Many people know the fire of “Ghost Valley Bahuang”, but may not understand how fire it is. The game was released on January 27th, occupying the top seller of Steam for a long time, and it hasn’t been a month since the release.
It broke the record for the number of simultaneous online domestic games on Steam with an astonishing number of 184,000. The previous record holder was the Demo of “Party Animals” with 135,000. In addition, “Ghost Valley Bahuang” also became the 35th place in the simultaneous online record of Steam history, surpassing a series of popular online online games such as “Jelly Bean Man”, “Team Fortress 2” and “Leaves to Survive 2”.
You must know that “Ghost Valley Bahuang” is still a pure stand-alone game experience, and there is no network/online function. If you remove those “online games” from the list, you will know how amazing the “184,000” number of “Ghost Valley” can get.
As for game sales, although the official has not announced specific figures, based on the number of reviews and the number of online users inferred, breaking one million is already a certainty. 88% of the game is currently highly praised. With a rating of close to 50,000, the sales are basically heading towards 2 to 3 million. The final figure is likely to be the sales record of Steam’s domestic games.
But such dazzling commercial results cannot conceal the fact that the game is a semi-finished product (or one-third of the finished product), and even many people actually don’t understand why this game is so popular. After all, the defects of “Ghost Valley and Bahuang” are as “obvious” as its commercial results.
Lack of handmade content
Repetition, the high level of content repetition is rooted in almost every aspect of the game.
From the perspective of content consumption speed alone, the play time that “Ghost Valley Bahuang” can provide is about 30 hours. If it is reflected in the gameplay, it should stop in the golden era. But having said that, in fact, after the foundation of heaven is built, players will begin to feel the repetition.
This sense of repetition first comes from monster enemies and exercises. You will find that the strangeness encountered and the tricks learned in different realms are almost exactly the same. You replace the “bamboo man” in the game with “crayfish” and “gong method” with “equipment” to get the picture below.
Even to say that the number of BOSS, mobs, and exercise models/special effects in the game is even more exaggerated than the picture above. Because in the world of “Ghost Valley Bahuang”, as long as the skill is a name suffix, the attack effects are almost the same; as long as the monsters look the same, no matter what their name is, they only have the same special effects. In addition to changing the numerical affix, you can hardly notice the difference in the improvement of realm. In the picture above, at least you can see that the monsters and equipment are evolving.
Of course, there are actually twelve types of exercises in the game, including swords, guns, palms, water, fire, thunder, wind, and civil engineering. Each genre has about 8 different types of skills. And these types have their own exclusive affixes, such as bleeding, sword slash, thunder surge, summoning, etc., horizontally, the game actually provides quite a few options. But if you look at it vertically, you will find that after the breakthrough of the realm, in addition to the numerical growth of the player, it is difficult to notice the game change in the actual battle.
There is one and only one thing to do for each breakthrough in the realm-to collect materials from monsters. At the beginning, there was still a difference between Heavenly Dao and One, Two, Three, Four and Five Alchemy. But later, players will find that the process of Nasal Infant and foundation building is exactly the same according to the spirit and crystal.
What’s even worse is that there is basically no difference between what the player has to do after the breakthrough and before the breakthrough. Repeated practice, repeated spawning, and repeated breakthroughs, repeating the cycle. From training Qi to Yuanying, I can say responsibly that there is not much difference between what I did in the first 5 hours and what I did in the 50th hour.
As the game deepens, problems such as weak main storyline, single adventure events (branch lines), and a small amount of dialogue text will gradually be exposed. After playing the whole story, there are almost no impressive plots or characters.
After Yuan Ying graduated (higher advancement has not been opened yet), looking back, we will find that as long as the parts that need to be filled and created manually, “Ghost Valley Bahuang” is not too well completed, it can even be said to be lacking. With incomplete.
Here comes the question: There are many and obvious problems with the game, but the sales are extremely hot. Why? I have seen many people attribute the success of “Ghost Valley Bahuang” to the publicity and the navy, but in fact this game has no so-called industry resources.
Zhang San and his Ghost Valley Studio
Producer Zhang San started from mobile games, but he has never made any explosive products. After the project failed in 2018, the team disbanded. Only two good buddies were left to follow him, one program and the other planning, and Zhang San later became the first three of the team.
The reason for the establishment of the “Ghost Valley Bahuang” project is mainly because the failure of the mobile game project made Zhang San found that he could not do commercial design. The buyout game is obviously simpler (referring to the business model). Choosing the theme of Xiuxian is because Zhang San himself is a heavy fan of Xiuxian novels, and he has basically seen all the famous people on the market.
The choice of game type is also very simple-simply because Zhang San has never played a turn-based game. I don’t like and don’t understand, so I chose instant shooting with relevant experience, not to mention barrage shooting is quite a “money saving” type.
The scale of the entire project was particularly small in the early planning. Zhang San just wants to do it for about a year, on the scale of 3 people. But a video in 2019 made the team “bloated”.
This video has accumulated the first core audiences of “Ghost Valley and Bahuang”. The fan groups are opened up one by one, and there are already 5,000 people in the group before the game is released. This is really not a small number for independent games. So Zhang San and his team changed their goals and extended the launch date to the end of 2021. At the same time, they expanded the team and greatly changed the combat system.
Of course, the so-called “expansion” is actually from 3 people to 6-7 people, and most of them are auxiliary development, not reaching the level of core members, and even the project has only one programmer so far; the so-called “big change” It also only adds the logic of numerical linkage on the basis of barrage shooting, and adds a set of build genre system like Diablo like. After all, the team really has no money.
As the publisher, Thunder Games only intervened in November last year. Prior to this, the publicity resources available for “Ghost Valley and Bahuang” were actually entirely dependent on their own station B accounts. Before the game finally went live, no one would have thought that there would be such a hot sale, including the Thunder themselves. Even after the game is released, it is difficult for you to see the so-called advertising space. The reason is simple, there is no budgetary expense.
Combined with the retained data, a domestic solo player can have hundreds of thousands of people online at the same time every day. If you say that the game itself has no real ability, it is a wave of tricks. I don’t believe it. The core of the spread of “Ghost Valley and Bahuang” is still word-of-mouth effect.
Happiness comes from AI generation
In my opinion, the core and the most outstanding part of “Ghost Valley and Bahuang” is Zhang Sankou’s NPC’s active interaction behavior that applies sociological “identity theory”.
The game gives the NPC its own identity, standpoint, likes and dislikes, and all this becomes the NPC’s behavioral motivation. This system framework itself is actually not rare, and may still be very common in strategy games. But most of those are a country, a camp, or a gang, and they are not specific to a small individual.
In “Ghost Valley and the Eight Wilds”, these individuals will actively interact in places where the player can see or not. Interacting with the player, interacting with other NPCs, and interacting with the world, this is a completely different fun from a hand-made plot script. They will actually affect the player’s game content and have their own life trajectory.
It’s a bit strange, but it is true that sometimes, you may think that the relationship between the characters and the development of things automatically generated by AI is more interesting than the script story with a little manual tuning, even if it has no profound meaning.
NPC will directly interfere with the player’s behavior. For example, running over to face you and boasting, asking you to praise him. Or simply steal your stuff, and kill you if you find it. Of course, if the NPC finds that you are very strong and have a hard background, they will take the initiative to please you, or get away.
Of course, players can also use this system to get benefits. Seeing a powerful master, hug her thighs. If she is also very strong, of course she can also consider double cultivation to become a Taoist companion. But be careful, each relationship has priority, and the way the NPC calculates is also sequential. Maybe you are not that important in her mind.
I don’t think it’s enough to wait for players to interact with NPCs and actively find players to interact with. It really makes me feel that this game is very good, and the future is expected to come from “NPCs that will actively interact with NPCs.” This means that where you can’t see, the world is also operating according to certain logical laws.
And it is this feeling of “the world will turn around without you”, which is very good and very immersive.
The producer himself certainly knows the magic of this stuff, so through the character’s career history, we can intuitively and clearly see what she has experienced along the way. She will avenge her friends and find other NPCs to fight against her; she will also hate her own cultivation for not enough revenge and fail and worry about it; she will go to quests for low contributions, and will be counted if they cause trouble. From a certain perspective, there is no difference between what NPC and real players do.
From the perspective of realism, this gameplay is a bit fake. How can you see other people’s lives in such a simple way, and how can you formulately measure the relationship between characters based on numerical values. But this does make the game full of fun, and it can tell the player intuitively what kind of mechanism the world is running. So one of the most interesting ways to play “Ghost Valley Bahuang” is to deal with the interpersonal relationship of NPCs.
This set of mechanism not only makes the game content rich and vivid, but also truly restores the coolness of Xiuxian.
Note that it is to restore coolness, not to restore immortality. This is something that previous games have not been able to do.
We can recall that in previous domestic works, sometimes we encountered a situation that made people angry and unscientific-it was obvious that I was strong against the sky in actual combat, and one slap could kill the opponent. Kind of, feels like a weak chicken in the plot performance, no one is afraid of me at all.
Yes, in most cases, the player’s strength is only reflected in the actual battle, and your growth outside the battle completely follows the plot. In other words, the player’s strength cannot be reflected in the social relationships in the game world. He is clearly the boss, but he has to do the work of the younger brother. Others have no awe of themselves, and they simply “have eyes but don’t know Taishan.”
In “Ghost Valley Bahuang”, your strength is completely linked to your social strength. If you are strong enough and have a good background, someone will take the initiative to provide you with breakthrough materials and magic bottles. Or be straightforward, throw in your arms and ask if you want to double repair. This point coincides with the “strong one respects” in Xiuxianshuang’s text.
I don’t know if you have read Xiuxian Shuangwen. In this kind of novel, the hierarchy is the most important existence. People of different realms are completely two species. For someone who is higher than you, hitting you is as easy as pinching an ant. So in the game, after you break through the realm with all your hard work, the battle is really a qualitative leap. You don’t need to study strategies or operations, just stay on the spot and take it away with one move. This refreshing point is called “Magic Mastery”.
Combining the above mechanism, I will give you a brief description of a refreshing point that frequently occurs in “Ghost Valley Bahuang”, but the restoration is the most extreme.
In the early stage of Qi refining, it is difficult for you to take advantage of social relationships as a cultivator. If you are ugly, weak, and have a weak background, you will be bullied by NPCs. After being stolen, robbed, or beaten, he would kneel down and offer something to beg others to forgive him.
Then he endured the humiliation and practiced the exercises, repeatedly brushed the heavens and earth treasures, and went to SL to produce the best breakthrough affixes. Whenever someone asks your opinion on the road, you say “you are right” regardless of good or bad. Don’t cause trouble or talk back, until you build the foundation of Heavenly Dao, first-grade Jindan, Heavenly Dao Yuanying, “Magic power”.
At this time, you can either smash all the injustices in the world with one sword, or you can choose to kill all the young and old on the enemy list. And when you meet the shadow of childhood again, it is her who kneels down and begs for mercy. When she is both soft and hard, you can smile and kill on the spot when she reports her name as a threat.
You can think of this refreshing point as the Xiu Xian version of “Dragon King Zuzuo Son-in-law-Three Years”, and it is completed by the player himself. You can imagine how cool this cool spot is.
The above situation is only one of the evolutions of this mechanism, and we can see more interesting stories in various places.
Some eat soft rice and kill each other in love.
There are people who fall in love with my sister.
There are also people who play into the Eight Wastes.
Various cultivating stories (or paragraphs), crazy discussions among the player groups, are the core spreading points of “Ghost Valley and Bahuang”. The thing that really keeps players bothering to play repeatedly is not to brush materials and break through the realm, but to change in interpersonal relationships and switch between social strengths and weaknesses. The former is the means, the latter is the end.
So does Xiu Xian Shuangwen really see how the protagonist becomes an immortal? No, but the thrill of seeing how the protagonist who was born with a golden spoon turned around in a sinister world. Xiuxian is just a background board, the focus is on how to turn over, and “Ghost Valley Bahuang” restores the “feel” of this turnaround.
So I said that the system framework of “Ghost Valley Bahuang” is very good, and this general direction is no problem. The next thing you need is to fill in the content, fix the BUG, and optimize the AI algorithm (now this version still has many logic errors and BUG).
Of course, the production team also knows this. In several updates, there will be a tuning part about NPC-AI, and this part can be said to be the most important part of the game and the most in need of continuous update.
And speaking of updates, I want to tell you that the success of “Ghost Valley Bahuang” is not only due to the system framework, but also its relationship with players.
Market-oriented indie games
“Ghost Valley Bahuang” went live on the evening of January 27, and it has been 26 days since then. The update announcement was issued 28 times. In each announcement, the update frequency is 2-3 times, accurate to the hour. Update early in the morning and also update on New Year’s Eve. I remind again that there is still only one programmer on this project.
In the first week of the game’s launch, Zhang Sanhe’s team sleeps about 3-4 hours a day. Going home at 5 in the morning, arriving home at 6 in the morning, and getting up at 9:30 to go back to the company.
Why Zhang Sanhui attaches so much importance to players’ feedback needs? Part of the reason is that the game was successful, but part of the reason is that these players really have a lot of credit for the game to reach today.
Without the support and encouragement of the first players, this project might have ceased a year ago. In Zhang San’s own words, he couldn’t insist on the release of the game. Because there is no development motivation and hope of possible success.
Players not only support spiritually, but also play an important role in the actual development-85% of the copywriting in “Ghost Valley Bahuang” is provided by the players, including weather luck, martial arts moves, character dialogue, adventure events Wait, except for the main storyline written by Zhang San himself, most of the others are written by players.
Zhang Sanhui sent an Excel form template in the group, and there will be cases on it. After filtering Zhang Sanhui, he will select suitable copywriting and put it into the game. Some members with outstanding abilities will be picked up separately and placed in a copywriting group, and the players themselves will name this group “Wenyuan Pavilion”.
I have to admit that compared to other independent games, “Ghost Valley Bahuang” lacks a little independent temperament and lacks some of the author’s own thinking. Zhang San is different from many independent gamers who like to express themselves. As long as his needs for players are within his power, he is almost always willing to come. This can be seen from his early communication status with players or the current update content.
And Zhang San himself really doesn’t want to express or instill something into the player, just from the perspective of a cultivator enthusiast, he restores the cool plot of brain supplement YY and provides players with a playground. It can be said that the creative idea of this game is the same as Shuangwen.
The most important thing for players to play is comfortable. This is the reason why “Ghost Valley Bahuang” has repetitive content and monotonous structure, but it is very top-notch to play-quick to get started, low threshold, clear path, intuitive strength, and it can be refreshed by becoming stronger.
You can simply understand “Ghost Valley Bahuang” as a market-oriented independent game (referring to the scale of development), because it has truly implemented the idea of ”all for the players” since the establishment of the project.
Perhaps this kind of thinking will make some players feel disgusted and feel that it is not worthy of being called an independent game. But what does it matter if it is not an indie game? I believe that everyone is happy to see the domestic game market, and can continue to maintain the “Dyson Ball Project”, “Ghost Valley Eight Wastes”, “Homecoming 2”, “Fireworks” and other products like this early this year. It is not only popular in word of mouth, but also in business.
Because it means that our market is improving. Content providers are beginning to be able to produce works stably, and content consumers are gradually able to digest more market shares. It is no longer the same as before, relying on the flash of genius, the black swan-like market miracle.
Author: Game repairman