Trip Hawkins回顧如何從對一款遊戲的熱愛到影響自己創作遊戲

原作者:Blake Hester 譯者:Willow Wu

自1961年以來,桌上RPG遊戲Strat-O-Matic Baseball一直被視爲策略遊戲界的標杆。對Trip Hawkins來說,這個遊戲讓他成功地邁出了漫長職業生涯的第一步。Strat-O-Matic Baseball讓他發現了對模擬生活的熱愛,他樂於扮演英雄角色。他會研究數據,模擬那些比較接近現實的場景。

現在他已是花甲之年,最廣爲人知的身份就是EA創始人。他跟世嘉公司合作過,利用世嘉MD(世嘉五代,美國叫Sega Genesis)打開美國市場,與任天堂相抗衡。他協力開發了John Madden Football。再後來他成爲3DO的合作創始人。最初他用可動人偶創作遊戲,之後他發現自己對體育以及模擬遊戲的熱愛,再後來他向世人分享了他的第一次破產經歷,在學校中繼續修煉技能,最後成爲了業內舉足輕重的人物。

今年的早些時候,我們約到了Hawkins,聽他說說他是怎麼進入這個行業的,他從失敗中學到了什麼,還有這些年他爲什麼還在玩Strat-O-Matic。

Trip-Hawkins(from gamerzones.com)

Trip-Hawkins(from gamerzones.com)

鳥人

Hawkins成長於電視黃金時代,但是他對電視並不感興趣。他說,從很小的時候他就喜歡桌遊,還有跟他兄弟一起玩虛構遊戲。

“當我在玩遊戲的時候,我所在的處境是充滿變數的:我需要做出選擇,這個選擇通常就會決定事件的結局是什麼樣的。其他玩家的遊戲策略會影響我的選擇,反之亦然。”Hawkins說,“這些東西對我來說相當有吸引力,我能感覺到整個人清醒了很多,甚至好像能聽到我大腦運作的聲音……讓我的思維開闊許多——真的是有種煥然一新的感覺。”

從小他就自稱爲藝術家,Hawkins說他真的對角色扮演非常入迷,而且在不久之後他們兄弟倆就開始自己創作遊戲,那時候他們才5歲。最初的遊戲命名爲“鳥人”,它並不怎麼複雜,道具就是可動人偶。他們把三四種不同的玩具組合起來,創造了一個關於英國士兵對抗羅馬帝國的故事。他們給遊戲寫了一連串事件,還給遊戲角色做了配飾。

“我們並沒有把玩具直接就用到遊戲中,而是對它們進行了一定的改造,包括非主流式造型。我們想要以一種新的方式去使用他們,這就是我們那時的遊戲設計原則,”他說。

大概10歲的時候,又有兩個新東西讓Hawkins着迷:橄欖球和棒球。作爲一個喜歡爲劇情設定參數的人,Hawkins說他很高興“可以管理球隊中的資源,比賽的時候會用到戰略性的框架,有趣的決策,還有許多扮演領導人和英雄的機會”。

“我是一個挺厲害的戰略思想家。我很喜歡在故事中扮演英雄。所以,在我12、13歲的時候,我就已經能夠有意識地去思考那種奇幻題材故事,並且是從遊戲設計的角度去思考,”他說。

把一個橄欖球或者是棒球扔給朋友,假裝是他們的英雄,這樣的場景對Hawkins這個喜歡研究策略、喜歡模擬真實的人來說還是不夠的。“就像是‘不對不對不對,我想玩的是有骰子、卡牌、圖表的策略遊戲,能來個全壘打或則是觸地得分,成爲球場上的英雄,’”他說,“但我並不希望它是無厘頭的,我要它是合情合理的。我不要拋個硬幣就或者轉個轉盤就決定了。’”

然而事實證明這種遊戲太難找了。Hawkins說他試了好多體育模擬遊戲,看看能不能符合他的需求,但是所有遊戲都無一例外地在短時間內被淘汰。直到1967年,他發現了Strat-O-Matic Baseball。

Strat-O-Matic是一款由Hal Richman創造的桌上(現在是線上)模擬遊戲。遊戲中每張卡牌代表着不同的球員,上面印着球員能力等級,還有行動對應的骰子點數。每年更新一次球員卡片。玩家需要爲他的球員制定團隊策略以及個人策略,骰子的點數直接決定了擊球手或者是投手的表現。跟同類遊戲相比,Strat-O-Matic在設計上更加有深度,細節更加豐富。遊戲特色還包括:短打、盜壘,投手、外野手、擊球員都能有所表現。這遊戲自1961年發行以來,對職業棒球大聯盟球員、講解員、還有遊戲設計師都有着深深的影響。

對於Hawkins這個癡迷於創造擬真情景和策略的人來說,Strat-O-Matic是百裏挑一的好遊戲。他對這個遊戲欲罷不能。

“說真的,這個遊戲真的是天才之作。我對這個遊戲充滿了敬意,一直玩到了現在,”Hawkins說,“我年年都在玩這個遊戲,已經連續玩了50年了。”

雖然Hawkins很喜歡Strat-O-Matic Baseball,但在那時候他卻是個橄欖球鐵桿球迷。所以,當他發現這個遊戲公司還有一個模擬橄欖球遊戲,他肯定會去玩,但是結果有點讓他失望。“我非常瞭解橄欖球,所以我不喜歡這個遊戲。我的感覺就是‘這遊戲不是在模擬橄欖球啊。這就是遊戲設計師做了一大堆決策,然後集合成這個抽象的東西,這跟真實的橄欖球一點都不像,’”Hawkins說,“我玩了這個遊戲,然後很快我就意識到‘什麼玩意這是,我能做出一個比這更好的橄欖球遊戲。’

“這就是我職業生涯的開端。”

Hawkins開始深入研究Strat-O-Matic的遊戲,琢磨球員卡牌,學習概率和統計學方面的知識。接下來的幾年,他就開始設計他自己的遊戲,利用索引卡片製作原型,跟朋友玩自己做的遊戲。當他發現了有價值的東西,他就向他的父親借了5000美金作爲啓動資金,在他們家的大廳製作遊戲,最後真的有了成品。

那就是Accu-Stat Football,跟Strat-O-Matic的構架很像,這是Hawkins的首個商業版本遊戲。他的家人對這個職業選擇並沒有什麼特別的反應。“有一天我在客廳整合Acc-Stat遊戲,我媽媽就坐在沙發那邊,她看着我,嘆了口氣,說:‘我一直希望你能做些對社會有益的工作,’”他說。

Accu-Stat最後因爲資金問題失敗了。但這並不意味着這次經歷對Hawkins來說就是完完全全的浪費。“遊戲失敗了,我意識到了兩件事:1.我喜歡當個創業者,做自己喜歡的事情;2.要相信自己的信念,堅持下去,”他說,“我十分享受當一個創業者,我可以創新,我可以自己做決定。遭遇失敗的感覺真的讓我很痛苦,我的好點子、創新都被否決了,以失敗告終。然後我明白了:‘好吧,在我做下一個遊戲之前,我得學習學習怎麼才能做出一個好遊戲。’”

大概就是在這個時期,Hawkins開始注意到技術變革。重頭戲就是電腦的崛起。就如他所說的,他覺得人們認爲類似Accu-Stat或者Strat-O-Matic這樣的遊戲太麻煩了,還要自己研究數據,估計只有死忠粉纔會喜歡。如果有臺機器能夠幫玩家算的話,那就省了好多事情了。比如一臺個人電腦就可以了,這臺機器能把遊戲和電視結合在一起。這個想法爲他的職業生涯指明瞭一條前進的路:製作電腦遊戲。

但是在Hawkins實現夢想的道路上,他遇到了一個障礙。雖然他念的哈佛大學有各種各樣的計算機選修課,但是當時並沒有專門的計算機科學系。Hawkins不得不考慮選擇其他系,其中有兩個他覺得是比較接近的替代學科:應用數學和經濟學。但是他對這個選擇感到很無奈。

想要製作電腦遊戲卻沒有對應的專業,這貌似陷入一種了窮途末路的困境,直到他聽到了一種名爲“特殊專業”的東西。哈佛大學跟其他很多大學一樣,允許學生開設個性化專業。這一下就激起了Hawkins的興趣。既然哈佛大學沒有他想要的專業,那就自己設立一個。但是做起來並沒有那麼容易。

“他們當時大概是這麼說的,”他重述,“‘那麼,我們的40個系你都不喜歡?行啊。如果你願意付出雙倍的努力,如果你願意爲了設立這個專業不惜一切代價,如果你願意嘗試去招募研究生、教師來幫助你,而且這些人都拿不到學分,拿不到經費,你得讓這些人自願犧牲時間來當你的導師、輔導員,幫你批閱論文。如果我們拒絕的你的申請,你還是可以從你以後要修的那個院系那裏要到一封信,如果那個院系的院長在信中說他們不想要你呆在這個系,認爲你不適合在這個系學習——那麼,好的,我們會考慮讓你設立那個特殊專業。好好努力吧。”

然後他就去做了。

回報

1976年,Hawkins以優異的成績從哈佛大學畢業,獲得了遊戲策略與應用理論學位。他說這是世界上最早的遊戲專業學位。這麼說或許有點不準確,但他在課堂上做的事絕對不是研究遊戲。

遊戲理論和遊戲是兩碼事。遊戲理論是從數學角度研究決策者之間的衝突與合作。這在好幾個領域中都可以加以應用,例如生物學、經濟學、心理學,在Hawkins所熱愛的電腦科學領域中更加有用。

“學校中的計算機課程資源很充足,我一直都有去上課,只要是我覺得有益的課程我都會去聽,各個領域的都有,”他說,“我修了倫理學課程、統計學課程還有社會學課程。我只能說,‘好極了,我有好多想學的東西,這些知識能夠幫助我創造出我理想中的模擬遊戲。’”

在他學習期間,Hawkins經常研究各種模擬項目,這些項目模擬的是未來的某個特定事件,例如第三次世界大戰、核武器控制。事實證明他的研究是成功的。“我還因此得了一些獎”他說。

(Madden 18距離初版遊戲發行大概有30年了,它現在就是橄欖球遊戲設計的先鋒代表。——EA)

這些努力讓Hawkins對電腦的瞭解逐步加深,爲他建立公司打下了良好的基礎。哈佛大學不允許他從學術角度創作遊戲,但他在那時已經搞懂了電腦的工作原理,在腦中計劃着怎麼才能把這個生意做起來,怎麼才能把這些知識應用到遊戲中,也就是他一直以來想做的:製作體育遊戲。

然後這就是他所做的:

Hawkins在1982年創立了EA。1988年,他合作設計了初代John Madden Football遊戲,直到今天這個系列依然還活躍於遊戲產業中,仍有新作發行。從某種意義上說,他的人生就像是繞了一個圓,起點是Strat-O-Matic,終點是Madden。

經歷了各種考驗和磨難,Hawkins最終創立了他理想中的遊戲公司,製作了他所熱愛的遊戲。他始終放眼於未來,鍥而不捨,最後成爲了行業的先鋒人物,儘管他的家人以前並不看好這個職業。

“我想最終我還是可以向我媽證明這份工作是對社會有價值的,”他說。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

A look at how Strat-O-Matic Baseball inspired one of the game industry’s most successful figures

Since 1961, Strat-O-Matic Baseball, a tabletop role-playing game, has been a staple of the strategy game world. For Trip Hawkins, it inspired the first step in his long career. In it, he found a love of real-life simulation and playing the hero. He could crunch numbers and play out scenarios that, to him, felt based in reality.

Now in his sixties, Hawkins is best known for founding Electronic Arts, helping reverse engineer the Sega Genesis, co-designing John Madden Football and helping create the 3DO. But he became a staple in the game industry after creating his own games with action figures, discovering a love for sports and simulation, self-publishing his first financial failure and carving his way through his own collegiate career.

We caught up with Hawkins earlier this year to talk about how he got started in games, what he learned from failure and why he’s still playing Strat-O-Matic all these years later.

THE BIRDMEN

Hawkins grew up in the time many consider the golden age of television, not that that interested him much. From an early age, he says, he was attracted to playing board games and imaginary games with his brother instead.

“[When] I was playing a game, I was in a dynamic situation where I had to make choices and the outcome depended on those choices and it was interacting with the strategy of the other players,” Hawkins says. “That was all quite fascinating to me, and I just realized I was more awake, my mind was buzzing and … it was getting me to think more — and that was a real turn on.”

Calling himself artistic from an early age, Hawkins says he was heavily into role playing, and it wasn’t long before he and his brother began creating their own games around the age of five. One of the first was a semi-complex game involving his action figures called “The Birdmen.” In it, they would combine toys from three or four different genres, crafting a story about English soldiers holding out against the Roman Empire. They wrote episodes for the game and made their own accessories for the characters.

“We didn’t accept the standard toys to be used in the standard fashion; we invented new ways to use them. And there [were] game design principles involved in that,” he says.

It was around the age of 10 that Hawkins discovered two new passions: football and baseball. As someone enjoying creating parameters for stories and narratives, Hawkins says he appreciated that there were “resources to be managed and there were strategic frameworks and interesting decisions and opportunities for leadership and heroism” in each.

“I’m very much a strategic thinker. And I’m very much drawn to being a hero in a narrative. So by the time I’m 12 [or] 13, I’m already thinking consciously about that kind of fantasy and thinking about it from a game design standpoint,” he says.

Throwing around a football or baseball with friends, pretending to be their heroes, proved insufficient for Hawkins, who craved strategy and, as he learned, realistic simulation. “It was like, ‘No, no, no. I want to play a strategy game with dice and cards and charts where I really do get to be the hero, and I get to hit the homerun or catch the touchdown pass,’” he says. “‘But I want it to be authentic. I want it to be a legitimate solution. I don’t want it to just be [flipping] the coin or spinning a dial.’”

That game, though, proved hard to find. Hawkins says he tried numerous times to find a sports simulation game that scratched his itch, but came up short every time. That is, until he discovered Strat-O-Matic Baseball in 1967.

Strat-O-Matic is an annual tabletop — and now online — simulation game created by Hal Richman. In it, an athlete is represented by one game card, each printed with ratings and result tables for die roll amounts. A player will make strategic and personal decisions for their players and a roll of die determines how a batter or pitcher will perform. Compared to similar games, Strat-O-Matic has a much more thorough and detailed design. It also includes features such as bunting, stealing bases and fairly distributed outcomes across the pitchers, fielders and hitters. The game’s been noted as an influence for major league baseball players, announcers and game designers since its first publication in 1961.

For Hawkins, someone obsessed with creating realistic scenarios and strategies, Strat-O-Matic was the cream of the crop. He was obsessed.

“It was pretty much a work of genius, frankly. I have so much respect for this game that I still play it,” Hawkins says. “And I have now been pretty much continuously playing this game every year of my life for 50 years.”

Yet despite loving Strat-O-Matic Baseball, Hawkins himself was a bigger fan of football at the time. So, naturally when he found out the company also had a simulation football game, he had to play it, but was disappointed with what he found. “[Because] I knew a lot about football, I didn’t like it. Because I realized, ‘Wow. This thing is not really a simulation of football. It’s an abstraction where the game designer made a bunch of decisions that in fact are not authentic to real football,’” Hawkins says. “I played the football game and basically pretty quickly realized, ‘Heck, I can make a better football game than this.’

“That’s when my career really started.”

Hawkins began deeply studying the Strat-O-Matic games, pouring over player cards, learning about probability and statistics. Over the next couple years, he says, he began designing his own game, building a prototype on index cards and playing it with his friends. When he felt he had something worth shipping, he borrowed $5,000 from his father for funding, assembled his game in his family’s living room and shipped out the final product.

This was Accu-Stat Football, similar in vein to Strat-O-Matic, and it was Hawkins’ first commercial release. It was a career choice that didn’t exactly thrill his family. “One day while [I was] assembling the Acc-Stat games in the family room, [my mother was] sitting on the sofa, and she [looked] at me and she sighed and then she said, ‘I had always hoped you would do something more socially redeeming,’” he says.

Accu-Stat was a financial failure. That’s not to say, though, it didn’t give Hawkins invaluable experience. “[When the game failed] there were two things that I realized: one was I loved being an entrepreneur and doing my own thing; believing in, and betting on, my own ideas,” he says. “I realized I enjoyed the innovation as well as the independance of being an entrepreneur. And it was completely miserable feeling like a failure and feeling like my great idea, my creative thing, had failed and been rejected. And I realized, ‘OK. Before I do it again, I’m going to learn a lot more about how to do it correctly.’”

It was around this time that Hawkins started to notice a shift in technology. Mainly, the rise of computers. As he tells it, he felt that the people who thought games like Accu-Stat or Strat-O-Matic — which required their players to do their own number crunching — were “super geeky,” and players would be far more apt to play if a machine did it for them. If anything, a personal computer might combine two worlds, that of games and that of television. This realization, he says, basically forth set the path for what he wanted to do with his career: make computer games.

But Hawkins had one obstacle standing in the way of realizing this dream. While the college he was attending, Harvard University, had various computer courses offered as electives, it didn’t have a computer science department at the time. Hawkins was forced to choose between what he felt were the two closest replacements: applied math and economics. A choice he wasn’t thrilled about.

Wanting to get into making computer games, this seemed like the end of the road, he says, until he heard of something called a “special concentration.” Harvard, like many colleges, allows for students to create individualized majors. This piqued Hawkins’ interest. If Harvard wouldn’t offer a major in the field he wanted, he would create his own. But that decision came with jumping through more than a few hoops.

“Here’s what they basically said,” Hawkins recounts. “‘Alright. You don’t like our 40 departments? Fine. If you’re willing to do twice as much work, if you’re willing to jump through a ton of hoops, if you’re willing to attempt to see if you can recruit graduate students and faculty members who are going to get no credit and no funding to help you and get them to volunteer their time to be your tutors and mentors and thesis readers and advisers — and you can also get a letter from the department that you’re going to settle for if we say no and that letter from that department head says they don’t want you in their department and [don’t] think you fit in their department — yeah, then we’ll consider letting you have your special thing. Go for it.’”

He went for it.

REDEMPTION

Hawkins graduated Harvard in 1976 Magna Cum Laude with a degree in strategy and applied game theory. He calls it the the world’s very first degree in games. Which is kind of a misnomer, because by no means was he in class working on games.

Game theory has little do with games as most think of them. It’s a mathematical study of the conflicts and cooperations that come up between decision makers. It has applications in biology, economics and psychology, as well as, more in-tune with Hawkins’ interests, computer science.

“Basically there were enough computer courses that I was always taking one, and I was kind of blending the types of courses I thought [would be beneficial],” he says. “I took a course in ethics. I took a course in statistics. I took a course in sociology. I was basically saying, ‘Yeah. There’s a bunch of stuff I want to learn about that’s going to help me make the kind of simulations that I want to make.’”

During his time studying, Hawkins often worked on creating simulation programs predicting certain outcomes involving, for example, World War III scenarios or nuclear arms control. His studies proved to be successful. “I won a couple of grant awards for those. I was actually mentioned by Herb York at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that year,” he says.

Almost 30 years after the original, Madden 18 is on the cutting edge of football game design. 丨Electronic Arts

All of this work was to familiarize Hawkins with computers, to prepare him for the company he planned on founding. Even though Harvard wouldn’t allow him to create games in an academic sense, he was able to become aware of how computers worked, drafting in his head how he could turn this into a business, how he could get it all back to games, to what he really wanted to do: make sports games.

And that’s what he did.

Hawkins founded Electronic Arts in 1982. In 1988, he helped design the very first John Madden Football game, the first in the long-running series still being published today. In a way, it’s as if his life came full circle, starting with Strat-O-Matic and ending with Madden.

Despite trials and tribulations, Hawkins was able to found the company he dreamed of and make the game he was passionate about. He kept looking to the future, and ended up becoming a pioneer in a media he was once scoffed at for believing in.

“I think in the end I proved to my mother it was socially redeeming,” he says.(source:polygon