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Let's talk about game length

Old 11-04-07, 11:41 PM
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Let's talk about game length

I've seen a lot of discussions (in various forums) recently about game length, from the Call of Duty 4 single player campaign to whether or not Portal could be considered for GOTY due to its short length. I'm not interested in finding a magic number of hours for a game, because I think adequate length is individual to each game, just more of a general discussion on game lengths.

In my opinion, most games could benefit from trimming out the filler and really tightening the whole experience. I think fulfilling the length expectation is one thing that really hurts games the most, developers are slaves to it, or they risk getting slammed by critics and gamers. I can't count the number of times I have read reviews or forum posts that cite soley the short length of the game as its fault, but I rarely see games get knocked down so much for being too long. I guess its just much easier to use length because it is quantifiable and you can quickly associate the length to cost ratio as the value of the game, rather than address whether the game length is appropriate for its gameplay depth.

I think Portal is a great example of a game that didn't try to artificially extend its length, and it's a much better game because of it.

On a related topic, I always see it stated as a gaming axiom that games are getting shorter but are they really? I don't remember the games in the, Atari, NES and SNES generations being longer on average than the games today, if anything I remember the games being shorter back then. Games really started getting longer when the storage medium increased during the PS1 era. That is when I remember the transition to longer games with more involved narratives occuring.
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Old 11-04-07, 11:49 PM
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I think the length of Halo 3 and CoD4 is a little immaterial because there is so much to do online that the game is sure to see heavy rotation for anyone with a gold Live account. Portal is on a disc with tons of other content.
Now games that are just short single-player affairs like Heavenly Sword on the other hand are a different story. If a game sells for $60 and can be completed in a long weekend, then your not looking at good value and I try to avoid games like that.
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Old 11-04-07, 11:52 PM
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NES games were typically beatable in one sitting and maybe 2 hours tops.

For me, as I get older and find that i have far less free time and have other interests, lengthy games have become more of a burden then an experience. Games around the 8-10 hour mark have felt just perfect for me, while i've been languishing to finish length RPGs. So Gears of War or Bioshock... marvelous. Final Fantasy 12? Still yet to finish. I want to, but it's just hard to dedicate the time. Especially when there's TV i want to watch, DVD's to catch up on, basketball and football to watch.

Of course, game type certainly has something to do with it. While a 10 hour game is just fine, I'm not sure how much i'd enjoy a 10 hour RPG, whereas a shooter ends just about right. I can't see myself docking a good game for shortness unless it's something ridiculously short or leaves me feeling like something was missing.
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Old 11-05-07, 01:33 AM
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Your average 10-15 hr game is just fine for me. Now anything over that better be damn good for me to dedicate all that time for. And anything under 8 hrs i believe is pretty dissappointing for the price games are these days. A short length game shouldnt be bought at full price (wait for a sale or price reduction) and should have some type of online support to make the experience a more fuller one.
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Old 11-05-07, 02:44 AM
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I do agree that video games were short even during the NES/SNES era. Most games back then had 6-8 levels just like games do today. I think the main difference is that back then games tended to be harder. You died repeatedly and it could therefore take a long time to finish one level. Games today tend to be easier, so you can fly through most games. The harder games of yesteryear "artificially" made the games longer.

RPGs have always tended to be the genre with the longest playtime. Most RPGs back in the NES/SNES era were shorter than RPGs of today. The NES/SNES Final Fantasy games were typically around 20 hours long. It wasn't until Final Fantasy VII on the PS1 that RPGs started to bloat upwards to 50-60 hours.

Personally, I used to love long games when I was younger and had nothing better to do than play games 24/7. Nowadays, I favor shorter games, and long games actually turn me off.

I have also found that most long games get extremely dull by the end of the game. 50 hour RPGs tend to become monotonous about half way through and become a chore to finish. I recently went back to Resident Evil 4 and noticed that while the village area at the beginning is amazing, the fortress area in the final third of the game is pretty dull and boring in comparison. I would rather have a 10 hour game that stays solid from beginning to end rather than a 50 hour game that loses steam half way through.

Last edited by taffer; 11-05-07 at 02:50 AM.
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Old 11-05-07, 08:00 AM
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I love Oblivion because it basically never ends and is pretty much always different. Games like Halo, Bioshock, COD, etc... are OK too because of the game style. Some games are just short, but as posted above, if it has good multiplayer, who cares. I still haven't completed Halo 3 because I can't quit playing online, and I'm sure COD 4 will be the same.
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Old 11-05-07, 08:47 AM
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10-12 hours is definitely the sweet spot for me. Anything less and I feel ripped off, unless, of course, there is multiplayer or extra modes that are worthwhile.
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Old 11-05-07, 10:01 AM
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It depends on the genre.

For FPS, 6-10 hours is good. Bioshock, as good as it was, I felt the last 2 levels were just a drag. I had done pretty much all there is to do, and just want it to end.

For RPGs, 20+ hours is good. Over 50 is pushing it, I like how FFXII does it with the sidequest that you don't have to do, but if you do, it will take alot longer to finish (and get some good gear as a bonus)

If you like length, you can always play 9 innings of 162 game season in a baseball game!
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Old 11-05-07, 10:45 AM
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It always struck me as odd that reviews rarely say that a game is just too long with too much filler. You see that criticism of movies all the time. I personally like medium length games with little to zero fetch questing. I find it much more satisfying to finish a game and I don't have large chucks of time (2+ hours) to devote to games at any one time. So, if a game takes me more than 3 weeks to finish or has a very complicated control scheme (harder to get acclimated w/ only playing an hour a day) I usually get distracted by another new game.
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Old 11-05-07, 12:46 PM
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I find myself often worrying about game length. But with all the good games out, short is good.

Bioshock was a fairly long game. I logged about 22 hours, and started a second playthrough and got about 10 but haven't touched it in 2 months. I doubt I'll play it again, but I am keeping it since I got the Collectors Edition.

Eternal Sonata I never finished. Blue Dragon as well. Both great games, apparently 30 and 60 hours respectivley.

I am almost halfway done with the Simpsons game. Call of Duty 4 will be played for multiplayer mostly, but I might try the single player since it's apparently so short.

I also never finished Zelda :TP and Super Paper Mario.

Then I have MLB Power Pros which I simply love. That takes up alot of time. Thrillville: Off the Rails was a surprise hit, and is very fun to play.

Assassins Creed and Mass Effect coming out this month, along with Super Mario Galaxy which I'll probably wait on.

I also have NHL 2k8 which I play from time to time. Just picked up Manhunt 2, it's okay so far. The Orange Box is fun as well, almost done with Half-Life 2, haven't even touched Portal or the two expansions. Madden 08 is getting play time here and there.

All that and I play WoW, too. So yeah, a short game might be a good thing to me.
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Old 11-05-07, 01:46 PM
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Short games are fine if they are insanely fun. I'd rather play a 5-hour game four times than play a boring 12-hour game once.

Pound for pound, I think Super Mario World and Oblivion gave me the most SP-bang for my buck.
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Old 11-05-07, 03:00 PM
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I like my RPG's to be massive and take at least 40-50 hours if you rush through everything..and up to 100+ hours if you jump through every hoop.
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Old 11-05-07, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by superdeluxe
I like my RPG's to be massive and take at least 40-50 hours if you rush through everything..and up to 100+ hours if you jump through every hoop.
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Old 11-05-07, 03:41 PM
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Doesn't matter. My favorite game, Resident Evil 2, only took me 1 hour and 51 minutes to beat in my prime. Conversley, I like Japanese RPG's just as much.
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Old 11-05-07, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
Short games are fine if they are insanely fun. I'd rather play a 5-hour game four times than play a boring 12-hour game once.
I'd agree with this. I think I had Dead Rising in my 360 for a month and must've beated it at least 20 times (although not always the good ending) in that timespan. There are games like the Resident Evil series where after beating it I instantly want to start another game with whatever new power weapons I unlocked. Or Bioshock, which I played through three times in a row to get all the achievements, and only started to grow bored near the end of the third playthrough.

Then there are ones I had to drag myself through and can't get out of the system fast enough once the game is over. Or the ones that I stopped at some point and just haven't had the ambition to finish.
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Old 11-05-07, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
Short games are fine if they are insanely fun. I'd rather play a 5-hour game four times than play a boring 12-hour game once.

Pound for pound, I think Super Mario World and Oblivion gave me the most SP-bang for my buck.
Well it depends on how great those 5 hours are. Something like Dead Rising, DRG's example, was designed to be played over and over. First you have the leveling up/RPG aspect which is impossible to max out your character on the first run through. Second, There are 6 different endings built in. Third, there are multiple achievements requiring a play through for each. Fourth and lastly, the sandbox nature allows you to play the game differently 12+ times and still be fresh.

On the other hand something like Lair is hardly worth replaying for gold medals.

It all comes down to the quality of the game. A shitty game cannot end fast enough, and a great game always ends too soon. The actual time span is irrelevant.
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Old 11-05-07, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Corvin
Well it depends on how great those 5 hours are. Something like Dead Rising, DRG's example, was designed to be played over and over. First you have the leveling up/RPG aspect which is impossible to max out your character on the first run through. Second, There are 6 different endings built in. Third, there are multiple achievements requiring a play through for each. Fourth and lastly, the sandbox nature allows you to play the game differently 12+ times and still be fresh.
Greatest achievement level design ever (well, except for the last two Xbox-killing Survival ones)
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Old 11-05-07, 05:01 PM
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Agreed. I also liked Viva Pinata's similar style, except those were a lot easier to get.
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Old 11-05-07, 05:13 PM
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Long enough to feel I got my money's worth, short enough so I don't get bored. I used to love the 40-80+ hours RPGs, but I just don't have the time or interest to do that anymore. Plus a lot of those were almost artificially due either to fetchquests, or travel from A to B with lots of random battles. I like the exploration, I like some fetchquests, and assuming the battle system is fun I like (some) random battles. I even like leveling up, providing I get cool stuff when I do.
I don't really like games where you have to play the whole game over, and make choice B instead of choice A, in order to get the second ending. The gameplay has really got to draw me in to make me do that, I (fully) replay very few games.
40 hours used to be about where I say, OK, I'm ready to move on; that's probably dropped to 20-30 now, and if a "short" game is as great as Bioshock, I'm fine with that.
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Old 11-05-07, 06:39 PM
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I don't like long games. My a.d.d. starts to kick in and I want to watch the latest movie.
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Old 11-05-07, 07:25 PM
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I'm still working on Super Paper Mario, I barely started Zelda: TP, I'm working on Super Mario Strikers, and I will be getting Super Mario Galaxy next week... On top of that I've maybe played the Wii about 6 hours in the past month. I don't like games that are super long. My biggest peeve was Gran Turismo 3 and 4. They are so long and can be very boring once you get into the uber-endurance races. I got a good way into it and just stopped playing. Alternately I love games like Grand Theft Auto. I can pop that in and play for 10 minutes or 3 hours... I've been done with the game for a long time now, but I think it still sees the most play on my PS2.
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Old 11-05-07, 07:45 PM
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My GOTYs the past few years tend to be games with 10-20 hour storylines, but with massive replay, whether it be multiplayer, alt endings, collectables, etc. I think there is a limit to how long a story can be (except in a game like Oblivion, which is really massive), without being boring.
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Old 11-07-07, 01:29 AM
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If I'm going to pay 50 bucks a game, I better get a shitload of gameplay out of it. If I can have put enough time into it to make it pretty much equal $1 an hour for play, then I'm satisfied with the game.

Super Paper Mario only took me like 10 hours. I wasn't impressed with the pay / play ratio.

I hate spending 50 bucks and then beating it in 3 hours.
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Old 11-07-07, 01:38 AM
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If its good I dont mind how long it is. The best is when games have a random map spawn generator. You can continiously play maps forever with different factors changed. Plus with online, single player length really isnt that bad.
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