游戏邦 06-17
开发者以实际案例谈策略游戏中玩家的四类行动

 

原作者:Brandon Casteel 译者:Vivian Xue

本文将试图说明在策略游戏中——主要在竞争状态下,玩家是如何采取行动的,尽管我认为这些理论同样适用于单人或多人合作游戏。具体来说,我将观察玩家在游戏规则的指引下采取的 4 类相互关联的行动,我把它们称为准备行动 , 预测行动 , 直接行动和反应行动。

我将分别观察每一类动作,运用一系列例子加以说明,说明它们是如何互相关联的,以及我认为当前的游戏设计可以改进的地方。

准备行动(Preparatory Actions)

大多数策略游戏使玩家把主要精力放在这一类行动上。" 准备 " 行动就像它的字面意思一样,即为即将发生的事件做准备。

扩大你的经济(训练工人、建造炼化厂)或生产基地(建造生产单位)、升级科技和组建你的军队都属于 " 准备 " 行动。这些行动不会立即产生效果,并且可能需要数十分钟的精心谋划才能创造出理想的战前状态。

你所做的一切是为了扩大军队或抵御敌军的进攻。你准备使出你的必杀计、超级单位或者超级武器。你在花费时间和精力促成某件事。这些行动是增量式的,回报周期很长,无法在短期内发挥作用。

(《最高指挥官》中有一系列复杂的 " 准备 " 活动,比如 " 邻接奖励 "(adjaceny bonuses,相邻建造的单位能够互相增益))。

玩家们一般很乐意进行这些行动。像《帝国时代》《星际争霸 2》和《最高指挥官》这样的游戏都具备复杂、全面的准备行动,为玩家提供了高度的经济控制权。

kixeye(from gamesindustry.biz)

一般来说,玩家往往想要建立一个复杂的基地,以快速地得到他们想要的物资。

然而,只注重前期准备对竞争性游戏是不利的。《灰蛊》(Grey Goo)或者《锻造营》(Forged Battalion)就是例子。《灰蛊》的玩法要求玩家花很长时间建立军队。然而在战斗过程中,你没有太多反击敌方的工具,除了撤退和尽量减少伤亡,玩家没有太多操控战斗的方式。

通常情况下,在《灰蛊》中赢得战斗取决于你是否能保持和扩大收入,从而为军队提供补给。收入和制造成了游戏的核心,也毁了这个游戏。

我并不想跑题,但《灰蛊》有一些值得吐槽的地方:单位的平均移动速度很慢,生产和收获单位(大部分是炼化厂)的抵御能力太高,再加上一个没多大用处的反击机制(counter system),这些意味着玩家很难对敌方造成伤害,也很难用一支小规模的军队对抗大规模军队。游戏的胜负反转几率很小,小量的单位很难造成巨大影响。

与此形成对比的是《星际争霸 2》,一只感染者或先知可以让整个基地停止生产,或者在《魔兽争霸 3》中,一名血法师或大法师有时可以对敌方造成大量伤害,一名恶魔猎手或剑圣可以干掉敌方英雄,使他们的军队陷入孤立无援的状态。

那么,说到战斗……

直接行动(Direct Actions)

接下来,让我们进入直接行动,我暂时跳过预测行动,最后再来讨论它,因为它最为复杂。直接行动就是,做点事情。

直接行动是你在游戏中采取的积极主动的侵略行动。侦查敌军行动,尝试切断他们的补给,击毙他们的工人来干扰他们的经济,或者推进你的军队都属于这类行为。甚至连把你的军队移动到具有战略优势的地点,或者地图上的某处截断敌军都可以算作直接行动。

举个例子,在《帝国时代》中,你侦察到敌军正在向你方发起进攻,你可能会在他们可能侵入的地方布置军队(一种预测行动)。你可能会把重心从扩张经济转移到强化军队上,采取一系列准备行动扩充你的军队。

在敌方试图攻击你的建筑时,派遣一支队伍切断他们后方的经济是一个直接行动的例子。

直接行动基本上就是准备行动所准备的。《英雄连 2》里快速制造半履带车把敌人打得措手不及,《星际争霸 2》中让高阶圣堂武士在敌军察觉前侵入对方基地。你通过采取这些直接行动改变战局的走向。

正如其名称展示的那样,直接行动往往是短暂的。很多情况下,它们是准备行动的结果。

直接行动是大多数 RTS 游戏关注的第二个重点(首要的当然是准备行动)。组建一支骑兵——准备行动,让他们去洗劫敌方的村庄——直接行动。生产核导弹——准备行动,发射导弹摧毁敌方基地——直接行动。

反应行动(Reactionary Actions)

(MOBA 游戏,特别是《风暴英雄》的准备行动相对较少,使玩家把注意力集中在预测行动和反应行动上。)

反应行动是玩家在进行其它行动的过程中或对其它行动做出的反应,特别是在战斗环境下。

- 将军队撤出战败地点

- 施展技术或能力扭转战斗局势

- 地图外势力 / 增强力量

- 大部分小型战斗单位

这些几乎总是具有 " 反应 " 性质。

直接行动和反应行动之间的界限有时比较模糊,并且我感觉这是其意图之一。要知道我们谈论的是玩家如何和游戏进行互动。因此当你采取了直接行动——发动军队进攻敌方基地(半途可能还将偷袭敌方的生产建筑),紧接着的反应行动包括施展精神风暴、使用大和炮、投掷手雷等为了确保实现这个目标所做的动作。

反应行动和准备行动之间存在松散联系:你可能需要建造某个单位或者升级才能进行反应行动,比如《使命与召唤 3》里的增强力量(support powers),或者你需要通过某一单位实施(比如《星际争霸》里高阶圣堂武士的精神风暴,或者《英雄连》里的反坦克手雷)。

这些是你影响战斗所采取的行动。通过充分利用准备阶段获得的道具打败你的对手。

但愿截止到目前,我能够证明 RTS 游戏中的一切行动都源于准备阶段的经济扩张。我们之后还会再谈到这一点,现在让我们先讨论预测行动。

预测行动(Anticipatory Actions)

我把预测行动留到最后,是因为它们并不是策略游戏里的主要环节。它们是你在战斗打响前最后一分钟内进行的调整。

- 在攻击敌方前扫描潜藏在地下的毒爆虫 / 菌毯肿瘤等隐形单位。

- 将部队拆分成两路包围即将到来的敌军。

- 使用某种降低单位 / 军队的反应能力、提高防御效果的技能(例如,机械哨兵的护盾)。

- 做好单位部署(游戏邦注 例如在《红色警戒 3》多功能步兵车中搭载不同兵种)。有时候这些动作属于反应行动(比如将维京战机从对空模式转为对地)但有时候,除非你在战斗开始之前就已经做好这些准备,否则它们无法发挥最佳效果。

在无准备的情况下你几乎无法采取预测行动,但我对于这几类行动的先后顺序看法不太一样。如果让我来确立这四类动作的联系,它会是:

准备行动促成直接行动,直接行动促成预期行动,预期行动先于反应行动。

由于这些行动的划分需要视具体情况而定,施展某种能力或动用某个单位可能是预测性的、反应性的或者是直接的行动,取决于具体情况,可我依然认为在大多数情况下,良好的设计总是能让这些能力在一个特定类型中发挥最佳表现。

《宇宙战争》(Universe at War)中有许多很优秀的预测行动设计。

-Novus 机器人拥有一种能够应用到全员身上的补丁。它不会直接使你在战斗中占领优势——它不会立即对某块区域产生影响,但它能帮助你撤退,或者在战斗过程中使用该技能对敌方造成减益。这是一种基于预期的行动。.

-Masari 族通过切换光明 / 黑暗模式来控制军队行动。除非解锁了某种研究功能,黑暗模式需要一段时间才能带来它的主要好处(防御作用)。并且转换新模式需要一定时间,开启黑暗模式后空中单位将缓慢降落到地面。它并不是你在危机时刻马上就能完成的动作,除非你提前做准备。

-Hierarchy 族的 Walker 上有武器挂载点。挂载的武器可以改变战斗的结局,但是在装载过程中很容易受到破坏。从生产模式转换到战斗模式需要一定时间。

这些行动过程通常很慢、无法立刻产生结果,因此它们算不上反应行动。同时它们不像准备行动的影响范围那么广,只能对局部产生影响。因此在战斗即将开始前,你会发现自己在调整某些可能对战斗无益(也可能有益)的东西。

这和《英雄连 2》很像,在游戏里地雷和铁丝网属于准备类,因为他们需要花时间布置并且过程中一旦被察觉就无效了。

但是,部署坦克和装甲兵呢?它们更多属于预测类的行动。你可以采取进攻的姿态,如果你能在敌人毫无防范的情况下接近他们并掩护自己,否则的话你将会遭到敌人炮火的打击。

分析这些有什么意义?——合适的比例

(游戏《尾牙》中,成功大多取决于平衡你的收入和制造费用。一旦你在经济上落后,你就难翻盘。)

比例性(Proportionality)的含义:与其他部分形或数量形成一种联系;形成比例。

在策略游戏的设计过程中,这些行动的比例设定将影响最终的产品。

显然,一款像《灰蛊》或《锻造营》这样侧重于建造、资源至上的游戏是一个糟糕的设计。或者更准确地说,这类游戏带给玩家的体验不太好。

我在之前的文章中谈到过 " 平衡 "(equilibrium)问题,以及游戏应该为玩家提供多条通往成功的路径——并让玩家在其中施展自己的技能。

对我来说,这并不是漫无目的的思考。我希望了解人们在游戏规则下采取的行为,从而为我的游戏创造有趣、有深度的互动。当我开发《星际争霸 2》MOD 包时,在我加入 Dream Harvest 协助开发 Neuro Slicers 的短暂期间,我一直希望让玩家采取不同类型的选择和行动应对不同类型的威胁。

玩一款策略游戏时,如果仅仅通过经济和准备就足以打败对手,我会对这个游戏感到很不满意。如果快速增兵是最可靠的胜利方式,如果第一次战斗的结果对最终胜负具有高度的决定性,那么这将是令人沮丧的。

我不想经历这些,我也不想让我的玩家得到这样的体验。一款游戏过分侧重某类行动就会像《灰蛊》一样令人疲乏,或者像《突袭 4》(Sudden Strike 4)单调无聊。那些最能引起玩家共鸣的、永恒的经典游戏为玩家提供很多种成功的方式,以及采取不同类型行动的机会。

我对游戏设计抱着最简单的观念,经常自创一些术语,或许它们已经有了正规的定义。我试图用自己的方式解释一些游戏机制是如何运作的,它们为什么可行,为什么有些机制不可行,这是很大一部分原因。最有趣的游戏应该具有适量的准备行动和长期回报,提供一系列采取直接行动的途径,在此期间玩家又能采取预测行动,每一类行动有各自成功的技巧和思维方式,每一类行动都与其它类型相互独立。某一类行动对成功的影响性过大或过小、或者某一类行动的技巧性过重或过轻,都会破坏游戏体验。

感谢阅读。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信 zhengjintiao

In this article, I ’ m going to seek to elucidate a theory of how players ’ actions operate in the context of strategy games – mostly, in a competitive setting, though I think it also applies to single player or co-op as well. Specifically, I ’ m looking at how games ’ rules direct player action into one of 4 interrelated categories of action, which I ’ m calling "Preparatory" actions, "Anticipatory" actions, "Direct" actions, and "Reactionary" actions.

‘ ll take a look at each category separately, using examples across a range of games, and then talk about how these relate to one another, and where I feel existing game design could do a better job of providing a more rewarding experience.

Preparatory Actions

( Resource harvesting and building production structures are examples of Preparatory actions. You ’ re gearing up for the ‘ real ’ fight later on )

Most strategy game design leads players to focus intensely on the first category of action. Preparatory Actions are exactly what they sound like. They ’ re the player preparing for something to happen.

Building up your economy ( training workers, building Refineries ) or manufacturing base ( building production structures ) , researching tech/upgrades, and building out your army are preparatory actions. For these, benefits are often not immediate and may take minutes of careful management to build up to a payoff or better game position.

You ’ re building up towards being able push out your army, or to fend off the enemy ’ s big attack. You ’ re preparing to pull out your deathball, your super-unit or superweapon. You ’ re spending time and mental energy towards the goal of making something happen. These are incremental actions, with a long payoff; few of them reach their peak performance within a small time period.

(Supreme Commander has a bevy of intricate Preparatory interactions, such as building adjacency bonuses)

These are the actions that players really seem to tend to enjoy on average. Games like Age of Empires, StarCraft 2, and Supreme Commander have intricate and comprehensive systems of Preparatory actions that provide a high degree of control of economic outcomes.

In general, players tend want to build an intricate base that ’ s laid out just so, or maximize their build order to get those Banshees out in as few seconds as possible.

Overly focusing on preparatory actions, however, is bad for a competitive game. Just ask Grey Goo ( or Forged Battalion ) . Grey Goo ’ s gameplay is really loaded towards a gradual ramp up to a large army. Once you ’ re in the middle of a battle, you don ’ t … really … have a lot of tools to react to your opponent ’ s actions, or manipulate the battle in meaningful ways beyond backing off and trying not to lose too much of your army.

Winning a Grey Goo match comes down, more often than not, to your ability to maintain and expand an income to support army replenishment. Income and manufacturing reign supreme, to the game ’ s detriment.

I hate to derail this entirely to dump on Grey Goo, but a lot of this comes down to: slow average unit move speeds, and production and harvesting operations ( refineries mostly ) being highly defensible, combined with a low-impact counter system, means that harassment is difficult to pull off and it ’ s difficult to counter a large army with a smaller one. The game provides very little wiggle room or ability to pull out any sort of "oh crap!" measure to reverse your fortunes, and a small number of units don ’ t have a lot of room to make a big impact.

Contrast this with StarCraft 2, where a single uncontained Infestor or Oracle can mulch an entire base ’ s worth of income, or in WarCraft 3, where a Blood Mage or Archmage can whittle an army with a lucky hit, or a Demon Hunter or Blademaster can take out an enemy hero leaving their army vulnerable and unsupported – and these are the easy, low hanging fruit interactions to describe.

And, speaking of battle …

Direct Actions

(Pew Pew! Direct actions are when you make something happen in a game, whether it ’ s taking territory, moving your army to initiate combat, or doing a rush/surprise attack.)

Next, we have Direct actions. I ’ m skipping Anticipatory for now. I ’ ll do that one last because it ’ s the trickiest to tackle. Direct Actions are, well, doing stuff.

Direct Actions are proactive, aggressive actions you take in the game. Scouting your opponent, trying to cut off their supply line, sniping their workers to slow their economy, or doing a push with your army are primarily examples of actions that fall into this category. Even moving your army to a tactically advantageous position or to cut off your opponent from part of the map would count as ‘ direct ’ actions.

For instance, if in Age of Empires you scout your opponent sending an attack force in your direction, you might want to manipulate your forces to be ready for their likely attack point ( an anticipatory action ) . You might also want to change from a more economic focus/boom economy towards maximizing your army, beginning a chain of preparatory actions to deal with your enemy ’ s evident aggression that would overwhelm you if you don ’ t have a large enough army to deal with it.

Sending a counterattack force to hinder their economy while they ’ re attempting to destroy your infrastructure would be an example Direct action.

Direct actions are, by and large, what the Preparatory actions are preparing for. Fast teching to a halftrack in Company of Heroes 2 to catch your opponent off-guard without a counter, getting those Dark Templar out ( StarCraft 2 ) and into your enemy ’ s base before they get detection. These are the direct actions you ’ re taking to swing the course of the game.

Like the name says, these actions are often pretty transitory. In many cases, being the output of a Preparatory action, these are more of a result than a product in themselves. The kinetic result translated from the potential energy generated from preparatory actions.

Direct actions are the second half of what most RTS focus on ( the first half being Preparatory actions, of course ) . Build a bunch of horsemen – preparation, send them to harass enemy villagers – direct action. Turtle up to get a nuclear missle – preparation; slam that missle into the enemy base – direct action.

Reactionary Actions

(MOBAs, especially Heroes of the Storm, tend to have comparatively few preparatory actions and focus player attention on Anticipatory and Reactionary action types.)

Reactionary actions are the ones players take *during* or *in response* to other actions, particularly in combat situations.

-Retreating your army from a losing engagement

-using skill shots or abilities to change the course of the combat

-offmap/support powers

-Most combat-oriented unit ‘ micro ’

Are almost always reactionary in nature.

The line between Direct actions and Reactionary actions blurs a bit at times, and I feel it ’ s mostly one of intent. Remember, we ’ re talking about how players are interacting with the game here. So, where a Direct action is sending your army out to attack your opponent ’ s base ( with maybe a surprise sneak attack at enemy production lined up ) the Reactionary actions that follow consist of the Psionic Storms, Stalker Blinks, Yamato cannons, Marine micro, grenade tosses, etc that you ’ re performing to ensure the success of your intended course of action.

Reactionary actions are typically loosely related to Preparatory actions: you might need to have constructed a structure or researched an upgrade to enable the Reactionary action ( such as with support powers in Command and Conquer 3 ) , or it might be tied to a unit you ’ ve had to train ( such as Psionic Storm in StarCraft or Anti-Tank grenades in Company of Heroes ) .

These actions are the ones you take in the moment to impact the outcome of an engagement or interaction. Making the best use of the tools you ’ ve acquired in the Preparatory phase to ensure a better outcome for youself than your opponent. Micro. Active abilities. Skill-shots.

Hopefully, I ’ ve been able to demonstrate that so far, the majority of interactions RTS, each in its way, inherits from the Preparatory actions of building your economy. We ’ re going to come back to that in a bit. But first, Anticipatory actions.

Anticipatory Actions

( Universe at War and the Command and Conquer games feature design that supports some fantastic Anticipatory actions )

I saved Anticipatory actions for last since they ’ re not really generally a formalized piece of the puzzle in strategy games. These are actions you perform as a last-minute adjustment right before an engagement begins.

-Scanner sweep to find burrowed Banelings/creep tumors prior to attempting to move your army into position to attack the enemy

-Splitting your army into 2 groups to surround an incoming enemy force

-Engaging an ability that reduces your unit/army ’ s ability to react quickly in exchange for increased defenses ( e.g. a Sentry ’ s shield bubble )

-Performing a unit configuration action ( putting a different troop in a Multigunner IFV in RA3 ) . Sometimes these are Reactionary ( like changing a Viking from air to ground mode ) but sometimes they don ’ t provide full benefits unless you ’ ve done them before combat begins in earnest.

You almost always can ’ t perform the anticipatory action without having prepared ( e.g. constructed a unit ) , but it ’ s not quite the same order of thing, to me. If I were to extablish a relationship between the 4 types of action, it would be:

Preparatory actions precipitate Direct actions. Direct actions precipitate Anticipatory actions. Anticipatory actions preceed Reactions.

Since a lot of this is contextual, a single ability or unit action might be Anticipatory, Reactionary, or Direct depending on context, though I would argue in most cases, the specific design of these abilities almost always makes them most suitable when occurring in a specific category.

Universe at War had some great Anticipatory actions in its faction dynamics.

-Novus applying a new faction-wide Patch. This isn ’ t something that ’ s directly going to swing combat in your favor – there ’ s no instant impact in a localized area. But, it might help you retreat, or apply that code debuff during combat to change the outcome over the course of the battle. It ’ s an action anticipating eventual reactions down the line.

-Masari switching to Light/Dark matter mode to change their army behavior. Unless you have a certain research option unlocked, dark mode takes some time to bring its main benefit ( its shield ) online. And units take some time to adapt to their new mode, with air units slowly sinking to the ground once Dark Matter mode is activated. Not something you want to do in the heat of the moment, unless you ’ ve prepared for it ahead of time.

-Hierarchy swapping Hardpoints on a Walker. Hardpoints can alter the outcome of a battle, but are vulnerable when warping in. Changing from production to combat orientation takes some time.

(I would consider positioning a set-up weapon in a Company of Heroes game to be an anticipatory-type action in most cases)

These actions are often too slow, or their effects are too gradual to be reactionary and are more individually impactful than the overlapping pile of your preparatory actions, so you end up with this weird space where, right before combat begins in earnest, you ’ re fine-tuning things to work to your advantage that otherwise might not work ( or work as well ) in the context of a battle.

This is kind of akin to Company of Heroes 2, where mines/barbed wire are Preparatory, since they take time to place and are useless if a unit is spotted while placing them.

But, say, positioning your tanks and weapons crews? That ’ s more of an anticipatory thing. You can KIND of do it offensively, if you approach an enemy just right and have units to screen the crews while they ’ re vulnerable. But if you ’ re too static with it, you ’ re gonna get hit with some missiles or mortar shells or some such nasty area damage Reaction to what you ’ re trying to do.

Why does this matter? – Proportionality

( Much of your success in Tooth and Tail comes down almost purely to a careful balance between income and production of armed forces. Once you ’ re behind economically it ’ s almost impossible to come back. )

Proportionality: Forming a relationship with other parts or quantities; being in proportion.

Getting these elements into various balance configuration is the product ( or results in ) of different types of design choices when crafting strategy games.

Clearly, a game like Grey Goo or Forged Battallion, which are heavily skewed towards a dominant buildup phase, where resources are king, is a poor solution. Games designed this way suffer. Or, more specifically, the players of games designed this way don ’ t have a great experience.

I ’ ve written before about "equilibrium", and allowing players multiple semi-independent avenues down which they can succeed – and must demonstrate mastery in which to succeed.

For me, this is more than an idle mental excersise. I want to understand how people approach game rules in order to create interesting and deep interactions in the games I make. When working on my StarCraft 2 custom mod, and duing my brief tenure assisting Dream Harvest games with the NeuroSlicers game, I kept running into situations where I wanted to be able to provide the players with different types of option and action to handle different types of threat.

When playing a strategy game, I feel deeply unsatisfied if simple economics and preparations are enough to score me wins in battle. It ’ s frustrating when quickly pumping out a bigger army is the surest way to guarantee a victory in most cases, and where the outcome of the first encounter with the enemy is highly deterministic of the outcome of the final encounter ( the slippery slope, if you will ) .

I don ’ t want to experience that, and I don ’ t want my players to experience that. Weighting one type of action too heavily with the game ’ s design leads to the slogfests of Grey Goo, and another type too heavily leads to the unsatisfying one-battle snoozefests of Sudden Strike 4. The games that have resonated most with players over time, the timeless classics, give you lots of ways to succeed, and lots of opportunities to perform well in various categories of activity.

I know I ’ m something of an American Primitive of game design, constantly creating my own terminology for things that have may already have a formalized recognition elsewhere. I ’ m trying to define, for myself, how and why some games work mechanically, and others don ’ t. For me, this is a big piece of why. Having the right balance of preparatory actions with a long payoff, a variety of approaches that lead to interesting direct actions, that are themselves able to be anticipated for and reacted to in the moment, with different skillsets and mindsets driving success for each of these action types, with each type of action being somewhat independent in success and initiaton from the other types, leads to the most interesting game to play. Too much or too little opportunity to succeed along these actions spoils the recipe, as well as too much or too little weight being afforded to skill along one of these avenues.

Thanks for reading.(source:Gamasutra

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