Looking at “My Knight” from today’s perspective, this is undoubtedly an exciting project since birth. As this kind of “exciting” performance at birth, at the 2019 TGDC conference. The “My Knight” project team clearly stated in a speech: “We must meet users beyond expectations, and meet users’ pain points beyond expectations, so that core users can really love games…Vertical products capture 1% The users of the company are basically able to succeed in half.” From today’s perspective, this speech is undoubtedly based on the expectation that the team has sufficient control over the product and the market level.
But what is less known is that, as early as the end of 2018 before this speech, the “My Knight” team was still hesitating: whether to make the game more convenient and make compromises to the market and commercialization. Or do you do more to show unique gameplay? In the current Chinese game industry, it is not an easy task to make an open world martial arts game full of personality and completely innovative.
Experts from Tencent GWB helped them make up their minds. “My Knight” participated in the 2018 GWB game tasting meeting, and then experts quickly stepped in to give guidance on this product. After learning about the hesitation of the project team, the experts directly said: “The biggest feature of your game is that it is different from other games on the market. (Players) will feel the freedom of it as long as they play for a while.” In this case Next, experts advise them not to make settings that players are accustomed to, but actually have a little conflict. It is better to focus on showing the characteristics of the open world, so that players will know what kind of game it is as soon as they come in. This guidance used the words of He Zheng, the master planner of “My Knight”-“It seems to suddenly understand the team and myself.” It is precisely because of this that a year later, at the TGDC conference, “vertical products grab 1% of users and basically half of the success” speech.
The decision was made, and the next question was how to do it. For an open-world martial arts game like “My Knight”, it also faces repeated trials and errors and adjustments at the research and development level. According to the reminiscences of the chief planner He Zheng, this trial and error and adjustment are mainly focused on “How to choose between the real and the fun?”
First of all, the first challenge stems from the challenge of changing the linear mission line to the mesh mission line. At the beginning, the mission line of “My Knight” was still a linear mission. Obviously, this approach cannot truly realize the project team’s idea of ”restore a real martial arts world”. But when the linear task was changed to a network task line, the question followed: In addition to the increase in workload, how to do so in the endless branches of one split two, two split four, four split eight? This is the first challenge faced by linear tasks.
In this regard, the solution of “My Knight” is to gather related tasks at key task nodes. For example, in the mission in Dali City, when the player confronts Duan Kang, whether the player has helped Chunyan ultimately determines the direction of the mission. If the player has helped Chunyan before, the “Chunyan’s Letter” he carries will come in handy, and the task will come to a successful conclusion. And if you haven’t helped Chunyan before, you haven’t even seen it. Then the task will continue as usual, but it will only go to the general plot in the end.
Through the gathering of such key nodes, “My Knight” will also summarize and organize tasks in a more orderly manner while ensuring full freedom, avoiding the chaotic and unorganized task line.
The second challenge stems from the problem of uniform difficulty caused by the parallelization of different task lines. Just take the early open-world martial arts RPG “The Legend of Jin Yong’s Heroes” as an example. Old players must remember that the box of the genuine game reads: “The game is completely free. You can play whatever plot you want first.” Above, in the game, if the protagonist Xiaoxi Mi goes to open the plot of “Swordsman” and challenge the four friends of Meizhuang, then the name of a missing person will only be added to the rivers and lakes. Similarly, “My Knight”, which opened the world, also faced such a problem.
In this regard, He Zheng’s solution is to set the starting difficulty of the four major cities to be the same. This approach firstly avoids the situation that players will be killed in seconds because they go to a favorite city. On the other hand, the openness brought by its open world also allows players to make difficult operations based on the BOSS itself in different cities. For example, the player can face it alone, or invite NPCs from the city to fight together. Even when the BOSS is defeated for the first time and escapes to the depths of the maze and appears in a stronger posture, the player can both try to challenge and end there. This kind of scheme not only guarantees the degree of freedom, but also gives players the space for the second and third week games.
If we say that the above cases are all based on the problems laid out in order to “restore a real world”. So how to make a trade-off between “real” and “fun” is a problem that most open world games tend to ignore. “My Knight” was no exception at first.
According to the initial setting, when a player kicks another sect or steals the martial arts secrets of another sect under different circumstances, he will even have a bond with that sect. In this case, no matter how close the player is to his disciple brothers and sisters, he will end up with the phrase “Master won’t let me interact with you too much.” And if this happens after the player enters the team and gives him a lot of gifts in order to complete a certain task, it is undoubtedly a bad user experience.
He Zheng realized that he might be wrong when he saw that user feedback like this began to increase. Reality is important, but in the game, the ultimate orientation of any real factor is still to make it interesting. Rather than just being true for the sake of reality. For this reason, in the final game, the conditions for NPCs to join the team are only linked to favorability, and not to look at the martial arts behind them. Although this approach does lose some authenticity, when the player’s feedback tells them that the player himself does not have a deep memory of this matter, such truthfulness may not be necessary. Reality based on fun may be what users ultimately want.
On the other hand, after repeated trial and error and adjustments. This “My Knight” has officially created a world of its own.
The following is the interview record:
Q: Today, “My Knight” has been tested and approved by players. In our opinion, this is a very unique open world martial arts game, so what I want to ask is which three points were initially determined as the core gameplay of this game when the project was established?
He Zheng: In fact, at the beginning of “My Knight”, our idea was to restore a real world of martial arts on the mobile terminal. For this reason, we almost played a large number of martial arts games on the market, including some modern commercial works as well as some older stand-alone games. Finally, we determined the core idea of the game as three points:
First, it is an open world game. As soon as the player enters the game, after the novice tutorial, they can freely explore any place on the map. Although there will indeed be some situations where the opponent cannot be beaten, the world still has to be very open.
Second, the game has a large number of NPCs, and the interaction is also very free. You can decide to make them your friends, teammates or enemies based on your own needs? And this freedom of interaction further enriches the gameplay.
Third, the martial arts collocation in the game must be strategic, not a single skill in the martial arts RPG in the past. We need to give players a wide range of options, and then through their own martial arts selection and matching, the formation of numerical output enables them to challenge stronger BOSS in the middle and late stages.
The above three points are the three core points we set at the beginning of the project of “My Knight”. Then, on the basis of continuing the above three points, I decided to make it a retro martial arts game. The reason for the concept of retro martial arts is because we feel that the arena of this game is more like the old martial arts movies “New Dragon Inn” and “Swordsman”. Its rhythm and model are more biased towards that era, so it is obviously wrong to use today’s business model to rigidly set it.
Q: This is a more obvious result because the different models make the pace of the entire development different. So in this case, in order to make such a magnificent and real martial arts world, how do we control the rhythm of research and development?
He Zheng: I understand what you mean. Here we use a dumb method, first go to the heap. Fill in the entire world’s scenes, strongholds, NPCs, interactions, dialogues, tasks, etc. through heaps. Because these things are the foundation in our view, only quantitative changes can lead to qualitative changes.
After the quantitative change is completed, we need to let the player gradually feel the degree of freedom in the world, but this degree of freedom does not give the user an empty prison. But let him feel the interaction with the world and NPC. Therefore, at this stage we have summarized a set of 5P method drivers. Users can increase their favorability by giving gifts to NPCs, and they can also get items from NPCs. It can also generate demand for NPC. Then we did interactive games for NPCs, such as begging, fighting, dueling, and stealing. The result of this is that the player’s game is not limited to the task submission items, but can be obtained in different forms through the world. In this case, he will not be framed to death by a simple task line.
Q: But here are some issues involved. For example, first of all, how to avoid duplication in the process of heap volume? Secondly, as an open world, how do you set a boundary for the player to prevent the player from getting stuck? For example, when the player needs to submit a task with an NPC, you fight it to death in advance. Maybe the game will freeze at this time? How to solve these problems in mechanism?
He Zheng: First of all, the solution to the previous problem is relatively clear. We do realize that NPCs in the entire world cannot be like robots. So we set up a unique heirloom for them. On the surface, we only designed one item for him. But in fact, you will see that it plays a different role. This heirloom represents his past experience, NPC’s preferences and future goals. By observing this heirloom, players can also interpret what kind of experience this NPC has and what kind of personality it is.
The solution to the second problem is relatively complicated, that is, we need to make some guarantee mechanisms for the game. But this guarantee mechanism is not at the cost of making the arena unreasonable, or sacrificing the player’s freedom. But to reconsider and design how to handle the task after the NPC is gone. For example, an NPC has been killed by the player in advance due to a duel, but there is it in a subsequent task. Then in the context of the former situation, this task must also be triggered to end in advance. Rather than dividing into two, dividing into two, dividing into four, dividing into eight, more and more.
For example, when Duan Kang of the Dali mission faced off during the mission, whether the player helped Chunyan is the key option in determining the final outcome. Regardless of whether the player has helped Chunyan or not, the plot will continue to go down to the ending, which is the manifestation of the final fall. But before that, the player can choose whether to help Chunyan, and at which stage, this is a manifestation of freedom. What we have to do is to set up a node in the middle of the plot and at the end to gather the plot together.
Q: I once learned that the mission system of the game “My Knight” has undergone a major re-adjustment. From the initial linear to the current mesh. How was the transformation of this project done?
He Zheng: This is a lot of work, but after sorting it out, you will find that it is not as troublesome as you thought. To put it simply, in the existing five major cities, it is assumed that the player is free to choose which process to do, and then to refine the branch lines inside. Determine the impact that the player will do or not do on the outcome, as well as the impact on the main line. The reaction in the game is the player’s judgment on the task. From the point of view of the workload, it is certainly relatively large, but from the feedback point of view, it does make “My Knight” achieve what we want, the real feeling of the rivers and lakes.
Q: There is another problem here. It is the meshed mission line you mentioned. Players can choose which mission to do first. But when we recall “The Legend of Jin Yong”, we will find that if we really just start to fight The four friends of Meizhuang would definitely be killed in seconds. So most people must start the task of “Snow Mountain Flying Fox”. So how did we solve this problem?
He Zheng: At this point, we have set up four major cities. Its starting difficulty is the same, which prevents players from going to a city I like but being forced to return because they can’t beat it. But the problem that may arise is that when I finish one main line, it becomes easier to do other things-this is like the four beasts of “The Legend of Zelda”, if you knock the elephant out at the beginning, Then you will feel very simple for the other three beasts.
But this problem also needs to be solved. Our approach is to set the difficulty base for the BOSS battle itself, that is, when facing the BOSS, you can choose to face it alone or invite NPCs from the city to fight together. And when you defeat the monster and the latter escapes and appears in a stronger posture deeper in the maze, do you choose to catch up with it and challenge higher difficulty? We balance the difficulty of the game by letting players choose. It is reflected in the game that players can complete all the main lines with low difficulty, but you can also try to challenge the main lines with high difficulty.
Q: Going back to the net-like mission line itself, combined with the interaction of NPCs and the freedom of the plot, this will inevitably double the workload. So in this research and development process, do we have a set of standard or process-based solutions to make the overall production more efficient?
He Zheng: First of all, we have a big consensus in this area-to increase the branch of the story is not to increase. In the game, the different options in the branch not only affect the result a little bit, or the NPC’s pure dialogue is different, but the result trend is still the same. This kind of small change is not what players like, so the branch plot we made must ultimately affect the big result.
But this different branch is based on the premise that the game mode can be interactive, that is, we hope that all ending branches can be played by players. Many games are multi-choice and single-line advancement, so players never have the chance to play other endings. In this case, your multiple endings are wasted. We don’t want to do this, so we give players a certain reward in each branch ending, and then tell the player that you have reached the A ending, but the game also has B and C endings for you to choose. In this case, the player will Consciously try multiple endings. This kind of thinking may increase the workload, but it will not allow us to consume some corresponding work.
But it is true that this method has caused an increase in the workload, and after we have done half of the task, we found that it would be a waste of time if we simply did it in the traditional way. The final result is that we have made a special special task editor based on our actual situation, so that every planner in the project can use this editor to do task configuration, so the final output speed is not slow. .
Q: Under this design idea, how many main script branches of the game are there? Have we counted the difference between the corresponding text or workload and the single-line plot?
He Zheng: There is no accurate statistics and comparison in this area. However, starting from the main line, combining the five major cities and the convergence from the beginning to the end of the plot, the text volume is about 150,000 to 200,000 words. But this is only the amount of text for the main line. If you add branch lines and various branches, the amount of text may be close to seven to eight hundred thousand.
In fact, this amount of text can also show the design ideas of the game. Just like the “Legend of Zelda”, if you really do only the main line, then you can get through the game quickly. But if you are willing to try various branches, you will find endless exploration possibilities in the game, so this game becomes very playable.
Q: Another difficulty in the open world lies in the establishment of a numerical system. In addition to some battle-related values, the favorability between NPC and NPC, and between player and NPC is also more complicated. In particular, I saw that the game also has settings for chivalrous and evil values. For this multiple collocation, in order to avoid the chaos reflected in the game, how do we finally choose?
He Zheng: There have indeed been some problems in this area. At the beginning, we were too pursuing reality, but it seemed that the effect in the game was not good. During the test, some players said to us: “Why do some NPCs, I desperately give him gifts in order to communicate with him, but after a certain stage, he told me the elders of the martial arts not to let me have too much contact with you?” The appearance is generally because the player forgot that he had learned the martial arts of this sect a long time ago, or played in the field of this sect. But because the game is too free, they no longer remember that they did it.
In this case, we realized that the “real” matter should also have a reasonable degree in the game. The ultimate orientation of the reality factor introduced in the game is still to make it more interesting, rather than purely for the sake of reality. In this case, we have made some adjustments. The fact that an NPC eventually joins or not joins the team is only related to the favorability, and does not have to look at the sect behind him. Because the player’s feedback told us that he himself did not have too deep memory of this incident, so this truth may not be necessary.
Q: But here we see that the game also has decent and evil settings. It also allows players to choose whether they are decent or evil, which is also a reality. So what is the purpose of this real design?
He Zheng: When we are playing some single-line RPGs, we will find that we can only be heroes. The result of this seems to make the players unsatisfied, and the players also have the desire to indulge in the arena and do some bad things. For example, after playing for a while, I saw someone who wanted to fight him, or wanted to join the villain as the head of a sect. Under this circumstance, we introduced a wicked gameplay, and the final result was good. Players really like this way of playing.
Q: Talk about the martial arts collocation in the game. We can see that there is a strong connection between the plot in “My Knight” and the martial arts match of the game. But at the same time, the game also provides the function of martial arts forgetting, which makes the combination of martial arts extremely free. In this case, have we encountered some unexpected situations? How was it resolved later?
He Zheng: First of all, the purpose of the martial arts collocation system is to hope that players can have fun in the game through strategic martial arts collocation. Many players did feel the fun of this system, and went deep into it, through various considerations and research to match martial arts.
But from the actual effect, this system also produced some effects that we did not expect. For example, in the early stage, our bonus attributes and effects were not fully set, and at the same time, the security range of the entire bonus was set in a missing state. The martial arts collocations performed by some players exhibited a bonus effect of “multiplying”, which is reflected in the game that a player’s martial arts collocation can cause billions of damage in one round. Obviously, players have discovered through repeated attempts that there is no upper limit to the number of combinations, and they have cleverly used this point. We also express great admiration for this.
In the end, our solution around this point is to operate the upper limit of safety during the calculation of each value. For example, when a player can achieve a maximum combo rate of 200% in a martial arts, we will set a safety limit-400%, as a cap. When this value is exceeded, it will be forcibly corrected to 400%. The advantage of this is that, on the one hand, it avoids the occurrence of unpredictable values. On the other hand, the setting of the 400% cap value also gives players a relatively large display space, which will not cause players’ enthusiasm and enthusiasm in martial arts matching Too big a blow.
Q: As far as the combat method of “My Knight” is concerned, it uses a war chess game. Of course, the reasons for inheriting “The Legend of Jin Yong’s Heroes” or paying tribute can be considered. But what needs to be noticed is that RSLG’s gameplay is a heavier gameplay even in the stand-alone era. So on the mobile terminal, what inheritance have we made to the gameplay of this set of war chess? Which ones have been simplified?
He Zheng: First of all, the choice of war chess moves as the fighting method of “My Knight” is because in the martial arts game, this is a set of fighting styles that most players can accept. In contrast, whether it is a newly created combat mode or a full 3D free-view combat, or limited to the player’s learning cost, or limited to the economic cost of research and development, it is not the best choice. This is our original intention for choosing war chess as the fighting method of the game.
But for the mobile terminal, we did make some simplifications. For example, in “The Legend of Jin Yong’s Heroes”, players need to control their position, but we changed it to automatic position. For players who don’t pay much attention to the position, they only need to choose the skills, but if the player switches to manual operation, it can also meet his needs to move. Of course, here we need to explain that automatic positioning and manual combat are two-way Compatible mode. But it is true that the game will give them some additional benefits if the player is willing to do it manually.
For example, in the game there are additional damage caused by side and back attacks. Veteran players will definitely think of the 25% bonus for flanking damage and 50% for back attack in “The Legend of Super Heroes 2”. We inherited this kind of gameplay from a single player and used it as a reward for manual players.
But one thing that needs to be stated is that automatic battles have become a habit of many users in playing games today, so in this case we do not expect to make all battles manual. For this reason, we have made some automatic battles and even quick skip designs. There are even some mobs who will run away directly after fighting too much. Players can click directly on the income. We have also fully taken into account the changing habits of players at this stage.
Q: I noticed that this game also went to the game tasting session of Tencent GWB. At what stage did we contact them? What advice did their experts provide?
He Zheng: In fact, experts from Tencent Game Academy intervened very early in “My Knight”. As early as in the process of our research and development, we began to help us with tuning and provide solutions for some of the problems encountered.
For example, the overall interaction and functions of the initial game were rather chaotic. Many experienced players will have some discomforts. Under this circumstance, GWB experts conducted a complete set of game interaction optimization evaluation for us, and made corresponding adjustments.
Secondly, the experts of Tencent GWB helped “My Knight” make systematic suggestions, revisions and adjustments in the overall planning and gameplay. At that time, we were caught in a deep question in the research and development, whether we should highlight more convenience of the game, make compromises to the market and commercialization, or do more things to show our gameplay? In this case, the experts of Tencent GWB told us: “The biggest feature of your game is that it is different from other games on the market. Just play for a while and you can feel the freedom.” In this case, they suggested us. Don’t make settings that the players in the market are used to but find it annoying. Why not show our open world features step by step so that players will know what kind of game this is when they come in? If you like it, you will like it, and you don’t have to regret it if you don’t.
Q: Just now you mentioned how to play for multiple weeks. In fact, what we need to see is whether it is multi-line or single-line, open world or linear world. Many players are no longer in the game after the main story is cleared, because he has no motivation to continue. In this case, will “My Knight” do some guidance?
He Zheng: According to our statistics, players who play “My Knight” faster will usually complete the game within ten hours. Players who are slow to play usually complete a week in between twenty to thirty hours.
In this case, how to get the player to start trying multiple weeks? First of all, we must be clear. The key to this is that the multi-week program is not for the player to replay the same thing as the weekly program-although the player does have the desire to see the branch plot that he missed before. But the more core thing is to make him feel different from the content of the week.
How did we do it? First of all, the advantages that players can obtain in the opening stage of the achievement points are different, and even increase with the increase of the number of times of play. Secondly, the difficulty of the game can also be selected, and players will find that enemies with higher difficulty are more challenging.
However, in the game world, the upper limit of the player’s own value has also increased. After Gao Zhoumu, the number of martial arts can reach 20, the talent can reach 20, and the upper limit of teammates can reach 8. In this case, his gaming experience will undoubtedly become faster. The second and more important thing is the emergence of some new teammates in the game world. For example, Yan Feipeng and Bao Qiao cannot join the team. But they can join the team in the second or third week.
In general, we hope that the game experience under the multi-week period can change and allow players to have some new experiences. Regardless of whether it is a change in the value setting, or a small amount of content increase. Both can make players willing to actively spend more time playing multiple weeks.
Q: In an interview before, you seem to have revealed that you will make some DLC plots or character special plots later. In fact, we seem to have seen this now. It seems that there will be some new scripts after the completion of the multi-week program. In the future, this area will be expanded and launched from time to time in a rhythm, as a way to encourage players to multi-weekly purpose?
He Zheng: In this area, we must develop some new scripts in accordance with the rhythm in the future. Because if the player keeps playing the script mode, it will not bring continuous freshness after being tired of the old drama. It is precisely because of this that we need to regularly release some new scripts to give players some freshness. Including this, there will also be some new gameplay, new systems, and the expansion of new capabilities. This is actually the same as the update nature of the major version of the game. But the difference is that when we appear in the form of DLC at the commercial level, we tend to sell content.
Of course, we will also try to do some interesting things in this process. For example, the Han family squirrel implanted characters in its own game and was welcomed. We have seen and tried to do this, but when? What role to implant? At least it hasn’t been determined yet.
Q: Looking back, there are obviously not as many martial arts game manufacturers as before. Many small teams have simply abandoned this subject matter. And occasionally, we also found that they are difficult to choose on many points. What is innovation? Or follow the mature model on the market? When setting up a project, they often have good ideas and are even excited. But when it comes to R&D, I start to hesitate. Combining the R&D experience of “My Knight”, do you have any suggestions for them?
He Zheng: First, no matter what you hesitate, you must remember that your game must have its own characteristics. Why can our players tolerate “My Knight” so much? The reason is that the gameplay of this game is quite distinctive, and it is difficult to find alternatives in the market. In this case, they are willing to stay with us and give us time to optimize the game slowly.
Secondly, whether it is gameplay or commercialization, the hesitations and trade-offs are ultimately derived from our own cognition. That is, “How do we think the players will be?” But here we must understand that this perception cannot be simply based on “other products do this”, but should be based on the position of your product and user positioning , The group comes and thinks, what will your players need? For example, many of the earliest MMORPG games will sell capacity and sell value through payment. For a certain period of time, this model was very well recognized and achieved good results. But specifically in “My Knight”, I just said that the reason why players are willing to play this game is because it is different from other martial arts games on the market. In this case, if you forcibly join the same commercial model as in the market, it may be counterproductive. In this case, what we have to do is some form of commercialization that they can accept but not so direct.
(This article was interviewed and compiled by the public account “Independent Overseas Consortium”)
Source: Tencent Creative Game Cooperation Program