Recently, NetEase first revealed a “2v4 infiltration against mobile game” called “Mission Zero”. Judging from this positioning alone, there seems to be no mobile game on the market that can be compared with it.
Such a product that sounds quite innovative, logically speaking, the risk is not small. However, at such an early node, various channels have provided super-key level exposure resource support, and in some locations, there are few precedents for first-exposure games in the past.
What makes the channel so optimistic? In August last year, Mr. Grape made a report on this game, but out of the need for confidentiality, the description at the time was only superficial. Now after the official announcement, Grapeman wants to talk about this game in depth in conjunction with the interview with the main creative team.
2v4 dive into the confrontation: the core gameplay with almost no reference
“Mission Zero” is an asymmetrical competitive mobile game, but compared to traditional asymmetrical mobile games, its core gameplay is very different.
The game uses a special agent movie theme, and the two sides of the competition are divided into the sneak side and the pursuit side. To put it simply, the rules of the game are as follows: the intruder needs to go to the 5 points distributed in the level to decode the 4-digit code and ensure that more than 3 team members escape; while the pursuer needs to collect clues and find in the crowd Get out and catch the sneaking players to prevent them from escaping.
But if only these two teams are chasing me, then “Mission Zero” is not new. Therefore, the project team added a third force in the game: NPC. In a level scene, there are as many as 500 NPCs, and they will become fascinating flowers-as a sneaker, you can change clothes to disguise your identity, pretend to be guards, cleaners, waiters, or come and go guests.
Does it really smell like an agent? In addition to disguise, the game also incorporates high-tech elements from the movie. The project team has set more than 4 prop dimensions in the game, including information acquisition, disguise, displacement, and fighting. Among them are the invisible umbrella that looks like a fountain pen, the smoke bomb that looks like a baseball…
In addition, scene design also has a place in the strategic dimension. The card vision is only the most basic method. In the level of a double-storey building, you can stand on the second floor to observe the condition of the first floor, and you can also jump directly to the first floor. But from the first floor to the second floor, you can’t climb up directly, so there is still a game here: I turned the window, but still squatted on the edge of the window, guess I can’t go down?
These settings make “Mission Zero” a lot more variables than traditional asymmetric games-sneakers are undoubtedly more difficult to be caught, they can pretend to be mixed into the crowd, they can use NPCs to create chaos to cover themselves, and they can use props to invisible , Clone…If the heart is big enough, you can even walk past the chaser without being noticed.
This is why the chaser needs to add another player to balance it-with the cooperation of teammates, the chaser can respond back and forth, using tactics such as containment and reporting, so as not to be confused by the intruder. And their props are also varied, they can put dogs, drones for reconnaissance, and even turn NPCs into their own little brothers, let him help monitor passers-by.
From an overall point of view, the core logic of the game seems to be very natural. But the problem is that no one has ever done such a core gameplay. Even if it is diving into the gameplay, there are not many reference objects on the PC, not to mention that “Mission Zero” is still a competitive mobile game.
How difficult is it to do “Mission Zero”?
Because of the innovation of the core gameplay, “Mission Zero” may be destined to be an extremely difficult mobile game to develop. Through the communication with the project producer Zero, Mr. Grape learned that aside from the team’s R&D strength, there are three core contradictions in the design of this game:
1. Rhythm: the contradiction between sneaking and competition
The benefits of PVP are obvious-it is fun to fight with others, but it is inherently at odds with “sneaking in”. Imagine the PVE sneaking games we have seen. Many of them are tracking, disguising, stealing, and arranging traps unhurriedly. But how can competitive players have such patience? Therefore, the key to the question is: how to ensure the rhythm of the competition while still making the game “sneak in”?
The project team tackled it from two aspects: gameplay and art. In terms of gameplay, they did a lot of functions similar to diving into the game, but made it more convenient to implement. For example, if you want to get a key from a guest, you can either put him down directly or steal it through some actions.
You may want to ask, isn’t the stealing process slowing down again? But in fact, operations can be “seamlessly connected”. For example, I found a pool of water on the ground and wanted to use it to make guests slip to the ground. Then I just need to remove the warning sign and plant the “foreshadowing”, and then I can deal with other tasks immediately. After I return, I just pick up the key on the ground-no time is lost.
It is not easy to do this kind of balance. The project team told me that for each game plan, they usually use 2-3 days to verify the feasibility. This process will probably eliminate 3-4% of the plans. For example, they have tried to add a discharge device that can be installed on the ground to form a power grid, but this layout is too complicated and inconsistent with the tense atmosphere of chase and interception.
In terms of art, they put forward extremely high requirements for “immersion”: under the premise that the level setting and the gameplay are highly bound, they require that when seeing any screen, the player’s visual center of gravity can be guided to the current task In order to dilute the UI and create an atmosphere, some designs for “snatching the show” are often shot down for this.
The project team stated that they hope that the UI in the future can be highly compatible with the atmosphere, and it can give players a corresponding feeling when they are relaxed, nervous, and lack of information. Some functions can even be left out of the UI, and it is up to the players to find out.
2. Content consumption: the contradiction between production cycle and level life
For PVE diving into the game, the level is almost a one-off. Some may have replay value, because there is more than one way to complete the task. But no matter how many solutions there are, there has never been a level that allows players to play for months without the hassle.
“Mission Zero” is about to face the problem: the production cycle of a level is less than 6 months, but based on the consumption speed of the player, can a map last a month?
In addition to the continuous production of new maps and reserve maps, the project team focused on two factors: the balance of props and the degree of freedom of levels.
The effect of the level of freedom on the lifespan is easy to understand: if every round looks the same, the players on the backboard are invincible, and the level will not be playable.
At this point, the project team started with NPCs, made their positions and actions more random, and made a set of actions for each type of NPC. Such as cleaners mopping the floor, waiters serving dishes. Moreover, when the infiltrating player puts on clothes of different professions, there will be corresponding actions, which can be disguised while walking.
Such a design can make the strategy of the sneaker more flexible and make the player feel more substituting. If you can only stand still while disguising, the result is obvious-the pursuer may be able to spot the enemy by examining the NPC one by one. After making these changes, the project team’s expectations for the life of the level have been raised to more than three months.
The important thing about the balance of props is that there cannot be an “optimal solution” for a competitive game. Otherwise, when the player holds the strongest props, the outcome will become less suspenseful, and a version will soon become stale. So the question is: how to measure whether the props are balanced?
If it is a normal competitive game, “blood volume” is the simplest measure of susceptibility. But “Mission Zero” does not have a ready-made formula that can be used to help balance. Not to mention that there are many cooperative props with unstable strength in the game, and the balance is more difficult to calculate.
The project team is currently constantly exploring the measurement coefficients between the props, but there is no shortcut to the test after all. If you want to achieve a balanced version, it is impossible to avoid a long period of polishing.
3. Reality: The contradiction between disguised play and AI IQ
This is perhaps the most interesting question: the infiltrator needs to be mixed into the NPC, but the NPC controlled by the AI is not “human-like” enough, isn’t it easy for the infiltrator to show his feet?
If I am wearing guard clothes and want to stand next to the real guard and disguise, but I am not symmetrical because of tension, and I am seen through by experienced pursuers, it is reasonable; but if I am seen as being because the action is not “mechanical” enough Real people, this will make me a little bit of a drama.
Other games seem to rarely have such problems, because they don’t require how human-like NPCs are. However, in “Mission Zero”, the core gameplay requires a high degree of cooperation with AI, which cannot tell the difference between true and false at a glance.
At this stage, their solution is to observe and adjust by themselves. In the small-scale test, each of them recorded the screen, and then took a closer look at the strangest differences between humans and AI.
The conclusion is really interesting: people always do some seemingly “silly” and meaningless behavior, but AI is cold. After observation, the project team will integrate some behaviors into the game, and sometimes even calculate the probability in a targeted manner, in order to educate AI more realistically.
This is not over yet. Another requirement they have for AI is that NPCs must be able to react to the behavior around them. The project team thinks about this from a realistic point of view: if someone is beaten, people around will definitely be surprised, onlookers, and even call the police; and some small actions cannot be ignored, for example, in reality, you just squat on the ground for a while. Someone may cast a skeptical look, so there should be such feedback in the game.
And it’s not only visual, “Mission Zero” also has an interactive mechanism in sound. For example, if you make a big movement in the room, the NPC on the opposite side of the wall will also give some feedback after hearing it. These designs are not only to create a sense of realism, but also to increase the depth of the game.
Innovation is a process of solving unsolvable problems
In general, after nearly two years of research and development, overcoming various difficulties in gameplay, levels, experience, etc., “Mission Zero” has been polished to a relatively complete level. But it involves long-term operations, payment models, and balance of versions…The project team definitely has a long way to go. But they are not impatient. Producer Zero feels that innovation will not be a matter of course.
Zero said that if a game seems particularly innovative at a glance, it is solving a problem that should have no solution. Because in today’s game industry, the possibilities have been fully explored. The open world is an example. There are often only two ways to make new things: find new solutions, or break technical limitations.
The same is true for “Mission Zero”. When they first started the demo, their goal was very clear. But after verifying the gameplay, when it comes to thinking about elements such as immersion and atmosphere experience, things naturally become difficult. “It is certainly more difficult to increase from 60 points to 80 points than from 0 points to 60 points,” because the higher the property, the more caution is required for stamping.
Difficulties are hard, and there are many gains. Zero feels that this process has allowed planning to enhance the ability to innovate. Although the project is not yet a system, their brains and ideas have a better chance of being realized.
But in the end, whether the product can be innovative, the key lies in the purpose of the developer-what are you making the game for? Zero said that if it is just to make money, people will not care too much about innovation, because people who are on the path of innovation often don’t keep one out of ten.
“Mission Zero” is now on this path, Zero said, fortunately, it has passed the stage from 0 to 60 points. When it reaches the stage where it goes from 80 points to 95 points, the project team may think about “unsolvable problems” that are even more unimaginable. However, this may be the meaning of innovation-a process of constantly solving unsolvable problems.
Source: Game Grapes