Tower of Archeos 是 indienova 去年无意中发现的一款设计得非常出彩的游戏，非常可惜的是市场反响并不理想。
这款游戏背后的 Benjamin Soulé 是一名勤奋又有才华的独立开发者，他的个人网站展示了大量有趣的原型作品。我们有幸联系到他，了解了游戏的更多信息，以及背后的一些故事。我们也聊到了西方对中国游戏市场现在和未来的看法，他的一些观点让人觉得颇为有趣，提到的部分问题又多少令人尴尬。这里把采访记录整理如下，希望能对各位读者起到一些参考价值。
我浏览过你的个人网站，上面展示的内容令人为之陶醉。你非常勤奋，做出了如此多的游戏原型，更别说它们多数都内容扎实，体验有趣。虽然我们已经知道你是一名既有天分，又通技艺的独立游戏开发者，但对你的其他信息却所知甚少，你可以和我们以及我们的读者分享一些更多的消息吗？（比如你的工作室基于那座城市？在 Tower of Archeos 这款游戏上，你的团队投入了多久的开发时间？你成为独立游戏开发者多久了？你何时起立志成为游戏开发者？其间又经历过那些波折起伏呢？）
我生活在拉卡诺，那是临近大西洋的一个法国小城市。自打孩提时代，我就在上学期间自己的笔记本上尝试给《战斧（golden-axe）》，《新泽西故事（new zealand story）》，《神奇男孩（wonderboy）》这些游戏设计关卡。我大概19-20岁的时候遇见了一些很有才华的朋友，和他们一起创建了一个游戏公司。此后我花了大概10年制作网页游戏。5年前，我决心靠自己继续在这条路上走下去，花时间做一些个人项目。我觉得成为独立开发者积极面是，我拥有了充分的创作自由；消极面当然是资金短缺了:）之前拥有团队时我赚得比现在更多。
我最喜爱的主流游戏是 PS1 平台上的《邪恶战争（Unholy War）》或者 PS2 平台的《古堡迷踪（Ico/Shadow of the Colossus）》。我最喜欢的独立游戏则是 Iji，DoomRL 或《宇宙巡航机（Hydorah）》。选最喜欢的游戏真的好难啊。
我注意到 PICO-8 是你最为喜爱的开发工具之一，你如何评价这款复古游戏引擎呢？
PICO-8 是一款快速游戏开发工具。真的很快速。对它而言这是非常关键的一点，因为我花费了十五年去做一些虽然不大但却耗时冗长，无止无休的项目。PICO-8 让我不必在单个项目上耽误过久时间。
在开发 Tower of Archeos 过程中有什么有趣的事情值得一说吗？游戏的灵感来自什么地方呢？
你可能已经知道 Tower of Archeos 这款游戏始于 PICO8 开发的原型。我的灵感主要来自我之前没完成的一款作品（一款融合扫雷和 Roguelike 的游戏
）。最开始我在怀疑是不是要做这样一款不需要鼠标控制的解密游戏，但到最后，成果还挺让人开心的。制作 steam 版本的时候，我可以用上鼠标了，但某种意味上这个版本少了一点 PICO-8 版本的街机游戏味道。这让我有一丁点伤心。
Tower of Archeos 融合了三消，卡牌和 Roguelike 多种元素。为何你会制作这样一款混搭元素的游戏呢？
据我所知，Tower of Archeos 节奏很快，而且通关时间也并不很长。一些玩家也指出多数游戏交互都只需要鼠标点击，因此他们觉得这款游戏只需要一些有限的改动（比如缩小地图格子的尺寸和数量，调整关卡难度等等），就能非常契合移动平台。你有移植移动平台的计划吗？
操作适配将会是最困难的部分，尤其是玩家在手机游戏里没法看到悬浮提示。我能解决这些问题，不过，问题在于我只在 steam 上卖了300 份游戏拷贝，我很不确定移动端的效果会不会更好。我也觉得我已经在这款游戏上花了太多时间了，想尝试一些其他的类型。我并不擅长在单个游戏上投入太多时间。
我知道你至少在小范围内收获过一些积极的反馈，但根据 steam.spy 的数据来看，很不幸的是，这款如此棒的游戏销量却十分惨淡。或许和缺乏曝光有关，但最为主要的原因应该是偏高的定价。对于一些非常喜欢这款游戏的人，比如我来说，并不介意价格昂贵，会觉得值得。但为何你会定下这样一个高于多数同类游戏的价格呢？
我正在尝试发布另一款 steam 游戏，此外还在尝试在 Kickstarter 上众筹一款桌游。我还很热衷参加 gamejams 比赛，虽然12月份的 ludumdare 我没能按时完成作品。我有大量没完工的半成品，还想继续填坑，可又缺少时间。我还是一名8个月大的小姑娘的父亲，做父亲可是一件消耗巨大的事情 :)
你曾非常善意地评价中国的独立游戏生态比你想象得更加广阔。中国的独立开发者会面对许多艰难和独特的挑战，但我们一直在努力摸索一条道路。我的同事 Luis Wong 曾撰写过一篇描述中国独立游戏生态的文章
谢谢你提供这篇文章，它非常有意思，我之前没有听说过中国的主机游戏禁令。这样就解释了为何中国会兴起 F2P 游戏，但是也会使得中国玩家对复古游戏的审美更加敏感：如果主机游戏的历史曾在 2000 年左右终结，那么一定会形成非常强烈的怀旧情结。我在游戏的这个领域下过很多功夫。我第一次接触中国市场的体验非常奇异：2009年我做过一个名叫 mybrute.com 的游戏，这款游戏国际反响很好，但有个来自中国的工作室很快就做了一款名叫 tuitui8 的山寨。我通常会宣称自己不在意知识产权，但事到临头，想法又会变化。最后，我决定将其抛诸脑后，毕竟我们本来就没有将其翻译到中国市场的计划。我觉得这篇文章有一点完全说对了，就是多数西方人会觉得中国游戏市场充斥盗版问题，我之前就是那么认为的。但事实则是，由于在中国很容易玩到游戏，越来越多的人开始玩游戏，开始享受游戏。随着游戏开发工具门槛降低，会有越来越多的人投入到游戏制作当中。2013年我去印度旅游，决定途径尼泊尔和中国到哈萨克斯坦去。在中国停留期间我在做一款游戏的声音识别程序。由于我不太懂这一块，希望通过互联网做一些调研。但我发现多数相关网页因为审查无法正常打开。中国的独立开发者都在这样的条件下工作，想必很辛苦。
I have explored your website for a while and enjoyed a very good time here. It is hard-woring of you to do so many game prototypes, let alone most of those are very solid and juicy. We have known that you are a talented and skillful indie game developer, but don't know any other infos about you yet, so could you share with us and our readers a little bit about yourself? (such as which city is it based? how long have your team been working on Tower of Archeos? How long have you been an indie game developer? When did you decide that you wanted to be a game developer? What are the ups and downs being an indie game developer?)
I live in Lacanau a small city near the atlantic ocean in France. When I was a child I was spending my school time drawing levels in my notebooks ( for golden-axe, new zealand story or wonderboy ). Then When I was 19-20 years old I met some talented friends and built a videogame company with them. I spent 10 years working on web-based games. Then 5 years ago I decided to go on my own and spent some time working on solo projects. I think that the good side of being an indie is the total freedom for creation. The downside is the lack of money :) I used to earn more money when I was working with a team.
As a player, what's your favorite video games by far? Could you share some names with our readers?
For mainstream game I think my favorite games are Unholy War for PS1 or Ico/Shadow of the Colossus for PS2. My favorite indiegames are Iji, DoomRL or Hydorah. It's really difficult to choose.
I noticed that PICO-8 is one of your favorite development tools, how would you evaluate this retro game engine?
Pico8 is a fast gamemaking tool. Really fast. This is a very important thing about it, becasue I spent 15 years making small but also very long and neverending projects. Pico8 keep me away from spending too much time on a single project.
Any interesting/fun stories you met while developing Tower of Archeos? Where did the inspiration of Tower of Archeos come from?
As you may already know, I started tower of archeos as a pico8 project. My main inspiration source is a previous unfinished game I was working on ( a kind of minesweeper-roguelike game https://vimeo.com/87343912 ). When I started, I was suspicious about making a puzzling with no mouse control but in the end I was happy with the result. When I worked on the steam version, I could use the mouse, but I somehow lost the arcade feeling of the pico8 version. I was a bit sad about it.
Tower of Archeos is based on match-3, cards game and roguelike, with a blend of various elements. Why did you choose to make such a game with mixed styles?
I dont see myself as a very creative person. But I have a solid videogames knowledge ( consoles + computers game ) and most of my game are about mixing 2-3 already existing concepts into a new one. The snake game is a very basic base I mixed it with TCG ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF3oRacyNYo ) or with a jackpot bonus system ( https://benjamin-soul.itch.io/serpentes ). I think there's still a lot to discover by just mixing existing mechanics together.
I have to say that I was so much impressed by your game for its unique, deep and well-designed game mechanism. How did you achieve that?
I'm kind of obsessed with replayability. I always add options, classes or bonus to make sure each game sessions are unique. It usually makes the balancing time task very long, but I enjoy spending time on all these tweaking.
As we know, Tower of Archeos is at a very fast pace and take not very long time to beat, and some players also point out that most interaction in this game only require some clicks of the mouse, so they think that this game will be very suitable for mobile game market after some limited changes, such as reducing the size and numbers of map grids, adjusting the level of difficult and so on. Do you have any plan about moble market of your game?
Adapting the control would be the hardest part especially because player would have no access to rollover hints on a mobile game. I think I could achieve that but the problem is I only sold about 300 units on steam and I'm not sure I could do better on mobile market. I also feel like I spent too much time on this game and want to try others concepts. I'm not so good at spending a lot of time on a single game...
I know that you get some postive feedbacks at least on a small scale, but the unfortunate reality is that the amazing game has sold very poorly according to steamspy.com. Perhaps beacause of lack of publicity, but one of the most important reason may be the high price. For some guys enjoy this game very much such as me, it is not really expensive and very worthy. But why did you choose such a price much higher than most game of this sort?
To be honest, I was expecting that the game would not sale very well, if you don't want to spend a lot of time or money for publicity there's no miracle. Knowing that I will rely on a very small but strong fan base I asked them to pay a bit more that the usual market price, so I would not loose too much money working on this. I'm suspicious about the fact that dividing the price by two would have send me twice more players. But I'm far from being an expert, I may be wrong about that.
You are very hardworking and have been working on your new project. What is your plans for the future as a indie developer?
I'm looking forward to release another steam game and maybe trying to kickstart a boardgame. I'm still interested in gamejams too even if I failed to finish my december ludumdare game in time. I have a lot ( maybe 8-10 ) unfinished project I still want to work on and not so much time to work on them : I'm a father of a 8 month little girl and it's really time consuming :)
You said that the Chinese indiegame scene seems a lot wider than you expected, that's very kind words. The indie game developers in China faced a lot of tough and unique challenges, but we are trying hard to make a way through the darkness. One of my colleagues, Luis Wong, wrote an article in KillScreen about it, you can check it here
, how did you think of game market in China since it not only hold tremendous potential but also have many diffcults for the overseas developers?
Thanks for the article, I found it really interesting, I never heard about the china's console ban before that. It explains the rise of free-to-play games in China, but I was thinking it could also make Chinese people more sensible to retro game aesthetic : If console game history really ended up in 2000, it must result in a very strong nostalgia feeling. I'm working a lot on this side of videogames.
My first experience with China's market was strange : in 2009 I worked on a game called mybrute.com. The game was a good international success but a chinese studio built a rippoff called tuitui8. I always claimed I didnt believe in intellectual property but having to actually deals with this problem almost made me change my mind. In the end I decided it was no problem for me, especially because we had no intention to translate it for chinese market.
I think the article is totally right about the fact that most western people think that chinese game market is all about piracy, I also used to think this way. But the fact is : easy/free access to videogames makes more people playing/enjoying videogames. It will then result in a lot of people creating videogames when gamemaker tools become more accessible.
In 2013 I was traveling in India and decided to go to kazakhstan throught Nepal and China. During my stay in china I was trying to work on a voice recognition program for a game and I had to make a lot of internet research because it was way outside of my scope. Most of these researches ended up on censored pages and I was finally unable to finish my game. It must be hard for all chinese indiedev to work in this condition.