開發者從用戶體驗的角度聊《Getting Over it 》

開發者從用戶體驗的角度聊《Getting Over it with Bennett Foddy》

原文作者: Lars Doucet 譯者:Megan Shieh

Bennett Foddy製作的遊戲向來都很奇怪,有時甚至會故意激怒玩家。儘管這類遊戲完全不是我的菜,但我還是一玩就停不下來。Bennett最近剛剛發佈了一款名爲《和班尼特福迪一起攻克難關(Getting Over it with Bennett Foddy)》的遊戲,它的靈感來源於一位捷克遊戲開發者Jazzuo在2002年推出的一款B類遊戲經典《迷人遠足(Sexy Hiking)》。

上述兩部作品帶有相同的核心機制——玩家需要控制一個看上去很奇葩的男人,通過滑動鼠標的方式來控制男人手中的錘子,以點對點的方式與物體碰撞,從而爬過各種障礙物。

就這樣,這就是整個遊戲的核心。

遊戲中唯一的“進度”就是“主人公爬到的地方離起點有多遠”,然而玩家一不小心就有可能跌回到起點,這時你就只能從頭再來。

與《迷人遠足》不同的是,《和班尼特福迪一起攻克難關》提供專業製作的圖像、聲音和無故障代碼,儘管如此,它仍是一款怪異而又引人注目的遊戲。每當玩家到達一個新地點的時候,敘述者 (大概是Bennett本人?)就會開始解釋他的設計理念;每當玩家摔下去的時候,他會朗讀一段關於在“逆境中取得勝利”的勵志名言。

一般而言我會對這種遊戲感到反感,但出乎意料的是我非但不討厭它,反而非常喜愛這款遊戲。

爲什麼?因爲它以一種真誠、直接的方式,赤裸裸地呈現出了開發者的設計美學。

Getting Over it with Bennett Foddy(from gamasutra.com)

Getting Over it with Bennett Foddy(from gamasutra.com)

設計美學

我喜歡遊玩某些特定類型的遊戲,也喜歡爲某些特定類型的人制作特定類型的遊戲。Bennett顯然也是同路人,遊戲剛開始的時候,敘述者說了這麼一句話:

“我做這款遊戲是爲了某一類人,目的是讓他們受盡煎熬。”

關於“受盡煎熬”的部分,我的設計美學正好與之相反。2004年的時候,一篇由Ron Gilbert撰寫的文章中寫道:

“普通的美國人一天中絕大多數的時間都是在辦公室裏失敗,他們最不想要的就是回到家試圖放鬆和娛樂的時候,還繼續失敗。”

而這句話也成爲了我設計遊戲時的座右銘。

我主張的設計美學是:在遊戲中加入更多選項,讓玩家可以以自己想要的方式去體驗遊戲。我的遊戲《守護者冒險(Defender’s Quest )》特地消除了傳統RPG結構中固有的痛點:時間榨取。在正確設置的情況下,玩家可以在三個小時內通關(儘管遊戲中包含了100+個小時的內容)。《守護者冒險》不會用劇情來拖緩玩家的進度,也不會在玩家失敗的時候直接將TA送回起點,即便是在玩二週目(New Game Plus)的時候也是如此。

儘管我倆的設計美學大相徑庭,但我認爲我和Bennett存在一個共同點,那就是對痛苦的尊重。

有意爲之

當人們談及遊戲設計中的“痛感”和“困境”時,通常只關注那些在有意識的情況下設計出來的挑戰,然而大多數遊戲都充滿了意想不到的挫折,遊戲設計師往往意識不到這些挫折的存在。

而這就是Bennet Foddy的作品最吸引人的地方,尤其是《和班尼特福迪一起攻克難關》的設計。遊戲中的一切都是有意識的選擇,設計師的意圖赤裸裸地擺在你眼前。玩家的每一次失敗、每一次挫折、每一次氣到爆粗口,所有這一切都是故意的,敘述者的安撫之聲也默認了這一點。意料之外的是,這些勵志的話語竟然真能起到激勵的作用。

也許有些人會認爲敘述者鼓勵的話語其實是在嘲諷玩家,但我自己卻被遊戲的真誠打動。

關於遊戲的設計還有很多東西沒說,但老實說,我真心推薦你去玩這款遊戲。

下面讓我們來聊聊敘述者沒有談及的東西。

儘管操控的方式存在限制,但操作起來十分流暢。主人公的大錘會跟着你的鼠標移動,除此之外沒有其他控制選項。玩家會感到沮喪通常是因爲無法達到自己想去的地方,而不是因爲大錘失去控制自己亂跑。我總是在不經意間期待大錘能夠夾在某個地方,等我點擊鼠標的時候再開始移動,但這是不可能滴,無論你想勾住哪個位置,都得小心翼翼地滑動鼠標,在不撞到牆上並把自己推下懸崖的情況下做到這點。

我推測,有關《和班尼特福迪一起攻克難關》的評論大多都帶有“受虐狂”或“虐待狂”之類的詞彙,但我不確定這些詞語是否恰當。沒錯,這款遊戲充滿了折磨,但我並不認爲它(或它的設計師)享受折磨我的過程,感覺更像是“我給你建造了一個障礙,要做到毫不退縮、毫不妥協顯然是不可能的。你不會相信自己能夠克服這個障礙,雖然過程會非常非常艱難,但要克服它並非不可能。”

這與充滿了死亡陷阱的跳臺類遊戲形成了鮮明的對比,在這些遊戲中,設計師和玩家的樂趣往往都來自於被出乎意料的陷阱殺死。平心而論,Bennett開發過的其他遊戲也是半斤八兩。

我永遠不會開發像《和班尼特福迪一起攻克難關》這樣的遊戲。多數試圖玩這款遊戲的人幾乎馬上就會感到沮喪。遊戲中沒有難度選項,沒有檢查點(checkpoints),而且爲了防止玩家修改存檔(save-scumming),遊戲會自動存檔。

然而除了一次次地嘗試之外,沒有其他選擇。在長達幾個小時的、徒勞無功的攀登之後,我開始瘋狂揮舞、旋轉着大錘,電光火石之間,我竟然爬上了整個懸崖!我幾乎不相信自己的眼睛,肌肉記憶竟然幫助我以極小的精確度完成了幾乎不可能的事情!

然後一次手殘就又把我送回了起點…

當然,我還沒有通關。說實話,我估計自己永遠都不會通關,但是我很慶幸我玩了這款遊戲。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

If I had to select a single game designer that embodied the exact opposite of my personal design aesthetic, it’d be Bennett Foddy. Whereas modern games have mostly filed off all the rough edges of the early NES-era, each Bennett Foddy game is a shrine to one of those rough edges, carefully chosen, plucked off, and sharpened to a gleaming point.

“QWOP is a simple game about running extremely fast down a 100 meter track.”

Foddy’s games are weird and intentionally infuriating, and despite being so totally not my jam I can’t stop playing (and thinking about) them. I’ve been meaning to write an article like this for a while, and today the perfect opportunity arrived.

His latest title, Getting Over it, has just been released:

This game is a doozy, even by Bennett Foddy standards.

First and foremost, it’s an homage to an obscure “B-game” called Sexy Hiking, developed by an enigmatic Czech developer called “Jazzuo”

“The hiking action is very similar to way you would do it in real life, remember that and you will do well”

Sexy Hiking and Getting Over It share the same basic mechanic — you’ve got a weird little dude who’s trying to climb over obstacles using nothing but a sledgehammer that follows your mouse cursor, colliding with objects with pixel-perfect precision. That’s it. That’s the whole game.

The only “progress” is how far you’ve physically climbed, and the threat of plummeting all the way back to the bottom is always just one slight mouse wiggle away.

Unlike Sexy Hiking, Getting Over It features professionally done (and legally procured) graphics and sound, as well as non-glitchy code, but it’s also a weird and compelling sort of video game essay, as a narrator (presumably Bennett himself?) explains his design ideas and reflections on Sexy Hiking whenever you reach a new point. And when you unceremoniously knock yourself down for the 500th time, he reads a new inspirational quote about triumph in the face of adversity.

This is exactly the sort of game I’m naturally inclined to hate, but I don’t. I love it.

Why? Maybe because of how honestly and directly the game presents it’s own design aesthetic.

Design Aesthetic

I use “design aesthetic” here rather than “design philosphy” because the latter carries the flavor of a big world-view with lots of truth claims, and today I’m talking about subjective preferences. I prefer to play (and make) certain kinds of games, for certain kinds of people. Clearly, Bennett does as well:

“I created this game for a certain kind of person. To hurt them.”

On the “hurt them” part I’m the exact opposite, and my personal aesthetic takes a rather hard line on this. In 2004, I read this article by Ron Gilbert and adopted the parting line as my personal motto:

“The average American spends most of the day failing at the office, the last thing he wants to do is come home and fail while trying to relax and be entertained.”

My game Defender’s Quest set out to explicitly eliminate the time sinks and pain points of the traditional RPG structure, going to arguably extreme lengths. The game has customizable reward multipliers, can be blazed through in three hours under the right settings (even though it has 100+ hours of content), doesn’t hold the story hostage behind arbitrary challenge, and features zero points of no return, not even after you start a New Game+.

But whether we’re inflicting pain or stomping it out, I like to think what Bennett and I have in common isrespect for pain.

I don’t begrudge anyone their hard-ass games, whether it’s Cuphead, Spelunky or Dark Souls even as I continue to advocate for adding more options to let players experience games the way they want — particularly rudimentary mod support.

That said, a lot of conversations about “pain” and “difficulty” in game design focus exclusively on the consciously designed challenges, whereas most games are filled

with unintended frustrations, often the sort the designer wasn’t even aware they’d put in. I covered some of this in Oil it or Spoil it!, but this problem exists at a higher level, too — for instance, giving the player an interesting choice that only leads to Loss Aversion, or a bunch of cool sidequests that accidentally invoke the Checklist Effect.

Intentional

And this is what’s so fascinating about Bennet Foddy’s games, particularly Getting Over It. Everything about this game is consciously chosen. Every setback, every frustration, every curse leveled at the sky is absolutely intentional, and the narrator’s soothing voice is there to acknowledge it, and it’s strangelymotivating.

I’m sure some will read a mocking tone into the narrator’s encouragements (punctuated by occasional public domain blues tracks), but I was struck by how sincere everything comes across. After all, the traditional approach to mark a video game player’s passing is to make to fun of them :)

There’s more to be said about the design process, but honestly, play the game (or watch the parts you can’t reach on youtube after you’ve given up) and Bennett will tell you all those details himself. The game doubles as its own director’s commentary. So to round this out, I’ll move on to things the narrator doesn’t touch on.

The controls, as limited as they are, are really smooth in a strange sort of way. Your sledgehammer goes only where you tell it to, and your frustrations come from it not being able to reach where you want rather than going someplace you didn’t direct it. Oh, you’ll be plenty mad at it going somewhere you didn’t want – but you always put it there, somehow. I constantly find myself wanting the hammer head to clip through the terrain just this once and solidify only after I click the mouse cursor. But no, if you want to reach up and hook that ledge, you have to get it there yourself, without carelessly smashing against the wall and propelling yourself downwards.

I suspect that a lot of reviews of Getting Over It will invoke the word “Masochistic” or “Sadistic.” I’m not quite sure that fits. The game is full of torments, but I don’t feel like the game (or it’s designer) enjoystormenting me, exactly. It’s more like, “I built you an obstacle — unflinching, uncompromising, patently impossible. You won’t believe you can surmount it, but it’s possible. It’s also really, really, hard.”

This is in sharp contrast to Platform Hell games filled with Kaizo Traps, where the fun (for both designer and player) comes from being intentionally killed by traps you could have never anticipated:

To be fair, Bennett isn’t above this sort of behavior in his other games:

Getting Over It is exactly the sort of game I would never make. Most people who try to play it will get super frustrated and quit immediately. It has no difficulty options, no checkpoints (that I’ve found), and aggressively autosaves to prevent save-scumming.

And yet, there’s an experience I can’t really get anywhere else except by flinging my face against this mountain over and over again: how after hours of fruitless climbing, I suddenly surmount the whole cliff in a few seconds of mad, whirling sledgehammer somersaults, not believing my own eyes as muscle memory kicks in and I pull off the impossible with minute precision. And then a single mis-placed stroke sends me careening back to earth.

I still haven’t finished the game, of course. I probably never will. But I’m glad I tried, and I’m sure Bennett feels the same way. (Source: gamasutra.com )