The world’s largest game developer-related event changed to an online event method“Game Developers Conference 2021 (Game Developers Conference 2021)”In, many lectures on AAA masterpieces, independent development works and classic games, etc., with various game works as themes were held.
The most effective way to play in the game should also be the most interesting way to play
《War ghost on horse“Is a work with the theme of the historical event of the Mongolian army’s invasion (the Battle of Bunei in 1274). Tsushima became the stage of the game. According to records, more than 80 warriors died in the battle of Bunei. The story based on this is based on one of the few surviving “samurais”, the protagonist of the gameSakai HitoshiDetermined to launch a counterattack against the Mongolian army began.
But as the saying goes, outnumbered, even if you want to have an upright battle from the front, it is impossible to fight against the powerful Mongolian army with one person.So Ren abandoned the “Samurai Warfare Code” taught by his uncle Shimura bit by bit, and began to use concealed weapons other than samurai swords such as kunai shuriken, smoke bombs, and matchlocks, or directly carry out assassinations.War ghostKeep fighting.
The team has three goals when constructing this worldview and story. The first is to“Let the player Shen Yi in the game”, Their goal is to bring players to Japan in ancient times and create a “time machine” that allows players to integrate with the world at that time.
The second one is“If it’s a down-to-earth game”, But instead of making a game that is completely based on correct historical facts, it should be said that it is more important to make a “realistic game” based on the fact of existence. They used a slogan called “No monsters and no magic, just mud, blood and steel.” and consistently created a sense of reality. game.
As for the third one“Make it easier for players to access the game”, This is a goal that hopes to obtain more user groups, part of which is also considering that the cost of game development is not cheap, so it is not to make a game with a very partial taste, but to make a game that can A fun game that can be enjoyed by millions of people.
These three goals and limitations have become the blueprint for game design, and the important elements of the game that reflect these goals are the main theme of this lecture.Melee Combat。
As a “Samurai Fantasy” story, the battle is centered on close combat, especially the use of katana. If you don’t let this sword-based battle be excellent enough from appearance to actual touch, you won’t be able to succeed. Moreover, the approaching battle must also reflect that because the enemy is so powerful, it has to use “desserious means.” This game’s protagonist Jing Jingren sets the situation in the story, and it is also a very important element in the plot narrative.
If the player does not use hidden weapons or assassinations, and rely solely on face-to-face duels to fight, the story will seem self-contradictory. A bloody battle surrounded by a large group of enemies, fighting side by side with partners, and one-on-one duels with powerful enemies… These are not only the fun of a sword action game, but also the narrative of the plot must be described smoothly enough. .
And they think that as the key element of the game, the core of the close combat should be “Discipline and Precision”. Although it should be directly translated as “Regularity and Correctness”, it should also include“Static and Motion”as well as“Tension and relaxation”The meaning of existence is right. It means that all actions have a clear purpose and must be properly controlled. In dangerous situations, you should take quiet actions to wait for the moment, and launch explosive actions at the right moment.
They felt that it was necessary for players to be able to display these elements, so they created a way for players to practice, experience, and research for a long time.The game history of “growth” with Jin Jing。
The feeling of embarking on a journey with Jin Jing and growing up together during the journey. If you want to deepen this element, the point is to produce sword movements that can approach the battle correctly. However, there was a problem in the production of this part, that is, “human reaction speed is slower than expected.”
In the early stages of development, it was originally intended to make the reaction time of the game characters closer to real humans, but this approach failed. Because the action is too slow, it makes people feel a sense of abruptness. Because of this failure, the team came up with the idea of using the killing array of the period drama as a source of inspiration and recreating it in the game. A well-designed kill array does not rely solely on the actor’s reaction, but also includes actions that can be “predicted” because the action is already determined. If you want to reproduce the kill array in the game, you must take this into consideration. Row.
At this time, the biggest goal is also a compromise point, which is to make the game a purely skill-based work. Part of the reason for designing this goal is to achieve “As long as you can play the game perfectly, you can move forward without any damage.” No matter how many enemies are attacked together, as long as you can perform appropriate actions at the right time, you can act like the protagonist of a period drama and repel the enemy unscathed.
But wanting to reproduce this feeling, I also ran into other problems. In the beginning, it was designed so that as long as it can launch an attack with a quick action, it can interrupt the enemy’s actions and continue to perform continuous slashes, but this is too effective to make the player feel the skillful fun. In the process of constantly repeating these corrections because I wanted to describe the swift and powerful actions of the samurai in battle, there appeared shield soldiers that would not be easily interrupted even if they were stabbed by a samurai sword, and The brawny soldier with high endurance, and at the moment of hitting an enemy, before the completion of the action, he will continue to attack the next enemy. This is a continuous attack that can be used when facing multiple enemies at the same time.
The first one that makes people feel that they have achieved a “skill-based game” that can catch the enemy’s attack at the right time.“Parry”. This is not a move that can be performed by just pressing a button, so it does not make the player feel that the player is simply using the game controller to operate the character, but will have a feeling of actually swinging a knife to parry an enemy attack. A successful example of this kind of immersion can be spawned.
In the close combat of this work, players should know that parrying is a bit overkill.However, almost all players will use the most effective method they think to play the game, which also represents“The way players feel the most effective is the funniest way to play the game.”. So in terms of allowing players to have fun, parry should also play a very important role.
Don’t punish the player when they fail to do it, but pay them when they do.
After testing through actual play, learning that more changeable play styles are the key to making the game more interesting. After statistics, we can know that in addition to using Japanese swords to hack each other, there are players who use various methods such as Sakai Jin’s skills, hidden weapons, and assassination (stealth skills) to play the game. Not only are they more capable If you deeply enjoy the game itself, the result of the battle will become even better.
But at this time, there is another problem to be solved, that is, most game players, as long as they find a tactic that they think is the most effective, they will usually continue to use that tactic instead of trying new methods. For these players,We have to find a way to guide them to actively choose new tactics。
To allow players to choose a new style of play, roughly two different methods can be used. “Prevent the player from using the gameplay that he has overused”, and “highlight the charm of the new style, and promote the player to actively choose this gameplay.”
For the former, it can be used like launching enemies whose original gameplay is completely unusable, or conversely letting enemies whose new gameplay is particularly effective. Or it is to add a number or time limit to the convenient moves and props, and there are methods to make them weakened due to the passage of time and the number of times they are used. But adopting this approach is equivalent to taking away the most effective and interesting gameplay from the player, and it will also make the player clearly feel that “I am playing a game”, thus detracting from the player’s sense of immersion in the worldview. . If the player’s feelings are taken into consideration, then choosing the latter is a matter of course.
It is not to hinder the gameplay that will be overused, but to promote the player to use the game that is not in use. At this point, the first question the development team thinks about is,How to make players use strong attacks when fighting。
At the beginning of the test, players who did not use strong attacks with slow movements at all, and only used weak attacks with faster movements to perform continuous attacks, accounted for an overwhelming majority of more than 90%. But on the other hand, it can also be known that players who use various moves including strong attacks when attacking, in addition to enjoying the fun of the game, are actually more efficient in combat.
Strong attacks are mainly used to break the enemy’s defenses, and players must be more active in using strong attacks. However, it is too mechanized and uninteresting to release the enemy’s defenses with only one strong attack, so it is designed to have to perform multiple strong attacks to cut off the enemy’s defense ability bit by bit, but this is just to attract players to use it. The incentive for a strong attack is not very strong.
In the end, although the team also hoped to avoid displaying too much information on the game screen as much as possible, they still compromised for this and prepared a “shock meter”. It is a visual effect to convey the feeling of weakening the opponent’s defense to the player. The purpose is not only to display the remaining scale, but also to add special effects that will flash when hitting the opponent with a fierce attack, so that the player can more easily feel that the strong attack he has hit the opponent.
After that, the attack power was increased, and the attack speed was increased on the premise of “down to earth” as much as possible, and finally it became the current strong attack.
Like a strong attack,hidden weaponFew players will use it in the early stages of the test. As mentioned earlier, in order for the player to experience the story of Sakai Jing, it is necessary to display the tactics of using these weapons and props. However, although it is convenient to assassinate many players, most players mainly use Japanese swords or bows, and few people use hidden weapons.
Although there is also a solution to the enemy that can only be defeated by using a specific hidden weapon, this has become a restriction on the gameplay that the player can use. In terms of hidden weapons, it is also hoped that, like strong attacks, it will be an option that will prompt players to actively choose. In the end, the solution that came to my mind was to “make the props easier and more convenient to use.”
The first is to improve the kunai shuriken to be more usable. Originally, because the range is not too short, it is not very good at aiming, and it is considered by the player to be a weapon that cannot be hit, so no one wants to use it. In order to change the player’s cognition, a skill (Dark Blade) that can throw multiple handles at the same time has been added and improved into a weapon that can be hit.
In addition, it was modified into a design that chooses one of kunai shuriken, pitch bombs, and smoke bombs to be equipped on the body. At first, I wanted to use a combination of different buttons, so that players can switch between them immediately during battle, but that’s it. It will make the player “excessively increase the things that have to be thought”, and it feels that it will cause a kind of pressure on the player. Therefore, in the battle of this game, it is thought that the use method should be made as simple as possible, so that the player will want to use it with other actions.
In addition, the drop rate of the kunai shuriken is increased. This is because if the number that can be obtained is not enough, the player will care about how much is left. In order to keep it for use at critical times, the number of uses will be reduced. In order to avoid this phenomenon, (although it still has a certain element of luck), it is adjusted to the extent that it has been full and there is a chance to get more.
When you want players to use different styles of tactics or techniques, you must not force them to use them. In order to achieve this goal, it is impossible to adopt methods that hinder the player’s original use of tactics.
Players must be able to understand the reasons why this new style of tactics can come in handy, highlight its advantages and charm, and, if necessary, be prepared to use the rewards that this tactic can get. Relying on this design method, the problem of “players will not actively choose new methods” can be solved.
Propose a new situation to the player and make the game change
If you want players to continue to play a game, the most important thing is“The game should present a brand new situation to the player”. If the complexity of the situation increases as the game progresses, it can be more challenging, allowing players to gain a higher sense of accomplishment when they succeed.
It’s just that if the pursuit of complexity is too high, it may make the player feel pressured. On the other hand, if it is too simple, the player will immediately find a fixed strategy, making the game feel boring because of the simplicity. . In order to create a challenging and fair game, the development team believes that the focus is on adding “appropriate levels of complexity” that players can overcome.
For example, it is like an enemy’s archer. Since it is to describe the Mongolian army, it is of course impossible to prevent the archer from appearing. It’s just that the archer should be added to the game as a part of the battle, but there are some problems.
Sakai Hito uses a Japanese sword as the center of the approach combat method. Under this premise, if you just join the archer as the role responsible for archery, the player may encounter the screen that you can’t see, Arrows flying over will make people feel very unpleasant. As a result, as soon as the player sees the enemy, he will immediately assassinate all the archers, so that the battle will have a constant repetition, which will eventually make people feel very boring.
But having said that, if it is set so that as long as it is close to the battle, there will be no archers shooting arrows outside the screen, and it will become an existence that has no effect on the battle. Close combat with archers must produce a totally different excitement from combat without archers. So these two options, no matter which one you choose, can not create wonderful results.
So the solution that the development team found was to make a sound to transmit the signal when shooting an arrow. Even if it is an attack launched from outside the screen, the player can flash the attack as long as he performs an evasive action after hearing the sound, and in addition to the enemy’s actions in front of him, he must also respond to the sound, which becomes a kind of bring to the player. A new way to experience.
Because you will hear the enemy yelling “I want to shoot”, it may make people feel a little abrupt, but after actual testing, most players respond kindly to this “fiction of game design”.
The game is like this, by creating many different types of enemies, changing their possible combinations, or using sites where mobility is restricted, and allowing players to fight side by side with friendly forces, etc., in order to make the battle unencumbering It feels monotonous, so many different situations and situations are prepared.
At the same time, this has also become the method mentioned earlier to encourage players to use new styles of tactics. Of course, players can choose not to choose the different styles of tactics provided by the game, but there is no way to avoid the situation of game preparation. If at such a time, there is a tactic that is different from the one you are used to, but is very effective, then someone will naturally try. The situation change designed flexibly like this becomes a powerful weapon that promotes the natural change of the player’s tactics.
In order for players to travel with Ren, the focus is on the initial experience
In this work, Jin Jing will gradually begin to “accept” the way he fights as a war ghost because he has experienced various things and difficulties. And this process is also the path that the player himself will pass. This design that allows the journey of benevolence and the journey of the player to overlap is the key part of this game after considering the progress of the game.
In the process of continuing to advance his story, Sakai Jing will acquire a variety of new props and tactics, and at the same time face the battles that require the use of these elements. Although I have never used it in the past, and I may not even understand the basic usage very well, it is necessary to exercise hard and get used to being proficient in repeated battles.
This is the same for players. When they first learn it, they will have to practice more because they are not familiar with the operation method, but after repeated use for many times, they can be displayed naturally in battle. Things that require extra thinking will begin to decrease, and this action can be turned into an instinctive response. This can also be linked to the Progress of Jin Jing.
In order for players to have this kind of experience in the game, they must have the previously mentioned fighting styles using new props, but no matter how attractive these styles are, there will still be many who don’t particularly want to challenge. Players of new things exist. How to create a touch that makes them want to challenge is the most important point, and the answer lies in making them feel that the initial experience is very exciting.
When the player encounters a brand-new item or style, it must be a product that can be used simply and has obvious effects, and ultimately satisfy the player. If this is not the case, then the player will go back and use the method he was used to.
To illustrate with a specific example, in this battle there is a game called“Stance”Important element. In fact, this is an additional system added during the development process. At the beginning, the team worried that this might make the somewhat complicated game more complicated, so it was not originally planned to join. This kind of concern is actually not wrong. It did make players more burdened when they first joined, and the penetration rate during the implementation of the test was even lower than expected. No matter who you are, you don’t want to be a clumsy samurai, so you will stick to the fighting style you’re used to, hoping to play handsome enough.
However, because the concept of frame is very well evaluated, the team did not give up on it, but chose to show its advantages when the player first encountered the frame, hoping to make the frame popular. The example cited in the lecture is the first new posture “water type” that can be obtained. Compared with the “Stone Type” frame that can be used in the early stage, this is a frame that can remove the opponent’s block at a double speed and is quite advantageous to face the enemy with a shield. In order to let the player feel the advantage of it. , So immediately after obtaining the frame, a scene of fighting against the shield soldiers was prepared as a “game teaching.”
Kuwu Shuriken was the first hidden weapon to be obtained, and it also prepared a scene where players can have a good first experience. The armor can be obtained by advancing the main story. In addition to all the abilities that are higher than the initial armor, it also looks more handsome in appearance.
The experience at the beginning will become the benchmark for everything afterwards. If the player feels bad, he will not be interested in this feature. In order for players to continue to play a game, the first impression is very important.
The first thing to do is to find your “magic”
《War ghost on horse》From development to completion, as mentioned above, there has been a very large evolution, but there is a very important thing consistent in the development process, that isTry not to give up the idea that you thought of at the beginning before you are perfect。
But there is also the worst possibility, which isIt’s impossible to make a good idea if you can’t give up. To avoid this kind of problem, it is necessary to make enough game prototypes to test and obtain reliable data from the test. This work has been repeatedly conceived and executed during the six-year development period. There are about 35 internal tests performed by the entire team, and about 25 tests performed by outsiders. Among the external tests, half of them are performed in a way that allows the testers to play the game naturally in a week.
In this process there is a name called“One-on-one”The idea was born. Those who like period dramas or similar movies should be able to understand that this is the work of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa《Sanjuro Tsubaki》Among them, it can be said to be a scene in the history of the movie. At the end, the protagonist of the film, Saniro, and his rival Muroto Hanbei duel.
Even at the stage when it’s not yet sure where to apply this idea in the overall context of the game, the team is confident about this element, and believes that it can fully express the tension of the game and the contrast between static and dynamic, even both. When only staying at the prototype, it has been publicly displayed at the E3 2018 exhibition. Although from the final result, there is a bit of excessive blind faith, it takes a lot of work on the technical level to make this idea function in the actual game system, but in fact it has become a very important part of the game.
When you are trying a new thing, the first thing you should do is to find its “magic”. The experience accumulated in the past and the idea of what experience you want to bring to the player can also help you understand your ideas better. Although there is no guarantee that every time it will go smoothly, it does make magic a more reliable product.
“Not everything in the game requires magic, but it is difficult to succeed without a moment like magic.”, The speaker Chris Zimmerman said in the last sentence and proposed to develop “War ghost on horseIn the process of “, I learned “Five Rules for Designing Games”, which put an end to this lecture.
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