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Determining length of an RPG..

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Hi everyone, Just scoping out an idea of mine, and I was curious as to how others measure the "game length" of an RPG. Some games claim 40-hours of play, 80 hours, etc. How is this length determined? thanks in advance,

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Quote:
Original post by TheOther
Some games claim 40-hours of play, 80 hours, etc.

How is this length determined?


Step 1: Look at a clock, remember (or write down) the time.
Step 2: Play the game all the way through
Step 3: Look at the clock again. Figure out how long its been since Step 1.

Alan

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Quote:
Original post by Alan Kemp
Quote:
Original post by TheOther
Some games claim 40-hours of play, 80 hours, etc.

How is this length determined?


Step 1: Look at a clock, remember (or write down) the time.
Step 2: Play the game all the way through
Step 3: Look at the clock again. Figure out how long its been since Step 1.

Alan


Half right. Now all you gotta do is have maybe 100-1000 people do that and you just take the average.

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Since most people don't want to play an RPG in one sitting... make the game time itself!

P.S. You don't count; you can probably play through your RPG much faster than most people can. :)

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Original post by Ekim_Gram
Quote:
Original post by Alan Kemp
Quote:
Original post by TheOther
Some games claim 40-hours of play, 80 hours, etc.

How is this length determined?


Step 1: Look at a clock, remember (or write down) the time.
Step 2: Play the game all the way through
Step 3: Look at the clock again. Figure out how long its been since Step 1.

Alan


Half right. Now all you gotta do is have maybe 100-1000 people do that and you just take the average.


hehe. I was really really really afraid of that. :)

thanks.

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What most designers do is set a 'length-of-gameplay goal' for each of the quests, maps, objectives, etc. In the end they add up all of the goals that form the primary storyline and there's your 'expected' gameplay time.

For example, suppose you're making a platformer. What you might do is say every one of your levels will take 20 minutes to complete for an average player, and you want around 30 levels. 20 mins * 30 = 10 hours of gameplay. It is then up to your designers to make levels that'll adhere to this restriction, and draw exceptions where necessary.

For an RPG you'd do the same thing, except you'd add the quests of the main storyline together. Since you have a mix of quests of varying lengths, the lengths might planned out ahead of time and the designers adhere to those restrictions.

Most games know ahead of time how much gameplay they're aiming for in terms of time. It helps clear up the schedule and avoids any suprises :) Of course, like everything, the length-of-gameplay may change during development but it's usually accounted for.

By the time the game is shipped the developers have a rough idea how long the game will take to complete for the average player.

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Thanks @Grafalgar (and others), that explanation makes perfect sense. It is much easier to divide and conquer a time calculation for the game if you approach it that way. Nice.

And (like most other things) I guess you get better at estimating the amount of time each quest/puzzle will take as you build your skills in designing/coding them.

I'm sure it's nothing new, but I'm trying to design a few small RPG's together (say 20-40 hours each) which can then be plugged in together for a complete world: basically you pay for only what you want to play. However to hit the final EndGame quest, you'll need them all. :)

It's a bit risky, because other RPG products offer a complete world/game up front, so I should also offer incentives to the customer for supporting something like this...

thanks again!

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Your idea of the pick and choose RPG isnt too bad, what you could do is have each one contain an entire story in and of itself and elements of some grander quest line. That way each game is a complete story but also allude to parts of the greater quest.

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Original post by Ekim_Gram
Quote:
Original post by Alan Kemp
Quote:
Original post by TheOther
Some games claim 40-hours of play, 80 hours, etc.

How is this length determined?


Step 1: Look at a clock, remember (or write down) the time.
Step 2: Play the game all the way through
Step 3: Look at the clock again. Figure out how long its been since Step 1.

Alan


Half right. Now all you gotta do is have maybe 100-1000 people do that and you just take the average.


I would say that the game play is the shortest amount of time in which the game can be beaten...

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Original post by 0siris
I would say that the game play is the shortest amount of time in which the game can be beaten...


Oh most definitely @Osiris.

That's why most RPG's have a few grinding quests to slow down the game and stretch it out a bit more. :)

thanks,

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Original post by Downer
Your idea of the pick and choose RPG isnt too bad, what you could do is have each one contain an entire story in and of itself and elements of some grander quest line. That way each game is a complete story but also allude to parts of the greater quest.


Thanks @Downer.

That's what I'm hoping to achieve...sort of mini-RPG's which eventually form a gestalt-RPG of sorts.

I see the biggest stumbling block of any RPG project isn't so much gameplay or quest design but just pure art demands. :(

I'm gonna have to get my regular art guy very drunk before approaching him about this concept..;)

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Original post by TheOther
Quote:
Original post by 0siris
I would say that the game play is the shortest amount of time in which the game can be beaten...


Oh most definitely @Osiris.

That's why most RPG's have a few grinding quests to slow down the game and stretch it out a bit more. :)

thanks,


I agree... it would be the shortest time it would take to beat the game with the side quests.

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You could use the kill rate. How fast can they kill creatures and how many creatures are they going to have to kill to reach a level that allows them to complete the game?

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Original post by LilBudyWizer
You could use the kill rate. How fast can they kill creatures and how many creatures are they going to have to kill to reach a level that allows them to complete the game?


I'd agree to putting something like that in the average calculation, but I don't want to base the completed game time on solely this.

Mostly because this reminds me of some of the more annoying grinding moments of the Ultima series or Bard's Tale (the original).

To get to Foozle meant going through literally dozens of annoying enemies which weren't TOO hard to kill but just took up loads of (unneccessary) time.

ie. 90% of the "total game time" is spent in the End Game!!

Getting to Foozle should be difficult, but not annoyingly so (IMHO). I don't want the player to get too frustrated that he boycotts my products. :)

On some level, those who will probably purchase these titles are also more than likely already playing a MMOG of some kind. Therefore I'm trying to decide right now just how to design these storylines/game engine.

(a) Incredibly stats driven. Even calculate encumberance factors on player's movement and combat rates. (ie. most MMOG's are targeting semi-casual players, so this would be focusing the hardcore crowd).

(b) Incredibly casual (go the other extreme). Target those that want to have the thrill of an RPG without the constant grinding of a MMOG.

I'm leaning more towards the (b) option at this point, but it's still real early on. I'm researching the other RPG indie games out there to see what they're providing..

thanks all for your inputs so far! Valuable indeed!

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Most console style RPGs advertise their "length" based not only on "Whats the quickest you can beat it?", but "Whats the average time it takes to find everything important without a guide?". This would include full dungeon exploration, optional dungeons, and completing the major side quests.

I'm just blown away by the fact that people are now calling 20-40 hours a "mini-RPG". I've been going back and playing Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and Super Mario RPG recently, and these games range from 12-20 hours, but they can be played over and over again and still be fun... I don't know if I can say that about any of these 60-80 hour epics that have been released recently. 20-40 hours sounds like a full blown RPG to me if you're trying to make something really fun to play... of course, now I'm just offering myself up as flamebait :)

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Original post by JBourrie
Most console style RPGs advertise their "length" based not only on "Whats the quickest you can beat it?", but "Whats the average time it takes to find everything important without a guide?". This would include full dungeon exploration, optional dungeons, and completing the major side quests.

I'm just blown away by the fact that people are now calling 20-40 hours a "mini-RPG". I've been going back and playing Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and Super Mario RPG recently, and these games range from 12-20 hours, but they can be played over and over again and still be fun... I don't know if I can say that about any of these 60-80 hour epics that have been released recently. 20-40 hours sounds like a full blown RPG to me if you're trying to make something really fun to play... of course, now I'm just offering myself up as flamebait :)


Ah...but should "everything important" include FULL dungeon exploration or optional dungeons? :)

You make a good point though. However, I'm hoping a guide isn't needed. True it cuts off a potential revenue generator for the product line....*hmmmmm*

One good thing I've found in World of Warcraft (for example) is that the NPC's actually divulge useful information. If you're new to a city, for example, the NPC's are literally tour guides to where the important shops and areas are.

Most players are unused to this, however (or are a bit lazy *grin*). Everytime I'm in Stormwind for example ( a main city in WoW ), someone's ALWAYS asking where General Marcus Jonathon is. *grin* (He's a big dude on a big horse in front of the main entrance to the city...you literally can't miss him).

I'd better double check, but I seem to remember all the guards knowing where he was..:)

Anyways, the point being that players should be able to figure out what's going on without a guide. If you need a guide, then I think something's wrong in your design (ie. are you dropping in enough hints for the player to solve the quest, or are you leaving out fairly critical bits of info necessary to piece them together in order to create a market for a user guide).

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