《Pocket Trains》设计更出色的5个理由

作者:Benjamin Sipe

首先我要说明的是,我很喜欢NimbleBit工作室及其游戏。正如你们多数人一样,我也为《Tiny Tower》所着迷。我喜欢该游戏的像素艺术,小小的人物以及模仿Facebook的Bitbook元素。

我还玩过他们的《Pocket Planes》。我曾经喜欢玩《Pocket Planes》但不久就厌倦了。我在这款游戏中投入不到一个月时间,并且没有在其中消费。我觉得这款游戏在一些方面存在不足。有些人抱怨其玩法有点重复,但这是多数游戏的通病。《Candy Crush Saga》或《Clash of Clans》何尝不是如此呢?在我看来,这款游戏最缺乏任务或进展感。另外,我还发现了在这款游戏中获胜的一个必杀技,那就是在关卡3中对更大的飞机进行投入,并关闭除了主要机场之外的其余机场。这个策略与你拥有多少机场/航线无关,但却有赖于玩家是否向更长的航线发送更棒的飞机。这看起来更像是一种投机取巧,而非富有吸引力的战略。

Pocket Trains title(from gamasutra)

当《Pocket Trains》问世时,我周围有不少熟人的一致表态就是“这不过是另一款《Pocket Planes》”。我不得不提醒他们,许多游戏都是其他作品的翻版,或者取材于另一款游戏。只要它们的确在原作的基础上获得提升,那也不算什么坏事。玩了一会儿《Pocket Trains》之后,我发现NimbleBit在5个关键方面极大提升了游戏,使之更具吸引力,我想这些做法也适用于其他游戏。

1.优化战略

NimbleBit在这一点上大有改进,在此我们将逐一分析。

*《Pocket Trains》鼓励扩展。正如我在上文提到的一样,玩家在《Pocket Planes》中继续经营小型飞机和机场并没有太大意义。而在《Pocket Trains》中,你必须保持开放原来航线的服务,才能扩展业务。这有助于玩家获得进展感,让他们感觉自己的航空帝国永不缩水。

*航线规划更为简化。在《Pocket Planes》中,你要花钱飞向世界各地。从现实世界角度来看,这一点颇为实际,但也让规划过程更为冗长。最终,我只会在乎每次运输所得到的利润。我确实喜欢更为丰富/复杂的战略游戏,但这是运行于移动设备的游戏,所以最好是让游戏更为简化一点。

*让航线而非列车类型成为关键因素。在《Pocket Trains》中,每种列车类型都有不同的数值设定。有些运行速度极快,但能源耗量也很大,有些列车运载能力更强,但速度却很慢。游戏中总有适合不同列车类型的航线,玩家可以根据自己的需求来选择。表面来看,玩家不会意识到这一点,但正是这种复杂层次让《Pocket Trains》成为一款更优秀的游戏。

Pocket Trains(from gamasutra)

2.无法购买特定的列车

在《Pocket Planes》中,玩家可以购买飞机组件,以便“组装”出更为廉价的新飞机,也可以选择购买现成的新飞机。在我看来,推出直接购买新飞机的选项降低了这些飞机的价值。如果你无需付出任何努力就可以得到这些飞机,那么它们还有何稀有性或特殊意义可言呢?

IAP options(from gamasutra)

options 2(from gamasutra)

我相信NimbleBit意识到了这一点,所以玩家无法在《Pocket Trains》中购买预制的火车。玩家必须收集板条箱,使用bux(游戏邦注:这是该游戏中的付费货币)打开它们。即使是付费玩家也需要为特定的列车付出一定的劳动,同时也有利于消耗玩家的付费货币,不过NimbleBit在付费货币的设计上也很慷慨。

special crates(from gamasutra)

3.更多货币类型

与之前的NimbleBit游戏一样,《Pocket Trains》中也有coins和bux这类标准货币和付费货币。但是,NimbleBit还增加了“crates”(板条箱)和“special crate”(特殊板条箱)IAP选项。玩家通常会遇到板条箱,但特殊板条箱却不常有,并且需要大量coins才能购得。这是一个很棒的bux附加IAP选项,因为要打开板条箱就必须用到bux。如果我花5美元购买50个特殊板条箱,那么我还很可能需要一些bux来开启许多板条箱。

special crates 2(from gamasutra)

open crates(from gamasutra)

增加互补的IAP选项将极大增加你说服玩家再次购买的机率。

4.以填充燃料来延迟游戏

在《Pocket Planes》中,当飞机着陆时,就可以马上准备下一次飞行。我曾忏诚地玩了2周的《Pocket Planes》,但之后就卸载了游戏并且再也没有玩过。并非所有的F2P游戏都必须有延迟机制,但我认为那些可能具有重复性的游戏分解成短小的片段,以便保持玩家对游戏的长期兴趣。

在《Pocket Trains》中,列车都有一定数量的燃料。在旅程结束后,列车每10秒就会重新生成1个燃料单位。玩家通常需要等待20分钟,直到燃料填满,从而摆脱重复性的任务,或者花钱跳过等待。

refuel(from gamasutra)

5.日常活动

在《Pocket Planes》中,玩家可以选择加入一个团队(或飞行航班),同其他玩家参与持续数天的活动。这个创意在理论上很可行,但实际操作却有不少问题。

*游戏中并没有设置与航班成员沟通的系统。

*游戏中并未限制一个航班中的参与人数上限,所以玩家只要加入一个极大规模的航班就可以获胜。

*对于移动设备来说,持续一天以上的活动真是太长久了。

我喜欢团队活动这个理念,因为它令单人模式的游戏变成了多人游戏,但我并不认为它会像设计师所想象的那么可行。

global event(from gamasutra)

NimbleBit在《Pocket Trains》中修复了这个问题。它们用日常活动鼓励玩家每日返回游戏参与活动,这些活动基于个人而非团队情况来完成。这还同填充燃料形成互补,因为玩家可能花bux来为列车填充燃料,或者快速驶向一个地区,以便完成一个任务。

daily event(from gamasutra)

用数据来说话

作为读者,我通常更相信用数据来证明某款游戏或产品更为优秀的观点。以下就是《Pocket Planes》发布头数周在营收榜单的数据。

pocket planes(from gamasutra)

从上图可以看出,这款游戏发布高峰其是第五天,之后排名开始下滑。开发者通常都希望自己的免费游戏能够保持强势的排名,但《Pocket Planes》之后从未返回原先的位置,并且持续下滑,只有在发布更新内容时例外。再看看《Pocket Trains》的榜单排名情况。

pocket trains ranking(from gamasutra)

它发布后快速跻身前100名之列,从未滑落这一行列。尽管它的最高排名并不如《Pocket Planes》,但我相信它最终会胜出。它最高排名不如《Pocket Planes》的原因,我暂时不得而知,但我相信是因为其相似的游戏风格,导致一些玩家不愿意下载游戏或为之付费。我自己曾在这款游戏中消费两次,但从未在《Pocket Planes》中消费一次。我希望《Pocket Trains》能够保持名次,但也许只有时间才能决定最终结果。(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

5 Reasons Why Pocket Trains is Better

by Benjamin Sipe

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

Let me start by saying I love NimbleBit games and the studio as a whole. I, like many of you, was hooked when I discovered Tiny Tower. I love the pixel art, the bitizen characters and the little attentions to detail in their games like the Bitbook (mock in-game Facebook). Not only are their games good but it seems like they are the underdogs that everyone is rooting for, and I mean “underdog” in the best way possible as in they don’t have the capital or resources that their competition has. It’s hard not to respect them when they send notes like this to studios who copy their games.

Then there was Pocket Planes. I enjoyed Pocket Planes but not for very long. I played for less than a month and didn’t monetize. I felt the game fell short in a few different aspects. Some complained the gameplay is a little repetitive but that can be said for most games. What’s not repetitive about Candy Crush or Clash of Clans? However, the lack of missions or progression got to me. I also ended up discovering a killer strategy. Invest in the larger planes (level 3) and close all airports except your major (level 3) airports. The strategy wasn’t dependent on how many airports/routes you had, but relied on sending better planes on longer routes. This seemed more like an exploit rather than a compelling strategy.

When Pocket Trains came out several people around me were initially underwhelmed saying things like “this is just another Pocket Planes.” I had to remind them that many games are clones of another, or get inspiration from another game. This isn’t a bad thing so long as they improve on the former or inspirational game. After playing Pocket Trains for a while now I think there are 5 critical things that NimbleBit improved to make the game more compelling and I’m sure some of these could be applied to other games out there.

1. Improved Strategy

NimbleBit improved on this in several ways so we’ll tackle them one at a time.

Pocket Trains encourages expansion. Like I mentioned above there’s a point in Pocket Planes where it doesn’t make sense to continue to operate smaller planes and airports so your network shrinks. However, in Pocket Trains you need to keep those previous routes open in order to keep expanding. This helps with the player’s sense of progression since their empire is never shrinking.

Planning routes is more simplistic. In Pocket Planes it costs money to fly somewhere. This might be more accurate in the real world, but it makes the planning process longer. In the end, I only care about the profit margin from each thing I’m transporting. I do enjoy more expansive/complex strategy games, but this game is on mobile so if you can make it easier to play then it’s usually best to do so.

It’s all about routes, not who has the best train type. In Pocket Trains each train type has a different set of stats. Some are very fast but don’t hold much fuel, and others might have a larger towing capacity but are very slow. There are routes that work better for certain train types and it’s up to the player to figure that out. On the surface, players won’t recognize this but it’s these layers of complexity over a simple set of actions that makes Pocket Trains a much better game.

building a network and using the right trains for proper routes is crucial

2. Can’t Buy Specific Trains

In Pocket Planes players can purchase plane parts in order to “build” new planes at a discount, but there’s also the option to just buy the plane already built. Having the option to buy the planes instantly devalued them to me. There’s no scarcity or nothing special about those planes if you don’t need to work for them.

You can buy planes parts…

or skip it and just purchase planes

I believe NimbleBit realized this and that’s why you can’t purchase pre-built trains in Pocket Trains. Players need to collect crates and use “bux” (premium currency) to open them. This makes even paying players work for special train types and it also helps drain player’s premium currency, but NimbleBit is also generous with the premium currency so they’re not being greedy about it.

I need more special crates to finish these trains! Perhaps I should buy some.

3. More Currency Types

Like in previous NimbleBit games there are coins and bux for the standard and premium currencies. However, NimbleBit also added “crates” and “special crate” IAP options. Players come by regular crates pretty often, but special crates are rare and require a large amount of coins to purchase. This is a great accompanying IAP option to bux because bux are required in order to open crates. If I spend $5 on 50 special crates then I’ll likely also need some bux to help open that many crates. Adding complementary IAP options like this will greatly increase your odds to persuade players into repeat purchasers.

I bought some special crates…

And needed some bux to open all those crates

4. Delay with Refueling

In Pocket Planes when a plane lands from a flight it’s immediately ready for the next flight. I also played Pocket Planes religiously for 2 weeks strait, uninstalled and then never played again. It’s not a necessity to have delay in all F2P games, but I really encourage it for games that can be repetitive or shallow to break up sessions lengths to keep player’s interest for longer periods of time.

In Pocket Trains, the trains have a certain amount of fuel that they can hold. After traveling, fuel regenerates at a rate of 1 fuel unit every 10 seconds. Players typically wait less than 20 minutes to refuel but this break helps them get away from repetitive tasks, or helps persuade them to monetize if they’re in a pinch.

5. Daily Events

In Pocket Planes players could join a team (or flight crew) and participate in events that lasted a few days with other players. The concept sounds great on paper, but there were a few flaws.

There’s no way to communicate with your flight crew in game.

There’s no limit to how many players could be in a flight crews so just join a really large flight crew and you’ll win.

Events that last more than 1 day on mobile are extremely long.

I liked the concept of a team event because it was turning a single player game into a multiplayer game, but I don’t think it worked out as well as one might have hoped during the designing process.

NimbleBit fixed these event issues in Pocket Trains. They have daily events to encourage players to come back every day to participate and the events are completed on an individual basis versus a team event. This also complements the delay with refueling because players might spend bux to refuel their train or fast travel to a location in order to finish an event if they’re close.

Let the Numbers Speak

It’s great to hear someone’s opinion on why something is a better game or product, but as a reader I also want to see some validating points or data to backup claims. Here’s the top grossing chart data the first couple weeks Pocket Planes was out.

As you can see the game hit its peak on the 5th day and then began to decline. Typically in a freemium game you want your game to level out and maintain. However, Pocket Planes never climbed back up to the position that it was at and was/is on a constant decline except when updates are released. Let’s take a look at the Pocket Trains charts.

Now this is what I like to see in a F2P title. It quickly rose into the top 100 grossing and is staying there. Even though it didn’t peak as high as Pocket Planes, I’m confident that Pocket Trains will make more in the end. Why didn’t it peak as high as Pocket Planes? I don’t know for certain, but I believe it’s because of the similar style of game so some players aren’t downloading, playing or paying. As for me, I monetized (twice) in Pocket Trains when I never did in Pocket Planes. I hope Pocket Trains can maintain its position, but only time will tell.(source:gamasutra)

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