萬字長文,能爲玩家遊戲心理設計錦上添花的獎勵設定探討,下篇

篇目1,Lucas Blair談遊戲成就係統的設定和價值性

遊戲邦注:本文原作者是調查研究博士兼遊戲設計師盧卡斯·布萊爾(Lucas Blair),他做了個學術研究,制定出了幾個設計遊戲成就係統的優化方案。

在遊戲領域,成就係統是一個熱點話題。 玩家對成就係統的反應從癡迷到冷漠各不相同, 而設計者在成就係統的運用觀點上也頗有分歧。 無論是否有爭議,成就係統的問題就擺在眼前了,所以遊戲設計者必須學習如何把成就係統的潛力發揮到極致。爲了讓成就係統在遊戲中發揮積極作用,就必須在遊戲設計過程中深謀遠慮,而不是事後再補缺補漏。

angry birds(from gamerboom.com)

angry birds(from gamerboom.com)

在許多情況下,成就係統總是在遊戲接近完工時才被隨隨便便地夾塞到遊戲中。一個精心製作的遊戲機制卻帶着個這個粗製濫造的成就係統,悲劇就是這麼發生的。

如果設計成就係統能像設計遊戲的其他環節一樣紮實認真,它也可以提升玩家的遊戲體驗和遊戲的綜合素質。

成就係統的設計指導,應當是涵蓋廣泛的論題、確定的科學研究。盧卡斯·布萊爾在本文通過解析如何在遊戲中設置成就係統,與各位開發者分享遊戲成就設計特點的分類標準。

標準分類的目的是從設計中總結出成就係統的作用機制。研究表明,成就係統會影響玩家的行動表現、積極性和態度。

雖然作者打算把這個分類標準說得廣泛全面一些,但他認爲這個觀點以後很可能遭到爭議並且面臨修正。不過就目前來看,如果設計師打算有效地利用成就係統的潛力,暫且可以 認爲這是一個不錯的討論起點。

他的觀點涉及以下概念:

評價成就

完成成就

乏味任務和趣味任務

成就難度

目標取向

評估成就VS. 完成成就

分類標準的第一部分是對比評估成就和完成成就,此二者描述的是兩個不同的情況,根據這兩個情況來獎勵玩家的行動。

評估成就是給那些完成某個級別任務的玩家提供獎勵。可以通過對照其他玩家的表現、他們自己的表現或是遊戲設計者設定的標準來評價玩家表現。

我們以《憤怒的小鳥》中的星級爲例。在這款遊戲中,玩家是憑藉自己的遊戲表現獲得星星。評估成就好比是一種反饋機制,因爲它實際上是對玩家表現的一種評價。有關訓練和 教育反饋的研究資料表明,因爲反饋能反映玩家在自我設定目標中的表現,所以這種反饋對玩家來說大有裨益。

這種反饋增加了玩家的勝任意識,隨之激發了玩家的內在動機(遊戲邦注:intrinsic motivation——個體發展的一種內在的願望,渴望去做某件事情,並且很自然地認爲做某件 事是有益的)。增加勝任意識可以平衡某些消極影響,例如因濫用獎勵而減少了玩家的內在動機。

另一方面,勝任意識並沒有告訴玩家他們在任務中的表現如何,而只是在玩家完成任務後就給予獎勵。勝任意識可以分爲兩個子類:偶然成就和必然成就(performance contingent achievements 和non-performance contingent achievements)。偶然成就是個技術活,而必然成就可在遊戲過程中自動獲得。

在《魔獸世界》中,玩家首次完成地下城的任務才能獲得相應成就,偶然成就的獲得與此類似。回顧下我們剛纔提到的一個說法——用獲得獎勵來刺激玩家的內在動機,這樣可以 更好地理解這個偶然成就的概念。有一些激勵設置在玩家的任務表現裏發揮了重要的積極作用。然而,這種類型的獎勵可能減少玩家的自主性,特別是被濫用時,內在動機也隨之 減少。

獎勵也爲玩家在獎勵臨界值時的表現製造了一個人爲上限。一旦玩家獲得了這個成就獎勵,他們的就不太可能繼續這種任務。對遊戲開發者而言,這種情況就體現爲遊戲的重玩價 值。獎勵使得玩家趨向保守,因爲他們不想失去獎勵的機會。特別是在電子遊戲裏,遊戲設計者鼓勵玩家帶着創新精神和實驗精神玩遊戲。

必然成就的獲得,就像參與某個遊戲事件然後獲得一枚徽章或者一隻寵物。這對玩家的內在動機就沒有什麼負面影響。然而,因爲這種類型的獎勵實在缺乏評估標準,所以玩家不 太可能樂衷於這些獎勵,除非這與加強遊戲社交聯繫有關。

優化方案:替換完成成就,用評估成就的反饋作用來刺激玩家的內在動機。

乏味任務VS.趣味任務

完成成就要靠完成一個任務或一系列任務。從玩家的角度看,這是一個經歷一系列無聊和刺激的遊戲過程。乏味任務獲得的成就和趣昧任務獲得的成就是不同的。

乏味任務(例如MMO遊戲中的貿易技能)可以與外在動機配對,這種任務的成就設置是爲了玩家能參與其中。因爲玩家不想接手這種任務,獎勵也無法刺激玩家的內在動機。

激發玩家參與乏味任務的常規策略有兩種。第一種是通過成就的描述,讓玩家意識到這種任務的內在價值。

以《致命捕撈:混亂海域》中的“救生員成就”爲例,救出船員的人將獲此成就。救生員這個詞暗示了該任務的重要性,因爲這意味着玩家是在救援他人。

第二個是增加任務本身的額外規則或設想。這個方法在所有成就的大部分基礎級別中均有應用。

趣味任務不需要其他形式的動機、獎勵或者欺騙性描述,玩家也樂意參與其中。所以這種成就(特別是完成成就)應該有節制地使用。

這種成就應該謹慎使用而非以此來增加遊戲的人爲樂趣,因爲這樣才能使玩家集中關注重要的任務技巧或策略。此外,通過任務策略提示,可以改善玩家的表現。

《星際爭霸2》中的“The Flying Heal Bus”成就是個範例,這個成就幫助玩家更有效地使用某種特殊裝置。

優化方案:獎勵乏味任務,反饋有趣任務,達成有趣的任務成就。

成就難度

遊戲設計者提出了兩種成就難度。第一,成就的實際難度應該是玩家能達到但仍存在一定挑戰性。第二,玩家在特定任務裏應該有足夠的自我效能(遊戲邦注:self-efficacy是許 多人對於自身能否完成特定任務的能力的認知,它可以將影響行動結果的因素轉化爲先行因素,對於行動發生效用)使之有信心嘗試任務。

成就應該爲玩家提供有挑戰性的目標,成就難度如果適宜,玩家會在任務中表現中獲得在更好的收益和更大的成就感。然而,如果達成成就的難度太大,玩家甚至不會去嘗試;但 三兩下就搞定的低級成就,顯然太沒有挑戰性。保持遊戲任務趣味性的一般策略是,爲操作熟練的玩家提供可選擇的的任務目標。

玩家的自我效能是設計者需要考慮的另一個重要因素。因爲自我效能與增加目標承諾、策略創新和使用以及增加對消極反饋的樂觀反應有關,所以增強玩家的自我效能非常重要。

設計者可以通過滿足四個因素來影響玩家的自我效能。第一個是相關學科的專業知識水平。遊戲之所以能保證所有技術級別的玩家都有成就可以達成,這個因素是重要原因。

目睹周圍人的成功,或者叫替代性經驗(遊戲邦注:vicarious experience,個體首先通過社會比較過程判斷他人能力的高低,而後通過信息提供過程觀察,並從他人的成功操作 中獲取有效的解決問題的策略),是第二個影響自我效能的因素。如果本身與成功者具有相當的能力,這種影響就會非常巨大。在線遊戲的排行榜或者像OnLive系統中的“brags”
就反映了這種影響作用。

社會勸導(給別人口頭刺激)是第三個影響自我效能的因素。這種因素的作用形式非常簡單,就像有人完成一個任務,聽到“好樣的!”或者《吉他英雄》中出現 “50 NOTE STREAK!”的信息。個人自我感覺是第四個因素。這個因素影響玩家的壓力指數、情緒狀態和生理狀況。

優化方案:在玩家的表現和享受過程中,給予挑戰性成就最大獎勵。描述成就和設計交互作用增加玩家的自我效能。

目標取向

因爲玩家的目標取向會影響玩家如何通過確定個人目標來體驗遊戲,所以在設計成就係統時,開發者就必須考慮到玩家的目標取向。有兩種類型的目標取向,一般被稱爲成績定向 和掌握定向。喜歡成績定向的玩家關注他人對自己表現的評價。而掌握定向型的玩家看重的是提升自己的熟練程度。

因爲遊戲中不斷強調時間和分數這類直接目標,使得玩家往往傾向於成績定向。可惜,傾向於這種類型的玩家很少冒險,也很少花時間來探索遊戲,因爲他們害怕這樣會影響遊戲 得分。

這種情況在第一人稱射擊遊戲中司空見慣。在這類遊戲中,玩家反覆使用同一種武器和策略,因爲他們認爲這就是最大化殺傷數的不二法寶。但研究表明,成績定向型的玩家,往 往只在非常簡單的任務中表現得比較好。

爲了平衡玩家的這種傾向,設計者必須積極設法在他們定下的目標和反饋中灌輸掌握定向的思想。培養掌握定向的傾向有這麼幾個閃光點:

有這種傾向的玩家樂於接受錯誤並且敢於接受提高自身能力的挑戰性任務;這類傾向的任務中玩家會有更高的自我效能,並且能利用更多有效的策略;研究還表明,掌握傾向型的 玩家,能在複雜的任務裏表現得更出色。

爲了培養掌握定向的傾向,設計者應該創造也這麼種成就——承認玩家做出的努力並且在挑戰中支持這種努力。遊戲應該把玩家做出的錯誤和失誤當作對遊戲的診斷性反饋和改進 的鼓勵。

爲了有效地傳達這種類型,成就的名稱和描述非常重要。以《Heavy Rain》爲例,“如此接近”戰利品,這話是針對那些做出嘗試但失敗了的玩家。這句話可以看作是鼓勵和認同 玩家所做出的努力。

相反地,在《吉他英雄III》一個類似的成就,名爲“Blowing It”,這個名稱可能就讓人覺得有些喪氣。

優化方案:在鼓勵創新和策略的困難任務中灌輸掌握定向的思想。在簡單和重複的任務中灌輸成績定向的思想。對於仍在學習怎麼玩遊戲的新玩家,應設法在掌握定向階段留住他 們。

現在,我重述一下第一部分內容的扼要。成就係統的設計指導,應當是涵蓋廣泛的論題的、確定的科學研究。在本文,我會通過解析如何在遊戲中設置成就係統,來共享當前遊戲 成就設計特點的分類標準。

標準分類的目的是從設計中總結出成就係統的作用機制。研究表明,成就係統會影響玩家的行動表現、積極性和態度。

雖然我打算把這個分類標準說得廣泛全面一些,但很可能遭到爭議,還面臨着以後的修正。如果我們打算有效地利用成就係統的潛力,暫且認爲這是一個不錯的討論起點。

本部分將涉及以下概念:

預期成就vs.意外成就

成就通告

成就持久性

成就可見性

預期成就vs.意外成就

當玩家取得一項成就,收到的成就通告的那一刻,玩家就像得到了突如其來的驚喜,或者奮力拼搏終於撞破了終點線。這種期望有賴於遊戲成就係統的設計決定——可以讓玩家事 先知道能獲得什麼成就,也可以讓成就出乎意料地出現在遊戲中。這就是預期成就和意外成就的不同,但二者都能用於提升玩家的遊戲體驗。

預期成就讓玩家在之前就爲自己立下目標。這樣做有四個確鑿的好處:

第一,玩家有了具體目標就可以更好地分配自己的資源。也就是說,玩家爲了達到目標,就要重新溫習自己的某種技術、節省額外時間或者向朋友求助。

第二,爲了目標的達成,玩家更樂意發奮努力。對遊戲開發者而言,玩家的這種努力意味着他們體驗遊戲的時間也在延長。

例如,玩家要花許多個小時來達成《魔獸爭霸》中的“Salty”成就(遊戲邦注:玩家必須取得所有釣魚成就)——我可以親自證明這可能是個無休無止的過程。

第三,帶着目標的玩家在陷入困境時也能迎難而上,而那些漫無目的的玩家更可能在困難面前輕言放棄。

第四,爲了達到目標,玩家更可能致力於掌握新知識和新技術。這一點對遊戲開發者同樣意義重大——掌握了新技術的玩家更可能成爲回頭客。

除了以上好處,預期成就使玩家在體驗遊戲前就形成一種遊戲的心理模式,或叫心智模型(遊戲邦注:簡單地說,心智模型就是人們接受外界信息後在腦中形成一個思維的模型號 來描述或者刻畫外部世界,從而對人們的認知和行爲起某種指導作用)。根據這種心理模式,有利於玩家搞清遊戲的運作機制和決定應對的措施。如果玩家買了一款新遊戲後,查
看了所有自己可以獲得的成就,他們對遊戲本身就會有更清晰的理解,也就是玩家形成了心理模式。事實上,心理模式的形成也經常運用於提升用戶表現的訓練項目。

相對而言,意外成就在電子遊戲中的運用並不普遍,但對玩家同樣有潛在價值。這種像掙外快一樣的成就可能有助於鼓勵玩家嘗試性地體驗遊戲玩法。

在《成就解鎖》中可以找到這個外快策略的典型。玩家在該遊戲中幾乎做什麼都可能獲得稀奇古怪的成就。儘管開發者料想該遊戲可能戳破遊戲成就係統濫用的基線,但《成就解 鎖》還是有效地闡明瞭這款metagame使玩家抱着獲得所有神祕成就的目的,任意在屏幕四處上躥下跳。

最優方案:在遊戲中,預期成就佔主導,這樣玩家可以爲自己確立目標,形成遊戲心理模式。但要保證成就描述能準確地反映其對玩家的行動要求和該成就的重要性。少量的意外 成就能鼓勵玩家的創意玩法,建議開發者適當運用這種策略。

League of Legends(from mmohuts.com)

League of Legends(from mmohuts.com)

成就通告

成就達成後,玩家必須知道自己完成了什麼。遊戲開發者可以選擇在遊戲過程中直接告之玩家,也可以選擇過一段時間(遊戲的自然中斷)後才公佈成就達成情況。採用即時通告 或者延遲通告,要根據遊戲類型和玩家的經驗水平來決定。

遊戲過程中出現的成就通告就是一種即時通告,如《魔獸世界》中的成就通告。研究表明,即時通告可以促進玩家對遊戲的瞭解和提高玩家完成任務的效率。當玩家的目標成就與 玩家在遊戲中的表現有關時,這一點顯得尤其重要。

然而,對於遊戲老手,從即時反饋中得到的益處並沒有像菜鳥玩家那樣多。隨着玩家經驗的增長,更多地使用延遲通告反而更實在,因爲這樣老玩家纔有機會自我評估表現。

即時通告有一個潛在的干擾作用,這是需要慎重考慮的。這種干擾打斷遊戲狀態(玩家通常稱遊戲的流暢狀態爲“the zone”),進而對玩家產生不良影響。

當玩家陶醉於遊戲時,玩家的注意力完全集中在遊戲裏,遊戲之外的時空早已置之度外——這種體驗對於玩遊戲,特別是玩自己最喜歡的遊戲的人來說,應該不陌生。

在遊戲世界中流連忘返的玩家,會更有動力繼續玩下去、體驗更多樂趣。所以那種撲面而來的成就通告就直接干擾了玩家的狀態,可能並不討喜。

爲了避免分散玩家的注意力,那種費心思的遊戲(例如即時戰略遊戲)最好使用延遲通告。對於《星際爭霸》這類環節界定清晰的遊戲,在遊戲自然中斷後給予玩家成就通告則更 合適。

這種類型的通告有着類似延遲反饋的益處——增強對新知識的記憶。所以,在新遊戲中首次一展身手的玩家,如果記住了第一次的技巧,更有可能在以後的遊戲環節中溫習技巧。

最優方案:在過程中缺乏自然中斷的遊戲中採用彈出式即時通告,且通告上順帶更詳細的成就解釋。而對那些環節界定明確的遊戲和需要高度集中精神的遊戲來說,延遲通告比即 時通告更可取。給新玩家即時反饋,給遊戲老手延遲反饋。

成就持久性

玩家取得某項成就,過了很久以後,可能會打算重溫歷史。永久性成就允許玩家回顧輝煌的往昔,而臨時性成就對玩家而言猶如過眼雲煙,轉瞬即逝。

永久性成就分爲兩類:有形獎勵和儲存清單。前者指的是達成某項成就後獲得的獎品,後者指的是成就描述的目錄表。有形獎勵是個抽象概念,因爲這種獎勵只存在於虛擬世界。 但是,像寵物或裝備這類有形獎勵可以爲玩家所用,還能像實際物質獎勵一樣獲得其他人的羨慕。

注意:如果運用於現實世界的獎勵法則也被運用於虛擬世界,那就要當心濫用有形獎勵的問題。有形獎勵會減少玩家的內在動機(遊戲邦注:intrinsic motivation—–個體發展 的一種內在的願望,渴望去做某件事情,並且很自然地認爲做某件事是有益的),降低玩家自我決定的意識,還會減少玩家重返任務的可能性。

有了成就的儲存清單(例如Xbox Live中的功能),玩家可以隨時回顧自己獲得成就後的表現,從而溫故知新。

臨時性成就,就像第一人稱射擊遊戲中的“Unstoppable”或“God-Like”,相當於口頭褒揚。不像有形成就,這些口頭讚揚增加了玩家的內在動機,也不會破壞玩家的自決意識。 臨時成就會隨着通告的消失而消失。

最優方案:採用某些儲存清單來滿足玩家想回顧遊戲史的願望。有形獎勵對玩家有極大的激勵作用,但玩家獲得這種成就後,它就不再有吸引力了。

成就可見性

在單人遊戲和多人遊戲中,玩家的成就欄通常是對其他玩家開放的,不同遊戲成就欄的開放信息也不盡相同。一些遊戲將決定權交付玩家的手中。這些託管式的設定使成就變成了 昭然若揭的事。玩家自定義的成就設置,如在《FarmVille》和《星際爭霸2》,使玩家可自行決定公開哪些內容。

社會認可是玩家玩遊戲的一大誘因。把成就公之於衆,可以鼓勵玩家爲了認同感而努力獲得成就。研究表明,社會認同感可作爲內在動機,從而對玩家表現產生積極影響。

同級的玩家通過查看他人的成就,可以定位自己的成就目標。成就的奮鬥過程和最終達成能促進玩家的自我效能(遊戲邦注:self-efficacy,是許多人對於自身能否完成特定任務 的能力的認知,它可以將影響行動結果的因素轉化爲先行因素,對於行動發生效用),從而有助於完成其他遊戲任務。

成就的可見性就像一種遊戲簡歷。一個玩家能當共同奮鬥的隊友還是不恥下問的老師,看看他的成就獲得情況就心知肚明瞭。

然而,這種對外公開的成就,也潛藏着缺陷。如上所述,簡歷般的成就可能把一些玩家排擠出其他玩家羣體。

在MMO遊戲中,這種現象司空見慣。在這類遊戲中,其他玩家在允許入組前通常會被查看其成就情況。這就造成一種兩難困境——玩家要獲得經驗,同時本身又必須有經驗。過分依 賴作爲動機的社會認同感還產生了另一個問題:一旦這種認同感減少或得不到,玩家彷彿失去了預報器,以後的遊戲表現就堪憂了。

最優方案:成就對其他有強烈動機的玩家可見。爲了防止菜鳥玩家受排斥,肯庇護他們的其他玩家將獲得某種成就。讓玩家展示一些引起爲傲的成就,從而增加他們的遊戲積極性 ,同時突出其遊戲操作風格。

成就係統的設計指導,應當是涵蓋廣泛的論題的、確定的科學研究。在本文,我會通過解析如何在遊戲中設置成就係統,來共享當前遊戲成就設計特點的分類標準。標準分類的目 的是從設計中總結出成就係統的作用機制。研究表明,成就係統會影響玩家的行動表現、積極性和態度。雖然我打算把這個分類標準說得綜合全面一些,但很可能遭到爭議,還面 臨着以後的修正。如果我們打算有效地利用成就係統的潛力,暫且認爲這是一個不錯的討論起點。

在本文的第三部分,將涉及以下概念:

·消極成就

·金錢成就

·挑戰成就和超級成就

·競技成就

·合作成就

消極成就(“囧”成就、“ORZ”成就)

通常情況下,達成某項成就是件無比光榮的事——意味着在某任務、等級或財富等方面達到了顯著甚至是顯赫的程度。但玩家也會有被喝倒彩的時候,所以就有了一些不是那麼光 彩的成就——某方面表現差到一“系統認可”的程度的玩家得到這類成就。不少遊戲中存在這類成就係統,如在遊戲《命令與征服3》中,如果玩家在排名遊戲中跌出官方排名20位 ,就會被“授予”某個消極成就;在PS3遊戲《戰神》中,反覆死亡的玩家將收穫“我被打得落花流水”(Getting My Ass Kicked)的“榮譽”。

在遊戲中表現不佳本來就不是件幸事,更何況還得到了個消極成就,無異於在傷口上撒把鹽。玩家可能會因此喪失自信心和獨立性,從而降低對遊戲的滿足感。如果玩家事先知道 遊戲中存在消極成就,可能會想方設法避開。但這樣的迴避畢竟不是長久之計,久而久之,玩家也會整個遊戲心生厭煩。

如果遊戲設計本身存在缺陷,那麼消極成就可能會對遊戲造成二次打擊。有些玩家在遊戲中反覆地死亡,如果是因爲不合理的等級設計或者崩潰的遊戲機制,就不該得到“你太遜 了“這樣的成就。否則,玩家只會歸咎於遊戲而不是玩家自己。

最佳方案:不使用消極成就。爲那些表現比較“掙扎”的玩家提供點反饋性的幫助。

金錢成就

金錢成就即獲得的成就可以當成虛擬金錢在遊戲中通行。這種金錢可以表現爲點數、金幣或星級等,玩家可以用來購買遊戲中的虛擬商品或者現實中的商品。微交易導向型遊戲, 如《League of Legends》,它的成就獎勵還表現爲在遊戲中可獲得的其他形式的金錢。

當成就以虛擬金錢的形式表現出來,顯然是個不錯的衡量標準。玩家能達到成就的要求已經是非常榮耀的事了,再加上虛擬金錢的成就獎勵,那真是個令人難忘的經歷啊。然而, 以虛擬金錢作爲成就獎勵的方式,也可能對玩家產生廣泛影響。

大量研究表明,將虛擬金錢作爲成就獎勵來刺激玩家的表現,比用無形獎勵的效果更好。這可能是因爲玩家可以使用金錢成就購買自己想要的商品,而不是得到設計師設計的系統 “欽點”的獎勵。

近年以來,有些學校也開始以金錢作用獎勵,如獎勵課堂出勤、考試成績,金錢獎勵甚至提高了大學入學率。但只有以投入作爲獎勵標準而不是產出時,成效纔會增加。也就是說 ,學生得到獎勵的前提應該是他在學習上投入了足夠多的時間,而不是看他得到了多少分數。這個例子映射到遊戲上就是,以金錢作爲成就獎勵應該參照的標準是玩家在遊戲中投
入的時間、精力,而不是其最終的等級。

金錢獎勵通常會與遊戲中的無形獎勵產生對立。因爲它會降低成就獲得者的內在動機,即最終玩家關注的只是獎勵系統,而不是遊戲本身。不少遊戲公司都利用這種獎勵系統把玩 家拴在一些無聊的任務上。此外,金錢獎勵無聲無息地煽動玩家去尋找獲得金錢成就的路徑,其代價可能是降低了玩家在遊戲中的創造力。

最佳方案:把金錢作爲玩家完成任務的獎勵,而不是讓其產生強大的控制慾的成就獎勵。金錢獎勵可以用於提高遊戲的吸引力,但不要使之成爲玩家參與某遊戲活動的主導。

挑戰成就和超級成就

大多的時間相關成就是通過完成單個任務而獲得。但這裏所說的挑戰成就和系列成就的達成要求可不是隻完成一個任務。

挑戰成就的獲得條件是,玩家完成一連串小任務單元——這些單元任務本身是附屬於同一個完整的大任務,只是各個小任務難度遞增。什麼是挑戰任務?殺掉25萬5百怪物或者1千 個敵人(FPS)、收集不同顏色的絲帶(《FarmVille》)就叫挑戰任務。

超級成就的達成要求是玩家完成不同任務中的一系列成就。如在《魔獸世界》中,玩家要達成“大廚”的成就就必須首先完成所有與烹飪相關的成就。

挑戰成就和超級成就都可以作爲“循序漸進學遊戲”的教學訓練。一個看似相當複雜的任務,只有被分解成數個按順序排列的小任務單元,才能像訓練計劃那樣指導玩家最終完成 整個任務。

這種“肢解”式的任務會給玩家帶來間接好處——玩家搞清楚複雜任務的結構後,更有可能參與任務。

要達成挑戰成就和超級成就,通常要花上那麼一陣子的時間,這與長期任務相似。長期任務的好處之一是,獎勵玩家的每一個任務步驟,所以累積收益遠大於短期任務;另一個好 處是玩家會爲了完成任務而投入更多時間(對遊戲設計者而言,玩家將更多時間投入到遊戲中當然是件好事)。

這類成就也有潛在缺陷。做一連串相同的任務或動作,猶如跟着撒在路上的麪包屑找回家的路,玩家會覺得沒有自我方向,從而喪失主動性。所以,成就的數量、其間隔和其挑戰 難度的設定就是件值得商榷的事了。

最佳方案:利用這類成就保持玩家的長期興趣,並以相關活動做指引。無論是在時間還是空間上,各個小任務的間隔要有度,不要讓玩家有受制感。

競技成就

競技成就的達成前提是一個玩家與另一個玩家的直接對抗(PK)或間接對抗(單一任務得分)。這類成就可以是個人達成(單挑),也可以是團隊達成(羣毆)。

研究表明,競技可以增加特定任務的樂趣,從而端正玩家的態度。成功的競技結果會增加玩家的自我能力認同感,從而刺激玩家的內在動機。此外,處於競爭性環境的玩家在重複 性任務中的表現通常會有所提升。

不僅是遊戲,競技元素在現實生活中的運用也常有良好的效果——在計算機課中增加競技環節,可以活躍課堂氣氛。

儘管競爭性環境有其合理性,甚至優越性存在,但研究同樣表明,在某些情況下,競技性玩法應該有所迴避。

玩家的學習過程時常受到競爭性環境的阻礙。究其原因,一部分是因爲在競爭環境下,玩家的自我中心主義往往會被激發出來,這種自私的情緒極可能抑制玩家樂於助人的一面。 另外,競爭過激還會對玩家的自我效能(自信心)產生消極影響。在這種負面影響的驅使下,玩家往往對自己和隊友的要求更加苛刻,特別是當隊伍輸掉某個任務或戰鬥時。

還有一點要考慮到到的是玩家個人的動機問題。那些技術水平上乘的老玩家相對而言更能享受到競技成就帶來的快樂,更少受到其負面影響。所以他們會流連於他們所熟悉的競技 環境中,且不會因爲額外競爭而感到壓力。這些達成成就動機高的玩家比動機低的玩家更享受挑戰競爭性任務。當然,通常情況下玩家達成成就的積極性也受到遊戲類型的影響。 所以,把好玩家人數統計關、定位其遊戲興趣取向,也是遊戲成就係統設計中非常重要的課題。

最佳方案:如果要在遊戲中設置競技成就,務必保證玩家對遊戲的上手程度。

合作成就(非競技成就)

合作成就,顧名思義,就是玩家要在遊戲中通力配合完成一個共同目標。這種類型的成就在多人遊戲中最爲普遍,因爲在多人遊戲中,玩家產生互動的時候更多。合作的情況一般 是這樣的:

玩家組隊接受團隊任務,如殺死一隻大怪;或者玩家要殺滿1000個敵人,顯然玩家單打獨鬥非常難完成——第一人稱射擊遊戲就是利用這種任務鼓勵玩家組隊。

大多情況下,合作性環境有利於提升玩家的表現。當評價一個同伴時,合作性環境就已經與更偉大的成就、更強烈的自尊和更高的積極性掛鉤了。因此,需要合作的任務相對於一 個人就能解決的任務,更能促進玩家的表現。

合作的另一個優點是,面對不能獨立完成的任務時,玩家仍然有更廣泛的目標範圍。爲了體現這個優點,還要鼓勵資深玩家與菜鳥玩家合作,然後給予資深玩家相應的成就。

在《City of Heroes》中有一個同伴系統。研究發現,那些在生意上受關照的玩家比起“姥姥不疼,舅舅不愛”的玩家,升級更快、對工作更滿意。在遊戲中充當“導師、保護人 ”的玩家本身也從這種系統中受益,因爲他們可以看到自己的表現和社會地位的提高。

雖然合作性設置有諸多好處,但也不是全然沒有風險的。風險之一是,團隊成員的態度極端化,導致整體的決定過於拘謹或過於冒險。在這種情況下,就算有機會做出成員自己的 決定,得出的也只是下下策。

另一個風險是,如果成員交流和互助的額外工作阻礙了團隊表現,那麼遊戲過程缺失的情況就會發生。所謂“額外工作”是指因爲技術有限產生的交流困難,導致的遊戲過程缺失 的情況更加突出。在MMO的突襲行動中,如果玩家沒有語音聊天軟件,那麼玩家就不得不花更多時間在交流溝通上(打字肯定比說話慢嘛)。

團隊合作引起的風險還有“南郭現象”。當一個團隊規模比較大時,個人的表現往往會被掩蓋,這時,濫竽充數、混水摸魚的人就很難被發現。

最佳方案:爲了促進合作環境的和諧,可以考慮給予幫助低級玩家的高級玩家某些成就。給予團隊的合作成就要保持相對小,以緩合遊戲過程缺失現象及減少“南郭先生”。在團 隊合作的任務中,決定成就達成的標準也應被運用於評價玩家個人的表現。

結語

成就係統的設計是一個相當複雜的課題,但非常有研究價值。希望我這篇概要能帶給遊戲開發者、愛好者們一點啓發。這類課題的研究難點在於,總是要借鑑其他領域的研究成果,然後將其調整爲符合遊戲開發需要的結論。

爲了彌補這些論題的不足,RETRO研究室目前正在分門別類地研究成就係統的設計。我們的研究方式是將不同遊戲中各種類型的成就加以置換,然後評估各個成就係統對玩家造成的 影響,即考察遊戲樂趣和遊戲時間等。

如果我們的研究室有新的研究成果出爐,我們將對遊戲社區全面公佈重要成果。感謝過去幾周對我的研究發表評論的意見的朋友們。我希望關於成就係統設計的辯論還能繼續下去 ,也希望我的文章能激發大家的討論靈感。

篇目2,如何在遊戲設計中利用戰利品掉落表

作者:Daniel Cook

許多遊戲都帶有戰利品。通常情況下這些戰利品的分配都是隨機的。戰利品掉落是特別常見的主題,但卻也是每個設計師經常會覺得頭疼的內容。以下是我在過去幾年所遇到的最佳實踐。

你的基本戰利品表

這裏的目標是爲了基於特定機率掉落一組道具。假設當你打敗一個敵人,你便有機會獲得盾牌,稀有的劍,或者什麼都沒有。

例子

戰利品表

道具:

名字:劍

重量:10

道具:

名字:盾

重量:40

道具:

名字:空

重量:50

設置

道具:你想要提供給玩家的一種道具。

戰利品表:將一組道具放進戰利品表中。這只是一部分道具。例如一個戰利品表將包括:劍,盾,空。

重量:每個道具都帶有掉落重量:從1到10000。例如一把劍的掉落率可能是10。

空道具:戰利品表中會有一個道具是“空”,這意味着如果滾動到它,便不會掉落任何戰利品。

loop drop(from 3dmgame)

loop drop(from 3dmgame)

滾動戰利品

總概率:首先,計算戰利品表中的所有重量。在上述例子中便是10+40+50=100。因爲這些數值並不是百分比,所以它們並不需要加到100。

接下來分配每個道具的範圍。劍=1至10,盾=11至50,空=51至100。

從1至100生成一個隨機數。

將該數值與範圍進行比較。這便能夠決定到底會掉落哪種道具。

再次滾動:生成多個隨機數值去模擬多次滾動。

所以玩家會如何看待它們?我們設置劍的掉落機率爲10%,盾的掉落機率爲40%,而什麼都不會掉落的機率爲50%。

作爲設計師,我可以將空的重量改爲100,而現在我將劍的掉落機率設爲6.6%(10/150),盾的掉落機率爲26%(40/150),什麼都不會掉落的機率爲66%(100/150)。

映射到其它常見的隨機系統

這一系統只是在重申許多其它相似的隨機性方法。這是訓練你的設計師大腦在基於戰利品表,紙牌或篩子上理解任何隨機性問題間轉換的有趣方法。

紙牌

想象你能夠洗牌並獲取的橋牌。

橋牌上的每種紙牌類型都是一種道具。

特定類型的紙牌數量便是道具的重量。

洗牌等同於爲每種道具分配範圍並生成隨機數。

抽取紙牌等同於選擇掉落的道具。

現在常見的橋牌都擁有52張牌,但如果是基於戰利品表,你便可以不受約束地進行操作。你的橋牌擁有1000張各種類型的紙牌。或者它們可以提供與典型的撲克手所擁有的較小的橋牌。

篩子

篩子同樣也能夠映射到戰利品表上。

每一個獨立的篩子都是一張戰利品表。

篩子的每一面(1至N)便等同於道具。

篩子的每一面都擁有重量“1”(除非你是在使用超重的篩子!)。

多次滾動篩子代表多次滾動同一個戰利品表。所以2D6便等同於抽取一個帶有6種道具的戰利品表2次。

變量

既然我們定義了一個基本的戰利品表,我們還可以做些什麼?

變量:道具組合

你同樣也可以掉落戰利品組合。道具並不需要一定是單一的內容。例如我可以擴展它從而讓玩家同時獲得一個盾牌和一個生命藥劑。

例子

戰利品表

道具:

名字:劍

重量:10

道具:

名字:盾

名字:生命藥劑 數值:2

重量:40

道具:

名字:空

重量:50

變量:總是掉落

常見的需求是標記一個道具從而提升它的掉落頻率。這裏存在一種慣例,即帶有“-1”重量的道具將會更常掉落。

變量:可重複的隨機性

有時候你會希望能夠重複一個隨機滾動。例如當一名玩家保存了遊戲,並能在之後重新加載以避免糟糕的戰利品掉落結果,這將導致非常折騰的玩家行爲。而如果存在一種方法能夠避免這種情況,所有玩家都會很高興吧。

大多數臨時的僞隨機數生成程序都是使用一個種子值。只要你能夠保存該種子值,你便能夠再次運行隨機數生成程序並獲得同意的結果。

變量:無需改變而滾動

上述系統的問題在於玩家可能會一直滾到“空”。這也是玩家常常抱怨的結果。就像“我玩了3000多次卻從未獲得MegaGoldenLootGun!”。

在統計學中存在兩種基本的抽樣類型:

放回抽樣:你將從列表中抽取數值然後在記錄你所獲得的數值後,你會將它們放回去。如此你便有可能在下次抽取時擁有同樣的機率。

不放回抽樣:你將從列表中抽取數值,並且在你記錄之後便將其置於一邊。如此你在下次抽取時抽到該道具的機率便會下降,而抽到剩下道具的機率便會增加。

《俄羅斯方塊》便使用了不放回抽樣。每種俄羅斯方塊都有自己的戰利品表。每次你獲得一個特殊組塊時,它便會被移出列表。這種方法能夠保證你在長時間等待長方形組塊時將能獲得它。

以下是關於你在戰利品表中如何執行不放回滾動。

當你滾動一個道具時,將其的重量減少1。這也等同於將它的範圍和最大範圍減去1。

確保在玩家下次滾動時他們的戰利品表已經進行了修改。

變量:保證特殊的掉落道具

有時候不放回滾動不夠快,而你卻希望保證戰利品的掉落。暴雪便保證了特定稀有道具的掉落從而讓玩家無需長時間地刷道具。

你可以只是提升重量,但是隨着玩家多次玩遊戲,他們會感受到獲得某些有保證的道具的低頻率與獲得一種道具慢慢提升的機率之間的明確區別。

以下是關於如何執行有保證的掉落戰利品。

當你滾動任何無保證的道具時,減少X%無保證的道具重量。

X=100/在有保證的道具掉落前滾動的最大數量。

確保在玩家下次滾動時他們的戰利品表已經進行了修改。

例子

假設你想要在5個回合後劍能夠頻繁掉落,儘管它只擁有10%的掉落機率。

如此X=100/5或20%

所以每次當你滾到劍時,盾的重量便會下降8(40*0.2),而空的重量會下降10(50*0.2)。

在5個回合後,所有其它道具的重量將變成0,劍便會擁有100%的掉落機率。

變量:分等級的戰利品表

戰利品表通常都是新資源的來源。然而你很容易進入一種情境,即你掉落了太多或太少特殊資源。這時候一些限制將很有幫助。

一種解決方法便是使用不放回的分等級的戰利品表。當一種特殊資源用盡時,玩家將不再獲得該資源。我們在每日貨幣獎勵中便使用了這一方法。我們想要每天派發100個貨幣,並且不會超過這一數值。但是我們也想將其作爲戰利品系統的一部分。

創造兩個表:獎勵和每日貨幣。

讓主要的戰利品表參照每日貨幣表。

當選擇每日貨幣時,滾動列表並明確你獲得了多少貨幣。

例子

戰力品表:獎勵

道具:

名字:劍

重量:10

道具:

名字:每日貨幣

重量:40

道具:

名字:空

重量:50

戰利品表:每日貨幣

類型:不放回

更新率:每日

道具:

名字:貨幣,數值:1

重量:10

道具:

名字:貨幣,數值:10

重量:4

道具:

名字:貨幣,數值:50

重量:1

在上述例子中,玩家有40%的機會獲得貨幣。然後我們將滾動每日貨幣表並看看它們是否能夠基於10次獎勵每次1個貨幣,4次獎勵每次10個貨幣以及1次獎勵每次50個貨幣而在一天中獲得最多的100個貨幣。

當每日貨幣戰利品表空了時,它們只有在隔天更新時纔會再次被填滿。

變量:有條件的掉落

有時候你會想要測試是否應該基於一些外部變量去掉落道具。在《 Realm of the Mad God》中,我們便想要避免未創造任何傷害而殺死boss的“搭便車者”獲得戰利品。所以在戰利品表中,我們添加了檢查。如果滾動到戰利品表中的一種有價值的道具,我們便會檢查玩家對敵人所造成的傷害是否超過X%。

你可以基於玩家的級別或敵人的級別改變戰利品的有效性。就像我更傾向於使用多個較小的戰利品表,並且系統非常靈活,足以讓你能夠輕鬆地使用一些較大的列表和條件去創造數據。

變量:編輯器

你可以基於以下外部邏輯修改掉落物的數量或重量。例如擅長收集的玩家能夠獲得比不擅長收集的玩家2倍多的特殊掉落道具。或者你可以修改重量。較高級別的角色的所有道具可能擁有-50%的重量,這遠低於他們的級別。

其它使用

掉落物列表通常是用於掉落戰利品,但我們也可以在其它地方發現它們。

程序生成:使用列表去創造武器或角色。

AI:使用列表去選擇行爲,如攻擊或移動。

這可能有點愚蠢,但的確存在一些更好的方式去創造AI!一種方式便是將隨機性當成任何系統的一階模型。人類大腦是如何創造系統模型?我們爲系統創造了觀察報告。並注意到這些觀察值重複出現的頻率和趨勢。在之後我們開始理解“爲什麼”會發生某些情況以及每個部分之間的臨時關係。

在物理學中,我們經常會開玩笑地說,爲了創造一隻奶牛模型,即一個複雜的有機體,我們需要做的第一步便是“想象一隻球形的奶牛。”通過創造一個簡單的模型,我們便能夠以最低成本生成有用的見解。

很多時候,掉落表其實就是一個複雜系統的以人類爲中心的近似值。對於許多系統,大多數玩家的移動都不會超過一個基本的概率理解,所以創造更復雜的模型只會浪費時間。有效的遊戲設計是創造模型去最小化必要級別以創造出理想的遊戲體驗。

考慮:《龍與地下城》便基於必要的戰利品掉落表創造了完整的宇宙。這就是專注於最小化系統。

戰利品掉落表並不是你需要的唯一工具,但在很多情況下,它卻是一種很有效的工具。

程序生成思維實驗

以下是使用掉落表的簡單程序生成系統。存在許多其它方式能夠做到這點,但這卻是最需要你進行思考的方法。讓我們假設你想要創造一個程序生成敵人。

一開始先創造獨特的敵人列表。也許你的敵人是由移動類型,攻擊類型,防禦類型以及財寶類型所組成。

爲每種類型創造戰利品表。

基於強度提供給戰利品表中的每種道具能量值。例如,刀的攻擊可能較弱,那麼它的能量值便是5。而較大的鐵錘的能量值爲15。

創造另一個戰利品表。這是各種屬性的修改內容。例如,“強大”將爲攻擊增加20%的數值。你也可以將攻擊設爲“弱”,這將減少50%的數值。

現在讓我們生成一個敵人

設定一個目標:爲你的生成敵人設定一個目標能量。假設你想要一個擁有40能量值的敵人。

滾動:滾動每個部分並將其添加到列表上。

分數:添加所有的能量值去獲得一個分數。

調整:如果這些部分的總和超過目標值,那就爲較低的能量部分添加一個攻擊或滾動。如果總和低於目標值,那就爲較高的能量部分添加一個攻擊或滾動。

重複:重複這一過程直到你到達一個預期的錯誤門檻(遠離能量40)或者你耗盡了你想要消耗的迭代數。

現在你便擁有一個程序生成敵人。對於這一基本系統你可以進行多次調整,但它大多數情況下都是有用的。作爲練習,你可以想想:

排除列表:如果選擇了列表中的兩個部分,那就丟掉敵人再次滾動。

多重限制:基於多個標準進行評判的部分。需要注意的是,當你添加更多限制時,你便更加不可能聚集多重結果。

結論

任何時候都會出現關於隨機性的討論,並且也有許多次要問題會發揮作用。我建議你們能夠閱讀以下內容:

http://www.lostgarden.com/2012/12/understanding-randomness-in-terms-of.html

http://www.lostgarden.com/2012/12/understanding-randomness-in-terms-of.html

抵抗教條式的隨機性。作爲一個受過良好教育的設計師,你的美學選擇應該是基於親手實踐。這裏存在的一個經驗法則便是,在你成功使用一種設計工具創造出一些成功遊戲之前,你不能輕易批評這種設計工具。

篇目3,解析遊戲設計策略之獎懲系統

作者:Brice Morrison

我們的日常生活充滿了選擇。睡眼朦朧中聽到鬧鐘作響,鯉魚打挺跳起來還是摁掉鬧鐘繼續睡?今天的晚飯是吃雞、啃牛排還是吃素好呢?埋頭工作還是和朋友外出玩?這些選擇就像一盒顏料,你用不同的色彩描繪每天的生活、工作仍至生命。正是通過這些選擇,你體驗自己的存在、向世界表達自己的存在。

如果人生是一場遊戲,那麼做這些選擇的活動就是人生的基礎機制,你有選擇、有能力做或不做。這些行爲就像生活的變量,你可以把它們輸入生活這個系統。總之,無論是什麼行動,只要在你的能力範圍以內,你就可以隨心所欲地做選擇。

真的可以這樣嗎?當然不可以。現實可沒有你想象的那麼自由。確實,你有選擇權,但有選擇就有相應的後果、要求和規矩。在人生這場遊戲裏,你也許有能力衝進圖書館大聲喧譁。你可能有能力侮辱最好的朋友或打劫便利店。你大約有能力沮喪地宅在公寓,不與朋友歡度週末。

以上都是你的選擇,但你可能不會這麼做。即使你有能力有辦法去實施,還是受到其他指導性條件的約束。所謂“選擇”的內涵遠比你想象的要深刻。你的決定彷彿受到一股超脫於自身的無形力量的主宰。

獎懲系統影響玩家的行爲

正如上面所討論的那樣,遊戲爲玩家提供了各種選擇。玩家可以跑、射、畫、投、吃、躲、攻、瞬間移動等等等。但這些行爲都不是孤立存在的,總是有一個更高級的系統——獎懲系統統領這些行爲,促使玩家從中做選擇。獎懲系統同時賦予了基礎機制以意義和份量,迫使玩家慎重考慮自己的選擇。

因此,理解遊戲設計中的獎懲系統是明白人類行爲的重要課題。在特定的時刻,人的選擇範圍是很廣的,然而,最普遍的行爲只佔了其中很小的比例。原因就是我們上面提到的,有什麼樣的選擇就有什麼樣的結果。無論是在現實生活還是遊戲世界,人們都是從過去的經驗中學習,然後根據預期的最理想的結果來選擇當前行爲。行爲與結果的對應關係組成了主宰玩家行爲的獎懲系統。

在搞清楚獎懲系統是怎麼一回事以前,我們先舉一個簡單的例子。在《超級馬里奧64》中,遊戲的基本機制就是跑跑跳跳着通過各個檯面(暫不考慮戰鬥和能量源)。怎麼使用這些能力一邊前進一邊收集通關所需的星星取決於玩家本人。

super mario(from thegameprodigy)

super mario(from thegameprodigy)

然而,玩家控制馬里奧的行爲要受到遊戲獎懲系統的約束。如果馬里奧撞到敵人,那麼他就會掛掉一條命。這是一種簡單的懲罰,從中我們可以看出這個系統是如何影響玩家的行爲,這種影響遠比我們所想象的要深刻。一旦玩家明白撞上蘑菇頭就會損失一條命,那麼他們的行爲就會改變,不會像當初那麼橫衝直撞了。這就是懲罰的意義所在。

接下來,馬里奧繼續跑着,又遇到蘑菇頭了。從技術上來說,玩家的行爲中確實還存在一頭撞向蘑菇頭的選項,但遊戲的獎懲系統已經告訴玩家此時應該躲避。因此,玩家會選擇操縱馬里奧躲開蘑菇頭。

現在你看出什麼來沒?遊戲的基本機制沒變,仍舊是馬里奧的跑跑跳跳,但玩家的行爲改變了。玩家對遊戲系統“心領神會”後,他們的決定隨之改變。

隨着玩家與遊戲及其獎懲系統的互動進一步加強,玩家開始形成心智模型——系統的運作原理和行動的最佳方案。玩家能否完全理解系統取決於玩家自身,而獎懲系統的工作就是激發玩家的理想行爲。一個好的遊戲設計能夠反映出玩家的理想行爲,然後圍繞理想行爲構建獎懲系統,從而鼓勵玩家做出理想的行爲決定。

策略

在馬里奧和蘑菇頭的例子中,獎懲系統的作用相當明顯,但並不是所有時候都那麼直接。我們再以塔防遊戲爲例。在塔防遊戲中,玩家必須建防禦塔來阻止敵人抵達遊戲屏幕的另一邊。當敵人經過時,這些塔就會發動攻擊,敵人走的總是抵達目標的最短路線。

塔防類遊戲的基本機制是:

1、決定設置什麼塔(遊戲邦注:例如攻擊力高低或成本高低等)

2、決定建塔的位置(2D平面)

以上就是玩家要做的選擇,具體怎麼做還是由玩家說的算,對吧?

如果你有認真看前面的內容的話,你應該知道當然不對。還是從技術上講,玩家把塔丟哪都行,如果他已經不在乎輸贏。遊戲的獎懲系統鼓勵特定的行爲,所以實際上,玩家的選擇就是遊戲設定好的那種機制。

例如,玩家可以把塔遠遠地放在右上角,但獎懲系統可不太鼓勵。這麼做的直接後果就是火力不足,敵人迅速“上位”,玩家失敗。最終,玩家會意識到最佳方案是把塔放在中間,這樣基本上就完美地阻斷了敵人的前進道路。當然玩家也可以繼續頑固地把塔放在角落,輸了再放,放了再輸,不過,老輸的遊戲還有啥意思呢。

這又是一個獎懲系統決定玩家行爲的例子。遊戲給玩家一定的選擇,但玩家勝利的條件是實施隱藏在系統之後的最佳策略。

獎懲系統的基本原則

獎懲系統怎麼作用於玩家的行爲?請看以下模式圖:

獎懲系統模式(from gamerboom.com)

獎懲系統模式(from gamerboom.com)

開發者通過基本機制決定玩家的行爲。然後,開發者設計獎懲系統來過濾玩家的可能選擇,最後形成的是理想的玩家行爲。

那麼,這種獎懲系統是怎麼設計出來的呢?答案就是,先給自己充點行爲心理學的電。這門學問的先驅研究者是B.F. Skinner等行爲學家,特別是他提出的操作性條件作用(條件反射理論),是觀察主體對某種系統的作出反應的行爲。

似曾相識?操作性條件作用就是我在本文中所探討的問題的研究基礎。與操作性行爲作用相似,遊戲中的獎懲系統影響玩家的行爲,主要採取以下四種方式:

1、主動獎勵:以玩家想要或喜歡的東西作爲對玩家行爲的獎勵。

2、被動獎勵:移除玩家不喜歡的東西作爲對玩家行爲的獎勵。

3、主動懲罰:給予玩家不想要或不喜歡的東西作爲對玩家行爲的懲罰。

4、被動懲罰:移除玩家想要的或喜歡的東西作爲對玩家行爲的懲罰。

根據玩家對基本機制的運用,遊戲給予玩家獎勵或懲罰,這樣,遊戲開發者得以不斷修整基本機制的運用。例如,在《超級馬里奧64》中,當玩家打敗敵人,玩家通常會得到渴求的金幣。這就是主動獎勵。另外,蘑菇頭沒了,也就是說玩家在這道關卡的敵人減少了,這是被動獎勵。

對於獎罰系統的懲罰方面,如果馬里奧掉到火山岩漿裏,那麼他就得哀號着、失控般地撲滅工裝褲上的火焰。這是主動懲罰,即給予玩家不想要的東西——玩家希望始終把對馬里奧的控制權掌握在自己手裏,而不是任馬里奧自己亂來。另外,馬里奧損失生命,這是被動懲罰,因爲玩家希望命越多越好。

玩家行爲塑造法

一開始,遊戲的機制又少又簡單,後來,不僅數量增加了,複雜程度也隨着遊戲進展呈螺旋式上升,然後獎懲系統開始變得相當複雜。因此,爲了促成理想的玩家行爲,清楚地理解設計獎懲系統的基本策略是非常必要的。

再者,所有一切總是從遊戲設計的核心體驗部分開始。一旦你定義好遊戲的核心體驗,那麼就可以開始設計能夠觸發理想行爲的機制了。在此,請考慮以下普遍原則:

描述理想行爲。好的獎懲系統是隱蔽的。大多數開發者傾向於把注意力放在他們希望的行爲上,然後設計能夠激發那些行爲的系統。如果只是關注這個系統本身,可能會產生混亂,最終導致失敗。所以你得詳盡地描述理想的玩家行爲。然後圍繞你的描述構建獎懲系統。試着站在玩家的立場來想象你的行爲。

調整。如果你所設計的系統沒有激發玩家的理想行爲,那麼你可以進一步調整。當你希望玩家迅速地越過牆時,你想象過(或在做原型時看過)玩家總是撞到牆上的情形嗎?這時,你要做的就是稍微懲罰一下玩家的撞牆行爲。一點小小的調整可以對玩家的行爲產生重大影響。另外,請保證觀看你的原型視頻,然後再研究如何讓遊戲激發玩家的理想行爲。

反饋時間。另一個要考慮到的重點是獎懲的反饋時間是多少?時間多長你說了算,但你得根據希望玩家如何學習遊戲的固有系統來做決定。在大部分遊戲中,如《超級馬里奧》,反饋是立即的。“我從懸崖上摔下來,遊戲馬上宣佈我死亡。好吧,收到。真慘,別再摔了。”

然而,在其他遊戲中,通過延遲給予獎懲反饋,可以增加機制的複雜度。在策略遊戲中,如《星際爭霸》,玩家需要花更多時間來掌握策略,因爲成敗的反饋只到最後才知道。比如,玩家在一個難以防守的地點建立基地可能只需要五分鐘,但這個選擇導致的失敗直到一個小時後纔出現。但玩家不可能立馬就把失敗和建立基地的地點聯繫起來。行爲和反饋的循環所需時間越長,玩家越難以有意識地發現其中的關係。

好的獎懲系統會讓玩家產生掌握了遊戲核心體驗的滿足感。無論是從巨龜怪那裏救下公主還是打敗迎面而來的敵人軍隊,獎懲系統可以指導玩家採取什麼行動。另一方面,失敗的獎懲系統會拖遊戲的後腿,讓遊戲看起來像是粗糙的半成品。務必協調好遊戲的獎勵系統,這樣才能給玩家帶來暢快淋漓的遊戲體驗,且保持玩家所想和遊戲所爲之間的和諧。

篇目4,分析常見成就係統的問題及其解決方法

作者:Keith Burgun

儘管我對這個話題非常有感觸,但我還是拖延了很長一段時間才着手撰寫這篇文章。這是因爲我認爲,我在現存的成就係統中發現的問題會自動消失。然而,在新發布的遊戲中,那些問題顯然成功地將自己僞裝成“我們期待現代電子遊戲所具有的品質”。

我知道有許多人寫過這個話題,但我想從另一個角度展開論述。例如,我知道Chris Hecker詳盡地談過外部激勵因素。雖然我認爲他的觀點有道理,但我其實不太有興趣贊成或反對外部獎勵。我要反對的是成就本身,準確地說,是成就如何影響機制。

Lucas Blair就成就話題洋洋灑灑地寫了三大節內容。他的文章的基本立場是“無論如何,我們都要做成就係統,所以不防參考以下實用的方法。”我不同意他的基本前提。

在這個世界上,永遠不變的只有改變本身。我認爲到最後,我們所看到的成就係統要麼消失了,要麼徹底改變了。如果這個預言聽起來太瘋狂了,那麼我提醒你,有許多成功的iOS和任天堂主機遊戲根本就沒有成就係統。

我必須澄清和解釋,我所說的“沒有成就係統”是指它們沒有普遍的成就係統的那種執行方式。我肯定你可以想出某一兩款遊戲似乎具有合理的、無害的甚至有趣的某種看起像是所謂的“成就係統”。要羅列現存的各種成就係統是不可能的,所以我只能從常見的類型入手。

diablo 3–achievements(from diablo3x.com)

diablo 3–achievements(from diablo3x.com)

你可能覺得成就係統現在的樣子已經很不錯了。如果是這樣,那麼請聽我解釋。也許我可以說服你轉變看法,或至少給你一些將它們做得更好的建議。

《反恐精英:全球攻勢》(以下簡稱《CS:GO》)就存在我所說的問題。這個版本發佈於2012年——事實上,它是在8月份之後才發佈的。這是一款全新的遊戲,由最受歡迎、最被看重的AAA遊戲開發團隊Valve Software製作。但我可以肯定地說,它包含不少愚蠢的成就設計。另外,我還要從其他兩款全新的遊戲《XCOM: Enemy Unknown》和《生化危機6》中引用一些例子。

在我進一步解釋以前,我要聲明,我並不希望成就係統太快消失。不過,成就係統畢竟根植於我們的文化,要等它們徹底消失了,從現在算起大概需要數十年的時間。確實,你必須在微軟和索尼遊戲設備上設置成就係統(但顯然,iOS、任天堂、Android和Steam都沒有這種要求)。無論如何,我認爲理解成就係統的陷阱對每個人來說都是有意義的,當然,不是所有成就係統都是陷阱。

最後,我還會解釋我認爲應該取代成就的變體。

主要問題

成就係統到底糟糕在哪裏?“成就”系統的根源性問題可以表述如下:好的時候,成就係統沒有發揮任何作用;壞的時候,它們影響玩家的行爲。

你可能會問,影響玩家行爲有什麼錯?影響行爲是件壞事,是因爲你只是耗費了一年半載的時間調整一套干擾正常行爲的規則。記住,遊戲是一套限制和刺激玩家行爲的規則。你應該把時間花在修改、平衡、調整直到玩家行爲被你想要的方式影響,全都圍繞一箇中心目標和玩法機制。

如果你沒有這麼做,那就另當別論了。在這種情況下,你並沒有履行遊戲設計師的職責。即使是再大的遊戲,人們也會發現這個真相:你的遊戲並沒有向玩家展示有意義的選擇和動態的、自然的、靈活的策略性。

我們假設你已經花時間爲遊戲製作一套動態的、平衡的、積極的規則。現在你準備用其他隨意的激勵因素作用於玩家?設計大量靠運氣就能達到的額外的、可選擇的目標?那你的做法無異於製作好一個鐘,然後將各種零件倒進去,最後用膠水粘好,你覺得這樣的鐘能走嗎?因此,成就係統其實從另一方面證明了遊戲設計普遍缺少原則。

常見的成就係統

成就係統中,最常見的一個類型可以描述爲“不可避免的”、“獎勵的”、“聒噪的”和甚至“毫無意義的”。以下是取自《CS:GO》中的例子:

CS_GO(from images.wikia.com)

CS_GO(from images.wikia.com)

“Body Bagger:消滅25個敵人”

“Shot with their Pants Down:消滅正在裝彈的敵人”

接下來的是《XCOM: Enemy Unknown》中的類似的例子:

“Bada Boom:用爆炸性武器消滅50個外星人”

《生化危機6》中也有一個基本相同的成就:

“Life Saver:幫助或拯救你的同伴10次”

這些成就是你必然會得到的。你肯定會殺掉25個敵人。你可能還沒想到查看成就列表(如果你有想過查看)就已經消滅25個敵人了。

因此,許多玩家正玩着遊戲,突然就彈出一個窗口告訴他“獲得成就”。這是完全沒有意義的信息,對遊戲沒有任何作用,除了暫時干擾玩家。

不過,這些成就還產生了另一個問題,那就是獎勵玩家,你的遊戲是不是已經自帶獎勵/激勵系統了?如果是,那麼突然地“嚇”玩家一下是基於什麼目的呢?消滅25個敵人?這有什麼意義?遊戲給的獎勵是玩家已經得到的,而不是這個成就給的。你不妨放一個時間表,每15分鐘少量發放隨機的、無意義的成就獎勵,如“你真迷人”或“你好有幽默感。”

爲了不離題萬里,我會很快說完下面的內容。根據斯金納的研究,特別是關於操作性條件反射,即隨機間隔發放獎勵就是類似於這種成就模式——刺激大腦釋放“快樂元素”到玩家的血液中,使玩家即使已經學不到任何東西了還繼續玩遊戲。我個人認爲遊戲能達到的效果應該超過操作性條件反射的實驗箱,但即使你這麼認爲,你也應該意識到現在這種普遍的成就係統達到只是類似的效果。

激勵

當討論成就係統時,最常討論的一個方面就是將其作爲外部獎勵——來自外部系統的獎勵。我同意上文提到的Chris Hecker和其他許多作者如Alfie Kohn等的觀點,質疑能否將這些激勵運用於有意義的任務。我們的觀點是,它們消除了完成任務的成就感,而任務本身就是有趣的和有益的。

我將從稍微不同的角度看待這個問題。首先,我們先看看《CS:GO》中的幾個例子,這些例子就體現了我所說的問題:

“Three the Hard Way:用一個HE手榴彈消滅3個敵人”

“Aerial Necrobatics:在你自己空降的同時消滅一個空降的敵人”

《XCOM: Enemy Unknown》中的例子則是:

“Xavier:單個玩家對1個Ethereal進行心靈控制”

我們先想一想《CS》中的HE手榴彈是什麼概念。當你購買一個這種烈性炸彈時,你感到興奮,因爲這傢伙的威力很大。如果你正好把這東西放在合適的位置,誰知道能消滅多少敵人呢?你可能只會傷到若干人,你也可能殺掉一個人,或者你可能殺掉好幾個人。這種靈活性使手榴彈的威力更富動態,更激動人心,你懂得。

當你投出手榴彈時,它確實能殺掉一個人,或者更好一點,兩個人或三個人——總之是個大rush。你得到手榴彈但不使用,或使用但效果不大,所有時間都是爲這個大rush作準備的。在使用手榴彈時感覺自己變強了——這種感覺纔是令人興奮的。你處於完全特殊的情形,你覺得自己創造了一個奇蹟般的成功。

接着,一個小窗口彈出來告訴你,你剛剛取得了一些成就。突然間,那種做了某件了不起的事的感覺消失了大半。在一定程度上,你只不過是激活了一個小窗口——成百上千的其他玩家也做了同樣的事。

《XCOM: Enemy Unknown》中的成就與之類似。原本可以讓玩家覺得自己的戰術了不起,現在這種戰術變成了“應該做的事”。

XCOM-Enemy-Unknown(from pcbunny.co.za)

XCOM-Enemy-Unknown(from pcbunny.co.za)

我認爲,開發者將這件事寫下來供玩家查看,事實上導致這件事變得不那麼特別了。而玩家的想法是:讓我想象,讓我發現,讓我體驗一些做了真正特殊的事的時刻,不要告訴我,我只是滿足了開發者設定的要求。

爲了讓玩家意識到可以用手榴彈鐵消滅很多人,所以那種成就如“Three the Hard Way”是必須的。有人可能會這麼反駁我。但是,你應該知道原版的《CS》中並沒有成就,並且使用HE手榴彈是非常流行的。玩家不需要有人告訴他這些顯然可以自己發現的事。

收集

出於我的遊戲哲學觀,我認爲“收集”本身就有問題。任何基於無空無盡的收集或任何沒有明確目標的收集的系統,都是對玩家的剝削,是很無趣的(因此令人失望)。說它剝削玩家是因爲它利用人類的“採集”本能,而沒有用任何東西彌補我們花在收集上的時間。大多數遊戲會挑戰我們、激勵我們、感動我們。而那些剝削我們的遊戲給我們帶來的體驗是非常沒有意義的。

在《CS》中,我到底爲什麼要收集所有成就?遊戲記錄我已經收集了百分之多少的成就。如果我的收集達到100%,會怎麼樣呢?記錄這個信息的目的是什麼?當我的朋友看到35%的收集率,他們會對我刮目相看嗎?那他們看到95%時又會怎麼樣?

最後,當我的收集率終於達到100%,又怎麼樣?然後呢?這只是一個死系統。《CS》本來就是一款可玩性非常強的遊戲,在遊戲中添加這種剝削玩家的收集系統對提高可玩性有什麼意義?

影響行爲

這是成就係統的最大罪行。正如我前面所說的,遊戲已經存在它自己的激勵因素了——事實上,遊戲設計師的目的是保持圍繞着目標的激勵因素的平衡,以產生預期的遊戲體驗。

但有些成就事實上干擾了玩家執行正常的行爲。我記得在《軍團要塞2》中就有很多這種例子。在遊戲中,通常會出現這麼一個情況:有一個醫療兵不去醫治隊友,反而忙着做一些相當愚蠢的事。真是令人生氣,我大叫:“老兄,你到底在幹嘛?救我啊。”

“我在做成就啊。”他是這麼回答我的。

這種事沒少發生,特別是在新遊戲中。現在,我們會面臨這樣一種局面:因爲成就的存在,玩家不積極地玩遊戲,而是干擾或破壞遊戲的體驗。

一個普遍的錯誤就是責怪那名玩家。應該這麼說:如果你責怪那名玩家只顧着做成就,那麼你就證實了我的觀點:成就係統必須消失。

《CS:GO》中也有一個影響行爲的例子:

“Second to None:在爆炸時間少於1秒時成功地拆除炸彈”

很難想像,當玩家應該開始拆除炸彈時,明明只需要在炸彈的底部來一槍,他卻非要一直等到時間少於1秒時。許多時候就是因爲玩家錯誤地估算了時間,所以任務失敗。這種行爲顯然是置其他玩家於危險的境地。記住,遊戲的目標應該是所有參與方達成一致。

我的建議:變體

成就係統的爛攤子還有辦法收拾起來嗎?有的。某些成就——特別是影響玩家行爲的成就,可能修改成有趣的變體。雖然我不希望成就係統消失或一夜之間面目全非,但變體提供了另一種值得探索的方式。

變體與成就之間的區別是什麼?變體是一個新目標,玩家在遊戲開始以前能主動選擇,在當前遊戲中,只有這個被選擇的“目標”會被激活。“遊戲”的基礎之一是,規則和目標在遊戲開始之就已經達成一致。在遊戲正式運行中,允許玩家選擇目標是不合理的。這隻會鼓勵玩家根據當前狀況,選擇最容易達成的目標。更糟的是,如果你允許玩家同時選擇所有目標,那麼有些目標的完成可能只是偶然的。

在《Nethack》中,變體被稱爲“conducts”。根據維基百科介紹的《Nethack》:

(儘管玩家可以在沒有人爲限制條件下完成《Nethack》,但高級玩家可以嘗試用conducts增加遊戲的挑戰難度。)所謂的“conducts”就是對行爲的自願限制,如不使用祝福技能、素食或甚至絕對素食,或不殺死怪物。

在《CS》中,作爲一款多人遊戲,變體應該作用於所有玩家。如果恐怖分子的隊伍勝利了,沒有一個恐怖傻分子死亡因爲他已經激活了一些特殊的變體,即他不會受到手榴彈的傷害。從技術上說,這沒什麼錯,只要所有玩家事先同意,但這種變體似乎有些混亂和奇怪。

相反地,在《CS》的公共服中已經出現了一些更好的變體。比如,“無AWP/Auto”或“無限的金錢”或“打賭”都可以算是變體。這些變體對玩家構成新挑戰——“當狙擊槍不可用時,你還能贏得比賽嗎?”還有其他服務器的變體,比如增加RPG元素、殭屍和其他規則。

看一下取自《XCOM》中的一個例子,然後告訴我這是不是一個成熟的變體:

“Lone Wolf:一名士兵清理UFO墜毀地區,難度爲經典或不可能。”

爲什麼使用成就係統

作爲開發者,我認爲應該是“玩家喜歡成就,那我們就滿足他們。”我想玩家的想法可能類似,即“好吧,開發者出由某些理由喜歡添加成就係統,那我們就遷就他們吧。”換句話說,其實沒有多少人喜歡成就係統,但所有人都相信其他人喜歡成就係統,所以成就係統就一直存在着。

我還認爲,成就係統始終存在是因爲,坦白地說,現在的許多電子遊戲本身沒有那麼有趣。開發者可以使用成就係統提供的低劣的、干擾的、無聊的收集功能給原本就無趣的系統創造樂趣。它們的主要功能,大多數時候是通過強迫玩家“收集”,用大量時間交換極少的樂趣。它們之所以突出,是因爲它們出現在一款並不需要它們的遊戲中——如《CS:GO》。

只因爲成就係統已經存在許多年了,所以我們就要一直保留它們——我們不應該落入這種想法的陷阱中。現在,我可以肯定地說,我們確實可能一直保留它們,至少以某些形式,但值得注意的是,任天堂不使用這種系統是有道理的,並且似乎沒有影響他們在商業或口碑上取得成功。正如我指出的,成就係統存在許多缺陷,隨着時間流逝,我可以肯定地說,它們要麼徹頭徹尾地改變,要麼消失。

如果你是成就係統的擁護者,那麼我只想讓你試着用新的角度審視它們,然後問問自己它們到底對遊戲有什麼作用,我提出來的問題有沒有切中它的要害。

聽着,人們喜歡“亞對策”,這點我理解。但如果你有很好的變體形亞對策,好的網絡體系(如在線排行榜)和額外的玩法內容,那些因爲你沒“成就係統”而離開遊戲的人應該會非常少。一定程度上,玩家很快就不會再期待成就係統了,就像他們當初那麼期待成就係統的一樣。

篇目5,論述促使玩家富有滿足感的“成就循環”

作爲遊戲設計師,我常問自己什麼令遊戲富有趣味。“趣味”一詞聽起來有些抽象,而且非常主觀。電子遊戲有衆多元素富有趣味:外部環境、令人印象深刻的音效、有趣的故事、有趣的角色及顆粒效應等。但有些遊戲包含所有這些元素,但依然不那麼有趣。那麼究竟是什麼元素促使遊戲令人滿意?遊戲滿足感來自何處?

我相信大家對此都有不同看法。話雖如此,我對遊戲滿足感來源的看法一點兒也不抽象。我認爲很多遊戲開發商都有這樣的看法,只是他們沒有表達出來。

要令人滿意,遊戲需要讓玩家經歷此“成就循環”:

1. 挑戰:玩家面臨障礙,其克服此障礙的渠道有限。

2. 反覆試驗:這是辛苦的工作(遊戲邦注:讓玩家承受一定遭遇非常重要)。玩家試着憑藉自己的工具通過各種方式克服障礙。

3. 學習:在嘗試使用工具的過程中,玩家也許會遭遇失敗,但玩家會學會使用它們。

4. 成功:玩家克服挑戰。他覺得自己有所成就,此辛苦工作有所回報。這是玩家享受其中的時刻,他從中感受到滿足感。玩家會認爲:“是的!我非常擅長這款遊戲!”

5. 玩家返回第1點,其中的玩法情境融入更多複雜性/難度。

這看起來有點像祕訣,但其實不是。這能夠通過各種方式應用至各類遊戲中,但要做好並不容易。

Super Mario Bros from ahkong.net

Super Mario Bros from ahkong.net

此循環出現在各種經典遊戲的細微情況中。讓我們將此循環應用至《超級馬里奧兄弟》的首個玩法情境中:

1. 挑戰:Mario遇到緩緩向其靠近的Goomba。

2. 反覆試驗:Mario試驗各種策略。他徑直穿過Goomba,然後死去,或者笨拙地過早跳躍,然後再次死去。

3. 學習:Mario現在更清楚要如何移動和跳躍。

4. 成功:Mario順利撲向Goomba,弄皺他醜陋的卡其色臉龐。然後取得勝利!

5. 返回:Mario現在將面臨更大挑戰。

但當遊戲沒有新鮮內容教給玩家時,它就無法繼續循環,因此就會變得重複和單調。

在我看來,很多當前的遊戲都無法讓玩家保持興致,因爲它們試着通過虛僞方式創造滿足感。這類遊戲通常讓非常強大的角色面臨相當簡單的玩法情境。所以我們看到的情形是,在體驗的頭幾分鐘裏,你會覺得自己好像上帝,你會被自己的破壞程度嚇到。但不久之後,你就會發現遊戲再沒有什麼新鮮內容,開始令人覺得乏味。更糟的是,當你在遊戲中失敗時,你無法從中學到什麼東西,你覺得自己愚蠢至極,因爲你本不應該失敗。

此循環呈現很多經典視頻遊戲所採用的策略:“易上手,難精通”。因爲掌握遊戲的難度越大,“成就循環”就能夠持續越久,保持富有趣味。

篇目1篇目2篇目3篇目4篇目5(本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao)

篇目1,The Cake Is Not a Lie: How to Design Effective Achievements

[In this first in a new series of articles, PhD researcher and game designer Lucas Blair uses academic research to formulate best practices for designing in-game achievements.]

Achievements are a hot topic in the gaming industry. Player feelings toward them range from obsession to indifference and designers seem equally torn over their use. Controversial or not, achievements appear to be here to stay, so designers need to learn to utilize them to their fullest potential. Achievements, if they are intended to have a positive effect on players, must be a forethought, and not an afterthought, during the game design process.

In many cases they are carelessly tacked on to a game after it is already close to completion. Unfortunately, the benefits of a carefully-crafted game mechanic can be undermined by attaching a poorly-designed achievement to it.

Alternatively, if achievements are designed in the same manner as other aspects of games, they can be used to improve the player’s experience and the overall quality of a game.

There is an established body of scientific study covering a wide range of topics, which should guide the design of achievements. In this article series, I will be sharing a taxonomy of achievement design features created by deconstructing how achievements are currently used in games.

The goal of this exercise is to distill mechanisms of action out of achievement designs, which have been shown by research to affect performance, motivation, and attitudes.

This taxonomy, although intended to be comprehensive, is likely to be subject to debate and future revisions. For the time being however, I think it is a good jumping off point for a discussion that must be had if we are to ever effectively harness the potential of achievements.

In part one I will be covering the following concepts:

Measurement Achievements

Completion Achievements

Boring vs. Interesting Tasks

Achievement Difficulty

Goal Orientation

Measurement vs. Completion Achievements

The first branch in the taxonomy contrasts Measurement and Completion achievements, which describe two distinct conditions under which we reward players for their actions.

Measurement achievements are given to players for completing a task to a certain degree. Their performance can be measured against another player’s performance, their own performance, or some standard set by game designers.

An example of this would be the star rating used in Angry Birds, which gives the player a number of stars based upon how well they beat the level. A measurement achievement can be likened to feedback, because it is evaluative in nature. The literature regarding the use of feedback in training and education indicates that feedback is beneficial to players because it allows them to reflect on their performance in relation to goals they have set for themselves.

This reflection increases the player’s perception of competence, which in turn increases, their intrinsic motivation — a term used to describe a task one finds inherently rewarding. That increase in perceived competence could also mediate the negative effects of other design decisions, like overusing rewards, which decrease intrinsic motivation.

On the other hand, completion achievements do not tell the player how well they’ve performed the task; instead they are offered as an award once a task is completed. Completion achievements can be split into two subcategories: performance contingent achievements and non-performance contingent achievements. Performance contingent achievements require skill to complete while non-performance contingent achievements are awarded for simply being present.

Performance contingent completion achievements, like those received for finishing a dungeon for the first time in World of Warcraft, can be better understood by reviewing what we know about the use of rewards as an extrinsic motivator. Some incentive programs have been shown to have a significant positive effect on task performance. However these types of rewards can decrease a player’s sense of autonomy, especially when given in excess. This decreased sense of
autonomy leads to lower intrinsic motivation.

Rewards also create an artificial ceiling for performance at the reward threshold. Once players have earned the reward, they are unlikely to continue on with the task that they were persuaded to do. For game developers this translates into the replay value of their game. Using rewards makes players less likely to take risks as they do not want to hurt their chances of being rewarded. This is especially relevant to rewards used in video games where designers wish to encourage creative and experimental play.

Non-performance contingent achievements, like earning a tabard or a pet for attending an in-game event, have no negative effect on intrinsic motivation. However these types of rewards do not have a performance measure, so players are unlikely to be interested in earning them unless they are paired with some sort of social reinforcement.

Best practice: Use measurement achievements instead of completion achievements to increase intrinsic motivation through feedback.

Boring vs. Interesting Tasks

Achievements are earned for the completion of a task or series of tasks. These required actions will fall on a spectrum ranging from boring to exciting from the player’s perspective. If a task is boring the reward structure associated with it has to be different from tasks that are inherently interesting to the player.

Boring tasks (such as trade skills in MMOs) can be paired with extrinsic motivators, like achievements, in order for players to engage in them. Because players are not inclined to do these tasks on their own, intrinsic motivation is unaffected by the use of rewards as an incentive.

There are two common strategies used to motivate people to engage in dull task. The first strategy is to make the player aware of the inherent value of the task through the wording of the achievement.

An example of this would be the “Lifesaver” achievement in Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos, which is given for rescuing a crewmember. The use of the term “Lifesaver” implies that the task is important because you are helping others.

The second strategy is to add additional rules or fantasy to the task itself, which is what all achievements do at their most basic level.

Interesting tasks which the player would engage in without any form of additional motivation do not need to be reinforced with rewards. Players will engage in these tasks without any coaxing, so achievements (especially those that are completion achievements) should be used sparingly.

Instead of trying to create artificial interest in a task the achievements should be attentional, in that they focus the player’s attention on important lessons or strategies for the task. This could improve player performance by scaffolding “hints” about what the most effective strategy is.

A good example of this would be the achievement “The Flying Heal Bus” in StarCraft II, which leads players to utilize a specific unit more effectively.

Best practice: Reward players for boring tasks and give them feedback for interesting ones. Make achievements for interesting tasks attentional.

Achievement Difficulty

The difficulty of achievements is addressed twice by designers. First, the actual difficulty of achievements needs to be on a level that is attainable but challenging to the players. Second, a player’s self-efficacy for the task(s) associated with the achievement must be high enough that they feel confident in attempting it.

Achievements should provide challenging goals for players to fulfill as moderate difficulty leads to superior gains in performance and a greater sense of accomplishment upon completion. However, achievements that are too difficult will not even be attempted by players. However, those that are too easy will be completed quickly, and won’t provide an adequate challenge. A common strategy to keep in-games tasks interesting is to provide alternative objectives for
those players who have reached a mastery level of performance.

Player self-efficacy (which refers to an individual’s perception about their own ability to produce a desired result for a specific task) is another important factor that game designers must consider. Increasing player self-efficacy is important because it has been linked to increased goal commitment, increased strategy creation and use, and a more positive response to negative feedback.

There are four factors that designers can address in order to affect a player’s self-efficacy. The first is their level of expertise on the subject matter. This is another important reason to make sure there are achievements available for players at all skill levels.

Seeing people around you succeed — or vicarious experience — is the second factor that influences self-efficacy. This effect is likely to be particularly powerful if the person being observed appears to be at the same ability level of the observer. Examples of utilizing this in games are leaderboards for online games or the “brags” in systems like OnLive.

Social persuasion (giving someone a verbal boost) is the third method of influencing self-efficacy. This can be as simple as telling someone “good job” after a performance or the “50 NOTE STREAK!” messages that appear in Guitar Hero. How a person feels is the fourth factor, which includes stress level, emotional condition, and perceived physical state.

Best practice: Make achievements challenging for the greatest returns in player performance and enjoyment. Phrase achievements and design interactions to increase player self-efficacy.

Goal Orientation

A player’s goal orientation must be considered when designing achievements as it will influence how they experience a game through goals they set for themselves. There are two types of goal orientation which are commonly referred to as performance orientation and mastery orientation. Players who favor a performance orientation are concerned with other people’s assessment of their competence. Players who have a mastery orientation are concerned more with
improving their proficiency.

Games tend to push players toward a performance orientation as they are constantly emphasizing direct goals like time and points earned. Unfortunately, players who gravitate toward this type of orientation take fewer in-game risks and spend less time exploring, afraid that doing so might affect their score.

This occurs frequently in first person shooters where players use the same weapons and tactics over and over again because they think it is the best way to optimize their kill to death ratio. However, research has shown that when individuals are given performance oriented goals they typically perform better only with simple, non-complex tasks.

To balance out player predisposition towards performance orientation designers must actively try to instill mastery orientation in the goals and feedback they create. There are several benefits associated with having a mastery orientation.

Players who have this mindset will accept errors and seek challenging tasks that provide them the opportunity to develop their competencies. When given mastery goals players will have higher self-efficacy and utilize more effective strategies. Research has also shown that people given mastery oriented goals perform better on complex tasks.

To help foster this type of orientation designers should create achievements that acknowledge the effort players are putting forth and support them during challenges. Games should treat errors and mistakes the players make as an opportunity to provide diagnostic feedback and encouragement.

The names and wording of achievements are very important when trying to effectively communicate this. For example Heavy Rain’s “So Close…” trophy, which is given to players for reaching, yet failing, the completion of a difficult task, could be seen as encouragement and recognition of effort.

In contrast, a similar achievement in Guitar Hero III, named “Blowing It”, is titled in such a way that it could be perceived as discouraging.

Best practice: For complex tasks requiring creativity or complicated strategies try to instill a mastery orientation. For simple or repetitive tasks instill a performance orientation. Try to keep new players, who are still learning how to play, in a mastery orientation.

For more information on these topics check out the following sources:

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985b). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.

Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation in education: Reconsidered once again. Review of Educational Research, 71(1), 1-27.

Eisenberger, R., & Cameron, J. (1996). Detrimental effects of reward: Reality or myth? American Psychologist, 51(11), 1153-1166.

Lepper, M. R., & Gilovich, T. (1982). Accentuating the positive: Eliciting generalized compliance from children through activity-oriented requests. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42(2), 248-259.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57 (9), 705-717.

Bandura, A. (1999). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. In R. F. Baumeister, R. F. Baumeister (Eds.) , The self in social psychology (pp. 285-298). New York, NY US: Psychology Press.

Seijts, G. H., Latham, G. P., Tasa, K., & Latham, B. W. (2004). Goal Setting and Goal Orientation: An Integration of Two Different Yet Related Literatures. Academy of Management Journal, 47(2), 227-239.

Winters, D., & Latham, G. P. (1996). The effect of learning versus outcome goals on a simple versus a complex task. Group & Organization Management, 21(2), 236-250.

[In the second part of his three-part series, PhD researcher and game designer Lucas Blair continues to present underpinnings in contemporary research which will help formulate best practices for designing in-game achievements. You can read part 1 here.]

Now, to recap. As I wrote in the original piece, there is an established body of scientific study covering a wide range of topics, which should guide the design of achievements. In this article series, I will be sharing a taxonomy of achievement design features created by deconstructing how achievements are currently used in games.

Canada Game Conference

The goal of this exercise is to distill mechanisms of action out of achievement designs, which have been shown by research to affect performance, motivation,
and attitudes.

This taxonomy, although intended to be comprehensive, is likely to be subject to debate and future revisions. For the time being however, I think it is a good jumping off point for a discussion that must be had if we are to ever effectively harness the potential of achievements.

Now, onward to the new content. In part two I will be covering the following concepts:

* Expected vs. Unexpected Achievements

* When Achievement Notification Occurs

* Achievement Permanence

* Who Can See Earned Achievements?

Expected vs. Unexpected Achievements

When a player earns an achievement, the notification they receive can come as a total surprise or as the finish line they were striving for. The expectation that a player has when starting a game stems from the design decision to let them know what they can achieve. Players either know what achievements can be earned before they play a game, or they come upon them unexpectedly during play. Expected and unexpected achievements have different effects on players and can both be utilized to improve player experience.

Expected achievements allow players to set goals for themselves before they begin. There are four well-established benefits to having players set goals for themselves. First, goals will allow the player to have objectives and allocate their resources to complete them. This could mean brushing up on certain skills, setting aside extra time, or asking a friend for help. Second, having a goal increases the amount of effort someone is willing to put into something. For game makers this will directly translate into more play time.

As someone who spent many hours pursuing the “Salty” meta-achievement in World of Warcraft — in which a player must earn all fishing achievements — I can personally attest to what time-sinks they can be.

Third, players who have goals are much more likely to not give up when facing a difficult task in a game, as compared to players without such goals who quit playing once the going gets too tough. Fourth, players who establish goals for themselves will acquire new knowledge and skills in order to meet those goals.
This is also important to game makers, because those players who obtain new skills will in turn want to play your game more.

In addition to the benefits of goal-setting, expected achievements also allow players to create a schema, or a mental model, of gameplay before they begin. Players then refer to this schema in order to make sense of how the game is structured, and what actions they need to do in order to succeed. If a player purchases a new game and looks over all the achievements they can earn, they will develop a better understanding of the game itself. In fact, schema creation
is often similarly used in training programs to help increase user performance.

On the other end of the spectrum are unexpected achievements. Unexpected achievements are relatively uncommon in video games, but can also have potential benefits to players. One such perk would be encouraging experimental play.

An extreme example of this strategy can be seen in the game Achievement Unlocked, in which players can earn quirky achievements for almost everything they do. Although the developers intended it to be a jab at the overuse of game achievements, Achievement Unlocked effectively illustrates the metagame that can be created through convincing players to run and jump around the screen randomly in hopes of earning all the mystery achievements.

Best Practice: Primarily use expected achievements so players can establish goals for themselves and create a schema of the game. Make sure achievement descriptions accurately reflect what needs to be done by the player and why it is important. Unexpected achievements can be used sparingly to encourage creative play.

When Achievement Notification Occurs

After an achievement is earned, the player must be made aware of their accomplishment. Players can be notified immediately while play is still ongoing, or after some amount of time has passed — at a natural break in the action. The decision between using immediate and delayed notifications should be influenced by game type as well as the player’s level of experience.

Achievement notifications that occur during play, like those in World of Warcraft, are a form of immediate feedback. Studies have shown that immediate feedback can improve learning and efficiency. This is especially important when using measurement achievements that directly relate to player performance.

It should be noted, however, that newer players will benefit more from this type of feedback than more experienced players. As players become more experienced, giving them increasingly delayed feedback will be more effective, as it gives them an opportunity to evaluate their own performance.

Another important consideration when giving players an achievement notification during play is the potential obtrusiveness of the alert itself. A disruptive alert could break the player’s flow state, or what they often call “the zone”, with unfavorable results.

When in a state like this, the outside world melts away, time becomes irrelevant, and focus is increased — this is probably a common experience you’ve experienced when you play your favorite game.

Players who are in a flow state have increased motivation to continue playing and experience more enjoyment, so disrupting this sensation with an in-your- face achievement may not be ideal.

In order to avoid distracting the player, games that require a lot of mental muscle (such as those in the RTS genre) will delay when they notify the player about earned achievements. Games like StarCraft which have clearly-defined play sessions tend to give players achievement notification after a natural break in play.

These types of notifications also have the benefit of acting like delayed feedback, which has been shown to produce increased retention when learning something new. So a player who performs an action for the first time in a new game and recognized for it a little while after the fact is more likely to remember how to perform it in future game sessions.

Best Practice: For games with no clear break in play, give immediate feedback with an unobtrusive popup accompanied by a longer explanation available after play. For games with clearly defined play sessions and those that require a greater deal of concentration it is better to use delayed notification. Try to give new players immediate feedback and give more experienced players delayed feedback.

Long after a player earns an achievement, they may want to reflect on the experience. Permanent achievements allow players to relive their former glory while impermanent ones exist only when the player is first notified.

Permanent achievements come in two varieties: digitally tangible and stored lists. These terms basically reflect the difference between the reward you get for earning an achievement and a catalogued description of the achievement. The tangibility of a digital item is an abstract concept, because the item only exists in a virtual world. However, an item that is “digitally tangible”, like a pet or a tabard given as a reward, can be manipulated by the player and admired by others just like a physical reward.

Be careful: if all of the same rules that apply to rewards in the real world apply to rewards in a digital one, there should be some concern about the overuse of digitally tangible rewards. Rewards have been shown to decrease intrinsic otivation (one’s natural desire to do something), lower the player’s sense of self-determination, and decrease the likelihood that a player will return to a task.

Stored lists of earned achievements, on the other hand, like those featured on Xbox Live, allow players to reflect on their accomplishments long after they have earned them. The act of reflecting on past events will give the players a greater understanding of the experience through recall.

Temporary achievements, like the phrases “Unstoppable” or “God-Like” in first person shooters, amount to verbal reinforcements. Unlike tangible achievements, these verbal boosts increase intrinsic motivation and do not infringe on the player’s sense of self determination. After the notification is gone, any record of the achievement disappears.

Best Practice: Give players the opportunity to go over their earned achievements using some kind of stored list. Digitally tangible rewards are a great incentive, but won’t keep the player around after the reward is earned.

Who Can See Earned Achievements?

Achievements that a player has earned are often visible to others in single player and multiplayer games. What information is shared varies by game. Some games take the decision out of the player’s hands. These mandatory systems make an individual’s achievements an open book. Player-defined achievement settings, like those in FarmVille and StarCraft II, give the player the ability to decide what they want to share.

Social approval is a big part of why people play video games. Making earned achievements visible to others will encourage players to earn them for recognition. Social recognition has been shown to have a positive effect on performance when used as an incentive.

Canadian Game Conference

Making earned achievements visible also gives the player’s peers the opportunity to see the reward and decide if they want it for themselves. Striving for and eventually earning those rewards will improve their self-efficacy, their belief that they can accomplish other in-game tasks.

Having visible achievements can also act like a gaming resumé. Another player’s earned achievements might reveal that they would make a good teammate or someone to ask for help.

Earned achievements that are visible to the community have potential downsides, however. Earned achievements that act as a resumé, as discussed above, can have the unintended consequence of excluding players.

This phenomenon often takes place in MMOs, where players ask potential teammates to link a completed achievement before allowing them to participate in game events. This creates a Catch-22 situation, where players must have experience in order to gain experience. Another problem with relying on social recognition as a motivator is that it is not a good predictor of future performance, once the recognition has been doled out or is no longer available.

Best Practice: Making earned achievements viewable to other players is a powerful incentive. To prevent players from being excluded because of their lack of experience, create achievements for players who take other players under their wing. Let players display a few achievements they are proud of to increase motivation and highlight their play style.

[In the second part of his three-part series, PhD researcher and game designer Lucas Blair continues to present underpinnings in contemporary research which will help formulate best practices for designing in-game achievements. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.]

Now, to recap. As I wrote in the original piece, there is an established body of scientific study covering a wide range of topics, which should guide the design of achievements. In this article series, I will be sharing a taxonomy of achievement design features created by deconstructing how achievements are currently used in games.

The goal of this exercise is to distill mechanisms of action out of achievement designs, which have been shown by research to affect performance, motivation, and attitudes.

This taxonomy, although intended to be comprehensive, is likely to be subject to debate and future revisions. For the time being however, I think it is a good jumping off point for a discussion that must be had if we are to ever effectively harness the potential of achievements.

In the first two installments of this series, the topics were mostly conceptual and covered a wide range of material including performance measurement, player motivation, and information presentation. For part three, I will be tying up a few loose ends by discussing some specific types of achievements and the potential consequences of their use.

In part three I will be covering the following concepts:

* Negative Achievements

* Achievements as Currency

* Incremental and Meta-Achievements

* Competitive Achievements

* Non-competitive Cooperative Achievements

Negative Achievements

Most achievements are given to a player after they have done something noteworthy and positive. However, some achievements are given to players for a notable performance at the other end of the spectrum. When a player fails epically, they may earn a negative achievement. Examples of negative achievements include the Command & Conquer 3 achievement “awarded” to a player who loses a ranked game to someone 20 places below them in the official rankings, and the “Getting My Ass Kicked” trophy for repeatedly dying in PS3′s God of War.

Negative achievements are the digital equivalent of pouring salt on a wound. Earning this type of achievement can cause players to lose their sense of competence and independence, which will make the game they are playing feel less fulfilling. If players know that there are negative achievements in the game, they will try their hardest to avoid them. Avoidance goals that are constantly in the back of the player’s mind can be tiring and will make the overall experience less enjoyable.

Negative achievements can also make design flaws in the game a double whammy. Someone who dies repeatedly due to poor level design or a broken mechanic is not going to take a “you suck” achievement in stride. The player’s response will be to blame the game and not themselves.

Best practice: Don’t use negative achievements. Provide feedback within the system that can assist struggling players.

Achievements as Currency

Earned achievements could be used as virtual currency in games. Players may receive such currency in the form of points, coins, or stars, and later use them to purchase in-game items or real world objects. Microstransaction-driven games like League of Legends sometimes also have an alternative currency that is earned through gameplay.

Achievements are an obvious choice for a metric when giving out virtual currency. They are memorable moments, with defined requirements, that are already important to players. Using achievements as currency, however, may have a wide range of effects on players.

There is a great deal of research on giving money as an incentive for performance. Monetary rewards have greater returns on task performance than tangible rewards.

This is probably due to the fact that acquiring currency allows a player to decide what they want to purchase with it. This takes the responsibility of choosing an appropriate reward out of the hands of designers.

School systems have recently used monetary rewards with some success. In some cases class attendance, test scores, and even the likelihood of attending college all improved when monetary rewards were offered. Other studies reported similar increased accomplishment, but only when rewards were tied to inputs rather than outputs.

This means that students were rewarded for things like the amount of time they spent studying, but not directly for getting a particular grade. The idea being that if students are paid for good behaviors, the grades will take care of themselves.

The other side of the argument concerning currency is the same one that is often made against tangible rewards. Currency rewards have been shown to decrease intrinsic motivation for the recipients of the reward. Players will end up caring about the reward system more than the game itself. More than one game company has exploited this kind of reward system in order to keep players strung out on boring tasks. Currency systems, like other reward programs, may also lower player creativity by inadvertently encouraging a hyper focus on the reward path.

Best practice: Offer players currency for completing tasks instead of rewards to give them a greater sense of control. Use a currency system to enhance a game, but don’t attempt to make currency acquisition the main reason players engage in an activity.

Incremental and Meta-Achievements

Most of the time achievements are earned for completing a single task. Incremental and meta-achievements, however, are given for completing more than one task.

Incremental achievements are awarded in a chain for performing the same task through scaling levels of difficulty. Examples of incremental achievements are killing 250, 500, and 1000 enemies in an FPS, and earning different colored ribbons in FarmVille.

Meta-achievements are earned for completing a series of achievements that are for different tasks, for instance earning the title of “Chef” by completing all cooking-related achievements in World of Warcraft.

Both incremental and meta-achievements can be used as a type of scaffolding, a “training wheels” approach used in teaching. Here, players are given a rather seemingly complex task to do, only it’s broken up into smaller pieces and sequenced like a training program.

Breaking the task up into pieces also has the side-benefit of helping players create a schema about how the more complex task is structured.

Incremental and meta-achievements usually take extended periods of time to complete. This is similar to long-term incentive programs. These types of programs have been shown to elicit greater performance gains than short-term programs, which give rewards for single actions. Another benefit of these types of long- term goals is that players will spend more time in the game trying to complete them.

These types of achievements, however, can have a potential downside. If players feel like they are only following a trail of breadcrumbs with little self- direction they may lose their sense of autonomy. The number of achievements, the spacing between them, and the amount of challenge each one provides are important things to keep in mind.Best Practice: Use these types of achievements to hold the player’s interest for longer periods of time and guide them to related activities. Make the spacing between incremental achievements, both in time and physical location, separated enough so that players don’t feel too controlled.

Competitive Achievements

Competitive achievements require players to face off with one another in either direct confrontations or indirectly through their scores on solo tasks. This type of achievement can be completed individually or in teams where members work together to defeat other groups of players.

Some research indicates that competition can increase overall enjoyment and attitude towards a given task. Being successful in a competition has been shown to increase intrinsic motivation by influencing a person’s perception of their own competence, and such competitive environments have also demonstrated increased performance on simple repetitive tasks.

Computer science classes in particular have noted success in their implementation of competition to make classes more interesting.

Although some studies have seen positive results from the implementation of competitive environments, other studies indicate that under certain circumstances competition should be avoided.

More often than not, competitive environments have a tendency to impede the learning process. This is in part due to the egocentric behavior that competitive environments often induce, which in turn make people less likely to help one another. Competition has also been shown to have a negative effect on the self- efficacy of learners. This makes players rate themselves and their teammates more harshly, especially when they lose.

Players who have a higher level of skill are more likely to enjoy competitive achievements and be less affected by the negative aspects. They will be at a place where the game is familiar to them and will not be as stressed out with the addition of competition.

Another consideration is the motivation of the individual players. Players that are high in achievement motivation enjoy competitive tasks to a greater extent and have more intrinsic interest than their counterparts who are low in achievement motivation. Gamers in general may have a higher overall achievement motivation, which can also vary depending on the game type. It is important to understand your target demographic and give players what they are
most comfortable with.

Best Practice: If competitive achievements are used in a game, make them available only after players are comfortable with gameplay and no longer learning the ropes.

Non-Competitive Cooperative Achievements

Cooperative achievements are earned by players working towards a goal together in a game. These types of achievements are most common in multi-player games where players can interact with peers. The achievements can be rewards for group tasks like killing a monster, or built into multiplayer games to encourage teamwork, like earning 1000 assisted kills in a first person shooter.

Most research supports the use of cooperative environments to improve performance. Cooperative settings have been associated with academic achievement, increased self-esteem, and higher positivity when evaluating peers. Incentive programs that require teamwork have a greater effect on performance than those that can be accomplished by an individual.

Game Advertising Online

Another great benefit of working cooperatively is that it gives players a wider range of goals that they may not be able to complete on their own. To facilitate this, achievements should encourage veteran players to engage with those less experienced.

The sidekick system in City of Heroes is a great example of this. Research shows that people who are protégés in businesses have a greater promotion rate and more job satisfaction than individuals who were not mentored. The mentors also benefit from these types of systems by seeing their own performance and social status increased.

Although cooperation has many benefits, there are some risks associated with this type of environment. One risk is attitude polarization in groups, which often leads to more cautious or risky decision-making as a whole. In these instances, team members will collectively make poor decisions they otherwise wouldn’t if given the opportunity to decide by themselves.

Another problem that can affect groups is process loss, which can take place if the additional workload from coordinating communication and assisting others hinders group performance. The communication difficulties that can cause process loss could be accentuated in games because of the limitation of the available technology. A good example of this takes place during raids in MMOs, when some group members do not have access to voice chat.

Another problem caused by group size is social loafing. This is a problem in larger groups where an individual’s performance is hidden and they will put forth less effort.

Best practice: To foster a cooperative environment, offering achievements for more advanced players to assist less experienced players is an option. The groups for cooperative achievements should be kept relatively small to decrease social loafing and process loss. The metrics used for earning achievements should assess individual performances within the group setting.

This literature review has hopefully shed some light on a pretty complex subject that I think deserves quite a bit more research. One of the difficulties of this sort of review is that we are borrowing research from multiple fields of study, and bending it to fit our needs as game designers.

To remedy some of the murkiness surrounding a few of the topics, RETRO lab is currently running studies on specific aspects of the taxonomy in order to strengthen the case for achievement design. These studies swap different types of achievements in games and then evaluate how each can affect players, examining factors such as amount of enjoyment and time spent playing.

As findings from the studies become available our lab will be sure to keep the gaming community informed of any significant findings. Thanks for all the comments and discussion over the past few weeks. I hope the debate over achievement design continues and that these articles have at the very least been a catalyst for discussion.

A special thanks to Dr. Clint Bowers for the guidance, as well as, James Bohnsack, Katie Procci, and the rest of RETRO Lab for all the help.

篇目2,Loot drop best practices

by Daniel Cook

Many games have loot. Usually this drops randomly. Loot drops are a pretty mundane topic, but one that almost every designer runs into at some point. Here are some best practices I’ve encountered over the years. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to these tips and tricks.

Your basic loot table

The goal is to drop some set of items at a given probability. Let’s say when you defeat an enemy, you have a chance of getting shield, a rare sword or nothing at all.

Example

lootTable
item:
name: sword
weight: 10
item:
name: shield
weight: 40
item:
name: null
weight: 50

Setup

Item: An item is something you want give the player.

Loot Table: A set of items is put into a loot table. This is just a bucket of items. For example a loot table might include: Sword, Shield, Null.

Weight: An item has a drop weight: 1 to 10,000. For example a sword might have a drop rate of 10.

Null items: One of the items in the loot bucket is ‘null’ which means if that is rolled, no loot is given

Rolling for loot

Total probability: First, sum all the weights in the bucket. In the example above, that’s 10+40+50 = 100. They don’t need to add up to 100 since these aren’t percentages.

Next assign each item a range. Sword = 1-10, Shield = 11 to 50, Null = 51 to 100

Generate a random number from 1 to 100.

Compare that number to the ranges. That’s the item that drops.

Reroll: Generate multiple random numbers to simulate multiple rolls.

So what does this look like to the player? We’ve got a 10% chance of dropping a sword, a 40% chance of dropping a shield and a 50% chance of getting nothing.

As the designer, I could go in and change Null’s weight to 100 and now I’ve got a 6.6% (10/150) chance of dropping a sword, a 26% (40/150) chance off dropping a shield and a 66% (100/150) chance of dropping nothing.

Mapping onto other common random systems

This system is a simple restating of many other familiar methods of randomness. It is a fun superpower to train your designer brain to be able to switch between understanding any randomness issue in terms of loot tables, cards or dice.

Cards

Imagine deck of cards that you can shuffle and draw from.

Each type of card in the deck is an item.

The number of cards of a given type is that item’s weight

Shuffling the deck is equivalent to assigning each item to a range and generating a random number.

Drawing a card is the equivalent of selecting the item that drops.

Now a normal deck of cards has 52 cards, but with loot tables, you don’t need to operate with that constraint. Your decks could have 1000′s of cards and a vast array of types. Or they could have tiny decks that are the equivalent of a typical poker hand.

Dice

Dice also map onto loot tables.

Each individual dice is a loot table.

The sides (1-N) are items (labeled 1 through N)

Each side gets a weight of ‘1’. (Unless you are using weighted dice!)

Multiple dice can be represented as rolling the same loot table multiple times. So 2D6 is the equivalent of sampling a 6 item loot table twice.

Variations

Now that we’ve defined a basic loot table, what else can we do with it?

Variation: Items sets

You can also drops sets of loot. An item doesn’t need to be a single thing. For example, I could extend it so that the players gets a shield and a health potion if that option is selected.

Example

lootTable

item:
name: sword
weight: 10
item:
name: shield
name: healthPotion number: 2
weight: 40
item:
name: null
weight: 50

Variation: Always drop

A common need is to flag an item so it always drops. One convention is that items with weight ‘-1′ always drop.

Variation: Repeatable randomness

Sometimes you want to be able to repeat a random roll. For example, when a player saves a game and then is able to reload to avoid a bad loot drop, it can lead to very grindy player behavior. If there is an exploit that ruins the game for them, most will happily go for it.

Most contemporary pseudo random number generators use a seed value. As long as you can save that seed value, you can run the random number generator again and get the same result.

Variation: Rolling without replacement

The problem with the system above is that players may, through chance alone, always roll ‘null’. This is a common complaint by players. “I played that encounter 3000 times and never got the MegaGoldenLootGun!” This can happen.

In statistics, there are two fundamental types of sampling:

Sampling with replacement: You pull the numbers out of the bucket and then after you’ve recorded what you got, you put them back in. So you have the same chance of getting the same thing again in the next draw.

Sampling without replacement: You pull the item out of the bucket and once you’ve recorded it, you set it aside. You have a lower chance of getting that item again and thus a higher chance of getting the remaining items.

Tetris uses sampling without replacement. Each set of Tetris pieces is in a loot table. Every time you get a specific piece, it is removed from the bucket. That way they guarantee that you’ll always get a long piece if you wait long enough.

Here’s how you implement rolling without replacement in a loot table.

When you roll an item, reduce its weight by 1. This shorten its range by 1 and shortens the max range by 1 as well.

Keep the player’s modified loot table around for the next time you roll.

Variation: Guaranteeing specific drops

Sometimes even rolling without replacement isn’t fast enough and you want to guarantee a loot drop. Blizzard does this for certain rare drops so that players don’t grind for very long times.

You could just increase the weight, but a low chance of getting something with a guarantee can feel very different over multiple plays than a slowly increasing chance of getting an item.

Here’s how you implement guaranteed loot drops.

When you roll any non-guaranteed item, reduce all non-guaranteed items weight by X%

X = 100 / Max number of rolls you before the guaranteed items drop.

Keep the player’s modified loot table around for the next time you roll.

Example

Suppose you want the sword to always drop after 5 turns even though it it only has a 10% chance of dropping.

So X = 100 / 5 or 20%.

So every time you don’t roll the Sword, the weight for the Shield drops 8 (40*0.2) and the weight for null drops 10 (50*0.2)

After 5 turns, the weight for all the other items will be 0 and the sword will have a 100% chance of dropping.

Variation: Hierarchical loot tables

Loot tables are generally source for new resources. However, you can easily run into situations where you are dropping too much or too little of a particular resource. Some sort of constraints would be helpful.

One solution is to use hierarchical loot tables without replacement. When a particular resource runs out, the player doesn’t get any more. We’ve used this for our daily coin awards. We want to give out 100 coins a day, but no more. But we want to do it as part of the loot system.

Create two tables: Rewards and DailyCoins.

Have the main loot table reference the Daily Coins bucket.

When Daily Coins get picked, roll that table and see how many coins you get.

Example

lootTable: Rewards
item:
name: sword
weight: 10
item:
name: dailyCoins
weight: 40
item:
name: null
weight: 50
lootTable: dailyCoins
type: noReplacement
refreshRate: Daily
item:
name: coin, number: 1
weight: 10
item:
name: coin, number 10
weight: 4
item:
name: coin, number: 50
weight: 1

In the example above, a player has a 40% chance of getting coins. Then we roll the dailyCoins table and see that they can win a maximum of 100 coins a day with 10 awards of 1 coins, 4 awards of 10 coins and 1 award of 50 coins.

When the dailyCoins loot table is emptied, they’ll get nothing until it refreshes after a day.

Variation: Conditional drops

Sometimes you want to test if you should drop the items base off some external variable. In Realm of the Mad God, we wanted to avoid free riders getting loot for a boss kill without doing at least some damage. So in the loot table, we added a check. If a valuable item in the loot table was rolled, then we’d check to see if the player had done more than X% of damage to the enemy.

You could also build in switches for which loot is valid based off player level or even enemy level. I tend to instead use multiple smaller loot tables, but the system is flexible enough that you can easily architect your data with a few large tables and use of conditionals.

Variation: Modifiers

You can also modify the quantity or weight of a drop based off some external logic. For example, a player with a skill in harvesting could yield 2x as many of a particular item drop compared to a player without that skill. Or you could modify the weight. A high level character might have a -50% weight for all items marked lower than their level.

Other uses

Drop tables are commonly used for dropping loot. But I also find them useful in other areas.

Procedural generation: Use a table to build weapons or characters from components

AI: Use a table to select behaviors such as attacks or moves.

This may seem a little silly..surely there are better ways to model AI! However, one way to think about randomness is that it is a very rough first order model of any system. How does the human brain model a system? We make an observation about a system. We note the frequencies and tendencies for those observations to reoccur. It is only much, much later that we start to understand ‘why’ something happens or the causal relationship between parts.

In physics, we often joke that in order to model a cow, a complex biological organism, the first step is to ‘imagine a spherical cow’. By creating a simplistic, easy to work with model, we can often generate useful insights at a very low cost.

Many times, a drop table is a ‘good enough’ human-centric approximation of a complex system. For many systems, most players will never move beyond a basic probabilistic understanding so modeling more complexity is a waste of time. Efficient game design is an exercise in modeling elements only to the minimum level necessary to create the desired experience.

Consider: D&D modeled entire universes with what were essentially loot drop tables. That was a deliberate focus on minimizing systems that were in many ways just secondary flavoring to the core roleplaying.

A loot drop table isn’t the only tool you need, but in many scenarios, it is good enough.

Procedural generation thought experiment

Here’s a simple procedural generation system using drop tables. There are lots of other ways to do this, but this is more to get your brain thinking. Let’s say you want to build a procedurally generated enemy

Start by making a list of unique enemy parts. Maybe your enemy is made up of a type of movement, a type of attack, a defensive buff and a type of treasure.

Make loot tables for each one of those parts.

For each item in the loot table, give it a power value based off how powerful you think it might be. for example, a knife attack might be weak so it only has a power of 5. But a large hammer attack might have a power of 15.

Create another loot table of buffs. These are modifiers to various attributes. For example, ‘Strong’ boost a value on an attack by 20%. You can have debuffs as well ‘Weak’ might diminish a value by -50%. These have reduce the power value of a part.

Now let’s generate an enemy

Set a target: Set a target power for your generated enemy. Say you want an enemy of power 40

Roll: Roll each of the parts once and add them into a list.

Score: Add up all the power values to get a score.

Adjust: If the sum of the parts is over the target, add a debuff or roll for a lower power part. If it is under, add a buff or roll for a higher power part.

Repeat: Repeat this process until you hit a desired error threshold (distance from power 40) or you’ve exhausted the number of iterations you are willing to spend.

You now have a procedurally generated enemy. There are tons of tweaks you can do to this basic system, but it works most of the time. As an exercise, think about:

Exclusion lists: If two parts are picked that are on the list, throw the enemy away and reroll.

Multiple constraints: Parts are scored on multiple criteria. Note, the more constraints you add, the less likely you are to converge on a viable result.

Conclusion

Any time there’s a discussion of randomness, there’s a huge number of secondary issues that come into play. I recommend the following for further reading:

Understanding randomness in terms of mastery: http://www.lostgarden.com/2012/12/understanding-randomness-in-terms-of.html

Richard Garfield on Luck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av5Hf7uOu-o

Resist being dogmatic about randomness. Be a broadly educated designer whose aesthetic choices are based on hands on experimentation. A good rule of thumb is that you can’t intelligently critique a design tool until you’ve made a couple games that use it successfully.

Anyway, this is just how I’ve done loot tables; a mundane part of any working designer’s life. I’m curious if other folks have other ways of managing loot (and randomness) that they love and live by.

篇目3,The Game Design Canvas: Punishment and Reward System

by Brice Morrison

You have many choices in your everyday life. Wake up and jump out of bed, or hit the snooze button? Eat chicken, beef, or veggies? Do some work, or go out with friends? These choices, these actions that you can take are the different colors you use to paint the landscape of your day, your week, and your life. It is through these choices that you experience and express yourself in the world.

If life were a game, these actions that you can take are examples of the Base Mechanics of life. They are actions that you can perform, that you have the ability to perform, and that you may choose or choose not to perform. They are the inputs into the system from yourself. You can freely choose from all the possible abilities you have and perform them to your liking.

…Or can you? Well, there’s more to it than that. Your actions and free will are not as free as one would think. Yes, you have choices you can make, but there are consequences, there are requirements, and there are strings attached. You may have the ability to go into the middle of a library and shout at the top of your lungs.

You may have the ability to insult your best friend or to rob a convenience store. You may have the ability to sit in your apartment and be depressed instead of going out and enjoying the weekend with friends.

You could do these things, but you probably won’t. Even though you have the ability and the means, there is something else that is guiding your decisions. There is more to this so called “choice” business than you might imagine. It is as though some invisible force outside of yourself is governing your actions.

Free Will? Or Not So Free?

As we discussed in our last introductory article to the game design canvas on Base Mechanics, every game has actions that it lets the player perform. The player can run, shoot, paint, throw, eat, duck, swap polarity, teleport, or what have you. But these actions are not isolated; they have higher systems that govern them. These Punishment and Reward Systems nudge the player towards certain behavior. They give meaning and weight to the Base Mechanics, forcing the player to think about their choices.

Thus, understanding the Punishment and Rewards System section of the Game Design Canvas is a lesson in understanding human behavior. It would appear that humans have an incredible range of actions they can make at any given moment, yet the most common behavior is but a small percentage of all of those actions. The reason for this is, as we said, is that games couple their actions with consequences. In life and in games, people learn from their past experiences and then choose from among their desired consequences to choose their actions. These couplings of action and consequences make up the Punishment and Reward Systems that govern player behavior.

Death by henchmen? I’ll pass.

To begin to understand Punishment and Reward Systems, let’s start simple and work our way up. In Super Mario 64, the player’s Base Mechanics allow them to run and jump through each stage (ignoring punching and power-ups for a moment). It’s up to the player to decide how to use those abilities to navigate the world and collect the stars needed to complete the stage.

However, the player’s actions when controlling Mario are constrained by the game’s P&R Systems. If Mario is touched by an enemy, then he falls to the ground and loses of health. This is a simple example of Punishment, and we can analyze this System to see how it affects player behavior, because the effects are more far-reaching than one would imagine. Once the player understands that smacking into a Goomba will result in damaging Mario, their behavior will change. And that is where it gets interesting.

So Mario is running along, and the player sees a Goomba. Technically, the player does have the choice of running headlong into the Goomba. However, the game’s P&R System has taught them that this is something that should be avoided. Thus, the player steers Mario around the Goomba to avoid him.

Do you see what’s happened here? The game made no changes to the Base Mechanics: they were still just running and jumping. But they way that the player used these Mechanics has been changed. After the player learned what the game was encouraging them to do, the decisions they made were altered.

As players interact with a game and its P&R Systems, they begin to make a mental model in their mind of how the System works, and how they can best navigate it.

Whether or not the developer wants the player to fully understand the system is up to them, but the job of the P&R System is to evoke the desired player behavior. A good design will be able to plot out the player’s desired behavior and then build a P&R System around that to encourage that very behavior.

Planting The Seeds of Strategy

Mario and the Goomba was an obvious example, but sometimes the effects of a P&R system will be more latent. Let’s take for example the popular tower-defense genre.

In these games, the player needs to erect offensive towers to keep the enemy army from reaching the other side of the screen. These towers attack the enemies as they walk by, and the enemies attempt to find the shortest path to their goal.

In these games, the Base Mechanics are:

? Deciding which towers to place (usually weaker vs. stronger but more expensive, etc.)

? Deciding where to place the towers (usually on a 2D plane)

Those are the choices that the player has before them, and they can execute these Mechanics however they like, right?

If you’ve been paying attention, hopefully you’ve learned by now that this is not exactly the case. Technically, yes, the player can place whatever towers wherever they like, but they are likely to lose. The game’s P&R Systems will encourage certain behavior. So in actuality, the player can only use the Mechanics in ways designed by the game.

For example, the player can put a tower in the top right corner, far away from everything else, but the P&R Systems discourage this. The enemies will not be fired upon as much, and they will likely make it to their goal, causing the player to lose. Eventually, the player will learn that the best choice is to place the towers in the middle, ideally in a way that blocks the enemies. Of course the player could continue placing the towers in the corner, losing, and doing it over again, but that gets very boring very quickly.

Again, this is an example of the Punishment and Reward Systems shaping the player’s behavior. The game gives the player certain actions to perform, but hidden within the System is an optimal strategy if the player wants to succeed.

Fundamental Rules of P&R Systems

A good way to think about how P&R Systems affect player behavior is with the following diagram:

The developer decides what actions to give to the player via the Base Mechanics. Then, the developer constructs the P&R System to funnel the player’s possible choices into the desired player behavior.

So how does one go about constructing such an interesting funnel? To answer that, we need to visit one of the great influences to game design: behaviorist psychology. Pioneered by researchers such as B.F. Skinner, behaviorism, specifically operant conditioning, was a way of viewing a subject’s behavior in terms of their actions and the system’s responses.

Sound familiar? Operant conditioning is the foundational field of research that ties in very closely with what we’ve discussed so far in games. Similarly to operant condition in behaviorism, Punishment and Reward Systems in the Game Design Canvas have four main ways to affect a player’s behavior:

1. Positive Reward – Rewarding the player’s behavior by giving them something they want or like.

2. Negative Reward – Rewarding the player by taking away something they didn’t like.

3. Positive Punishment – Punishing the player’s behavior by giving them something they don’t want or like.

4. Negative Punishment – Punishing the player by taking away something the wanted or liked.

By tying Rewards and Punishments to the player’s use of the game’s Base Mechanics, the game developer shapes their use. For example, in Super Mario 64, when the player defeats a koopa troopa enemy, then they player often receive a coin, which is something they want. This is an example of a positive reward. Additionally, the Goomba is now gone, which is an example of a negative reward, since there are less enemies on the level who could harm you.

For the Punishment side of the P&R System, if Mario falls into the lava, then he begins to wail and dash around uncontrollably, trying to put out the flames on his overalls. This running around is an example of positive punishment, giving the player some behavior that they don’t want — they want to be able to guide Mario, not have to steer him wildly! Additionally, the Mario loses some life when he falls in the lava, this is an example of negative punishment, since the player wants to have as many life bars as possible.

Guidelines for Sculpting Player Behavior

As a game grows from a few simple mechanics to dozens or more, and the complexity of the game itself spirals upwards into hours and hours of gameplay, then the Punishment and Reward Systems will begin to get rather complicated. Thus, good to have a clear understanding of the basic strategies for constructing one in order to get desired player behavior.

Once again, everything always begins with the Core Experience portion of the Game Design Canvas. Once you have the Core Experience of your game defined, then you can begin plotting out your mechanics, which leads to your desired player behavior. Think about following these general guidelines:

Making a first guess. A good P&R System is designed indirectly. Most developers prefer to focus on the behavior they want, then they set up the system to evoke that system, not the other way around. Focusing on the system itself can be confusing and lead to dead ends. So plot out how you’d like your player to act, describing it in detail. Then set up Punishment and Reward Systems around that to encourage that behavior. Try to put yourself in the player’s shoes and imagine what you’d do.

Slight changes and tweaking. If the system you’ve designed doesn’t result in the player behavior you want, then you can tweak it. Do you imagine (or see, if you’re prototyping) players always bumping into walls when you wanted them to swing swiftly through the stage? Then create a light punishment for bumping into walls.

Small changes can make big results in terms of player behavior. Also, be sure to watch our video on playtesting to learn how you can alter your game to achieve the desired player behavior.

Timing the feedback. Another important aspect to think about is how long it takes for the P&R feedback to reach the player. The amount of time you decide for this is up to you, but it depends on exactly how you want the player to be learning the systems inherent in your game. In most games like Super Mario, the feedback is instantaneous. ”I fell off a cliff and the game told me I died. Ok, got it. That is bad. Next time, don’t fall off a cliff.”

However, in other games, complexity is added by not giving the P&R feedback immediately. In strategy games like Starcraft, it takes much longer for players to master strategies, because the feedback of a won or lost match may not come until long after the dooming action. A player may build a base in a difficult-to-defend spot 5 minutes into the game, and that choice may lead to the player’s downfall an hour later. However, it’s unlikely that the player will make this immediate connection.

The longer the loop between action and feedback, the more focused time it will take for the player to consciously understand.

Reward them with a Great Game

A good Punishment and Reward System will allow players to feel the satisfaction of mastering your game’s Core Experience. Whether it’s to save the princess for a giant turtle or to defeat the incoming onslaught of alien armies, P&R can act as guideposts to help the player learn what to do. On other hand, slopping P&R Systems make for a game that feels like it’s unpolished and has no real destination. Making the commitment to fine tune the game’s rewards and carrots for the player will result in a smoother experience and a harmony between what the player wants to do and what the game was designed to do.

篇目4,An Alternative to Achievements

by Keith Burgun

Despite having strong feelings on the topic, I put off writing about achievements for a very long time. This was because I thought that the problems that I saw with the existing model would have gone away on their own by now. It’s clear though that for new digital game releases, they have clearly managed to lock themselves into the “set of qualities we should all expect in a modern video game.”

I know that there’s a ton of writing on this topic already out there, but I’d like to hit the question from a different angle. For instance, I’m aware of what Chris Hecker has talked about at length about regarding extrinsic motivators. While I think his views make sense, I’m actually not interested in arguing for or against extrinsic rewards in general. I’m arguing against achievements themselves, and how they, specifically, work on a mechanical level.

Lucas Blair wrote an extensive three-part piece on achievements here at Gamasutra. His article essentially took the stance of, “we’re going to be doing achievements no matter what, so here are some best practices for using them.” I don’t agree with his underlying premise.

The one thing that remains constant is that things always change. I think that in time, we’ll see achievements either go away or change dramatically. If this sounds crazy, keep in mind that there are a good number of successful games coming out today that don’t have achievements at all, on iOS and Nintendo consoles.

I need to clarify and explain that I’m referring to achievements as they are usually implemented. I’m sure you can think of one or two games that seem to have a sensible, inoffensive and even interesting application of something that looks a bit like what one might call “achievements.” It would be impossible to speak for every single case of achievements that ever existed. Instead, I’m speaking generally.

You may feel that achievements are great as they are. If this is the case, hear me out. Perhaps I can convince you otherwise, or at least, give you some advice on how to make them better.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a fantastic example that highlights the problems that I see. Now, this is a 2012 release — in fact, it was only released this past August. It is a brand-new game, by one of the most beloved and highly regarded triple-A video game development teams (Valve Software), and sure enough, it includes a ton of totally asinine achievements. I’ll also include some achievements from the also brand-new games XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Resident Evil 6.

Before I carry on: don’t worry. I don’t expect achievements to actually disappear anytime soon. They’re pretty well rooted into our culture now, and if they ever disappear completely, it will probably be decades rather than years from now. Indeed, you’re required to have achievements on Microsoft and Sony’s consoles (but notably, not anywhere else: neither iOS, Nintendo, Android, nor Steam make any such requirements). Regardless, I think it’s in everyone’s interest to understand the pitfalls of achievements; not all of which have been pointed out elsewhere.

I’ll also pitch something that I think should replace achievements.

Major Problems

What’s so bad about achievements? The mother-problem with any “achievement” system can be stated like this: at their best, they do nothing at all. At their worst, they influence player behavior.

What’s wrong with influencing player behavior, you might ask? Influencing behavior is a bad thing because you (ostensibly) just spent roughly six to 12 months fine-tuning a set of game rules to do exactly that. Let’s remember that a game is a set of rules that limit and motivate player behavior. You just spent a crazy amount of time tweaking, balancing, and turning knobs until player behavior was influenced exactly the way you wanted, all around one central goal and gameplay mechanism.

If you did not do this, well, that’s a whole separate issue. In this case, you’re simply not doing your job as a game designer, and no amount of metagame is going to distract people from the fact that your game isn’t presenting players with interesting choices and dynamic, emergent and elastic strategic possibilities.

So let’s assume that you have taken the time to create a balanced, dynamic, motivating set of rules for your game. Now you’re just going to throw a bunch (most times, a ton) of other arbitrary motivators at the player? A great number of extra, optional goals that can be met even by accident? It’s like spending years building a clock, and then just once you’re done, pouring in a bag of random-sized gears and slathering over it with a dressing of industrial glue. In this way, achievements are yet another testament to the culture-wide lack of regard for the discipline of game design.

Common Achievements

The largest category of achievements is of a type that I would describe as “unavoidable,” “patronizing,” “noisy,” and sometimes even just “nonsensical.” Here are a couple good examples from CS: GO:

“Body Bagger – Kill 25 Enemies”

“Shot with their Pants Down – Kill an enemy while they are reloading”

Here’s a similar one from XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

“Bada Boom – Kill 50 aliens with explosive weapons”

And again, basically the same achievement for Resident Evil 6:

“Life Saver – Help or rescue your partner ten times”

Ah, the achievements you cannot avoid getting. You’re going to kill 25 enemies. Chances are you’re going to kill 25 enemies before you even think to check the list of achievements (if you ever do).

Therefore, a lot of players are simply playing the game, and suddenly some information pops up on the screen telling you that you have just “gotten an achievement.” This totally meaningless information does not change the game in any way, except to temporarily distract you from the game.

These achievements also do one other thing, however, and that’s patronize the player. Did you already design the game to have its own rewards/motivation system? If so, then what is the purpose of having the game to pat me on the back at arbitrary moments? 25 kills? Why is that significant? The rewards that the game gives me are those that I ostensibly have to earn. Not the case for these achievements. You may as well have a timer that doles out a random nonsensical compliment every 15 minutes, such as “you are attractive” or “you’ve got a great sense of humor.”

Without going too far off topic, I want to quickly address this aspect. Those who are familiar with B.F. Skinner’s work, particularly in operant conditioning, probably understand that doling out rewards at random intervals, like the current achievement-model tends to, is a well-understood way to squirt happy-chemicals into a user’s bloodstream and thereby keep them playing long after they’ve stopped learning anything. Philosophically, I personally think that games have the capacity to do much more than just be unfulfilling exploitative operant conditioning chambers, but even if you don’t, you should be aware that this common system of achievements is causing a similar effect.

Attempts to Script The Emergence

The one way that achievements are commonly talked about is with regards to them being an extrinsic reward — a reward that’s coming from outside the system. I join the aforementioned Chris Hecker and many others such as author Alfie Kohn in being skeptical of these kinds of motivators when applied to interesting tasks. Our view is that they take away from the feeling of accomplishment for a task that’s already interesting and naturally rewarding.

I’d like to look at this problem in a slightly different way. First, let’s take a look at a couple of CS: GO achievements which exemplify the issue I have in mind:

“Three the Hard Way – Kill three enemies with a single HE grenade”

“Aerial Necrobatics – kill an airborne enemy while you are also airborne”

Here’s a good one from XCOM: Enemy Unknown:

“Xavier – Mind Control an Ethereal. Single player only.”

Let’s think about the concept of an explosive grenade in Counter-Strike for a moment. When you buy one, it’s exciting, because of the possible destructive potential. If you happen to put one in just the right place, who knows how many people you might kill in one slickly placed move? You may just damage a few people, you may kill one, or you may even kill several. This elasticity makes grenades dynamic and dramatic, and you feel it.

When you throw a grenade, and it actually does kill someone — or better yet, two, or even three people — it’s a huge rush. All of those times that you got a grenade and didn’t use it, or used it but to no effect were all leading up to this moment. A feeling of having gotten better at using grenades — a grokking of the system of grenades — is thrilling. You were in a totally unique situation and you made a call that resulted in an almost magical success.

Just then, a little window pops up and tells you that you’ve gained some kind of achievement. Suddenly, part of that thrill of having done something dynamic and unique is taken away. On some level, you’ve merely checked off a box — the same exact box that thousands of other players have also checked off.

The XCOM achievement is similar. What would otherwise feel like a clever “giving you a dose of your own medicine” turns into a “thing you were supposed to do.”

I argue that the fact that the developers wrote this thing down for you to check off of a list has a subtle effect of making the event less special. Let me imagine. Let me discover. Let me experience a moment of having done something truly unique without telling me that I’ve met some developer expectation.

To those who might argue that achievements such as “Three the Hard Way” are needed to get people to even realize that you can kill multiple players with a grenade, you should know that the original version of Counter-Strike didn’t have achievements, and HE grenades were very popular. Players don’t have to be verbally told everything; some things are obvious and natural enough for players to discover.

Collect Them All and… What, Exactly?

As part of my philosophical view of what games are, I have a problem with collection for its own sake. I think that any system that is based on endless collection, or any system where there is collection without a larger purpose is exploitative and uninteresting (and therefore unfulfilling). It’s exploitative because it’s taking advantage of the biological human need to “gather”, and not giving us back anything in exchange for our time. Most games challenge us, stimulate us, move us. Those that exploit us do nothing for us but the cheap.

In a game like Counter-Strike, why exactly do I want to collect all of the achievements? The game keeps track of what “percentage” of the achievements I’ve collected. Does something happen when I get 100 percent? What is the purpose of keeping track of this information? Is it supposed to impress my friends when they see 35 percent? When they see 95 percent?

And then what about when I do finally get 100 percent? Then what? It’s just a dead system hanging off the side of the application? Does it make sense to have a game like Counter-Strike, one that can potentially be played forever, have some exhaustible collection system attached to it?

Influencing Behavior

This is the worst offender of the whole achievements system. As I previously stated, a game already has its own motivators — in fact, the purpose of a game designer is balancing motivators around a goal to create the intended gameplay experience.

But some achievements actually influence players to act in ways that they would not normally act. I remember this kind of thing happening a lot in Team Fortress 2. Often there would be a medic doing something really stupid instead of healing teammates. Angrily, I’d ask, “What the hell are you doing, dude? Heal us.”

“I’m going for an achievement”, he’d reply.

This is really not that rare an occurrence, particularly when a game is new. We now have a situation where players are actively not playing correctly and disturbing or ruining the game experience for other players because of achievements.

A common mistake would be to blame this on that player. Let’s put it this way: if you’re blaming a player for wanting to make use of the system of achievements, then you’re proving my point even further that they need to go.

Here’s an example of such a behavior-influencing achievement in CS: GO:

“Second to None – successfully defuse a bomb with less than one second remaining”

It’s not too hard to imagine that many a game have already been lost by a player miscalculating when he should start the defuse and having it take too long, or by waiting a few seconds before defusing only to be shot right at the end of the defuse. This sucks for the other players on the team. Remember, the goals of a game should be agreed upon by all participating parties.

My Suggested Replacement: Variants!

Is there anything salvageable to this whole mess? Yes, there is. Some of the achievements — those most-offensive ones that influence behavior, specifically — have the potential to be interesting variants. While I don’t expect achievements to vanish or dramatically change overnight, variants provide an alternative route that should be explored either in their place, or in addition to achievements.

What’s the big difference between variants and achievements? A variant would be a new goal that you actively choose before the game begins, and only that single chosen “goal” is active during this session. One of the fundamental aspects of “a game” is that the rules and goals are agreed upon before the game begins. It doesn’t make any sense to allow players to choose what their goals are on the fly, in the middle of the game. This will just allow them to choose whichever goal is most doable based on “how things are going”. Worse, if you allow all the goals to be active at once, goals are going to be met by accident.

In Nethack, variants are referred to as “conducts.” From the Nethack Wikipedia page,

These are voluntary restrictions on actions taken, such as using no wishes, following a vegetarian or even vegan diet, or even killing no monsters.

In Counter-Strike, being a multiplayer game, variants would have to affect all players. It would be strange if the Terrorist team won, but one of the terrorists lost because he had activated some special variant that said he wasn’t allowed to take grenade damage, or something. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with this, as long as all players agree to it beforehand, but it’s messy and strange.

Instead, better Counter-Strike variants are already seen on public servers. Things like “No AWP/Auto”, or “Infinite money”, or “Betting” would all count as variants. These pose a new challenge to players — “can you win this match when the AWP is disabled?” There are other more otherworldly server-variants that add RPG elements, zombies, and other rules.

Look at this achievement from XCOM, and tell me that it isn’t a full-fledged variant waiting to happen:

“Lone Wolf – Clear a UFO crash site with one soldier on Classic or Impossible difficulty.”

Why We Use Achievements

As a developer myself, I think that there’s this feeling like “the audience expects achievements, so let’s humor them.” I suspect that players probably feel a similar way; something like “oh, well, the developers like to put in achievements for some reason, so let’s humor them.” In other words, few people actually like achievements, but everyone believes that everyone else likes them, so they continue to exist.

I also think that it’s continued to exist because, if we’re being honest, a lot of video games these days are not terribly interesting on their own. The thinking is that developers can use the cheap distraction / lame collection-game that achievements provide to create interest in an otherwise uninteresting system. Their primary function, much of the time, is to stretch out what little interest there is over a larger amount of time by compelling the player to “collect”. They stand out the most when they’re in a game that doesn’t need that – a game like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

It’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that just because we’ve had achievements for over half a decade that we will always have them. Now, I’ll definitely acknowledge that there is indeed a chance that we will always have them, at least in some form, but it’s worth noting that Nintendo has made a point of not using such a system, and that hasn’t seemed to affect their commercial or critical success. As I’ve pointed out, there are a number of flaws with the achievements model, and as time goes on, what I am certain of is that they will either change drastically or disappear.

If you’re a fan of achievements, I would simply ask that you try to look at them with a fresh perspective and ask what it is they really do for your software, and whether or not the points I’ve raised creates issues for it.

So look — people expect “metagame,” and I understand that. But if you have great metagame in the form of variants, great networking (such as cutting-edge, smart online leaderboards), as well as additional gameplay content, the number of people who flip out because you don’t have “achievements” will be negligible. At some point, people will stop expecting them, as quickly as they learned to expect them in the first place.

篇目5,Satisfaction Guaranteed!

As a game developer I always ask myself what makes a game fun. The “fun” word sounds so abstract and is so subjective from one person to another. A lot of things can be fun in a videogame: exotic environments, impressive sound effects, entertaining story, funny characters, particle effects, and so on. However, some games have all of that and can still be not that fun. So what exactly makes a game satisfying? Where does the SATISFACTION come from?

I’m sure everyone has a different vision of this. That being said, my idea of the source of satisfaction in games is not abstract at all. I think that a lot of game developers have this conception too but they simply never put it into words. Here it goes.

To be satisfying, a game has to make the player go through this “achievement loop”:

1. Challenge: The player is facing an obstacle and he has limited means to overcome it.

2. Trial and error: This is the hard work (making the player suffer a bit is very important). The player tries to overcome the obstacle in various ways with the tools he has.

3. Learning: Having tried his tools, and probably failed while trying, the player learned to use them.

4. Success: The player overcomes the challenge. He feels that he accomplished something and that hard work paid off. This is the moment when the player is having fun, he feels satisfaction. The player thinks: “Yeah! I’m good at this game!”

5. Loop back to point 1 with a gameplay situation of increased complexity/difficulty.

This looks like a recipe, but it’s not. It can be applied in many ways in any kind of games, but it’s not necessarily easy to do well.

This loop can be found in micro situations of any classic game. Let’s apply this loop to the very first gameplay situation of Super Mario Bros:

1. Challenge: Mario encounters a Goomba slowly walking towards him.

2. Trial and error: Mario tries various strategies. He walks straight through the Goomba and dies or he clumsily jumps too early and dies again.

3. Learning: Mario now understands better how to move and jump.

4. Success: Mario jumps successfully on the Goomba and crushes his ugly shitake face. He is victorious!

5. Loop back: Mario will now face a greater challenge.

However, when the game has nothing new to teach to the player, it can no longer loop and therefore it becomes repetitive and eventually boring.

In my opinion, a lot of current generation games have problems keeping the player interested because they try to create satisfaction in an artificial manner. The typical game features an overpowered character facing ridiculously simple gameplay situations (because Gameindustryasshole thinks that people only like easy stuff). So what happens is that when playing the game for the first few minutes, you feel like a God, you’re blown away by your own level of badassness. But not long after, when you realize that the game has nothing new to teach, it starts feeling tedious. And worst, when you fail in that game you don’t learn anything and you feel like an idiot because you weren’t supposed to fail.

This loop can also explain the classic or cliché videogame principle tagged to a lot of addicting games: “Easy to learn, hard to master.” Because the hardest a game is to master, the longer the “achievement loop” can go on and still be fun.

I’ve read the book “A Theory of Fun for Game Design” by Raph Koster a while ago. It most certainly influenced this post, so I encourage anyone to read it.