多位開發者談吸引Speedrun玩家的6大技巧

原文作者: Bryant Francis 譯者:Megan Shieh

極速通關,簡稱:速通(Speedrun)現在非常流行,相關的直播和視頻在Twitch和Youtube上點擊率也很高,但從某種程度上看,它一直都很受歡迎。

“極速通關”這種玩法有着悠久的歷史,但到了2016年,它的意義不再只是“少數遊戲高手爭取在競速排名中佔有一席之地”,它演變成爲了一種許多人都喜歡的遊戲風格,也是很多新興社區的基石。玩家們爲了獲得高分並儘快通關而相互競爭,但他們也會制定戰略,相互交流並組織活動,而觀衆們則在觀看超高遊戲技藝的同時享受其中的樂趣和刺激感。

那麼如果有開發者想要打造一款適合極速通關的遊戲他們應該怎麼做呢?爲此,我們與遊戲開發人員Derek Yu、Thomas Happ、 David D’Angelo 和 Ryan Clark進行了交談,他們參與開發的遊戲都頻繁地出現在這類活動中。

提早接觸速通玩家

如果你正在開發一款你認爲速通玩家會喜歡的遊戲,那爲什麼不讓他們成爲你的首批測試員之一呢?David D’Angelo是《鏟子騎士(Shovel Knight)》的開發者之一,他解釋說,讓速通玩家優先測試你的遊戲會給你帶來一些明顯的優勢。

Shovel Knight(from gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com)

Shovel Knight(from gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com)

D‘Angelo說:“WayForward工作室製作了很多款遊戲,而我們也時常看到速通玩家玩這些遊戲,然後我就想‘如果能夠得到這些人給的反饋該有多好’。”

“我們的速通測試玩家可以在很短的時間內掌握玩這款遊戲所需的技能,然後以比遊戲開發者或正常測試者更快的速度發現其中的bug和平臺設計中的缺陷。”拿《鏟子騎士》這款平臺動作遊戲來說,速通玩家們發現了跳躍平臺在一個空間中移動的時機存在缺陷,並指出他們有時無法以完美地方式跳過一個空隙,因爲在他們輕鬆地剷除了前面的障礙以後,後面的平臺卻還沒有準備好。

速通玩家依賴的就是能夠以儘可能快的速度穿過某個空間,而在《鏟子騎士》的某些關卡中,玩家根本沒辦法極速通關,因爲D’Angelo和他的團隊時常要決定哪些關卡需要改進流程,而哪些關卡就是故意要很難。

據D‘Angelo說,如果速通玩家選擇回到主菜單並重新載入關卡,而不是直面一個障礙,那他們十有八九是已經找到遊戲的破綻了。

比如說遊戲中的“wandering encounters(隨機遭遇事件)”——根據電腦編程,敵人會隨機出現在地圖上,他們出現的時間和地點都不容易預測。

D’Angelo和他的團隊觀察到,速通玩家會退出關卡,然後再次載入,而不是直面隨機出現的敵人。“我們覺得這種玩法超級無聊,看着你玩的人也會覺得無聊,所以我們定下了一個規矩:如果你以特定的速度在闖關的話,wandering encounters就不會出現。”

自己帶領速通社區!

至於Ryan Clark的《節奏地牢(Crypt of the Necrodancer)》,在遊戲的早期試用階段就已經有速通玩家在挑戰這款遊戲了,Clark本人也開始和自己剛建立起的遊戲社區一起創造速通記錄,並親自爲早期試用版的速通聯賽做解說。

這種早期的速通挑戰可以協助開發者做一些重大的設計決定,此外Clark指出,這個社區成爲了一個特定粉絲羣的延伸基礎,即便是遊戲正式推出之後,這些粉絲也不會離開,因爲他們有一個由一羣《節奏地牢》狂熱者(包括開發者)舉辦的速通競賽活動——“CONDOR全球速通競賽”。

Clark自己也發現極速通關,尤其是對程序生成的遊戲而言,是測試Bug和遊戲設計的一種絕佳方案。他說:“我自己也很喜歡玩速通,每次我都會以儘可能快的速度去測試某個元素,因爲我很享受這種玩法。”

從速通玩家的視角去審視你的遊戲

通過對早期測試版的速通玩家的觀察,Clark也對他們也有了更深入的理解。

在平臺遊戲或任何普通動作遊戲中,速通玩家都是那種會避開多數支線任務或隱藏目標的玩家,因此他們會擁有最低的生命值並且想要造成最大程度的傷害。慢慢地,爲這些玩家設計功能的過程成爲了一種練習,開發者可以從中認識到遊戲中的哪些系統最適合速通玩家。

Clark說:“當速通玩家拿到遊戲中的道具時,他們時常會感到失望。”比如遊戲中的“金幣武器”和“血武器”(遊戲邦注:金幣武器可以用來賺更多金幣,而血武器則可以用來補血),這兩樣都是速通玩家不需要的東西,所以他們會跟Clark說,這些東西有些令人失望了。
爲此Clark改寫了這些物品,讓它們在某些特定情況下造成更大程度的傷害——降落在一堆金幣上以後,金幣武器會造成最大程度的傷害;而當玩家的生命值達到最低值的時候,血武器會造成最大程度的傷害。他說:“如果你願意冒很大的風險,而且不介意時刻處於死亡的邊緣,那你就可以玩得很快。爲了提高極速通關的可能性和適用性,我們對一些類似的物品做出了大量修改。”

這一概念同樣適用於Thomas Happ的《公理邊緣(Axiom Verge)》。通過觀看速通玩家的挑戰併爲他們現場解說,Happ發現,他原本認爲不會構成什麼威脅的敵人可能會變成很大障礙,因爲有些速通玩家從來都不會撿起任何隱藏的血包。他說:“測試這點的方式是,雖然不像速通玩家那麼迅速,但我會假裝自己是速通玩家,然後快速地遊玩遊戲,觀察這些東西是如何影響他們的,這樣可以幫助開發者瞭解在沒有強化道具的情況下,哪些敵人最難打敗。”

用神祕的知識和隱藏的祕密來裝飾你的遊戲

在速通界流行的所有遊戲中,因爲隱藏的深度和知識所以最臭名昭著的遊戲要屬Derek Yu的《洞穴探險(Spelunky)》。其程序生成的世界十分複雜,以至於有些玩家花費了數年的時間來尋找隱藏關卡和遊戲的最深處。

Yu對這個程序生成的世界感到非常驕傲,因爲它在多年來一直維持着遊戲的趣味性,但他也堅信,深藏的機制祕密可以爲遊戲提供長期價值。他說:“我學到的一件事是,無論你如何隱藏,人們遲早都會找到這些祕密。所以如果我願意的話,會毫不猶豫地把東西埋得很深!”

這麼做可以讓玩家爲了極速通關而制定出一套策略。通過在遊戲系統中儘可能深入地隱藏捷徑、物品組合和能量助推器(有時是程序隨機生成的),你可以創造出這樣的場景:玩家不斷地探索和研究你的遊戲,甚至在相互競爭的同時彼此分享知識。

Clark說,在製作《鏟子騎士》的時候,一個程序生成的錯誤導致了一個祕密策略的誕生。他解釋道:“在第一關的幾個房間中,出口總是在下方或右手邊,或者向下然後往右,我本沒打算這麼做的,只是在編程的時候犯了錯誤,結果玩家們發現如果房間是以這種方式連接的話,出口往往是向下然後往右走。”

他說:“你可以在第一關中推算出出口在哪裏,這是一個意外。但在第二/第三/第四關中,我試着故意這麼做。我會觀察速通玩家們試着去測試這些東西,當他們真的找到出口的時候會有一種[我做到了!]的感覺,這時他們的自我成就感會爆棚,因爲他們通過直覺發現了開發者的某種設計套路。”

Clark說,這種時候,解說員就會加入到行動中,他們會觀察速通玩家使用的策略並對接下來可能發生的事情作出預測,這樣整個過程對速通玩家和觀衆來說都更加有趣。

接受錯誤並將其轉化爲機制

有一個不可忽略的事實:大多數情況下,速通就是打破遊戲規則並利用開發者無意間犯的錯誤作爲捷徑。

開發人員有能力修補這些bug。但是,如果一個小故障或漏洞吸引了成千上萬的玩家加入到你的遊戲中來,那又何必去修復它呢?

本文采訪的所有開發人員都對bug的問題表達了相同的觀點:只有當它干擾了正常玩家的遊玩時纔去修復它。Happ說,有幾個bug讓他感到很頭大。“在《公理邊緣》中,玩家可以在某些特定區域使用鉤爪來加速,也可以開通捷徑,但我總擔心他們會去到一個自己出不來的地方…當初在開發遊戲的時候,這類設計決定往往會讓我陷入困境。”

Yu說,《洞穴探險》裏面有個bug,這個bug變得非常重要以至於他別無選擇只能把它變成一個特性。“遊戲中有一尊巨大的閻王像(地獄關的大BOSS),玩家可以打破它的頭。這本是一個漏洞,但是這個動作對於許多速通和通關挑戰(包括把閻王變成茄子的“solo eggplant run”)而言都至關重要,因此我們修改了畫面,讓閻王的頭看起來像是真的被打破了。”

然而D’Angelo認爲,也不是所有省時的bug都必須留在遊戲中。“有時候,讓速通玩家像正常玩家一樣遊玩也是蠻酷的,這樣的話整個過程看起來纔會精彩。”

Happ說,當玩家們找到並利用遊戲中的小故障的時候,他並不介意,有時候玩家們會找到一些他根本沒有想過的東西,這個時候他就會想“我的遊戲是可以極速通關的!”

6)很明顯,但卻很容易被忽略的一個小竅門

如果你想要在遊戲中加入一個簡單的、能夠幫助速通玩家的東西,可以考慮“通關計時器”。Clark,Happ和Yu都討論了在遊戲中加入一個通關計時器的好處,Yu甚至還專門爲速通玩家加入了一個新的HUD元素。(遊戲邦注:HUD指的是平視顯示器,《洞穴探險》中的HUD可以選擇普通模式或專業模式,後者比前者多了計時器,可以幫你更好的應對極速通關。)

總結:

基本上,支持速通玩家就是在不干擾普通玩家的情況下,幫助那些技能超高、反應能力超高的玩家達到越來越快的速度和越來越短的時間。在設計的過程中時刻記住這一點可以幫助你想出很好的方案。

儘早讓速通玩家接觸遊戲,研究他們所採用的遊玩風格;在遊戲中建立祕密,讓他們去挖掘;當他們想出辦法繞過你精心設計的挑戰時,要心存感激。做到這一切之後,誰知道呢?說不定你的作品會成爲下一個轟動速通界的遊戲,屆時大家都會搶着在你的遊戲中創紀錄。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Speedrunning is extremely popular now, as popular streams and videos on Twitch, Youtube, and at events like Games Done Quick readily attest. But in a way, it’s always been popular.
Record-setting runs on games like The Legend of Zelda or Double Dragon are as old as consoles and arcades themselves, and games like Metroid famously rewarded fast playthroughs with specialized endings.

But in 2016, speedrunning isn’t just about handful of elite players jockeying for position in the record books. It’s a style of play that many enjoy, and it’s the cornerstone of many burgeoning communities. Players compete with each other for high scores and fast run-throughs, but they’re also developing strategies, socializing, and organizing around these specialized playthroughs, all while audiences watch for the joy and thrill of crazily high-skilled gameplay.

So if you’re developing a game with speedrunners in mind, what are some of the best practices for your development cycle? We talked to developers Derek Yu, Thomas Happ, David D’Angelo and Ryan Clark, whose games all make frequent appearances at speedrunning events, to learn some of their observations after watching players blaze through their game.

1) Involve Speedrunners Early

If you’re making a game you think will be of special interest to speedrunners, why not make them some of your first playtesters? David D’Angelo, a developer on Shovel Knight, explains that having speedrunners test your game out first gives you some clear advantages.

Says D’Angelo, “We had made a bunch of games together at Wayforward and we kept seeing speedrunners play our games, and we said ‘I wish we had that feedback before we shipped out a game.’ D’Angelo says their new speedrunning friends automatically climb the skill curve of a game and begin hitting the flow interruptions of a given level much  faster than they or normal testers would, whether it’s a bug or just a flaw in platforming design.

In one Shovel Knight example, speedrunners found flaws in D’Angelo’s timing for moving platforms in a room, sometimes pointing out there was literally no perfect way to move through a space, since platforms wouldn’t be ready after they easily cleared some earlier obstacle.

Since speedrunners rely on the ability to move as quickly as possible through a given space, there was no way to ‘cheat’ some of Shovel Knight’s levels, and D’Angelo and his team had to make regular calls as to which levels needed a flow improvement, and which ones were intentionally difficult.

One quick sign that a speedrunner has found a big flaw in your game, according to  D’Angelo, is if they reset to the main menu and load back in rather than face an obstacle.

One example of this arose with the game’s wandering encounters–enemies who were programmed to randomly appear on the map with no easy predictability.

D’Angelo and his team saw that speedrunners would load back out, then back in, rather then deal with a randomly spawning enemy. “We thought ‘that’s really boring to play, and really boring to watch.’ So we put in a rule: if you’re beating the game at a certain speed, the wandering encounters don’t show up any more.”

2) Spearhead the Speedrunning Community Yourself!

For Ryan Clark’s Crypt of the Necrodancer, speedrunning started as soon as the game hit Early Access. Clark himself began making record-breaking runs on the game with his newfound community and commentating on Early Access speedrunning tournaments.

Though this early speedrunning would contribute to some major design decisions, Clark indicates that this community outreach was the foundation for a specific fanbase that would stick around with his game after it officially launched, as the “Balls of Steel” tournament series gave way to the CONDOR speedrunning league. (Crypt Of the Necrodancer Online Racing).

And Clark himself just finds that speedrunning, especially for a procedurally generated game, is a good way to test his own bugs and design. “I enjoy speedrunning games myself,” he says. “Whenever I was testing something, I was going as fast as I could because I enjoyed that.”

3) Accommodate Low-Power Playthroughs

Clark’s biggest lesson from watching those Early Access speedrunners was one about how to define a speedrunner as a player type.

In a platformer or any general action game, a speedrunner is going to be the sort of player who avoids most sidequests or hidden objectives, and will therefore have the lowest amount of health and desire o deal the highest amount of damage. Designing features for those players becomes an exercise in learning what systems in your game will work best for them.

“There were a bunch of items in the game speedrunners were disappointed to get,” says Clark. These items were Necrodancer’s gold weapons and blood weapons—which respectively rewarded players with gold and health, the two things speedrunners don’t need—and they quickly told Clark they were disappointing items.

Clark changed the items not so they’d deal more damage, but that they’d deal more damage in specific circumstances.

Gold weapons will do maximum damage after landing on a pile of gold, and blood weapons will do maximum damage while the player is sitting at the lowest possible health they can have. “If you’re willing to play very risky, and be on the edge of death at all times, you can go super fast,” he says. “We made a bunch of changes to items and things like that to make as many as possible be speedrun as possible.”

This same concept applied to Thomas Happ’s work on Axiom Verge. While watching speedrunners play his game, and commentating on a few sessions, Happ says he realized enemies that he’d considered to be minor obstacles could become major ones in the face of those players who never picked up any hidden health packs. “The way you test that is to go through the game with an underpowered build, not to be as fast as a speedrunner but to see how it affects them,” Happ says. “This will help you understand exactly where an enemy is much harder if  you don’t have your power-ups.”

4) Festoon Your Game With Arcane Knowledge and Hidden Secrets

Of all the games popular in the speedrunning community, the one most infamous for its hidden depths and incomplete knowledge may be Derek Yu’s Spelunky. It’s procedural generation proved to be so complex that players literally spent years finding hidden levels and searching the furthest depths of the game.

Yu takes pride in his game’s procedural generation for helping keep it fun over the years, but he also firmly believes that deeply hidden mechanical secrets can help provide long-term value. “One thing I’ve learned is that a secret can never be hidden so well that someone won’t figure it out much sooner than you anticipated,” he says. “I won’t hesitate to bury something deep if I feel like it!”

This helps create systems where players begin to adopt different strategies for accomplishing their run. By burying shortcuts, object combinations, and power boosts as deep in the game’s system as you can, (sometimes through random generation), you can create scenarios where players endlessly research and dig through your game, sharing knowledge with each other even as they constantly compete.

In Necrodancer, Clark says that a mistake in his procedural generation led to the creation of a valuable secret startegy. “In Zone 1, the exit’s always down, or to the right, or down and to the right,” Clark explains. ”I didn’t intend to do that, I screwed up the programming and players figured out if rooms are connected like this, it’s probably down and to the right.”

“With that first zone, it was an accident that you could tell where the exit was,” he says. “In the 2nd/3rd/4th zones, I tried to make it do them more on purpose. I’ve watched people try to test these things out, and it feels like a eureka moment for them when they do figure it out and feel really awesome about themselves because they just intuited something about the game.”
Clark says moments like this will see speedrun commentators join in on the action, as they observe player strategies and make predictions about what might happen, helping make a playthorugh more entertaining for runner and spectaors simultaneously.

5) Embrace Mistakes…and Turn Them Into Mechanics

There’s one inescapable fact about speedrunning: Most of the time, speedrunning is about breaking the  game and making use of flaws that developers never intended to serve as shortcuts.
Developers have the ability to patch away these bugs. But if a glitch or an exploit draws thousands more players to your game—how do you decide what’s a ‘bug’ and what’s a feature?

All of the developers interviewed for this piece made the same point about  bugs: only fix it if it interferes with non-speedrunning play. Happ says he has agonized over certain bugs. “You could grapple in a certain place, and you could swing through the wall, and I was worried about players getting into a location they couldn’t get out of,” says Happ. “That was the kind of decision that left me on the fence.”

Yu says that while watching players play Spelunky, one bug proved so essential he had no choice but to turn it into a feature. “We legitimized one exploit that let you break the Moai head with a ball and chain,” he says. ”It was critical to a number of speed and challenge runs (including the infamous solo eggplant run). We changed the sprite to make it look like it was actually broken.”

D’Angelo, however, believes a degree of moderation is needed when debating whether to keep major time-saving bugs in the game. “It’s cool for speedrunners to play a game in a way that a real person plays it, because that’s what makes it look awesome.” he says.

“But when it’s finding glitches, and things that are very bizzare, those are cool to see in a separate run. Encouraging the main way to play the game to not be those is what we’re trying to solve for.”

Happ has seen players glitch past large portions of his game, and he’s fine with it. It’s a trope in classic side-scrollers like Metroid and Castlevania, and he even felt a sense of relief when he watched a speedrunner break Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for Koji Igarashi during a stream for the Bloodstained Kickstarter. “I was thinking ‘Wow, is my game gonna have that? Did I build my game in the right way so people will find things to break I didn’t even think of?’

“It turns out they did,” he says. “When I had that verification, I went ‘my game is speedrunnable.’”

6) A Tip So Obvious That It’s Easy To Overlook

If you’re looking for one simple thing to help speedrunners with your game—just add a run-tracking clock. Clark, Happ and Yu all discussed the benefits of an in-game clock to help track runs, and Yu even went so far as to add new HUD elements specialized for speedrunners.

Ultimately, supporting speedrunners is about helping high-skill, high-reflex players achieve faster and faster times without interfering with average players. Keeping that in mind may be the best way to inform your design process.

Involve speedrunners early, consider the type of playstyle they adopt, build in secrets for them to uncover, and be grateful when they find exploits that bypass some of your carefullly designed challenges. Do all of this and who knows? Your game may be the next speedrunning sensation that players are fighting to set records on. (Source: gamasutra.com  )