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Luke Whittaker和Katherine Bidwell是State of Play Games的全职工作人员。2008年公司正式成立之前,Luke曾开发过广受赞誉的《A Break in the Road》。目前,公司已同MTV、BBC、ESPN和Shockwave等大客户合作过。

公司近期的游戏有《A Short History of the World》,本作是36个小游戏的合集,涵盖从冰河世纪到当代的各个历史阶段。还有《Headspin: Storybook》,这款找茬游戏主要以书籍的形式出现在玩家面前。

Katherine和Luke倾力打造下个主项目,他们不久内将在PC和Mac上发布解谜冒险类可下载游戏《lume》。开发团队将来还可能根据粉丝的需求发布iPhone和iPad版本。

在以下采访中,Katherine解释团队如何希望利用他们自己的艺术方法(游戏邦注:而不是投资数百万的AAA工作室采用的3D模型图像方法)来更好地放映现实。她讨论了动画未来的发展、Kinect等设备的使用、目前游戏业与独立游戏的意义以及从某个小型独立工作室学到的经验。

State of Play Games team

State of Play Games team

《lume》是何种游戏?

游戏中的点击冒险元素为许多粉丝所熟悉。以控制方法为例,我们尽量让它显得自然,这样人们在游戏中就不会觉得陌生。

我们在游戏风格和整体想法中投入了极大的精力,构建以微照明为主导的模型,让角色置身于较为真实的场景中,那种感觉比我们用3D软件制作出来的还棒。我们无法在3D图像技术方面与控制器竞争,但我们确实通过不同的方法让游戏更具现实性。

在谜题方面,我们决定与传统方式拉开差距,通常不采用“在搅拌机中使用仓鼠”式的谜题。游戏尽量将谜题设置得荒诞有趣,目的是做出更像游戏《Professor Layton》中独立和现实的谜题。但是,与上述作品存在差异的是,谜题不只是由游戏中的事件激发产生,它们已和游戏世界融为一体。

《lume》项目的发展目标是什么?

游戏给玩家带来全新的感觉。事实上,这也是我们坐下来考虑游戏设计时让我们感到兴奋的地方。做某些不具挑战性的事情并不会让我们产生如此高的兴致。《lume》确实让我们感到异常兴奋,模型制作、光照设定和使用高清摄像头,所有这些都很新奇且充满挑战。

就游戏长度而言,《lume》只是某个大型冒险游戏的第一部分内容。它向你讲述我们编写的乡村神秘故事,这也是此游戏的背景。游戏有许多机会可以获得众人关注,我们希望它将来能够发展得更好。

lume_screenshot

lume_screenshot

这款游戏看似与市场上琳琅满目的超现实AAA游戏对立。你从那些游戏中学到了什么吗?这些游戏的制作者应该向你们学习哪些内容?

我们把这些AAA游戏视为不同的行业产品,它们的目标以及开发、安排和发布的方式与我们有很大的差异。但是,把游戏设计好这项原则对这两个领域来说同等重要。我们将《神秘海域2》视为典范,线性的故事情节和充满激情的天才团队实现了令人难以想象的成就。《暴雨》之类的游戏为我们提供了设计故事的思路,展现出大型游戏设计预算下的做法。

但是,我们也知道将数年精力投入到某款产品中带有很大的风险,这让我们正视自己的能力范围。如果他们可以从我们这里学到什么的话,那就是以自己能力所及来开展项目会帮助公司繁荣发展,也能保持所有人的工作激情。

你如何看待未来动画的发展方向?Kinect之类的设备或某些还未制造出的设备能否让游戏和动画的融合更加完美?

动画的未来,这可是个大问题。很显然,大荧幕电影正向电脑制作电影(游戏邦注:如《玩具总动员》)过渡,而且现在正趋于使用立体3D影像。但近期也出现许多手工制作的产品。我们喜欢所有类型的动画带来的触感。正如以前说过的那样,某个时刻我们可能会偏向于使用立体3D来制作产品。

我不认为目前电影中的应用十分行之有效,这些作品也面临同样的问题,需要同时采用2D和3D。如果3D成为普遍使用的技术后,我们可能会制作独立3D影片。我喜欢做这件事。我会重新制作Tim Burton改编的《爱丽丝梦游仙境》,这是部绝佳的2D影片,但3D的效果并不好。

Kinect之类的设备能够帮你实现目标吗?

我们亲眼目睹Kinect所取得的成功,也玩了很长时间,但还未在设计中使用这种设备。我们在速动观察器制作上花了很多精力,我想知道Kinect能否与之兼容。将你自己与动画角色融合难道不是件很酷的事情吗?这看起来就像电影《黑暗扫描仪》,但你可以进行控制。

short-history-of-the-world

short-history-of-the-world

此前设计《A Short History of the World》时,是否出现想制作但未曾制作的历史?原因是什么?

在历史题材游戏中,时间是做决定的重要因素,有些内容我们不得不舍弃。如果要说游戏中所没有包含的我最喜爱的内容,那就是黑死病事件。玩家扮演的角色必须到处躲藏以避开逐渐蔓延的疾病,尽管过于凝重,但可能会很有趣。我们舍弃了80年代的“拯救生命”(游戏邦注:某大型慈善摇滚演唱会),我们也忽略了Andy Warhol。

你能谈谈《A Break in the Road》中那位精于演唱的活泼女孩吗?

她的名字叫Tolu Obidipe,和我们一起上大学。到目前为止,她还未出过唱片。但她应该有自己的作品,因为她的声音很迷人。听到她的声音,你会完全沉浸在她的世界中。

你从游戏制作中学到了什么?

我学到了很多东西,我们现在深知如何开展不同的项目,如何挑选最好的工作伙伴以及如何安排工作。这些极具实用性的经验只能从做事情中方能真正学到。

我们时常以不同的方式开展工作并测试自己的能力,因而我们可能做不出AAA游戏之类的高效率产品。有时候你只需要花时间来试验某种方法,去做些自己喜欢的事情。事实上,《lume》也就是这么开始的。

你们的作品都是独立游戏吗?

我觉得这得看如何给“独立游戏”这个词下定义。我们给Miniclip和Spil Games之类的客户做过休闲游戏,但对我们来说那些作品还是“独立游戏”,因为我们以自己的想法和独立工作的方式做出了这些游戏。

你是否认为“独立游戏”仍与游戏业有所关联吗?

我认为这个词确实象征着某种制作者对他们游戏的思考方式,只要大公司不给这个行业制定某些规则。

事实上,我觉得这个词语本来的意思是指那些独立于传统发行商的公司,但对我而言它更象征着独立创意性想法的奋斗。如果你确实需要发行商来继续制作所关注的大型游戏,按就如你所愿吧。

据你所知,哪些独立游戏公司与其他人关系较好?或不好?

据我所知,尽管有不同之处,所有人的关系都很好。我们在Game Jams上见面并且一起工作,有时交流下,我们像朋友那样谈论游戏的事情。确实没有任何竞争可言,只有看到真正喜欢的东西时的兴奋感。

你想问其他独立游戏开发公司什么问题?

这些Game Jams已经成为萌发新游戏想法的肥沃土壤。因为做出事情只需要数十天的时间,你大可以放心尝试。因此我会跟其他独立游戏设计者说:“想来Game Jams做出些有趣的事情吗?”

我们通常希望与拥有游戏设计技术的AS3和iOS编程人员合作,他们可以把想法变成现实(即便只通过简单的方形和圆形)。如果你也是独立游戏设计者,那么就跟我们合作吧!(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译

State of Play Games Interview: Developer Lessons, the Future of Animation, and First lume Gameplay Trailer

John Polson

Luke Whittaker and Katherine Bidwell are the full-time duo behind State of Play Games. Before the company was officially established in 2008, Luke developed the critically acclaimed ‘A Break in the Road’. The company has since worked with big-name clients such as MTV, BBC, ESPN, and Shockwave.

Their latest games include A Short History of the World, a collection of 36 mini games which cover a different period in history from the Ice Age to present day, and Headspin: Storybook, a spot-the-differences game that comes to life in the form of a pop-up book.

Katherine and Luke are very excited about their next major project, the puzzle adventure game lume, which they will release soon on PC and Mac as a downloadable title. The team urges fans to express interest about possible iPhone and iPad ports in the future.

State of Play Games has finally offered an exclusive sneak peak at the in-game play, where the paper created models come to life and the puzzles seem to fit the context of the story:

In the following interview, Katherine explains how the team hopes to achieve more realism with their artistic approach compared to the multi-million AAA studio 3D model graphics approach. She discusses the future of animation, implementations of devices such as Kinect, the relevance of “indie” in today’s industry, and lessons learned as well as lessons large companies can learn from a small indie studio.

What kind of game is lume?

There are elements that will be familiar to many fans of point and click adventures. We’ve tried to be as intuitive as possible with the control scheme for example, and people will feel right at home there.

The style and overall concept are the places we’ve really gone to town, building a model rigged with miniature lighting and placing the character in a real setting that just feels more tactile than any we could have created with 3D software. We can’t compete with consoles in their 3D graphics technology, but we can actually make something more realistic by going about it a different way.

With the puzzles, we wanted to deviate from the traditional and often obscure ‘use hamster in blender’ type, as bizarrely fun as they can be, aiming for self-contained and practical puzzles more akin to the Professor Layton games. Unlike those, however, the puzzles aren’t just inspired by events in the game, they make sense in the game world. All the puzzles are also made from paper, so everything should just fit.

What is the scope of the lume project?

It is designed to feel like something completely new. In fact, that’s what gets us excited when we sit down and think about designing games. Doing something which doesn’t test us doesn’t interest us as much. lume has definitely been exciting -– model-making, rigging a lighting setup, HD camera work –- all of it is something new and challenging.

In terms of length, lume is the first installment of a larger adventure. It leads you into a story we’ve written about a village mystery, which features in this game but in the background. There’s plenty of scope for the game to expand, and we’re hoping it’s got a good future.

Your games seem to be the antithesis of the hyper-realistic AAA titles that fill up game shelves. Is there anything you learn from these titles? What should these titles learn from you?

We look at these AAA games as almost a different industry; they often have very different aims and ways of going about developing, scheduling, and publishing. However, the principles of good game design are just as important to both.

We look at titles like Uncharted 2 as fantastic examples of what can be achieved with linear storytelling and a talented group of enthusiastic people. Games like Heavy Rain show a more experimental way of thinking about stories and show what can be done with it when coupled with big budgets.

However, we also learn that these things can be big risks, with years of people’s creative energy going into one product. That makes us value our ability to adapt. If they can learn anything from us, perhaps it’s that experimentation coupled with adaptability can help a company thrive and keep everyone excited about what they do.

Where do you see the future of animation headed? Can devices like Kinect or a yet unmade device help you achieve a richer fusion of gaming with animation?

Wow, the future of animation, a biggie. Obviously, the big screen films are heading towards computer generated films, such as Toy Story, and now towards using stereoscopic 3D, but there’s also a lot of hand-made stuff which has appeared recently in response to all this. We love all that tactility. Having said that, we’d love to do something with stereoscopic 3D sometime.

I don’t think the films are using it particularly effectively at the moment; they’re the same blockbusters storyboarded in the same way, because they have to work with both 2D and 3D. Perhaps if 3D becomes accepted technology, we can make in indie 3D film. I’d love that. I’d start with a remake of Tim Burton’s remake of Alice in Wonderland. A great 2D film, but a wasted opportunity as a 3D one!

Does a device like Kinect help achieve anything else you’d like to make?

We’ve seen Kinect hacked and played about a bit with it but not done anything creative with it yet. We do quite a bit of rotoscope work, so I wonder if Kinect could feed into that somehow. Wouldn’t it be cool to map onto yourself an animated character? It could look like the film A Scanner Darkly but you could control it.

Were there any points in history you wanted to include in A Short History but could not? If so, why was that?

Aptly enough in a game about history, time was a big factor in the decision. We had a few more we couldn’t make or were dropped in favour of others because of time. MY favourites we missed? The Black Death, where you were a character having to run around avoiding the spread of the disease. Too dark? Maybe, but fun. We dropped Live Aid from the 80s, and we dropped one about Andy Warhol, because his estate has been known to crash down on anyone using his images.

So, about that vocally talented girl that hums in A Break in the Road…

Her name’s Tolu Obidipe. She was at university with us, but as far as I know she hasn’t made any albums. She should, though; her voice is just amazing. She could just talk and you’d want to listen. The world is missing out.

What lessons have you learned making your games?

Um, lots! We’ve now got a good idea of how to approach different projects – the best people to work with and how to arrange the work. That’s all good practical stuff you only really learn through doing it, getting some stuff right and other stuff wrong.

We’re always working in different ways and testing ourselves, so we probably don’t always work with the efficient production schedule those AAA titles are on. Sometimes you just need time to experiment and do something you love. That’s how lume started, in fact.

Are all the games you make “indie”?

It depends on the definition, I guess. We do make casual games for clients like Miniclip and Spil Games, but that still feels ‘indie’ to us – we’re the ones going to them with the ideas and working in an independent way.

Do you feel “indie” is still a relevant term in the gaming industry?

It does embody a certain way the creators think about their games I guess, as long as the term isn’t hijacked by larger companies to get some of the artistic credibility the term sometimes implies.

Practically I guess the term should mean those companies who are independent from the traditional publishers, but to me it embodies a striving for independent creative thought more than anything else. If you need a publisher to continue making great games you care about, so be it.

Which Indies do you know play nicely with each other? Not so nicely?

In my experience they all do, although others may have found otherwise. We meet and work alongside each other at Game Jams, sometimes making connections then going on to work with each other, and we talk at games events like friends. There’s no competition really, just excitement when you see something really good you’d like to be a part of.

What questions would you like to ask other indies?

These Game Jams are turning into fertile ground for developing new games ideas. With just a couple of days to get something done, you just go for it and don’t worry too much. So I’d ask other indies, “Want to come to some Game Jams and make something cool?”

We’re always after gifted AS3 and iOS coders with game design skills, ones who can run with ideas and build them, even just with squares and circles. If you’re one of those people, let’s collaborate! (Source: Game Set Watch)

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