阐述游戏设计所包含的阴阳两极思维

作者:stefan zamfir

古老的道教原理认为两极是宇宙的本质特征,我们的思维往往都包含了这两方面,而这两种明显对立的力量也主导着我们的行为。

我们的思维左侧是逻辑,即理性和组织是受到精密度和清晰度的控制,而右侧则是创造性,即想象力和灵感是受到激情和混乱的影响。

我们的游戏设计则是介于两者之间:有时候它要求活动必须包含思维的左侧,有时候又要求包含右侧。有时候我们需要灵感去进行头脑风暴,有时候我们又需要清晰的表达以及有组织的规格。

在项目的 开发过程中,我们都需要用到思维的每一面。如果每一面都能发挥其功效,你便能够创造出一款优秀的游戏。有能力的设计师之所以会在项目中犯错便是因为在某一特定过程中使用了错误的思维面。

1.头脑风暴

如今的我们身处理性的年代中,而这经常导致我们忘记理性便是思维中的一面。使用某一种工具去解决所有可能的问题有时候具有限制性,不过其它时候则几乎是不可能的。

这也是为何有人会尝试着去证明头脑风暴是无效的(注:即认为它并不符合我们思维的逻辑面)。这种观点并非完全错误:头脑风暴与理性并无关系,反而是与想象力具有密切的关系。如果人们只使用理性去运行头脑风暴的话,它们必然会遭遇失败。理性只能用于设定头脑风暴的目标。而实现这一目标还是要依靠我们思维中的另外一面。

阐述游戏设计所包含的阴阳两极思维

Brainstorming(from jobsearchchina)

理性不能出现在头脑风暴会议桌上的原因包括:

首先,它并不能带来什么新鲜的内容。理性是我们过去体验的产物。它能够进行逆向设计,判断与推论。但是它却不能创造出新理念。这也是为何我们今天会看到如此多复制品的主要原因。

其次,它是一种判断功能。当思维处于一种开放状态时,想象力总是能够有效地发挥作用。当它实现一个流状态时,它总是能够联合,转变并结合新元素。但是如果因为判断而分裂了这一过程,那么效能便会大大降低。

比起让想象力自由地游荡,理想总是在每次发现理念时将其紧紧地束缚着。

理想想要限制头脑风暴中的元素数量,因为如果元素越多,那么整个过程就会变得越复杂。想象力只能在新理念中发展。理想创造规则,而想象力却会打破这些规则。

而理性能够在头脑风暴过程中进行干涉,即当目标被遗忘时能将话题再次引回目标上,

对我以及我所熟知的人来说,头脑风暴非常有效。我们不知道为什么会有人否定这一点。让想象舞动起来吧。

最终,头脑风暴能为我们带来比之前更多的理念。而如果你需要各种内容去创造一个项目,你便需要这些理念。

2.理念的选择

创造一款游戏就像完成一个没人见过的谜题一样,你需要一步一步地创造其中的组件,而不是只使用你自己的理念。

任何原因都不能干涉这些理念的创造,但是当这些理念被聚集在一起时,它们不应该只是堆积在一块。为了变成一款真正的游戏,它们需要接受审查,选择以及组织等过程。而这时候便需要理性去发挥作用。

每个理念都需要回答一组问题,即该理念是否适合游戏?是否能更好地完善游戏?是否适合其它理念?

在经过第一轮问题的筛选后,合格的理念还需要回答新一轮的问题:这些理念的落实是否符合时间和预算?当程序员在面对这些理念时是否会埋怨我?这些理念是否值得我们追随?

在选择了最适合游戏的一些理念后,我通常都会选择3或4个最大的理念去支撑游戏,并利用它们去最大限度地推动我所使用的设备。这些理念将作为游戏的灵魂而明显地呈现出来。

在这一阶段中我所坚持的是:在选择理念时切忌参杂个人情感。因为情感将包庇你的最大敌人:爱与恐惧。

设计师可能犯的最大错误便是钟情于自己的理念!

永远不要这么做。因为你总是知道它们能够带来何种优势与劣势。你必须清楚它们适合什么,最重要的是为何适合。你必须能在这些理念太过膨胀时将其扼杀掉。

你的理念只是帮助你完善游戏的工具。它们并不能让你变得更聪明或更重要。你需要学习如何无视自尊心这该死的东西。

设计师可能犯的第二大错误便是害怕失败!

作为另一个极端,你不能创造一款舍弃全新或杰出理念的游戏,因为它将变得很难执行。在某种情况下,你需要获得时间和别人的信任并进行反复的实验与失败,直至你最终获得成功。

3.说服力

现在,是时候退后一步去看看你所选择的理念了。它们是否能够带给你灵感?人们是否能够从中感受到乐趣?

理性不会告诉你如何去探索游戏。如果在聚集了这些理念后你还是不相信自己创造出了非常棒的体验,那么别人也永远不可能相信这一点。

设计师的任务便是鼓舞团队成员,并说服他们这些理念能够帮助整个团队创造出非常帮助的游戏。

如果你认为自己做不到这一点,你便需要重头开始了。

4.规格和反馈

为了创造一款游戏你必须了解它的构成。当游戏理念得到证实后,你便需要从理念转向游戏元素。游戏元素可以包含角色,道具,对手等能够与玩家进行互动的内容。

你必须足够清晰,简单且综合地描述这些元素。你必须告诉设计师和动画家它们长什么样以及如何发展,并告诉程序员它们该如何表现出来以及与其它元素之间的关系。

这时候就该思维左侧出场了:如果你能够更清楚且更有组织性地呈现出这些信息,那么你的项目便能够更顺利地向前发展。

当这些人向你呈现出自己的创作时,你便需要明确地告诉它们这是否是自己想要的,如果不是的话也请指出问题所在。并且你必须清楚简明地进行解释。

当然了,你也需要面临来自高层的反馈。我便遇到过两种错误的方法:

一种便是不管反馈是对是错都一味地接受:因为对方是老板,所以他们知道自己在说些什么。但这么做将剥夺了你的选择与行动权。

另一种则是完全相反:他们凭什么要求改变我那完美的游戏?而这么做的最终下场便是你被开除。

相反地,你都必须搞清楚每一种反馈的原因,即采取最理想且最诚实的方法:

它是否对游戏有益?如果是的话,你又是如何知道这些给予反馈的上司知道自己在说什么?

如果你所获得的反馈既不会带给游戏好处,但是也不会破坏它或影响团队的工作量的话,那就落实行动吧,因为这毕竟关系到我们的薪水。

反馈是否会影响游戏的质量,或者让所有成员承受高压的工作量?你确定?要记得:不支持你的理念也就不会害怕失败。如果是这样的话你便有必要进行协商了:你想要反驳的理念具有何种优势?为什么对方希望你做出改变?你能否提供其它解决方法而确保双方都能接受?你能否提供使用与你相同理念的成功游戏作为例子?

最后你必须牢记:在协商的时候,你需要握有谈判的筹码。如果你之前所提供的作品很糟糕,那么别人也会如此看待你下次提供的作品。而如果你能够确保你所呈现的作品具有较高的质量和生产价值,你便有可能在协商中获胜。

(转自游戏邦)

The Yin and Yang of Game Design, part 1

by stefan zamfir

This article is dedicated to my Vietnamese design students: if you ever fail me, I swear I’m coming back for you.

In the same way as the ancient taoists attributed polar characteristics to our universe, our mind is the host of two sides, two apparently opposing forces that govern our behavior.

Our left side is the side of logic, rationality and organization and is governed by precision and clarity. Our right side is the side of creativity, imagination and inspiration and it’s governed by passion and chaos.

Our game design work is somewhere in the middle: sometimes it requires activities involving the left side of our mind, other times the right. Sometimes we need inspiration for idea-rich brainstorms, other times we need clearly articulat and organized specifications.

Each side of our mind will be required at specific times during the duration of a project. A good game is born when each part is doing its job. IMHO the main reason why competent designers make mistakes in their projects is because they use the wrong side of their mind for the wrong activity.

1. Brainstorming

We’re living right now in the age of reason and this often makes us often forget that rationality is but one side of our mind. Using a single tool to solve  all possible problems can prove sometimes restrictive, other times simply impossible.

That’s why some people try to prove brainstorming ineffective: it doesn’t quite fit with the logical part of our brains. They are partially right: brainstormings have nothing to do with rationality, they have everything to do with imagination. As long as they try to go through them using only the rational, they will fail. Reason can only set the goal of the brainstorming session. Reaching it it’s a  job for the other side of our minds.

There’s more than one reason why rationality shouldn’t be allowed at the brainstorming table:

First, it has nothing new to bring here. Reason is the product of our past experiences. It can reverse engineer what others did, it can judge, it can infer or deduce. But it doesn’t invent new ideas. That could be why so many things these days are just copies of copies of copies.

The second reason is exactly it’s judging function. Imagination works best when mind it’s in an open state. When it achieves a flow where  it freely associates, transforms and combines new elements. The more fragmented by judgment this process is, the less efficient it becomes.

Instead of letting the imagination roam free, rationality pins it down after each discovered idea.

Reason wants to limit the number of elements on the table, because the more elements, the more complex the processing becomes. Imagination just thrives in new ideas. Reason creates rules. Imagination breaks them.

If reason should be allowed to interfere here is just to steer the discussion back to the goals, if they get left behind in the conversation.

Brainstorming worked fine for me and for other people I know. I see no reason why it shouldn’t work for you. Just let the imagination fly. And whenever reason comes uninvited, kick its teeth in.

The immediate result should be brainstorming sessions that end in a lot more ideas then before.  Sometimes a good crop of ideas if everything you need to start on a good project.

2. Idea selection

Making a game is like completing a puzzle nobody has ever seen, whose pieces you invent one by one. Only instead of actual pieces you use your ideas.

Reason shouldn’t interfere with creating these ideas, but once gathered they shouldn’t just stay congregated in a big pile. To be turned into a game they need first to be interrogated, selected and  organized. This is a job for the rational side.

Each of them needs to answer a set of questions: Does this idea fit the game? Does it make it better? Does it fit with all the other ides?

After the first session of questions, the ideas that qualified will need to endure a new one: Will these ideas fit into the time and budget? Will the programmer chase me with a fire axe when he finds out about them?  Are these ideas  worth being chased for?

Once the ideas proper for the game are selected, I usually choose 3 or 4 of the bigger ones to be the spine of the game and use them to push the device I’m working with to the  upper limit. The they will feature prominently in the first pitch, they are soul of the game.

What I would insist on during this phase: keep your emotional part out when judging your ideas. Because emotion harbours your biggest enemies: love and fear.

THE GREATEST MISTAKE A DESIGNER CAN DO IS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH HIS OWN IDEAS!

Never do that. Because you should always be capable of understanding what advantages and disadvantages they bring in. You must know where they fit and, most importantly, why they fit there. You must be able to kill them, if they get too cocky and try to take over.

Your ideas are tools to be used to improve your game. They are not here to make you look smart or sound important. You need to learn how to get the ego out of the goddamn way.

THE SECOND GREATEST MISTAKE A DESIGNER CAN DO IS FEAR FAILURE!

At the other extreme, you can’t create a good game discarding everything new or cool or spectacular because it might be hard to implement. At some point you will need to ask for time and trust to experiment and fail until you get it right.

3. Vision

Now is a good moment take a step back and look at what ideas you selected. Are they inspiring you? Is it there something people will find exciting and fun?

Reason can’t tell you how to feel about your game.  If after gathering all these ideas you are not convinced you’re creating an extraordinary experience, you’ll never be able to convince others.

It’s the role of the designer to inspire the team and convince the powers that be that these concepts can achieve greatly.

If you feel you can’t do that with you gathered so far it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

4. Specifications and feedback

In order to make a game you need to know what it is made off. Once the game ideas are deemed good enough, it’s time to shift from concepts to game elements. They can be characters, items, opponents… everything in your game that can interact with the player.

These elements must be described in the most  clear, simple and comprehensive manner. The artists and animators will need to know how do they look like and how they move. The programmes will need to know how they behave and how they relate to the other elements.

This is a job for the left side for your mind: the better presented and organized this information is, the better the project will go.

When these people will have something to show you, it’s time to tell them if that’s what you wanted, or, if not, what’s wrong with it. Again, this must be explained in the most clear and concise way.

And there is, of course, the matter of receiving feedback from someone higher in the food-chain. I’ve seen two kinds of wrong approaches here:

One is taking the feedback as it is: they are the bosses, so they must know what they’re talking about. This one usually disempowers you.

The other is the exact opposite: how dare they ask to change my beautiful perfect game? Bastardos! This one usually gets you fired.

Instead, each item of the feedback must be interrogated on its own, in the most rational and honest manner:

Does it benefit the game? Yes? Hey, what do you know, they really understand what they’re talking about, these feedback guys!

It doesn’t benefit, nor hurt the game or the volume of work? Cool, let’s do it, since they sign our bloody paychecks.

Does it hurt the game quality, or throw everyone in a draconian crunch? You sure? Remember: no love for your pet ideas, no fear of failure. If it does, this is another step where you shouldn’t start getting emotional. No, it is time to start negotiating: What are the strengths of the ideas you decided to defend here? Why do they want them changed? Can you offer alternative solutions that would keep everyone happy? Can you provide examples of successful games that use ideas similar to yours?

One last thing you must remember: when negotiating, you need a bargaining chip. To paraphrase the cinema expression: You are only as good as your last build was. If your last build was weak, your next proposals will be regarded as such. If you maniacally added quality and high production values to what you’ve shown, you will have more success in your negotiation.

In part two we’ll talk atmosphere, ergonomics, player motivation and clarity.(source:gamasutra)