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电子游戏情境编辑本段回目录

作者:Mark Filipowich

有个教授曾跟我说,如果想要创造一个可称得上是故事的故事,它就必须包含能受事件影响而改变的角色。故事必须具有不同层面,并利用丰富的文学手法和修辞,但最重要的还是故事中的事件必须能够改变角色。

将一个醉鬼与他那死去的母亲放置在救护车上,或让一个流氓AI在一所由God运行的律师事务所工作,或让一个失去记忆的工程师待在一间闹鬼的三明治店等,都不足以说是故事,它们只能说是种种情境。也许这是一些有趣的人在有趣的情境中思考并说着一些有趣的事,但也只能说是情境而已。

这位教授告诉我们,情境并不等于故事。故事中必须发生某些事件,并且其中的任务会因为这些事件而发生改变。在不同的个体和他们所面对的特定情境间,故事具有透明的行动。

当然了,与大多数文学规则一样,在经过仔细检查后这些规则也会出现崩溃。在卡夫卡的作品中,任务并不会随着情节的发展发生改变;甚至连海明威也更注重自己的思考,而不是描绘出角色身上所发生的一切,以及为何会发生这些事。

但是我认为这个教授只是想将一个复杂的世界变成一些容易管理的组块,帮助学生们更好地理解。即使“被事件改变的角色”标准还不甚完善,但却能帮我们更好地理解文学功能。不过从另外一方面看来,游戏并不符合这一标准。

Storytelling(from cpcc.edu)

Storytelling(from cpcc.edu)

游戏叙事并不是建立在故事上。甚至连基于情节的游戏也不是关于事件,时间和人物,而是注重事件周围的任何事物。促成情节发展的任何情境比情节本身更有趣。如果说文学是一个生长箱,孕育着会受各种刺激影响的角色,那么游戏便是一个覆盖着各种线索的开放式房间,充满了各种迷人的角色,并且吸引着更多陌生人前来探索。

就像Nick Dinicola所说的,这不只是关于世界的创造比情节创造更重要,玩家也不需要对情节中的运动创造负责(游戏邦注:尽管它们对于游戏中的叙述仍是必不可少的元素),在电子游戏叙述中,游戏情境(而非情节)才是真正的基础。我认为叙述是情节,世界,角色,场景,环境,设置,对话交流以及任何能够影响玩家感觉或想法的机制系统的总和。

虽然我们也不能忽视游戏中所有优秀的写作作品,但不管怎么说所有内容都是基于核心情境。玩家偶然进入了开始的环境,并通过探索,推断与游戏而经历各种变化。甚至当玩家不能控制游戏的任何事件时,叙述的核心也是基于游戏所创造的各种新氛围。不管是从Brecilian Forest过度到无底之路,从疣猪身上跳下而遇到女妖,或者排队去清理俄罗斯方块,每一种氛围豆浆围绕着游戏情境散发出来。

让我们想想大多数关卡是如何开始的:一开始都会出现一个过场动画或简短的介绍引出一个新的屏幕,但最终游戏世界中都会出现一个角色,并让玩家开始进行探索——即使只是朝着同一个方向。

甚至在冒险游戏中——即玩家需要想出如何从一个对话或过场动画前进到下一个场景,游戏叙述是基于玩家移动他们的角色或屏幕,或者只是检查游戏世界中的某些元素,直到最终解决了每个谜题。在玩家经过探索而真正理解游戏环境前,游戏中并不会发生任何变化。在小说中,我们看不到角色是如何进入一个房间,并靠近每个新房间中的每件家具以搞清楚它们的功效以及为何会摆放在那里(游戏邦注:除非是美国小说家和批评家Henry James的小说)。

不管是“1-1 MARIO START”还是最具动态性的过场动画都只是创造了游戏环境,即将角色放置在一个开放领域,将控制交给玩家,然后留下一些尚未解决的问题。即使情节并不受玩家输入内容的影响,但是当玩家在探索情境时,大多数叙述实体(包括图像,音乐,角色设计,从A点到B点所需要的努力,个人和数据的发展,角色的改变等)都会发生改变。

这也是游戏为何从不,也不应该做得绝对逼真的主要原因。因为不管是让英雄花费20分钟的时间远离一个主线任务(因为他们认为自己已经看到海岸线上的鲨鱼),让人们在每次提示时都重复相同的话语,让敌人以相同的模式行走或进攻,或者让死人再次复苏等都不是什么自然的设置,它们能够推动玩家对于游戏情境的探索,而这正好是电子游戏故事叙述的核心。

League_of_Legends(from mmogamer)

League_of_Legends(from mmogamer)

游戏中的情节之所以不是很重要是因为在玩家影响情节前它并不存在。但是情境就不同了,它一直都存在于游戏中,并且在最优秀的游戏中,情节始终都保持着乐趣。甚至在像《马里奥》等完全不存在故事的游戏,或者像《魔兽世界》以及《英雄联盟》等不重视故事的游戏中,情境更是能够影响玩家的思维与感受。

不管是玩家因为被敌人所超越而感到绝望,并最终谨慎地选择了战斗位置或引诱敌人发动进攻,还是他们探索游戏环境的最终结果是逆转的胜利或者羞耻的失败,真正的要点在于所有的情感和理性体验都是受到游戏所创造的情境的影响。

大多数玩家之所以不能完成游戏并不是因为游戏太过复杂或者他们对游戏感到了厌烦,而是游戏呈现出了冗长且让人厌烦的情境,从而失去了对于玩家的影响。问题在于游戏在最后只留下少量未经探索的场景,少量长期目标,以及少量无决断力的角色。角色所迈出的步伐越大,游戏情境就变得越发紧缩。

从根本上来看,游戏也未提供给玩家足够的开放“空间”进行探索。有多少玩家在遇到最终boss前就选择退出一款长达40个小时的游戏?在最终地牢打开并且所有支线任务都结束时,玩家不再需要通过探索去掌握仅剩的那个情境,那便是:“我需要打败boss,或者我将不断重置,直到我能击败他并获得‘最好的’结果。”

对于文学和电影来说,情节便是一切。如果不能移动事件去塑造角色,那便只剩下没有方向的设置。我们融入这些故事去观察人们将做什么以及会发生什么事去塑造这些角色。但是在游戏中,设置才是核心。他们创造了一个空间让玩家可以在此游荡,并寻找自我。而玩家可以通过自己在游戏中的经历而理解之后发生的所有故事。

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

The Situation with Video Game Stories

by Mark Filipowich

A former professor of mine once told me that for a story to be a story, it must consist of a character being changed by events. Stories may be layered and make use of a gamut of literary devices and tropes, but everything is built on the foundation of a character being changed by an event.

It is not enough to put an alcoholic in an ambulance with his dying mother or a rogue AI in a law firm run by God or an amnesiac engineer in a haunted sandwich shop. Those aren’t stories; they’re situations. They may be interesting situations with interesting people thinking and saying interesting things, but they’re just situations.

And a situation, this professor stooped to tell us, is not a story. Something has to happen, and someone has to change because of it. A story has transparent motion between a distinct individual and their specific circumstances.

Of course, like most rules of literature, the rule disintegrates upon closer inspection. Kafka’s entire body of work is about people not changing under the reader’s watch; even Hemingway was more interested in his unique brand of musing than in laying out what happened to whom and why it should be important.

But I imagine that this professor of mine was just trying to break down a complicated world into manageable chunks for a new batch of undergraduates. Even if the “character-changed-by-stuff” criteria for the written word is imperfect at least it’s somewhat useful in understanding how literature functions. Games, on the other hand, do not fit this criterion at all.

Game narratives aren’t built on stories. Even the most linear, plot-heavy games focus not on what happens, when, and to whom, but rather everything around the events that help to set them up. The circumstances that make the plot possible are far more interesting in games than the plot itself. If literature is a growth chamber where a character is altered when stimulus is applied, then games are a big open room covered in clues, often occupied by fascinating people and explored by a stranger.

It isn’t just that world-building is more important than creating a plot, as argued by Nick Dinicola on [PopMatters], nor is it that the player must feel responsible for creating movement in the plot—although both are still necessary for the narrative to carry any weight—it is that a game’s situation, not its plot, is at the foundation of video game narrative. By narrative, I mean the sum of plot, world, character, scenes, environments, sets, dialogue exchanges, and anything operating in the mechanical system that could be said to evoke a feeling or thought (including the mechanics themselves).

Not to discount any of the great writing or directing authored in games past, but everything is built on a core situation. A player is dropped into a starting environment and everything is experienced through their exploration, deduction, and play. Even when the player has no authority over the game’s events, at the core the narrative is built on each new bit of atmosphere that the game establishes. Whether it’s a change from the Brecilian Forest to the deep roads, hopping out of a warthog and into a banshee, or just lining up four lines to clean up a once log jammed Tetris board, every mood and atmosphere is framed by a situation.

Think of how most levels begin: there may be a cutscene or even just a brief dissolve that wipes to a new screen, but ultimately a level puts an avatar into a world and leaves the player to explore—even if it is just in one direction.

Even in adventure games, in which the player basically figures out how to move from one conversation or cutscene to the next, the narrative is built on the player moving their avatar or their screen or even just closely examining the elements of the world, until each puzzle is solved. Nothing happens until the player has explored the game enough to understand its context. In a novel, you don’t hear about how the character enters a room, approaching each piece of furniture in every new room just to see what they could do with it and what reasons that it could possibly be there (unless it’s a Henry James novel, amirite?).

Everything from “1-1 MARIO START” to the most dynamic cutscenes just establish context, put the avatar in an open space, hand the controls back to the player, and then leave things unresolved. Even if the resolution of a plot is unaffected by player input, most of the narrative substance (the artwork, music, character design, the effort required to move from A to B, the personal and statistical growth and changes in characters) all happen when the player is just exploring the situation.

It’s why games will never—and should never—reach absolute verisimilitude. Because even while it isn’t natural for a hero to take twenty minutes away from a main quest because they thought they might have seen a neat-looking shark from a coastline or for villagers to greet heroes that barge into their homes or for people to repeat the same speech at every prompt or for enemies to walk and attack in the same patterns or for death to be an annoying setback instead of an absolute state, they facilitate exploration of the enormous situation, which is at the core of video game storytelling.

The plot doesn’t matter as much in games because it doesn’t exist until the player moves it. However, the situation is always there, and in the best games, it’s always interesting. Even in games stripped almost entirely of story like in a Mario game or where it’s irrelevant such as in a World of Warcraft raid or a League of Legends multiplayer match, the situation dictates the thoughts and feelings that become the story.

Being clearly outclassed by an enemy leads to anxiety and desperation, resulting in carefully choosing the location of battle or baiting enemy aggression. Ultimately, exploring the game’s context leads to the story of a glorious come-from-behind victory or a humiliating defeat. The point is that the emotive and rational experience is dictated by what situations the game establishes.

The reason I believe why most players don’t finish games isn’t that games are too challenging or even that players get bored with their games. It’s that games lose their impact after too long a string of unpalatable, limited, or repeated situations. The problem is that as a game nears its conclusion fewer unexplored locations remain, fewer long-term goals need maintenance, and fewer characters are left with unresolved arcs. The more progress that the player makes, the more constrictive the overarching situation becomes.

Essentially, there are fewer big open “rooms” left to explore and flesh out. How many players quit a 40 hour campaign right before the final boss just because it’s the last possible thing that they can do? By the time that the final dungeon opens up and the side quests are all wrapped up, the only situation remaining doesn’t need to be explored to understand: “I will beat the boss, or I will reset until I beat him and get the ‘good’ ending.”

For literature and film, plot is everything. Without moving events that shape (or fail to shape) the characters, there is only setup with no direction. We engage with these stories to see what a person will do and how the things that happen will shape them. But games, at the core, are setup. They create a place to wander and figure out for one’s self. All the story that may happen afterward results from play in an open space, the boundaries and significance of which is understood through experience.(source:gamasutra)

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