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Are games too long?

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I''ve been thinking about what I would like to see in the gaming industry. One of the things near the top is shorter, cheaper games. Admittedly, some games like Final Fantasy and NWN need 70+ hours of game play to tell the story, but how many times have you played a game where at least 5 hours were just filler. I''d like to see more games that that cost $20 bucks with about 15 hours of gameplay. Right now, only large companies can afford the art/level/programming resources required for a normal game. Instead of huge teams working together on a 50 hour epic, those teams could be broken up, and more games could be made. Making game shorter would let more people get exposer. For example, when the motion picture industry was starting (i.e. black and white films), many of those films would be three hours long - simply because people were used to stage shows (which are still very long). As movies progressed tho, they became shorter. Now a three hour movie is very abnormal. Just throwing out an new idea. Please post your thoughts!

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quote:
Original post by Onemind
Admittedly, some games like Final Fantasy and NWN need 70+ hours of game play to tell the story, but how many times have you played a game where at least 5 hours were just filler.



Here, I disagree, and I''m talking about FFX. (I''ve not played Neverwinter Nights.) It took me between 55 and 60 hours to beat Final Fantasy X. This is far too long for my liking. In my opinion, the length causes it to lack replayability. Then, the ending blatantly sucked anyway, so I''m not sure I''d care to play it again. It took me 55-60 hours to beat a game that sucked in the first place. The story didn''t even need to be that long. It would''ve been better if it had been dwindled down... a lot.

Metal Gear Solid 2 took me twelve hours to beat the first time I played it. I''ve beat the game about four or five times since my first time, each time after taking about nine to ten hours. MGS2 does not lack replayability. AND THE ENDING DIDN''T SUCK! The story wasn''t horribly drawn out, either, even though it was a sequel with a bunch of references to the first game.

What''s truly sad is that I can beat MGS and MGS2 and enjoy it in less time than it takes me to beat FFX, which I didn''t enjoy that well.

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Call of Duty single player was intense but short, 4-5 hours roughly it took, but incredible moments =). Aside from some of the dumb commando missions.

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I disagreee. I found FFX to have a good ending and was disappointed with the ending to MSG2. I have replayed both MSG2 and FFX so maybe I am weird. I tend to prefer games that are longer but a lot of it depends on how they implement it.

If it is longer simply because they add a lot of repetitive stuff then I really hate that, an example of this is Deus Ex. The whole game was pretty much someone telling you to go someplace and retrieve something because they suck too much to do it themselves. By the end of the game I just wanted to hurry up and get it finished only to find all three endings to be extremely lacking. If it is long because it has an involving story then I probably wont mind too much (FFX, Chrono Cross).

Most of the time though I am disappointed to get a game and find out it is really short, like Red Faction or Maximo (I beat Maximo in a weekend). I feel like I wasted my money which is why I tend to buy my games used.

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, drown a man in the water and the fish will eat for a week!

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Mark of Kri only takes about an hour on average per level. The first one is about 20 minutes, but the last few are a bit longer. Lots of fun, lots of replayability, and a story that, while simple, doesn''t fail to amuse me. I also like that they tell the story during "load" times. Nothing worse then five minutes of story followed by another minute of loading. FFX has way too much "down time". I tend to go to other things while my characters are advancing the story.

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if the price matched the game play time, then sure, but atm we are seeing short games (Unreal 2 for example) at long game prices.
To use your film industry thing, I pay for a film it costs me £5 and last about 90mins, however something like Les Mis, a proper long show, last a lot longer and costs upwards of £50 a go iirc

The problem is however, even short games have huge production costs, and they need to gain that money AND make a profit, thus we get short games at long game prices.

I wouldnt mind seeing short and cheap games, dont get me wrong, i''m just doubtfull that it will happen because of the price/cost problems..

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As you say, game developers rely too much on ''fillers'' to boost gameplay time. I think that, not only they should focus on quality versus quantity, but difficulty should be increased, too. I hate the feeling of beating a 15/20 hours long game with no real challenge to it. It''s just shallow...

This may sound a little extreme but, back on the 8 bit era, games were hard; in fact, they used to be INSANELY hard! But gameplay was ok, so you did keep coming back for more. Even now, more than 15 years after, I haven''t been through many of those games, and I still plug in my MSX every now and then to give them a try, ''cause I actually enjoy the challenge.

So, I''m not talking about stepping back to the sometimes frustrating difficulty of ''Abu Simbel Profanation'' and the likes, but I do believe that games nowadays are waaay too easy; thus, games supposed to last for some 8-10 hours are beaten in just 8-10 hours. I say, let''s turn this 8-10 hours into 12-15 hours of actual game play through an increase on difficulty! I want to enjoy each and every one of my playing time hours, squeeze the most fun out of them, not spend my time admiring the landscapes or defeating wave after wave of sterile foes. No rush == no fun == no bang for my buck.





"Senri no michi mo ippo kara (A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step...)"

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quote:

originally posted by JoriathLionfort
This may sound a little extreme but, back on the 8 bit era, games were hard; in fact, they used to be INSANELY hard! But gameplay was ok, so you did keep coming back for more. Even now, more than 15 years after, I haven't been through many of those games, and I still plug in my MSX every now and then to give them a try, 'cause I actually enjoy the challenge.



Yes, games have gotten easier, but I think thats mainly due to the amount of time it takes to play a modern game. I could beat Mario III in a few hours, of couse I've probably played Mario III more than just about any other game ever made. Why? Its got some many secrets. Games are so long now that nobody wants to replay them and find all the extra stuff. As many of you pointed out, game cost in the millions of dollars, and selling a game for $20 is pretty well unheard of anymore.

I think part of the problem with the gaming industry is the lack of middle ground. Right now a developer has two options.

1) Spend millions on a triple A title that will be sold in retail stores
2) Create a shareware game and try to put it on as many Game Paks as possible

Option 1 is pretty well out of the question for any indie dev, so that leave option 2. When was the last time you anxiously awaited a sequal to a shareware game? We need some sort of middle ground! To clarify middle ground - TV is the middle ground between Sundance Films, and Big Stuido films. Very few TV actors/directors become as wealthy as their movie counterparts, but they still manged a good living. We need some way for talented individuals to get thier product to the masses without spending millions in the process.

Ok, rants over...

[edited by - Onemind on February 8, 2004 12:31:08 AM]

[edited by - Onemind on February 8, 2004 12:32:51 AM]

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In my opinion yes. There are a lot of games that are fine for 5-10 hours, but after that just start boring me. I would rather play a short (5-10 hour) high quality game that cost me $20-$30 then a 100 hour game with tons of filler that costs $50-$60. Most hardcore gamers would probably disagree with me though.

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Part of the problem is that the level of detail has dramatically increased, but quantity of that content has fallen through the floor.

Simple put: It takes a heck of a lot more of effort than it did to have the equivelent amount of gameplay due to the extra levelof detail you need to add.

Added to this problem, is the time taken & given to develop the games has stayed fairly constant, but the ammount of work involve has just increased exponentially.

Also going for a 3 hour film to a 2 hour film is a ~33% reduction in length. Going from a 50 hour game to a 15 hour game is a ~66% reduction in length. It gets worse when you compare going form +70 hours to a 15 hour game(~80% reduction in length).

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Serious Sam is a typical example of the "middle ground" you''re speaking of. It was sold very cheap and isn''t very long and isn''t very advanced, but hell it got action!

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I think developers are making more and more games that are not all that challenging, but that are rich is story development and have tons of great moments.

Beyond Good & Evil plays for about 10 hours if you do all the extra stuff and up to 15 hours if you are playing for the first time, forget to save, or don''t consult a guide for the hardest puzzles in the game.

Yet the game is VERY satisfying. It''s like Zelda, but without any filler. Additionally, it''s jumped down to $20 to purchase very quickly.

A lot of what we are seeing with prices is that games that sell a whole lot of copies can afford to lower prices, but that lowering prices does not always sell a lot of games.

If you have a game that is appreciating poor sales then it is not a good idea to lower prices because it also lowers profit margin, but if a game is really good then lowered prices a short period after release can allow a company to get greater sells and thus a higher profit margin. Not to mention that it allows a company to get a good game like Beyond Good & Evil to a larger market that will then shell out $50 on the day of release for BGE 2.

More directly related to your point, I do not see this happening. Most players do not resent paying $50 for a REALLY good game, but resent paying $20 for a bad game. If I get 15 hours of fun out of a game then I think $50 is a bit high. I''ll reseel the game if I''ve bought it because it is beaten and the publisher then has to deal with competition from my resell. I think the trick for GOOD games that are also short is to lower prices a few months after release as I gave in the example. Games that are longer or have good replayability can keep their costs high for a longer period of time as they are not as likely to be resold by their buyers.

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A thought. The time you spend playing a game doesn''t bear that much relation on how "long" the game is. In fact games which are quick to play through often lend themselves most to re-playability.

For example: System Shock 2 took me 20 - 30 hours (I think) to play through, however I wouldn''t really want to go through the whole thing more than twice. However, in a game like counter strike (or unreal tournament with bots if we''re excluding online games from the discussion), the length of each game is < 30 mins, but you''ll keep coming back for more as the re-playability is almost infinite. Winning a good ding dong battle will always be more satisfying than completing a story driven adventure, however good the plot.

I believe that this re-playability is down to the game system being so well balanced, that they will inevitably produce a good experience. Look at chess and go, no plot, no scripted events, but people will spend their lives playing.

I think that if you build the game dynamics to be able to generate a sufficiently rich environment for play, then you don''t need to spend loads of time and money on art and endlessly detailed missions (eg sim city etc...). Perhaps this type of game could constitute a middle ground?

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True, games like Serious Sam and Sim City are easier to make, but I was thinking about middle ground from a publishing perspective. Serious Sam was published by Take2 Interactive, and Sim City was published by EA. Right now, you''ve got to convince one of about five major publishers to publish your game. The cost of printing tens of thousands of CDs, then shipping them to all the major cities in the USA is staggering for small companies.

TV is such a good middle ground because it lets studios with few resources get their product out. How much do you think an episode of South Park, or Aqua Teen Hunger Force cost?

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I belive you guys are forgetting about the modding world. Modding is TV, think about it Sundance is still a movie while TV allows for things like the bold and the butiful. Mods allow for things like CS but they also allow for bad games as well. How much money do you think that the makers of CS spent makeing versions beta 1 through 7. Not much i can tell you that. so for games we have FreeWare, then shareware, then Flash Games online, then Mods, then A titles like serious sam where it is basicly a mod of Quake 3 then AAA titles like Call of duty at the top of the pile.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Onemind
Admittedly, some games like Final Fantasy and NWN need 70+ hours of game play to tell the story
Dunno about NWN or most FFs, but at least FF7 story could''ve been told in two hours easily. It''s the epitome of an overlenghtened game to me. Just random fights and pointless travelling.

I do agree that games are getting too long (I''m not counting Civilization, Sim City or multiplayer type games that one can play endlessly). It just feels almost impossible, to me, that a single player game could keep me interested for more than 40 hours without getting very repetitive. I''m all for quality over quantity, and would rather pay for 10 hours of intensive non-repetitive art than for 70 hours of the boring fights that console RPGs have to offer. One doesn''t *need* 70 hours to tell a truly epic story that makes you feel like you were part of something grand. Movies and movie trilogies have always done this in less than 10 hours!

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I think it depends on the game. I like my RPG''s longer (not FF style RPGs, I mean hardcore RPG''s like Neverwinter Nights or Baludr''s Gate) However, I don''t mind short games like Call of Duty. It was incredibly short, but I played it about 5 times, whereas Baldur''s Gate 2 was like 200hours and I''ve only played about 3 times since it came out.

Really, I''d like to see more long RPG''s like Neverwinter Nights, and I''d also like to see some cheap, high quality short games.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I think Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is probably one of the best single player games made in a very long time. It takes quite alot of skill and coordination to complete, yet the gameplay is great. You are actually in control of the characters every move. There are puzzles, and intensive and quite difficult fights. Though it could be a bit longer, but the quality is great!

A good example of a "in between" game is Live for Speed (http://lfs.racesimcentral.com/). It''s quite good looking, the gameplay is great, with great physics (actually one of the best I''ve seen/driven), and it is distributed online for £12.

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I prefer all types of games longer. I usually don''t get a game no matter how good it is(there may be some exceptions, but non yet for me) unless it''s long. I just don''t like replaying something over because it''s the exact same thing and you know what''s going to happen. Where if it''s long there''s not much need for replay value, if you spend much more time playing a good long video game and not than beating a short one a few times.

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I hate it when a game has 30+ hours gameplay and multiple storylines.

You basically have to play it all again to see them all.

No, I don''t want to save my games right before the story diverses.

But you are getting curious to see the other storylines.

But you can''t.

I probably won''t even play that game anymore after 30+ hours, unless that game is really really exciting.

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When I go out and buy a game it’s on my interest, if I hear the game is 3 hours long, I will not buy the game. Frankly I don’t want to "waste" the $50 on the game even if it got good reviews, since I can go out and watch a movie and buy a book and make my own games better...

But every once in a while there are games that come out that are long and awesome, I will give one series.

Baldur’s Gate 1, 2 and the expansions. Now if you have BG2 and the expansion that’s about 150hours of game play, some of you will think that’s way to long, or the game "quality" would have suffered. But this game had it all, graphics where ok, for what they where, being 2d graphics it was done very well. The story kept you in the game, there where a lot of quest, lots of weapons, spells, reply value was very high. So there are games out there that are just this, a recent one I think would be Star wars KoToR, was a good game.

What I see in today’s industry is this, companies, are not making a lot of money off there games, why? Because they are not that good. Last year I went on game spot for a few months and saw that many of the games got an avg score of 7. I wasn’t really shocked, because these companies are making poor games, rushing them out and expect their game to do well. They hype them up, they lead on and they don’t put out. Games seem to be getting better reviews, but still the games are still poor. Nothing is new, in terms of technology, game play, ideas... Its all the same and that’s why the first few games of its type will do very well but until there is something new then those games wont do as well. For example, doom3 will do very well even if it didn’t have the name behind it, I think it would be one of the best games of the year why? The graphics, the AI, the game play, hell maybe even the story. I have a feeling and kind of hope that inde devs can bring out there games, because those games seem to have good quality, and yet still have the big guys seeing this and making better games.

Also these companies, make there games all flashy, well they try and that isn’t what a good game is made of. We all know this, I think the devs know this but the board members of the company don’t care, they will tell the devs what to make in order to keep there jobs. Make the game flashy, and you have 18 months to make do it.

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From Casual to Core: A Statistical Mechanism for Studying Gamer Dedication

Hardcore gamers want longer, more difficult games. They want punishingly hard games so they can have the satisfaction of "beating" the game.

Casual gamers want relatively short, episodic content. The overall game may be long, but they want to be able to play it in 10- to 30-minutes sessions as opposed to 10-hour binges. They also don''t want games that are too hard; there are a bunch of other things that call for their attention.

Sounds like a bunch of hardcore gamers complaining about crossover titles. What a pity.

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Hi.

I think the worst problem with the FF (7-X at least) games is the random attacks. If you could see the enemy coming then you could avoid them if you didn''t feel like fighting. Nothing was more annoying than trying to cross some field or something and having to stop to fight 5-6 times. Of course you need the experience, but not while you know exactly where you''re going and want to get it over with. And the fact that after a while most battles vere so easy that you could wipe out all the enemies in less than 5 seconds while the loading and scripted animation (intro and victory) took 15 more was REALLY annoying and just filling up time. By allowing player to avoid battles he didn''t need (easy monsters worth 20xp while needing many thousands to level up) and with no challenge in the FF games the game would be at least a few hours and maybe as much 10 hours shorter. And since those easy battles grow tedius after a while they devalue the whole.
So by allowing player to skip those battles if he cooses then the game would be shorter but also much better. If the game is challenging in the beginning but grows too easy and tedious near the end, most pepole tend to remember that is was boring in the end and won''t play it again.

my €.02

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