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如何将MOBA真正带到手机平台上

作者:Ivan Fedyanin

手机市场上存在着一个到目前为止都还未有人能够占据的宝藏:许多PC玩家都是玩着大规模在线游戏长大的,这些游戏包括第一人称射击游戏,MMORPG,MOBA等等。而现在许多这些玩家都有了自己的小孩,其它兴趣以及全职工作。虽然他们还是和之前一样的玩家,但是现在的他们已经没有足够的时间去玩那些游戏了。

每一年这些玩家的数量都在增加,并且越来越多开发者希望去占领这部分市场。而这看起来似乎很简单。我们知道这些玩家想要什么以及他们喜欢在什么样的平台玩游戏:即手机上的大规模PC游戏玩法,能在某个地方玩几分钟在其它地方再玩几分钟。

如果我们能够将一款大型PC游戏移植到手机上,我们也许便能够吸引到这些玩家,但是他们通常只能在有空的时候在沙发上或桌子前,即带有强烈wifi的场所玩游戏。但是如果玩家需要满足这些条件的话,他们可能更愿意打开自己的平板电脑或主机,而不是只在智能手机上玩游戏。所以只是效仿PC游戏玩法并没有用,这也有可能是Super Evil Megacorp的《虚无荣耀》花了那么多时间去吸引玩家注意力的原因。

如何将MOBA真正带到手机平台上

vainglory(from gamesindustry)

一种替代方法便是删除或简化所有内容,只留下“游戏的精髓”。这是我们可以在无数新闻稿中看到的内容。而这一方法所具有的问题也非常明显:不管游戏的质量多高,它最终都会出现在一个截然不同的用户手上,而游戏本来的目标用户仍会继续等待着他们想要的游戏。

平衡“大型体验”与小需求的必要性

成功的唯一方法便是努力做到“大型体验”与玩家想要消耗这种体验的小需求的平衡。我们必须通过简化那些对于游戏体验来说并不必要的元素去“激发”我们的游戏。这让我想起米开朗琪罗在谈到大卫雕塑的创作时所说的话:“这很简单。只需要舍弃一切看起来不像大卫的东西便可以。”但也请注意,虽然我主要谈论的是MOBA,但是这些要点也适用于任何同步和竞争性游戏。

以下内容都是手机游戏开发者所熟知的内容,但是许多游戏的发行却都是与这些常识和产业标准背道而驰的。我并不打算讨论那些核心游戏玩法和艺术,相反地我将说说那些更有可能被忽视的小内容。

回合长度

回合长度是一个看起来很复杂的问题。较短的回合会限制你所添加的战术元素的数量。较长的回合则可能导致玩家在完成回合前便会选择离开游戏。所以开发者的任务便是确保回合足够简短同时还能为玩家保留具有策略性的决策和机遇让他们可以将失败转变成成功。我们同时也将在玩家短暂离开游戏(游戏邦注:即10至15秒钟之内)期间保持选择的可行。回合长短主要取决于游戏,但任何超过5至10分钟的内容都需要为自己找到适当的理由。

比赛安排

在比赛安排中,时间也是一个非常重要的元素。高质量的比赛安排将考虑玩家的技能并只会召唤来自同一地理区域的玩家,并且不会超过30秒钟。手机游戏玩家愿意等待的时间通常都不会超过30秒。从某种程度上来看这是一种技术问题,但从用户规模来看这同样也是一种群聚效应问题。如何一款游戏不能为比赛安排系统吸引足够玩家去提供有价值的对手,它便会深陷MOBA的死亡漩涡:更少的DAU>更糟糕的比赛安排>更更少的DAU>更更糟糕的比赛安排。

位置和时间

我们相信玩家认为一天玩大约5次MOBA游戏是合理的。但是因为网络,自由时间,以及需要一个相对舒适的场所等原因,他们实际上可能在这5次可能性中只会玩1次游戏。所以我们必须专注于这5次情况中条件最理想的1次。而对于其它4次机会,我们可以提供给玩家一些不同但却具有意义的体验—-如更适合不需要严格网络要求的短时间游戏。如果玩家能够快速加载游戏4次(不需要联网),他们便有可能在晚上有机会的时候选择玩同一款游戏。

控制

我们的潜在玩家可以自如地使用鼠标和键盘,他们当然也尝试过像《炉石传说》等手机游戏的简单控制系统。但是我们该如何既满足他们对于更复杂游戏玩法的需求也满足他们对于具有说服力的手机控制方案的需求呢?对此的解决方法并不是复制手机上的鼠标功能,这是从未成功过的做法。相反地我们需要确保智能手机屏幕上的控制符号足够明显且让人看着舒服。因为现在并不存在对此的最理想解决方法,所以我们应该尽可能尝试各种不同的控制系统。同时我们也应该让AI去处理某些特定的控制方案内容,这能够帮助新玩家获得一站式服务体验从而让他们对游戏留下更好的第一印象。

技术

如果我们可以暂时不管游戏类型和核心游戏玩法等问题而只是专注游戏的技术方面,我们便能够处理一些有趣的要点。尽管因为技术的快速发展让手机上的游戏也能和主机游戏一样华丽,拥有较长的游戏回合,巨大的PvP战斗,但是玩家,甚至是中核玩家仍钟情于游戏简单化。而这种简单化不应该只是出现于游戏玩法中,还应该渗透到每个环节里。

我们是否在创造3D游戏?我们必须先确保游戏能够有效运行于所有设备上,并在需要的时候抛弃后期处理效果。这么做有用吗?现在让我们着眼于游戏花了多少空间,如果超过50MB到1GB便是不可行的。我们需要将其降至100MB,而让登录页面只带有一个“加载1/1000MB”的信息是不够的。至少我们需要让游戏教程在一开始便是可行的。

在这一话题上,尽管我们的游戏是一款手机RPG,但是没有什么东西像在游戏前必须登录这样的设定会影响游戏的转换率。基本原理非常简单:你必须让玩家轻敲主屏幕上的图标便能开始游戏,最理想的情况是一切只会发生在10秒之内。如果你使用一个加载页面和进程条去欢迎玩家的话情况会变得很糟糕。我们需要一个会在2秒钟内消失的过度屏幕,并确保每个游戏窗口的加载时间都一样。

最后便是最难执行的改变内容。现代手机游戏需要在客户端应用(而不是在服务器上)尽可能执行更多代码,除了PvP比赛外的所有部分都将能够运行于离线模式中。如果游戏回合因为玩家在地铁上或者突然掉网而终止的话玩家便会非常困惑。缓存与延迟的服务器认证是任何程序员都很熟悉的技术问题。我们必须投入足够时间去执行这些内容

尽管手机游戏不断转向硬核游戏玩法,但是要想真正发展一个MOBA项目还需要你认真去研究如何做到游戏简单化。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转发,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

MOBA: Truly embracing the mobile platform

By Ivan Fedyanin

There is a treasure in the mobile market, one that so far no one has managed to claim: a large audience of PC players who grew up playing large-scale online games: first-person shooters, MMORPGs, MOBAs, and so on. These players now have kids, other hobbies and full-time jobs. They’re the same gamers they were before, but they simply no longer have time in their busy lives to play those games.

This subset of gamers is growing each and every year, and more and more developers want to capture the market they have created. It seems simple. We know what these gamers want, and the platform on which they would prefer to play: large-scale PC gameplay on mobile phones, catching a few minutes here and there.

If we made a full port of a big PC game to mobile we might reach this audience, but they’ll only be able to play sitting on the couch or at a table, with a good wifi connection, with lots of free time to spare. And let’s face it, if these conditions are met, the average player would probably prefer to open their laptop or fire up a console, not play the game on a smartphone. Simply emulating PC gameplay probably won’t work out well, and that may be the reason why Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory took so long to get traction in the market.

The alternative approach is to remove or oversimplify everything, leaving only the “spirit of the game.” This sentiment can be read over and over in myriad press releases. The problem with this approach is clear: no matter how high quality the game, it will probably end up in the hands of an entirely different audience, while the intended audience will still be waiting for the game they want.

Balancing the “big experience” and the need for small slices

The only path to success is to constantly strive for balance between the ‘big experience’ and the player’s need to consume that experience in small slices. We must “mobilise” our games by simplifying only those elements that are not essential to the experience. It calls to mind an old quote, attributed to Michelangelo, about how he created his statue of David: “It’s easy. Just take away everything that doesn’t look David.” But please bear with me, and please note that, while I’m mainly talking about MOBAs, these points can be applied to any synchronous and competitive game.

Most of the following things are well-known to mobile developers, yet too many games are released that go against common sense and industry standards. I’m not talking about the core gameplay and the art, but the small things that are more likely to be overlooked or neglected.

Session length

Session length is a deceptively difficult problem. Short sessions restrict the number of developmental and tactical elements you can include. Longer sessions make it more likely that players will leave before it has resolved. The task, then, is to make sessions as short as possible while retaining strategic decisions and the opportunity for players to turn a likely defeat into a triumphant comeback. We should also leave the option open for short (10 to 15 second) absences from the game should the player receive an unexpected call. How long the ideal session is depends on the game, but anything over 5 to 10 minutes has to be very well justified.

Matchmaking

Time is also an important factor in matchmaking. Quality matchmaking, which takes player skill into account and only includes players from a single geographical area, should take no more than 30 seconds. Mobile players simply aren’t willing to wait any longer than that. In part this is a technical issue, but also a question of achieving critical mass in terms of audience size, If a game cannot reach enough players initially for its matchmaking system to offer up a worthy opponent, it will enter the spiral of MOBA death: less DAU > worse matchmaking > even less DAU > even worse matchmaking.

Location and timing

We believe that a player will think it would be nice to play “that MOBA game” about five times a day. However, they will actually be able to play on one of those five occasions, due to the need for an internet connection, distraction-free time (however little of it), and a relatively comfortable location (playing on a crowded bus while holding the handrail doesn’t make for a great game against other players). We must concentrate on that one single time of the five when conditions will be ideal. For the other four, we can offer a different but also meaningful experience – another game mode more appropriate for a very short time period with limited access to the internet. If a player loads the game four times for short (and not necessarily online) sessions and is rewarded, it is very likely that they will select the same game in the evening when they get that one chance to really play.

Controls

Our potential players are at ease with a mouse and keyboard, and they surely have experience with accessible control systems from mobile games like Hearthstone. But how do we satisfy their needs for more complex gameplay as well as their need for a convincing mobile control scheme? The solution is not to reproduce mouse functionality on the phone, which has never been done well despite many attempts. We need to make controlling characters just as comfortable and intuitive on a smartphone screen as it is with a mouse. Since there is no ideal solution for this currently, we should experiment with several possible control systems. Also, allow certain aspects of the control scheme to be handled by AI, as this will help new players have a hassle-free experience and give them a better first impression.

Technology

If we set aside questions of genre and core gameplay for a minute and look just at the game’s technical side, we can address a few interesting points. Despite incredible advances in technology that make it possible to make mobile games almost as beautiful as on consoles, with long game sessions and huge PvP combat, players – even mid-core players – still need simplicity. And simplicity shouldn’t just be applied to gameplay, but to everything else.

Are we making our game in 3D graphics? We must first make sure it runs well on all devices, and disable post-processing effects if needed. That settled? Alright, now look at how much space the game takes, and 500MB to 1GB is unacceptable. We need to drive the build down to 100MB, and it will not suffice to have a login screen with a “Loading 1/1000 MB” message. The tutorial must be playable from the start at the very least.

While we’re on the subject, even if our game is a mobile RPG, nothing kills conversion rates like having to register before playing – even with “quick registration.” The fundamental principle is a simple: tapping the icon on the home screen should begin gameplay, preferably within ten seconds. Greeting the player with a loading screen and a progress bar is terrible. We need a transition screen that disappears within two seconds, and make sure that each and every game window is able to load within that same timeframe.

And, finally, the hardest change to implement. A modern mobile game needs to execute as much code in the client app (not on the server) as possible, and all parts except PvP matches should work in offline mode. Users will not show understanding if a game session suddenly ends because they’re in the subway and the internet service drops for a moment. Caching and delayed server validation are familiar technologies to any programmer. We must allow enough time to implement them properly.

Despite the fact that mobile games are increasingly moving towards core gameplay, “mobilizing” a MOBA project requires detailed research into games that keep it simple. Following that same approach in everything but tactical choices is the key to success.( source:gamesindustry

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