio has produced the reboot of the XCOM franchise as well, to great success. The studio has grown and the team has become well versed in many of its wares. We got to speak to Sarah Darney, who is an associate producer for Firaxis on the game.

Darney’s job history is very interesting in that her background is in quality assurance, which when you say it out loud sounds like the perfect qualification to be a game producer. But when you have a big game franchise that implements such a drastic change in gameplay, QA and testing becomes a huge piece of the puzzle.

“Coming from QA, I think it’s so important for developers to at least have an understanding of how the process works but I feel like that very much prepared me for what I’m doing now,” Darney tells me. “Especially as I was the QA manager, which is very much like being a producer for the QA department.”

EXPERIENCE ASSURED

Darney has worked on both of the XCOM reboots, Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, as well as the Beyond Earth DLC, Rising Tide. But Civilization presents a new challenge. “It is quite frightening,” says Darney. “It’s a huge legacy. Civilization has been around for 25 years, those are very big shoes to fill.” With the changes in the game, Darney is keen to make sure it doesn’t lose its identity. “When you’re creating the next iteration in a franchise, you want there to be a similarity. You want the fans to feel like ‘Ok, I’m playing a Civ game’.

“Unstacking the cities was a huge change – just creating this puzzle game around all of your cities centres,” Darney continues. “It’s a big change and it affects every other function in the game. So whilst we still have that ‘thing’, that ‘civ thing’, that everyone knows – the one more turn magic, we did change it a lot. It’s something to get used to but it breaks up that routine.”

The identity of what makes Civilization such an addictive game has been affectionately mocked for many years. You can already see tweets of those lamenting the ‘one more turn’ trap as they post in the early hours of a morning. When a new feature comes in to the game that can break that magic, Darney’s experience in QA is invaluable.

“Coming from QA, whenever I hear that there’s going to be a giant systematic change to the game, I’m still terrified,” Darney jokes, “because I immediately have flashbacks to all of the test plans that I’d have to write. But I do think that helps me as I’m approaching it now, because an important part of my job is to play the game and give feedback to the developers. I can send saves and say, ‘this isn’t quite feeling right, can you take a look?’ I definitely feel, because I still have that QA mind set, it gives me an advantage in doing that and I can approach things differently.”

BALANCING HISTORY

Civilization stretches over a number of video game genres – strategy, city building, alternate history and science fiction to name a few. Darney’s experience in QA across these genres has helped in making sure that marriage of them works, especially when it comes to balancing the new features and additions to the game.

“That’s a big part of QA. How we approach it at Firaxis, internally especially, [is that the testers are] big Civ fans,” Darney explains. “They’re looking for bugs but they’re focused on whether this game is fun and just playing it every day. There are times a system goes in and maybe we pass the sweet spot.

“Finding that is especially important with balancing and with numbers,” Darney continues. “Amplifying this by 100 – that’s too overpowered. Let’s go back to 50 – still not quite right, and then swinging up to 75 and finding out where things are working.

“That’s so important because we have so many unique units,” Darney adds. “We have base units, every leader has they’re unique ability and all these bonuses throughout the religion system, the government system and making sure all those numbers are right and working together. It is very challenging.”

QA is possibly one of the most important parts of game development as you have the opportunity, outside of bug fixing, to leave the bubble of the studio. You get to see how the game works, how it plays, and fundamentally if it is any fun. At the end of day it is what everyone, all the way from the fan playing to the associate producer of the game, wants from a Civilization title.

“I love that part of the process as – we make games and they’re supposed to be fun,” Darney says. “If I see a fan and I get a high five them and they tell me how much they love this game and how happy it made them, it gives me the warm fuzzies. It’s why I go to work and it’s why I love my job.” (source:develop online