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開發者應在游戲中合理控制并運用功能疲勞
開發者應在游戲中合理控制并運用功能疲勞
Tucker Abbott     阅读简体中文版

作者:Tucker Abbott

功能疲勞指產品的可用性因產品擁有大量功能而受到損害。功能疲勞在各個行業中顯得越來越普遍,但在這篇文章中,我想闡述的是為何游戲開發者不可再因有人提出新功能時感到厭惡。繞過功能疲勞這道障礙,勇于添加新功能。

我認為功能疲勞的產生不能簡單歸咎于功能數量,只有大量功能以令人難以承受的形式呈現出來才會產生功能疲勞。有些宣傳具有大量功能的游戲之所以能夠獲得成功,只是因為它們以恰當的方式來呈現機制和功能。在電子游戲領域中,功能疲勞被當成是“功能蔓延”,即不斷在產品的初始功能上增添新功能。這種做法可能導致功能疲勞的產生,但如果控制合理也能夠產生很棒的成果。

如果能意識到某些游戲有著些許冗余的功能,確實是件很不錯的事情。有些設計師似乎認為,應該將游戲盡量簡化,強大的核心機制便足以成就一款優秀的游戲。但這會限制游戲拉近與玩家距離的可能性。如果游戲中能做的選擇很少,那么玩家會覺得他們只能做開發者設計好的事情,而無法在游戲中選擇自己的路途。

下圖顯示了開發者與玩家之間聯系的基本想法。MeGusta和Fuuuu(游戲邦注:作者假設的兩個玩家)是兩個有著相同資質和經歷的玩家。MeGusta體驗的是一款有著許多小功能的游戲,綠圈代表的就是他在游戲中所能做的事情。大部分時間他都會呆在黑圈里,但偶爾他也可以離開這片限制,意識到游戲世界真得很大。Fuuuu體驗的是幾乎沒有什么額外機制的游戲。他發現MeGusta可以在游戲中做某些有趣的小事情,所以他也想在自己選擇的游戲中嘗試這些做法,但他的想法顯然受到了游戲的限制。

Developer To Player Limits(from gamasutra.com)

Developer To Player Limits(from gamasutra.com)

J.R.R. Tolkien在《Middle Earth》創造了一個生機勃勃的世界。讀者經常會討論起書中未曾探索過的遠方山脈和世界。當問及他是否會在書中對那些迷霧中的山脈深入描寫時,他回答道:“我可能不會這么做。因為如果我告訴你那些山脈中發生的故事,那么我就得再去創造些遙不可及的山脈。這些是讓讀者感受到書中世界的真實性的必要元素,因為在我們的世界中總是有些我們不甚熟悉的事物。這些元素的存在會使你所聽到的故事更加精彩。”

以此遠方山脈理論為背景,同理可推測在游戲中添加某些用戶從未想到過的功能確實有可能讓游戲變得更好。當用戶發現他們可以在《上古卷軸:湮滅》中讀書或者在《荒野大鏢客》中玩紙牌游戲,他們會覺得游戲世界與所處的真實世界相似,他們可以在游戲進程所需行動之外做更多的事情。即便用戶在游戲中只嘗試了一次這些新功能,他們心中的這種想法也可以讓游戲更具擬真化,改善游戲體驗。

這種方法同樣也可用于在某些游戲中添加對核心可玩性機制至關重要的功能。以《傳送門2》為例,在學習曲線和功能增加方面已經成為了游戲設計領域的標榜之作。在初代的核心可玩性機制上,Valve添加了斥力凝膠、加速凝膠、媒介凝膠和水。在傳送門這個核心機制上,這些新添加的功能很容易讓用戶感到不知所措。但由于這些機制以易于理解的方式逐步引入到游戲中,游戲依然讓人感到直觀和簡單。到游戲末期,玩家所做的事情可能是他們在游戲剛開始時根本想不到的事情。

我覺得有些游戲確實需要功能蔓延。我希望角色在《神鬼寓言3》中能夠跳躍。盡管這完全不是個必要的功能,但其他許多游戲都有跳躍按鍵,這讓我覺得在游戲中受到了限制,也使游戲世界的鮮活性受到影響。許多游戲中有著善惡明顯的機制,比如讓玩家選擇焚毀孤兒院或收養所有的孩子。但如果能增添第三個選項,比如信步離開對事件不管不顧,這也會讓游戲體驗變得更好。

功能經濟

功能經濟指的是某項游戲機制能夠給予玩家多少選擇或體驗。比如,武器轉換便是項可好可壞的機制。以《巫師2》為例,玩家在游戲中可以從許多圖標(游戲邦注:這些是能夠在戰斗中提供幫助的咒語)中做出選擇。他們可以使用滾輪或數字鍵來控制所擁有的咒語,但真正讓我迅速做出選擇的不是控制手法而是視覺吸引,這種設計還出現在戰斗之外的其他游戲情形中。這便是個絕佳的功能經濟,因為CD Projekt添加了某些直觀的功能,給予玩家多種選擇,讓游戲變得更為出色。誠然,這種設計并非必需品,但它確實能夠改善游戲,將質量提升到更高的層次。

游戲中的咒語(from gamasutra.com)

游戲中的咒語(from gamasutra.com)

所有的開發者都應當在為游戲添加功能時考慮到功能經濟。或許你有些很棒的想法,向游戲中添加些許小東西,但你需要考慮到玩家的感受。他們會在此項功能中看到更多潛在因素嗎?他們是否會在任意時刻都感覺不受此功能限制?功能是否能夠增強游戲主題?如果這些問題的答案都是否定的話,那么就必須重新設計這項功能。將你的想法對外公示,看看別人對此有何看法,聽取他人的意見和反饋。

而且,在執行此功能時,還必須考慮游戲的目標用戶和他們的學習能力。如果你在做的是一款休閑Facebook游戲,那么就別為玩家提供過于復雜的物品和狀態系統。你或許覺得有些東西很棒,但玩家可能并不這么想。你應該站在玩家的立場和想法上來考慮問題。他們想要什么內容?他們在游戲中可能面臨何種挑戰?

言歸正傳,功能蔓延是不可避免的事情,你需要進行合理的控制,為游戲世界增添新功能來深化游戲,給玩家提供各種嘗試機會。確實每個功能都物有所值,挨個審查各個功能要點,判斷游戲對此項功能的需求程度以及功能是否能夠貼合游戲內容。別對這種扼殺自己想法的行為感到恐懼,最終得利的是你的項目。我曾經數次在未判斷游戲范圍的前提下在其中塞入過多內容,已是深受其害,不可重蹈覆轍。希望不久之后,每個開發者都的功能蔓延都能夠與Michael Jackson在《Thriller》中的表現那樣出眾。(本文為游戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,如需轉載請聯系:游戲邦

Feature Fatigue: Control It, Embrace It

Tucker Abbott

Feature fatigue is a term used for when a product’s usability suffers due to the large number of functions, or features, that the product has. Feature fatigue is becoming more and more apparent with every industry, and in this post I’m going to go over why game developers should no longer cringe when someone brings a new feature to the table. Grab the creep by its own horns, and give it a hug.

I believe that feature fatigue is not so much caused by simply having a large number of features, but rather having a slew of features that are presented in an overwhelming way. Some games that are widely successful can boast a large amount of features, simply because they present their mechanics and features in a way that isn’t overwhelming. Feature fatigue in the videogame world is referred to as ‘feature creep’, which is a constant addition of features tacked onto a product that expand beyond the initial goals of the product. This can lead to games being overwhelming, but it can also be used well if controlled. Take the knife on the side for an example of good feature cree- no wait, that actually looks dangerous. I wonder why…

It is important to realize that certain games thrive off of features that aren’t necessary, as that is a good thing. Some designers seem to believe that simplifying a game to the point where it is just a strong core mechanic is enough to make a good game. This brings the limits of the game closer to the player and makes them more visible. A world of choice becomes limited to a fishbowl where the player feels like they can only do what the developers intended, rather than doing anything they want.

This beautifully piece of art below shows the basic idea of this connection between the developer and the player. Mr. MeGusta and Mr. Fuuuu are two players of the same talent and experience. MeGusta picked up a game that has a lot of little features, and the green circle represents everything he can do in his game. He will mainly stay inside the black circle, but every once in a while he will leave his boundaries, and realize just how big the world is. Mr. Fuuuu on the other hand picked up a game where the developers put very few extra mechanics in. He sees that MeGusta can do some quirky, little things in his game, and he tries it in his game, but he is limited by the game. The rules of any game should try to stay as far away from the players as possible.

J.R.R. Tolkien created a living, breathing world in Middle Earth. There were always talks of distant mountains and worlds that were never explored in the books. When asked if he would ever go to those distant mountains in his books, he replied, “Well I can’t do that. If I go there to tell you about those stories, then I have to invent more distant mountains to the distant mountains because those serve to make the world that we’re in realistic, because there’s always stuff about our world that we don’t quite know about. But if those elements are there, then the story works that you’re telling.”

Using this distant mountain theory, it is safe to assume that adding features into a game that a user might never even realize are there really could make the game better. When the user discovers that they can read books in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, or play card games in Red Dead Redemption, they realize that the game world is their world, and that they can do more things than required during the game. Even if the user uses the feature once and never touches it again, knowing that there is the potential to do little things makes the game that much more immersive, and makes the game experience better.

This can also apply to games that have features that are vital to the core gameplay mechanic. Portal 2, for instance, has become a cliché in the world of game design when talking about learning curves and feature additions. Valve expanded on the core gameplay from Portal 1 in adding repulsion gel, propulsion gel, conversion gel, and water. In addition to the mechanic of teleporting portals, these features could very easily have been overwhelming do the user. But, because the mechanics are introduced at an easy-to-comprehend pace, the game feels intuitive and simplistic. By the end of the game, the player is doing things that they never could have imagined themselves doing at the start of things.

Some games I wish did feature creep. I would have liked to jump in Fable 3. Sure, it wasn’t necessary at all, but since so many other games ‘feature’ a jump button, I felt limited by the game, and the world lost a little bit of its vividness. Many games that boast a good/evil mechanic give you two choices to either burn an orphanage or personally adopt all the kids. Even adding a third choice to walk away and ignore things makes the game experience better.

Feature Economics

Feature economics is the concept of how many choices or experiences one game mechanic can give the player. Weapon-switching, for instance is a mechanic that can have both poor economy and good economy. The Witcher 2, for instance, has a few signs (spells to aid you in combat) that you can choose from. They could have just used the scroll wheel or numpad to control which spell you had, but instead there is this cool control doohickey that lets me select right away what I want, is visually appealing, and is used in situations other than just combat. This is great feature economy, because CD Projekt added a feature that is intuitive, gives the player a good amount of choices, and makes the game better. Sure, it’s not needed, but it helps improve the game and bring it to the high level of quality that it is at.

To all developers, please consider feature economy when you are thinking about what to put into your games. You may have this AWESOME idea which adds one little thing to your game, but think about where you can take it. Think about the player. Will they see more potential in this feature? Will they feel restricted by this feature at any given time? Does the feature not reinforce or strengthen the theme of the game? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then rework the feature. Take your idea to people and see what they think, get recommendations and feedback.

Also, when implementing the feature, consider your target audience and think about their learning curve. Are you making a casual Facebook game? Don’t throw the player into a deep inventory and stats system. Just because you think something is cool doesn’t mean it’s cool. Step into the body and mind of the people that will play your game. What do they want, and how much of a challenge do you think they intend to get out of your game? Learning curves is a blog post for another day though, quite possibly next time I will be back to write about that.

Stepping back from that tangent, ‘feature creep’ is something that should not be avoided at all costs, but rather embraced and controlled, to add to the game world and create a deeper game that gives players extra opportunities- if they want them. Make sure each feature is worth it, and go through each point of it separately and judge how much you really need it, or whether it’s just filler. Don’t be afraid to kill your own ideas, your project might benefit from it. A couple too many times I’ve fallen victim to both throwing filler content into games and not judging the scope of my game. DON’T MAKE MY MISTAKES. Good luck in the future, and hopefully soon everyone will be feature creeping around like Michael Jackson in Thriller. (Source: Gamasutra)

2011-07-15 19:26

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