Mar 15 2007

从《魔兽世界》学到的七件事

Category: Gamesssmax @ 17:47:49

    37岁的约翰·奥古斯特被认为是好莱坞年轻一代的天才编剧。不过,最近他在自己的博客上“忏悔”,自己4个月来沉湎于网络游戏的世界。戒掉魔兽之后,他终于可以完成自己的导演处女作《完美假象》(TheNines),一部小成本,已经在圣丹斯电影节上放映了。
  他坦承,“看过我的影片《完美假象》(TheNines)的人,可以推断出来,在过去的日子里,我确实深受《魔兽世界》的困扰。大约持续了4个月的时间,那段日子里,只要我醒着,不是在玩‘魔兽’,就是在想着如何玩‘魔兽’。做编剧,最奢侈也是最危险的一点,就是有大量的自由时间可以支配,‘魔兽’几乎占去我全部的时间。”
  约翰·奥古斯特戒掉“魔兽”的方式很决绝。“适度原则在《魔兽世界》面前无法奏效。我必须彻底戒掉,删掉账号,清除硬盘。现在,我获得了新生,有了孩子,写了几个本子,也自己拍了一部电影。”
  不过,约翰·奥古斯特在回首沉迷于《魔兽世界》的日子时,并非只有对虚度光阴的懊恼和忏悔,他觉得在游戏的虚拟世界里同样能够建立对现实世界的感悟。
  “对放弃魔兽我没有任何的遗憾,然而,回首过去,我确实从我的艾泽拉斯大陆时代获得了一些有价值的东西,解开了一些曾经百思不得其解的难题,所以,我想和大家分享一切。”
  从约翰·奥古斯特的反思中可以印证当下网络游戏带给社会的两难命题,一方面它创造了一个超越现实的光怪世界,让人们有机会实现额外的生命体验,一方面却让人们难以回到现实中来。
  为了和广大的魔兽玩家们分享这位好莱坞金牌编剧的游戏心得,特意摘编如下,希望能够给大家提供一种在游戏中体味现实人生的励志视角。
  1.先干掉受伤的怪物
  在面对数倍于你的敌人时,人通常会去追赶打得你最狠的那家伙。这其实是个错误。正确的做法应该是干掉背包负伤,然后逃跑的那个。因为他会在15秒之后回来,很有可能带着一帮坏蛋。只有他死了,你才可以集中精力去对付打你的那家伙。
  现实世界可能没有德鲁伊教团员和查理大帝,可是充满了怪物。在现实生活中,他们可能化身“学期报告”、“日常琐事”、“神秘的汽车难题”,对你虎视眈眈。在任何时间段里,总会有那么一个怪物变得越来越强大,大过其他的任何事情。很明显,你需要去击破它。但是,在做之前,环顾一下其他“负伤的怪物”——做了一半的工作可能只需要再多花几分钟就能完成。如果你现在不对付他们,他们可能会在以后不断地打扰你,以至于最后卷土重来。
  这个“负伤的怪物”理论让我努力去回复当天接到的每一个电话,回复24小时之内收到的每一封e-mail。如果汽车的警示灯亮起,一定要马上去修理。我发现,不管什么时候,只要我在想,“我需要记住……”我知道接下来我就会忘记。其实我需要的不是记住,我需要的是去做,去完成。
  2.“Grinding”是游戏
  的一部分…
  套用《魔兽世界》的一个术语,“Grinding”(非常长时间呆在同一地点与同一类怪物战斗)是一种可以轻而易举杀死一大帮怪物的方法,一个接一个地杀,以此获取战利品和经验值。这个过程没有冒险,没有真正的挑战。不需要动脑子,有些乏味,但通常是升级的最快方法。
  日常生活,同样充满了许多不用动脑子的琐事,但是,两者有一个重要的区别,那就是:“Grinding”有一个终极目的。任务也许乏味,但有一个清晰的目标,就好像你做X的目的是为了获得Y一样。你在打印室里复印稿件,是为了得到一个助理的工作。你把稿子校对7遍,是为了把它交给为制片人工作的朋友。你不得不去做那些琐事,为了可以朝目标迈进。
  3……可是“Grinding”不是游戏的全部
  人们通常会迷惑:我在做这件事情,可是我为什么要做呢?然而,需要记住的是:你不是每个月花15美元,用相同的方式去不断杀掉那些面对袭击不会反击的小鹿小兔。“Grinding”是达成目标的一个方法,然而,游戏的目的远不止这些,说到底它是为了娱乐。所以,一旦升级(或者有足够的鹿皮来制作盔甲),停止“Grinding”,开始新的征程。
  我曾在一家叫做Tri-Star的公司干了一年的活儿,一周里读上10个剧本,给每个剧本写提要,收入不错,每篇提要付给我65美元。可是这样的工作让人很厌烦。要知道大部分的剧本都很糟糕,当然它们也为我提供了借鉴,避免以后写成那样。除钱之外,我找不到任何读它们的理由。但是我还是说服自己,“我在一个公司里打工。”所以我一直在读,一本接一本,忠实地写着大纲和评论。虽然总裁夸赞我作了“充满智慧”的笔记,可是很多人建议我试一下别的机会,所以,我放弃了。
  不再看书了,我在环球唱片得到了一个实习生的工作:整理档案,复印文件。这些都不费脑子,所以下班之后依然精力旺盛。我完成了两个剧本。
  以上两个工作都是纯粹的“干活”。理论上来说,写提要应该是个好工作,因为它离编剧很近。老实说,前一两个月我确实学到了一些有价值的东西。不过第二份工作更合适我,因为他没有让我迷失自己真正的理想。
  4.把不用的东西留给新手
  除了手中的武器和身上的盔甲,开始这场游戏时,你几乎一无所有。渐渐的,积攒到的每一个戒指都让人兴奋不已,盔甲看起来也日渐奢华,但是随着步步升级,一些装备对你来说越来越没用。把他们储存起来然后卖掉,得不偿失。所以,回到新手的领地,找到刚入门的那位,把你不想要的东西都给他。可能会花掉2分钟的时间,但是,会给新手一个极大的先机。(也许还会为你建立一些缘分呢)。
  对我而言,johnaugust.com这个网站,就是回到新手的领地。虽然不能得到经济上的奖励,我还是甘愿送出所能给的一切。当然,我也可以把我的建议写成书,每本卖上15.95美元。可是,我不想那样做。其实,每天我也像新手一样搜索着我感兴趣的话题(Flash编程、DC神话,教孩子游泳)。感谢把这些有用的信息写下来和大家分享的人。作为交换,我把了解的关于编剧的事情也写了下来。如果每个人都能把自己的专长做成网页共享,那这个世界会变得多么美妙。
  5.明白你的目标
  《魔兽世界》让人耳目一新的地方,就是它拥有一个开放式的结局——如果你喜欢,可以花大量的时间去玩德鲁伊变熊的游戏。为了提供一种修炼的感觉,这个游戏派发多种任务,这些任务通常需要很多步骤来完成,包括收集物品、杀死怪兽或者运送物品。虽然游戏的内在系统会回馈你的努力,但大部分的时间,你的努力(找到更好的防护物)得来的只是一种无形的挫败感。而窍门便是识别这些非游戏设定的任务,并把它们分成以下几个特定步骤:
  *浏览拍卖物以比较价格;
  *选择最想要的护盾;
  *卖掉不需要的亚麻来获取需要的现金;
  *出价。
  在以上任何一种情况中,你都可能遇到10个虚假的任务。除非你完全掌控并识别他们,否则你可能会落到诅咒没用的护盾,不停地到处乱跑的地步。
  倡导“时间管理”的人们也许会把魔兽世界的任务称做“项目”,设定的每一个目标都是瞄准“下一个行动”。这虽然很滑稽,可是要知道,生活中大部分的工作都是由为大目标服务的小行动组成。你不是在写剧本,仅仅是在写一幕幕的戏。无论“项目”是什么,如果你不开始就永远无法完成,如果不安排步骤就永远无法开始。
  6.存储成本很贵
  也许设计者认为那些邋遢的十几岁小男孩才是《魔兽世界》的主要玩家,所以游戏中不允许把任何东西丢在地上。如果不捡起掉下的战锤,它就会永远消失,所以玩家很清楚储藏的重要性:腰带、背包、包裹、胸甲,全都要随身携带。然而不幸的是,基本上永远不会有足够的空间来装这些东西。储存的越多,花费越大。(很明显,就是这么设计的。开发者想要存储的越少越好。)所以一定要牢记携带的成本。如果你不再用那把弓,就把它舍弃,换成硬币——因为硬币是不占包裹空间的。
  与《魔兽世界》或者上个世纪90年代的硬盘不同,现在数字存储设备相当便宜了。我记得以前经常要小心地清理硬盘,为了安装最新版本的桌面排版程序QuarkXPress,尽量把不需要的都删掉。现在,我的c区里还有80G的可用空间,这是我一年来第一次检查。
  去年,我清理了车库。没有像以往那样把不用的都打包卖掉,而是用了更有效的方法,把没用的东西拍成照片,做成一个网页,把链接发给朋友。不管谁想要哪个,都可以用电子邮件和我们联系,他们得到了免费的桌子,而我们得到了宽敞的车库。
  7.过度思考
  会失去乐趣
  记住,这个游戏是为了获得乐趣。没错,你可以花费数小时在论坛中,找到你要的那棵“天赋树”,或者你可以发挥聪明才智,开辟新的领地,杀死更大的妖怪。然而,过多的计划只会让游戏更像一份工作,从而失去乐趣。
  我经常会问自己,剧本的大概框架是怎么样的,是否有必要坐下来写。其实,大可不必这样。就好像一个地图可以带你到要去的地方,但是如果你完全按照它的话,可能会错过沿途中许多的神奇景观。
  在一个更大的层面上,如果你回顾自己生命中的任何一个阶段,你不会记得你当时的计划是什么。只会记得你做了什么,会记得那些冒险,那些困难,那些不期而遇的曲折小径,正是这些让生活变得迷人起来。所以,不要计划,让那些激动人心的生活就这样到来吧。

Seven Things I Learned from World of Warcraft
Those who’ve seen my movie, The Nines, can infer that I had a bit of a World of Warcraft problem back in the day. “The day” being a period of about four months in which most of my waking hours were spent either playing the game or wanting to. The luxury and danger of being a screenwriter is an abundance of unstructured time. WoW can eat hours in a gulp.

Moderation just didn’t work. I had to give it up cold-turkey, canceling my account and throwing out the install disks. With my newfound time, I had a kid, wrote a couple of movies and directed one of my own.

I have few regrets about giving up Warcraft. But in retrospect, I did learn some valuable things from my time in Azeroth, lessons that have stuck with me. So I thought I’d share a few.

1. Kill injured monsters first
When facing multiple bad guys, the temptation is to go after the one who’s hitting you hardest. This is often a mistake. That injured razorback, the one who is running away? He’ll be back in 15 seconds, likely with other baddies in tow. So take a few clicks to kill him now. Once he’s dead, you can focus completely on the guy who’s smacking you.

The real world may not have druids and paladins, but it’s chock full of monsters. They’re called “term papers” and “errands” and “mysterious car problems.” At any given moment, there may be one monster that looms larger than all of the others, who clearly needs to be attacked. But before you do, look around for injured monsters — the half-finished tasks that probably need only a few more minutes to complete. If you don’t deal with them now, they’ll be a constant distraction, and may eventually come back stronger.

This “injured monster theory” is why I try to return every phone call the day I receive it, and respond to every email within 24 hours. If a warning light comes on in my car, I go to the mechanic that day. Whenever I find myself thinking, “I need to remember to…” then I know I’ve failed. I don’t need to remember. I need to do. I need to finish.

2. Grinding is part of the game…
In WoW parlance, “grinding” is the process of killing a bunch of fairly easy monsters, one after the other, strictly to rack up loot and experience. There’s no adventure to it, no real challenge. It’s tedious and mindless, but it’s often the fastest way to level up, which is why everyone does it.

Daily life is full of mindless tedium, but there’s an important distinction: grinding has a point. While the task may be dull and carpal tunnel-aggravating, there’s a clear goal. You’re doing X in order to get Y. You’re xeroxing scripts in the William Morris mailroom in order to get a job as an assistant. You’re proofreading your script for the seventh time in order to send it to your friend, who works for that producer. You have to be willing to do serious grunt work in order to move ahead.

3. …But grinding is not the game
It’s easy to confuse what you’re doing with why you’re doing it. Just remember: you’re not paying $15 a month to kill the same set of spawning critters. Grinding is a means of achieving a specific goal, whereas the game itself is supposed to be entertaining. So once you level (or get enough deer skins to fabricate that armor), stop grinding and start exploring.

I worked for a year as a reader at Tri-Star, writing coverage on 10 scripts or books a week. It was good money, $65 a shot, but it was wearying. Most of the scripts were terrible. Apart from offering lessons-to-avoid, there wasn’t any point in reading them other than the money. But I convinced myself I was “working in the industry,” so I kept reading them, one after the other, dutifully writing up my synopses and comments. Executives would congratulate me on my witty notes, and there was some suggestion that I could get a job in development. So I quit.

In place of reading, I got a mindless internship in physical production at Universal: filing, copying, researching clearances. I didn’t use my brain once. That left me with abundant energy when I got home from work, and with it I finished two scripts.

Both jobs were quintessential “day jobs.” In theory, writing coverage should have been the better job, because it was closer to screenwriting. And truthfully, I did learn some valuable things–for the first month or two. After that, it was a whole lotta more of the same. The second job was a better fit because there was no confusing it with my true ambitions.

4. Give away stuff to newbies
You start the game with almost nothing: a weapon and the shirt on your back. Each new piece of gear you accumulate is tremendously exciting. Cloth armor seems luxurious. But as you level up, that early gear becomes increasingly irrelevant and basically worthless. It’s not worth the trip to the store to sell it. So don’t. Instead, run back to the newbie lands, find the first character of your class, and hand him all the stuff you don’t want. It will take two minutes of your time, but give the newbie a tremendous head start. (Not to mention building your karma.)

This site, johnaugust.com, is really just me running back to the newbie lands and giving away what I can. There’s no financial incentive in it for me. I could certainly put my advice in a book and charge $15.95 for it. But I see it as the take-a-penny, leave-a-penny flow of information. On a daily basis, I find myself searching the web for answers on topics in which I’m a newbie (Flash programming, DC mythology, teaching toddlers to swim) and leaving thankful that someone out there took the time to write a tutorial on exactly what I needed. So in exchange, I write up what I know about screenwriting.

If everyone took the time to build a site about the areas of their expertise, the world would be significantly cooler.

5. Keep track of your quests
WoW is refreshingly open-ended–you could spend all your time skinning bears, if you felt like it. In order to provide a sense of structure, the game helpfully provides quests: multi-step missions, generally to collect, kill or deliver something. While the system does a solid job tracking these official endeavors (”13 out of 25 tusks”), most of the time what you’re really trying to do (”find a better shield”) is frustratingly amorphous. The trick is to identify these unofficial quests and break them down into distinct steps:

* browse the auctions to compare prices
* pick preferred shield
* sell off unneeded linen to raise needed cash
* bid

At any given point, you may have 10 of these pseudo-quests, and unless you take charge of them, you’re liable keep running around, cursing your stupid shield.

GTD enthusiasts would label these WoW quests “projects,” and each of the bullet points “next actions.” That’s geekery, but it’s an acknowledgment that most of life’s work consists of a bunch of little activities in the service of a larger goal. You don’t write a script; you write a scene. You don’t design a website; you tweak the CSS so the navigation looks better. No matter what the project is, you can’t finish until you get started, and you can’t get started until you figure out the steps.

6. Storage is costly
Perhaps sensing that messy teenage boys are a key demographic, World of Warcraft won’t let you leave something on the ground. If you don’t pick up that fallen warhammer, it will vanish, never to return. So one quickly learns the importance of storage: belts, bags, backpacks and chests. Unfortunately, there’s never nearly enough space, and adding more becomes ridiculously expensive. (That’s by design, clearly. The developers want to minimize hoarding.) So always keep in mind the carrying costs. If you never use that second bow, get rid of it, and use those slots for something you need.

Unlike World of Warcraft (or hard drives in the 90’s), digital storage is now cheap. Crazy cheap. I remember having to carefully comb through my hard drive, trying to figure out exactly what I could purge in order to install the newest version of Quark XPress. Today, I have 80 gigs available on my startup drive, and this was the first time I checked in over a year.

But while the cost of bit storage has plummeted, the cost of storing atoms is still huge. My neighbors just had a POD delivered, essentially a cargo container that gets trucked off. I’ve watched as they’ve filled it with furniture and boxes, all the time wondering, “Is all that stuff really worth keeping?” It’s like paying rent on things you already own.

Last year, we cleaned out our garage. Instead of a traditional yard sale, we did a virtual version. We took pictures of everything we were getting rid of, built a page in Backpack, and sent the link to all our friends. Whoever wanted something could email us and take it. They got a free desk, and we got a free garage.

7. Overthinking takes the fun out of it
Remember, the game is supposed to be fun. Yes, you can spend hours pouring through the forums, finding exactly the right talent tree. Or you could wing it: explore some new lands and kill some big monsters. Obsessive planning won’t make the game more enjoyable. It will just make it more like work.

I’m often asked about outlines and treatments, and whether they’re necessary before sitting down to write a script. They’re not. Like a map, they can help you figure out where you’re going, but when you follow them too closely, you’re apt to miss a lot of amazing scenery along the way.

On a bigger level, as you look back at any period of your life, you don’t remember what a solid plan you had. You remember what you did. You remember the adventures, the scrapes, the unanticipated detours that turned out to fascinating. So don’t plan your way out of an exciting life.

If you agree, feel free to digg it.

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