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Playrix高管谈新游戏《妙趣动物园》的开发与创新

发布时间:2019-10-16 08:42:38 Tags:,

Playrix高管谈新游戏《妙趣动物园》的开发与创新

原作者:Alexander Semenov 译者:Willow Wu

8月14日,Playrix发行了他们的新三消游戏《妙趣动物园》( Wildscapes)。近期,我们采访了Playrix总经理Anton Chernyagov来详细谈一谈这个新游戏以及它跟之前的三消模拟经营游戏相比到底有哪些独特之处。

Alexander Semenovr: 如今的Playrix已经是一家员工数量过千的大公司了。正如我们所知,游戏开发是一个团队的故事。所以,我想听听你团队的故事。你们通常是怎么决定哪些人去做新项目,哪些人继续运营现有的游戏?

Anton Chernyagov:每个团队都是独一无二的。一般来说,我们会让经验丰富的人去做新项目。这样能给他们提供一些新的角度,还有新的成长机会,其他同事也有机会接手这些人之前的工作,得到锻炼。但有时候我们也会让新员工加入,如果他们的经验和专业技能有助于我们实现项目目标的话。

总结来说就是我们尝试让新鲜血液和资深人士一起合作,达到一个平衡状态。按照这种方式,我们可以通过给予他们新挑战不断提高团队的水准,同时也能保证收获不错的成果。

所以按照我的理解,在着手新项目时,你们不会直接交给某个核心团队?

Chernyagov: 不,就如我所说的,新员工和老员工都会加入项目开发,我们会努力维持平衡。

除此之外,我们始终都有考虑员工的自身利益。现在我们有不少项目正处于开发阶段,有些员工对某个题材或者类型比较感兴趣,我们就会记下来,将来组建团队时就能给他们机会。

动物园对Playrix来说并不算什么新题材,之前《梦想小镇》更新就加入了动物园,这就是为什么你们的新游戏是以动物园为主题吗?还是有其它原因?

Playrix团队制定决策的会议室(from gamezebo)

Playrix团队制定决策的会议室(from gamezebo)

Chernyagov: 是的,《梦想小镇》的玩家很喜欢动物园,这是我们考虑的原因之一。但不管是从视觉还是剧情角度来看,野生动物园本身就很有趣了,而且内容扩展也相对容易。在《妙趣动物园》中,我们不仅重新包装了旧项目,还为metagame设计了新的概念。

对于主题设定,我还有一个问题。打开游戏时,我有种感觉,就是这个游戏是针对中国玩家而设计的,是这样的吗?

Chernyagov: 并不是,我们没有特别针对亚洲用户而设计游戏。在游戏最开始的时候,我们想要展示多种不同的动物群体:大象、熊猫、孔雀、老虎等等。亚洲动物园的情况正好契合这个想法。在未来的更新中,我们会引入其他地区的动植物——非洲大草原、北极和南北美洲。

我们还想营造出一种轻松愉悦的氛围,就像是在度假一样。所以这就是为什么游戏的初始区域都是一些气候比较温暖的国家的动植物。这帮助我们创造出日常生活中缺乏的那种悠闲的感觉。

GameRefinery最近发布了一份中国市场研究报告,调查显示,相比食物元素,中国玩家更喜欢匹配动物元素。对此你有什么看法,你们曾想过用动物元素吗?

Chernyagov: 调查结果确实很有意思,但我个人没有什么看法,因为我们不是特别了解中国市场。我们是为全球的玩家设计游戏。

Playrix大部分的三消游戏用的都是食物元素,但也有用过动物元素。我们把兔子、浣熊、瓢虫和鸵鸟设定为特殊元素。

我们来谈谈游戏本身吧。《妙趣动物园》跟之前的游戏相比有什么不同吗,比如《梦幻家园》?有没有什么比较特别的地方?

Chernyagov: 《妙趣动物园》依然沿用了色彩丰富的增强道具,但有了一个新机制,我们称之为“动物帮手”。玩家给动物“投喂”特定的元素,到达一定数量后,动物会把若干个增强道具投掷到游戏面板上,帮助玩家完成挑战。

这是一个比较重要的改变,但也没有到举足轻重的程度。你会担心玩家可能会对同样的玩法感到厌烦吗?

Chernyagov: 这就是我们决定加入新机制的原因。玩家获得了跟之前游戏不一样的关卡体验,能够继续让他们沉浸在游戏中。实际上,我们并没有发现任何表明市场已经厌倦三消游戏的迹象。我们的所有游戏仍处于增长状态,也就是说玩家还是喜欢这类游戏。

添加新元素时你们会遵循一个公式,就比如你提到的《梦幻花园》。在游戏的初期阶段,差不多每3关就引入一个新元素,之后就不会那么频繁。到180关之后,每40关才会出现新元素。《妙趣动物园》也是这样的吗?

Chernyagov: 总的来看,我们并没有改变。《妙趣动物园》也是以同样的方式引入新元素。我们或许会在近期的大会上分享更多细节和数据。

现在我们来谈一谈metagame的部分。它在游戏中是怎么发挥作用的?

Chernyagov: 《妙趣动物园》的metagame部分就是休闲沙盒游戏,包含了城市建设元素。设计理念其实挺简单的:你玩三消游戏挣金币,然后用这些金币去买动物和装饰品,让动物园变得更美丽、更有生气,然后逐步解锁新区域。简而言之就是完成三消关卡、解锁新内容。同时,为了避免玩家产生厌倦感,我们在游戏经济的复杂性方面也下了功夫。

所以总的来说,你们又回到了《梦幻水族箱》的metagame设计?

Chernyagov: 我能明白为什么你会拿《梦幻水族箱》作比较,但情况并非如此。《妙趣动物园》并不像《梦幻水族箱》那样有空间限制,而且后者没有建筑机制,无法影响游客行为。两个游戏虽然结构上很相似,但是《妙趣动物园》创造了一个完全不一样的metagame体验。

相比之前,现在的游戏没有那么线性化了,是什么促使你们做出这样的改变?(在其它-scapes游戏中,玩家必须按照游戏的任务去建造/修复指定的东西,而新游戏中玩家可以自行规划各种建筑物。)

Chernyagov: 我不能说这种转变有什么具体的原因。对我们来说,创造新的游戏体验、同时确保能够呈现与以往相同的炫酷视觉效果是一件令人兴奋的事。

Meta部分我觉得最令人意外的事情之一就是你们又把星星当作是完成挑战的奖励了(在《妙趣动物园》中,顺利完成挑战后玩家会获得1~3颗星星作为奖励)。这些关卡都不能重玩,但一般来说星星不都是用来鼓励玩家重复刷关的吗?你能解释下这个矛盾吗?

Chernyagov: 《妙趣动物园》的星星跟metagame没有关联,也不会影响玩家的游戏进度,这跟《梦幻家园》的设定不一样。我们决定这样做是因为我们希望每款新游戏都能带给玩家新的游戏体验。这样比换汤不换药有趣多了。

我认为《妙趣动物园》的星星机制还是挺有前景的。我们之前思考过你说的那种潜在矛盾,最后我们决定星星只代表玩家的通关成绩,而不是成为鼓励玩家重复刷关的手段。

既然我们说到了星星,那我想问一个问题:设计关卡是否需要更长的时间,因为它们会让游戏的平衡问题变得更加复杂?

Chernyagov: 我的回答很短:不,并没有。

Metagame部分令我们意外的另一个方面就是硬货币。这对你们的指标有多大影响?

Chernyagov: 玩家满足游客需求后就会获得硬货币。要撇开其它决策,单独评估这个设计决策对游戏表现的影响是不可能的,或者说不现实。游戏就像是个有机组织,各部分协同工作。根据我们目前的评估,这个机制的反馈良好,正如我们所期望的那样,否则我们不会将它纳入到正式发行版中。

你们抛弃了传统的剧情结构,为什么?

Chernyagov: 我们认为给玩家提供休闲的沙盒体验、创造新式metagame挺令人兴奋的。而这个设计理念跟线性剧情无法契合。我们所面临的挑战就是设计视觉反馈(游客行为、动画等等),由此一来沙盒游戏就跟剧情游戏一样可以从情感层面吸引玩家。我想我们在这方面还是挺成功的,但是我们也看到了未来的提升空间。

游戏叙事的基础是什么?

Chernyagov: 叙事是一个非常广泛的概念,几乎每个游戏都有。根据类型和游戏本身的不同,表现叙事的方式也各不相同。就比如《妙趣动物园》这个游戏,它的叙事分为好几个层次。

第一也是最明显的层是围绕着中期目标。我刚才说过,游戏没有线性剧情,但是有任务链。动物园会定期增加新游客和员工。他们都有自己的个性和小故事。他们向玩家提出需求,对玩家的行为给予反馈,跟动物以及其它物品互动。

第二层是围绕普通游客、动物和公园的整体氛围构建的,不会像第一层那样主动呈献给玩家。反馈动画、行为定制以及其它方面共同创建了一种特定氛围,这其中还包含了某种信息。

游戏叙事的设计原则很简单,适用于任何休闲产品:

·叙事(无论是气泡中的文字还是动画还是弹出窗口)应该创造一个愉快的氛围并支持游戏的主题;

·好的叙事应该给予玩家积极的情感反馈;

·叙事应该为游戏的基本机制和目标提供支持。

4月~8月时游戏处于测试发行阶段,那时游戏有多少关卡和内容?

Chernyagov: 4月的时候,游戏只有220个关卡以及两个区域——亚洲区和非洲大草原区。现在的内容比那时多了一倍。我们每周都会增加关卡,我们计划在游戏更新时加入新区域。

既然游戏已经全球正式发行了,那测试发行应该也是很成功的。然而,你确实说过首日留存率是38%。这很令人意外了,有游戏制作人曾说过留存率低于40%的项目他们看都不会看。在你看来,首日留存率对一款游戏的成功来说有多重要?

Chernyagov: 根据我们之前所提供的数据得出结论没有多大意义。只看留存率,而不了解你所观察的流量类型,这是没有意义的。从这些测试用户来看,我认为38%的留存率还是一个不错的结果。

《妙趣动物园》目前的留存率比我们其它三消游戏都高。然而,你得记住这是一个新游戏,早期的玩家更加忠诚。留存率总是会变化的。

当然,在评估测试发行时,首日留存率是非常重要的KPI。但要如何解读你就得谨慎些了。

我的最后一个问题是关于流量的。在测试发行期间,你们通过AdMob和UnityAds购买流量,那么你们有打算跟更多平台合作吗?比如Instagram?

Chernyagov: 我们跟很多大型广告平台都有合作,比如:Facebook (包括Instagram)、Google、RTB、ad networks等等。《妙趣动物园》营销工作开始,我们就计划通过任何可用的渠道来获取用户。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

On August 14, Playrix launched Wildscapes, a new match-3 game. We sat down with Anton Chernyagov, the General Manager at Playrix, to talk about the new project and what makes it different from the other games in the -scapes series.

Alexander Semenovr: Today Playrix is a huge company with over a thousand employees. As we know, the story of any game is the story of a team. So I’d like to ask you about your teams. How do you usually decide who works on a new project and who sticks with the existing games?

Anton Chernyagov, General Manager at Playrix: Each of our teams is unique。 Typically, we put experienced people on new projects。 This gives them new perspectives and opportunities for growth while also giving their colleagues the chance to take over their former responsibilities。 But sometimes we will bring on new hires if their experience and expertise are in line with the goals of the project。

Overall, we try to strike a balance between newbies and veterans on our projects. This way we can continuously level up the team by giving them new challenges while also making sure that we achieve great results.

So as far as I understand, you don’t use a single core team when it comes to launching new projects?

Chernyagov: No, we don’t. As I mentioned, we try to have a balance of new and experienced employees throughout the whole project timeline.

Besides, we always try to take into account our employees’ own interests. Since we now have a number of different projects in development, some people are more interested in a particular genre or specific style, so we keep that in mind when we’re assembling a team.

Zoos are not a new concept for Playrix. You previously introduced a large feature in just such a setting in Township. Is that why your new title is set in a zoo? Or were there other factors?

Chernyagov: Yes, Township players really liked the zoo, so that was one of the reasons why we considered it. But wild animals and parks are interesting in their own right, both from a visual and a narrative perspective, and they’re easy to scale. In Wildscapes, we didn’t just repackage our old projects, we created a fresh concept for a metagame.

One more question about the setting. When I picked up the game I got the impression that the art was created with a Chinese audience in mind. Is that so?

Chernyagov: No, we didn’t have any specific intention to adapt the project for Asian users in particular. At the very start of the game we wanted to show the diversity of animals: elephants, pandas, peacocks, and tigers. An Asian setting just happened to fit for that idea. In future updates, we’re planning to feature the flora and fauna of other regions—the African savanna, the Arctic, and the Americas.

We also wanted to create a relaxing atmosphere and somewhat of a vacation vibe in the game. That’s why the first area represents some of the warmer countries. It helped us create that chill vibe that we often lack in our everyday life.

By the way, GameRefinery has recently shared a study they did of the Chinese market. According to the report, Chinese players like to match animal elements more than food ones. What do you think about that, and was there any temptation to use animals as match-3 elements?

Chernyagov: Those findings are definitely interesting. I don’t really have an opinion about them, though, because we’re not experts on China. We create our products for a global audience.

Most of our match-3 elements are “food” but we don’t exclude animals. We have rabbits, raccoons, ladybugs, and ostriches as special elements.

Let’s talk about the game itself. How does Wildscapes differ from Homescapes, for example? Are there any sharp contrasts?

Chernyagov: We use the same classic colorful power-ups, but combined with new mechanics that we call “animal helpers”。 The player “feeds” the animals certain elements, and in return the animals help them beat levels by throwing power-ups onto the field。

That’s an important change, but it’s not that big. Are you worried that your audience might be getting tired of the same gameplay?

Chernyagov: That’s actually why we decided to add some new mechanics. It makes the levels different from what players are used to in our other games and keeps them interested and engaged. And actually, we haven’t seen any signs that the market is getting tired of match-3. All of our titles are still growing, which means players like the genre.

You mentioned that in Gardenscapes, for example, you follow a formula when adding new elements。 At the beginning, they should be introduced every three levels or so, and then less often after that。 After Level 180, new elements are only introduced every 40 levels。 Are you using the same approach in Wildscapes?

Chernyagov: In general, we haven’t changed our approach. In Wildscapes, we introduce elements at the same pace. We may share the numbers and details at one of our upcoming conferences.

Now let’s talk about the metagame。 How does it work in the game?

Chernyagov: The metagame in Wildscapes is a casual sandbox with city building elements. The concept is quite simple: you buy animals and decorations with the coins you earn in match-3, spruce up the park, and unlock new expansions (areas and habitats). In other words, beating match-3 levels unlocks new content. At the same time, we try not to tire our users with a complicated game economy.

So basically you returned to the metagame from Fishdom. Right?

Chernyagov: I can see why you would compare it to Fishdom, but that’s not really the case。 In Wildscapes, there are no space-limited aquariums, while Fishdom doesn’t have a building component that also affects pedestrians’ behavior。 The two games are structurally similar, but Wildscapes creates a completely different gaming experience in the metagame。

Why did you decide to switch from a more linear approach? (In the other -scapes’ games the player has no choice over what to build and repair while the new title allows them to plan a wide range of buildings the way they want)

Chernyagov: I can’t say there was a concrete reason for the switch. It’s just exciting to create a game that offers a new experience but gives the same level of visual reactions to the player’s actions.

One of the most unexpected things in the meta is that you bring back stars as rewards for beating levels (in Wildscapes at the end of each level, the player gets one to three stars depending on the number of points collected)。 Levels in your games can’t be replayed, but usually stars are used to stimulate replayability。 Do you see a contradiction there?

Chernyagov: In Wildscapes, the stars aren’t part of the metagame and are unrelated to your progress in it, unlike in Homescapes. We decided to use them this way because we want each of our new games to give players a new experience. That’s more fun than just copying ourselves over and over again.

With Wildscapes, the star mechanics looked promising. Yes, we thought about the potential contradiction you mentioned and we came to the decision that the stars would just indicate how successfully you’ve completed a level, rather than being there to make you want to replay it.

Since we’re still talking about stars, I wanted to ask — does it take longer to design levels because they complicate the game balance?

Chernyagov: My answer is going to be very short: no, it doesn’t.

Another aspect of the metagame we didn’t expect from a Playrix match-3 game was hard currency。 How much did this affect your metrics percent-wise?

Chernyagov: Players receive hard currency for completing tasks from visitors。 It’s impossible (or impractical) to estimate the impact of this decision alone on the game’s performance independently of the other decisions。 The game is like a living organism。 According to our current estimates, this is working well and just the way we expected, otherwise we wouldn’t have included it in the release version。

You decided not to use a traditional storyline structure. Why?

Chernyagov: We thought it was exciting to give players a casual sandbox experience and to create a new kind of metagame. This concept wouldn’t have worked with a linear storyline. The challenge for us here was to design visual feedback (visitors’ behavior, animations, etc.) so that a sandbox game would feel as emotionally appealing as a story-based game. I think that we have been quite successful in this regard, but we still see some room for improvement in the future.

What is the game’s narrative based on?

Chernyagov: Narrative is a broad concept and almost every game has one. Depending on the genre and the game itself, the methods of delivering a narrative can vary greatly. Wildscapes, for example, has several layers of narrative.

The first and most visible layer is centered around medium-term goals. As mentioned above, the game has no linear plot, but there are quest chains. The zoo gets new visitors and employees periodically. Each of them has their own personality and their own little story. They turn to the player with their requests, comment on the player’s actions, and interact with animals and objects.

The second more background layer is built around ordinary visitors, animals, and the overall atmosphere of the park. Reaction animations, behavior customization, and other aspects create a certain atmosphere which also contains a message.

The principles of designing a game’s narrative are simple, and they can apply to practically any casual title:

·the narrative (from texts in bubbles to animations and pop-up window names) should create a pleasant atmosphere and support the game’s theme;
·the narrative is good if it gives positive emotional feedback to the player’s actions;
·the narrative should support the basic mechanics and goals of the game.

From April to August, the game was in soft launch. How many levels and how much content did you have at that time?

Chernyagov: In April, we released a version with 220 levels and two areas — Asia and the Savanna. Now the game has double the amount of content. New levels will appear weekly, and we plan to release new areas with new updates.

Since you have gone global, the soft launch must have been successful. However, you did report that the first day retention was 38%. That was rather surprising since game producers say they don’t even look at projects with retention rates under 40%. In your opinion, how important is first day retention for the success of a game?

Chernyagov: There’s not much of a point in drawing conclusions based on the figure that we provided earlier。 Looking at retention alone, without understanding what kind of traffic was under observation, doesn’t make sense。 And we didn’t specify that。 For the test audience, a retention rate of 38% was a good result。

Wildscapes is now showing higher retention rates than our other match-3 titles。 However, you have to keep in mind that it’s a new game and early players are more loyal。 That can always change。

Of course, when estimating the success of a soft launch, first day retention is a critical KPI. You just need to be careful how you interpret that figure.

My last question is about traffic。 During the soft launch, you were buying traffic through AdMob and UnityAds。 Are you planning to work with more platforms, like Instagram, for instance?

Chernyagov: We work with all of the big advertising platforms: Facebook (which includes Instagram), Google, RTB, ad networks, and others。 Once we launch marketing campaigns for Wildscapes, we plan to acquire users by any available means。

Thank you for the interview!

(source: )


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