開發者探討:獨立遊戲如何衡量和定義成功

開發者探討:獨立遊戲如何衡量和定義成功

原文作者:Ric Cowley 譯者:Megan Shieh

成功對於不同的人來說意味着不同的事情,有些人可能認爲活過了今天就是成功,但其他人可能需要跳進現金池裏纔會覺得快樂。

有人可能會覺得獨立開發者的目標是前者,可是存活下來就真的成功了嗎?怎麼衡量呢?

爲了找出答案,我們訪問了獨立遊戲開發專家,意圖找出他們對成功的看法以及衡量成功標準。

我們的具體問題是:

當你發佈自己的遊戲時,如何定義“成功”?

有沒有任何具體的指標可以確定你的遊戲是否“成功了”?

Tanya Short——Kitfox Games 創意總監

遊戲不可避免地會出現問題,這些問題可能會影響到遊戲的規模、預算、時間表、功能設置和遊戲發佈後我自己感覺,但是我認爲作爲初始概念的一部分,爲項目定製一套目標是很重要的。

我們的目標可以是出售至少100萬份副本、學習如何使用Unity、從發佈中吸取經驗、在IGF中獲勝、或者其他你想要的東西,但是團隊中的每個人都必須理解並相信這個目標。

目標是我作決定的原因和基礎。不管是加入遊戲手柄支持還是將開發時間延長兩個月,重要的是讓組裏其他的隊員支持這個決定,而不是試圖往不同的方向發展。

Kitfox的目標往往是財務、評論和生產方面成功的混合:讓我們把支出的成本賺回來;創造出一些出色的東西(或者是一些玩家喜歡的東西);並且在實現這些目標的過程中確保自己的生存。

如果我們能做到上述三件事中的兩件,那就肯定會贏,但其中的任何一件都不容易做到。我們負擔不起幾個月沒有薪水可以發的情況,所以工作室的生存必須是最低要求……然後在這個範圍內定義可接受的創造性參數。

比起輿論反響,Kitfox的具體目標往往更側重於生產和財務方面。

對於工作室目前爲止的所有項目,我已明令禁止所有團隊成員在任何項目中每週投入超過50個工時的情況超過兩次;同時我會坐下來預測在發佈幾個月後可能會出現的“不好的”、“過得去的”、“超棒的”和“理想形的”銷量,開發前期會作一次預測,然後在發佈前會再次更新這些期望。

直至目前,Kitfox在生產方面已經取得了成功;並且我們的銷售數量似乎都傾向於‘過得去的’銷售預測;《Moon Hunter》甚至達到了80%的Steam用戶評論;所有這些都不算是超級厲害,但已經足夠成功了。

moon hunters (from pocketgamer.biz)

moon hunters (from pocketgamer.biz)

我們可以繼續創造更多有人喜歡的遊戲!我們活在夢裏!然後希望能在這方面做得更好。

人們可能沒有意識到的一件重要事情是:有野心、有創造力的人總是會想要進步。

因此,隨着你不斷地創造越來越多的遊戲,你對錶現的期望也可能相對上升,即使市場萎縮或外部因素可能會使你的目標更難實現。

Aaron Fothergill——Strange Flavour 聯合創始人

我對成功的定義是:看到玩家在玩我們的遊戲,聽到我的玩家們試圖再過一關的哀嚎…

在其他方面,成功的定義取決於具體的項目。第一個普遍的經驗法則是,如果很多人都喜歡它,那麼它就是一個勝利。

第二是“這能讓我們再存活一年嗎?”,因此,能讓我們賺到足夠的錢來至少完成下一個遊戲或重大更新的東西都可以算作成功。

有些項目(通常是非常快的項目)可能純粹只是爲了實驗一些具體東西的可行性。在這種情況下,成功便取決於我們得到的數據類型,以及其結果是否可以應用到其他遊戲中。

從玩家那裏得到的銷量和反饋是我們的主要指標。我們經常遇到的問題是曝光率(讓玩家看到我們的產品),所以玩家的反饋通常是一個更好的度量標準,因爲我們總是可以找到更多的方法來出售玩家真正喜愛的遊戲。

Pavel Ahafonau——Happymagenta 聯合創始人

我同意Aaron的說法。

雖然每個獨立開發商都夢想成爲一個每年營業額過十億的大規模(10-100人)公司,但是爲了讓這個目標在技術上獲得可能性,獨立開發商還有很多東西要學:理解和優化指標,貨幣化,UA,如何擴大規模,等等。

我敢打賭我們中的很多人都還不太關注這些話題,原因有很多種,包括缺乏經驗、預算和整體的天真。雖然在網上有很多關於這些話題的信息,部分人還是無動於衷。

直到成爲一個大規模的、有投資者投資的、還有高達5億美元的銀行貸款的、牛逼哄哄的公司之前,一個獨立開發商有很長的路要走。

因此,獨立開發者成功的定義就是像Aaron闡述的那樣簡單——做一個好的遊戲,賺到足夠生存的錢,學習,改進和創造更多的遊戲

Erik van Wees——Arcane Circus 聯合創始人

Arcane Circus發佈《Crap!I’m broke: Out of Pocket》的時候,我們學到:要成功,你就應該儘早地在項目中定義你的成功目標。

在項目剛開始的時候,我們只是希望能設法拿回最初的投資。遊戲發佈後,我們注意到自己在調整對銷售的期望。

在發佈遊戲的時候我們有幸登上了蘋果的主頁,這極大地影響了我們的銷量,從而使得我們能夠在投資和其他的一些方面取得回報。

局外人可能會得出這樣的結論:“你的目標已經完成了,所以你的遊戲是成功的”。但並不是這樣的…我們的功能來了又去,銷售也下降了,可是我們想要的更多了,因爲我們剛剛根據新情況調整了對遊戲表現的期望。

奇怪的是,我沒有欣喜若狂的感覺…我不覺得我成功了。我知道這些數字意味着我們的投資得到了回報,但它並沒有讓我開心到想要大叫“好耶!我們成功了!”

我已經開始考慮爲下一個更大的項目僱傭自由職業者所需要的錢了。

夢想着擁有一個辦公空間,購買更好的設備來真正地讓我們公司運轉。是的…“發展公司!這就是我想要的”,無論需要付出多少代價。

成功似乎非常二進制,你要麼成功,要麼失敗。它可以像單一規則一樣簡單,也可以像一整套需求那樣複雜。

因爲我們在該項目的早期就已經確定了一個初始目標,所以當我愚蠢的大腦試圖讓我相信自己已經失敗的時候,我能把事情做得很好。

總而言之:確保你能衡量你所定義的成功,並從一開始就明確決定是否成功的分界線。

在評估最初目標之前,花一段時間與項目保持距離也會對你有幫助。

Matthew Annal——Nitrome 總經理

很多人都說成功就是生存,比如:賺足夠的錢去做下一個遊戲;在天平的另一端,Happy Magenta談論成爲一個100人超級大公司的願望。這兩個定義可能闡述了很多人的想法,但對我來說,成功是介於兩者之間的。

Nitrome剛開始成功的時候,我們的收入是肯定足夠支付下一個遊戲的;但隨着時間的推移,(Nitrome已經運營了10年),情況已經不再是這樣了。

隨着你的生活和收穫的承諾……家庭、伴侶、抵押貸款等等。尋找下一份收入以保持不被肩上的重擔壓扁,當然不是成功該有的樣子。

所以成功在我的腦海中的感覺是,賺足夠多的錢——不只需要足夠支付下一個遊戲,還得讓你可以完全停止對金錢的擔憂。不必再爲金錢擔憂意味着我的注意力就可以完全集中在遊戲上,這種時候我才真正感到成功。

迴應一下樓上Pavel關於大公司的超級成功理論。這對我個人來說從來都不是一種渴望,因爲我意識到我可能得因此對我想做的遊戲和我想要專注的領域做出妥協,這根本不會讓我感到高興。我衡量成功的標準中從來沒有“妥協”二字。

話雖如此,衡量成功的標準隨着時間的推移而改變,一旦你舒適地達到一個目標,另一個目標就會在更高的層次上取代它的位置。

在某些情況下,我認爲如果在不斷變化的環境中沒有抓住機會,那是害怕失敗的恐懼造成的;而在另一些情況下,保持挑戰的新鮮感可能會很簡單。然而這也意味着我們可能永遠低於我們所認爲的成功。

Sebastian Lindén——Qaos Games 首席執行官&創意總監

若要取得成功,必須設定目標。對我來說,成功與期望一致,這通常與競爭對手或整個行業的假設和基準有關。

做好的遊戲對我來說很重要。在製作遊戲的早期階段或幫助他人的時候,我傾向觀察的唯一指標就是留存率。

我認爲成功的關鍵在於創造人們想要的東西。做出人們想要的東西,讓用戶有回來的必要。雖然蘋果的功能可以很有魅力,但它並不一定是可持續的,也跟玩家對你遊戲的看法沒有關係。

在定義成功的過程中,我認爲設定可衡量的目標很重要。這些目標可以基於你的個人目標、期望、利益相關者、假設、以前的經驗,以及你所追求的“成功”期限(短期/長期)。

你想要造出一個《Candy Crush》,還是想要創造出一個能夠爲你下一個項目買單的遊戲?

成功與‘滿足感’息息相關。對於一些開發者來說,成功可能是終於發佈了他們的遊戲;而對另一些人來說則是創造出下一個《Candy Crush》。對於我來說成功就是創造出人們喜愛的遊戲。

Dan Menard——Double Stallion 首席執行官

我同意Matthew的觀點,基本的生存在一段時間後會變得沉重。特別是考慮到每個人都有機會成本,如果你是自己在做遊戲,那你隨時都可以做其他的事情。

當我創建Double Stallion的時候,我告訴自己我會沿着這條路一直努力,但在追逐這個夢想的同時不犧牲我的理智或生活質量。

基本上,工作室的存在不僅僅是爲了讓我們能生存,還讓我們能茁壯成長。我和Double Stallion其他聯合創始人每年的期望都會比往年稍高一些。

如果工作室因爲無法跟上這些期望而開始搖搖欲墜,我們通常可以離開。我們希望這能使我們的決策保持敏銳,並允許我們能隨着時間的推移實現目標。

壓力有時會讓人難以忍受,但我認爲如果我們所有的努力都只是爲了生存而付出,那我們會感到更糟糕的壓力。

在長大的過程中,我們都想發展自己的事業,但如果你在進步,而工作室卻停滯不前,那就很難做到這一點。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Success can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people – while some may consider themselves a success simply by just getting to the next day, others may not be happy until they’re diving into a pool of cash Scrooge McDuck-style.

One would imagine that indie developers would be aiming for the former level of success, but is survival really success? And how do you even measure it?

To find out, we turned to our Indie Mavens to find out their thoughts on success and what metrics they track to determine their successes.

Specifically, we asked:

How do you define a “success” when it comes to launching your own games?

Are there any specific metrics you track to determine if your game was “successful”?

Tanya ShortCreative Director Kitfox Games

I find it essential to develop a set of goals for a project as part of the initial concept, even for game jams, which trickles down and inevitably influences everything about its scope, budget, schedule, feature set and my end feeling once it’s launched.

The goal could be to sell at least 100k units, or to learn how to use Unity, or to make the best snowboarding experience, or win IGF, or whatever else you want, but everyone on the team has to understand and believe in the goal.

Goals are how I can consistently determine what’s important and why, whether it’s adding controller support or extending development by two months – and have the rest of the team support that decision, without trying to pull away in a different direction.

Typically, Kitfox goals tend to be some mixture of financial, critical and production success: let’s make back our money, make something great (and/or something players love), and not kill ourselves doing it.

If we can hit any two of those things, we’re definitely Winning, but even one can be very hard. We can’t afford to bootstrap (go for months without salary), so survival of the studio has to be the minimum requirement… within which we define acceptable creative parameters.

Concrete Kitfox goals tend to specifically focus on production and finance more than critical reception.

For all of our projects so far, I have specifically prohibited and prevented any team member from spending more than 50 hours a week for more than two weeks at a time (no crunch allowed), and I do sit down to predict “bad”, “acceptable”, “great” and “ideal” unit sales for the months after launch, both when we start development and then update those expectations again before launch.

So far, Kitfox has succeeded production-wise (no crunch), and we tend to sit along the Acceptable sales projections, and we even reached 80% Steam user reviews for Moon Hunters, all which is not flying colors but it IS successful enough.

We can keep making more games! That some people seem to like! We’re living the dream! And hopefully getting better at it.

One important thing that people might not realise when they start out is that for ambitious creative people, you always want to improve.

So, as you go on and create more and more games, your base expectations of your performance may rise, even as the market shrinks or external factors make your goals more difficult to achieve.

Aaron FothergillCo-founder Strange Flavour

Is this a campfire “how do you define success”? In which case… to crush my bugs, see them driven before me and hear the lamentations of my players trying to beat just one more level…

Otherwise, it does rather depend on the project. The first general rule of thumb is that if lots of people play it and like it, it’s a win.

The second is, “has this helped us survive another year?”, so something that makes enough money to get us at least to finishing the next game or major update can be counted as a success.

Some projects (usually very quick ones) may be purely to see if we can find out if something specific will work. In those cases, success is more down to what sort of data we get back and whether the results can then be used in other games.

The number of sales and feedback we get from players are our main metrics. As the usual problem we have is getting people seeing our games, then the player feedback is usually a better metric for us as we can always work on more ways to sell a game that its players really like.

While every indie may dream of becoming a 10 to 20 to 50 to 100 people company that turns over billions a year, there are many things to learn first, so that growing to such an extent becomes (technically) possible – understanding and optimising metrics, monetisation, UA, how to scale up, etc.

I can bet that many of us do not pay much attention to those topics yet, because of many reasons, including lack of experience, budgets and overall naivety. Even given that there quite a lot of info on these topics is available on the net.

So, before an indie there is a long path to go until one can act on scale by effectively spending not just everything he earns on traffic and growth, but also money from investors and as big as $500 million bank loans, having a zero-to-very small actual margin to have a possibility to earn on stock price fluctuations or on a possible M&A deal in the future.

So, a success from an indie point of view is as simple as Aaron describes – make great games, earn enough to survive, learn, improve and to make more games

Erik van WeesCo-founder Arcane Circus

Something we’ve learned about “success” at Arcane Circus, when we released our game Crap! I’m Broke: Out of Pocket, is that you should define your success-goal as early in the project as possible.

Once we released our game we noticed we were adjusting our expectations regarding the sales. At the very beginning of our project we were hoping to settle on the idea of being able to recoup our initial investment.

During launch we were fortunate to have been featured on the main page by Apple which significantly impacted our sales. This led to us being able to make a return on our investment AND SOME.

An outsider would conclude: “Your goal has been accomplished, thus your game is a success”. Yet, I did not… Our feature came and went and the sales went down, but we wanted more because we had already adjusted our expectations based on this new scenario that had just unfolded.

Weirdly, I couldn’t feel joy… I didn’t FEEL I had “succeeded”. I knew the numbers meant we returned our investment but it didn’t register to me as “Hooray! We succeeded!”

I was already thinking about the amount of money we would need to be able to hire freelancers for a next bigger project.

Dreaming of a potential office space and buying better equipment to really get our company going. Yes… “GROW THE COMPANY! THAT’S WHAT I WANT,” whatever that entailed.

A success can seem very binary, you either succeed or you don’t. It can be as simple as a single rule or as complex as a whole set of requirements.

Because we defined a clear initial goal early on in the project I was able to put things into perspective after my stupid brain tried to make me believe I failed (a.k.a: not succeeding.

To conclude: make sure you can MEASURE your defined success and that the RULES ARE CLEAR FROM THE BEGINNING on whether something has succeeded or not.

It can also help if you take some time to distance yourself from the project before evaluating the initial goal(s).

Matthew AnnalMD Nitrome

A lot of people talk about success as surviving…i.e. Making enough to be able to afford to make the next game. On the other end of the scale Happy Magenta talk of aspirations to become a 100-person mega corp. Both may be true to certain people that but for me it’s somewhere in-between.

When Nitrome started out success would certainly have been making enough to make the next game but as time goes on (Nitrome has been running over 10 years) that is no longer the case.

Keeping yourself looking for the next scrap of income to keep you going weighs on you over time and as you move through life and gain commitments…families, partners, mortgages etc. it is certainly not a way to feel successful.

So, in my mind success is feeling that you are making enough of a return not just to cover your next game, but that you can stop the feeling of money worries altogether. Only then when your focus can be only on the games do I ever really feel successful.

Touching back on Pavel’s point of mega success on the level of the big players in the industry… That was never an aspiration for me personally, as I realised the compromise in the sort of games I would have to make or the areas I would need to focus on would ultimately not make me happy. Realising the compromise, it was never included in my measure of success that I would ever reach that.

Having said that, measure of success changes over time, and once you comfortably reach one goal another comes to take its place at ever higher levels.

In some ways, I think that’s led by fear of failing if opportunities are not taken in an ever-changing landscape and in others it may be simplify to keep the challenge fresh. What it also means however is that we may always be below what we perceive to be successful.

Sebastian LindénCEO & Creative Director Qaos Games

To make success tangible it’s necessary to set goals. For me, success aligns with my expectations, which often relate to assumptions or benchmarks against competitors or the industry as a whole.

It’s important for me to make great games. The only metric I tend to look at in early phases of making games or helping others is retention rate.

I think the key to success lies in making something people want. And to make something people want, users need to come back. Although Apple features can be charming, it’s not necessarily sustainable nor relevant to express what your players think about your game.

In defining success, I think it’s important to set measurable goals. These could be based on personal goals, expectations, stakeholders, assumptions, previous experience and whether you are looking for short-term versus long-term “success”.

Do you want to build a Candy Crush, or do you want to build a game to get enough profits to jump on your next game?

Success goes hand in hand with satisfaction. For some developers, success would be to finally launch their game, for some it would be to make the next Candy Crush. For me, it’s building products people love.

Dan MenardCEO Double Stallion

I agree with Matthew that simply surviving weighs down on you after a while. Especially considering that everyone has opportunity costs, and if you are not making games with your studio, you could always be doing something else.

When I started Double Stallion, I told myself I would go down the rabbit hole as far as it went, but without sacrificing my sanity or quality of life to chase an impossible dream.

Essentially, the studio exists to make cool stuff that will allow us not only to survive, but to thrive. Every year the co-founders and I run Double Stallion we have slightly higher expectations than the last year.

If the studio begins to falter because it can’t keep up with those expectations, we’re generally okay with walking away. The hope is that this keeps our decision making sharp and allows us to achieve our goals over time.

The pressure can be a lot to bear sometimes, but I think we would feel a worse pressure if all of our efforts were expended simply to survive.

We all want to develop our careers as we get older, and it’s hard to do that if you are running in place and the studio is stagnating.(Source:pocketgamer.biz