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目录

地理定位游戏前景编辑本段回目录

我们当中有许多人小时候玩过经典的后院游戏如“夺旗”、“躲避球”和“马可波罗”。这些游戏的数字化变体就叫作基于地理位置的游戏(LBG),这类游戏已经存在超过十年了。

LBG简史

在1999年,第一款配备GPS的手机问市。这是LBG的先驱们的新机遇。2000年,第一款以地理定位社交网络为基础的游戏《躲避球》和另一款GPS导向的寻物游戏《地理寻宝》双双登录市场。2005年,主要的地图数据服务Google Maps和Open Street Maps诞生了,随后又出现了配有GPS的iPhone和Android手机。 从2009年至2010年,地点数据服务包括Google Places、Foursquare和Factual都为我们现在看到的手机游戏奠定了基础。

近年来,大量LBG又在市场上出现了。然而,这些游戏中没有一款真正热门起来。这一类型的游戏缺乏轰动性的成功可以归咎于早期的开发者们犯下的错误:

1、依赖“签到”作为核心游戏机制

2、只允许玩家与他们的周边环境的人互动

3、游戏只能利用当前地图的界面

我要澄清的一点是,我们不是在谈论地理位置服务(如Foursquare)或本地交易发现服务(如Shopkick)。这些应用成功地利用签到作为一种吸引玩家的机制。然而,它们本质上并不算游戏。

早期LBG的教训

在开发我们的最新游戏《Tiny Tycoons》时,我们的团队专注于比签到更具深度的机制、邀请玩家探索他们的周边环境之外的地方的玩法和如社交游戏般的游戏世界。我们以这些为关注点是因为吸取了早期LBG开发和游戏的经验教训。

许多游戏开发者把所有筹码都押在“以签到作为核心机制”上。结果,这个签到功能反而拖累了游戏。作为一种游戏机制,它很快就变得不新鲜了,这就迫使游戏设计师考虑向邻近环境拓展。于是,玩家不得不身体力行地到其他地方去,以获得更多玩法,这就极大地缩小了游戏市场,也减少了人口稀少地区的玩家的沉浸感。

最终,依赖签到作为核心机制的游戏面临困境,因为玩手机游戏的人比通过Foursquare和Facebook积极签到的人数多了将近10倍。

另外,大多数手机玩家不想透露他们的位置,他们只想玩有趣的游戏罢了。

geo(from insidesocialgames)

geo(from insidesocialgames)

下一代LBG通常被称为地理游戏(Geo games)。不像它们的前辈,这些游戏主要是让玩家探索他们周边之外的环境。

地理游戏的生态系统

地理游戏面临的特殊挑战是,在已有的数据限制下运行。在Tap Lab工作室,我们开始构建地理游戏引擎和映射系统,使我们能更好地控制我们的游戏世界,其他游戏开发商也有这么做的。所幸的是,我们手头上有许多可利用的资源。地理游戏的生态系统由图数据供应商、地方数据库和游戏开发者组成。

在制作地理游戏时,你需要地图数据供应商提供地形(街道、水体等)显示服务。另外,如果你的游戏允许玩家与真实的地点发生交互作用,你还需要地点数据供应商为你提供地点的详细信息,包括经度和纬度。

地图数据供应商

在真实数据方面,Google Maps和Open Street Maps(OSM)是两大主导解决方案。Google Maps容易使用,但选项限制多。你只能通过官方的Google SDK使用它,后者严重限制游戏的某些美化功能。至于OSM,虽然更灵活,但运行不畅。OSM的限制相对少,当然,要通过类似分享的许可才能使用。二者的区别可以简单地举例如下:

使用Google Maps,你可以非常容易地添加基本的注释和叠置图层,因为它本质上是一款路线选择应用。你还可以使用Styled Map Wizard自定义颜色、能见度等计多地图元素。除了这两个基本的功能,你在其他方面都会碰壁,因为应用只允许你使用公开的Google SDK访问数据。你想用草地纹理给地面蒙皮?不可能。

使用OSM,最接近官方供应商的是CloudMade。矢量和向量图象数据都可使用。困难的地方在于,难以达到你要求的渲染和运行要求。但是,一旦这一切运行成功,你想要什么样的设计都行。

地方数据供应商

这取决于你要做什么类型的游戏。例如,餐厅游戏可能更适合用Yelp API。但就一般的地方数据库而言,三大权威选择是Google、Foursquare和Factual。它们的优缺点简述如下:

Google Places:维护得很好,但使用限制多。你是不是选择OSM作为你的地图数据供应者?太糟了——你不可能在“非Google”地图上显示Google places。你的游戏不是免费模式的?还是不好。

Foursquare:他们的数据通常比较详尽,但用户生成内容毕间是用户生成内容。你偶尔会看到如“很棒的聚会”和“两个女孩和一只猫”这样的结果。

Factual:数据质量更好,但也更昂贵。他们的免费使用上限是每天10000次请求。对于一款允许离开当前地点的游戏,几百名活跃的玩家就能让你轻松达到这个上限。

随着智能手机和4G设备的普及,快速下载地图和地点数据的功能得到极大提高。同时,我们正在利用多年积累下来的经验不断优化我们的系统,从而将正确的信息量转化成快速传递的流畅游戏体验。

地理游戏对开发商提出类似的挑战:缺少对世界的控制。通常,玩家会向高密度和竞争激烈的地区移动,或相反地,移动到没有什么交互活动的地方。因此,平衡游戏和在这些游戏中确定起始地区比纯虚拟世界的游戏更困难得多。

让玩家能够在游戏中确定方向也是非常重要的。在游戏测试中,要求玩家描述他们在游戏中的周边环境,有助于评估这个功能。如果游戏设计良好,玩家应该能够轻易地发现他们在某个时间身在何处。

与世界一起游戏

除了吸取十年的LBG发展经验和掌握地理游戏的生态系统,今天的开发者还具备了足够的技术制作新类型的游戏。不是要求玩家在本地位置签到,而是邀请玩家探索世界各地。随着开发者继续开发他们自己的地图系统,从而让他们更好地控制游戏的外观和功能,最终会使我们的世界看起来更像游戏。

室内定位、3D映射和增强现实等新兴技术为地理游戏开发者带来令人振奋的新机遇。这个世界上有许多人正在开发这类游戏,成功一定就在其中。

你设想的未来地理定位游戏是怎么样的呢?(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:David Bisceglia)

Guest Post: Resurrecting Location-Based Games

by David Bisceglia

Many of us grew up playing classic backyard games like Capture the Flag, Pickle and Marco Polo. The digital variant of these games are known as location-based games, a genre that has been around for over a decade.

A Brief History of Location-Based Games

In 1999, the first mobile phones with GPS hit the market. This set the course for the pioneers of location-based games. Dodgeball, one of the first location-based social networks, and a GPS-driven scavenger hunt called Geocaching both came to market in 2000. The major map data providers, Google Maps and Open Street Maps, were established by 2005 and the launch of iPhone and Android phones with GPS soon followed. From 2009-2010, venue data providers including Google Places, Foursquare and Factual placed the final piece of the puzzle for the mobile games we see today.

Multiple location-based games have hit the market in recent years. Yet, none of them have really caught on. The genre’s lack of a runaway success can be attributed to early mistakes made by developers of these games:

1.) Relying on the check-in as a core game mechanic

2.) Only letting players interact with their immediate surroundings

3.) Forcing a game on top of existing map interfaces

To be clear, we’re not talking about social utilities like Foursquare or local deal finders such as Shopkick. These apps successfully leveraged the check-in as an engagement mechanic. However, they are not games at their core.

Lessons learned from Early Location-Based Games

While developing our newest title, Tiny Tycoons, our team focused on mechanics with greater depth than the check-in, gameplay that invites players to explore beyond their immediate surroundings and a game world that looks and feels like a social game. These efforts were based on the lessons we learned from playing and developing early location-based games.

Many game developers made a big bet on the check-in as a core mechanic. It turns out that the check-in was a ball and chain. As a game mechanic, it got stale quickly and forced game designers to think in terms of proximity. Accordingly, players had to physically travel to get access to more gameplay, significantly decreasing the approachable market as well as engagement for people in less populated areas.

Ultimately, games that relied on the check-in as a core mechanic struggled since there were roughly ten times as many people playing mobile games as there were people actively checking in via Foursquare and Facebook places.

It turned out that most mobile gamers don’t want to broadcast their location; they just want to play a fun game.

Source: Charles Hudson’s Weblog

The next generation of location-based gaming is often referred to as “geo gaming.” Unlike their predecessors, these games focus on letting players explore beyond their immediate surroundings.

The Geo Gaming Ecosystem

Geo games face the unique challenge of working within the limitations of pre-existing data. At The Tap Lab, we set out to build a geo game engine and mapping system to give us more control over our game world, as did a few other game developers. Fortunately, we have many resources at our disposal. The geo gaming ecosystem consists of Map Data Providers, Places Databases, and Game Developers.

In making a geo game you need a Map Data Provider for drawing geography (streets, bodies of water, etc.). In addition, if your game lets players interact with real world places you will need a Venue Data Provider that can give you venue details, including latitude and longitude.

Map Data Providers

In terms of the actual data, the two leading solutions are Google Maps or Open Street Maps (OSM). Google Maps is the easier to use but more restrictive option. You’re only able to use it via the official Google SDKs, which significantly limits some of the aesthetics that are important to a game. OSM, on the other hand, is more flexible but harder to get running. OSM is available via a much less restrictive attribution and share-alike license. A simple example of the difference between the two:

Using Google Maps, you can very easily add basic annotations and overlays, as its nature is a routing app. You can also, using the Styled Map Wizard, customize colors, visibility, etc. of a number of map elements. Beyond these two basic features, you run into a brick wall as you’re only allowed to access the data using public Google SDKs. Trying to re-skin the ground using a grass texture? No can do.

Using OSM, the closest thing to an official provider is CloudMade. The data is available as both image and vector tiles. The hard part is to get a renderer up and running to your specifications, but once everything’s working, you can style things however you like.

Place Data Providers

The decision here comes down to what type of game you’re trying to create. For example, a restaurant game might be better served using the Yelp API. In terms of general places databases though, the three leading options are Google, Foursquare, and Factual, each with pros and cons:

Google Places – Well maintained, but more restrictive terms of use. Did you pick OSM for your map data provider? Too bad -– you can’t display Google places on a non-Google map. Is your game not free-to-play? Also no good.

Foursquare – Their data is typically more exhaustive, but user-generated content is user-generated content. You’ll occasionally see results like “Awesome Party” and “Two Girls and a Cat.”
Factual – Better data quality, but more expensive. Their free cap is only 10,000 calls per day. With a game that allows travel away from your current location, you could easily hit this with a few hundred active users.

With the proliferation of smartphones and 4G devices, the ability to quickly download map and venue data has improved dramatically. At the same time, we are leveraging our years of experience in this area to continually optimize our systems and pull down the right amount of information quickly to deliver a smooth gameplay experience.

Geo games present a familiar challenge for developers: lack of control over the world. Often enough players will travel to highly dense and competitive areas or conversely, to the middle of nowhere with nothing to interact with. As a result, it is much more difficult to balance gameplay and to define starter zones in these games than in purely virtual worlds.

It’s also important for players to be able to get their bearings in these games. During playtests it helps to ask players to describe their surroundings in the game. If the game is well designed, a player should be able to easily detect where they are in the world at any given time.

Playing With The World

Armed with a decade of lessons learned and a deep understanding of the geo gaming ecosystem, today’s developers are equipped to craft a new type of game. Rather than asking players to check-in at local places, players are invited to explore locations around the world. That world now looks much more like a game as developers continue to create their own mapping systems, giving them more control over how their games look and function.

Emerging technologies like indoor positioning, 3D mapping, and augmented reality present exciting opportunities for geo game developers. There are brilliant people around the world working on these games and there’s bound to be a runaway success among them.

What would you like to see in the geo games of the future?(source:insidesocialgames)


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