開發者從多角度談遊戲設計的四要素(下篇,變化與機會)

本文原作者:Darran Jamieson 譯者ciel chen

開發者從多角度談遊戲設計的四要素(上篇,選擇與挑戰)

在上一篇文章,我們主要研究了遊戲設計中有關挑戰和選擇方面的一些問題。挑戰和選擇爲玩家創造娛樂,但是光靠挑戰和選擇是無法做成一款遊戲的——否則一次小測都可以被當做是遊戲了。

爲了滿足遊戲的標準,玩家不僅需要進行不止一次的測試,他們得要連續不斷地進行測試。這裏我們需要遊戲設計的第三個要素。

3. 變化

一款遊戲不僅只是一個挑戰而已——從本質上來說,它是由很多個小型挑戰組成的——我們在遊戲過程中可能會面對成百上千的各種挑戰。比如“蒐集錢幣”或者“殺死敵人”或者“跳過陷阱”。

有時,玩家會故意“輸掉”一個小挑戰好獲得遊戲整體的利益(故意製造破壞來是自己的能力提升),而這種反向操作通常是複雜的遊戲機制以及明確的遊戲目標結合產生的現象。一款遊戲應該要含括非靜態的挑戰,並且要把玩家先前所作過的選擇都考慮到遊戲挑戰的制定中。

而變化就是遊戲內容的來源。我們在玩超級瑪麗的時候,我們不會一次又一次重複第一關的內容,因爲我們會想去到下一個關卡挑戰更多——這不僅關乎我們想要完成遊戲的慾望,而且是一種跨越了更難挑戰所獲得的成就感在驅使着我們如此。

玩家在把所有挑戰都完成後算是獲得遊戲的勝利;所以如果這些挑戰太容易玩家就會覺得無聊。如果做出一些改變能提供更多的遊戲內容給我們(更多的挑戰),玩家就會話更久的時間在遊戲中直到他們下次感到無聊爲止——這也是一些“骨灰級玩家”之所以會嘲笑像《開心農場》這類的休閒遊戲的原因:他們覺得這種遊戲太小兒科了。當然了,玩家對容易(還有無聊)的定義是因人而異的。

male ninjas(from tuts plus.com)

male ninjas(from tuts plus.com)

沒有變化的遊戲是什麼樣的?

遊戲沒有變化會讓玩家很快就變得無聊。變化不僅爲遊戲提供了呢日用,而且讓玩家有感覺到自己的進步。超級瑪麗(對還是這個遊戲作爲例子)就是一個很好的例子。儘管在超級瑪麗一代中的世界是同意的,而在《超級瑪麗兄弟2》中,背景世界變了。一代中是綠草世界,而在二代中則變成了沙漠或者別的場景。不止環境變了,還出現了一些特定場景纔出現的怪,因此2代的世界會給玩家帶來特別的感覺。

主題關卡也可以給玩家些許不一樣的感覺,即使只是一些圖形的對調就足夠讓玩家感覺到遊戲的進展了。其他遊戲也會使用類似的小技巧,包括老套的“調色板對調”(即使換一些顏色)。老式的日本RPG遊戲就會把普通級別敵人圖上紅色或者黑色來表示他們是“進階級別”的,而著名的《真人快打》就包含了9個使用基本相同人物模型的不同人物。

他們是:Ermac, Tremor, Scorpion, Reptile, Chameleon, Sub-Zero, Rain, Smoke and Noob Saibot.

把遊戲裏的小挑戰當做謎題是很有效的。謎題就是等着被解決的;重複解決相同的謎題並不會給你帶來任何更大的成就感。然而,如果把謎題加之以細微的變化卻可以讓人感到無限有趣。

填字遊戲可能是這裏最好的例子——這個遊戲的基本原則很簡單,然而就只需要簡單地改變一下這些詞彙,就足以成爲每天世界各地報紙中的一部分內容了

如果我們做出改變的方式上出錯會怎麼樣?

正如我們所看到的,遊戲內容如果不做點改變或者改變不夠大都會讓玩家很快就感到厭倦。然而有一款優秀的手遊《Flow Free》就設置了1000個關卡(另外還有付費關卡)。然而有些人會喜歡這樣多的關卡,不過基本上很少有人能完成所有的關卡。當然了,“內容太多”很難有個好壞的說法,不過大部分關卡最後都長一個樣——儘管難度等級提高了,但其所出的謎題仍舊是靜態的。對於一個有點水平的玩家都不需要花太久的時間來“解決”這個遊戲,這個時候解決這些關卡的時間就又成了簡單而無趣的了。

這就是程序自動生成的遊戲內容需要面對的風險。儘管從理論上講,內容無限聽上去很令人驚豔,事實上這些公式算法做不成什麼巧妙的設計,大部分產生的內容都很生硬,玩家很快就能摸透這裏面的“核心謎題”。

就比如你可以想象一款遊戲讓玩家做兩個隨機數字的相加算數——玩家昨晚了11+8,然後做12+7或者18+1,請問這有什麼好玩的體驗嗎?並沒有。然後如果這樣的遊戲還要讓玩家做多個數字的相加運算,玩家估計很快就會覺得煩了。

還有另外一種可能——遊戲的變化速度太快。遊戲中循序漸進的變化執行又可以叫做難度曲線。玩家想要這樣的挑戰,他們在理想的情況下會隨着難度的增加而提升他們的遊戲技巧。難度的突然性地高幅上升是沒什麼問題的,但你不能給玩家一堵越不過的牆呀。

《傳說之下》中的戰鬥。這裏,遊戲難度從開始的合理發展到了“希望你喜歡這樣死了又死”的節奏。

另外一個可能初夏你的問題就是——遊戲本身改變得太誇張。也就是說——挑戰的內容超出了我們的想象範圍。你可以想一下,你正玩一個賽車遊戲的時候,突然之間它變成了FPS;或者一個解謎遊戲突然變成了橫向卷軸遊戲。

這些距離都會比較極端一些,不過還真的有活生生的例子。

《生化奇兵》就在“黑客遊戲部分”使用了瘋狂水管風格的解謎了遊戲元素,儘管玩家多半還挺待見這個主要可選的遊戲內容的。

而《殺出重圍:人類革命Deus Ex: Human Revolution》中的強制性BOSS戰相比之下就沒那麼受玩家待見了。儘管大部分玩家沒什麼意見,但那些之前決定將能力點存起來的玩家們突然發現自己沒法這麼幹了。這不僅僅損害了遊戲(對玩家)的遊戲性,而且意味着玩家之前做出的選擇(決定把一些能力點先存起來的選擇)變成了“錯誤的”選擇——一種給玩家設下的陷阱。

所以,改變的重要性毋庸置疑,但是它也只是“內容創造”的一半構成而已——如果玩家玩遊戲只需要挑戰、選擇和改變就夠了的話,那他們乾脆去玩填字遊戲、拼圖玩具或者七巧板好了——這些都只是有遊戲性的活動,並非真正意義上的遊戲。還有最後一個要素——它確保了遊戲對玩家的吸引力,還能避免玩家一下子就知道怎麼“搞定”遊戲。

4. 機會

機會是遊戲設計的最後一個要素。在我們玩遊戲的過程中,我們制定瞭如何獲取黃金,擊敗敵人,以及實現我們目標的計劃。然而,我們不是每次都能成功:當我們能夠適應沒有預先計劃的臨時情況時,我們的遊戲技巧就能被充分地測試。即使你整體計劃得再棒也不可能施行得非常完美的。

機會可以以很多種形式存在於遊戲當中。最普遍的形式就是骰子、卡牌還有隨機數字生成器,不過人類也會爲自己提供機會——可以是人爲誤判、劍走偏鋒的策略或者預料外的玩法等等。如果沒有人爲因素,像國際象棋這樣的遊戲就會變得很枯燥——可以想象兩個玩家面對面玩着每次結果都一樣的遊戲有多無聊。

要是遊戲沒有了隨性概率會是什麼樣?

一款沒有隨機概率存在的遊戲就像在解題——一個可解的題目一旦被解出來就不再有趣了。這也是爲什麼報紙上每天都有新的填字遊戲,而不是天天都重複發佈雷同的題目一遍又一遍讓讀者玩的原因。

那麼隨機概率對遊戲設計有什麼影響呢?想象一下,我給了你一張世界地圖,現在有4種顏色的彩筆,然後讓你給每個國家塗顏色,相鄰的國際顏色不能相同——這是你能完成的事情,只是需要一些些時間和腦力。它可能會短暫地讓你開心,但這並不是真正的遊戲——這是一個題目,它是有解決方案的。

應用於世界地圖的四色理論。(儘管大海的顏色是第五種顏色,不過並不重要,它只是爲了讓地圖看上去更清楚。)

但是,如果現在我要在你每次給一個國家塗色的時候也隨機地給一個國家塗色,那情況就不一樣了。你最後的目標本質上還是保持不變,但是現在你有了新的需要擔心的參數了——你不能簡單地只想着把一個國家的顏色塗上一種顏色就好了;你需要開始考慮如何避開我塗的國家顏色。

遊戲將不再只有一種答案——它現在有了選擇“最適”答案的餘地——玩家不再是從第一步就能知道怎麼解開謎題了,他需要一步一步根據不同情況來“多次地去求解”。事實上,這場遊戲甚至有可能以無法獲得勝利的情況展開。

就是概率事件給了遊戲真正意義之所在,並界定了遊戲和謎題區別。你正在做的是試圖在一個不斷變化而且無法預測的世界裏做出最佳決策——這個決策可以是通過信息分析或者通過運算分析,但是這裏始終不會有一個能稱之爲正確答案的決策——我們只能說有相對最合適的決策。

如果我們錯誤地運用了隨機概率這個要素會發生什麼?

做到遊戲的隨機概率平衡是意見很巧妙的事。因爲遊戲是一個對玩家技巧的直接測試,我們發現那些隨機程度高的遊戲比較受那些遊戲技巧能力低的玩家(比如兒童和不怎麼玩遊戲的玩家)歡迎,卻不受擁有高遊戲技巧的玩家(骨灰級玩家或者有競爭力強的玩家)喜歡。這是意料之中的情況,因爲玩家都想贏,而運氣往往能抵消技能的影響。

當在遊戲中運用概率這個要素的時候,最主要的風險是概率事件會推翻先前選擇所產生的結果。玩家做出的選擇可能會因爲骰子的滾動而變得不再重要。當玩家發覺他們做出的選擇失去意義的時候,他們就會對遊戲失去興趣。想象一下一個玩家在整個遊戲裏搖骰子一直只搖到1的風險。當然了,有些玩家還是挺喜歡這種變數大的遊戲的,不過這個還是跟你對自己玩家基礎的瞭解有關。

我們之前已經多多少少聊過有關遊戲中隨機性使用的問題了,不過這裏有一個基本原則:要讓玩家有一種——自己能贏,並且贏的原因跟自己之前做出的決策是有關聯的感覺。以這樣或那樣的方式去撥弄概率的天平可能會造成不利影響和沮喪情緒的。

將四要素整合在一起

當我們在做自己的遊戲的時候,我們要用上這四個要素,讓它層層相疊,環環相扣,從而實現我們的遊戲概念。我們可以這樣想:

遊戲就是爲了給玩家制定挑戰的地方。玩家可以做出選擇來克服這些挑戰,即使概率可能會使玩家無法保證他們做出的選擇是正確的。但玩家做出的選擇可以改變遊戲的狀態,因此玩家必須不斷地根據變化的任何情況來評估從而做出最佳選擇。等玩家做出的選擇達到一定數量,就會知道他們是贏還是輸了。

上述就是遊戲設計的精髓所在。還有更多可以建立在諸如敘述、探索和音樂這些想法上的概念,但都只是些花瓶而已。它們可以增強遊戲體驗,但未必與遊戲本身相關。

爲什麼我們這麼重視這四要素?

當然,最重要的問題是,爲什麼這些要素那麼重要?我們都知道遊戲是什麼,爲什麼要花那麼長時間分解這個問題進行回答?

很簡單,因爲我們很多人沒能正確地理解遊戲是什麼。許多初出茅廬的設計師製作的遊戲光顧着炫耀了自己作爲遊戲設計師的聰明程度,卻沒能意識到遊戲應該是用來玩的。即使是在大公司工作的經驗豐富的遊戲設計師有時也會在這裏出錯,他們的內心自我是抗拒去接受批評的。去看看隨便一款失敗的遊戲,你肯定能找出他們有哪裏違反了這些規則。

當然,有時你可以打破規則而不用有什麼負面影響——沒人會去批評《我的世界》的設計者沒有把自創模式難度調夠。但是《我的世界》的自創模式並不是真正意義上的遊戲——它是一種玩具。他就像一幅畫布,你可以在這裏創造美麗的世界,而不用被怪物吃掉;而這個世界激發了玩家驚人的創造力——從《星際迷航》“企業號”的複製模型到在遊戲中使用的移動電話。

所以在你做遊戲之前,想象你的目標是什麼。遊戲設計是一個複雜的領域——你需要去兼顧故事敘述、音樂指導、美工設計還有其他超級多的事。但是,如果你在覈心問題上失敗了,也就是說你的遊戲基礎建設不牢固,那麼你就是在沙子上建房子,這房子早晚得塌。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

In our previous article, we examined some of the aspects of game design, in particular challenge and choice. Challenge and choice can create something which is entertaining, but by themselves do not make a game—otherwise a quiz could be considered a game.

To fulfil the game criteria, the player needs to be tested not just once, but continually. We need a third element.

3. Change

A game is more than a singular challenge. It is, essentially, a series of micro challenges—we might face hundreds or thousands during the course of the game. Things like “collect a coin” or “kill an enemy” or “jump the pit”.

Sometimes, the player might deliberately “fail” a micro-challenge in order to benefit overall (intentionally taking damage to reach a powerup) but doing counter-intuitive moves is often a result of complex gameplay and a clear overall goal. A game needs to contain challenges which are not static, and revolve around choices the player has previously made.

Change is what provides content. When we play Mario, we don’t repeat the first level over and over; we want to progress to the later levels. It’s not just the desire to complete the game, but the satisfaction of overcoming more difficult challenges which drives us.

Mario 1-1 level

By now, most gamers are familiar with level 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. (Image taken from Mario Wiki)

A player wins a game when all challenges have been completed. A player gets bored of a game when all challenges become trivial. If changing things around provides us with more content (more challenges), then the player will take longer to get bored of the game. This is partly why some “hardcore” gamers choose to deride casual games such as Farmville: they see the game as trivial, and therefore boring. Of course, the definition of trivial (and boring) varies for every individual.

There are many ways to provide the stimulus of change within a game. The most obvious is simply having multiple levels, but achievements can also provide an aspect of change. Completing a game shows you’re good at it, but a pacifist run where the player doesn’t kill shows mastery of a different sort. It provides more content to the player and in some cases can double the lifespan of a game.

What Is a Game Without Change?

Without change, players become bored very quickly. The use of change not only provides content, but allows the players to feel as if they’re making progress. Mario (again) is a great example of this. Although in the first Mario, worlds were uniform, in Super Mario Bros 2, the worlds changed. World 1 was a grass world, World 2 was a desert, and so forth. Not only did the environment change, but some monsters were also world-specific, so the worlds had specific feels to them.

Theming levels is one way to provide a certain feel, and that slight graphical swap can sometimes be enough to reaffirm a feeling of progress. Other games have used similar tricks, including the old “palette swap”, aka changing a few colours. Old JRPGs would take standard enemies and paint them red or black as “upgraded” versions, and Mortal Kombat famously includes nine different characters who utilise the same basic character model.

Mortal Kombat ninjas

Ermac, Tremor, Scorpion, Reptile, Chameleon, Sub-Zero, Rain, Smoke and Noob Saibot. image by Chakham on deviantart.

It’s useful to think of the micro-challenges within a game as puzzles. A puzzle is something that can be solved; solving it again doesn’t provide you with any greater accomplishment. Minor variations on that puzzle can keep things interesting indefinitely, however.

Crosswords are probably the greatest example of this—the basic principle behind the crossword is simple, but by simply varying the words, enough content can be produced for newspapers across the world every day.

What Happens When We Do Change in the Wrong Way?

As we’ve seen, no change or not enough change simply means the player will get bored quickly. The otherwise excellent mobile game Flow Free comes with over 1,000 levels, with more purchasable. While some people will love this, it seems likely that most players will never get near to completing them all. Of course, it’s hard to argue that “too much content” is a bad thing, but most of the levels end up looking very samey—and although the levels change, the puzzle behind them remains essentially static. It doesn’t take long for a decent player to “solve” the game, and at that point solving the levels themselves becomes trivial.

This is the risk that procedurally generated content faces. Although, in theory, infinite content sounds amazing, the fact is that without some very clever design behind those algorithms, most of the content generated will become stale very quickly as players solve the “core puzzles”.

Imagine creating a game which asks the player to add two random numbers. Once the player has solved 11+8, then solving 12+7 or 18+1 doesn’t actually provide a new experience. And if all your game consists of is adding numbers together, then players will get bored pretty quickly.

On the flip side, it’s also possible to implement change too quickly. The gradual implementation within a game is often referred to as a difficulty curve. Players want that challenge, and ideally the difficulty should increase in line with their skill. There’s nothing wrong with the odd difficulty spike, but the player shouldn’t find themselves hitting an impossible brick wall.

Undertale undyine battle

Undertales Undyne fight. Here, the game goes from being a reasonable challenge to “hope you like dying repeatedly”.

One other possible problem is changing too much about the game itself. That is, changing things outside our expectations. Imagine playing a racing game that suddenly switches to a first-person shooter, or a puzzle game that suddenly switches to a platformer.

These are extreme examples, but they do happen.

Bioshock utilised pipemania-style puzzles for its hacking section, although for the most part, this mostly optional content was well received.

Less well received was the mandatory boss combat for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. While most players had no issues, players who decided to put character points into stealth suddenly found themselves against a brick wall. Not only did it break what the game (for these players) was about, but it meant that the choices the player had made before (choosing to invest points into stealth) was “wrong”: a trap choice for the player.

So, change is important, but it’s essentially just one half of the “content creation” coin. If players only need challenge, choice, and change, then what stops crossword puzzles from being games? What about jigsaws, or sliding block puzzles? These things are “game-y”, but they are not games. We need one last thing—something which ensures the player is constantly engaged, and cannot just “solve” our game immediately.

4. Chance

Chance is the final element of game design. As we play our game, we make plans on how to acquire gold, defeat our foes, and otherwise accomplish our goals. However, we won’t always be successful: our gaming skill is fully tested when we are able to adapt to conditions which weren’t initially planned. You’re not expected to play perfectly, as long as your overall strategy is sound.

Chance can exist in games in many forms. Most common are dice, cards, and random number generators, but humans can provide their own chance as well. Humans misjudge, make gambits, and otherwise play unpredictably. Without that human element, games like chess would be remarkably dull—two players facing each other would have the same outcome every time.

What Is a Game Without Chance?

A game without chance is simply a puzzle. It can be solved, and when a puzzle is solved, it no longer provides entertainment. This is why newspapers publish a new crossword every day, rather than simply republishing the same one over and over.

So how does chance affect game design? Imagine that I give you a map of the world and four coloured pens, and ask you to colour in the countries in such a way that no two colours touch. This is something you should be able to accomplish with a bit of time and brainpower. It might briefly keep you entertained, but it’s not really a game. It’s a puzzle, and it has a solution.

World map in 4 colours

Four-colour theory as applied to the world map. (Although a fifth colour is used for the sea for clarity, it’s not necessary.)

If, however, I randomly colour a country in every time you make a move, things change. Your end goal is essentially the same, but now you have an additional parameter to worry about. You can’t simply colour countries in one at a time; you need to start thinking about how to avoid my countries.

The game no longer has a singular solution—it has a selection of “best fit” possible solutions. The game cannot be solved on the first move: every move requires “resolving” the game. Indeed, the game might unfold in such a way that winning isn’t even possible.

This is what really defines a game, and separates games from puzzles. You are trying to make the best decisions in an ever-changing world, and that change is unpredictable. You can make informed decisions and calculated choices, but there is very rarely a correct choice—simply a best choice.

What Happens When We Do Chance in the Wrong Way?

The balancing of chance within a game is a delicate act. Because a game is a direct test of players’ skill, we tend to find that players of low skill levels (such as children or non-gamers) favour games with a high chance aspect, and high-skill players (hardcore gamers or competitive players) dislike it. This is, unsurprisingly, because players like winning, and luck tends to neutralise the impact skill has.

The main danger when implementing chance is that it can override choice. Choices a player makes might be rendered unimportant by the roll of the die. When a player feels as if the choices they are making are pointless, they will lose interest. Imagine a Risk player who only rolled 1′s for the whole game. Of course, some players will like high-variance games, but that’s part of understanding your player base.

We’ve talked before, both briefly and in depth, about the implementation of randomness within games, but the basic principle is this: a player needs to feel both that they are capable of winning and that the choices they make are relevant. Tipping the scales of chance one way or the other can affect that and cause frustration.

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Putting It All Together

When we make our game, we use these four elements, layered on top of each other, to bring our vision to life. We can think of it this way:

A game is something where a player is set a challenge. The player may make choices to overcome the challenge, although chance dictates that the player cannot guarantee the choices they make are correct. The choices the player makes change the state of the game, so that the player must constantly be re-evaluating the best choice for any situation. Once a player has made a sufficient number of choices, the game is won or lost.

This is the essence of game design. There are further concepts that can be built upon this—ideas like narrative, exploration, and music—but these are all dressing. They enhance the experience of a game, but they are not necessarily relevant to the game itself.

Why Care?

The most important question, of course, is why is any of this important? We all know what a game is, why spend so long breaking it down?

Simply, because so many of us get it wrong. Many fledgling designers make games that show off how clever the designer is, but fail to appreciate that a game is supposed to be played. Even experienced game designers working for large companies can get it wrong on occasion, individual egos refusing to take on criticism. Look at any game that failed critically, and you’re guaranteed to be able to identify where they broke these rules.

Of course, sometimes you’re able to break the rules and get away with it. No-one is really criticising the developers of Minecraft for not making creative mode hard enough. But Minecraft’s creative mode isn’t really a game—it’s a toy. It’s a canvas where you can create beautiful worlds without the risk of being eaten by monsters. A world that has inspired amazing feats of ingenuity, from replicas of Star Trek’s Enterprise to a working, in-game mobile phone.(source:tuts plus  )