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Do Gamers Want Simpler Games? 462

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'd-say-no-but-i-used-to-love-frogger dept.
A recent GamePro article sums up a lesson that developers and publishers have been slowly learning over the last few years: gamers don't want as much from games as they say they do. Quoting: "Conventional gaming wisdom thus far has been 'bigger, better, MORE!' It's something affirmed by the vocal minority on forums, and by the vast majority of critics that praise games for ambition and scale. The problem is, in reality its almost completely wrong. ... How do we know this? Because an increasing number of games incorporate telemetry systems that track our every action. They measure the time we play, they watch where we get stuck, and they broadcast our behavior back to the people that make the games so they can tune the experience accordingly. Every studio I've spoken to that does this, to a fault, says that many of the games they've released are far too big and far too hard for most players' behavior. As a general rule, less than five percent of a game's audience plays a title through to completion. I've had several studios tell me that their general observation is that 'more than 90 percent' of a game's audience will play it for 'just four or five hours.'"
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Do Gamers Want Simpler Games?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:25AM (#32095044)

    Maybe they should focus on replayability instead of throwing in lots and lots of mindless trash. You can have lots of stuff in your game and make it worth playing, or you can have lots of redundant shit that no one cares about.

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:28AM (#32095368) Journal

      If the overwhelming majority of gamers don't finish the game in the first place, how would replayability help? The problem is that people give up anyway, not that they don't start it once more.

      If anything, this seems to confirm what I've been saying all along: Forget about replayability, just make it worth playing once. To even think about playing it again, you have to find it worth playing the first time. If people get to the end scene with a sensation of "man, I wish it had at least 5 more hours", they'll tend to replay it anyway. If they gave up in boredom or frustration before even getting to the first contagonist, they won't.

      And it seems to me like ultimately too much focus on reserving stuff for the replay is self-defeating. You have the time and budget to put X quests / locations / dialogue lines / etc in the game. If you show the user only a quarter of those on the first run, because essentially for some he's not the right class, for some he took the wrong choice (e.g., in Fallout 3 it's possible to never even discover a quest hub by as little as skipping one side-quest and succeeding on a persuasion check on another), for some he didn't explore enough to find the secret quest giver locations, for some he explored too much (FO3 again, you could skip two thirds of the main quest by just going exploring and stumbling upon the "wrong" location), and some is bonus stuff to be unlocked, essentially what that user sees on the first run is a quarter of the fun. If that puts it below the fun threshold to play it the first time, there'll be no replay to find that extra stuff either.

      • by Goaway (82658)

        If the overwhelming majority of gamers don't finish the game in the first place, how would replayability help?

        Make a shorter and simpler game, that can be played many times and still be entertaining. Then more people can finish it, and those who want to spend more time playing can also do so.

      • "man, I wish it had at least 5 more hours", they'll tend to replay it anyway. "

        This is not how it usually works especially for single player games, usually once you play a single player game it's a done deal. Only the VERY BEST single player games get played again and EVEN THEN the best single player games in most genre's are not designed for replayability. Take a game like Civ 4, the whole design of the game is designed to be _replayable_. Most single player games are way way far away from that kind of

      • by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:25AM (#32095888) Homepage Journal

        If the overwhelming majority of gamers don't finish the game in the first place, how would replayability help?

        I think the main thing here is that developers will take a great game mechanic, like Mirror's Edge type gymnastics, and then strrrrreeeeetch it out to the point where it becomes more overplayed and boring than last year's summer radio hit. Once you hit the point where all the novelty of the gametype is worn out and they're just decreasing the margins for error/increasing skill level, most people get bored with it and move on. That might be why competitive FPS games tend to have more staying power; they're more of a sport than some sort of clever puzzle/timing game.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Gamers don't finish the games because the games are not interesting enough to finish. Name one great game that you didn't try to win. Now name one crappy game that you did try to win.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by chadplusplus (1432889)

          The issue for me is that games are now too long for me to finish before I get interrupted by other responsibilities. Fallout 3 and Dragon Age were both interrupted and I failed to return back to them to finish, but have finished Halo 3 twice. I was probably 30+ hours into FO3 and DA:O, and got bored/distracted by other things in my life. The story line for Halo 3 takes about a leisurely weekend to get through.

          That's my problem. I have momentary breaks in my life where I'll have a slow weekend or week tha

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by socrplayr813 (1372733)

            Mod parent up. It's not about complexity. It's about time and interest. You can make a ton of content, but if it doesn't suck you in (or it's too long), of course people won't finish it.

            I have a fair amount of free time (if I care to make the time) to play games and I found the same thing with Dragon Age and other games. I never did see the ending of that. As interesting as it was, I got bored with the rinse and repeat battles. Pretty much every aspect of the game was great. I loved the complexity, t

        • by Moraelin (679338)

          Mostly I agree with you, but just to play silly:

          Name one great game that you didn't try to win.

          That's easy. Elite. I don't even think it can be "won" as such.

          Now name one crappy game that you did try to win.

          Daikatana. Hey, was curious, you know?

  • by joeflies (529536) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:26AM (#32095048)
    As much as I love RPG games, I am somewhat turned off when I hear that it has a playtime that runs over 60 hours. That's because some of the longer RPGs tend to have nothing "new" other than a whole lot of random encounters and grinding. I didn't mind it as much when I was younger, but now I don't have time or desire to play that long. I'd much rather play a shorter game with some options for replay (so that I can finish and continue should I desire), such as the games with a New+ option after completing the main story line.

    The gamer demographic is changing - I'm sure the hardcore want difficult games. Me, I'd like to have fun when I can, without the overwhelming idea that I need to devote my life to the gameplay.

    • by Eraesr (1629799) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:30AM (#32095086) Homepage
      Agreed. I simply don't have the time to finish a 60 hour game anymore. I'd rather have a good and intense 5 hour game than a long, stretched out 60 hour game. However, I'd also like to see games get slightly cheaper. I think episodic gaming is one way of achieving this. I think I'd sooner buy a game in 4 parts that are 5 hours long each than one big game of 20 hours because I know I won't invest the time to finish it. By the time I'm halfway through a 20 hour game, there's two other games that caught my attention.
      • Personally the moment I find myself grinding just to continue with the main plot (as opposed to grinding for some particular little side goal) I stop playing the game since I know I've just hit the point where the devs ran out of good ideas.

        Some games lend themselves better to being long.
        Oblivion I've sunk a lot of time into and I still have a lot of game left and I'm fine with that since it's a sort of "no pressure" game.(though the leveling system sucks and pushes you to grind)

        • the leveling system sucks and pushes you to grind

          I wouldn't say I've felt this. I'm level 17 and haven't really done any grinding so far, I just keep getting reminders to go sleep every so often when I'm not expecting it :P I've just been doing side missions and wandering around exploring (which does necessitate killing a few mobs just to stay alive of course), and very occasionally doing some story missions - I only have a couple of pieces of the Crusader's Relics and 3 Oblivion gates under my belt. At the weekend I discovered my copy of the game has the

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sandbags (964742)

        Welcome to MMO.... Little missions, complete choice in direction. Continually added content. Social interaction.

        Console and single player games, and RTS, replayability is not a value add within reason. A great story, and captivating action without boring transitions is the way to go, keep them in the game, but almost as important, LET ME BAIL OUT ANYTIME I WANT. Save points that are inconstantly spread about, some 30 minutes apart, others 4 or 5 hours apart do nothing but piss me off. I need to be abl

      • by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:16AM (#32096930)

        Am I the only one to think that it's senseless for games to be measured in hours of gameplay they offer? They're games, not movies or books. How many hours is SimCity 2000? 1 hour? 1000 hours? See it doesn't make any sense for such a game because unlike a lot of modern single player games it's not an interactive movie, it's a game, it doesn't have a story, it has mechanics.

        Less stories, more mechanics. And stop designing loosely connected individual maps, create a world and make everything happen in it, like GTA does.

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:32AM (#32095390) Journal

      I think you gave your own answer there. The problem isn't with the number of hours per se, but basically with making a 10 hour game and padding it to 60 with 50 hours of dumb repetitive filler or with boss fights that you need to try 20 times to get to the next chunk of actual story.

      Not all games are automatically that way just because they're 60 hours long. There are a rare few which can stay reasonably interesting. Unfortunately, a lot do just pad it so they can write a big number on the box.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:46AM (#32095460)
      I do not want less complex games.

      Games don't need to be dumber, the average age of a gamer is over 25, we aren't morons so stop treating us like them.

      I like a bit of complexity and puzzle solving in my game, I absolutely hate the hand holding and linear corridors of recent games.

      Complex does not mean harder or longer it means that it is meant to provide a player with a challenge and after that challenge was defeated a feeling of accomplishment

      Anything that could force the player to make hard decisions or challenge them slightly has been removed. Like an inventory system where you had limited space, so you actually have to make difficult choices about what to carry (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. did this to some extent). Near unlimited ammo and and regenerating health have become the Deus Ex Machina of gaming, killing decent game design. At no point do you have to take it easy and plan your moves due to low health, in HL1 if you wasted your rockets you'd find the game difficult if not impossible at some points. Now days, even in HL2 there is an infinite "box-o-rockets" where you engage anything that needs them. Now that's just for game-play, now let me get started on story.

      Here's the story line for the next Gears of Duty game.

      You are a red meat easting, muscle bound, flag waving all American hero (even if you've got a foreign accent but I'll get to that bit later) needless to say, you are 100% good and pure. Your enemy are the evil Nazi, zombie terrorists who want to blow up the White House with a dirty bomb (sound familiar) so they are unambiguously evil in every fashion. You will fight through a mixture of the standard tile sets (urban, jungle snow, desert) which are quite linear (any illusion of openness is optical) whilst never running out of ammo or health until you get to an unimpressive anti-climax where someone hands you a gun and you kill the ultimate Hitler Zombie Alien with one shot in a cinematic perspective. Further more, simply adding a foreign accent to this archetype does not instantly make them foreign. I cringe when I hear the British soldiers in COD as they are just Yanks with cockney accents. I'm sorry but this just doesn't cut it and why I'm glad they've never tried to use Australian characters (Bioshock again, Australia Day is 26/01 (DD/MM) not 01/26 (MM/DD) no Aussie would ever write dates in a yank format)

      Personally I'm sick of it. It's like the publishers don't want me to see anything that could accidentally kick my brain into gear. I remember System Shock 2, you had a love-hate thing with Shodan, the ideas of the many were seductive, you could associate with the logs of the dead crew (Bioshock was a really, really poor copy of SS2's story with the intrigue taken out). Deus Ex where you weren't sure who was on who's side. I've been waiting 10 years for another game that could get my attention and imagination so completely as DX and SS2.

      So yes, give me complexity, a deep involving story and some actual challenging game play. Also ramping up the enemies hit points to make things harder is cheap (Bioshock), design better AI.

      Standard Disclaimer: this is for PC games and consoles pretending to be PC's. Casual games are a different kettle of fish all together.
      • On the other hand, not every game should cater to packrats like SS2 and DE does. Mind you, I have both of those games installed right now and I enjoy lugging around every bit of trash I can and, man, Deus Ex 2's unified ammo system still chaps my ass.

        I could see how designers would fudge health and ammo amounts to ensure ease of difficulty while maintaining the storyline. I mean, while it's their fault for choosing to base their games on WW2, you can't expect a player to be one of the bullet sponges in a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bluesatin (1350681)

        I think what they're trying to get at is to remove all the rubbish that doesn't need to be in the game, and to a certain extent I agree.

        A lot of my favourite games have been made fairly recently and are short but sweet, the two that stick out in my head being Braid and Portal.

        Sure they're not 'simple' challenge wise, but they keep the aim of the game simple and to the point; not only that but they actually force you to change the way you think. I adore watching people play Braid and Portal just because you

      • by mccalli (323026) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:34AM (#32095920) Homepage
        Games don't need to be dumber, the average age of a gamer is over 25, we aren't morons so stop treating us like them.

        To me, this is both the conceit and the problem. "I'm older, so I want something more complex". Well, my current favourite game is the pinball machine I've bought, and I'm 38. Games that I play the most are short pick up'n'play things, not long complex involved ones.

        I'm not suggesting games should become less complex, rather that there should be less complex games available. The two of us sound like we're in different markets and that's fine - your choice isn't wrong, neither is mine. However the idea that because you're older you need something more complex and involved - that's an idea I question. It's purely a matter of choice, not age. As a teen I played the excellent Dungeon Master and mapped things out on paper. My current incarnation wouldn't begin to have the time to do that and wouldn't particularly enjoy doing so either - it's not a function of age, it's a function of time and whatever you happen to be enjoying at the time.

        Cheers,
        Ian
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by maugle (1369813)
          The problem isn't simple games, per se, it's the dumbing down of existing games. For example, what I and many other gamers experienced with Supreme Commander 2.
          I was incredibly eager for a sequel to Supreme Commander, which itself was the successor to Total Annihilation, which was one of the best strategy games ever. Then, I started hearing the rumors. That it was designed to appeal to a wider audience (red flag), then that maps would be smaller, games faster, and graphics more cartoony (warning!), that
    • I don't have access to The Escapist's website at the moment to get the exact quote, but in his review of Portal, Yahtzee said something to the tune of - The only bad thing I can say about this game is that it's short, which actually isn't so bad since that means I can finish it and move on to all of the other games that I want to play.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:27AM (#32095056)

    Duh.

    No, seriously. I'm one of those players that usually play(ed) games to completion. And maybe it's that I'm getting older, thus not longer feeling compelled to "beat" a game, but I haven't felt the urge to actually "complete" a game recently. At some point it becomes repetitive, requiring the same steps to be repeated over and over and over, and it's usually that point where I decide that it's just not worth it.

    • I've noticed that most of the games I've completed and recently enjoyed are pretty short (Mirrors Edge, Modern Warfare 2) at least in the single player modes which is the only one I use. The reviews often say "this game is great but too short" but I found the length pretty good. The advantage of having a 5-7 hour game is that the experience is often really solid and even cinematic for the whole time.

      The exception is Mass Effect 1/2 which are maybe 40 hours and I played them over a period of a couple of mont

      • Mirrors Edge I can agree with, but you enjoyed the single player on MW2? Sheesh.. the multiplayer is definitely fun, but I found the single player way too linear, scripted and contrived feeling for the most part. I used to play a lot of FPSes on PC so I'm not impressed by a lot of the offerings these days.

        If you enjoyed the MW2 single player then I really recommend getting the original Battlefield: Bad Company (not BC2, it was almost as bad as MW2), it has a less linear feeling (though of course it's still

        • Sure, it was great fun. I just finished it last week actually. Yes, completely linear and contrived, but that's OK - there's enough scope for some minimal strategy and skill, whilst still being scripted enough to give you the cinematic Bond feel. The snowmobile mission in particular was awesome. But if MW2 had been 5x as long, I'd probably not have been able to finish it - too intense for too long, and besides they'd have run out of ideas.
    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:28AM (#32095654)
      There are many classic games that are fun for more than 4 hours, and are repetitive: pacman, tetris, that card game that comes with Windows...
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:24AM (#32095884)

        Only because you manage to make them interesting over and over. The games you mention do not have a linear, follow-and-succeed path, which is the case with most contemporary games. For most games today there is only one sensible or fast way to succeed. There is such a thing as a best practice. Thus repeating the game is usually fairly unentertaining, because you simply repeat the steps you already did. They are scripted to the point where you basically play through a movie.

        Recreating this freeform, every-game-a-new-challenge modes of the past is not easy with today's complexity in games. It's pretty tough to create such open games while at the same time managing balance.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Obyron (615547)
        I've gotten back into Chess lately, and I agree. The gameplay never changes, but there's a whole world of strategy and tactics in there to discover, and it's seriously good brain exercise. It's also nice not having to worry about DLC to buy the new Warlock piece that can move in a Q shape just to compete, or Ubisoft's restrictive DRM making your chess board not work if it's not sitting on a certain kind of table. Now if I only I didn't suck so much. :)
  • I play many games, and I finish almost none of them. Most games I don't play more than 4-5 hours before I'm done with them for awhile, just like the summary says. But I usually come back to them later, and play about the same amount a few months down the road, and then again a few months down the road. I don't buy a game expecting to finish it, I buy the game to have fun. And I probably WOULDN'T buy the game if all the extra game play wasn't in it. I LIKE huge long complex games. I like difficulty (to a certain extent of course :) ). I don't want games to lose that... even though I might not play it all the way through. And for the games that I DO play all the way through, it makes the sense of accomplishment all that much better. Knowing that I've got a stack of 10 or 15 games lying around that I can go and play through for that rush when I'm bored some day with nothing else to do is great! I can't believe I'm the only one that feels like this too.
  • Lovely. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:33AM (#32095088)

    Sounds like somebody is tired of paying developers to make 40 hour games, and has decided to select the evidence they want to promote the idea of 3-5 hour games being the new standard.

    I DO want more of a game I like. I don't tend to buy games that promise sub-10 hour gameplay.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re:Lovely. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:52AM (#32095190)

      Suppose the 40 hour games cost 40$ a piece and the 10 hour game costs 10$ a piece.

      Would you then be willing to buy the 10$ game?

      • Re:Lovely. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ross D Anderson (1020653) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:03AM (#32095246)
        Yeah but that's never going to happen. We all know the 10 hour games will still cost $40 a piece and the 40 hour games will cost $100
        • I got Oblivion on PS3 (including the expansion pack) for £12.. it has literally hundreds of hours of gameplay (I've done ~33 hours so far on a warrior, my character is at level 17/25, I've done hardly any story mission, and I would really like to go back and play the game again as a mage and then maybe a thief or something). If you can be patient then you can get really good deals.

          Half-Life 2 episodic content usually costs less than half of a full game, and you can get plenty of cheap-ish games off of

          • Yeah but with online distribution and/or mandatory registration, they could charge full price for years old games....

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Where are my 500+ hours games like starcraft and counter strike ?
        • by Chrisje (471362)

          I think I've logged 1500 hours of GTA: San Andreas. Then I think I've played the original CoD (PC) for 300+ hours, and I think I've logged 1000+ hours of Day of Defeat (Half-life and Half-life2 engines) out there. I love those games. Frankly, this is also why I tend to play The Godfather: Blackhand edition on the Wii over and over again. They're simply fun, even if they are predictable. Star Craft was excellent. I think I wasted 200 hours on that sucker too, but counter strike is just irritating compared to

      • Right (Score:3, Interesting)

        How is the weather on your planet?

        Because games have becoming shorter and shorter. Have they become cheaper?

      • I'd buy four of them. Then I can swap between all of them, spend all of the time I would have on the $40 game, and I might actually complete them all as I wouldn't get bored of repetitive gameplay.

        Oh hey! Looks like I've found a new business model for... Wait a minute, isn't this what Indie games are doing?
      • Only $10? (Score:3, Insightful)

        I would pay THIRTY dollars for a good 10-hour game more often than I would pay forty for a good 40-hour game. Why? Because I have a much higher chance of getting to see the ending of the 10-hour game and feeling fulfilled with it.

        Here's a better question - would you rather spend 40 hours of your time playing and finishing four good 10-hour games, or would you rather just play one good 40-hour game?
    • by GF678 (1453005)

      I DO want more of a game I like. I don't tend to buy games that promise sub-10 hour gameplay.

      I don't like really long games anymore. I did when I was young and had the time, but I don't anymore. I'm sure it's possible to play the game a few hours a day and progress though it that way, but it'll take a rather long time to finish and if it's something like an RPG, you'll get bored with your character soon enough and be begging for it to finish soon so you can try a new playthrough.

      Grinding through a really lo

  • by Ziekheid (1427027) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:38AM (#32095116)

    I'm not here to bash on console gamers, hell, I'm a console gamer myself too but I see a trend of (ported) PC games being oversimplified because the console audience is not buying into the "RTS with binding 10.000 keys to individual units" theme. This totally ruins some games and it's not only RTS where this applies. It applies to basically every new PC game comming out that is being ported from a console version.
    Even menu's are stripped down so you can barely change any settings, I've ran into games where you couldn't even change the mouse y-ass to inverted or change advanced graphics settings.
    Shooters where you don't switch to grenades but just hit the nade key and limited choices of "items" available in RPGs.

    Don't even get me started about advanced game manipulation through consoles and/or modding.

  • ... but for an experienced gamer, pretty much everything else out there really can't challenge me.

    Demon's Souls has the taste of difficulty you might remember from early 90s titles.

  • by cybereal (621599) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:42AM (#32095134) Homepage

    I have a lot of responsibilities as well as interests besides gaming. It has been over 10 years since I could, say, spend a whole weekend diving through a Final Fantasy title. I love the epic game style, 60 hour game? yes please. But please, let me play it in 120 30 minute increments and feel good about it. Even if you can only break it down to as small as 2 hours, that is a healthy compromise. I'm a big, big fan of the idea of serialized/episodic games, especially if I know it will eventually reach a conclusion. It's not about getting the game sooner or whatever, it's about having smaller less intimidating nuggets of joy that each have their own temporary conclusion between instances like a good multi-novel sci-fi series. On top of that, if after a few episodes I find it's awful? I am sick of it? I can save my cash not buying the rest.

    Unfortunately I have no idea how long I'll want to stick around for the story in a game these days. I am afraid to start into an arc that's going to strongly draw me in for more than an hour or so, and all too often I opt for a bite-size chunk of far less satisfying gaming because I'm sure I have the time. Even if, ironically, I end up doing that for over 2 hours.

    Even if a game is sold all at once, I'd really appreciate if a developer wrote the story in well defined chunks and actually told me the estimated time to completion of the upcoming chunk before I started it so I could plan my time. Just like I plan time to watch movies or tv shows, and I can always find out the times for those.

  • whatever the game may be, I'd like the games to NOT be annoying.

    Though replay-ability and story are crucial, so is not being annoying or restrictive (not just limited to being too "console-y").

    for instance, lately, Zynga's games have been annoying...trying to peddle their "wares" so much that it just got to the point that I don't want to play their games.
    And also the same goes for the PC version of Assassin's Creed 2. In certain missions, the camera angles are locked so you have to learn re-adapt the contr

    • by dingen (958134)

      in that sense, Mass Effect 2 falls into that annoyance category when compared to it's predecessor. For one, it wasn't as "upgradable"/customizable as the first; shields sucked monkey testicles, and it forked too much compared to the first.

      What do you mean with "it forked too much"? And I think ME2 is an excellent game and a lot of aspects are really a lot better than the first one. Sure there are things that could have been better, but as a whole, it's a lot more cinematic and less static. It's of course difficult to create a sequel to a game as awesome as ME1, but I really think they've done a good job.

      • by MoFoQ (584566)

        Sorry, I was trying to be polite: ME2 pales in comparison.

        And by "forked," it gave you "choices" but it all lead to "sh*t"

        *SPOILER ALERT*
        Some of your crew will die if you can't keep them loyal. I believe the minimum is one crew, no matter how you play, will die.
        *END SPOILER ALERT*

        Plus the weapons were weak though being able to upgrade the ship's weapons was cool...but since they don't have "space" battles (aside from the cut scenes/scripted stuff)...it was pointless.

  • by ReneeJade (1649107) <reneejadew@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:47AM (#32095170)
    Um, can't we have both?
    Sometimes I enjoy the simplicity (flavored with a little subtle complexity) of Plants vs. Zombies. Sometimes I feel like an epic, convoluted, RTS campaign. Surely there is a market for more complex games and less complex ones. But a long and complex game calls for an investment of time; they have to make it worth it.
  • by mvar (1386987) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:51AM (#32095184)
    Have they thought about it? In the past you could play games like "Baldur's Gate" with 200+ hours of gameplay and not get bored and even go through it again a couple of times.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bbqsrc (1441981)
      I was sad when I finished Throne of Bhaal, because I knew I would never be satisfied by another game ever again.
  • Most longer games tend to artificially extend gameplay by long transports and repetitive tasks. The few that has longer gameplay by really introducing new tasks are really good and worth the time.

    I wouldnt want a bad movie be extented over three hours either. If the game suck after a short while, maybe it really isnt that good?

    Any EA executives wet dream must be to chop good games up into countless expansions so it can be sold over and over.

  • by Nautical Insanity (1190003) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:54AM (#32095202)

    Generalizing gamers in this way is like generalizing moviegoers. People who play video games are an increasingly diverse group. The phrase "Every gamer wants $X" is either deceit or wishful thinking. Game publishers would love to have their customers bundled into a neat and easily-marketable demographic. However, as many /. arguments over what makes a great game can attest, every person who plays a video games has a different expectation of what the experience should provide.

  • Simple answer: No. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <(deleted) (at) (slashdot.org)> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:54AM (#32095204)

    They want more efficient games. With “efficient” meaning: More fun for less time. Or: If they are shorter and don’t require as much getting into, they should just as much be more intense.

    Your question falls to the classical “KISS” fallacy. Simplicity is a oversimplification of the original goal (efficiency). And, being oversimplified, it’s worse, not better, than that goal.
    Did you ever use software that was “so easy”, that you weren’t able to use it anymore? (At least not without disabling most of your brain.) I get that a lot nowadays. :/

    So you also misunderstood what gamers actually want: To have a just as great experience without investing a lot of time in it. The “just as great” is the key here. Because 1 hour of some level of greatness is only a fraction of 40 hours of that same greatness. You know what I’m trying to say.

    Also, even a beginner game designer knows, that if there is no challenge, there is no fun, and there also is no game. So simple is by definition not an ideal in game design.
    But efficiency... or rather emergence is very much. :)

    Make the UI (or rather the whole game) emergent, and the experience great. That’s it. :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ReneeJade (1649107)
      Yes, I agree. I watched my housemate play Mario Kart on Wii and wonder at how he didn't get bored. Then one day I got drunk enough to try it for myself and discovered that is is nowhere near as simple as it appears. The challenges are subtle. You don't get "stuck" on Mario Kart, but you need more than good hand-eye co-ordination to be great at it. That's why it remains fun, even after hours, without appearing to be complex.
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:56AM (#32095212) Homepage Journal

    Make your 40 hour long game if you must... but break them up into 8 episodes of 5 hours each. Make each one "self contained" as much as is practical, even if that means you need to put a "previously.." at the beginning of eps 2 to 8.

    And, here's the brilliant part: Charge $15 per episode. Many customers will bork at buying a $120 game, but plenty will happily do that over weeks/months.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by illaqueate (416118)

      quite a few of the 40+ hours games are open world games that aren't organized linearly. the story missions are sometimes only one part of the game, the others being free form action, mini games, side missions, upgrading/customizing, etc. One could typically "finish" the game in a shorter span by following story missions only, however that's not what many find fun about that type of game.

    • by dingen (958134)

      That's exactly what they're doing with Half-Life. I wish they'd release an episode more often though.

      Although I have absolutely no problems with games that contain 40 to 60 hours of gameplay in the single player campaign, and I'm not a hardcore gamer nor a kid.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Yeah, release the episodes all at the same time. People can't gouge themselves if you ration them.

        • Gouge:
          1. force with the thumb; "gouge out his eyes"
          2. dent: an impression in a surface (as made by a blow)

          Maybe you mean gorge? Unless you're implying that playing for extended periods of time makes you want to gouge your eyes out?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
        I've completely lost interest in Half Life. It was one year (June 2006 - October 2007) between Episode 1 and Episode 2 of HL2. It's been three years since Episode 2, and the story has lost its appeal.

        The next Half Life game i'll buy will be Black Mesa [blackmesasource.com], a third party port of the original Half Life to the Source engine. Episode 3? I might read a synopsis on Wikipedia and go "Oh, so that's what happened..." and then forget about it again.
        • Well it was 6 years between Half Life 1 and Half Life 2 and I'm glad I waited. I don't see how time between episodes lessens the appeal. Maybe you just don't like the direction they're going with it?

          Also I can guarantee you won't buy Black Mesa. You might play it, but you won't buy it - it's free.

    • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:56AM (#32095754) Homepage

      We've been playing the Tales of Monkey Island episodic games on the Wii with a couple of friends lately. It's usually 3-4 hours to beat an episode, and at 10 Euros that's dirt cheap compared to a movie for the four of us. Win-win :)

  • by dingen (958134)

    They measure the time we play, they watch where we get stuck, and they broadcast our behavior back to the people that make the games so they can tune the experience accordingly.

    That's not broadcasting.

  • When I want something simple and short I can watch a movie.

    Games on the other hand are supposed to be challenging and entertaining for a lot longer than a movie.

    In fact, I find that a lot of modern games are too simple and straightforward (especially on consoles) - maybe game producers are adding the wrong type of complexity (i.e. visual eye-candy) instead of concentrating on game mechanics (or maybe they're just targetting the unsophisticated and not very smart audience of young teenagers?)

    Then again I'm a

  • by ledow (319597)

    If you only play a game for 4-5 hours, it's because the game was crap or cheap (i.e. indie, not budget titles) in my opinion. Games should be capable of giving a *LOT* more value for money (in terms of hours entertainment per £/$/Euro) than your average DVD. Any "good" game of mine gets much, much more gameplay than that. It very much depends on the genre, too, and whether you count multiplayer (everyone playing multiplayer on a single-player capable game suggests your AI / missions aren't challeng

  • ... they are drawing the wrong conclusions.

    When I was younger I was capable of binge gaming but now that I'm older I have a lot more restraint and I've played so many games that the game has to be astoundingly good for me to keep at it. The problem is that game companies have stopped making really compelling experiences and have focused too much on graphics and not the harder aspect - gameplay.

    I'm certain the large audience that doesn't finish their games _will_ eventually if and when they get around to it

  • The problem is that the expensive part of the game is usually the engine+art assets. Once you have those, the level design is usually the cheap bit. Making a 5 hour game is still cheaper than a 40 hour game, but not by as much as you'd think...

  • How many people who are running it for just 4 or 5 hours a single time are running a legitimate copy?

    Could these numbers point to pirates that wouldn't have bought your game anyway?

    • by shird (566377)

      This is a good point - many people treat a pirated version as a 'demo' they only give 4-5 hrs before moving onto something else until they find something worth dedicating their time.

  • Completion .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:47AM (#32095472) Homepage Journal
    why should a game have a completion. why it should have an ending. and why the hell do we have to see them ?

    games used to be played for the entertainment they induced WHILE they were being played. they werent some struggle that we would get rewarded in the end. really, WHAT can you do possibly to reward a player, after forcing him/her to go through a lot of arduous 'challenges' over 30-50 hours average in a game ? have him/her laid ?

    increasingly after the mid 90s, games were made to give 'challenges'. some screwed up corporate engineering wisdom that is probably centered around usa (they are very obsessed with 'challenge' and 'success' as a culture) made games more and more synonymous with the words 'challenge' and 'success'. and, the value of the game started to be evaluated around how much 'play time' it offered. culmination of this has been world of warcraft. endles cycle off challenges and successes. an ultimate success (boss) in the end, refreshing every 6-12 months.

    games became stuff that subjected the player to arduous work towards interim or ultimate objectives. the enjoyment was considered as progressing through those objectives. the fun while doing that, was discarded and made synonymous with the progression and struggle. also, 'better' graphics, 'cooler' sounds came with the package as additions, with technology. it was thought this was the way.

    then wii came. it bitchslapped the exceedingly corporatized and industrialized gaming sector. simple, concentrating on actual continuous play fun rather than progression and objectives, it brought fun back into the games. 5 year olds as well as 80 year olds started gaming, along with the hardcore gamer who was supposed to be toiling his/her life away during progression/challenge runs in between objectives. entire game industry was stupefied, and instantly they started to imitate left and right. even world of warcraft was softened, the grind lessened and game was made more fluid, along with added 'fun' elements which you could experience during the gameplay, instead of interim objectives. all the games and platforms took their share from the new wave. even mass effect 2 was simplified (maybe unnecessarily and maybe too far). the simplicity and actual playtime fun of games were brought back from the indie game circle they have been pushed to.

    was it too hard to understand that, people who worked or studied during their weekday time, would not like to repeat the same thing again, in a game, which they were supposedly to have fun ? if you ask me, it doesnt take 2 brain cells. but, it happened. im tying it to the exceedingly vocal minority that is present in gaming crowd on the net, ie 'achievement deranged' crowd, along with the increasingly corporate engineer nature of gaming companies.

    games need to be designed with a childish mind, not a corporate engineer mind. for, games are not going to be sold to vendors, or marketed to government officials or corporate bigwigs in order to strike juicy deals. games are going to be sold to the man in the street for entertainment. its about human nature. its about human nature that comes into being while wearing pajamas at 20.00 in the still of one's own living room. you cant understand it in a corporate environment with a corporate mind.

    well, anyway, here we are now; wii bitchslapped the industry, and they all jumped in the bandwagon. we will see how many of them will succeed in understanding.
    • by dingen (958134)

      why should a game have a completion. why it should have an ending. and why the hell do we have to see them ?

      Because some games tell a story.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        there were countless games telling a story without being boring or tedious while playing.
    • by mikael_j (106439)

      I've been playing World of Warcraft for quite some time but I actually quit for a while when The Burning Crusade first came out because I just wasn't ready for another round of grind-a-thon just so I could get to the more fun parts, I did pick it up again after the recent "casualization" of the game, in my opinion they still have a bit to go before it becomes fun to level new characters when you already have a couple of characters at the level cap, it's bearable if it's on the same server since you can have

    • Now if "achievements" would go the fuck away.

      Yeah, ok, have high scores. I don't think I need a pat on the back when I beat a game or if I stumbled up every zone by being naturally curious. Beating a game should be its own reward. If there's no storyline to end, then high scores. What's the point of anything else?

      It's like those fucking stuffed crust pizzas. IT'S JUST FUCKING CHEESE JUST LIKE WHAT'S ALL OVER THE REST OF THE GOD DAMN PIZZA.

      FUCK.

  • My problem isn't the complexity of a game--I can and do enjoy very complex games. But I simply won't realistically put more than 20 hours into a game, and more realistically, 10-15 max. My favorite--and finished--games have all been short and relatively intense, like Riddick or Portal, or Call of Duty MW2's campaign. I'll go longer if the game has fresh humor all the way through; I even finished the remake of Bard's Tale, which was otherwise a total grind. It was just so damned funny that it made it wor

    • by shird (566377)

      Bad company 2, modern warefare and portal are some of the best games I've played. The main reason being I was able to complete them in a reasonable time without the feeling of having wasted my life.

      I recommended BC2 to someone recently. I used the argument that I actually bothered to finish it as evidence the game was worth playing.

      I don't play multiplayer games at all, I am too old and couldn't be bothered wasting my time only to lose. Spending hours on a game only to lose or without any sense of achieveme

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:13AM (#32095584) Journal

    A movie has a running length of 120 minutes, but everybody leaves at 115 minutes when the credits start rolling. Conclusion: People want movies to be shorter.

    Eh, no. They just don't want to sit through 5 minutes of credits.

    People watch commercial TV. Conclusion: People want to watch ads every 5 minutes and overlayed on the program.

    Eh no. That is just what people have to put up with.

    Statistics and user figures are very easy to misinterpret. Would you take the vcr action recordings of someone watching a porn movie and apply them on how to make a regular movie?

    So why apply the actions of a console beat-em-up to a RPG?

    There are some games that are big for the sake of being big. Some beat-em-up is coming out, that was reviewed as having even more characters as before. So if I don't play all of their piss-poor story lines, I haven't finished the game? What if a path through an RPG doesn't appeal to me? I never bother with the evil path. Does that mean I am recorded as only playing through half of the game? I enjoyed F1 games in the past, but only with one did I do a complete realistic season (Grand Prix Legends). What if I don't do the game on nightmare mode or for that matter easy mode? What if I cheat to go straight to nightmare mode (another reason consoles suck donkey balls, locked difficulties)?

    Yes of course there are people who look at an RPG and complain it takes 60 hours. So? Then that game is not for them. Because if you shorten it to 5 hours you ruin it for all your customers who love a 60 hour game.

    Here is a simple sales man trick. Concentrate on selling to people who are buying. People who are not buying will always find another reason not to. But people who are buying, need only 1 to become part of them.

  • So these so-called "game designers" from TFA see that people don't bother finishing the games.

    So... do they say "hey, maybe our games suck bigtime!" or "hey! maybe we should make games that are not repetitive ad-nauseam and become dull after 5hours" or hey "our games are so predictable that gamers see the end of the history miles away"??

    No!! They say "it's obvious that gamers want shorter, simpler games". Yeah right

    But then, deeper in TFA, we start to see the real reasons:
    "it seems that games will become i

  • Not I... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:21AM (#32095866) Homepage Journal

    I don't want simpler games. I want games as complex & rich as they were back in 1995, i.e. Master of Magic.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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