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The Long and Short of [Game Lengths]

CaptainNemoCaptainNemo Ascension. Ascension.Hallelujah. Registered User regular
edited March 2012 in Games and Technology
Okay, let's get all the snickers about length out of our systems.

We good?

Cool, moving on. I've frequently heard complaints about the lengths of games. A lot of people seem to feel that shorter games are worse, while longer games are better. I can understand this reasoning, after all, games are expensive things. But honestly, I think what matters more for a game is the pacing. Take, for instance, Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XIII doesn't even let you pick your party until your thirty hours in, and is full of melodrama and clunky writing. Compare with the Darkness II, where you have all your powers at the start of the seven hour campaign, which is tight and focused.

Or, even better, Vanquished is three hours long, total, but the pacing is amazing. Like Portal's 1 and 2 it never overstays it's welcome, it never becomes a tedium to play through the shitty bits to get to the exciting parts.

What do you all think?

Raoul Duke wrote:
There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

I have a tumblr.
Check it out.
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Posts

  • Big ClassyBig Classy KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! Registered User regular
    I just finished LA Noire and it took 23 hours. Admittedly about 3 of those were spent on side missions so 20 on main plot. That sounds great but it really drags midway. I almost gave up at one point.

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  • CaptainNemoCaptainNemo Ascension. Ascension. Hallelujah. Registered User regular
    L.A. Noire had a lot of good ideas, but it suffered a lot from being incomplete.

    Raoul Duke wrote:
    There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

    I have a tumblr.
    Check it out.
  • cooljammer00cooljammer00 Hey Small Businessman!Registered User regular
    Wait, Vanquish is only 3 hours?

    I really need to finish that game. It seems like it keeps on going, but admittedly I do die a lot.

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    I pronounce it bee-log. Most recent entry: VIDEO GAMES: GUNPOINT, OR A SCIENTIFIC STUDY ON WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GLASS MEETS TROUSERS. 3DS Friend Code: 2165-6448-8348
  • Psychotic OnePsychotic One Never let an alligator... Do your taxesRegistered User regular
    I thought Bayonetta was just about the perfect length for that game. It was varied enough that it never got overly repetitive and had enough new stuff to keep each new chapter interesting.

    When it comes to shooters I kinda expect a 6-12 hour game and with enough AAA set pieces that I'll go DAMN at the end of it. Games like FEAR were just about perfect with this. Game advanced and kept escalating till you reached the climax and it left you wanting more with out getting to the point of Tedium.

  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Uee Citizen Record #2051 Über Star CitizenRegistered User regular
    As I grow old and nearer to death, I now value the quality of the content more than the quantity. I'm all for shorter, tighter, better paced games.

    Steam: Stormwatcher | XBL: Stormwatcher 21 | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Gamecenter: Stormwatcher33 | 3DS: 0130-2805-2850
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  • LanrutconLanrutcon Registered User regular
    I like a nice, quality core game surrounded by sweet, fluffy optional padding. That way I can play the game in a straight line or I can drown in the optional content it for weeks if I want (Fallout 3).

    That being said: if a game is 6 hours long it better be be God's gift to gaming. If it is, then I'm happy (I heart Bastion). Most of the time it isn't (Alas, poor Space Marine), so when I hear a game has a short campaign I am immediately put into fuck that shit mode and the game needs to work to get my money.

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    Currently playing: Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtrme Badass Edition, Brave Frontier and Sharepoint.
    -=Steam Wars: I am Green Team=-
  • chocoboliciouschocobolicious Registered User regular
    You know what game isnt nearly long enough? Hitman 2.

  • The_ScarabThe_Scarab Registered User regular
    Game length is not an absolute variable, it needs to be appropriate for the experience the developers are trying to provide. Some games are better suited to shorter sessions, some to longer. Furthermore, the quality of the game is closely tied to length but not wholly dependent on it. Short games with high quality content are better than long grindfests with a lot of filler content. But these two things are not always mutually exclusive. There are plenty of really short games that have no quality at all, and plenty of long games that consistently provide high quality entertainment. There is no objectively superior option, even if you could have the same quality experience but for longer, that doesn't make it better. Nor does necessarily having a higher quality experience for a shorter time make the game better than a long one that is more mediocre and even. Different people like different things and purchase games for different reasons. Some people want a game that will provide a blistering two hours of pure fun on a plane journey, others will want something that will stretch out for three months playing every day on the metro for half an hour during a commute. Other people will want a game that provides a solid, meaty chunk of entertainment for a solid week and will excite them like a good movie or book will. While others don't mind a somewhat fractured experience that might have one or two good ideas amid a sea of filler content and padding. Sometimes that satisfies because it provides curiosity and innovation. To quantify this discussion is impossible. There are as many right answers as there are people to offer them. Personally, I prefer a longer experience. The way I play games is in short bursts over longer periods. I don't have the spare time to put in a solid weekend of playing, nor do I have enough of a chunk of time to play through an entire shorter experience in one sitting. So no matter what kind of game I choose, it's going to be splintered, so normally I go for the more robust, larger scale performances. I'm not ashamed to say that I like a more blockbuster type game. I have nothing against smaller, indie titles that condense quality and purify it. I just appreciate the professional presentation of so called triple A titles more. And they fit better into my schedule. But that brings me onto the second point. Game length can be irrelevant for some genres. Have you ever quantified how long a game Battlefield 1942 is? It's endless. I've been playing Quake 3 in various forms for over a decade. I'm still playing it. Does that mean that Quake 3 has more 'content' than something like Bastion, or Portal? I think it is disingenuous to say so. All you can say is that both games have an appropriate amount of content, which I think is the important metric here. Games can either be too long or too short for what they are, not what they could or should have been. There are no short games or long games, in that sense, just shorter games and longer games. It's a sliding scale that relates directly to the game itself, not to games around it. Battlefield 3 costs the same as Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. But they are entirely different experiences with entirely different lengths. No-one could ever say BF3 was a short experience, because it is exactly the length that they get out of it. Similarly, if you play Uncharted 3 for eighty hours, enjoying every minute, even if you repeat content, does that not count? Can you only count the amount of game length on a first play through, or a new game plus at a stretch? What's the limit here? Who decides what the artificial cut-off point is? I guess what I'm trying to say is that only you can decide if the game is of an appropriate length. Mass Effect 2 is much longer than Modern Warfare 2, but to say that ME2 is better because of that is silly. And it is sillier too to say that more is more. Sometimes less is more. The minute to minute quality of the MW2 campaign is higher than in ME2. It is a tightly focused linear rollercoaster of cinematic beats. There is absolutely no filler, not by comparison. No backtracking, no fetch quests. No dialogue sessions. It's pure content. But that is what it was trying to do. That's the point of that game. So to criticize it for having less length than ME2 is ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as saying that ME2 is better because it has more content. Even if the content is of the same quality. Case in point: look at Portal 1 and Portal 2. Take any puzzle room between them and the quality of the content is exactly the same; very high. But Portal 2 is double the length. It has twice as much content. Does that make it inherently better? Identical levels of quality, double the length? No it doesn't. All you can say is that both are good in different ways. And neither is too short or too long. See that's the point I'm trying to get across. Game length is not absolute, you only ever notice it when it is wrong. There is no objective scale of good to bad. An eight hour game is not twice as good as a four hour game. You have to take each game individually and consider them on their own merits. Some games have certainly been too short. Some have been too long. But no game has ever been bad because it was short. Bastion is an eight, nine hour game. At no point did it feel too long, like it was being artificially stretched, or too short, like a lot of content was cut for time or budgetary reasons. It was the right length for what it set out to do. Lots of games have the right length but are still bad because the content itself is flawed. And lots of games have the wrong length but still end up being good because the content shines through. Mass Effect 1 is an incredible twenty hour game stretched to forty hours. Does that make it a bad game? No. It makes it too long. You can absolutely say the game length was out of place. But you can't say the game is bad. So I guess in the end, game length is completely irrelevant. It won't improve a game in any meaningful way, nor really harm an experience either. Quality content padded with lots of filler material is still quality content. And you may feel some regret and annoyance but I don't think for anyone it will be a deal breaker. Similarly, a game that is too short but full of stellar gameplay is going to interest a lot of people, and maybe turn a few away. But it's not going to radically change the overall impression of a game. Unless it is priced inappropriately. You see, games are quite expensive and I think it is entirely fair to expect a certain amount of value in a game. Too many people have expressed this as a qualitative measurement of content. Mass Effect 2 is two dollars per hour of content. Thirty hour game. Sixty dollars. Two dollars an hour. Half-Life 2 was only an eight hour experience. So does that mean HL2 is seven dollars fifty an hour? That's a higher rate, is the game of less value? This is far too personal an opinion to make any overarching statement about. Because a game is not providing time to you. It's providing fun. And games can deliver fun at different rates. Take my last example. While ME2 might be cheaper as a direct cost to session length comparison, some might argue that HL2 provides more fun per hour. If fun could ever be quantified (it can't). See what I'm getting at is that when you start getting into economic fallacies over something as subjective as entertainment experiences, you end up in a black hole of misery and regret. You ignore the purpose of the game entirely and treat it as a utility, rather than a luxury good. Developers are not heating your house, there is no fixed rate of commerce here. Only you can decide if a game is too long or too short and there are no right or wrong answers. This entire discussion is moot, a waste of time. A waste of my actual time. It is about as useful as discussing which colour is best, or whether green grass is better than purple elephants. It's madness. It's a mess of an argument. It's completely irrational. Game length is as subjective as game quality, or game content. Shorter games are not any better or worse than longer games. And games with higher quality content that are shorter are not to be considered of more value than longer games with perhaps less value over time but shorter experiences on a per fun metric scale over time. What I mean is that long games that have a lower rate of quality because it is stretched a bit thinner are not worse than shorter games which maximize fun rates. It's like when you go to a theme park. Sure, some people like the roller coasters. That two minutes of exhilaration and excitement. But some other people like the river rapids or the log flumes. The rides which take much longer but provide a different experience. It would not be appropriate for a log flume to last two minutes. It would be too short. But it would also be ridiculous for a roller coaster to last twenty minutes now wouldn't it. They're not appropriate lengths for these experiences. So you have to gauge whether the game is at an appropriate length before you even go beyond that and talk about overall quality. Of course I guess that some people would want a twenty minute roller coaster. Some people achieve that aim by going on a two minute roller coaster ten times in a row. That's perfectly analogous to how many people play video games. I've played Uncharted 3 perhaps three or four times. So in that respect, I've gained as much value from the purchase as someone who bought The Witcher 2 and played it once? Have I though? It's too complicated an issue to simplify in that manner. It depends on what you want as a whole. Some people abhor repetition, I know people who will never even watch the same movie twice, let alone play a game again. So for those specific people, a longer game is probably better, even if the quality is slightly less. It's that or keep buying short games, over and over. Lots of small ones. Lots of little tiny games, every week. Episodic in nature. But the tools you need to produce to make games don't allow developers to really do this on a regular basis. Look at the Sam and Max episodes. They were good but they had to all use the same underlying mechanics. For many people, the mechanics are the game itself. So the repetition comment still holds. They're playing a slightly altered version of the same game. I've never met any of those people though, most people I know who play games prefer a more monolithic experience. A totemic game for every three months of the year. When Christmas rolls around, they have to choose one of many and pick up the others months or even years later. But they're going to go into the thing knowing what to expect. Few people blind purchase anymore. I mean, I've already bought Mass Effect 3, it's on pre-order. And while the specifics of story and content are a mystery to me, I have a good idea of what the experience is going to roughly be like. And how long it will take. You see, that's what I want from a game I buy. A solid chunk of content that will satisfy me over time for a couple of months. That I can dip into like a TV show every couple of days between working. Other people might want something they can get done in a weekend. A solid weekend of like 12 hours days playing games. You could probably get Portal done in a day. In an afternoon. That doesn't mean it's inherently better or worse. Then you have to consider games are not in a vacuum. Some people want to augment a bigger title with some smaller, more innovative indie ones. Like, as a breather between sessions of triple A game number one, they might want a two hour blast through indie title number two. That's reasonable. And in that sense, the games and how their lengths are perceived by their owners changes because they form part of a pantheon of titles they currently own. To someone who just buys one game and one game only, the relative consideration of game length is going to be a completely different choice and experience than for the person who buys two or three at once. The latter might want two short ones and a long one. Maybe. The style of game would also change. Look at MMOs. They have huge quantities of content, hundreds even thousands of hours. But it's all mediocre. All very grindy by it's nature. That's the kind of game you play slowly over a long period. Maybe an hour a day, two at most. So it's reasonable to periodically put in a shorter, more blistering experience among that ocean of content just to change the tempo. In that respect, a shorter game increases in value for that person because of the wider circumstances of their gaming habits. That's what I mean by everything being flexible, everything having context. It's crazy isn't it?

    scarab you have mental problems
  • CaptainNemoCaptainNemo Ascension. Ascension. Hallelujah. Registered User regular
    *slow clap*

    Well played, monsieur Scarab.

    Well played indeed.

    Raoul Duke wrote:
    There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

    I have a tumblr.
    Check it out.
  • The_ScarabThe_Scarab Registered User regular
    tnx

    scarab you have mental problems
  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Uee Citizen Record #2051 Über Star CitizenRegistered User regular
    You have opened my eyes
    and all I see is glory

    Steam: Stormwatcher | XBL: Stormwatcher 21 | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Gamecenter: Stormwatcher33 | 3DS: 0130-2805-2850
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  • anoffdayanoffday To be changed whenever Anoffday gets around to it. Registered User regular
    Lanrutcon wrote: »
    I like a nice, quality core game surrounded by sweet, fluffy optional padding. That way I can play the game in a straight line or I can drown in the optional content it for weeks if I want (Fallout 3).

    That being said: if a game is 6 hours long it better be be God's gift to gaming. If it is, then I'm happy (I heart Bastion). Most of the time it isn't (Alas, poor Space Marine), so when I hear a game has a short campaign I am immediately put into fuck that shit mode and the game needs to work to get my money.

    I'm playing Bastion right now, and while I love the artwork, music, and voice acting, I don't really see anything impressive with the gameplay. I'm enjoying it, but it seems pretty typical. Is Bastion so loved because of the music and artwork or am I missing something with the gameplay?

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  • LanrutconLanrutcon Registered User regular
    Yeah, let's not do that again, Scarab. No point is worth you shitting on the forums like that >.<

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    Currently playing: Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtrme Badass Edition, Brave Frontier and Sharepoint.
    -=Steam Wars: I am Green Team=-
  • SkyTurnsRedSkyTurnsRed Registered User regular
    Lanrutcon wrote: »
    I like a nice, quality core game surrounded by sweet, fluffy optional padding. That way I can play the game in a straight line or I can drown in the optional content it for weeks if I want (Fallout 3).

    That being said: if a game is 6 hours long it better be be God's gift to gaming. If it is, then I'm happy (I heart Bastion). Most of the time it isn't (Alas, poor Space Marine), so when I hear a game has a short campaign I am immediately put into fuck that shit mode and the game needs to work to get my money.

    This, this, this, 100%.

  • SkyTurnsRedSkyTurnsRed Registered User regular
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Spoiler:

    :(

  • Wicked Uncle ErnieWicked Uncle Ernie Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Spoiler:

    :(

    You don't like paragraph breaks? That hurts to look at.






    To contribute a bit, I just completed SW:ToR (completed because it's a single player game pretending to be an MMO) and was sorely disappointed in the game in general, It's pacing is uneven, packed with filler and all a bit underwhelming, exacerbated by a terribly fractured community. So. I wondered, why does a game like WoW garner such appeal for such a long time, and SW:ToR seeem destined to dwindle?

    For that matter, why do games like chess and checkers sustain for hundreds of years? What qualities do these board games have that appeal for such a long period of time, honestly, chess will likely never fall out of favor. Portal 1 and 2 are great, don't get me wrong, but they don't have that quality that makes a traditional game so appealing, chess and checkers is something that can be played daily, for hours, and some people do just that. Starcraft managed to approximate these qualities.

    Single player story driven games can never reach that level of "game". But, I am of the firm belief that a game like Portal owes more to a movie than a game. As such things like pacing become important, but it has the added wrinkle of having to be fun to play, as well as engaging the player with the story. I don't think it detracts from the experience, but by it's nature it is placed into something different than chess.

    Chess has no hoops, it is what it is, each piece has a certain quality, and the board has specific dimensions. You are given one goal, and an opponent, and allowed total freedom within the game. Current game design still focuses on hoops, short and long term goals, a carrot in front of your nose. In the example of Portal, it's very effective, you are interested in advancing the story. You are also interested in exploiting the system you've been handed, it wins on both fronts. Lacking an opponent who can adapt to your moves hinders it's hook.

    MMOs are slightly more similar to chess, in that they have a development team (supposedly) constantly creating new content. Which is the appeal, I think. Along with the Opponent aspect, which can be considered as other players, or the dev team, you get the world (the board) and a set of rules. Usually over complicated, wheres chess's beauty is in it's simplicity. Multiplayer Shooter games have a greater similarity to this, with a ruleset and game boards as it were, and they have a much greater lifespan than nearly any other game. I think that stems from the game itself focusing on being fun first, all else second.

    I don't claim to know what makes a game special, though I know one when I see it. The length argument is stupid. Length has nothing to do with a game's quality. If the Dev team fluffed their game with garbage content to add 4 hours, you'll see it, and that may effect your opinion. That points at an industry problem, Devs tacking on content in order to justify cost, or tick boxes corporate hands down because "CoD has it".

    Wicked Uncle Ernie on
  • Linespider5Linespider5 I'll see you in 24 hours. Registered User regular
    One thing I'd like more, regardless of game length, is areas you can spend as much time as you want in, before moving to the next NOW NOW NOW action segment. I like dwelling on stuff a while and getting up to my ears in atmosphere.

    Another reason I think this is good is it generally means the gameworld has to withstand a little more scrutiny by being well-made enough that someone can just enjoy walking around in it for five-to-ten minute chunks doing nothing of consequence that involves the game itself.

    I'm definitely in favor of more ten hour games if it means I'm enjoying most of what I'm doing in that space. Games be notorious for busywork.

    2014png.png
  • KadokenKadoken She's got a GREAT ASS! Registered User regular
    Spoiler:

    That's uh, a huge wall of text (First time I've said that.)

  • El MuchoEl Mucho Colbchella God damn it!Registered User regular
    The busy work in games is my number one reason for burnout. I guess I have no one to blame but myself. I feel like I shouldn't just plow through the story and finish in 10 hours but then I get stuck doing nothing but side missions and then find myself at 40-50 hours of game time and no desire to keep playing.

    A sandwich is a sandwich, but a manwich is a mess.
  • maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what? New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    I can't play games like Skyrim, World of Warcraft, or generally any large "open world" game because I feel like I'll never, ever finish them.

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  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    I find its not long or short games that I want to avoid, so much as the portions of a game that just seem like filler. So if someone has an awesome story they want to tell that happens to be 6 hours long, they shouldn't take 8 or 10 to tell it. Somewhere in their story I'm going to discover that I'm just too bored to keep caring about their game (and, more importantly for them, their future games) and move on with my life.

  • TurkeyTurkey Registered User regular
    While I enjoy shorter games, I cannot bring myself to buy more than a select few until they are dirt cheap. On the other hand, I love short digital release games.

    I am more willing to try a short game if it has a fun multiplayer component, preferably co-op, or some other means of replay value.

    I rank games as: Long + good > short + good > short + "fun" bad > everything else

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  • AllforceAllforce Registered User regular
    Yeah anything much past 5-6 hours anymore is pushing the envelope of keeping it fresh. I like to complete a game over a few days and move on, not weeks. For example I couldn't really tell you anything that happened throughout the Mass Effect games (Shepard, big frog warrior, you could get laid, big Terminator), but I can remember ridiculously small details and plot devices about this weird little 5 hour game called Singularity that nobody played. They just kept it moving and kept it fresh for those 5 hours while Mass Effect had me mining planets for no good reason.

  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    *snip*

    I read every last word of that. Twice. Including the read post plus mode.

    GT: Acidboogie PSNid: AcidLacedPenguiN
  • rRootagearRootagea Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    If you could only play one game every year, what sort of game would you pick?

    If you could only play one game every month, what sort of game would you pick?

    If you could only play one game every day, what sort of game would you pick?

    rRootagea on
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Game length is not an absolute variable, it needs to be appropriate for the experience the developers are trying to provide. Some games are better suited to shorter sessions, some to longer. Furthermore, the quality of the game is closely tied to length but not wholly dependent on it. Short games with high quality content are better than long grindfests with a lot of filler content. But these two things are not always mutually exclusive. There are plenty of really short games that have no quality at all, and plenty of long games that consistently provide high quality entertainment. There is no objectively superior option, even if you could have the same quality experience but for longer, that doesn't make it better. Nor does necessarily having a higher quality experience for a shorter time make the game better than a long one that is more mediocre and even. Different people like different things and purchase games for different reasons. Some people want a game that will provide a blistering two hours of pure fun on a plane journey, others will want something that will stretch out for three months playing every day on the metro for half an hour during a commute. Other people will want a game that provides a solid, meaty chunk of entertainment for a solid week and will excite them like a good movie or book will. While others don't mind a somewhat fractured experience that might have one or two good ideas amid a sea of filler content and padding. Sometimes that satisfies because it provides curiosity and innovation. To quantify this discussion is impossible. There are as many right answers as there are people to offer them. Personally, I prefer a longer experience. The way I play games is in short bursts over longer periods. I don't have the spare time to put in a solid weekend of playing, nor do I have enough of a chunk of time to play through an entire shorter experience in one sitting. So no matter what kind of game I choose, it's going to be splintered, so normally I go for the more robust, larger scale performances. I'm not ashamed to say that I like a more blockbuster type game. I have nothing against smaller, indie titles that condense quality and purify it. I just appreciate the professional presentation of so called triple A titles more. And they fit better into my schedule. But that brings me onto the second point. Game length can be irrelevant for some genres. Have you ever quantified how long a game Battlefield 1942 is? It's endless. I've been playing Quake 3 in various forms for over a decade. I'm still playing it. Does that mean that Quake 3 has more 'content' than something like Bastion, or Portal? I think it is disingenuous to say so. All you can say is that both games have an appropriate amount of content, which I think is the important metric here. Games can either be too long or too short for what they are, not what they could or should have been. There are no short games or long games, in that sense, just shorter games and longer games. It's a sliding scale that relates directly to the game itself, not to games around it. Battlefield 3 costs the same as Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. But they are entirely different experiences with entirely different lengths. No-one could ever say BF3 was a short experience, because it is exactly the length that they get out of it. Similarly, if you play Uncharted 3 for eighty hours, enjoying every minute, even if you repeat content, does that not count? Can you only count the amount of game length on a first play through, or a new game plus at a stretch? What's the limit here? Who decides what the artificial cut-off point is? I guess what I'm trying to say is that only you can decide if the game is of an appropriate length. Mass Effect 2 is much longer than Modern Warfare 2, but to say that ME2 is better because of that is silly. And it is sillier too to say that more is more. Sometimes less is more. The minute to minute quality of the MW2 campaign is higher than in ME2. It is a tightly focused linear rollercoaster of cinematic beats. There is absolutely no filler, not by comparison. No backtracking, no fetch quests. No dialogue sessions. It's pure content. But that is what it was trying to do. That's the point of that game. So to criticize it for having less length than ME2 is ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as saying that ME2 is better because it has more content. Even if the content is of the same quality. Case in point: look at Portal 1 and Portal 2. Take any puzzle room between them and the quality of the content is exactly the same; very high. But Portal 2 is double the length. It has twice as much content. Does that make it inherently better? Identical levels of quality, double the length? No it doesn't. All you can say is that both are good in different ways. And neither is too short or too long. See that's the point I'm trying to get across. Game length is not absolute, you only ever notice it when it is wrong. There is no objective scale of good to bad. An eight hour game is not twice as good as a four hour game. You have to take each game individually and consider them on their own merits. Some games have certainly been too short. Some have been too long. But no game has ever been bad because it was short. Bastion is an eight, nine hour game. At no point did it feel too long, like it was being artificially stretched, or too short, like a lot of content was cut for time or budgetary reasons. It was the right length for what it set out to do. Lots of games have the right length but are still bad because the content itself is flawed. And lots of games have the wrong length but still end up being good because the content shines through. Mass Effect 1 is an incredible twenty hour game stretched to forty hours. Does that make it a bad game? No. It makes it too long. You can absolutely say the game length was out of place. But you can't say the game is bad. So I guess in the end, game length is completely irrelevant. It won't improve a game in any meaningful way, nor really harm an experience either. Quality content padded with lots of filler material is still quality content. And you may feel some regret and annoyance but I don't think for anyone it will be a deal breaker. Similarly, a game that is too short but full of stellar gameplay is going to interest a lot of people, and maybe turn a few away. But it's not going to radically change the overall impression of a game. Unless it is priced inappropriately. You see, games are quite expensive and I think it is entirely fair to expect a certain amount of value in a game. Too many people have expressed this as a qualitative measurement of content. Mass Effect 2 is two dollars per hour of content. Thirty hour game. Sixty dollars. Two dollars an hour. Half-Life 2 was only an eight hour experience. So does that mean HL2 is seven dollars fifty an hour? That's a higher rate, is the game of less value? This is far too personal an opinion to make any overarching statement about. Because a game is not providing time to you. It's providing fun. And games can deliver fun at different rates. Take my last example. While ME2 might be cheaper as a direct cost to session length comparison, some might argue that HL2 provides more fun per hour. If fun could ever be quantified (it can't). See what I'm getting at is that when you start getting into economic fallacies over something as subjective as entertainment experiences, you end up in a black hole of misery and regret. You ignore the purpose of the game entirely and treat it as a utility, rather than a luxury good. Developers are not heating your house, there is no fixed rate of commerce here. Only you can decide if a game is too long or too short and there are no right or wrong answers. This entire discussion is moot, a waste of time. A waste of my actual time. It is about as useful as discussing which colour is best, or whether green grass is better than purple elephants. It's madness. It's a mess of an argument. It's completely irrational. Game length is as subjective as game quality, or game content. Shorter games are not any better or worse than longer games. And games with higher quality content that are shorter are not to be considered of more value than longer games with perhaps less value over time but shorter experiences on a per fun metric scale over time. What I mean is that long games that have a lower rate of quality because it is stretched a bit thinner are not worse than shorter games which maximize fun rates. It's like when you go to a theme park. Sure, some people like the roller coasters. That two minutes of exhilaration and excitement. But some other people like the river rapids or the log flumes. The rides which take much longer but provide a different experience. It would not be appropriate for a log flume to last two minutes. It would be too short. But it would also be ridiculous for a roller coaster to last twenty minutes now wouldn't it. They're not appropriate lengths for these experiences. So you have to gauge whether the game is at an appropriate length before you even go beyond that and talk about overall quality. Of course I guess that some people would want a twenty minute roller coaster. Some people achieve that aim by going on a two minute roller coaster ten times in a row. That's perfectly analogous to how many people play video games. I've played Uncharted 3 perhaps three or four times. So in that respect, I've gained as much value from the purchase as someone who bought The Witcher 2 and played it once? Have I though? It's too complicated an issue to simplify in that manner. It depends on what you want as a whole. Some people abhor repetition, I know people who will never even watch the same movie twice, let alone play a game again. So for those specific people, a longer game is probably better, even if the quality is slightly less. It's that or keep buying short games, over and over. Lots of small ones. Lots of little tiny games, every week. Episodic in nature. But the tools you need to produce to make games don't allow developers to really do this on a regular basis. Look at the Sam and Max episodes. They were good but they had to all use the same underlying mechanics. For many people, the mechanics are the game itself. So the repetition comment still holds. They're playing a slightly altered version of the same game. I've never met any of those people though, most people I know who play games prefer a more monolithic experience. A totemic game for every three months of the year. When Christmas rolls around, they have to choose one of many and pick up the others months or even years later. But they're going to go into the thing knowing what to expect. Few people blind purchase anymore. I mean, I've already bought Mass Effect 3, it's on pre-order. And while the specifics of story and content are a mystery to me, I have a good idea of what the experience is going to roughly be like. And how long it will take. You see, that's what I want from a game I buy. A solid chunk of content that will satisfy me over time for a couple of months. That I can dip into like a TV show every couple of days between working. Other people might want something they can get done in a weekend. A solid weekend of like 12 hours days playing games. You could probably get Portal done in a day. In an afternoon. That doesn't mean it's inherently better or worse. Then you have to consider games are not in a vacuum. Some people want to augment a bigger title with some smaller, more innovative indie ones. Like, as a breather between sessions of triple A game number one, they might want a two hour blast through indie title number two. That's reasonable. And in that sense, the games and how their lengths are perceived by their owners changes because they form part of a pantheon of titles they currently own. To someone who just buys one game and one game only, the relative consideration of game length is going to be a completely different choice and experience than for the person who buys two or three at once. The latter might want two short ones and a long one. Maybe. The style of game would also change. Look at MMOs. They have huge quantities of content, hundreds even thousands of hours. But it's all mediocre. All very grindy by it's nature. That's the kind of game you play slowly over a long period. Maybe an hour a day, two at most. So it's reasonable to periodically put in a shorter, more blistering experience among that ocean of content just to change the tempo. In that respect, a shorter game increases in value for that person because of the wider circumstances of their gaming habits. That's what I mean by everything being flexible, everything having context. It's crazy isn't it?

    edit: Wow that's hideous.

    jothki on
  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    I've found that as I get older I appreciate short games more and more. I still like the occasional Skyrim but I have no patience for things like WoW.

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  • chocoboliciouschocobolicious Registered User regular
    I think someone above said it pretty much perfectly: Quit it with the filler. Tell the story and move on.

    Older games like Donkey Kong Country were good in that the game was totally about gameplay. It wasn't really trying to tell you a story. Similarly a lot of classic games are very short, but incredibly replayable. For instance, I can pick up U.N. Squadron right now and beat it in a hour. I've done this at least 20 or 30 times over the years. I, on the other hand, will probably never again touch more then half the games I've beaten on PS2 because there is just no reason to retread the story.

    Singularity is great example of sufficient story and pacing. Super Meat Boy is a great example of fairly short game with tons of replayability.

  • SkyTurnsRedSkyTurnsRed Registered User regular
    Scarab's comment, fixed.
    Spoiler:

  • KadokenKadoken She's got a GREAT ASS! Registered User regular
    Scarab's comment, fixed.
    Spoiler:

    No no, not that, say it again "This is fi-""WROOONG!" indent it.

    (Just kidding)

  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Uee Citizen Record #2051 Über Star CitizenRegistered User regular
    I'm really sorry I need to explain the magic...
    Guys, Scarab's post length IS the point he wants to make. It's big and repetitive and roundabout and devoid of paragraphs because he's showing us how crappy a large but padded game is. Sheesh.

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  • SkyTurnsRedSkyTurnsRed Registered User regular
    I'm really sorry I need to explain the magic...
    Guys, Scarab's post length IS the point he wants to make. It's big and repetitive and roundabout and devoid of paragraphs because he's showing us how crappy a large but padded game is. Sheesh.

    Hahahahaha.

  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    El Mucho wrote: »
    The busy work in games is my number one reason for burnout. I guess I have no one to blame but myself. I feel like I shouldn't just plow through the story and finish in 10 hours but then I get stuck doing nothing but side missions and then find myself at 40-50 hours of game time and no desire to keep playing.
    This. Is it fluff? If so fuck it, ditch that crap.

    Take Skyrim for example - lots of good, well developed faction quests and major side quests, within each central area even. And then another metric fuckload of 'find me 10 maguffins' in its own aggregate 'Misc' quest tab. Fuck that noise; who exactly is clamoring for more options to go find 10 fish scales or 5 dingleberries from Misty Cave?

    I know you feel like you have to point a quest at everything. You don't. The dingleberry quest is bullshit; if I do it at all it's because I want to see what's in Misty Cave when I happen to go by it. You don't have to lead me there by the nose.

    JihadJesus on
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  • maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what? New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    JihadJesus wrote: »
    El Mucho wrote: »
    The busy work in games is my number one reason for burnout. I guess I have no one to blame but myself. I feel like I shouldn't just plow through the story and finish in 10 hours but then I get stuck doing nothing but side missions and then find myself at 40-50 hours of game time and no desire to keep playing.
    This. Is it fluff? If so fuck it, ditch that crap.

    Take Skyrim for example - lots of good, well developed faction quests and major side quests, within each central area even. And then another metric fuckload of 'find me 10 maguffins' in its own aggregate 'Misc' quest tab. Fuck that noise; who exactly is clamoring for more options to go find 10 fish scales or 5 dingleberries from Misty Cave?

    I know you feel like you have to point a quest at everything. You don't. The dingleberry quest is bullshit; if I do it at all it's because I want to see what's in Misty Cave when I happen to go by it. You don't have to lead me there by the nose.

    I have a terrible bit of OCD with collecting things. Back in my Diablo II days I would spend forever in a dungeon because I'd pick up EVERYTHING until my inventory was full, then I'd Town Portal back to town, sell what I don't need, bank the rest, and go back to the dungeon. I'd probably do this between 4 and a dozen times before the dungeon was over.

    I can't imagine how I'd be with Skyrim.

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  • El MuchoEl Mucho Colbchella God damn it!Registered User regular
    JihadJesus wrote: »
    El Mucho wrote: »
    The busy work in games is my number one reason for burnout. I guess I have no one to blame but myself. I feel like I shouldn't just plow through the story and finish in 10 hours but then I get stuck doing nothing but side missions and then find myself at 40-50 hours of game time and no desire to keep playing.
    This. Is it fluff? If so fuck it, ditch that crap.

    Take Skyrim for example - lots of good, well developed faction quests and major side quests, within each central area even. And then another metric fuckload of 'find me 10 maguffins' in its own aggregate 'Misc' quest tab. Fuck that noise; who exactly is clamoring for more options to go find 10 fish scales or 5 dingleberries from Misty Cave?

    I know you feel like you have to point a quest at everything. You don't. The dingleberry quest is bullshit; if I do it at all it's because I want to see what's in Misty Cave when I happen to go by it. You don't have to lead me there by the nose.

    For me it's not really even the dingleberry fetch quests. I have 90 hours of in game time in Skyrim and it was good for most of that 90 hours but I barely scratched the surface of the main quest before I burnt out. I finished the Companions quest line and it was great, then by the time I finished the Thieves guild I was starting to feel the burnout and I just didn't have the will power to drag myself through the main quest line.

    Not blaming the developers at all I think my tastes in games has just changed, I remember being able to 100% games without a second thought, now I'm lucky if I finish them at all. The games I tend to buy and play now are the ones with excellent multiplayer that I can drop in and out of without a huge time commitment.

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  • Ragnar DragonfyreRagnar Dragonfyre Registered User regular
    When it comes down to brass tax, game length does heavily impact my decision when purchasing a game. If a game is 6-8 hours long with no multiplayer or replayability, I sure as fuck am not going to pay $59.99 for it. I'm either going to rent it or wait until a major pricedrop. I simply can't afford to pay that much money for a game I could finish in 1-2 days.

    It's good that some developers/publishers have realized that length is part of a games value and has offered their game as a budget title... but more need to do this. I won't pay more than $29.99 for a short game. Period.

    Now, that's not to say I don't like short games. Plenty of my favourite games of this generation were <10 hours and I'm a huge iOS fan. However, all those games were <$15 bucks.

    I realize that people make games for a living and they are a lot of work, but publishers need to own up and respect it's consumers. The industry got too used to charging a generic $59.99 for games and we as consumers basically allowed this to happen. I'm not going to pay full price for a game if you slapped the maximum price on there just because you can. I think publishers need to realize they could make more money in sales volume if they just lowered their price when necessary.

    At least now thanks to the 99c Appageddon consumers have realized we don't have to pay a ridiculous sum for quality games and console games have followed suit. We also have the used game market to allow us more choice in cost... but if console makers get their way and go full on digital distribution we're going to be at their mercy completely and I don't look forward to such a future.

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  • Wicked Uncle ErnieWicked Uncle Ernie Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    When it comes down to brass tax, game length does heavily impact my decision when purchasing a game. If a game is 6-8 hours long with no multiplayer or replayability, I sure as fuck am not going to pay $59.99 for it. I'm either going to rent it or wait until a major pricedrop. I simply can't afford to pay that much money for a game I could finish in 1-2 days.

    It's good that some developers/publishers have realized that length is part of a games value and has offered their game as a budget title... but more need to do this. I won't pay more than $29.99 for a short game. Period.

    Now, that's not to say I don't like short games. Plenty of my favourite games of this generation were <10 hours and I'm a huge iOS fan. However, all those games were <$15 bucks.

    I realize that people make games for a living and they are a lot of work, but publishers need to own up and respect it's consumers. The industry got too used to charging a generic $59.99 for games and we as consumers basically allowed this to happen. I'm not going to pay full price for a game if you slapped the maximum price on there just because you can. I think publishers need to realize they could make more money in sales volume if they just lowered their price when necessary.

    At least now thanks to the 99c Appageddon consumers have realized we don't have to pay a ridiculous sum for quality games and console games have followed suit. We also have the used game market to allow us more choice in cost... but if console makers get their way and go full on digital distribution we're going to be at their mercy completely and I don't look forward to such a future.

    I agree, most anything that comes on a disk is priced too high. Also, you get down to "Brass Tacks".

    Wicked Uncle Ernie on
  • Ragnar DragonfyreRagnar Dragonfyre Registered User regular
    When it comes down to brass tax, game length does heavily impact my decision when purchasing a game. If a game is 6-8 hours long with no multiplayer or replayability, I sure as fuck am not going to pay $59.99 for it. I'm either going to rent it or wait until a major pricedrop. I simply can't afford to pay that much money for a game I could finish in 1-2 days.

    It's good that some developers/publishers have realized that length is part of a games value and has offered their game as a budget title... but more need to do this. I won't pay more than $29.99 for a short game. Period.

    Now, that's not to say I don't like short games. Plenty of my favourite games of this generation were <10 hours and I'm a huge iOS fan. However, all those games were <$15 bucks.

    I realize that people make games for a living and they are a lot of work, but publishers need to own up and respect it's consumers. The industry got too used to charging a generic $59.99 for games and we as consumers basically allowed this to happen. I'm not going to pay full price for a game if you slapped the maximum price on there just because you can. I think publishers need to realize they could make more money in sales volume if they just lowered their price when necessary.

    At least now thanks to the 99c Appageddon consumers have realized we don't have to pay a ridiculous sum for quality games and console games have followed suit. We also have the used game market to allow us more choice in cost... but if console makers get their way and go full on digital distribution we're going to be at their mercy completely and I don't look forward to such a future.

    I agree, most anything that comes on a disk is priced too high. Also, you get down to "Brass Tacks".

    Heh... thanks.

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  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    When it comes down to brass tax, game length does heavily impact my decision when purchasing a game. If a game is 6-8 hours long with no multiplayer or replayability, I sure as fuck am not going to pay $59.99 for it. I'm either going to rent it or wait until a major pricedrop. I simply can't afford to pay that much money for a game I could finish in 1-2 days.

    I don't mean to come off as attacking yu here, but this is the problem. Games aren't stuffed with padding because developers think it's great design - they're stuffed with padding because if they don't hit that 20+ hours to completion, no one will buy it! Really, which would you rather actually play? The 12 hour version you're willing to pick up at $20 or the 24 hour version with the fetch quests and grinding inserted it almost invariably gets turned into? Why is that busy work worth another $40?

    Now the pricing model in the industry is ridiculously inflexible and completely broken, but that's another issue. I'm not sure f it's really separate or not, though.

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    a really great game to use as an example is alan wake: american nightmare (minor spoilers ahead). in the game, there are 3 distinct areas. these are rather large areas with unique objectives. they fit the tone and theme the game has set, and it's truly a unique and fun game, especially for an arcade title.

    THEN they make you play those same three areas AGAIN, TWICE, to inflate the game's length artificially. it's explained away in the plot, and the game goes to great lengths to 'reduce' the time it takes to complete the area (shorten the list of objectives, spawns you closer to them) but in reality they shuffle you through the same areas 3 times in the span of 6 hours.

    now then, is 6 hours a good length for an arcade title? absolutely. but what they did was create 3 hours worth of content, and then stretched it out to make the game feel longer. well, it does feel longer but it doesn't feel as fun going through that content a second or third time, and this is doubly true now if you are the kind of completionist like me, who goes back in the game to find all the collectibles/achievements/what-have-you, you will have played those same areas an UNGODLY number to times.

    i guess what i'm saying is, game length isn't a great metric to judge games on, because the content can be stretched out and inflated to make it seem bigger/more time consuming. often we shit on single player games because they 'only' have ten hours of content. what we should be judging these games on "was that 10 hours worth my money/time?".

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