開發者訪談:《浴火銀河3:蠍獅號崛起》的製作過程

開發者訪談:《浴火銀河3:蠍獅號崛起》的製作過程

原文作者:Matt Suckley 譯者:Megan Shieh

2016年12月,Deep Silver Fishlabs發佈了《Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore》(浴火銀河3:蠍獅號崛起)。

距離2006年發佈的首版《浴火銀河》整整10年,這兩版遊戲的鮮明對比應該最能體現手機遊戲在相對短時間內的發展。

的確,《蠍獅號崛起》的視覺效果甚至能讓2006年的遊戲機折服,轉換到現代手機和平板電腦的高保真屏幕上就更不用說啦!

《浴火銀河3:蠍獅號崛起》是系列中第一個帶有F2P模式的遊戲,這也許是最根本的變化。

爲了全方位瞭解這一切,PocketGamer.biz對Deep Silver Fishlabs工作室的負責人Michael Krach就遊戲開發的幕後進行了針對性的訪問。

PocketGamer.biz: 隨着2006年的首版發佈,《浴火銀河》成爲目前爲止運行時間最長的手遊系列之一。在開發《蠍獅號崛起》時,這一傳承對你的思維產生了什麼影響?

Michael Krach: 在它的全盛時期,《浴火銀河2》從經濟上和評論上看都真的很成功。

如果玩家和媒體沒有表現出對我們遊戲的熱愛,我們根本都不會想到要製作第三部。

然而在過去的幾年裏,移動市場發生了巨大的變化;我們發現像《浴火銀河2》這樣一個遊戲已經無法被再造了。

所以我們選擇了一條不同的路——在《蠍獅號崛起》裏引入了新的想法,同時也保留了《浴火銀河2》中的精華:絕妙科幻環境中的激烈太空戰鬥。

galaxy on fire 3 manticore(from pocket gamer.biz)

galaxy on fire 3 manticore(from pocket gamer.biz)

《蠍獅號崛起》的團隊裏有沒有人從一開始就參與了這個系列的開發?

有的,我們團隊中的部分開發人員已經在公司工作超過10年了;也有5年前加入的人,他們參與了《浴火銀河2》的開發。

然後還有一些專門爲了《蠍獅號崛起》的開發而加入我們的新成員,它們帶來了新的想法。

總而言之,《浴火銀河》團隊是目前業內最大的獨立手遊開發團隊之一。

你如何在‘系列粉絲’和‘沒有玩過該系列遊戲的新玩家’之間,保持吸引力平衡?

《蠍獅號崛起》是以浴火銀河宇宙上未知的神祕部分爲背景。

還是在同一個宇宙上,這點與該系列的其他遊戲產生了連接;因爲是未知的部分,所以新玩家不需爲了理解《蠍獅號崛起》的內容而被迫去玩之前的版本。

《蠍獅號崛起》講述的是一個全新的故事,將新的概念帶入該系列;但與此同時它也充滿了對前幾版遊戲的敬意。

《浴火銀河》中的敘事部分比公司旗下一般的免費遊戲要大得多,你是如何在手遊領域裏實現這點的?

《蠍獅號崛起》不僅是一款非常故事驅動的、帶有IAP的免費應用程序,而且它比起前幾版遊戲更強調潛在的敘述。

實際上,《浴火銀河2》和它兩個附件的旁白結合起來,都沒有《蠍獅號崛起》裏的多。

這個遊戲定位在一個被稱爲“Neox Sector”的神祕邊緣世界裏,講述了一個關於危險和欺騙的、扣人心絃的故事,新的故事情節比以前更深刻,更嚴肅。

然而在《蠍獅號崛起》中所發生的一切都基於浴火銀河系列的傳說,而經驗豐富的玩家將會在沿途遇到許多熟悉的面孔、場景和彩蛋。

總體來說,我們相信《蠍獅號崛起》的敘事引導方式確實有助於維持我們遊戲的動作序列,同時也促進了玩家的沉浸感。

在廣泛的移動設備上運行這樣一個複雜且視覺上令人印象深刻的遊戲,開發團隊遇到了多少技術上的挑戰?

除了成爲我們迄今爲止規模最大、最佳的項目之外,《蠍獅號崛起》的開發也是最具有挑戰性的。

iOS版本引入了Metal,以及我們專有的ABYSS引擎的升級版,該系統的引入使我們實現了超高的視覺和技術標準。

雖然我們對迄今爲止所取得的成就感到無比自豪,但《蠍獅號崛起》的發佈並不是我們旅程的結尾。

我們的團隊現在正在做Android移植,平臺上的高度碎片化使得這比iOS版本更難實現。

安卓的設備有太多種,它們都有各自的備用芯片組、分辨率和操作系統版本,以及像OpenGL 和Vulkan 這樣多樣的圖形標準。

所有的3D環境(比如旁白),對你提供內容更新和保持遊戲新鮮的頻率有什麼影響?

如果我們說遊戲的深度和複雜性在這方面沒有影響,那是騙人的。

增加新內容時,如果你不想就只是啓動一個關卡編輯器,那就必須從零開始創作高質量的內容,這使增加新內容變得極具挑戰性。

這點我們從一開始就知道,在制定內容策略的時候也充分考慮過。

我們現在處於在線運營階段,有幾十個人在爲《蠍獅號崛起》研發新內容。

我們的計劃是每隔幾個月發佈一次重大的更新(即:後續故事章節),以及之間的小補丁。

在這裏,我們區分不同程度的大小。

儘管一個新的故事章節應該總是有完整的旁白(VO),但如果我們的玩家可以提早地享受它,我們不介意在沒有完整VO的情況下添加一個新的副任務,

《蠍獅號崛起》的開發團隊有多大?總開發時間有多長?

這是一個由40名敬業的程序員、藝術家、設計師和製作人組成的團隊,《蠍獅號崛起》是這些人的血液、汗水和眼淚的產物。

該項目已經進行三年多了,團隊規模各異。在這段時間裏,我們不僅不斷地與手機遊戲領域的變化保持一致,而且還開發了我們自己的引擎和遊戲。

ABYSS 4.0 引擎處於科技的前沿,沒有它的存在這一些都不可能發生。

遊戲的測試發行持續了多久?你從這個過程中學到的最重要的東西是什麼?作爲學習結果,你做了哪些改變?

我們的遊戲最初在2016年6月底於荷蘭啓動測試發行。發行地區逐步地增加,直到將近半年後,我們實現全球上架。

在那六個月裏,我們在所有領域都做了很多寶貴的學習——從後臺開發和性能優化到玩家行爲和功能請求。

我們在軟發行期間做出的最大改變是對去年9月所做的社區調查進行了後續行動。

根據從玩家那裏得到的反饋,我們增加了一種探索模式、移除了飛船機庫中的修理計時器、提供了更多的任務種類,並引入了老版遊戲中的傳統飛船。

蘋果電視版《蠍獅號崛起》的幕後思維是什麼? 玩家們是如何反應的?

在蘋果電視上發佈《蠍獅號崛起》是一個我們不能錯過的機會,因爲它讓我們成爲了世界上最大的科技公司運營的全新平臺上的先行者!

這種好機會怎麼能錯過呢?此外,它給了我們一個機會向世人展示《浴火銀河》系列還活着,而且還是很棒!

當時距離第2部問世已經有一段時間了,而完整的iOS版本在那個時候還沒有準備好。

在一個遊戲越來越自動化的移動市場上,你認爲手遊市場對像《浴火銀河》這樣相對激烈的遊戲體驗是否還有需求?

肯定的!年復一年,數以億計的人們將他們的手機和平板電腦升級爲最新的標準。

如今這些人的口袋裏都裝有強大的迷你遊戲機、並且想要體驗超越休閒遊戲的圖像效果和遊戲。

與此同時,隨着玩家期望的增加,他們可以玩遊戲(或者其他形式的數字娛樂)的時間也變短了。

所以他們最終想要的是:在他們的移動設備上得到高質量的體驗,每當他們想玩遊戲的時候,都能在5分鐘內被驚豔到。

闡述的就是類似《蠍獅號崛起》的高端技能遊戲,因爲要平衡玩家的各種不同期望,所以它的設計難度會特別大。

你當初對於實施貨幣化是怎麼個想法?在這個過程中發生了多少迭代?

貨幣化顯然是決定遊戲成敗的關鍵因素。

再好的遊戲設置、再完美的呈現,如果沒有下載量那基本上是沒有價值的,因爲沒人原意爲你的遊戲預先花錢;或者可能你有數百萬的安裝量,但從中沒有賺到任何錢,那你就沒辦法維持在線運營;這是目前移動應用商店中所謂的“premium offer”的悲哀現狀。

在《蠍獅號崛起》中,我們決定採用比較不唐突的貨幣化方式,拒絕帶有侵略性地、強制性地推動玩家花錢。

這基本上是現在大多數遊戲必須採取的方法。由於大部分的娛樂都是免費的,所以真正的支付壓力會讓人們遠離產品。

看看《Super Mario Run》(超級馬里奧跑酷),100個玩家中只有3個決定一次性支付9.99美元的價格,這可是世界上最大的IP之一誒!

你爲什麼決定加入內置錄屏功能(Replay Kit)?玩家是如何與之互動的?

Replay Kit 是蘋果公司推出的一款很棒的功能,讓玩家可以輕鬆地記錄、編輯和分享他們的遊戲視頻。

你已經可以在Youtube和Facebook上看到很多以這種方式錄製的視屏,這些視屏呈現激烈的任務、充滿動作場面的挑戰還有猛烈的boss戰鬥。

你對全球發佈有多高興?有沒有什麼預料之外的事?

這可能是我們有史以來最好的一次發行。當《浴火銀河3:蠍獅號崛起》在全球應用程序商店上架時,我們非常興奮;之前做了非常充分的準備,一切都很順利。

遊戲運行良好,服務器即使在高壓下也保持穩定。

最重要的是,蘋果也給了我們很多支持。他們授予了《蠍獅號崛起》‘編輯推薦勳章’,然後還說他們“很喜歡遊戲中史詩般的體驗以及巨大而絢麗的宇宙。”

此外,我們在App Store上獲得了超過13000個用戶評論,在幾乎所有的市場上都被評爲4星。

《浴火銀河》系列的粉絲都很喜愛這個遊戲,媒體也對我們很好,給了我們很多好評!

有什麼可以分享的早期統計或KPI嗎?

很抱歉,現在我不能分享任何具體數字。

但我可以告訴你現在的數據看起來很不錯,很多玩家每天都在漫遊、射擊、探索我們的遊戲世界。

《浴火銀河3:蠍獅號崛起》的未來規劃是什麼?

我們現在有三個重點:

即將在亞洲推出的iOS版本(包含完整的日文旁白,這是我們的第一次嘗試)。

全球推出的Android版本(計劃在今年上半年進行)。

發佈我們的第一個大內容更新(開放星圖上的Rigant Vortex區域)。

在此期間我們將繼續調整和改進我們的遊戲,加入很多的小補丁,比如我們最近更新的加速器控制,這是許多粉絲要求的一個功能。

正如你所看到的,我們有很多很棒的東西。對我們公司和我們的玩家來說,2017年將會是美妙的一年。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Deep Silver Fishlabs launched Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore in December 2016.

A full decade on from the launch of the originalGalaxy on Fire back in 2006, comparing the two is perhaps the most stark display of how far mobile gaming has come in a relatively short time.
Indeed, Manticore boasts visuals that would have impressed even on consoles back in 2006, swapping cramped feature phone displays for the high-fidelity screens of modern phones and tablets.
Perhaps the most fundamental change, however, is that Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore is the first in the series with a free-to-play model.

To discuss all this and more, PocketGamer.biz spoke with Deep Silver Fishlabs Head of Studio Michael Krach to go behind the scenes on the game’s development.

PocketGamer.biz: With the first entry launching back in 2006,Galaxy on Fire is one of the longest-running mobile game series out there. How did this legacy affect your thinking when developing Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore?

Michael Krach: At its heyday, Galaxy on Fire 2 was really successful – both financially and critically.

If the fans and media had not shown that much love for our game, we would not even have thought about making a third instalment.

Yet, the mobile market changed significantly in the past couple of years and we reached a point where it became obvious that a game likeGalaxy on Fire 2 could not be re-created anymore.

So we went down a different path, introducing new ideas to Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore while simultaneously keeping the essence of the previous Galaxy on Fire games preserved: intense space fights in stunning sci-fi environments.

Are there team members working on Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore who have been with the series since the very start?

Yes, we still have developers on board who have been with the company for more than 10 years.

Then we got people in our team who joined us over five years ago and worked on the DLC for Galaxy on Fire 2.

And finally, there are new team members that joined us specifically for Galaxy on Fire 3 and brought in fresh ideas.

All in all, the Galaxy on Fire team is one of the biggest standalone teams working on a mobile game these days!

How did you balance appealing to series fans and onboarding new players who may not have played a game like Galaxy on Firebefore?

Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore is set in a hitherto uncharted part of theGalaxy on Fire universe.

This allows us to link the game to its predecessors, without requiring people to play the old games first in order to understand what is going on in the new game.

Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore tells a fresh story and introduces novel ideas to the franchise. But at the same time it is also packed with nods and homages to its predecessors.

Narrative plays a bigger part in Galaxy on Fire than in your average free-to-play game, so what was your approach to making this work on mobile?

Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore is not only surprisingly story-driven for a free app with in-app purchases, but it also puts a stronger emphasis on the underlying narrative than its predecessors.

MICHAEL KRACH

There are actually more lines of voiceovers in our new game than in Galaxy on Fire 2 and both add-ons combined.

Also, the story – which tells a gripping tale of danger and deceit in a mysterious fringe world of known space called the Neox Sector – is much deeper and more serious than before.

Yet, everything that happens in Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore is rooted in the rich lore of the Galaxy on Fire saga and veteran players will encounter many familiar faces, situations and Easter eggs along the way.

Generally speaking, we believe that the narrative-led approach of Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore really helps with sustaining the action sequences of our game as well as promoting the immersion of our players.

How much of a technical challenge was it to get such a complex and visually impressive game running on a broad range of mobile devices?

Besides being our biggest and best-looking project to date, Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore is also our most challenging one.

On iOS, it was the introduction of Metal and the next-gen version of our proprietary ABYSS Engine that really enabled us to bring the game such a high visual and technical standard.

While we are really proud of what we have achieved so far, our journey has not ended.

As we speak, our team is working on the Android porting, which is a lot harder to realise than the iOS version due to the high level of fragmentation on the platform.

There’s just so many different Android devices out there, all of which have alternate chipsets, resolutions and OS versions as well as diverting graphics standards such as OpenGL and Vulkan.

How do all the 3D environments, voice acting etc. affect the frequency with which you’re able to deliver content updates and keep the game fresh?

We would be lying if we said that the game’s depth and complexity had no effect on this.

Of course, adding new content is much more challenging if you have to produce everything from scratch – and at top quality – instead of merely starting a level editor.

But that is something we knew right from the start and considered when we laid out our content strategy.

Now that we are in live operation, we have several dozen people working on new content for Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore.

Our plan is to release one major new update (i.e. a follow-up story chapter) every few months, plus smaller patches in-between.

Here, we differentiate between varying levels of magnitude.

While a new story chapter should always be fully voiced, we would not mind adding a new side mission without complete VO if this meant our players could enjoy it much sooner.

How big was the team on Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore and how long was the total development time?

Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore is the product of the blood, sweat and tears of a 40-strong core team of dedicated programmers, artists, designers and producers.

The project has been in the works for more than three years with varying team sizes.

Throughout that time, we have not only constantly aligned our game with the ongoing changes in the mobile gaming landscape, but also developed our own engine alongside with the game.

The ABYSS Engine 4.0 is now a bleeding-edge piece of tech without which none of this would be possible.

How long was the game in soft launch? What were the most significant lessons you learned from the process, and what changes did you implement as a result?

Initially, our game soft-launched in the Netherlands in late June 2016. Step by step, more territories followed until we went live globally almost half a year later.

In those six months, we made a lot of invaluable learnings in all areas, ranging from backend development and performance optimisation to player behavior and feature requests.

The biggest changes we made during soft launch were the follow-ups to the community poll we ran last September.

Based on the feedback we received from our players, we added an exploration mode, removed the repair timers in the ship hangar, provided bigger mission variety and introduced legacy ships from the previous Galaxy on Fire games.

What was the thinking behind the Apple TV prologue Galaxy on Fire – Manticore RISINGand how did players react to it on that platform?

Releasing Manticore RISING on the Apple TV was an opportunity we could not pass by as it allowed us to be first-movers on an all-new platform run by the biggest tech company in the world!
How could you say no to that? Furthermore, it gave us a chance to show the world that Galaxy on Fire was still alive and coming along great.

It had been a while since part two came out and the full iOS version ofGalaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore was simply not ready at that point.

In a mobile market where games are becoming increasingly automated, do you feel there’s still a healthy appetite for more intense gaming experiences like Galaxy on Fire on mobile?

Absolutely! Year after year, hundreds of millions of people upgrade their phones and tablets to the newest standards.

They now have potent mini-consoles in their pockets and want to experience graphics and gameplay that goes beyond casual play.

At the same time as the expectations of the players increased, the time they could spend with games (and other forms of digital entertainment) got shorter.

So what they ultimately want is this: high-quality experiences that happen right there on their mobile devices and “wow” them in less than five minutes – whenever they feel like it.

This presents high-end skill games such as Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore with a particularly tough game design challenge, namely to balance all the diverse expectations of the players.

What was your thinking in terms of implementing monetisation and how much iteration occurred around this?

Obviously, monetisation is a key factor in the success or failure of a game.

Even the best gameplay and slickest presentation are not worth much if nobody downloads your game because they are not willing to spend any money up-front – which is the sad reality for so-called premium offers on the mobile app stores at the moment – or if you cannot uphold live operation because you make millions of installs but zero money.

For Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore we decided to go with rather unobtrusive monetisation that does not aggressively push players towards payments as a mandatory means of progression.

Basically, that is what most games have to resort to these days. With the bulk of the entertainment being available for free, real pressure to pay simply drives people away from the product.
Look at Super Mario Run. Only three players out of 100 decided to pay a one-time price tag of $9.99 for one of the biggest IPs on the planet. It says a lot.

Why did you decide to include in-built Replay Kit functionality and how have players interacted with it so far?

Replay Kit is a fantastic feature introduced by Apple that allows our players to record, edit and share their gameplay footage easily.

On YouTube and Facebook, you already find a lot of very cool videos that were produced this way, showing intense missions, action-packed challenges and fierce boss battles.

How happy have you been with the global launch? Any surprises?

This was probably the best launch we ever had. When Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore hit the App Store globally, we were very excited, extremely well-prepared and everything went smoothly.

The game performed fine and the servers remained stable, even under high pressure.

On top, Apple gave us a lot of support as well. They bestowed Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore with an Editor’s Choice badge and said that they “love how epic it all feels – and how gorgeous this vast universe is”.

Furthermore, we got over 13,000 user ratings on the App Store with solid four stars out of five in almost all markets.

The loyal Galaxy on Fire community has appreciated the game and the media has also been very kind to us, with lots of good reviews!

Are there any early stats/KPIs you’re able to share?

I am sorry, but right now, I cannot share any concrete numbers here.

But I can tell you that the stats are looking very promising right now and that quite a lot of players are roaming, shooting and exploring our game world every day.

What’s next for Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore?

We have three big points on our agenda right now:

The impending Asian launch of the iOS version (including full Japanese voiceovers, which is a first for us).

The worldwide launch of the Android version (planned to take place in the first half of this year).

The release of our first big content update (unlocking the Rigant Vortex area on the star map).

In-between, we will continue to tweak and improve our game with numerous smaller patches, such as our most recent update introducing accelerometer controls – a feature many fans have requested!

As you see, we have quite a lot of great stuff up our sleeves! 2017 will be a fantastic year, both for our company and for our players. (Source: pocketgamer.biz