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赌桌游戏设计

2014-01-27 05:02
 

我的第一份赌场工作是1997年时在拉斯维加斯的“海市蜃楼”赌场,但上岗的次日,我就碰到一件令我既好奇又愤怒的事。一张发自“洗牌专家”公司的发票来到了,这家公司是出租洗牌机给我们使用于21点与百家乐游戏的, 然后我看到了发票上的一行字,几乎令我发指。

对我们所使用的一种新游戏“熬三宝”,这家公司向我们每月收取两千美元。(打开天窗说亮话呗:我们有四张熬三宝赌桌,故总价是八千美元。)我很震惊,遂向上司问到我们为何须为此付费,而且还付得这麽多。

上司回答:“熬三宝啊?那是洗牌专家公司的游戏。他们有所有权。”

“他们有所有权?如何拥有赌桌游戏呢?“ 我问到。

上司说:“他们拥有它的专利权、商标权和复制版权。他们拥有这游戏的点子和它使用的设备,所以如果我们想提供这一个游戏,就得付费。“

我的震惊与懊恼溶解了,取而代之的分别是敬畏与灵感。我说:”你想出一个游戏,然后向使用的赌场收费?那可是好的不得了的行业啊,那天我也要进入这一行。“

我做到了。

在这段有启示性的谈话的三年之后,我开始替这洗牌机专家公司干活了。六个月之后我想出了第一个赌桌游戏的点子,然后点子一个又一个的迸出来。苦干加上一点运气(或许是好运加上一点干活吧),我的游戏和副注现在在五大洲四十个国家使用着。这些游戏,有名叫“龙宝百家乐“者,有名叫”疯狂四张扑克“者,有名叫“终极德州扑克“者,也有叫“赌场的钱21点”者,几乎是有赌场的地方就有他们。

创造一个赌桌游戏是容易的,你只要一个点子和一点数学。创造一个成功的赌桌游戏呢?呃,那可就有点不容易了。每一年至少有五十个新赌戏进入赌场,但充其量也仅有一两个能活下来 . . . 而那还算是好的一年呢。

你的挑战在于不仅要能让玩家玩你的游戏,还得使他们不断地玩。这样的努力却充满了矛盾:你创造的玩意儿需要是既简单又有趣,既好玩又当真,既快又有戏剧性。你的游戏得让每个人终究要输钱,但在短期内也要有赢钱的机会。

有一个游戏成功,就有几十个失败。但是你如果构想出了一个众人喜爱的游戏,那就能赚大钱了。加勒比扑克和熬三宝的权利金每年有两百万美元,四张扑克是三百万美元,幸运牌九扑克是四百万美元,密西西比扑克是五百万美元。终极德州扑克是我最成功的赌戏,每年有一千一百万美元。而一直是所有游戏翘楚之三张扑克,每年有一千五百万美元。

如同我在97年时所言,这可是个了不得的行业。

金钱上之报偿也许很大,但成功的发明家同仁却不多。英国的戴瑞可‧魏博不仅创造了有史以来最受欢迎的扑克游戏“三张扑克”,也创造了最受欢迎的21点副注之一的“21+3“. 美国的罗宾‧鲍尔及T.J.谭创造了”容易百家乐“,它是业界最受欢迎的衍生自百家乐的游戏。美国的史丹礼(出生于台湾)不仅是业界誉为最好的赌戏分析师,亦是“爆庄21点”和”宝彩牌九”这两个卓越的副注的发明人。

日日月月,越来越多的人想成为这独有之俱乐部之一员。我每年亲自审阅一百个来自公司以外的人所提交的点子,这些人我大部分从未见闻过。约有九十个点子是垃圾,而垃圾堆也就是它们直接的归宿了。另有七个左右是在观念上行得通,可是却少了赌戏要成功所必备的那种让人惊艳的因素。

那样就剩下三个点子了,而这些点子就是我们要获取并推出市面的赌戏和副注了,他们是既简单又有趣,既好玩又当真,既快又有戏剧性的,而且能够在澳门、星加坡、北美洲、欧洲、非洲及澳洲等地的赌场中永久占有一席之地。

多半来说,成功的赌桌游戏发明人所具有的唯一共同点就是他们没有一个共同点。史丹礼曾是一位数学家及电脑程序设计师。魏博曾是一位扑克玩家。杰夫‧郝尔这位发明“换牌21点“及“免费赌注21点”游戏的人曾是一位教师。熬三宝的发明人约翰‧伯律丁,其游戏是我多年前奚落的对象,也曾驾着十八轮大卡车在全美送货呢。

我呢?我曾是一名报纸、电视台与广播电台之新闻记者。

这正显示了伟大的点子可出自任何人、任何地方、任何时候,或许会出自于你,这就是为何我的门和邮箱总是敞开的原因。英文有句话:有时你得亲吻很多青蛙才能找到一个王子。

就当我的嘴唇是永远嘟起的呗。

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On the second day of my first casino job—at the Mirage in Las Vegas back in 1997—I stumbled across something that made me both curious and furious. An invoice arrived from Shuffle Master, the company that rented us the card-shuffling machines we used for blackjack and baccarat. Then I read the line that nearly made my hair stand up and my teeth fall out.

The company was charging us $2,000 per month for Let it Ride, a novelty poker game we had on the casino floor. (Full disclosure: We had four tables, so the total was $8,000.) Stunned, I went to my boss and asked him why we had to pay—and pay so much—for this.

“Let it Ride? That’s Shuffle Master’s game,” he said. “They own it.”

“They own it?” I asked. “How do you own a table game?”

“They own the patents, the trademarks and the copyrights,” he said. “They own the idea behind the game and the equipment the game is played on, so if we want to offer it, we have to pay them.”

My shock and annoyance melted, the former replaced by awe and the latter by inspiration. “You think up games and charge casinos money to play them?” I said. “That’s the greatest racket ever. One day I’m going to get into that racket.”

And I have.

Three years after this conversation-cum-revelation, I began working for Shuffle Master. Six months after that, I came up with my first idea for a table game. And then another. And another. And another. With a little luck and a lot of hard work (or maybe it’s the other way around), my games and side bets are now played in 40 countries and five continents. These titles, with names like Dragon Bonus Baccarat, Crazy 4 Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em and House Money Blackjack are available just about anywhere and everywhere you find a casino.

Creating a table game is easy. All it takes is an idea and some math. Creating a successful one? Uh, that’s a smidge more difficult. Every year, more than 50 new games get onto casino floors. At best one or two will survive … and that’s in a good year.

The challenge is getting gamblers to not only play your game, but to keep playing it. It’s an endeavor full of paradoxes: You need to create something simple yet interesting; fun yet serious; quick yet dramatic. You need to create something that will take everyone’s money in the long run, but will give anyone a chance to win in the short run.

For every success, there are dozens upon dozens of failures. But if you happen to conjure up something the public loves, you can make a lot of money. Caribbean Stud Poker and Let it Ride, make $2 million a year each in royalties. Four Card Poker makes $3 million. Fortune Pai Gow Poker makes $4 million. Mississippi Stud makes $5 million. Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, my most successful game, makes $11 million. And Three Card Poker, the top game of all time, makes $15 million.

Like I said back in ’97, this is one hell of a racket.

The financial payoff may be big, but the fraternity of successful inventors is small. Derek Webb of England not only created the most popular poker-style game in history (Three Card Poker), he also came up with one of the most popular side bets for blackjack (21+3). Robin Powell and T.J. Tan of the United States came up with EZ Baccarat, the most popular baccarat derivative in the industry. And Stanley Ko of the United States (born in Taiwan) is not only lauded as the best game analyst in the business, but also as the inventor of such prominent side bets as Buster Blackjack and Bonanza Pai Gow.

Every day and every month, more and more people try to gain membership in this exclusive club. Each year I personally review 100 game ideas submitted by people outside the company. Most are from people I have never seen or never heard of. About 90 of them are trash, and that’s where they go—straight in the trash. Another seven or so are conceptually viable but lacking the sort of “wow factor” a game needs to succeed.

That leaves three. These are the games and side bets we acquire and take to the market. These are the ones that are simple and interesting, fun and serious, quick and dramatic, the ones that could become a permanent fixture on casino floors in Macau, Singapore, North America, Europe, Africa and Australia.

For the most part, the only thing successful table game inventors have in common is that they don’t have anything in common. Ko was a mathematician and computer programmer; Webb was a poker player. Geoff Hall, the inventor of Blackjack Switch and Free Bet Blackjack, was a teacher. John Breeding, who created the Let it Ride game that was subject of my scorn lo those years ago, shipped goods around the U.S. in an 18-wheeler.

Me? I was a journalist for newspapers, television and radio.

Which just goes to show great ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Perhaps it will come from you. That’s why my door and my e-mail inbox are always open. There’s an expression in English that sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.

Consider my lips perpetually puckered.

Roger Snow is the head table game designer and chief product officer for SHFL entertainment (formerly Shuffle Master). Snow, 46, has his table games and side bets on more than 3,500 tables around the world, the most of any inventor. He can be reached at rsnow@shfl.com.



  
  
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  Roger Snow
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罗杰‧史诺是尚福娱乐公司(前“洗牌专家”公司)之赌桌游戏首席设计师及产品总裁。46岁的史诺有赌桌游戏及副注在全世3500多张赌桌上使用着,数量上无人能出其右。他的联络邮箱是rsnow@shfl.com。

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