訪談:Rovio倫敦工作室和可能更多元化的操作方式

本文原作者:Will Freeman  譯者遊戲邦ciel chen

《憤怒的小鳥》的開發者Rovio工作室在倫敦成立了新的工作室,這對開發者、發行商和手遊熱作來說都是一個意義重大的舉措。

這是Rovio第一個離開了北歐的團隊。該核心團隊在Mark Sorrell的領導下,還處在募集狀態。Mark Sorrell擔任Rovio倫敦工作室負責人,目前他正滿懷激情地享受着對付 “激動人心的問題”的快感。

london(from developonline.net)

london(from developonline.net)

這裏的“問題”就是——Rovio要挑戰蒸蒸日上的大型多人在線(MMO)手遊領域。不過Rovio把工作室搬到倫敦不僅僅爲了研發新型遊戲,更多的原因在於倫敦當地彙集了大量的遊戲界人才,不僅如此,倫敦更是吸引了很多來自世界各地工藝純熟的遊戲開發者。

Sorrell解釋道:“從大方面上來講,把工作室開到北歐之外(這裏不是特指倫敦)是因爲Rovio已經僱傭了芬蘭遊戲界10%的人員了,然而這對我們來說是完全意料之外的——公司的建設速度居然這麼快就到了這裏,而我們搬離是爲了找到水平高超的成員與團隊,畢竟要想在赫爾辛基還是斯德哥爾摩找到這樣的人才實在是有些難度。

離巢

Rovio的其他各大工作室將仍按原來的軌跡進行系列遊戲的運營,Sorrell相信只有倫敦能夠處理這種非典型Rovio遊戲產品的開發。

Sorrel說道:“我們的三個埃斯波工作室手頭的遊戲類型都是Rovio最擅長的。我們對這一類的遊戲產品和市場都有足夠了解,畢竟這些遊戲一度是我們公司發展的基石。”

Sorrell說:Rovio的埃斯波Battle工作室正在着手原IP(《憤怒的小鳥》)的mid-core PVP遊戲發行,比如正在進行中的《Battle Bay》就是Rovio的其中一款非典型系列的作品。不過相比之下,倫敦工作室將要開發的遊戲非典型程度將更高。

他表明:“我們將致力開發的遊戲可能跟Rovio的原生遊戲有着天壤之別。Rovio倫敦工作室將主打研發的MMOs類型遊戲是Rovio之前從來沒接觸過的。它將完全脫離《憤怒的小鳥》,所以我們也將放棄我們熟知的核心內容。然而我們的目標之一是讓我們最後做出的作品仍舊保留有Rovio的痕跡。”

有“嚼勁”的問題

Rovio倫敦工作室希望能在2019年把遊戲成品做出,除此之外,倫敦團隊目前對具體遊戲將採取的形式避而不談,現在還不到做這種創造性決定的時候。

“我們覺得既然要開一間新工作室,就要確保這個新工作室有令人興奮以及“耐嚼”的問題可以去探索去解決,而MMO移動遊戲對我們來說正是這樣的大問題。”

這是個需要投注大量時間的挑戰,而真正讓Sorrell感到興奮的是這個挑戰的難度——要讓呈遞出的MMO手遊真正受到廣泛玩家的歡迎可不容易。

他這樣說明道:“說實話最終遊戲究竟會是什麼樣子不在我的工作範圍內。我說我正在招募團隊成員,所以是我所招募來的團隊在開發遊戲而不是我。我只負責給他們提供方向,告訴他們哪些東西不能要,但我不會告訴他們具體該做哪些事。好的決策者可不會指使僱來的天才們‘做這個做那個’。我們只會告訴他們‘我們有這樣的問題,這是問題的具體內容。’”

講了這麼多有關招募的事,現在有一個值得一問的問題——Rovio倫敦工作室有什麼值得讓開發者前去應聘的職位?

Sorrel迴應:“我們給開發者提供了一個解決難題的機會。這讓開發者有機會挑戰難題。目前我們希望這團隊先保持較小的規模,第一年我們計劃是包括我在內的8人團隊,第二年20人。也許之後不止這麼多,不過在遊戲沒有成型之前我不會希望我們的團隊人數擴展太多。”

工作室在僱傭成員時還秉承着多元化的精神。值得注意的是Rovio倫敦工作室對多樣化的定義——就是要有各行各業的成員。

Sorrel說道“我對團隊成員的多樣性真的是非常極其以及特別地看中,我希望他們能有不同的背景以及不同的生活與專業經歷。”

工作室負責人不僅重視塑造傳統意義上的多樣性,並且對成員專業和技能範圍上的多樣性也很看重。

Sorrel說“多樣性是針對你整個團隊內的——團隊需要各行各業的成員。這不是指個體成員自身的多樣化,而是指整個團隊內的多元化。”

“我們需要那些眼界開闊、從沒有從事過這個行業的人加入我們,因爲他們會給我們一些從來沒人涉足過的瘋狂想法。這些想法有多少,能做成遊戲的概率有多大都不重要,重要的是他們能給出有價值的建議來幫助我們開發出牛逼的遊戲。”

“我會希望團隊成員裏有建築師還有魔術師,當然最想要的是魔術師。”他透露誤導人的技巧跟遊戲設計是息息相關的。“我覺得能僱到會任何一種魔術的人那會是非常棒的事;我還覺得僱傭到獨角滑稽秀演員也會給我們很多幫助——他們可以教我們很多稀奇古怪的事物;我甚至還希望能僱到時尚市場人員或者超市設計者,他們對遊戲設計也有很大幫助。總之我希望帶好多好多不同職業的人進入到遊戲這個行業中。”

Sorrell打開了遊戲開發的大門,他的對各種職業接納的許諾聽起來着實讓人爲之一振,並且這似乎同時對開發者和無關行業的人們都產生了巨大的誘惑。

放手利基市場

如此多元化的團隊將致力於創作屬於Rovio的MMO手遊,根據Sorrells所述,如何將利基類遊戲轉化爲大衆遊戲將會是這個進程項目的指導方針。Sorrell認爲暴雪公司爲Rovio倫敦工作室做了一個可行的示範。

Sorrel提出:“我們成立這個工作室的真正興趣點在於‘去利基’。我們希望能把一些對少數人來說熟悉和精彩的遊戲帶給更廣泛的人羣。暴雪公司是我們可以學習的榜樣,他們在這點上做得非常成功。”

“我們必須弄清楚每種類型遊戲的核心體驗是什麼,其真正的意義又是什麼。這樣我們才能把它推向更廣大的用戶。”

正是這種 “去利基”的過程,以及對探索“新型遊戲應該有和不應該有的樣子”的挑戰吸引了Sorrell加入Rovio倫敦工作室團隊。

距離我們一窺ROVIO倫敦工作室遊戲成品之前可能還要有一段時間,不過可以確定的一件事是——這個遊戲的製作團隊將可能會非常的與衆不同,而這作爲新型遊戲開發的開端,讓人對其最終成果非常期待。

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A gaming giant has come to roost in the UK capital and it is establishing a place where games developers may find themselves working alongside magicians, as Will Freeman finds out

Angry Birds creator Rovio opening a new studio in London marks a significant move for the developer, publisher and icon of mobile gaming.

It is Rovio’s only team based outside of the Nordics. The core team is still being assembled, under the guidance of Mark Sorrell, head of London Studio and he is currently full of enthusiasm about the thrill of tackling what he calls an ‘exciting problem’.

That ‘problem’ is the challenge of building a thriving mobile MMO. But Rovio’s move from the Nordics isn’t only about tackling a new genre. It is equally about talent. For Rovio, London not only provides a rich pool of local talent, but also a globally appealing destination for skilled games makers from across the world.

“The core reason for opening outside the Nordics at all – rather than specifically London – is because Rovio employs 10 per cent of everybody who works in the games industry in Finland,” Sorrell offers. “So while we absolutely have no desire to grow here really very quickly, it’s just a case of wanting to have extraordinarily good people, and extraordinarily good teams. And there’s ultimately a limit of what is possible, whether you’re in Helsinki or indeed Stockholm.”

I’d love to hire a magician. I think it would be fantastic to hire anybody who has done any kind of magic

“Our three Espoo studios are covering genres that we at Rovio are very comfortable with,” Sorrel confirms. “Those are genres I think we understand – we understand the market and the product there, and they are something of a bedrock of the company at the moment.”

Rovio’s Espoo Battle Studio is working on original IP mid-core PvP releases, such as the on-going Battle Bay. It’s an example, Sorrell says, of Rovio tackling a genre that is not absolutely characteristic of the wider company’s background. And by contrast, what is underway in London will be even less typical.

“Perhaps the very furthest away from the bedrock of what Rovio games are is us,” he suggests. “Here in London we’re working on MMOs, which is something we at Rovio obviously haven’t done before. And it’s non- Angry Birds, specifically. So we’re stepping away from the core there too. That’s not to say that what we make won’t be very identifiably Rovio when it comes out. That’s absolutely one of our aims.”

THE CHEWY PROBLEM

Rovio London hopes to have a playable game available in 2019 and, beyond that detail, the London team is currently intently avoiding a commitment to exactly what form the game will take; something of a distinct creative decision.

“We felt it was important, if we were opening a studio, to make sure that it had really exciting, chewy problems to explore,” says Sorrell. “And the mobile MMO sounded like a great problem for us.”

It’s a challenge that’s going to need a good investment of time, but it is the scale of the challenge of delivering a truly popular mobile MMO that fills Sorrell with excitement.

“Exactly what that game will be is not my job to work out, to be frank,” he states. “I say that at the moment I’m hiring the team that will hire the team that will make the game. So that’s what’s happening now. It’s my job to provide direction, and it’s certainly my job to say what we’re not making. But it’s definitely not my job
to say what we are making. It’s no good hiring really good people and then saying ‘do exactly this’. We want to say to those people ‘we have this problem, and here’s the context.”

With all this talk of hiring, it’s worth asking an important question. Why should a developer look at a position at Rovio London?

“It’s a chance to solve a hard problem,” Sorrel responds. “It’s a chance to do something difficult. We are keeping it small, for now. We’re planning eight people year one, including me, and then 20 in year two. We’re might grow a little more, but until we have a game out I can’t imagine us getting much bigger.”

The studio is equally focused on employing in the spirit of diversity. Importantly, the definition of diversity at Rovio London is – well – diverse.

“I’m extremely, extremely conscious of having a diverse group of people, with different backgrounds and different experiences, both in terms of life experiences and professional experiences,” confirms Sorrel.

He is keen to foster diversity in the traditional sense, certainly, but the studio head is equally keen to employ from a broad range of professions and skill sets.

“Diversity is that across your team, you want to have a wide variety of people,” Sorrel says. “It’s not about individuals being diverse themselves. Across the team, I think I’d be crazy if I didn’t want to have at least 50 per cent – for instance – of them being experienced in making games.

“But we’d be equally mad if we didn’t want people who have ever done it before. Those people can suggest to us those completely crazy things nobody has done before. How many of those ideas and how much of that thinking makes it into a game is not really the point. It’s about having people that are open eyed, have never done this before, and is equally as valuable to making an amazing project.

“I’d love to have an architect. I’d love to hire a magician too. A magician’s top of my list,” he reveals, pointing to the skill of misdirection as particularly relevant to crafting games. “I think it would be fantastic to hire anybody who has done any kind of magic. I think we’d get a lot from a stand-up comedian too. I think there’s a lot that they could teach about weird things. I’m thinking about how somebody in fashion marketing or a supermarket designer could help us too. There’s loads of roles I’d like to bring here.”

Sorrell’s commitment to opening up the skill set of games making is invigorating and likely to be hugely enticing, both to developers and those from unrelated fields.

LIBERATING NICHES

That diverse team will work on shaping Rovio’s MMO; a process Sorrell says will be guided by considering how to take niche genres to mass audiences. Blizzard sets an example, Sorrell believes, that Rovio London can build on.

“It’s definitely true of this studio that we’re interested in ‘de-nicheing’,” Sorrel offers. “It’s the idea of taking something fantastic and familiar to a small group of people, and bringing it to a much, much larger audience. I think we look up to Blizzard, because they’ve done this successfully.

“We have to ask what the core experience of a genre is, and what it really means. We want to give that to a wider audience.”

For Sorrell, the appeal of joining Rovio London was this de-nicheing process, and the challenge of exploring what a new game should be – and what it shouldn’t be.

It may be some time before we see even a glimpse of what the studio’s game will be, but one thing is certain. It is likely to be inspired by a very distinct team make-up. As a starting point, that’s an encouraging sign. (source:develop online