電子遊戲的現在與未來:大型多人在線遊戲(MMO)

原文作者:Bill Murphy 譯者:Megan Shieh

自《魔獸世界》首次發佈以來,已經有13個年頭了,至今它仍然是西方世界中最受歡迎的大型多人角色扮演遊戲(MMORPG)。儘管有少數表現不錯的同類遊戲,比如《激戰2》、《上古卷軸》、《最終幻想14》,甚至《星球大戰:舊共和國武士》,但是自《魔獸世界》以來,MMORPG領域就沒有出現過真正熱門的內容。

然而,作爲MMORPG.com和GameSpace.com的總編輯,我認爲MMORPG並沒有消亡,它一直都在,它是電子遊戲領域的未來。MMO就在我們身邊……只是你看不見而已。

World of Warcraft(from venturebeat.com)

World of Warcraft(from venturebeat.com)

不知道你們有沒有聽說過《Destiny命運》?有沒有在《絕地求生》裏面吃過雞?有沒有在《坦克世界》裏面消滅過敵人的坦克?如果有的話,就證明你一直在玩MMO,它們只是不把自己標榜爲MMO而已。當普通玩家聽到“MMO”這三個縮寫字母的時候,他們會感到恐慌、他們的手心會冒汗、他們害怕自己需要無止境地各種刷、害怕自己需要深夜組隊突襲別人。MMO是《魔獸世界》巨大成功的犧牲品。暴雪娛樂的這款作品在行業中創造了一片“藍海”,以至於在接下來的幾年間,許多大型工作室都試圖複製它的成功。

藍海戰略

有一種叫做“藍海戰略”的東西,它的意思是超越競爭的思維,開創新的市場需求、新的/未知的市場空間。當一家公司發現自己身處一個競爭激烈的市場時,它必須尋找一個新的切入點來取得成功。任天堂兩次實現了這種戰略,之前是Wii主機藍海戰略,最近是Switch藍海戰略。這種情況也會發生在特定的遊戲類型上。MMORPG就是一個非常典型的例子,因爲自《魔獸世界》首次發佈之後,市面上就充斥着各種“克隆版的魔獸世界”。把整個市場想象成海洋,把產業想象成鯊魚,這片海洋由“藍海”和“紅海”組成。“藍海”比喻的是一片空曠的、未知的海域;而“紅海”指的是一片鯊魚密佈的水域,所有的鯊魚都在互相撕咬、搶奪食物,能活下來就算幸運了。

同樣的市場狂熱也曾發生在“多人在線戰術競技遊戲(MOBA)”領域,在《英雄聯盟》和《刀塔2》的最初成功之後,有多少同類遊戲存活了下來,並且欣欣向榮?接着是持續不斷的“集換式卡牌”熱潮(也是起源於暴雪)。然後是《DayZ》掀起的殭屍熱潮。而現在,《絕地求生:大逃殺》又掀起了一股“吃雞”熱潮。由此可見,歷史在不斷地重演。這種現象是週期性的——市場繁榮、蕭條、重複。《超級馬里奧64》開創了3D沙盒先河,在此之前是16位機的格鬥遊戲。市場的繁榮和蕭條是註定會重複的。

持久性

但是MMO在整個電子遊戲領域烙下了一塊永久的烙印,我們誰都躲不了,那就是“持久性”。用戶希望他們玩的遊戲能夠永久地持續下去,希望自己能夠永無止境地進階,或者至少希望他們在遊戲中付出的所有努力不會最終沉入大海。你可以在《命運》、《絕地求生》、《英雄聯盟》,甚至《使命召喚14》中看到我所謂的這種“持久性”,這些遊戲提取了促使《魔獸世界》成功的極小因素之一,將它加入到了曾經長度有限的體驗中。但是這種做法也不總是奏效:沒有什麼比粉絲的憤怒更可怕,看看《命運》的開發商Bungie就知道了,他們現在還在處理《命運2》的社區危機呢。(遊戲邦注:爲了避免部分玩家過度Farm扭曲遊戲造成虛擬經濟,使得遊戲內物品貶值和玩家興趣降低,在《命運2》的XP獲取上,Bengie設置了一個“經驗值遞減系統”,引起了廣大玩家的憤怒。)

將MMO比喻爲一幢房子,如果說《魔獸世界》把MMO的天花板給摘了,然後其他的失敗者又直接把它給蓋上了,像《命運》、《坦克世界》、《絕地求生》的這類遊戲就等於是開了一點窗戶。MMO不是MMORPG,像《無盡的任務》和《網絡創世紀》這類遊戲的傳統玩家會第一個衝上來告訴你這點。然而,目前幾乎每款大型熱門遊戲都會帶有MMO的影子。舉個例子,根據SuperData發佈的數據,此前提到的《英雄聯盟》、《絕地求生:大逃殺》、《命運2》、《坦克世界》等都在2017年10月的全球營收榜上占主導地位。

它們的共同點是什麼?持久性!即將發佈的MMO《雙重宇宙》也帶有同樣的持久性。而這就是我年復一年地回到“艾澤拉斯”(魔獸中的一個地點)的主要原因。這是一個熟悉的地方,變化不大,但是在天氣寒冷的幾個月裏,讓我想起了凌晨在“塔倫米爾”(魔獸中的一個地點)的土地上奔馳的情景,緩解了我懷舊的心情。《阿瑟龍的召喚》和《網絡創世紀》也爲它們的玩家創造了同樣難忘的回憶。

今天,有數百萬名的MMORPG粉絲渴望一個全新的、更令人興奮的遊戲,那些千篇一律的遊戲,大家都玩累了。每次我叫別人去玩《命運》的時候,人家都會叫我滾開…他們說“那不是真的MMO!”從某種角度上看,我認爲他們的想法是對的。在像《命運》、《絶地求生》、《星際戰甲》和《坦克世界》這樣的遊戲中,無論是遊戲世界、遊玩進度、故事還是角色進階和解鎖,都帶有了“持久性”這一關鍵要素。但是它們未能提供一個真正龐大的、相互關聯的世界,讓玩家們可以看到對方的一舉一動。

儘管人們對Chris Roberts的《星際公民》抱有很高的期望,但是MMORPG似乎一直都是墨守成規、千篇一律的。不過,它正在靜悄悄地復興——世界各地的獨立開發者都試圖爲經典MMORPG的粉絲們創造一些新的東西,讓他們爲之着迷,比如《灰燼創世紀》、《烏鴉隕落》、《伊利里亞編年史》、《解放聖城》和《Legends of Aria》。也許在未來的某一天,他們中有人會發布一款完整的遊戲,我很期待這天的到來。但是在那之前,我會繼續玩《魔獸世界》、《命運2》和《絕地求生》。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

It’s the end of 2017 and World of Warcraft still dominates the western hemisphere as the most popular massively multiplayer role-playing game on the planet – 13 years after its initial launch. While there are a few stalwarts (Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and even Star Wars: The Old Republic), the MMORPG hasn’t seen a true hit since the year Azeroth broke the Internet. And yet, as editor of MMORPG.com and GameSpace.com, I’m here to tell you that the genre isn’t dead. It’s the future. It’s the always. The MMO is all around us…you just can’t see it anymore.

See if you all can follow me here, have you heard of Destiny? Have you celebrated a Chicken Dinner in PUBG? Have you decimated opposing tanks in Wargaming’s World of Tanks? Well, then you’ve been playing MMOs that don’t call themselves MMOs. When your average gamer hears that three-letter acronym, they panic, their palms sweat, fears of endless grinding and late-night raid schedules creep in. The MMO genre was a victim of WoW’s mammoth success. The Blizzard-made behemoth created such a vacuum in the industry, that for a good few years every blockbuster studio was trying to replicate its success.

The big fish

There’s something called the Blue Ocean Strategy, in which when a company finds itself in a crowded market, it must seek a new angle to find success.Nintendo famously did this with the original Wii console, and recently again with the Switch. It happens with specific game genres, too. The MMORPG was one that people remember and point to often, because so many “WoW Clones” flooded the market. Blue Ocean is a reference to sharks in the sea, ergo when it’s too crowded in a market it’s a red ocean – a feeding frenzy is in place and you’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

The exact same market frenzy happened with MOBAs. How many are still alive and thriving after the initial success of League of Legends and DOTA2? Then came the ongoing Collectible Card Game craze (again, thanks to Blizzard). Then there was the DayZ clone craze. And now, we’re seeing history repeat itself with the PUBG -styled Battle Royale game, thanks to Bluehole and modder-turned-game-dev-all-star Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene. (Interesting to note that DOTA 2 and League of Legends also came from modders.)

This sort of market boom, bust, and repeat is cyclical. It happened with 3D platformers in the wake of Mario 64. Before that it was fighting games on 16-Bit systems. We are destined to repeat this, as much as the mobile market is destined to go after anything Supercell makes for the foreseeable future.

Be persistent

But there’s one thing that the MMO made permanent in all of gaming that we cannot escape: persistence. People want their games to last forever, their progress to be undying, or at the very least to have the idea that all their hard work having fun wasn’t wasted. Persistence, as seen in Destiny, PUBG, League of Legends, and now even Call of Duty WWII, is akin to taking the tiniest sliver of what makes games like World of Warcraft stick and slapping it on what used to be a finite experience. It doesn’t always work out, though: hell hath no fury like a fan pissed off though: just ask Destiny’s developer Bungie who is still dealing with the community fallout from Destiny 2.

If World of Warcraft tore the lid off the roof of the MMO, and then all its also-rans put it right back on, games like Destiny, World of Tanks, and now PUBG are opening the window just a crack. The MMO is not the MMORPG. The traditional fans of games like EverQuest and Ultima Online will be the first ones to tell you that. But then here we are – a world where most every major release has some form of MMO-lite feature tacked on. Just a look at recent SuperData findingsshows how many online games are leading the pack of top earners.

The main one? That’s persistence, as found in the upcoming MMO Dual Universe). It’s arguably why I still return to Azeroth myself year after year. It’s a place that’s familiar, changing but a bit, and offering a nostalgic respite during the cold months when I remember what it was once like raiding Tarren Mill in the wee hours of the morning. The same sort of memories were made for others in Asheron’s Call (rest in peace), EverQuest, and Ultima Online.

Today there are millions of MMORPG fans longing for a world to call home that’s newer, fresher, more exciting than those we’ve been visiting for years.  Every time I point them to games like Destiny, I’m told to bugger off. “That’s not really an MMO”. And in some ways, I think they’re right. Games like Destiny, PUBG,Warframe, and World of Tanks sprinkle in the key ingredient of persistence, whether in a full world or in character progression and unlocks. Whether it’s in the characters, the progression your account makes, or the story. But they fail at providing a truly massive interconnected world where players can and do see each other doing everything from fishing to dancing on mailboxes.

Lofty expectations placed on the shoulders of Chris Roberts’ Star Citizennotwithstanding, the MMORPG has been in a rut publicly. Although it’s quietly enjoying a renaissance in games like Ashes of Creation, Crowfall, Chronicles of Elyria, Camelot Unchained, and Legends of Aria — indie devs all over are trying to make something new for fans of the classical massively multiplayer role-playing game to become enamored with. And maybe, one day, one of them will release a finished game. Until then, I’ll be killing kobolds in Elwynn Forest gleefully in between Nightfall Strikes on Nessus, and eating Chicken Dinners in PUBG. (Source:venturebeat.com