一位開發者眼中的獨立遊戲開發進程和節奏(下篇)

原作者:Andrei Klubnikin 譯者:Willow Wu

一位開發者眼中的獨立遊戲開發進程和節奏(上篇)

在上一篇文章中,我談到了如何進行市場調研、如何選擇遊戲類型/主題引起玩家共鳴,以及如何制定項目計劃。但是我還沒深入探討技術棧以及你將會面臨的遊戲開發挑戰,還有就是營銷——這是大多數獨立開發者們忽略的一個階段。聊夠了,讓我們進入正題吧!

技術棧&遊戲設計

顯然,選擇哪種遊引擎,能給你的大作帶來多好的逼真效果,這要取決於你對特定的遊戲開發技術的熟悉程度;或者是你打算把遊戲開發任務外包的話,就要取決於那個軟件開發公司的專業程度。

Indie(from gameacademy.com)

Indie(from gameacademy.com)

有哪些選項?

•Cocos2D

這個開源式遊戲開發工具套件可以利用OpenGL庫爲開發者提供圖片,在默認條件下支持Objective-C和Swift;安卓平臺還需要安裝SpriteBuilder插件。許多熱門遊戲採用的都採用了Cocos2D,比如《迷失之地》和《城堡破壞者》。

•Unreal EngineUnreal Engine

社區爲遊戲開發者、設計師們提供了各種各樣的工具,支持iOS、安卓編程環境。有很多酷遊戲都用了Unreal Engine,包括《我討厭我的工作(I Hate My Job)》和《無盡之劍》系列。

•Unity

UnityScript/C#跨平臺引擎無論是對2D遊戲還是3D遊戲來說效果都是一樣好。有了Unity引擎,你就不用什麼都從零設計——只要進入Unity專用商店,挑選你想要的東西,點擊“添加至我的資源”就好了。

啊,對了,你要做的是2D遊戲還是3D遊戲呢?

從技術和資金角度來看,要做一個像樣的3D遊戲會難很多。另外還有個理由是你的成功機率真的很小很小,如果你花了20個月製作出一款高質量的3D遊戲,結果卻是湮沒無聞,就跟其它大部分遊戲一樣,這就太可惜了。這就是爲什麼你的首作最好是選擇2D遊戲。

所以,我們就決定是2D遊戲了;那麼,你需要做多少個遊戲關卡、角色和升級選項才能吸引、留住玩家呢?

R-stylelab.com的現任首席技術官Pavel Shylenok在手遊製作領域已經有了數年經驗。在他看來,那些沒什麼技術的人會花掉80%的遊戲開發預算,努力讓他們的遊戲看起來、感覺起來很棒。你也可以把這個花費換算成工時2000+小時。

遊戲畫面有那麼多內容,都是從哪來的?

相對簡單的三消遊戲,比如《糖果傳奇》它的主要部分大概有9000張動畫背景和物品,50個動畫控件和麪板,還有至少15種粒子效果!

這是個大工程——尤其是對於單槍匹馬的你來說。我之前提到的《阿爾託的冒險》,一款精美的iOS/安卓遊戲,製作團隊是來自加拿大的一個獨立工作室。遊戲的唯一開發者和設計師Harry Nesbitt,他在這個項目上嘔心瀝血地工作了18個月,最終完成了這個遊戲。Harry說他們的團隊在遊戲開發的中期階段決定把Cocos2D換成Unity,以實現他們想要的畫面效果——這種情況你很有可能也會遇到。

在技術方面,你應該在後端開發上下點功夫,確保app進程能夠順利運行(AWS服務器架構就是個不錯的方法)。也不要忘了發揮社交媒體的功能:像是排行榜、分享到社交媒體上、邀請朋友,幫助遊戲擴大知名度(雖說這個任務通常都是營銷人員負責的)。

在Pavel Shylenok看來,遊戲剛開始的時候只做iOS或者安卓版本也是可以的,先收集玩家的反饋,對產品進行修整,然後測試不同的盈利策略。

手遊營銷

我們到這個步驟了。你手裏的app已經準備好,測試反饋也是一片好評。現在你要做的就是把遊戲提交上App Store或者Google Play商店,然後就坐等名利雙收。

然而現實不是這樣的。做完一個獨立遊戲,在應用商店上架,接下來的路還很遠。智能手機用戶不像PC玩家,他們一般不會去瀏覽Google Play商店尋找新的app——這也是爲什麼90%的獨立遊戲都沒有被玩家發現,收益甚少。想知道怎麼才能讓你的獨立遊戲登頂下載榜?你應該在預定發行日之前的幾個月就開始相關的營銷活動(天下沒有免費的營銷)。

如何才能讓用戶注意到你的產品?方法如下:

•提前吸引小批粉絲。在遊戲發行之前,你能夠做什麼讓它成爲一個成功的產品?可以先出一個吊足胃口的遊戲預告(需要建立一個YouTube頻道):其中應該包含遊戲中的連續鏡頭、評價或者是引用專業遊戲開發人員的近期評論,整個預告片的長度應該在60-90秒左右,然後把這個短片分享到社交媒體上。一開始看的人可能很少,但是預告片是讓大家知道新作消息的重要工具。這樣一來潛在用戶就能瞭解這遊戲大概在講什麼。錄下一些關於的幕後開發工作的有趣片段。跟各大遊戲開發平臺聯繫,比如Gamasutra, Pocket Gamer和Touch Arcade,如果走運的話,有些知名的編輯可能會免費給你的遊戲寫評論。雖說這不一定會吸引成千上萬的人來下載,但是多個人幫你推銷產品,何樂而不爲呢?

•不要僱傭公關公司。大部分公關公司的基本促銷包裝就要價一萬美元了,而且所謂包裝是舉行一場沒有任何記憶點的新聞發佈會、跟一些編輯、社交媒體管理人員進行訪談,因此僱傭公關公司很有可能是一個浪費金錢、浪費時間的失敗策略。把那一萬美金拿去參加遊戲開發者大會,在那裏你可以見到很多對你有用的人(包括App Store編輯)。

•盡你最大的努力得到App Store和Google Play商店的推薦。雖然有部分開發者通過社交媒體獲得了廣泛關注,相比那些得到App Store首頁推薦的開發者們,他們的投資回報率(ROI)還更高,但是近期的熱門手遊有絕大多數都得到了App Store和Google Play 的推薦(比如《阿爾託的冒險》《修剪藝術》《迷失之地》),也得到了不錯的收益。想要跟他們一樣成功嗎?那就把你的全身心都投入到遊戲設計中去,讓你的產品從競爭中脫穎而出。盡你所能地尋找更多測試用戶,研究他們的反饋,把那些沒有價值的功能拋棄掉。還有上面說到的,製作一個精彩的預告片,透露一下你創作的平行宇宙是什麼樣的。最好找一家有資歷、靠譜的軟件供應商,向他們諮詢,可以得到比較客觀的意見,還有專業幫助。

在當下的環境中,有80%的獨立遊戲工作室都回不了本,到底要做出什麼樣的獨立遊戲才行呢?那些獲得商業成功的獨立開發者們,他們大部分都是從3A遊戲公司出來的,或者是他們資金充足,能夠從第三方僱傭畫師和開發者,爲他們的app扛起全職工作。可能你要嘗試15個失敗的遊戲才做出一個大熱門(看看Rovio)。

但是這並不意味着你該放棄你的夢想。取而代之的是你應該承認這些挑戰,認清獨立遊戲的殘酷現實,調整你的期望,然後繼續努力——總有一天你會收穫成功!

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

In the previous article I told you how to conduct market research, choose a game genre/theme that is likely to resonate with users and create a project plan. I did not dwell on technology stack and game dev challenges you’re going to face, though. Also, there’s marketing – a stage most indie developers ignore. Enough small talk than; let’s get down to business!

Technology stack & game design

Obviously, the choice of an engine that will breathe life into your masterpiece depends on your familiarity with certain game dev technologies (or the expertise of the software development company you’re going to outsource game dev to).

What are the options?

•Cocos2D.
The open-source game dev suite renders images with the OpenGL library and supports Objective-C and Swift by default; Android support is enabled through the SpriteBuilder plugin. The framework powers many popular gaming applications including Badland and Castle Crashers;

•Unreal Engine.
The Unreal Engine community offers a plethora of tools for game developers and designers and supports iOS/Android programming environments. There are many cool games created with Unreal Engine including I Hate My Job and the Infinity Blade franchise;

•Unity.
The UnityScript/C# cross-platform engine is equally good for 2D and 3D games. With Unity, you don’t have to develop everything from scratch – just hit its dedicated store and choose the add-ons you need.

Ah, yes. Is it a 2D or 3D game you’re going to impress users with?

Both skill- and money-wise, it’s a lot harder to create a decent 3D game. Another reason to start with a 2D app is your very small chances of success; it would be a shame to spend 20 months on a high-quality 3D game that will pale into oblivion like most apps do!

So, we’re going 2D then; how many game levels, characters and upgrade options you need to attract and retain players?

Pavel Shylenok (who is now CTO at r-stylelab.com) spent years building mobile games. Based on his experience, Pavel claims non-tech guys spend up to 80% of their game dev budgets trying to make their games look and feel nice. You may as well translate it into man-hours (2000+).

Where does the huge amount of graphic content come from?

A relatively simple Match-3 game like Candy Crush features about 9 thousand animated backgrounds and objects, 50 animated controls and screens and at least 15 particle effects!

That’s a lot of work – especially if it’s just you working on the game. I’ve already told you about Alto’s Adventure, a stylish iOS/Android game built by an indie studio from Canada. Check out this amazing post written by Harry Nesbitt, Alto’s sole developer and designer; the guy spent 18 months working his fingers to the bone to finally bring the game to life! Harry says their team decided to swap Cocos2D for Unity in the midst of the game development process to achieve the desired level of visual complexity – and that’s exactly the kind of situation you might find yourself in.

Technology-wise, you should also spend some time doing the back-end development to enable app processes (AWS is the way to go). Do not forget about social media integration: features like leadership boards, social sharing and the option to invite friends help games go viral (although virality as we know it is most often created by marketers).

According to Pavel Shylenok, it also makes sense to go single-platform first (iOS or Android), gather user feedback, polish your product and test different monetization strategies.

Mobile game marketing

Here we are then! You’ve got a playable app up your sleeve. Testers seem to love it. Now you only have to submit the game to the App Store/Google Play – and fame will come.

The reality is quite different. Building an indie game and pushing it to app stores is only half the story. Unlike PC gamers, smartphone owners do not normally browse Google Play in search of new app titles – and that’s why 90% of indie games never land on players’ radar and bring little to no revenue. Wonder how to make an indie mobile game that will dominate download charts? You should start a marketing campaign months before the planned release date (and marketing can never be 100% free)!

Here’s how to get your app noticed:

•Build a small fan base in advance. How to make an indie game a success even before it’s released to the market? It all starts with an awesome game trailer (a YouTube channel is required); it should feature footage from the game and reviews or at least quotes from game dev professionals and be 60-90 sec long. Share the video on social media. Initially it may get only a few views, but it’s the very tool that’ll help you get game press coverage. Keep potential users informed about what’s going on with the game. Record funny clips documenting the game dev process. Get in touch with the leading game dev platforms like Gamasutra, Pocket Gamer and Touch Arcade; if you’re lucky, some well-known editor might review your game for free. It will not necessarily translate into a bajillion downloads, but extra promo never killed nobody;

•Do not hire a PR agency. With most PR firms charging some $ 10 thousand for a basic promo package (which includes a forgettable press release, a couple interviews with editors and SMM), hiring one is most likely going to be a complete waste of money and time. Use that $ 10K to attend a game dev conference where you can meet useful people (including the App Store editors) in person;

•Try your utmost to get featured by the App Store and Google Play. Although some developers claim a strong social media presence and press coverage yield a better ROI than a feature on the App Store front page, the majority of mobile games that have made it big recently (including Alto’s, Prune and Badland) got the golden ticket. Want to replicate their success? Pour your heart and soul into game design to make your app stand out from the competition. Find as many beta users as you can, study their feedback and get rid of the features that add little value to your product. Once again, create a stellar trailer which offers a glimpse into your alterative universe. Also, you’d better consult a reliable software vendor with a solid game dev portfolio to get an unbiased opinion (and professional help).

How to create an indie game in a world where 80% of independent studios operate at a loss? Well, most indie guys who achieved commercial success had either worked for an AAA game company in the past or had money to support themselves and hire third-party artists and developers while working on their apps full time. And it might take you up to 15 flop games (Rovio says hi) to get the right one.

But it doesn’t mean you should give up on your dream; instead, you should acknowledge the challenges, align your expectations with the hard indie reality and work hard – and success will eventually follow!(source:gamasutra.com