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阐述MMO可向社交游戏借鉴的设计经验编辑本段回目录

几个月前我曾经说过,社交游戏并不会破坏MMO。我想除了Richard Garriott和Zynga的股东,这对于任何人来说都会是一个好消息。但是如果我们以此而忽视社交游戏,这便是一个严重的错误。

在有些内容上,社交游戏的表现比MMO好得多。但是我并不是在暗示社交游戏比MMO更加出色,而是想传达社交游戏更擅于处理社交元素,而MMO则在选择提示上更加突出。

我们都很反感玩家在Facebook上玩社交游戏时只是在重复一系列可疑的成就。但从整体来看,游戏中仍存在许多有帮助的元素。

soapbox-social-epl(from massively.joystiq)

soapbox-social-epl(from massively.joystiq)

没有限制地提供帮助

Lady小姐和我都很喜欢玩电子游戏,这也是我们为何能够一下子变成好友的主要原因。不幸的是我们对于MMORPG的态度并不相同。我倾向于在游戏发行时便踊跃尝试,或在阅读了《Choose My Adventure》系列文章后做出选择。而她总是犹豫不决,直到我跟她说一款游戏是否值得玩。而问题在于,当她最后进入游戏中时,因为我的级别是基于科学计数法进行衡量,所以她并不能给我带来任何帮助,而我也只能通过杀死其身边的敌人去帮助她。

但是如果我们玩的是《FarmVille》,我们便能够为彼此的庄稼浇水,而不管游戏级别。

大多数社交游戏都带有一些变量。就像《FarmVille》还让玩家能够送礼物给别人,并且游戏会奖励玩家的这种行为。《Dragon Age Legends》让玩家能够将好友的角色招到自己一方,也就是当玩家在游戏时能够面对一些较轻松的内容。大多数社交游戏都提供了一些小窍门让玩家双方都能够获取利益。

MMO的设计师已经意识到,让玩家加入好友所推荐的一款游戏但却发现对方的级别已经远远超越于自己并不是一种有趣的体验,而大多数游戏也尝试着添加各种系统去解决这一问题。但麻烦的是,大多数解决系统仍是关于级别的起起落落。并不存在哪种任务能够让两名角色等价地帮助对方,而无需衡量相互的游戏级别。

在许多MMO设计中,玩家要么就是和其他玩家一起经历整个地下城,要么便是分开进行探索,但是在大多数社交游戏中,玩家能够抽出5分钟时间去帮助别人,然后再回到自己想要进行的内容中。

《激战2》在这方面便做得很好。游戏并不会推动着所有玩家去完成一个共同的目标,而会帮助玩家双方进行更长时间的探索。这是玩家帮助别人的快速机会,并且所有玩家都能够从中获利。

互利的商业关系

你的团队中之所以需要治疗师是因为你需要他。当然了,你也喜欢他。这是一个很优秀的人,你能够与他谈论游戏,他也会在早期给你一些不错的建议,你为他在自己的领域中提供了一个很不错的工作。你们当然是彼此的朋友。但是你们的碰面是因为你需要获得治疗,而他刚好能够满足这一需求。他在游戏中的功能便是维持你的生命。

这种关系并不丢人。当我身处于一个团体中时,我便在执行一个角色,而不是传达有关设计风格的任何观点。像这样的游戏关系是基于一定的双方利益,即使最终你们是先变成了好友,然后才是MMO中的伙伴。

但是事实上却没人愿意承认这一点。根据多方面来源的支持,玩家在MMO中的群组总是先由好友构成,其次才是维系同盟关系(游戏邦注:或者这种同盟关系永远都不会出现)。尽管游戏总是会鼓励你去与那些能够提供可行利益的人一起游戏,但却只有少量游戏能够基于共享的社交利益而提供明确的内容。

而在社交游戏中就不会出现这种幻象。玩家需要获得更多好友并与他们一起游戏。通过分发礼物而获得游戏奖励。主动帮助其他人,因为这也能为自己带来长期的帮助。

玩家们之所以不在意这种“蒙骗”是因为在此之前他们已经变成了自己的好友。另外一个原因是游戏让玩家的任何行动变得更加透明。你提供给别人帮助,并希望他们也能给予自己帮助,这并不是什么坏事。反正所有人都能得到自己想要的。

这些要点便组合成了一些有用的社交互动理念,而无需任何专门的群组内容。想象当你给予别人一块软牛皮后你自己也能得到一块,或者当你为其他玩家提供一定的服务便能获得经验值的提高。想象当你访问游戏内部好友的性能后便能够清除周边的动物,从而获得更多经验值并提高彼此双方的游戏属性。这便是无需花费大把时间,无需要求正式群组聚集在一起或无需假装自己是为了别人而提供帮助等而进行互动,并相互获利。

共享有趣的内容

社交游戏遵循着病毒式的发展途径;它们会要求玩家去传播自己在游戏中所进行的各种任务,因为让更多人认识游戏是社交游戏开发商赚钱的主要方式。所以每款游戏的更新以及玩家在游戏中所获得的成就等都会出现在他们的状态页面上。

这种做法的作用便是让玩家的好友能够感受到游戏乐趣。这也是我认为MMO在设计趋势和原理等方面所具有的缺陷。最后,我认为在玩MMORPG时最棒之处在于玩家能够基于同一个虚拟平面与其他玩家共同游戏,即使他们并非同时面对着游戏(生理上)。

过去几年里,游戏领域的准入障碍大大降低了,如果玩家想要玩《星球大战:旧共和国》或《冠军在线》或《无尽的任务》,他便可以轻松地进入游戏中而非前往商店购买游戏。但仍然存在着一种执念,即必须设定一些有趣的内容去阻碍你出色地完成游戏中的某些任务。而通过努力,你便能够感受到其中的乐趣。

我们还需要解答一些问题,即为何不让社交游戏发起带头作用?为何不邀请好友并立即提供给他一些有趣的内容,然后让他不断提升这些内容的层面,帮助你更好地享受游戏?为什么不告诉他有趣的事物作为奖励,而是强迫他必须不断刷任务去赶上你的游戏进度?

MMORPG最大的弱点便是游戏总是会强迫玩家在经历许多任务后才能真正感受到乐趣。而社交游戏则是能够直接呈现出这些乐趣。这便是MMO设计师需要向社交游戏学习的内容。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Eliot Lefebvre)

The Soapbox: What MMOs could learn from social gaming

by Eliot Lefebvre

I mentioned a couple of months ago that social gaming isn’t going to destroy MMOs. That’s good news for everyone other than Richard Garriott and Zynga stockholders. But I think taking this as a sign that we can ignore social gaming for now and forever as an aberration would be… a mistake, to put it lightly.

See, there are things that social games do even better than MMOs tend to. And the hint is right there in the name. No, I’m not implying that these are better games; I’m saying that social games are generally much better about handling the social side of the equation. And the MMO industry as a whole would do well to pick up on the hints.

Not everything, of course. We all have recurring nightmares about that one person on Facebook whose timeline is nothing but a series of dubious achievements in social games. But there are a lot of elements scattered throughout the games as a whole that could be oddly useful if taken as a whole.

No restrictions on helping in some way

Ms. Lady and I both enjoy playing video games. It’s part of how we became friends in the first place. Unfortunately, she and I have very different attitudes toward MMORPGs. I tend to jump in at launch or close to it, or I get thrown in by a round of Choose My Adventure. She tends to hang back until I’ve told her whether the game is worth playing or not. The problem is that by the time she finally jumps in at Level Hopeless, my level is being measured by scientific notation. She can’t help me, and I can help her only by removing the actual game and killing everything around her.

But if we played FarmVille, I could go water her crops and she could water mine, no matter what level we both were.

Most social games have some variant on this. FarmVille also lets you send presents to others and rewards you for doing so. Dragon Age Legends allowed you to recruit the characters of your friends for your party, meaning that as you play, you all have an easier time with content. Most games give you some small way that both players can derive a benefit.

Designers of MMOs have realized over the years that it’s no fun to join a game for your friends only to find that your friends have passed your level long ago, and as a result, most games have put some system into place to try to fix this issue. The trouble is that most of these fixes have still involved going back and forth with leveling, usually raising or lowering levels as necessary. There’s no tasks where two characters can provide equal aid to one another without levels needing to get in the way.

And it doesn’t need to be something major. There’s a sense in a lot of MMO design that either you’re going through an entire dungeon together or you’re playing separately, but most social games let you jump in, help someone for five minutes, and then get back to whatever you want.

Guild Wars 2 does a good job of encouraging this behavior. You’re not punished for attacking the same target as another player, and it winds up helping both of you out in the long run. It’s just a quick chance to help someone else out, and you both get a boon from it.

A mercantile relationship with easy mutual benefit

The healer in your group is fundamentally there because you need him. Sure, you like him. He’s a cool guy, you talk out of game, he sent you some nice recipes earlier in the month, and you pointed him to a good job in his area. You are definitely friends. But you met because you needed a healer and he fit the bill, and his function in the game is to keep you alive.

There’s nothing shameful about that. When I’m in a group, I’m there to perform a role, not deliver cutting insights about design style. Relationships in games like this are based on mutual benefit at some level, even if in the end you wind up being friends first and MMO buddies second.

Here’s the thing: No one likes to admit this. We have this image, encouraged from several sources, that your groups in MMOs are supposed to consist of your friends first and functional allies second or third or possibly never. This is despite the fact that the game is clearly encouraging you to go ahead and play with people who provide you a tangible benefit, since very few games have a system for clearing content based on shared social interests.

Social games engage in no such pretense. You need more friends playing this game to do this, and that’s the end of the discussion. Get more friends. Give away these gifts to get a prize. Help others specifically because that helps you in the long run.

Part of why no one cares about this is that by definition, the people you are foisting this upon are already your friends. But another part is because the game just makes it transparent that this is what you’re doing. You’re helping others to help yourself, and that’s not a bad thing. Everyone gets something.

This point and the previous one could easily combine into some useful methods of social interaction without requiring dedicated group content. Imagine a buff that you can receive only if you give it to someone else as well, or an experience boost received for providing a minor service for another player. Imagine if visiting the properties of your in-game friends gave you a quest to clear out nearby animals and doing so gave you experience and boosted some in-game stat for them as well. These are all ways to interact and benefit without requiring a big chunk of time or requiring a formal group together or pretending that you’re helping just out of pure altruism.

Sharing the cool

Social games follow an evolutionary path not unlike a virus; they require you to spread and advertise everything you’ve done therein because their best chance of making money involves a lot of people being aware of the game. So each game floods your status page with updates about what, exactly, you’ve recently accomplished in the game.

The side effect is that people just see that you’re having a lot of fun. And that’s something that I think MMOs have frequently missed in the rush of design trends and philosophies and so forth. At the end of the day, the great part of playing an MMORPG is that you can play with someone else on the same virtual playground, even if you’re not both physically there at the same time.

Over recent years games have gotten much better about reducing the barriers to entry so that if your buddy wants to join you in Star Wars: The Old Republic or Champions Online or EverQuest, he can do so now instead of when he finally goes to the store. But there’s still a persistent sense that everything cool should be restricted to you and you alone for having accomplished some great task in the game. By your dedication, you get to the fun part.

Here’s an idea — why not take a lead from social games? Why not invite your friend and give him something instantly cool, and then have him move up increasing tiers of cool as you enjoy the game? Why not reward his time by telling him cool stuff is here instead of forcing him to slog and grind to catch up with you?

The great weakness of most MMORPGs is that they ask you to suffer through a lot of work before you get to the fun. Social games throw you right into the cool part. That’s a lesson worth learning.(source:massively.joystiq)


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