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几周前在赫尔辛基举办的的北欧最大非营利游戏大会Ropecon上,我很荣幸能够与贵宾D. Vincent Baker谈论游戏设计,并参加他的一个演讲。我想要深入了解角色游戏设计师的想法并不只是因为我对游戏设计很感兴趣,同时也因为他们知道许多有关叙述体验设计(能够用于其它领域)的内容。以下便是Baker的设计演讲中所提到的一些核心内容。

vincentbaker(from alibisforinteraction)

vincentbaker(from alibisforinteraction)

1)你必须清楚自己的目标

2)设计=定义目标和规则

3)调整玩家现在可以做什么以及他将尝试着获得什么

4)这是“乐趣与游戏”,而不是“有趣,就像有趣”

5)“(玩家间的)谈话是否适合(游戏)主题?”

20多年前,即在数字游戏的叙述复杂性与审美野心爆发之前,角色扮演游戏和书籍拥有最大的商业市场。这些游戏都是“桌面游戏”,也就是“纸和笔”游戏,即参与者将围着桌子坐着,并在产品所提供的故事框架与规则结构中创造并经历一个故事,并伴随着游戏的艺术呈现和情节铺设技能。

那时候我们可以在书店和专营店中买到各种角色扮演游戏,当然也存在面向特定用户的游戏(游戏邦注:尽管那时候的玩家主要是年轻的男性,这主要是受到内容的影响)。市场的规模促使商业角色扮演游戏设计趋向于好莱坞的电影制造。作品需要具有商业吸引力,所以那时候我们很少能在游戏中看到创造性。

但是随着面对面的角色扮演游戏从膨胀到衰败(大众市场计算机游戏最终吸引了玩家的眼球),在世界上许多角色扮演领域开始出现一些有趣的变化。“独立角色扮演游戏”开始出现,就像独立电影和独立音乐那样,创造者更接近游戏社区和小型新闻出版商。

与其它文化形式一样,独立游戏更具有实验性,且在某种情况下更加利基,商业性也变得更低。它们甚至只能帮助游戏设计师们勉强维持生计,就像Vincent Baker。在美国的独立角色扮演世界中,如果社区能够坚持这类型的游戏,他便是摇滚巨星般的存在。

Baker一流的犯罪处理西方冒险游戏《Dogs in the Vineyard》获得广泛的追捧,如果你着眼于这样的内容便会注意到一些其它的游戏,如《Apocalypse World》以及可怕的双人故事游戏《Murderous Ghosts》,在游戏中一名玩家将扮演探索者而另一面玩家将扮演幽灵,并尝试着杀死对方。

Baker在Ropecon阐述了“如何设计一款不会让玩家感到糟糕的游戏”,该演讲中非常有趣的一点便是,尽管Baker讲的是笔和纸故事游戏,但是他的建议同样也适用于物理体验创造者。

1)你必须清楚自己的目标

如果你能够明确说出自己的角色扮演游戏/事件的目标,你便能够清楚地将其传达给玩家/参与者。目标设定让玩家能够了解游戏体验。这在所有共同创造和参与性环境中非常重要,因为人们需要根据某种参数去做出选择。如果他们能够作选择,他们便可能默认于自己的普通行为,或走上自己的道路,挖掘整体的联系性。另外一种方法便是强调设计的一致性—-即你的设计选择与你所创造的体验相一致,这便能让参与者朝着实现同样的目标而做出选择—-这能同时减少参与者和组织者的焦虑。

2)设计=定义目标和规则

游戏设计包含定义目标和规则。Baker认为在游戏的魔法圈中,“规则将取代自然互动,而目标将取代自然利益”。规则将在游戏中控制社交互动并解决冲突;目标会推动参与者去执行一般不会做出的行动。同样的,朝着目标前进的过程通常都是迎着设计师所提供的挑战。

3)调整玩家现在可以做什么以及他将尝试着获得什么

当你在考虑这点时会发现大多数游戏都是令人满意的,因为朝着不能立刻达到的目标前进是件有趣的事。人类似乎都会特别重视那些难以达到或缺乏的东西。就像夜总会外面总会有人在排队,即使里面并未人满。这是为了创造想要某物并拥有它之间的延迟,从而让人们产生期待。

4)这是“乐趣与游戏”,而不是“有趣,就像游戏”

Baker指出,乐趣是一些来自游戏中的东西:玩游戏通常都是有趣的,或者乐趣是存在于游戏环境下。但它却不是游戏的本质,就像尽管我们在吃饭中经常能够感受到乐趣,但是它却不是在餐厅吃饭的内在属性。

这种看法有两个有趣的结果。一个便是只要玩家理解游戏体验的目标并不是为了获得乐趣,你便无需确保它们是否具有乐趣,从而腾出了许多设计选择。另外一个结果便是如果你希望玩家感受到乐趣,你要清楚这并不会自动发生。你必须真正去思考什么是乐趣,然后积极做出设计选择,即让乐趣能够诞生自参与者与周边环境的互动中。

5)“谈话(玩家间)是否适合(游戏)主题?”

在桌面角色扮演游戏中,游戏过程中真正会发生的是玩家间的交谈。实际上,许多交谈是交织在一起的。有时候他们会描述自己的角色在做些什么,自己如何与规则互动,甚至是一些并非发生于游戏中的事物,如闲聊,或评价故事中的选择是如何影响玩家等等。有些角色扮演游戏的规则系统要求各种有关规则的交谈:“现在发生了什么?这是我的资料,你的呢?我拥有这个魔法道具,能够为我的骰子加三点。你能够看到结果的表格在第153页。”如果游戏主题是关于爱情或失去小孩,那么玩家便会花大量时间去谈论虚拟世界意外的内容,这并不是理想的情况。

为了将这一问题应用于体验设计中,我们必须重视“活动”和“体验”这两个词,就像:你的参与者的活动适合体验的主题吗?当你为一个展会设计了一个展位,但却发现参与者都只是看看小册子或吃吃糖果?你是否为客户设计了一个夜总会让他们能够听到新的音乐并遇到喜欢同样音乐的其他人?而如果人们只是排队等着上厕所,或者挤在一个吵闹的房间根本不能聊天,亦或是蜷缩着并不想进行互动,那么你的事件设计便不足以支持设计目标。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Johanna Koljonen)

Five Game Design Insights To Change Your Eventmaking

by Johanna Koljonen

A few weeks back in Helsinki, at Northern Europe’s largest non-profit games convention Ropecon, I had the pleasure of discussing game design with guest of honour D. Vincent Baker, and attending one of his lectures. I like to pick the brains of role-play designers, not just because I’m interested in game design, but also because they know so many things about narrative experience design that are applicable to other fields. Here are the core points of Baker’s design lecture as a kind of teaser, before I give some context.

1) You must articulate a goal

2) Design = defining goals and rules

3) The tension between what the player can do now and what he is trying to achieve is a tool

4) It’s ”fun and games”, not ”fun, like games”.

5) ”Is the conversation [the players are having] suitable to the topic [of the game]?”

Some twenty years back, before the big breakthrough in narrative complexity and aesthetic ambition of digital games, the publication of role-playing games and books was a huge commercial market. These games were of the ”tabletop” a.k.a. ”pen-and-paper” variety, in which the participants sit around the table and create and experience a story together within a narrative framework and rules structure provided by the product, flavoured with the artistic interpretation and plot-laying skills of the game master.

The number of role-playing games available in bookstores and specialty stores was enormous, and games for most target audiences did exist (although, at this time, players were predominantly young males and this was reflected in the content). The size of this market made commercial role-playing game design a little like Hollywood film-making. The product needed to be commercially appealing, and preferably feel cutting edge and original without actually being too much of either.

But as the commercial market for paper-and-face-to-face-based role-playing first bloated and then collapsed (when mass market computer games finally got interesting) something interesting happened in many of the world’s role-playing nations. ”Independent role-playing” scenes emerged, similar to indie films and indie music, with creators close to the playing community and to small press publishers.

Like with the other culture forms, indie games are free to be more experimental and, in some ways, more niche and less commercial. And it is in fact possible to scrape out a living as that kind of game designer; Vincent Baker does. In the US indie rpg world he would be a kind of rockstar if the community would hold by those kinds of titles. Now he’s just known as a genuinely nice guy.

Baker’s award-winning western crime-solving adventure game Dogs in the Vineyard is widely beloved, and if you’re into this kind of thing you should also look up some other titles like Apocalypse World and the terrifying two-player storytelling game Murderous Ghosts, in which one person plays an explorer and the other plays the ghosts trying to kill her.

Anyway, At Ropecon, Baker gave a talk called How To Design A Game That Doesn’t Suck, and the fun thing about my lecture notes is that even though Baker is talking about ye olde pen-and-paper, storytelling-and-dice-type game, the advice is pretty solid for makers of physical experiences too. Lo:

1) You must articulate a goal

If you can articulate the goal of your rpg/event, then you can communicate it more clearly to your players/participants. Goal-setting allows the player clarity of experience. This is important in all co-creative and participatory environments, because people need parameters to make choices. If they can choose anything, they are likely to default to their ordinary behaviours, or to all go off on their own individual little journeys, undermining the thematical coherence of the whole. Another way of putting this is that coherence of design – where your design choices are consistent with the experience your making, and which enables the participants to make choices towards achieving the same goal – diminishes both participant and organizer anxiety and enables flow.

2) Design = defining goals and rules

Game design involves, among other things, defining goals and rules. Within the magic circle of the game, Baker observed, ”rules supplant natural interactions and goals supplant natural interests”. Rules control social interaction and conflict resolution within the game; the goals are motivations for actions that participants would not normally make. Also, the process of working toward that goal together, typically against adversity or challenges provided by the designer (often through rules) generates bonds between participants.

3) The tension between what the player can do now and what he is trying to achieve is a tool

When you think about it, most games are satisfying primarily because it is fun to work towards a goal you cannot immediately achieve. But we humans also seem to have an automatic regard for things and states that are difficult to achieve or somehow scarce. Nightclubs often have lines outside even though they are not full. This is because the experience is designed to create a delay between wanting something and having it, allowing for expectation to be intensified, interesting things to happen and relationships to emerge in the meantime.

4) It’s ”fun and games”, not ”fun, like games”.

Baker points out that fun is something that can emerge from games: playing games is often fun, or fun is had in the context of play. But it is not an inherent quality in games, just as ”fun” is not a quality inherent in dining in a restaurant, even though fun is often had while dining.

This insight has two interesting consequences. One is that as long as players understand that goal of the experience is not to have fun, you don’t have to make sure that they are having fun, which frees up many design choices. The other is that if you do want your players to have fun, which is of course completely valid, it will not happen automatically. You have to really think about what you think is fun, and then actively make design choices that allow fun to emerge from the interactions of the participants and their surroundings.

5) ”Is the conversation the players are having suitable to the topic of the game?”

In tabletop role-playing, what actually happens during gameplay is that the players are having a conversation.  Or actually, a number of conversations woven into each other. Sometimes they describe what their characters are doing, sometimes how they are interacting with the rules, and sometimes stuff that is strictly speaking not happening within the game, like small talk, or comments about how choices within the fiction reflect on the player, and so on. Some RPG rules systems require a lot of conversation about the rules: ”What happens now? These are my statistics, what are yours? I have this magic item which will add three to my die roll. The table you need to look up to reveal the outcome is on page 153.” If the theme of the game is, for instance, falling in love, or losing a child, then spending a big chunk of the game time talking about numbers that only exist outside the fictive world of the characters is probably less than optimal.

To apply this question to experience design, we should probably put in the words ”activity” and ”experience”, something like: are the activities of your participants suitable to the theme of the experience? Have you designed a booth for a trade fair to demo an exciting product but find your customers are mostly reading brochures or eating candy? Have you designed a club night for your guests to hear new music acts and hit on people with similarly obscure tastes in music? Then if they’re mostly standing in line for bathrooms and bars in rooms too noisy for small talk, or seated in huddles that don’t invite interaction, or if you can’t see the stage from most of the space, then your design goals are not supported by your event design.(source:alibisforinteraction)


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