Ernest Adams总结50个最伟大的游戏创意

作者:Ernest Adams

50年以前,William Higinbotham用一个示波器和一些模拟电路制作了第一款电子游戏。虽然自那以后,游戏已经发生了翻天覆地的变化,但今天的AAA游戏大作的成功也部分归功于数年以前就存在的设计创新。在本文中,我将罗列我认为特别重要的50个设计创新(或某天会被证明是特别重要的)。其中有许多其实是老式游戏玩法的增强功能;运动、驾驶和射击可以回溯到游乐场游戏和投币电动玩具。游戏类型如回合制策略、逻辑益智和RPG,可以在桌面游戏上找到原型。我们用各种方式改进了这些古老的游戏,特别是电脑的出现,我们得以创造出在其他媒体上无法实现的新游戏类型。

不幸的是,设计创新的真正主人往往被世人所遗忘,而让后来的成功游戏占了便宜。例如,很多人记得Pong设计了《Magnavox Odyssey》,而不是非电脑版的设计者Ralph Baer,即使先出现的是Baer的作品。为了修正这种倾向,我将一并列出创新的原始构思者(如果找得到的话)和该创新最知名的早期案例。我不保证我罗列的信息完全正确,欢迎指正。

玩法创新

我指的玩法创新是游戏带给玩家的挑战和玩家应对挑战可能做出的行为。绝大多数这些行为是很明显的:跳跃、转向、打斗、建造、交易等等。但有些挑战和行为显然大大丰富了玩法的艺术,为我们提供了新的游戏方式。

1、探索

hunt the wumpus(from news.bigdownload.com)

hunt the wumpus(from news.bigdownload.com)

最早的电脑游戏没有探索玩法。许多是模拟某个地方或让玩家通过很普通的空间(如《Hunt the Wumpus》,1972年)。我们从桌面角色扮演游戏借鉴了探索元素,并改良成现在的探索模式,如《生化奇兵》。在真正的探索玩法中,玩家进入陌生领域时会不断产生新鲜感,并根据环境线索做选择。这是一种不同于战斗的挑战,比较吸引喜欢探索地图的玩家。首次使用的大概是:《Colossal Cave》(也叫作《Adventure》),1975年。

2、故事讲述

这个话题引发的激烈争论比电子游戏的其他任何设计特征都多。游戏应该讲述故事吗?如果应该,那么怎么做?故事讲述意义是什么?有可能做得好吗?底线是:并非所有游戏都需要故事。但是,如果没有故事,游戏就只是一个抽象的概念——可能会吸引玩家,但并不总是那么吸引玩家。我们通常认为第一个运用这种元素的游戏应该是《Colossal Cave》,但这款游戏其实只提供没有剧情的寻宝体验。所以我认为第一款使用的应该是:《Akalabeth》(《创世纪》系列的始祖)或《Mystery House》,均发行于1980年。

3、潜行

大多数动作游戏都与武力有关。甚至当面对强大到不可战胜的敌人时,你唯一的选择就是一边躲避他们的致命一击,一边与他们周旋或寻找他们的弱点。在潜行玩法中,玩家的思路是绝对不要让敌人发现你的存在,这是一种完全不同于Rambo式的大乱斗的方法。在使用这个元素的早期游戏中,最著名就是:《神偷:黑暗计划》,1998年。最早使用:未知。

4、有个性的玩家角色

如果你没有玩过早期的游戏,你可能会很吃惊这怎么算是玩法创新。第一款冒险游戏和大多数其他电脑游戏,事实上都让玩家本人作为游戏世界的主角——没有玩家的代言人,只有玩家自己。因此,游戏不必假设玩家的年龄、性别、社会地位或其他任何身份信息——这意味着NPC与玩家角色的互动总是相当乏味单调的。早期的电子游戏也大多以交通工具为玩家角色(如《Asteroids》、《Space Invaders》)或完全没有玩家角色(《Pong》、《Night Driver》)。具有独立个性的玩家角色要求玩家鉴定一些不同于你自己的人,但他们极大地增加了游戏的戏剧性可能。最知名的早期案例是:《吃豆人》,发行于1980年(如果你认为他也算有个性的话,或者《大金刚》中的马里奥,发行于1981年)。最早使用的可能是:投币游戏《Midway’s Gun Fight》,1975年。

5、领导

在大多数阵营类RPG游戏和射击游戏如《Ghost Recon》中,你可以单独控制任何角色,但那其实不算领导。领导的真正挑战是管理那些可能不会服从你的人,特别是当你不得不管理一支默认的团队时,你不能选择团队成员。

你的团队成员的强项和弱点决定了他们对你分配的任务的执行程度,所以判断他们的个性和能力成为很关键的技能。一个经典的例子是发行于1999年的《King of Dragon Pass》,不过不太著名。最知名的早期案例是:《Close Combat》, 1996年。首次使用:未知。

6、外交

电脑游戏中的外交玩法并不新奇——首次发行于1959年的桌面游戏《Diplomacy》就是一个例子。电脑的大问题始终是制作可靠的电脑对手AI,但我们在这方面已经开始有进步了。与领导相比,外交更多地是判断角色而不是计算命值。最著名的早期案例是:《文明》,1991年。首次使用的可能是:《Balance of Power》, 1986年。

7、修改

修改是一种玩法形式;是对原始游戏玩法的创新。最早的游戏不只是可以修改,而且是开放源代码的,因为它们的源代码就发表在杂志如《Creative Computing》上。当我们开始出售电脑游戏时,它们的代码自然变成了商业机密。开放商业游戏的代码是一个壮举,因为拓展了游戏引擎的需求,这是将玩家限制在游戏原来的内容中所达不到的。最著名的早期案例是:《毁灭战士》,1993年。允许修改代码的第一款游戏也许是:《The Arcade Machine》, 1982年。这款游戏是街机游戏的搭建版。反对者可能会争论搭建版游戏能不能算作可修改的游戏,但关键是,它们招募玩家制作内容的时间比Web 2.0或Web本身出现的时间还早。

8、智能NPC

在早期的2D回合制游戏《Chase》中,你会被困在一个围着电丝网的笼子中,一些机器人企图杀掉你。所有机器人都向你逼近。如果你躲到电丝网后面,他们就会继续逼近直到被烧毁——十年前的NPC的智商大概就是这种程度。之后我们开始制作能看能听并且受这两种感觉约束的角色。我们还让他们有基本的智能(以有限状态机的形式),最后,他们甚至有了合作能力。目前,最复杂的NPC AI存在于运动类游戏中,运动员必须团结合作才能达到集体目标。我认为这应该是一种设计特征,因为它是设计师提出的要求、程序员想出的执行方法。首次使用:未知。

9、对话树(脚本的)交谈

早期游戏中的交谈是相当低劣的。文字冒险游戏的解析器能执行命令(“将油炸圈饼给警察”),但对于普通的话语(游戏邦注:例如,“嘿,先生,你知道这附近有没有人卖保佑通过牙科考试的护身符?”)就无能为力了。有了对话树后,游戏让玩家从写好的台词中选择,角色再作相应的回答。如是游戏允许,玩家可以选择最贴近自己的意图的台词。如果写得好的话,脚本对话读起来可能自然得像真实的交谈,可能会很有趣、很生动甚至很感人。在《猴岛》系列中,由一场搞笑的辱骂对话引发的战斗正是这类玩法的范例。首次使用:未知。

10、多重玩法

对于桌面游戏,通常所有活动都发生在相同的面板上,如《大富翁》或《Risk》。电脑游戏(和桌面RPG)往往允许玩家在两种模式之间切换,从高级策略到低级战术。只有电脑可以让你自由进出任何等级——如《Spore》显然就是这样的。你是锱铢必较的微观管理者还是不拘小节的战略专家?不同的游戏要求不同的处理办法。最著名的早期案例:《Archon: The Light and the Dark》,1983年。首次使用:未知。

spore2(from sporegaming.ucoz.com)

spore2(from sporegaming.ucoz.com)

11、迷你游戏

这就是大游戏中套小游戏,通常是可选择的,但也有强制的。不同于多层次玩法,玩家对迷你游戏的感觉与对母游戏的非常不同。《瓦力欧制造》就是由多个迷你游戏组成的。迷你游戏往往会破坏玩家的沉浸感,但给玩家带来不同于整个游戏的别样挑战。有时候,迷你游戏其实比整个游戏还好玩。首次使用:未知。

12、多重难度

设计师John Harris发现,老式游戏,特别是投币游戏机的目的往往是衡量玩家的水平,而现代游戏的宗旨却是给玩家提供良好的体验而不管他的水平如何。老式游戏的观点是,玩家是设计师的对手;而新式游戏:玩家是设计师的受众。通过提供多重难度,游戏可以吸引更多受众,这也包括残障玩家。首次出现:未知。

13、可逆的时间

保存和重新载入是一回事,但有时候你真正需要的是像孩子那样提出的无理要求,即“重来”的机会——允许你在不重新载入或返回原路的情况下改正错误。最知名的案例:《波斯王子:时之沙》,2003年。当你犯错时,你可以将时间倒回之前的10秒。每次时光倒流都会消耗一定量的时之沙,目的是防止玩家重复使用这种能力。但玩家可以通过打败敌人获得新的时之沙。游戏还允许玩家看到未来,使解决即将到来的谜题变得更容易——这是另一个明高的创意。首次使用的可能是:《Blinx: The Time Sweeper》,2002年。玩家通过收集不同的水晶组合,就能获得各种一次性的操作命令。

14、玩家角色组合

在具有这种有点儿古怪的玩法的动作或动作冒险游戏中,玩家可以操作两个具有互补技能的不同角色。有时候,他们可以当作一个角色用,有时候玩家不得不选择其中之一,或只能使用当中的某一个。这不同于《Sonic and Tails》中的两个独立的玩家角色。最早使用的可能是:《Banjo-Kazooie》, 1998年。

15、沙盒模式

这种模式是指玩家可以在游戏世界里闲荡,不要求达到特定的目标。到目前为止,最著名的沙盒模式出现在后来的《侠盗猎车手》系列中,这对该游戏的成功贡献巨大。沙盒模式一般是指存在于目标导向型游戏中的特殊模式,而不是像《SimCity》这种开放性游戏。在沙盒模式中,有时候会发生突发性行为,即在游戏中出现设计师未计划或未预测到的事件。首次使用:未知。

16、物理益智题

许多模似真实世界的游戏包含物理现象,但通常是技能考验。我们用电脑制作物理益智题,玩家利用模拟物品的物理属性找到完成任务的办法。这类题目与智力有关,与手眼配合无关。首次使用的可能是:《The Incredible Machine》, 1992年。

17、互动剧情

目前只有一款这类游戏,但总有一天,它的继承者会改变世界。《Façade》是一款第一人称3D游戏,发行于2005年。在《Façade》中,玩家扮演一对婚姻危机中的夫妇的一个朋友。一天晚上,玩家拜访他们的寓所,通过输入真正的英语句子与他们交谈;他们则用录制好的声音回答。玩家说的话会不同程度地影响这对夫妇的关系——让他们和解或离婚或甚至激怒他们。这才是真正的角色扮演:没有属性值、没有战斗、没有宝藏,只有剧情上的互动——影响一对夫妻的婚姻走向。许多设计师认为出自《Star Trek: The Next Generation》的“整个小说”是互动剧情的圣杯;而《Façade》在这类游戏的发展中实现了重大突破。

输入创新

交互活动是游戏的本质,在电子游戏中,有些设备必须将玩家的意图转化成行动。我们的设备一直有按钮、把手、操作杆、滑块、触发器、方向盘和踏板等。但最近,我们的输入设备选择爆发性地增多了,因为优秀的设计师在选择要使用什么设备以前认真考虑了。

robotron 2084(from significant-bits.com)

robotron 2084(from significant-bits.com)

18、独立移动和独立瞄准

早期的游戏限制玩家角色,只允许朝一个方向,也就他面向的方向射击。《Asteroids》就是一个例子。将移动与瞄准分离,需要第二根控制杆,这就极大提高了对玩家的身体协调能力的要求,但同时使玩家和设计师都更自由了。首次出现的大概是:投币游戏《Robotron: 2084》, 1982年。

19、点击

鼠标改变了玩家与空间和空间中的物品的互动方式。尽管现在看来鼠标操作也落后了,但点击操作使冒险游戏比老式的“猜词”似的、以语法解析为基础的系统更加容易上手。最著名的早期案例是:《Maniac Mansion》, 1987年;为它而设计的SCUMM引擎仍然被独立开发者们使用着。首次使用的大概是:Macintosh版的《Enchanted Scepters》, 1984年。Mac是第一台配置鼠标的个人电脑。

20、用鼠标+WASD按键操作3D第一人称的行动

这种在3D空间中移动第一人称玩家角色的方法实在太好了,除非我们的模拟现实装置真正能用了,否则我们不会考虑其他操作方法。双杆控制器在精度上不能与之相比。首次使用:未知。

21、语音识别(和其他话筒支持)

哪一个更有趣:叫喊“A,冲啊!”还是绕着A用鼠标画一个方框,然后点击出一个菜单标签“向前冲”?答案再清楚不过了。冲着你的伙伴(或你的敌人)叫喊或唱歌是乐趣的一大来源。首次使用的可能是:《Echelon》(使用的是Commodore 64机器), 1987年。

22、音乐的专用I/O设备(MIDI键盘不算)

部分技术,部分设计,I/O设备的进步已经改变了我们的游戏方式,特别是在音乐游戏。制作音乐和舞蹈需要制作大量身体活动,这些活动不容易转换成操作杆和键盘操作。沙槌、康茄鼓、《吉他英雄》的控制器——都非常 有趣。首次使用的可能是:《劲舞革命》中的跳舞毯,1998年。

23、手势界面

世界上的许多文明都认为手势具有某种超自然的或象征性的力量,从天主教到印度的马德拉舞再到佛教的肖像研究。魔法也往往与手势有关——那是魔法杖的一部分。但大量电子游戏的魔法的问题是,点击图标和按钮让玩家觉得那更像技术而不是魔法。最近出现的手势界面让玩家以非语言、非技术的方式表达自己的意图。最著名的案例:Wii操作器。最早使用的:《Black & White》, 2001年。

24、操作重组和其他易用性特征

当你习惯于某种操作器或按键组合时,你会希望所有同类游戏都采用相同的操作器或按键组合。现在的PC游戏一般允许玩家重置输入设备上的命令,但这在主机上还不普遍。对于某些手部残障的人来说,这是相当不方便的。

不幸的是,游戏开发商恢几乎无视残联人士的需求——这一直是我们的耻辱。但我们最终有所觉悟了。关于这方面的创新还有:可调整的亮度和对比度;为色盲设计的调色板;可调节的游戏速度。游戏的易用性设计永远不嫌多。

表现创意

提升玩家的视听方面的创意很大程度上取决于技术进步,但我仍然认为这也是设计创意,毕竟设计师还可以选择游戏使用或不使用这些表现创意。我认为属性值和横版2D屏幕不算创新,因为它们在投币游戏机中早就存在了。

Populous(from game-over)

Populous 3(from game-over)

25、等角透视,有时也称作“25度角”

电子游戏经过多年的侧视和顶视时期后,终于迎来了等角透视。这种创新一出现就让人感到惊讶。它为游戏创造了一种三维立体的感觉。这是第一次,玩家可以自然地同时看到头顶和旁边的物品,而不是通过憋脚的“作弊”器;玩家甚至可以绕到物品的另一面,如果设计师允许这种功能的话。最知名的早期案例是:《Populous》,1989年。可能最早使用的:《Zaxxon》投币游戏机,1982年。

26、第一人称视角

第一人称视角直借用玩家的视角。比如,敌人拿枪指着你时,枪就是指着你的脸。但作为交换,你将看不到你的玩家角色,所以视觉生动的活动将损失冲击力。第一人称不是指真正的3D;早期的游戏并不允许完全的3D移动或向上向下倾斜。最著名的早期案例是:《Battlezone》投币游戏机,1980年。可能最早使用的:NASA用Imlac小型电脑制作的《Maze Wars》,1973年。

27、第三人称视角

从背面看玩家角色,视角越过玩家角色的肩部。视角跟着玩家角色移动。与第一人称一样,第三人称也不一定需要真正的3D空间,但看起来像3D的。这个创新很重要,因为它允许玩家从一个自然的视角观察游戏主角的所做所为,不像老式横版和顶视角游戏。但代价是,玩家角色会挡住玩家的部分视线,在射击游戏中会比较不方便。最著名的早期案例是:《古墓丽影》,1996年。最早使用的:未知。跟着交通工具移动的视角,如1982年出现的《Pole Position》,应该算是追踪视角。

28、过场动画

无论你喜不喜欢,过场动画是游戏景观的一部分。它们让玩家在不同活动之间有一段休息时间,从不可游戏的视角欣赏游戏世界(往往更吸引人)。当然,游戏也可以在过场动画中讲述剧情。最著名的早期案例是:《Maniac Mansion》,1987年。最早使用的可能是:《吃豆人》,1979年。

29、真正的3D

我们经常使用伪3D视角,通常是因为我们的CPU性能不足以支持真正的3D。《毁灭战士》就是一款伪3D运用得很好的游戏。3D并不总是有助于游戏玩法——想想《Lemmings》和《Lemmings》的3D版,但3D对游戏的影响是不可估量的。甚至手机游戏也开始使用3D加速器了。最知或的早期案例是:微软的《Flight Simulator v1.0》,1982年。最早使用的可能是:《SPASIM》,1974年。这是一款以星际旅行为主题的多人主机游戏。

30、场景敏感型摄像机

第三人称视角的进化版,场景敏感型摄像机会智能地跟随行动而移动。这使得设计师得以使用电影摄影师的技术,采用每次移动的最佳视角。场景敏感型摄像机对冒险和慢节奏的动作冒险游戏非常适用。但是对于快节奏的游戏,玩家很可能因为突然的摄像机移动而迷失方向——为了迅速控制活动,你需要可预测的视角。最著名的案例是:《ICO》,2001年。首次使用:未知。提前渲染背景(如点击类冒险游戏)和玩家控制视角(如《Gabriel Knight 3》)不是同一回事。

31、程序性场景生成

这种技术使设计师得以创造大量游戏空间而不必手动建立。如果是在运行中,甚至不需要储存,这对早期的机器来说是非常重要的。最著名的早期案例:《Seven Cities of Gold》,1984年。可能最早使用的是:《River Raid》,1982年。

32、可交换的对话重放

这就是组合音频片段以将不同的内容变成无缝连接的对话。我们在运动游戏中使用它创造可信的实况报道曲——不同的运动员的名字必须插到评论中。这种技术对创造逼真的电视直皤效果贡献很大。最知名的早期案例是:《Hardball III》,1992年。最早使用的可能是: CD-i 播放机版的《3rd Degree》, 1992年。

33、自动变化的音乐

所有人都知道音乐对心情的影响极大。在电子游戏中,根据游戏事件改变音乐也是一种技巧,当然,音乐创作者不可能提前知道什么时候播放什么音乐。一个办法是,只要根据要播放新的音乐,但如果做得不好,不同音乐的过渡可能会不和谐。另一个办法是,分层混合音乐的谐调音部分,根据游戏的需要改变音量。最著名的早期案例是:《Wing Commander》,1990年。最早使用的可能是:《Way Out for the Atari 800》,1982年。

34、子弹时间

可调节的时间长期用于飞行模拟游戏,它的作用是允许玩家加速游戏世界的时间,以便更快打发无聊的时间。子弹时间是对可调节时间的革新。它在延缓时间的同时仍然允许玩家快速行动,玩家因此觉得自己不仅力量超强,而且速度也超快。最著名的早期案例是:《Max Payne》,2001。最早使用的可能是:《Requiem: Avenging Angel》,1999年。

35、应变环境

这是一个经典的游戏谬论:大爆炸摧毁了坦克,周围建筑的墙壁和窗户都完好无损。应变环境修正了这个问题,逼真地模拟世界的变化。这个功能给游戏的关卡设计带来风险,因为玩家可能会进入设计师不希望你进入的地方;但这会让游戏世界更逼真,玩家得以按自己的方式解决问题。最早使用的可能是:《Magic Carpet》,1994年。

36、特殊属性的指示器

健康、速度、魔法、命数、子弹、燃料等都有标准的屏幕指示器:力量条、数字、计量表、循环的小图像。许多是借用了现实世界的设备。但那些不太明显的属性怎么办?经过多年的开发,我们已经设计了各种各样的表现方式——不胜枚举,所以我只能列举我个人最喜欢的几种:《神偷:黑暗计划》中的表明玩家角色“易见性”的闪光灯;射击游戏中,当玩家移动时,十字瞄准线越来越分离表明武器准确度下降;模糊屏幕,使操作失灵,表明玩家角色喝醉了或麻醉了。

类型创新

我们从其他游戏形式中借鉴了许多电子游戏类型,但在电脑和真正的设计出现以前,有些类型是不可能实现的。

37、模拟建造和经营

无论是乐高积木还是商业经营游戏都早于电脑的发明,但正是电脑游戏首次将这两种概念融合为一体。最著名的早期案例:《SimCity》,1989年。最早使用的可能是: Mattel Intellivision的《Utopia》, 1982年。

simcity4(from deafgamers)

simcity4(from deafgamers)

38、即时策略游戏

电脑的回合制战争游戏来源于经典的桌面游戏如《Avalon Hill》,并且许多都与桌面游戏类似。即时玩法的加入使策略游戏更加适合普通大众,不过追随者会抱怨RTS游戏用快速的鼠标点击和资源管理取代了真正的策略。最著名的早期案例:《Ancient Art of War》,1984年。最早使用的可能是: ZX Spectrum的《Stonkers》, 1983年。

39、格斗游戏

除了现实世界中的运动和1960年的玩具机器人,我找不到其他早于电子游戏的格斗游戏。许多游戏都具有格斗元素,但真正的格斗游戏只有打架,没有探索或益智题元素。格斗游戏与现实的武术相差太远了(游戏邦注:添加了魔法值、幻想的武器和不现实的物理现象),所以本身就包含一些创新。格斗游戏衍生出许多亚类型,但保留了共通元素:徒手格斗,无远程武器。最知名的早期案例是:《街头霸王》, 1987年。最早使用的可能是:投币游戏《Heavyweight Champ》, 1976年。

40、节奏、舞蹈和音乐游戏

时间挑战与乒乓球运动一样古老,但以节奏为基础的游戏出现的时间并不早。关于音乐制作的游戏越来越流行了。这类游戏避免了不经大脑的重复暴力,因此非常吸引女性玩家。最著名的早期案例是:《PaRappa the Rapper》, 1996年。最早使用的可能是Sega 32X的《Tempo》, 1995年。(1984年出现的《Music Construction Set》不算游戏。)

41、虚拟宠物和人物

人们喜欢看到小动物活蹦乱跳,特别是如果你不会因为让它们死掉而产生罪恶感(或者如果它们根本就不会死)。训练、喂养和装扮它们都很有趣。在包含虚拟宠物和人物的游戏中,《The Sims》一直是销量最佳的PC游戏;任天狗则在任天堂DS游戏机上广受欢迎。最早使用的可能是:《Little Computer People》, 1985年。最著名的早期案例是:《Dogz》, 1995年。

42、上帝游戏

这类游戏融合模拟建造和经营游戏、即时策略游戏和虚拟生物游戏于一体,还具有自身的一些特点。在上帝游戏中,玩家扮演一群人的上帝,职责就是(基本上是)帮助这群人发展壮大。游戏的核心特点是间接控制——玩家可以通过自己的行为影响那群人类崇拜者,但不可以直接对他们发号施令或赐予他们神力如改变地貌或引起自然灾害。上帝游戏让我们根据需要制造火山。可能最早使用的是:《Populous》,1989年。(游戏邦注:有些人认为1982年的《Utopia》是上帝游戏,但作者认为它是一款模拟建造和经营游戏,因为玩家的力量并不是真正的神力。另外,《文明》也不属于上帝游戏。)

43、社交和约会游戏

我只能找到一款非电脑的约会游戏,即Milton Bradley于1965年推出的桌面游戏《Mystery Date》。电脑模拟约会游戏主要产自日本。许多这类游戏采用对话树交谈,也就是选择说正确的话,以便培养更亲密的关系。有些具有复杂的属性系统,但不同于一般的RPG;这些属性与角色的魅力有关,与打怪的能力无关。可能最早使用的是:《同级生》,1992年。

44、互动电影

这类型来了又去,终于消失了。这是一个改变世界的设计创新,因为它清楚地证明了它是一个创意的死胡同,所以再也没有人制作互动电影了—-但是有时候仍然用这个词形容其他游戏类型中的影片质量。作为反面教材,互动电影告诉我们,游戏玩法才是王道。CD-ROM驱动器第一次使互动电影成为可能,在它们的全盛期,销量惊人……直到玩家观看小颗粒的视频的新鲜感消退。最著名的早期案例:《The 7th Guest》,1993年。最早使用的可能是:投币游戏《Dragon’s Lair》, 1983年。

45、“少女游戏”(不是“妇女游戏”)

游戏业在发展早期完全无视少女玩家的存在。在90年代中期,曾一度流行制作针对少女的游戏,但基本上是营销炒作,许多少女受那些放在粉红包装盒的劣质产品的欺骗。此后,这个想法又一定程度上复活,于是出现了以著名的人偶娃娃为原型的Bratz娃娃系列。少女游戏受到争议是因为有些人认为满足少女的购物幻想,并不比满足少年的暴力幻想更有社会责任感。其他以少女为受众的游戏并不典型,如《Nancy Drew adventure》。最著名的早期案例是:《Barbie Fashion Designer》, 1996年。最早使用的可能是:《Barbie》, 1991年。(尽管1980年的《吃豆人》和《Centipede》都在女性玩家中流行,但都不针对少女市场。而1982年的《Plundered Hearts》的受众是妇女。)

玩法方式创新

即玩家玩游戏的不同方式,以及设计师如何促进这些方式。

leaderboard(from staztic)

leaderboard(from staztic)

46、高分榜

早期的街机游戏不包含这种元素。如果游戏是多人的,你击败你的好友了,但只有你和他知道这件事。高分榜的功能就是,将你的名字与得分一起显示出来,直到有人击败你,把你挤出排行榜。这对竞技型玩家来说,是相当诱人的挑战。首次使用的是:《Asteroids》,1979年。

47、保存游戏

保存游戏一出现就引发了一场宗教战争。喜欢挑战,喜欢难度,不想“留一手”的玩家是一个阵营;希望根据自己的时间安排停止或继续游戏的人是另一个阵营。允许保存进度是好是坏,取决于你的观点,但确实对玩家的操作风格有很大影响。执行保存功能的方法有很多,各有优缺点。我把关卡密钥(对于没有保存媒介的机器)和检查点也归入保存类。首次使用:未知。

48、联网游戏

联网游戏使玩家能够成双结队地一起玩游戏。尽管这是游戏史上的一个突破,但存在一个最大的缺陷——很难配对,玩家必须先认识有调制解调器和相同版本游戏的其他玩家,然后才有可能玩到一起。事实上,联网游戏早在个人电脑出现以前就存在了。最著名的早期案例:《RabbitJack’s Casino for Q-Link》(使用的是Commodore 64机器),1986年。最早使用的可能是: 《Maze Wars》(使用麻省理工学院的Imlac微型计算机), 1974年。

49、多人模式的地下城

这种玩法将探索元素与多人模式合二为一。多人模式的地下城游戏是现在火暴的MMORPG的始祖。在韩国,几乎人人都是这类游戏的爱好者。最早的版本没有联网,而是在一台分时主机上玩。最早使用的:在艾塞克斯大学玩的《MUD》,1979年。

50、派对游戏

我们知道多人游戏,但派对游戏是另一回事。这类游戏提供真实的派对背景,让玩家们各自组成团体。在派对游戏中,玩家不是深深地沉浸在幻想世界里,而是玩许多迷你游戏。最早使用的:《Mario Party》, 1998年。

以上就是我挑选出来的50个游戏创新,有些在过去就证明了其重要性,有些的重要性则有待时间的检验。至于它们的意义,不同人自然有不同的看法,也许有些人认为是必不可少的创新我却没有列出来。我期待进一步探讨!

游戏邦注:原文发表于2007年11月1日,所涉事件及数据均以当时为准。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

50 GREATEST GAME DESIGN INNOVATIONS

by Edge Staff

From gameplay, to presentation to input devices, videogames are a hotbed of innovation. Ernest Adams notes 50 game design innovations, some that have already made their impact, and others that will shape the future of the medium…

Digg this article here.

Fifty years ago William Higinbotham built the first videogame with an oscilloscope and some analog circuitry. While games have changed enormously since then, even today’s AAA blockbusters owe some of their success to design innovations made years earlier. In this article I’m going to look at 50 design advances that I feel were especially important, or will prove to be some day. Many of them are actually enhancements to older forms of play; sports, driving, and shooting go back to fairground games and mechanical coin-ops. Other genres, such as turn-based strategy, logic puzzles, and RPGs, began life on the dining room table. We have improved these earlier games in many ways, and the computer has allowed us to create new genres that would be impossible in any other medium.

Unfortunately the true innovator of a design idea is often forgotten, while a particularly successful later game gets the credit. For example, more people remember Pong than remember Ralph Baer’s non-computerized design for the Magnavox Odyssey, even though Baer’s work came first. To correct this tendency, I’ll list both the original inventor of the idea (if I could find it) and the best-known early example of the innovation. I don’t promise to be right all the time; corrections are welcome.

Gameplay Innovations

By gameplay I mean the challenges that the game poses to the player, and the actions that the player may take to meet the challenges. The vast majority of these actions are obvious: jumping, steering, fighting, building, trading and so on. But some challenges and actions distinctly advanced the state of the art, and provided new ways for us to play.

1. Exploration.

The earliest computer games didn’t offer exploration. Many were simulations set in one location, or afforded movement only through trivial spaces (e.g. Hunt the Wumpus, 1972). We eventually borrowed exploration from tabletop role-playing and turned it into extravaganzas like BioShock. True exploration provides ongoing novelty as you enter unfamiliar areas, and lets you make choices based on clues in the environment. It’s a different sort of challenge from combat, and attracts players who enjoy being virtual tourists. Probable first use: Colossal Cave, aka Adventure, 1975.

2. Storytelling.

Storytelling is the subject of more acrimonious debate than any other design feature of videogames, even including the save-game issue. Should we do it or not, and if so, how? What does it mean? Is it even possible to do well? —and so on. Bottom line: not every game needs a story, but they’re here to stay. Without a story, a game is just an abstraction—which can be enough to engage the player, but isn’t always. First use is often attributed to Colossal Cave, but that was really a treasure-hunt without a plot. Possible first use: Akalabeth, precursor to the Ultima series, or Mystery House, both released in 1980.

3. Stealth.

Let’s face it, most action games are about force. Even when confronted with overwhelmingly powerful enemies, your only option is to avoid their killing shots while grinding away at them or searching for their vulnerable spots. In stealth play the idea is to never even let the enemies know you’re there, and it requires a completely different approach from the usual Rambo-style mayhem. Best-known early example: Thief: The Dark Project, 1998. First use: unknown.

4. Avatars with their own personalities.

If you weren’t around in the early days this one might surprise you. The first adventure games, and most other computer games too, described the world as if you, the player, were actually in the game—not a representation of you, but you. Consequently, the games could make no assumptions about your age, sex, social position, or anything else—which meant that NPC interactions with your avatar were always rather bland. The early video games, too, mostly displayed vehicles (Asteroids, Space Invaders) or no avatar at all (Pong, Night Driver). Avatars with independent personalities required you to identify with someone different from yourself, but they increased the dramatic possibilities in games enormously. Best-known early example: Pac-Man, 1980 (if you can call that a personality; otherwise, Jumpman, aka Mario, in Donkey Kong, 1981). Possible first use: Midway’s Gun Fight coin-op, 1975.

5. Leadership.

In most party-based RPGs and shooters like Ghost Recon, you can control any of the characters individually, but that’s not really leadership. The true challenge of leadership is delegating to others who might disobey you, especially when you have to take over an existing team without any choice about who’s in it. The strengths and weaknesses of your people determine how well they succeed at the tasks you give them, so judging their characters and abilities becomes a critical skill. A little-known but excellent example is King of Dragon Pass, 1999. Best-known early example:

Close Combat, 1996. First use: unknown.

6. Diplomacy.

Not new with computer games—the board game Diplomacy was first published in 1959. The big problem for computers has always been making credible AI for computer opponents, but we’re starting to get this right. As with leadership, diplomacy is more about judgment of character than counting hit points. Best-known early example: Civilization, 1991. Probable first use: Balance of Power, 1986.

7. Mod support.

Modding is a form of gameplay; it’s creative play with the meta-game. The earliest games weren’t just moddable, they were open-source, since their source code was printed in magazines like Creative Computing. When we began to sell computer games, their code naturally became a trade secret. Opening commercial games up to modding was a brilliant move, as it extended the demand for a game engine far beyond what it would have been if players were limited to the content that came in the box. Best-known early example: Doom, 1993. Probable first use: The Arcade Machine, 1982, which was a construction set for arcade-like games. Purists may debate whether construction set products count as moddable games, but the key point is that they enlisted the player to build content—long before “Web 2.0” or indeed the Web itself.

8. Smart NPCs with brains and senses.

In an early 2D turn-based game called Chase, you were trapped in a cage filled with electric fences and some robots trying to kill you. All the robots did was move towards you. If you could get behind an electric fence, they’d walk into it and fry—and that was the sum total of NPC intelligence for about ten years. Then we began to implement characters with vision and hearing and limits to both. We also gave them rudimentary brainpower in the form of finite state machines and, eventually, the ability to cooperate. Some of the most sophisticated NPC AI is now in sports games, where athletes have to work in concert to achieve a collective goal. I consider this a design feature, as it’s something designers asked for and programmers figured out how to implement. First use: unknown.

9. Dialog tree (scripted) conversations.

Early efforts to include interactive conversation in computer games were pretty dire. The parsers in text adventures were okay for commands (“GIVE DOUGHNUT TO COP”) but not for ordinary speech (“Hey, mister, do you know anybody around here who can sell me an Amulet of Improved Dentistry+5?”). With a dialog tree the game gives you a choice of pre-written lines to say, and the character

you’re talking to responds appropriately. If the game allows it, you can role-play a bit by choosing the lines that most closely match the attitude you want to express. Written well, scripted conversations read like natural dialog and can be funny, dramatic, and even moving. The hilarious insult-driven sword fights in the Monkey Island games are sterling examples of the form. First use: unknown.

10. Multi-level gameplay.

With a board game everything usually takes place on the same board, as in Monopoly or Risk. Computer games (and tabletop RPGs) often let you switch between two modes, from high-level strategy to low-level tactics.  And only a computer can let you zoom in and out to any level you want—as Spore apparently will do. Are you a micromanager or a master of strategy who doesn’t sweat the small stuff? Different games demand different approaches.  Best-known early example: Archon: The Light and the Dark, 1983. First use: unknown.

11. Mini-games.

A small game within a big game, usually optional, sometimes not. Not the same as multi-level gameplay; a mini-game feels very different from its parent. WarioWare consists of nothing but mini-games. Mini-games often destroy the player’s immersion, but offer a different set of challenges from those in the overall game. Sometimes the mini-game is actually better than the overall game. First use: unknown.

12. Multiple difficulty levels.

Designer John Harris has observed that older games, especially coin-ops, were intended to measure the player’s skill, while the newer approach is to provide the player with an experience regardless of his skill level. The old-fashioned school of thought is that the player is the designer’s opponent; the new school is that the player is your audience. By offering multiple difficulty levels, we make games available to larger audiences, which also includes handicapped players. First use: unknown.

13. Reversible time.

Saving and reloading is one thing, but sometimes what you really want is what as kids we used to call a “do-over”-a chance to correct an error without the hassle of a reload or going back a long

way in the game world. Best-known example: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, 2003. When you made a mistake, you could reverse time for ten seconds. To prevent you from using it continually, each usage costs you a certain amount of sand, which has to be replenished by defeating enemies. The game also let the player see into the future to help with upcoming puzzles, another clever innovation. Possible first use: Blinx: The Time Sweeper, 2002, in which collecting up crystals in various combinations gives the player a variety of one-shot time control commands.

14. Coupled avatars.

In this slightly oddball innovation, you play an action or action-adventure game using two quite different avatars with complementary abilities. Sometimes they work together as one; at other times you have to choose which to use, or are required to use one or the other. Not the same as two separate avatars like Sonic and Tails. Possible first use: Banjo-Kazooie, 1998.

15. Sandbox modes.

The term refers to a mode of play in which you can fool around in a game’s world without being required to meet a particular objective. By far the best-known sandbox modes are in the later Grand Theft Auto games, contributing greatly to their popularity. Sandbox mode is normally used to describe special modes within otherwise goal-oriented games, not open-ended games like SimCity. Sandbox modes also sometimes afford emergent behavior, events arising in a game’s world that were not planned or predicted by the designer. First use: unknown.

16. Physics puzzles.

Many real-world games involve physics, but they’re usually tests of skill. The computer lets us create physics puzzles, in which you try to figure out how to accomplish a task using the physical properties of simulated objects. They’re about brainpower, not hand-eye coordination. Possible first use: The Incredible Machine, 1992.

17. Interactive drama.

There’s only one of these, but someday its descendants will change the world. Fa?ade is a first-person 3D game released in 2005. In Fa?ade you play the friend of a couple whose marriage is in trouble. You visit their apartment for an evening and converse with them by typing real English sentences; they respond with recorded audio. Depending on what you say, you can influence their relationship—get them to reconcile, cause one or the other to leave, or even anger them so much that they throw you out. It’s role-playing in the real meaning of the term: no stats, no combat, no treasure, just dramatic interactions—with a couple’s future happiness at stake. Many designers consider the “holonovels” from Star Trek: The Next Generation to be the holy grail of interactive storytelling; Fa?ade is an important advance on the quest.

Input innovations

Interactivity is the essence of gaming, and in a videogame, some device has to translate the player’s intentions into action. We’ve always had buttons, knobs (aka spinners or paddles), joysticks, sliders, triggers, steering wheels and pedals. But recently our options for input devices have exploded, and a good designer gives careful thought to them before choosing an approach to use.

18. Independent movement and aiming.

Early games restricted the avatar to shooting in the direction that it was facing—as in Asteroids, for example. Separating movement from aiming requires a second joystick, which substantially increases the physical coordination required of the player, but offers more freedom for both player and designer. Probable first use: Robotron: 2084 coin-op, 1982.

19. Point-and-click.

The mouse changed the way players interact with spaces and the objects within them. Although now considered dated, point-and-click made adventure games much more accessible than the older “guess the verb” parser-based system. Best-known early example: Maniac Mansion, 1987; the SCUMM engine devised for it is still in use by independent developers. Probable first use: Enchanted Scepters for the Macintosh, 1984. The Mac was the first personal computer to routinely ship with a mouse.

20. Mouse+WASD keys for 3D first-person movement.

This is so much the best way to move a first-person avatar in a 3D space that, until we get virtual reality gear that really works, there is no reason to consider anything else. Dual-joystick setups on controllers can’t match it for precision. First use: unknown.

21. Speech recognition (and other microphone support).

Which is the more exciting: yelling “Company A, charge!” or drawing a box with your mouse around Company A, then clicking a menu item labeled CHARGE? I rest my case. And hollering at your buddies (or at your enemies)—or singing with them—can be a big part of the fun too. Probable first use: Echelon for Commodore 64, 1987.

22. Specialized I/O devices for music (not counting MIDI keyboards).

Part technology, part design, advancements in I/O devices have changed the way we play, especially in musical games. Making music and dancing to it is an intensely physical activity that doesn’t easily translate to joysticks and typewriter keyboards. Maracas, conga drums, the Guitar Hero controller—all great fun. Possible first use: dance mats in Dance Dance Revolution, 1998.

23. Gestural interfaces.

Many cultures imbue gestures with supernatural or symbolic power, from Catholics crossing themselves to the mudras of Hindu and Buddhist iconography. Magic is often invoked with gestures, too—that’s part of what magic wands are for. The problem with a lot of videogame magic is that clicking icons and pushing buttons feels more technical than magical. The gestural interface is a comparatively recent invention that gives us a non-verbal, non-technical way to express ourselves. Best-known example: Wii controller. Probable first use: Black & White, 2001.

24. Reconfigurable controls and other accessibility features.

When you get used to a certain controller or keyboard setup, you want to be able to use it in every analogous game. PC games now routinely allow players to remap the commands on their input devices, but this is not yet as common as it should be on console machines. For people with hand problems it can be vital. Unfortunately, game developers have almost completely ignored the needs of the handicapped—to our lasting shame. We’re finally starting to get a clue. Among the other useful innovations here are: subtitles for the hearing-impaired; separate volume controls for music and sound effects; adjustable brightness and contrast controls; alternative color palettes to help the color-blind; settable game speed. The slogan of accessible game design is there’s no such thing as “too slow.”

Presentational innovations

Innovations in what the player sees and hears may depend heavily on technological advances, but I still consider them design innovations as well, features the designer can choose to use in their game—or not. I take static and scrolling 2D screens for granted; they already existed in mechanical coin-ops.

25. Isometric perspective, also sometimes called “three-quarters perspective.”

After years of side-view or top-view videogames, the isometric perspective provoked gasps of astonishment when it first appeared. It created a sense of three-dimensionality that had been sorely lacking from games to that point. For the first time, players could see both the tops and the sides of objects in a natural way, rather than through awkward “cheated” sprites, and could even move around objects to see them from the other side, if the designer had provided that feature. Best-known early example: Populous, 1989. Probable first use: Zaxxon coin-op, 1982.

26. First person perspective.

First person lends immediacy like no other point of view. When an enemy points a gun at you, it’s really at you—right in your face. The big tradeoff is that you don’t get to see your avatar, so visually dramatic activities such as traversing hand-over-hand along a telephone wire lose their impact. First person doesn’t have to mean true 3D; the earliest examples didn’t allow fully 3D movement or tilting up and down. Best-known early example: Battlezone coin-op, 1980. Probable first use: Maze Wars, developed at NASA on the Imlac minicomputer, 1973.

27. Third person perspective.

Controlling your avatar as seen from behind, looking over its shoulder. The camera follows wherever the avatar goes. Like first person, third person doesn’t necessarily require a true 3D space, but it has to seem like one. This innovation was important because it allowed you to watch a heroic character doing his stuff from a natural viewpoint, unlike the older side-scrolling and top-scrolling perspectives. The tradeoff is that the avatar obscures your view of part of the world, which can be awkward in shooting games. Best-known early example: Tomb Raider, 1996. First use: unknown. Viewpoints that follow vehicles as in Pole Position, 1982, are more properly defined as chase views.

28. Cut scenes.

Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re part of the gaming landscape. They give players a rest between periods of activity, allow them to see the game world from a viewpoint that doesn’t have to be playable (and is often more attractive), and of course can tell a story. Best-known early example: Maniac Mansion, 1987. Probable first use: Pac-Man, 1979.

29. True 3D.

We used to fake 3D viewpoints a lot, usually because we didn’t have the CPU power to provide the real thing. Doom was a very clever fake. 3D doesn’t always improve gameplay—consider Lemmings versus Lemmings 3D—but its impact on gaming is incalculable. Even mobile phones are starting to get 3D accelerators. Best-known early example: Microsoft Flight Simulator v1.0, 1982. Probable first use in a game: SPASIM, a Star Trek-themed multiplayer mainframe game, 1974. These were possible only because of the extremely limited number of objects in the landscape.

30. Context-sensitive camera.

A natural advancement on the third person perspective, a context-sensitive camera moves intelligently to follow the action. This enables the designer to use a cinematographer’s skills to present the game from the best angle at every moment. Context-sensitive cameras are excellent for adventure and slower-paced action-adventure games. In fast games, however, there’s a risk that sudden camera movements will be disorienting—to control events at speed, you need a predictable viewpoint. Best-known example: ICO, 2001. First use: unknown. Pre-rendered backdrops (as in point-and-click adventures) and player-controlled cameras (as in Gabriel Knight 3) aren’t the same thing.

31. Procedural landscape generation.

This technique enables designers to create large play spaces without having to build them by hand. If it’s done on the fly, they don’t even have to store them, which was important in the early machines. Best-known early example: Seven Cities of Gold, 1984. Probable first use: River Raid, 1982.

32. Interchangeable dialog playback (aka “stitching”).

This is the practice of assembling audio clips together to produce seamless dialog with varying content. We use it to create credible play-by-play in sports games, where the names of different athletes have to be inserted into the commentary. It has done a lot to create a truly television-like experience. Best-known early example: Hardball III, 1992. Probable first use: 3rd Degree for the CD-i player, 1992.

33. Adaptive music.

Everyone recognizes the power of music to create a mood. In videogames, the trick is to change the music in response to game events, and of course the composer can’t know in advance when they might occur. One approach is simply to play a new track on demand, but the transition can be jarring if not done well. Another approach is layering—mixing harmonizing pieces of music together and changing their volumes in response to the needs of the game. Best-known early example: Wing Commander, 1990. Possible first use: Way Out for the Atari 800, 1982.

34. Bullet time.

Adjustable time has long been standard in flight simulators; it lets you speed up game-world time in order to get through dull periods quickly. Bullet time is a later innovation. It slows time down while still letting you act quickly, so it creates a feeling of super-speed to go with the more common game sensations of super-strength or super-toughness. Best-known early example: Max Payne, 2001. Possible first use: Requiem: Avenging Angel, 1999.

35. Deformable environments.

Here’s a classic game absurdity: a huge explosion destroys a tank, but does nothing to the walls and windows nearby. Deformable environments correct this and let you literally change the world.

This feature poses a risk to a game’s level design because you may be able to get into places the designer didn’t expect you to; but it makes the world much more realistic and lets you solve problems in your own way. Possible first use: Magic Carpet, 1994.

36. Clever indicators for unusual attributes.

Health, speed, mana, lives, ammunition, fuel, and so on all use pretty standard screen indicators: power bars, digits, gauges, repeating small images. Many are borrowed from real-world devices. But what about other, less obvious attributes? Over the years we’ve devised a variety of clever ways to display them—too many to list, so I’m lumping them all together. Some personal favorites: the flickering light in Thief: The Dark Project that indicates how “noticeable” your avatar is; the crosshairs that grow farther apart to indicate reduced weapon accuracy while you’re moving in shooter games; blurring the screen and rendering the controls unreliable to convey that the avatar is drunk or drugged.

Genres

We borrowed many videogame genres from other game forms, but a few genres would not have been possible before the invention of the computer, and represent real design innovation.

37. Construction and management simulations.

Both LEGO blocks and business management games predate the computer, but videogames put the two ideas together for the first time.  Best-known early example: SimCity, 1989. Probable first use:

Utopia for the Mattel Intellivision, 1982.

38. Real-time strategy games.

Turn-based computer war games had their roots in classics like the Avalon Hill board games, and many of them looked like board games too, with square counters representing units on a hexagonal grid. The addition of real time play made strategy gaming far more accessible to the general public, although purists would complain that RTS games replace true strategy with rapid mouse clicking and resource management. Best-known early example: The Ancient Art of War, 1984. Probable first use: Stonkers for the ZX Spectrum, 1983. A related genre is real-time tactics, games that concentrate on individual battlefields (e.g. the Total War series) and eliminate the resource-manufacturing aspects of RTS games.

39. Fighting games.

Apart from real-world sports and the 1960’s toy Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, I can’t find any examples of fighting games that predated the videogame. Many games include fighting elements, but true fighting games concentrate on mêlée combat without exploration or puzzle-solving. Fighting games have moved so far beyond real-life martial arts (incorporating magic powers, fictitious weapons, and unrealistic physics) that they constitute a major innovation of their own. There are now many sub-genres, but the common element is hand-to-hand fighting without ranged weapons. Possible first use:

Heavyweight Champ coin-op, 1976. Best-known early example: Street Fighter, 1987.

40. Rhythm, dance and music games.

Timing challenges are as old as Pong, but games specifically based on rhythm arrived comparatively recently. Games about making music are increasingly popular too. By avoiding mindless repetitive violence, they also attract a larger female audience. Best-known early example: PaRappa the Rapper, 1996. Possible first use: Tempo for Sega 32X, 1995. (Music Construction Set, 1984, doesn’t count as a game.)

41. Artificial pets and people.

People love watching little critters live their lives, especially if you don’t have to feel guilty about letting them die (or if they’re immortal and can’t die at all). Training and nurturing them and buying trinkets for them are all part of the fun. The Sims is the best-selling PC game of all time; Nintendogs is a massive hit on the Nintendo DS. Possible first use: Little Computer People, 1985. Best-known early example: Dogz, 1995.

42. God games.

This genre is a mashup of construction and management simulations, real-time strategy games, and artificial life games, with some extra qualities all its own. In a god game, you assume the role of the god of a group of people, and your job is (mostly) to help them prosper. The key features are indirect control—you can influence your worshippers through your actions, but you cannot give them explicit orders—and divine powers such as changing the landscape or causing natural disasters. God games let us make volcanoes on demand; what more need I say? Probable first use: Populous, 1989.

(Some people consider Utopia, 1982, to be a god game, but I class it as a CMS because the player’s powers aren’t truly godly. The claims of the Firaxis PR department notwithstanding, Civilization is not a god game.)

43. Social and dating games (with or without sex).

I can only find one non-computerized dating game, Milton Bradley’s 1965 board game Mystery Date. Computerized dating sims are a major phenomenon in Japan. Many use dialog tree conversation, in which saying the right thing to a prospective partner leads to a closer relationship. Some have complex systems of attributes not unlike those in role-playing games, but the attributes describe a character’s romantic appeal rather than his ability to whack monsters. Possible first use: D??ky?′sei (Classmates), 1992.

44. Interactive movies.

This genre came and went, and good riddance to it. It’s a world-changing design innovation because it proved so clearly to be a creative dead end that everybody knows not to make interactive movies any more—although the term is still used at times to describe the cinematic quality of games in other genres. Interactive movies taught us, by negative example, that gameplay comes first, period. The CD-ROM drive first made them possible, and in their heyday, they sold tons…until the novelty of watching tiny, grainy videos wore off. Best-known early example: The 7th Guest, 1993.

Probable first use: Dragon’s Lair coin-op, 1983.

45. “Games for girls” (not women).

The game industry ignored girls entirely for most of its early history. In the mid-1990s there was a short-lived vogue for making games for girls, but it was mostly marketing hype and a lot of girls got ripped off by shoddy products in pink boxes. The idea has since been revived somewhat; witness the Bratz series based on the (in)famous dolls. A degree of controversy surrounds games for girls, as some people are concerned that fulfilling girls’ shopping fantasies is not as socially responsible as fulfilling boys’ violence fantasies. Other games aimed at the girl market are less stereotypical, e.g. the Nancy Drew adventure games. Best-known early example: Barbie Fashion Designer, 1996. Probable first use: Barbie, 1991. (Although Pac-Man and Centipede, both from 1980, were popular with female players, neither was explicitly marketed to girls. Plundered Hearts, 1982, was aimed at adult women.)

Play styles

Different ways that people play, and how designers facilitate them.

46. Brag boards (aka high score tables).

The earliest arcade games didn’t have them. You could beat your buddy if the game was multiplayer, but only you and he knew it. The brag board, which records your initials along with your score, lets you be king of the hill until someone bests you, an irresistible challenge to competitive players. First use: Asteroids, 1979.

47. Save game.

The subject of religious warfare ever since it was invented, with those who enjoy the challenge of making it through a difficult section with no safety net in one camp, and those who want to stop and start play on their own timetable in the other. For good or ill, depending on your perspective, the ability to save profoundly affects your play style. There are many ways to implement saving, however, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. I include level passwords (for machines with no storage media) and checkpoints in the same category. First use: lost in the mists of time.

48. Modem-to-modem and networked play.

Modem-to-modem games let people play together in pairs. Although an important step forward, their biggest weakness was in the lack of a matchmaking facility—you had to know someone else who owned a modem and a copy of the same game. Then we got networking, and the medium exploded. However, networked play actually existed before personal computers. Best-known early example: RabbitJack’s

Casino on the Quantum Link service for Commodore 64 machines, 1986. Probable first use: Maze Wars on networked Imlac minicomputers at MIT, 1974.

49. Multiplayer dungeons.

Combine the fun of exploration in games like Zork with the fun of multiplayer play, and you get the multiplayer dungeon. MUDs are the direct precursors of today’s wildly popular MMORPGs. In South Korea, they’re a national mania. The earliest version was not networked, but played on a timesharing mainframe. First use: MUD, at the University of Essex, 1979.

50. Party games.

We’ve always had multiplayer games, but party games are different—they’re designed to provide entertainment in the context of a real party, a group of people enjoying each other’s company.

Instead of immersing players deeply in a fantasy world, party games give them lots of mini-games to play and laugh about. First use: Mario Party, 1998.

Those are the fifty design innovations that I’ve selected, some that were extremely important, others that will be increasingly so in the future. Opinions will doubtless vary as to their significance, and I may have omitted something that others find essential. I look forward to further discussion!(source:edge-online)

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