列舉遊戲設計需迴避的錯誤做法(15)

作者:Ernest Adams

我爲這一系列文章供稿到了現在。今年一些讀者提供了新的話題,而我也通過讀者的來信得到了些素材。以下是十個極糟糕的遊戲設計錯誤:

在閱讀時文本突然消失

如果遊戲在載入過程中給你一些需要閱讀的文字,那就應當給出足夠的時間來確保你真的讀完了。Quentin Thomas 寫到:

我是那種欣賞遊戲故事的玩家。聽別人說《黑暗之魂》有着很棒的劇情,主角和巨獸戰鬥,我知道難逃一死,但一如既往爲其熱血沸騰……即便這是毫無希望的。角色掛掉時候遊戲轉到載入界面,回到最後一次的存檔點。在載入頁面的時候,會有一個道具圖標出現在左上角,配上7、8句話。我尋思“噢,我終於能看一眼玩家口耳相傳《黑暗之魂》裏面的傳說了”因此我開始看第一句話,可它毫無警告的突然切回到了遊戲界面。你難道不能讓我在準備回到遊戲的時候按下X鍵嗎?你指望我在不到5秒的時間內讀完7、8句話?真是個糟糕的設定!

我讓Quentin做些更加深入的調查,他發現這種情況不會出現在主機上,而是發生於在載入速度很快的高配電腦上。這本質上是列舉遊戲設計需迴避的錯誤做法(2)——遊戲運行過快這種情況下的必然結果。設計師未經確認,假定計算機能放慢速度讓玩家讀完全部的內容。可如果情況有些出入,那他就算是運氣不佳。但是無論如何,這是一個可以改進的問題。你知道,視力不佳或者閱讀能力差的玩家總是需要慢慢閱讀。讓他們來決定什麼時候繼續,而不是基於你的CPU的時鐘速度。

妨礙玩家的指令

玩家的輸入設備依靠類比搖桿;這是真實世界中玩家的移動轉換到遊戲世界的途徑。在正當的情況下困難的控制是能夠允許的。我清晰的回憶起在《Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer》中(遊戲邦注:1987年EA發行的飛行模擬遊戲), 傳言索普維斯“駱駝”戰鬥機像野獸一樣難於駕馭——真實生活也是如此,直到你學會如何處理它。但是隨意打斷玩家的控制並不好。James Youngman寫下了這個例子:

Earthbound(from ledanji)

Earthbound(from ledanji)

《地球冒險》中包含一種可以在玩家角色頭上生成蘑菇的敵人。在戰鬥中,這不算什麼,可當玩家回到地圖上,他們的方向指令會週期性地翻轉90,直到玩家能夠移除這一狀態前D-pad控制器都是顛倒的。玩家能夠得到的咒語和道具做不了什麼;他們必須找到城鎮醫院上的特定NPC並與其談話,完成一項複雜、缺少提示又時而改變移動指令的任務。

在玩家不允許的情況下改變控制等同於破壞遊戲本身;強迫玩家探索並通過不尋常路線來解決破壞性的問題,迫使玩家在推進遊戲和回到能夠得到治療的慢慢長路中進行選擇,面對着相同的地牢,面對能產生相同效果的敵人,所有的一切需重頭再來。

妨礙玩家的指令打破了玩家的沉浸感,也產生了一種廉價的,惱人的挑戰,而且和遊戲本身的重點無關。所以別這麼做。

某些角色類型不能完成遊戲

Petra Rudolf的解釋:

回想過去,我想用一個不尋常的角色通關《無冬之夜》的“幽城魔影”附加項,即一個遊吟詩人/刺客。我早就知道用法師/戰士就很容易通關,盜賊或者是牧師這類的(角色)就難些,要是德魯伊/遊吟詩人這類D&D中的支援型角色就更糟糕了,他們沒有戰士爲其斬殺敵人就完全不能自理。依靠攻略,我完成了附加項的一半,之後就由於沒機會升級(沒剩餘任務)或者轉職(遊戲邦注:即改變戰術)而卡關了。

現在,你可能會認爲玩家大可選擇用穿着厚甲的戰士過版,她值得擁有自己得到的;但RPG遊戲被認爲是英雄主義的幻想,這就意味着玩家無論選擇什麼類型的角色都能夠通關。如果遊戲提供的角色作爲主角在單機遊戲中不能通關,那這個角色就不應該被設立爲主角。

破壞趣味性的逼真性

本專欄的長期讀者都知道,我是模擬遊戲的忠實粉絲,或至少需要某種精確度以維持一個幻想。爲《瘋狂橄欖球》系列工作6年,對我們來說逼真性是必要的,因爲玩家會將遊戲中和球場上發生的事經行對比。但也有可能做得過火,特別是影響了趣味性的情況下。Mikhail Merkuryev指出,雖然真實的卡丁車沒有後視鏡或倒檔,但在遊戲中應該有。在現實世界中,賽道裁判可以用手向後推卡丁車,駕駛員也可以回頭看看身後。但在遊戲沒有賽道裁判,當你回頭看時,你只會看到自己的房間。這是在一個適當的情況下添加的必要功能,這也是真正的車輛並沒有的功能。

別做一個複製真實去破壞趣味的壞人。

濫用快速反應事件

一般來說對於快速反應事件總有爭論——把一個按鍵懟爛真的有益於遊戲的互動性嗎?這的確不是一個有趣的選擇。我並不是宣稱所有的快速反應事件都是糟糕的設計,因爲我認爲它可以置於合適的情境和劇情線下,但是的確有一些是毫無意義的。Robert Doughty寫到:

我認爲快速反應事件被慷慨的濫用於玩家沒有直接控制的情況下,例如過場動畫和電影。最明顯的例子就是《生化危機》系列的5、6代。這種濫用的問題在於讓人感覺很勉強,更重要的是在過場動畫時它打擾人的心思,將玩家從劇情和精彩片段剝開。我猜測這種機械性的使用只是附加於遊戲的一小(或者是無關緊要的)部分,爲的是在換幕時有些事情做,可卻違背了給玩家小憩的機會這一要點。

沒有移動體驗的移動遊戲

以下是Garrick Williams提到的另一個關於輸入設備的情況:

我認爲有些掌機遊戲設計師忘了他們的遊戲是面向便攜設備的。

《塞爾達傳說:幻影沙漏》中有一個對着DS麥克風設備大吼大叫來繼續遊戲的橋段。今時今日,便攜遊戲系統意味着允許玩家在走路,看病,搭公交,或者在飯店等上餐前進行娛樂。可設計師卻讓我在公共場所毫無防備的大喊大叫。也許這對設計師來說很有趣,但對於衆目睽睽之下出醜或是退出遊戲二選其一的玩家來說並不是這樣。

Kid Icarus:譁衆取寵的操控方式使得玩家不可能在玩遊戲的時候,保持對3DS的控制,這便等於強迫你將便攜的遊戲系統擱在桌子上或使用不適合攜帶的裝備。

這種向麥克風大吼大叫的噱頭十分惱人,即使是在你家裏的個人空間;而在公共場所,這又變成徹頭徹尾的反社會行爲——公共場所是很多人玩便攜遊戲機的地方。而如果你帶着掌機卻又不能玩?這會多奇怪!

指使玩家贏取(或是購買)體面的用戶界面

新興的盈利方式導致了各種各樣的濫用行爲,但這一條對我來說是新鮮的。Jon Gaull 寫到:

我討厭一個有着蹩腳UI的遊戲讓我做一些普通的事,他讓我三個月達到20級時解鎖道具,來提供更好的任務界面。

我的例子來源於《後院怪物》(一個塔防遊戲)。在基地工作和調整佈局是一個玩家每次訪問遊戲的內容。大多數玩家每天會訪問遊戲3至5次!

在《後院怪物》中,他們讓你點擊一個建築,然後點擊移動按鈕,拖動它到你想落腳的位置,然後再次點擊下降。如果遊戲進程中有道具擋在路上,那就以相同的方式移走道具,再繼續剛纔的進程。特別是當你擁有超過一百個小小的防禦牆包圍住基地,異常緊密地擠滿了你所有重要的防禦結構時,剛纔的事便會非常讓人惱火。重新佈置一個基地可能又要花好幾個小時。

幸運的是,開發者有一個解決這個問題的方法。不幸的是,這是一個昂貴的建築,你得玩一個月才能解鎖。然後,一旦你解鎖了,你還得收集資源才能使用它,並以同樣拖沓的方式放置建築!

[暱稱已刪除]認爲應只允許願意付費的玩家擺脫蹩腳的UI!

我見過遊戲讓你慢慢地做些重要的事,而在以後獲得一個更高效的方式——但這通常只是在教程中向你展示遊戲的運作。一個人性化的用戶界面不是一個獎勵或者一個成就,它應該是正當的,絕不能再強迫玩家進行額外購買!

再談一談社交遊戲拖延時間的問題……

爲了不花錢而等待

放眼時間並不長遠的《地下城守護者》移動版,也被叫做“Dungeon Sleeper”。這種可怕的遊戲設計的失敗酒不用多說。(遊戲邦注:早期的PC版本爲建造與掠奪資源的指令設計了數分鐘的完成時間,爲遊戲提供了良好的節奏;而2013年末EA上架的IOS版本,過分延長了這一過程的時間。例如蒐集金礦需要數小時等待,而跳過等待需使用現金購買,這與原作的快節奏大相徑庭。)雖然這不一定是最糟糕的例子,但卻絕對是最臭名昭著的。

不會重複指示的NPC

好吧,該死。我到處翻遍Generic Mentor告訴我要找的Magic Thingy,可哪裏都沒有。也許我在他指引的話中錯過了什麼。我回去問他。噢,可他突然再也不想和我說話了。

Michael Brandse寫到:在《塞爾達傳說:黎明公主》中一開始有一個NPC會告訴你目的地的下一步要去哪。但是,如果你第二次問他,他就只願意說一些和自己相關的瑣事。無論你問他多少次,都不願意重複之前說的話。

我應該記筆記嗎?還是把屏幕截下來?如果NPC自己不願意重複,那我手頭的任務至少應該有個記事本或者其他可用的方式。

懲罰好奇心

根據某些東方傳統,除了有必要的事,其它最好不要做,因爲我們在世界中的所作所爲,就像將一顆石頭扔進池塘,沒人知道漣漪會在哪裏平靜下來。

可是遊戲不會堅持這一原則。默認玩家的行爲就是行動,而不是爲了避免行動。玩家玩的是探索與冒險。如果你在遊戲中放一個紅色的按鈕,玩家就會按它,即使遊戲明確地告訴他不可以。這是一種被稱爲“契訶夫之槍”的戲劇原則:“如果在第一章中你在牆上掛着把手槍,之後就要用它開火,否則別把它放在那。”Peter Silk寫到:

玩家不應該僅僅因爲好奇心而受到懲罰,除非這種好奇行爲已經清楚的掛上了危險的標籤。(也許在藥水上畫上骷髏頭和兩根交叉的骨頭並不是好主意。)

我已經在早期的話題中抱怨過沒有警告的立即死亡:“你在死前有30秒的時間找出過關方法”便和這個看法有關,如果你設計了一個洞穴,玩家自然會走進去—-即使這裏面有龍。如果你不想讓玩家做某些事,那就別誘導他們這麼做。當然,把危險放在遊戲中是可以的,但前提是這必須是能夠克服的障礙,玩家(角色)的死亡應該是可避免的失敗導致的,而不是作爲對探索或好奇的懲罰。

結論

去年,受益於Ian Schreiber的提醒“好東西都要錢”這一點,我爲數據庫增加了一個新的類別,即糟糕的商業模式和盈利方式“爲了不花錢的等待”顯然是另一個例子,我也相信我們一定會發現更多錯誤的做法。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

I took a break from The Designer’s Notebook during 2014; I haven’t published anything since last year’s Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie! XIV column. There were a lot of distractions this year, particularly “GamerGate,” which turned out to be the most irritating waste of our time since Jack Thompson’s efforts to censor video games. However, I couldn’t possibly miss the annual No Twinkie column! I brought the No Twinkie Database up to date, several people have suggested new Twinkie Denial Conditions during the year, and I’ve also trawled through old correspondence for a few more. Herewith, ten egregious game design errors:

Text that Vanishes While You’re Reading

If a game gives you something to read while the game is loading, it needs to give you enough time to actually read it. Quentin Thomas wrote:

I’m the kind of gamer who appreciates a good story in games. I heard through the grapevine that Dark Souls has a pretty good lore. So the guy’s fighting this huge gargoyle and I know he’s going to die but I’m rooting for him… to no avail. He dies and the game goes to a loading screen, bringing him to the last checkpoint. While he’s on this loading screen, there’s a item in the upper left corner with about 7-8 sentences.

I go “Oh goody, time for some of that Dark Souls lore I heard so much about.”

So I start reading the first sentence and it just abruptly cuts back to the gameplay without warning.

You couldn’t let me hit the X button myself when I was ready to go back to gameplay? 7-8 sentences and you expect me to read them all within 5 seconds?

BAD GAME DESIGNER! NO TWINKIE!

I asked Quentin to do a little further investigation, and he discovered that this doesn’t happen on consoles, only on high-end PCs where the loading is very fast. This is essentially a corollary to one of the oldest Twinkie Denial Conditions, Games That Run Too Fast. The designers assumed, without checking, that the machine would be slow enough to let the player read the whole thing. If it’s not, he’s out of luck. But in any case, this is a usability error. For all you know, the player has low vision or dyslexia and has to read slowly. Let him decide when he’s ready to go on, not your CPU’s clock speed.

Disrupting the Player’s Inputs

The player’s input devices lie on the boundary of the magic circle; they are where real-world player movements get turned into game-world actions. It’s OK for these controls to be difficult under the right circumstances. I well remember discovering, all the way back in Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer, that the storied Sopwith Camel was a beast to control — as indeed it was in real life, until you learned how to handle it. But arbitrarily disrupting the player’s controls is not cool. James Youngman writes with an example:

The game Earthbound contains enemies who can cause a mushroom to grow on the player character’s head. During battle, this does nothing, but once the player is back in the field, their directional input will periodically rotate itself 90 degrees, circling the D-pad until the player can remove the status. The spells and items available to the player cannot achieve this; the player must find a speak to a particular NPC at the town’s hospital, a task complicated by the lack of hinting and by the regularly changing movement controls.

Changing the player’s controls without their permission is disruptive in and of itself; forcing them to discover and navigate to rare locations to stop the disruption exacerbates the issue, forcing the player to chose between progressing or making the long walk back to the last place they can get healed, just to face the same dungeon, with the same status-effect casting enemy, all over again.

Disrupting the player’s inputs destroys immersion and creates a cheap, frustrating challenge that is unrelated to the game’s actual point. Don’t do it.

Character Classes That Can’t Finish the Game

Here’s one that’s completely self-explanatory from Petra Rudolf:

Back in the old times, I wanted to play Neverwinter Nights with the Underdark add-on with an unusual character, a bard/assassin. I knew already that it was easy to beat the game with any kind of mage or fighter, harder with a rogue or priest kind of class, and even worse with the standard D&D support classes like druid and bard, who cannot stand on their own legs without a fighter to slay things for them. Thanks to followers, I made it through about half of the add-on, and then was stuck without a possibility to level up (no other quests left) or to change my tactics.

Of course this could be seen as a part of bad balancing, yet it has an obvious reason: support characters can’t fight alone. Bad game designer, leave them out of the game or change the whole class.

Now, you could argue that if a player chooses to fight tanks with a jeep, she deserves what she gets; but RPGs are supposed to be heroic fantasy, and that means they’re supposed to be winnable with whatever kind of character the player starts with. If it’s completely impossible to play through a single-player game with a given character class as the protagonist, that class should not be available to be a protagonist.

Fun-Destroying Verisimilitude

Longtime readers of this column will know that I’m generally a fan of verisimilitude, or at least a level of accuracy sufficient to sustain a fantasy. Working for six years on Madden NFL, it was imperative, because our players were comparing what happened in our game to what happens on the field. But it’s possible to overdo it, especially if the effect is to harm the fun. Mikhail Merkuryev pointed out that although real-world kart racers have no mirrors or reverse gear, they should have them in video games. In the real world, a track marshal can push a kart backwards by hand, and the driver can turn his head to look behind him. But in video games there are no track marshals, and if you turn your head, you’re just going to see your living room. This is a case where it’s appropriate to add necessary features that the real vehicles don’t have.

Don’t be a slave to reproducing the real world to the point that you harm the fun.

“Filler” Quick Time Events

There’s a lot of debate about Quick Time Events generally — does mashing a single button just to advance a scene really constitute interactivity? It’s certainly not making an interesting choice. I’m not ready to declare all Quick Time Events to be Twinkie Denial Conditions, because I think they can be made to fit a situation and storyline appropriately, but certainly some of them are pointless. Robert Doughty writes,

I think Quick Time Events are used a little too liberally to fill in any part of a game that the player isn’t in direct control of, such as during cutscenes and cinematics. Biggest examples of this are in Resident Evil 5 and 6. The problem with this use is that it feels very tacked on, and more importantly it detracts from the action/events of the cutscene, prying the player from something that was storyboarded out and designed to look fantastic. I guess this kind of applies to any use of a mechanic that is just tacked on to cover a small (possibly inconsequential) part of a game, just so you have something during that section, violating that key thing of giving the player a breather.

Certainly if you have a fantastic movie or some other kind of narrative content, there’s no point in screwing it up with unnecessary Quick Time Events just to create some meaningless interactivity. Games are not supposed to be movies, but cinematics are a legitimate feature at times, and there’s no point in ruining a good one. Just let the player enjoy it.

Non-Portable Experiences for Portable Games

Here’s another one about input devices from Garrick Williams:

I think some handheld game designers forget that their game is meant for portable devices.

Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass has a part where you’re unable to continue unless you scream into the Nintendo DS’s microphone at the top of your lungs. Now, portable gaming systems are meant to allow a player to play games while on the go, at the doctor’s office, on the bus, or in a restaurant waiting for food. Yet the game designers expect me to randomly scream my lungs out in public. It may be amusing to the designer, but not to the player who has to decide between publicly humiliating themselves or quit playing the game until they get home.

Kid Icarus: Uprising intentionally had controls that made it impossible/uncomfortable to play the game and hold the 3DS at the same time, forcing you to lay the game system on a table and/or use a peripheral that doesn’t fit well in your pocket.

The scream-at-the-microphone gimmick is annoying even in the privacy of your own home; it becomes downright anti-social when it’s required in public — which is where a lot of portable games are played. And a portable game that can’t be played while you’re carrying the device? That’s just nutty.

Making the Player Earn (or Pay For) A Decent User Interface

Our new approaches to monetization have led to all sorts of abusive practices, but this one was new to me. Jon Gaull writes,

I hate when a game has crappy UI for letting me do something common and they make me work for 3 months to hit level 20 when I can unlock that item that gives me a better UI for the task.

My example comes from Backyard Monsters [a tower defense game]. Working on her base and tweaking the layout is something a player does every time she visits the game. Most players visit the game 3-5 times a day!

In Backyard Monsters they make you click a building, then click the move button, drag it to the position you want to place it, and then click again to drop it. If something is in the way you need to go through that same process with the impeding item first, then place the item you wanted to place to begin with. It’s incredibly annoying when you could have over a hundred tiny little defensive walls surrounding your base, which is very tightly packed full of all your important defensive structures. Rearranging a base can literally take hours.

Fortunately, the developer has a solution to this problem. Unfortunately it’s an expensive building you don’t unlock until you’ve been playing the game for a month. Then, once you’ve unlocked, collected the resources, and finally placed the building you have to go through the silly social games time delay before you can even use it!

[Name deleted] believes we should allow only players willing to pay to have a way to circumnavigate our crappy UI!

I’ve seen games where you learn to do something rather slowly and inefficiently at first, and then get a better way to do it later on – but this is usually just in the tutorial, to show you how things work. A decent UI is not a reward or an achievement, it’s a right, and it’s absolutely not something the player should have to pay extra for!

Speaking of the silly social games time delay…

Free-to-Wait

Look no farther than Dungeon Keeper for mobile phones, also known colloquially as Dungeon Sleeper. No more need be said about this dire game design failure. Not necessarily the worst case, but certainly the most infamous.

NPCs Who Won’t Repeat Instructions

Well, darn. I’ve looked all over the place for the Magic Thingy that my Generic Mentor Character told me I had to go find, and I can’t see it anywhere. Maybe I missed something in his instructions. I’ll go back and ask him. Oh. Suddenly he doesn’t want to talk to me any more.

Michael Brandse wrote: “In Zelda Twilight Princess there was a NPC in the beginning who said where to go next to your next destination. But, if you asked him a second time, he would only say some useless things about himself. He would not repeat what he said before, no matter how many times you would ask him again.”

Am I supposed to take notes? Screen captures? If the NPC won’t repeat himself, then my current quest should at least be recorded in a diary or available by some other means.

Punishing Curiosity

According to some Eastern religions, it is best to refrain from all actions except those that are necessary, for by acting we throw a cause of things into the world like a stone into a pond, and no one can tell where the ripples might end up.

No video game ever made adheres to this principle. The default player behavior in a video game is to act, not to refrain from acting. Players play to explore, to have adventures, to do things. If you put a big red button in the game, the player will press it, and she will press it even if she is told explicitly not to. It’s a natural extension of the dramatic principle of Chekhov’s Gun: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” Peter Silk writes:

Players shouldn’t be unduly punished for mere curiosity, except when such curiosity has been clearly labelled as dangerous (maybe it’s not a good idea to consume the potion with the skull and crossbones on it).

I’ve already complained about instant death with no warning in an earlier No Twinkie column: “You have 30 seconds to figure out this level before you die.” This one is related. If you make a cave, it is normal and natural for the player to enter it — even if it contains a dragon. If you don’t want the player to do something, then don’t tempt them to do it. Of course it’s OK to put dangers in a game, obstacles that must be overcome, but player death should occur as a result of avoidable failure, not as an arbitrary punishment for exploring or curiosity.

Conclusion

Last year, thanks to Ian Schreiber’s suggestion “Hiding All Your Best Content Behind a Paywall,” I added a new category to the No Twinkie Database, Bad Business Models or Monetization Schemes. Free-to-Wait is obviously another one, and I’m sure we will uncover many more. If you have suggestions, please feel free to send them, as always, to [email protected] Happy Solstice!(source:Gamasutra