1.一个冷漠的宇宙

我已经花了几个小时的时间在玩Hello Games的《无人深空》,我的脑子里多次出现了这样一句话—-这个宇宙并非真正尝试着去结束我们的存在,相反地它对这点毫不在乎;而后者反而更让我们觉得可怕。

No Man’s Sky(from 3gmfw)

Carl Sagan是这么说的:

“宇宙看起来既不亲切但也没有敌意,只是一个冷漠的宇宙。”

而Stanley Kubrick则是这么说的:

“关于宇宙最可怕之处不是因为它的敌意,而是因为它的冷漠;如果我们能够坦然面对这种冷漠并在死亡界限中接受生活所带来的挑战,我们作为一种物种的存在才能真正具有意义。即不管这里有多黑暗,我们都能够在此闪闪发光。”

在今天有许多游戏(特别是优秀的游戏)让玩家去与环境以及这里所居住的居民进行对抗,例如《饥荒》,《漫漫长夜》,《森林》等等。这些游戏都传达了某种敌意—-这个世界将玩家当成了必须被驱逐的异物。而这也是这些游戏的乐趣所在。但《无人深空》似乎与这些游戏不同。这款游戏的敌意只是作为宇宙对待玩家的冷漠中的一种副产品而存在着。

这种渺小的感觉是游戏的范围所呈现出的结果,这是游戏的程序生成技术所创造的可能性。《无人深空》的技术支持着游戏的一个主题:你只是巨大的宇宙中的一颗孤独的小尘埃。Hello Games便说过游戏中有18万亿颗星球—-这是一个巨大但却毫无意义的数字。同时玩家也清楚在这个巨大的空间中也有其他人在探索着。在虚拟空间中也存在其他人的理念(游戏邦注:你永远都不会遇到这些人)更是强调了孤独感,即玩家是自己迷失在这些陌生的星球间。

通常情况下开发者都将规模作为一个需要玩家花很长时间进行体验的宣传内容,即会让人觉得够划算。在《无人深空》中,游戏的技术是叙述的基础:宇宙是无限的,你不可能到达它的尽头,即使你到达了那里它也会继续延伸,因为它还处于发展阶段。宇宙并不欢迎你,但是它也并未拒绝你。它只是对你毫不关心。这里并不是你所寄居的岩石,也不是古代外星人的遗迹,更不是发光的绿色真菌或拥有六条腿的长颈鹿。这也绝不是你所身处的那片天空。

2.你将在这里做什么

看到《无人深空》的发行真的很有趣。除了好笑的第一日补丁视频外,它那模糊的市场营销也吸引了我的注意。

游戏的第一部预告片发布于2013年12月,那时候人们一直在尝试着搞清楚这款游戏是关于什么或者玩家将在游戏中做些什么。在媒体发布会期间,来自Hello Games的Sean Murray觉得必须公开发玩家只是从一个星球到达另一个星球,即在这里闲逛。玩家可以看到一些鱼,可以在这里挖掘岩石。如果玩家挖了太多岩石的话会让守卫的机器人发狂的。玩家可以变成商人并在银河市场上贩售各种材料。玩家也有可能暂时需要住在洞里。

《无人深空》冷酷的特性和生存游戏玩法似乎与大多数夸张且高预算的AAA级多人射击游戏的宣传方式并不相符。那些有钱也有资源的大公司都拥有最完善的市场营销方式。用户理解这些游戏是因为它们都符合其预先明确的类型,消费者也都知道自己能在游戏中看到什么以及自己将在游戏中“做”什么。

但是这种情况却并未出现在《无人深空》中。我甚至猜测或许是Hello Games故意模糊了《无人深空》的前提,即他们希望它保持神秘感。

但事实却并非如此。现在我发现Hello Games正尝试着向我们解释《无人深空》是关于什么。虽然这是一个无聊的结论,但不管怎样像《无人深空》这样冷酷的太空探险生存游戏是非常难营销的。

而当玩家和媒体真正进入游戏中时,我们便知道游戏是如何展开的。人们对这款游戏拥有非常高的期待值,也难怪Murray和公司会充满压力。人们期待《无人深空》可以成为最佳太空模拟游戏,最佳多人行动射击游戏,最佳纯探险游戏等等。同时我也因为不清楚最终产品会是怎样的而充满好奇并对结果充满惊喜。

也许在这里这款游戏教会我们的便是去创造你想要创造的游戏并全身心专注于此而不是市场营销。最终《无人深空》真的卖的太好了,以至于Hello Games都不清楚人们为什么想要去购买这款游戏了。基于无限科幻主题的宏大又简单的理念,这款游戏省略了市场营销并让玩家自己去了解游戏。

这是一种既有创造性又能盈利的方式。

3.程序生成

虽然许多人在争论《无人深空》得游戏系统或讨论整体体验的好与坏,但大多数人都认同这是电子游戏领域中程序生成的最大进步。Hello Games让“程序生成内容”不再只是一个时髦的营销词,并使用这一方法为游戏创造了无数完整且具有视觉凝聚力的世界,所以它注定能够获得商业上的成功。当然这也不是在贬低其它使用了程序生成并获得了成功的游戏,但《无人深空》的范围,规模和视觉效果在现代程序生成游戏领域的确是无与伦比的。这是让人惊喜的,特别是在知道Hello Games只是一家小规模游戏公司时。

对于Hello Games来说,《无人深空》不仅带给了他们技术上的挑战,也带给了他们文化挑战。

《无人深空》华丽的程序生成世界并非对于程序生成的所有潜在优势的总结,这里还存在许多发展机遇。就像Duncan所说的:“这只是程序生成的一部分。它能够快速且出色地创造出真正的艺术。而你甚至不会相信它的速度到底有多快!”

(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)

3 first-impressions of No Man’s Sky

by Kris Graft

One: An indifferent universe

During the several hours I’ve spent so far with Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, a quote crossed my mind a few times – the one about how the universe isn’t actively trying to end our existence, rather it just doesn’t care; the latter being the more existentially terrifying of the two.

Carl Sagan said it this way:

“The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent”

Stanley Kubrick said it like this:

“The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

There are a lot of games these days – great games – that pit players against the environment and its inhabitants: Don’t Starve, The Long Dark, and The Forest to name just a few. Those games convey a certain hostility – their worlds treat players as a foreign object that must be erradicated. And that’s part of the fun of those games. But No Man’s Sky feels different from other games in the survival genre. It’s a game whose apparent hostilities are just a byproduct of the universe’s indifference to your existence.

This feeling of insignificance is an intentional result of scope of the game, which is made possible by the game’s much-touted procedural generation technology. The tech of No Man’s Sky expertly serves one of the main themes of the game: that you are a speck of dust on a rock in the middle of a vast universe, virtually alone. Hello Games has said there are 18 quintrillion planets in the game – a number so large that it is essentially meaningless. At the same time, you know that there are other explorers out there in the vastness of space. The idea that there are other people out there somewhere in the void – people who you’ll never run into – accentuates the feeling of being alone and lost among strange planets.

Usually, size is touted by game developers as content that would take a very long time to experience, typically talked about in terms of commercial bang-for-the-buck. For No Man’s Sky, the game’s tech is the foundation of a narrative: the universe is essentially infinite, you’ll never see it all, and if you were gone, it’d keep on going because it’s its own being. The universe doesn’t welcome you, doesn’t reject you. It just doesn’t care. These are not your rocks and minerals, not your ancient alien ruins, not your glowing green fungus or your six-legged feathered dino-giraffe. And this definitely ain’t your sky, man.

Two: What do you do here

It’s been interesting watching the launch of No Man’s Sky. Ridiculous day-one patch drama aside, it’s the ambiguous marketing that has drawn my attention.

Since the game’s first teaser trailer in December 2013, people had been trying to figure out what No Man’s Sky is “about” or what you “do” in the game. During press tours, Hello Games’ Sean Murray feels the need to disclose that players kind of just go from planet to planet and…hang out. Scan some fish. Mine some rocks. Whoops, you made a robot sentinel mad by mining too many rocks. You can be a trader, and just trade materials on the galactic market. You could live in a cave for while?

No Man’s Sky’s chilled-out personality and survival-lite gameplay sits uncomfortably when juxtaposed against expectations and astronomical hype that are typically reserved for the most bombastic, big-budget triple-A multiplayer shoot-fests. Big companies with a lot of money and resources have perfected the way those kinds of game are marketed. Audiences understand those games because they fit in nice, pre-defined genres, and consumers typically know what to expect and what you “do” in those games.

That kind of understanding did not exist with No Man’s Sky. For a moment, I’d theorized that maybe Hello Games was being purposely vague about the premise of No Man’s Sky; that the studio wanted to keep it shrouded in mystery, just like how the next planet over harbors the unknown.

But nope. Now I can see that Hello Games was trying to explain what No Man’s Sky was this whole time. It’s a boring conclusion, but a chilled-out synth-driven space exploration survival game like No Man’s Sky is, simply, difficult to market.

And I’m seeing this play out, as fans and media finally get their hands on the game. I knew that the game had extremely high expectations, but am only now realizing that, due to the ambiguity of the game’s marketing, the game also had extremely wide expectations. No wonder Murray and co. have been stressed out. People were expecting No Man’s Sky to be the best space sim (it’s not one), best multiplayer action shooter (it’s not that at all), best pure exploration game (sorry, there are a lot of survival elements), or whatever else. Meanwhile, I was totally blissful in my ignorance of what the final product would be, and am pleased with the results. I guess I win:

no man’s sky is the proc-gen hipster-synth spacefaring chill version of the long dark and I’m loving it so far

— Kris Graft (@krisgraft) August 9, 2016

Perhaps the (clichéd) takeaway here is to make the game you want to make, and focus on that and not the marketing bulletpoints. No Man’s Sky sold itself so well that the creators couldn’t keep up with why people were wanting to buy. With its grand but simple concept based on the idea of infinite sci-fi, the game itself ran away with the marketing and players were left to figure things out for themselves, sometimes by buying the game.

What an ideal creative and commercial situation that is.

Three: But seriously, appreciate the proc-gen

While many people will debate about how good the game systems of No Man’s Sky are, or discuss the virtues and shortfalls of the overall experience, most will agree that this is a significant realization of the massive promise of procedural generation in video games. Hello Games took “procedurally-generated content” beyond a buzzterm, using the method to create millions of fully-realized, visually cohesive worlds for a game that is destined for financial success. That’s not to take away from the other successful games that use procedural generation, but No Man’s Sky’s scope, scale, and visuals are unmatched in modern procedurally-generated games. It’s an immensely impressive feat, particularly considering the small size of Hello Games.

A great overview of the game’s procedural art comes from a GDC 2015 talk from Hello Games art director Grant Duncan. Getting No Man’s Sky to look the way it does was not only a technical challenge, but also a cultural challenge within the studio.

No Man’s Sky’s beautiful procedural worlds were not a forgone conclusion – for all the potential advantages of procedural generation, there was plenty of opportunity to mess everything up. As Duncan put it: “That’s one of the things about procedural generation. It is incredibly good and incredibly fast at making really shit art. You would not believe how fast it is.”(source:Gamasutra