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Developer Panel Asks Whether AAA Games Are Too Long 342

Posted by Soulskill
from the attention-spans-are-so-2005 dept.
Gamespot reports on a discussion at the Develop 2011 conference in which a panel of game designers debated whether recent big-budget releases like Heavy Rain and L.A. Noire were too long for a typical gamer's taste. Quoting: "'Gamers are losing patience,' said [Alexis Kennedy of Failbetter Games], when asked about his own experiences with Heavy Rain, 'so many people don't reach the end and lose the full impact of the story.' He wasn't complimentary of its narrative either, questioning the benefit of basing a game on long-form narrative such as film, resulting in a 'bastardized' storyline that doesn't quite work. ... The likes of social and casual games, particularly the cheap games available on mobile, have changed the expectations of gamers, the panel concluded. Since gamers are paying less money, there's less need to create 10-hour-plus gaming experiences, because consumers no longer feel shortchanged."
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Developer Panel Asks Whether AAA Games Are Too Long

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  • by tempmpi (233132) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @06:45AM (#36821238)

    obviously not for 50-60 bucks. If you make a 2h AAA game you must be able to sell it for 10 bucks.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      obviously not for 50-60 bucks. If you make a 2h AAA game you must be able to sell it for 10 bucks.

      AAA games would probably sell for $5 in the bargain bins like the John Deere games. "Tow the cars to the shops before the state impounds them!"

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:41AM (#36821572) Homepage Journal

      if it's got replayability value, it would be good.

      it's just that boring games are boring. if there's MAGIC in it, it doesn't matter one flying fuck if it takes 1000h to play it. you will play it. problem is if the long playtime comes from shitty cutscenes everywhere, unimaginative levels and an engine that is extremely boring(doesn't make a good illusion, contrary to what some producers believe, the illusion doesn't get better if you add environment mapped tears or focal blur to make it seem like a shitty movie set the game is in). maybe many people don't finish heavy rain because it sucks - as a game. good luck making a sequel then.

      • by zget (2395308)
        Long cut scenes? Why are we just talking about single player games here. If you also develop a great multiplayer the game can get so much more playability and kick for the buck. I can't count the hours I've played Cod4, Modern Warfare 2, Team Fortress 2 and countless of other great multiplayer games (or actually I can, all of them show 300-1000 hours in my Steam stats).

        If you want single player games with re-playability and such, theres always games like Civilization, which I also love. But multiplayer is
        • Of course, that's assuming that they don't kill whichever server you're attempting to connect to. Or now that CoD is moving to a pay-for-play model...

          Call me crazy, but the amount of gaming you're able to get out of online-multiplayer titles is about to go down, drastically.
        • by jitterman (987991) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:44AM (#36822062)
          It also assumes that you enjoy the multiplayer experience. I used to love it as a younger gamer (in my 20s & early 30s), but I don't get out of it what I used to. Tastes change with age. I'm not denying the value of multiplayer, but it doesn't appeal the same way across the board to everyone; for my money, the fun is in succeeding in finishing the single-player campaign feeling like gameplay was engrossing and the story line was intriguing enough to hold my attention.
        • But multiplayer is where the most fun is and it's great to see game developers starting to spend time on that aspect. Multiplayer isn't just the normal deathmatch, capture the flag etc. It now has roleplaying elements like leveling and adjusting your game classes and characters to fit your playing style.

          All of which boils down to the fact that it's still prepubescent little shits who have no life who rape you the second you purchase the game and go online. You may think that "multiplayer is where the most fun is", but those of us who were gaming back when you weren't even old enough to use a keyboard generally despise it and hate the current trend of 30 minutes of single player and then repetitive multiplayer.

      • by muindaur (925372)

        Red Dead Redemption is one of those long games that has replay value. We still play "highest bounty longest" games to see how long we can survive. The ability to go back to any mission to try for gold helps add some challenges (a bit of cheating not using the Gatling guns as we are much faster on the rifle.) If we care about the character AND want to shoot some of the NPCs in the head from the start of the first cut scene THAT is good story telling.

        There are games that have too many cut scenes, and too many

      • by mcvos (645701)

        if it's got replayability value, it would be good.

        it's just that boring games are boring. if there's MAGIC in it, it doesn't matter one flying fuck if it takes 1000h to play it.

        That's exactly what I thought when I saw the title. There's no such thing as "too long". There's only "too boring". A good game will make you forget the time, which causes its own brand of problems, obviously, but I'll never blame the game for that. I'll just love it more.

    • by Eraesr (1629799) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:43AM (#36821588) Homepage
      The problem isn't that games are too long, it's that there's too many of them I want to play. And I'm no student with too much time on my hands anymore, so I just can't keep up with all these games. The result is that I have to cherry pick my games among them which means that some developers won't get my money because I chose other games even though I still wanted to play their game.

      So in that sense it's probably true that if game developers made 2 hour games (or more realistically, something that takes about 8 - 10 hours) for 30 bucks a pop I'd be playing more games than I do now and my gaming money would be spread across more developers.
      • Agree 100% with this. I'm exactly in the same situation - too many games I want to play (damn Steam and its sales/catalog) and not enough time to play them all.

        Well, I could play them all, but then there'd end up with more games down the line to play, so I'd eternally be keeping up.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Why don't you pick one good game and play it through, rather than trying to play everything? You don't need to play everything. I'd rather not have developers water down their games for people who don't really enjoy games enough to play a long one. If developers started making 2 hour games, I wouldn't play any of them. You would have to make games ridiculously shallow experiences to complete them in 2 hours. You don't even begin to get into the groove of a good RPG until you've sunk 8-10 hours into it.

    • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:08AM (#36821746) Homepage
      Well, we're assuming that the length of a game means that if you play "diligently" from the beginning it'll take you a certain amount of time to finish the game. Here are a few issues that come to mind:

      1) Game environment -- e.g Portal 2. Many people treated the game as a race, or a kind of test. It took me about 12 hours to finish it. When I tell people that, those who treated the game like a test almost laugh (some say they finished in 5 hours, which I'm not even sure is technically possible), while others say they explored every nook and cranny and it took them 15 hours or more. I actually did take my time to explore, but I didn't find at least two or three very interesting hidden clues which, I learned later, I just walked by.

      2) Non-linear content -- e.g The Witcher 2 (and other RPGs, but especially the Witcher 2). If you only complete the game once, then no matter what choices you took, you don't have the whole picture. Never mind that you could have taken different paths, and in doing so changed how the game progresses and ends. If you only played once then you don't know all that there is to know, and you've only "consumed" about 60% of the game. Having said that, if, once you finish the game for the first time, you don't get the itch to play it (*at least*) one more time in order to explore the "what ifs", then the game simply wasn't for you. Which if fine, but you probably should have known that about yourself when you picked a "hardcore" RPG.

      3) Gaming style -- Crysis 2. I actually didn't play the game, since FPSs aren't by cup of tea, but I heard the following many times: "I used stealth a lot, and felt like by doing so I missed out on much of the gameplay". This isn't quite the same as the previous example, since in this case you *did* go through the entire rail, but you used a particular gaming style -- stealth. This time the replay value depends on whether you enjoyed the game enough to do it over and play differently, even if the game has already shown you everything it had to show you. There isn't an easy answer for this one, IMO, since if you bought the game then you *are* an FPS fan, so it really becomes a question of personal taste.

      In the above 3 examples the game "contains" the production value that warrants a $50-60 price tag, but it's up to you if you actually see/consume it all, regardless of whether you've completed the game.
      Finally, here's my point (well, part of my point...): What if you *could* finish the game in 2 hours, even on your first playthrough, and the rest of the game's content could only be encountered in replays? I'm not talking about Civilization or Sim games, I mean a game where you make decisions to guide a narrative. I suppose one answer would be "it depends on how good the game is", but then that's *always* the way you gauge if a game was worth the money, and you can only do so after you've finished it.
    • by rainmouse (1784278) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:19AM (#36821802)

      obviously not for 50-60 bucks. If you make a 2h AAA game you must be able to sell it for 10 bucks.

      Perhaps what he really means is long and fun games are being selfish because people can play them sometimes 100+ hours instead of buying dozens of shitty 2 hour long games, each for the same price. What these greedy developers don't seem to get is that there is only so much disposable income that can go on games. If a single game is played for a very long time or pirated, the money doesn't disappear it just goes into something else and if the piracy and long games ceased to happen, there is still the same amount of money to go around. No magic pot of gold will suddenly appear.

      If I loose interest in a 10 hour+ game, its not because its too long, its because its a shit game.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:49AM (#36822108) Journal

      I would have to agree and would also add that the reason people aren't finishing is because you games suck and quickly become boring as hell.

      A good example of one sitting on my drive gathering dust is RF Guerrilla. The weapons suck so bad with you only able to carry a tiny amount of ammo and the game spans assloads of bad guys if you so much as hit a lamppost on bad guy turf, even if there isn't anyone around for miles, so the whole game ends up "Run your ass off from one vehicle to the next" and then just run over everything in the vehicle. BORING. I ended up having to put a mod that made the pistol rounds into explosives just to have some fun, but it gives ALL the characters that have pistols explosive bullets so if any AI allies (which are all dumb as rocks and will happily shoot you or run in front of you while you are shooting, dropping your morale score) have pistols you and everyone else is ragdoll city.

      Compare this to something like Bioshock where there was always something new to see and do, or No One Lives Forever 1&2 where they actually spoofed the genre, or Just Cause 2 which was a crazy blast fest of insanity and mayhem. Those were FUN and I was happy to play all the way through and sad when I reached the end.

      The problem is these bozos think a "cinematic experience" should be walk in a straight line, scripted battle, walk in a straight line, cinema scene, lather rinse repeat. After you have seen the second level and seen it is more of the same why bother finishing it when it will just feel like work.

      If any of the devs are reading this? It is a GAME and FUN should be first and foremost, not your frustrated desire to be a director! Quit rehashing the same linear corridor crap and make your game FUN with a capital F. If people aren't finishing your game the goal shouldn't be to just give us less for our money, it should be to not make your game so damned BORING that nobody wants to finish the fucking thing!

      You think we are gonna pay $50+ for less game in smaller boring bites? Screw you, quit making suckfests and give us something worth playing through! This would be like saying "Oh our crappy music isn't selling anymore, so our answer should be just make Titney Spears and all the other crap CDs only 12 minutes long for the same price! that's the ticket!". All this harebrained "idea" will do is give us more titles in the bargain bin, because most of us are felling ripped by the crapfests they are pushing out now, making it a little shit instead of a big dump isn't improving things.

      • The problem is these bozos think a "cinematic experience" should be walk in a straight line, scripted battle, walk in a straight line, cinema scene, lather rinse repeat. After you have seen the second level and seen it is more of the same why bother finishing it when it will just feel like work.

        Exactly! If I had mod points they would be yours...

        How many times would you play chess if the game played out exactly the same way?

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          And the funny part is I have seen cheap ass games get it right and AAA titles get it wrong! I would name as an example one I picked up cheap called Nosferatu. In this the castle levels are randomly generated so you have NO idea what is coming next! Believe me you'll be ready to crap your pants when you walk in a room thinking it is gonna be a cakewalk and walk around the corner and there is 4 master vamps about to rise from their coffins and you only have two stakes!

          The downside of this is it will re-random

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:59AM (#36822202) Homepage Journal

      obviously not for 50-60 bucks. If you make a 2h AAA game you must be able to sell it for 10 bucks.

      I guarantee that when the game developer decided that games are too long, the notion that they were also too expensive did not enter his brain for even a microsecond.

      I don't know about this guy, but when I finish a "AAA" game lately, I'm much more inclined to say "This is too short, I feel ripped off." than "Gee, that was waaaay too long".

      Here's a RULE for the genius who thinks "AAA" games are "too long":
      "If it feels like's it's "too long" then it's not a "AAA" game, it's just a crap game that somebody spent too much marketing money on."

    • Too Short?
      Are they mad?

      Looking at most of the AAA games and they are way too short. COD with a 5 hour campaign and no re-playability.

      The problem with so called AAA games is not that they are too short or too long is that they are simply too boring, same-y well, just plain unoriginal. Why bother improving COD 117 when you're getting ready to can sell COD 118 next month (and 3 DLC hats in the mean time).

      In larger games (LA Noire) the problem is not so much making things for the player to do but makin
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @06:48AM (#36821250) Journal

    "There are people who role-play zero percent; they're dull f***ers. The people who role-play 100 percent; they're mental." Alexis Kennedy on how role-playing can influence a player's experience of narrative.

    Hopefully the conversation then shifted to that middle range of 0%<X<100% role-playing where 99% of their paying customers exist. It's not really a binary feature ... I'm not talking like an idiot but every now and then it's fun to pretend in my mind just to get away from the real world for a few hours. Like watching a movie or reading a book, I'm not dressing up like the characters but I do enjoy reading books and imagining the story in my mind.

    I think length is much less of a problem than the forced narrative. My own anecdote causes me to wonder just how much the market of gaming has shift since I was a kid. I played Gauntlet endlessly and it had little to no story arc and was nearly impossible to finish yet provided me endless entertainment. Even games that had a story arc -- like Final Fantasy -- allowed me to explore and dick around for as long as I wanted to. What I cannot comprehend is why games now have moved away from that to a relative straight jacket and lack of freedom. The most recent Final Fantasy (13) was a real eye opener for me. They simply don't make my kind of games anymore. I just figured that the market for people who like these forced story-lined games must be far larger than the market I exist in. Or maybe game developers are just lazy and a forced storyline is far easier to code and debug than an open world.

    If you wonder why World of Warcraft has such a large and loyal player base, it's probably because there's not a lot of other games to satisfy the explore and dick around urges that were once filled by console or even offline single player PC games. You can have your long-form narratives but I know myself and many of my friends will just stick to games like Oblivion and Diablo.

    I'll admit my enjoyment of video games seems unconventional. I could spend hours making blaster schematics and roping people into setting up buildings for me in Star Wars Galaxies and then flooding the markets with cheap blasters bearing my character's name. I didn't really make anything off of this, I just loved the concept. When you open games up to achieve some sort of tangential enjoyment like that, I think you provide more originality than any murder mystery with a surprise twist could provide for me.

    • by sgbett (739519)

      I didnt think 13 was too much of a detour from the formula used in 7 thru 10 & 12.

      They all had a large component of get through the main plot and unlock the world map so you can focus on grinding and reaming the hard monsters (thus rendering the final boss almost insignificant).

      I quite liked 13 - felt 12 was a bigger disappointment. I hadn't even ground and on my first final boss run through pasted it immediately.

      All that aside though, and back to the point - 10 hours too much? you could easily rack up

      • O_O

        Dude, you need to see a doctor immediately. I'm fairly certain you're having seizures on a regular basis and aren't aware of it or have some kind of tumor pressing on your brain.

        FF13 was, from a very very very high birds eye view the same formula as the rest of the FF games. The rest is where it became crap. There WAS NO COMBAT SYSTEM. I could tape a quarter down on my controller and walk away then come back when I heard a cutscene happening.

        The voiceacting was meh, the only decent part was the graphics.

        • by sgbett (739519)

          I'm pretty sure taping the controller didn't work for any of the missions around about 50+ mark (and for quite a few of them before that depending on how much you had levelled...) maybe i just played it differently. *shrugs*

    • Videogames are not books or films; they are a different medium altogether. Consequently, videogame developers should be focusing on the interactive aspects of videogame play that are unique, not trying to imitate the linear aspects of other media. Never mind that the videogame stories are inevitably dreadful imitations of book and movie plotlines that have been done before by legitimate storytellers.

      And you videogame players that are vocally insistent that developers focus more on story and less on multip

      • Without a story you might as well be playing farmville. I think there's a fine balance. What I've found is developers are getting too heavy into trying to make a game look good they're leaving out the story and possible arcs from it. Story is an important element, but it's different then a book, it has to be interactive. It can be linear, but I don't want to be forced into following it until I've had a chance to explore an area.

        That was the problem with FFXIII was it was cut scene, run down hall, fight,
        • by Machtyn (759119)
          And more for this point of a good story. A game like Half-Life has a decent story line, but you are roped into following a defined path. You're at A, you need to get to B (the actual path between these points may have several different lines). However, Valve does a good job at the mix between story telling and letting you be the character. A good story line will allow developers to create tangential story lines as one off games while the next "book" in the series is being created (HL: Blue Shift, et al)
      • That was a dumb analogy. If you're going to use ballet, then you should say "don't complain when they don't break dance in the middle of Swan Lake."

        Games can be interactive AND tell a story. A video game isn't defined as 'interactive button mashing repeatedly doing the same thing over and over, ad nauseum, for hours on end." If a game doesn't have a story to push it forward, or at least some type of goal, then it really isn't worth playing.

        Sure, Portal would've been fun without a story. But with that little

        • Story tacked on where it doesn't belong can ruin a gain. What kind of story would enchance Chess? Story in games is most obnoxious when it forces the gameplay to change to support the story.
          • by nschubach (922175)

            You are a young boy, forced into a chess competition to save your family from being murdered. Since you are a gifted child, the chess matches should be cake... except you are playing chess against other gifted children who also had their families held for ransom. It's a fight to the death and you are but a pawn in a greater underground chess tournament. Mortal Chessbat!

            • Touche.

              What normally happens with the story though is something more like this though:

              You are a young boy, forced into a chess competition to save your family from being murdered. Since you are a gifted child, the chess matches should be cake...

              The game makes the kings pawn available to move forward 2 squares.

              except you are playing chess against other gifted children who also had their families held for ransom.

              The games allows you to move the bishop... You didn't move the bishop fast enough, go back to the savepoint and try and move the bishop faster.

              It's a fight to the death and you are but a pawn in a greater underground chess tournament

              Your 10 hours are up, pay $x for the next version.

              Mortal Chessbat!

      • by vlm (69642)

        Videogames are not books or films; they are a different medium altogether.

        First of all "videogames" is now a synonym for "FPS". We are not allowed to talk about non-FPS video games, other than to make fun of them and call them casual. How a tactical hex wargame that takes 150 hours to play is "casual" is a mystery we are not allowed to think about. video game = shooting thousands of people and thats all it is allowed to be, and is all we are allowed to think. This is /. and we do not tolerate thoughtcrime here, get your mind closed and think what the PR people told you to thi

    • by Sinthet (2081954)

      There's a good deal of sandbox style games, but I think I know what you're getting at. The problem most people have with games like the old Final Fantasy's is that there is sometimes too much choice, since you can often wander around without finding the character you're supposed to. These days, games tend to follow a constant reward system, where the player is constantly making progress, or is given a proverbial carrot to follow. There's really no more of the "wander the F* around until you find something u

      • However, for the most part, I think game designers have noticed the psychological reward system sells games because its so addictive. You're constantly getting positive feedback for completing challenges that are just hard enough to not be boring.

        I would be happier if those people would stick to slot machines and free up the game developers to develop games.

    • by Snaller (147050)

      I tried Mass Effect, but it was talking talking talking - never me doing, so i quickly dropped that.

    • by aekafan (1690920)

      If you wonder why World of Warcraft has such a large and loyal player base, it's probably because there's not a lot of other games to satisfy the explore and dick around urges that were once filled by console or even offline single player PC games.

      I found the reason World of Warcraft has such a strong following is not because it is good, but because it has perfected the addiction formula of the MMO genre. It says "look at all of this content we have", when the content consists of doing very nearly the exact same thing over and over, until you get the slight improved reward. I don't call that content so much as addiction. Especially with WOW. I couldn't make it past 70 in that game because i had realized all that i had done and all i was doing we

  • It seems to me this is a pretty poor way to conduct a market research.
    If they wish to make the most mainstream game possible, they might consider to change it. Some silly flash games or farmville are probably their examples then.
    But there is a market for different games as well.

    • by Serpents (1831432)
      A good book/movie/game will alway leave feeling it was too short, regardless of the number of pages/duration. A lousy story will be too long even if it fits on half a page. So it would seem that the only solution to the problem is to start making good games/movies instead of churning out dozens of shooter/racing clones and remakes. I think the problem is that many companies are headed by guys like Robert Kotick, who don't play games - just sell them.
  • Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot AT spad DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @06:49AM (#36821260) Homepage

    In the same way that Youtube has meant that people no longer want to watch feature-length movies any more.

    I know this is a crazy statement to make but there is actually room in the market for more than one kind of thing. You can have 5 minute long iPhone games and pointless 1-click "social" games as well as, you know, games that have some depth and character to them.

    Personally, I like long games that have time to build a decent plot and develop the characters.

    • Re:Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by delinear (991444) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:19AM (#36821432)
      Agreed - the big problem is not the type of games that get made, it's how they're marketed. Heavy Rain is a prime example - it was so heavily hyped by the media before its launch that everyone ran out to buy it. Not everyone enjoyed it, some people want different things from games. What games companies need to do is get better at marketing to the people who will enjoy their game and stop trying to sell it to the whole market. We all know it's nice to make a blockbuster and get rich off the back of it, but that's a much riskier strategy than sticking to your niche and being known amongst fans of said niche for being good at it.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      What stopped me finishing quite a few games is the unfair difficulty level towards the end. Bad guys all suddenly become crack-shots and take twice as much damage to kill etc. GTA San Andreas was one of the worst for that, the last mission being utterly ridiculous. In the end I came to the conclusion that the only way to finish it would be to spend hours grinding my character's stats up, but I have no interest in that. I just wanted to see the end of the story.

      I pisses me off when I put a lot of effort into

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Personally, I like long games that have time to build a decent plot and develop the characters.

      Yes I agree...

      But the last AAA game I played that did this was Fallout New Vegas, the one before that was Fallout 3 (OK, I'll make an exception for StarCraft 2 although the characters were quite cliched). Recent story based, character heavy games like Bioshock and Mafia 2 have only disappointed me with their 1 dimensional design and tired, overused storyline (Bioshock was basically System Shock 2's story set

  • Bad metric (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lyinhart (1352173) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @06:52AM (#36821278)
    Length is a pretty dumb metric for value in video games any way. I find that games these days take many hours to complete, but there's little to no desire to going through them again. Dumb things like unlockables and achievements artificially add replay value, but don't make the game any more fun to play multiple times.

    I think the success of games like Angry Birds are showing developers that they don't need to make an overbudget game that takes 20 hours to complete. Even games that can be played through in an hour or less can have great longevity on multiple playthroughs. Look at the Cave shooters - deep scoring systems and challenging mechanics keep players coming back for more. And linearity and repetition have nothing to do with it either - every game (even real life sports) has both, what's important is that the game is fun to play over and over.
    • by delinear (991444)
      I've played through Portal and its challenge modes many times even though the game only racks in around the 3-4 hour mark (and much shorter when you know what you're doing). Duke Nukem Forever was 12 excrutiating hours and I can happily say I will never play it again. They should care more about replay value than length, especially if the length is basically mind-numbing filler and ridiculous load times.
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Unless you're some sort of uber-solver that does nothing but puzzles for his free time and utterly zerged portal 2 with no care for plot of enjoyment, 3-4 hours for portal 2 is impossible.

        Same for duke. It was fun if you relaxed, sat back and actually ENJOYED it for what it was, instead of completionist "must zerg faster" approach.

        • by gmueckl (950314)

          He was talking about Portal, not Portal 2. The first game was really that short. I strolled through it at a rather slow pace in about 4 hours in the first go. On replays I'm doing it in about 2 to 3 hours now because I remember most of the solutions. Portal 2 is different. It took me about 10 hours to complete. Just for comparison.

    • "Length is a pretty dumb metric for value in video games any way."

      Speak for yourself. Diablo 2 was so good because it combined length with replayability. The desire for short games is the desire for cutting corners on game quality disguised under the argument "length is bad". No one working on games in a previous era ever spoke so much about game length. It's all propaganda to disguise the fact that the game industry wants higher margins, faster development time and lower development costs and to do thi

    • by vlm (69642)

      I think the success of games like Angry Birds are showing developers that they don't need to make an overbudget game that takes 20 hours to complete. Even games that can be played through in an hour or less can have great longevity on multiple playthroughs.

      I can't wait until some brilliant genius invents some new game ideas. FPS players like scrolling around with a mouse, and like having a "story arc" (often misspelled on /. as "story arch") so how about essentially writing your own story where you are in charge of a culture, maybe even a ... civilization ..., and get to make many decisions to manage it's development thru the ages. FPS players like driving vehicles around in between shooting people, so how about a realistic physics simulation of a vehicle i

  • I'm not entirely sure why they're skewing this around the desires of mobile gamers. Mobile games need to be quick to pick up, quick to put down. Length doesn't really factor into it, as long as it's enough fun to justify its costs (including abusive advertising).

    I'd argue that games are too short. The annual Call of Duty saps us of &pound;20-40 (depending on when you buy it) and takes 6-10 hours to blast through. Some people don't play the SP game and some people don't play the MP game so, naturally, pe
    • by vlm (69642)

      I'm not entirely sure why they're skewing this around the desires of mobile gamers. Mobile games need to be quick to pick up, quick to put down. Length doesn't really factor into it, as long as ...

      ... its got a decent save system. None of that "you must play until you get to a savepoint or else lose all your work".

      The best games I've ever played have been epics (40-120 hours) with strong stories. In the case of Neverwinter Nights or KotOR, I've both bought and played them through multiple times. That, to me, is what those sorts of games should be aiming for.

      Based on our similar tastes, I think you'd like "avadon black fortress" on an ipad, not as mobile as an iphone but we're close... Apparently its been quite a success, if I my estimates are correct, Jeff is on his way to a well earned Ferrari... (spiderweb software is a sort of one person shop, much like the x-plane guy Austin)

  • If anything, Heavy Rain was too short... the story could be completed in about 15 hours (if not less). The experience was very good, but it left you eager for more, not for less. I wonder who did not reach the end of this game. Of course, the slightly branching story enhanced the replayability - but most of the story was still the same whatever choices you made.
  • This is why I don't buy games anymore. 10 hours too long? You've got to be freaking kidding me.

    Back in the day, games like Heroes of Might and Magic, Civilization, Simcity 2000, etc. ate up days and days... and it was considered good value! Now that's too long?

    • Right on man.

      I remember Betrayal at Krondor, Baldurs Gate I and II, and a shitload more. Back in the days when the bottom bar was 80 hours, and 80 hours of pretty good continuous storyline, not 20 hours of story and 60 hours of forced grind like some of the so-called AAA titles of today.

    • 10 hours too long?

      Behold, the Facebook generation and the collective shortening of American attention spans and patience!

  • Videogames are videogames, and don't need to have a defined "lenght". You play then as much is fun. Think chess. You don't finish chess.

    Videogames that deliver a "movielike" experience, like FMV games, or games designed like Modern Warfare 2 or LA Noire, are highly scripted and linear, and must have a end, because the production cost are very high. But I think is a economical problem. Gamers would enjoy a historyline as long as The Wire or Babylon 5. But is to expensive to produce so much hours of e

  • When I think of a game that's too long, I think of Zelda. One can easily put 40 or 50 hours in one of those games and still haven't finished it. I have a hard time finishing a game that long. But about half of the length of a Zelda game (say 30 hours or so) is perfect, as far as I'm concerned. 10 hours is way too short, I feel ripped off when I finish a game in such a short time.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:01AM (#36821338)

    They're looking at it the wrong way. If someone quits before the end of the game, you've failed to make the game compelling enough to finish.

    Most FPSs fall into that category for me. They start out with some amount of story, but quickly devolve into just shooting people in new locations over and over. The few FPSs that I've finished have either been really short, or had a compelling story that I wanted to see the end of.

    Even most new RPGs are in that category for me. There's so much bland same-old-same-old fighting in the middle that I just can't care about the plot.

    On the other hand, when I'm actively engaged, I can play for a long, long time. Oblivion - 250+ hours. Fallout3 - 250+ hours. Fallout New Vegas - 200+ hours and counting.

    • by N1AK (864906)

      They're looking at it the wrong way. If someone quits before the end of the game, you've failed to make the game compelling enough to finish.

      I didn't really like Oblivion, and never got more than 10hrs into Morrowind (which imo was much better). I love Fallout, but don't have the inclination to do everything. I probably got 30hrs out of 3 and a little more out of New Vegas.

      Personally I would prefer most of these games if they were ~25% smaller but had that effort spent on making whats left better. I'm no

    • Interesting. I disliked Oblivion and Fallout 3 mainly because they were open worlds and didn't have the tight narrative that a closed world game such as Half-Life 2 has. I suppose I might be in the minority (which is fine), but a tightly-scripted linear game to me is more interesting than an open world, or "hiking simulator" as Oblivion became to be known.

      On the other hand I enjoyed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl significantly, which was kind of a hybrid between open and closed worlds. I think atmosph

  • I once spent several days playing through Nonterraqueous on the Spectrum, with brother and father on standby to take over, as we tried to a) complete it for the first time and b) map it as we went. No reloads, no checkpoints, no "saves".

    It took forever, and the largest piece of graph paper you've ever seen in your life, and still we only just managed to complete it and huge areas of the map were blank. The next week, someone else published the first ever map of the game in a games magazine, so it took the

  • AAA games? (Score:4, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:13AM (#36821400)

    Anti Aircraft Artillery?
    American Automobile Association
    LR03 1.5v batteries ?
    Amateur Athletics Association ?
    Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm ?

    and so on.

    I remember playing games based on the first of those (Ack Ack gunner) about 30 years ago

    • by cvtan (752695)
      Thank you. I don't know what it means either. AAA is also a credit rating and the American Anthropological Association. Somehow I managed to get through Mass Effect 2 without that knowledge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Anti Aircraft Artillery?
      American Automobile Association
      LR03 1.5v batteries ?
      Amateur Athletics Association ?
      Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm ?

      I first heard the term while working in the games industry about 10 years ago. I don't think there's any formal definition anywhere, but it's basically the idea that we could waste our time making a grade B game everyone will ignore, or make something decent that's grade A. But we're so hot that we're going beyond that and making a grade triple-A game! I kind of remember there was a brief time when they used AA, before realizing that the third A made all the difference.

      In practical terms, I think AAA just m

    • Anti Aircraft Artillery? American Automobile Association LR03 1.5v batteries ? Amateur Athletics Association ? Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm ?

      and so on.

      I remember playing games based on the first of those (Ack Ack gunner) about 30 years ago

      I read TFA, and the term is not defined. Maybe the gamespot.com audience for the article would be expected to know it, but not all Slashdotters are gamers, so, yeah, a little help in the summary might be in order.

      So I googled it, not expecting to get lucky on the first try, but I did. The first result [gamedev.net] actually answered the question, I think. It's a "big budget" game. Or maybe it reflects big sales. Or maybe a game of particularly high quality. Still not sure, and still not clear on the etymology of "AAA", m

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:19AM (#36821440)

    Thinking that "gamers" are just one market with one mind and one set of tastes show an incredible lack of business and consumer awareness.

    Is somebody said "The recent explosion in take-away, fast-food outlets shows that restaurant-goers are not interested in sitting down and having a long meal in a pleasant environment. The likes of cheap takeaway sandwich sellers have changed the expectations of restaurant-goers. Since restaurant-goers are paying less money, there is less need to create nice-evening-meal-in-the-restaurant experiences because consumers no longer feel shortchanged" you would think them to be morons and yet that's what this "panel" said about games.

    To put things bluntly:
    - The production values of the cheap crap you can play on your own on your mobile when riding the subway to work have absolutely nothing to do with the expected production values for a game you play at home in the evening or during the weekend, on a dedicated game machine connected to a big screen, probably with friends, just like the quality of the food and service from the local sandwich vendor from where I pick-up my lunch when at work has absolutly nothing to do with the quality of the food and service I expect from a good restaurant where I go to in the evening or weekend with my friends, family or someone special.

    They're different markets!

  • I would be happy with gradually paying for a game if i keep enjoying it. In the same way i can buy or rent a single episode of a tv series or buy a whole season set, this option should exist for games.

    • Demos use to fill that spot. And if you wanted to keep playing it (or play more) you bought the game. Further urges to play more (different but similar) content meant buying expansion packs or sequels.

      I don't know about you but I want self-contained games that can be finished and resolved within that singular game. I don't want to pay per level, track, chapter, era, timezone, tech level, world, or any other way games can be divided up.

      Episodic content just seems like an excuse to ship games before they're c

    • by vlm (69642)

      I would be happy with gradually paying for a game if i keep enjoying it. In the same way i can buy or rent a single episode of a tv series or buy a whole season set, this option should exist for games.

      In other words, the current "Dungeons and Dragons Online" business model. A tolerably fun game where you buy areas. Another way to look at it, is you pay money for areas full of good loot, and the free areas have junk loot. I wish they had a marketplace of 3rd party areas instead of just corporate areas. The junk paid areas have a rep amongst the players and as such are not purchased, so the devs have a bit too much financial incentive to level the playing field and to make the areas too easy, which I d

  • If every book was a sequel with little to no difference between the previous title and its competitors then people would likely claim books are too long but that's not the case. Perhaps gamers just give up after they realise it's the same old rubbish and isn't worth pushing onwards.
  • by Tridus (79566)

    They didn't think that maybe people didn't finish Heavy Rain because it turned a lot of people off with the screwy controls, rather then that it was too long?

    There's a fairly large segment of the people who buy any game that won't finish it because it turns out they don't like it very much.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:04AM (#36821730) Journal

    It's a matter of value. It always was about that too.

    Designing a game requires a basic set of resources. Programming, art, and content.

    No matter how long your game is, you have to program the mechanics. That's essentially a fixed-cost.
    Content is what determines the length of the game - the number of levels, the number of puzzles, the scripted scenes, etc.
    Art investment is roughly linear in proportion to content. You don't necessarily need to generate new art for every scene, but you also can't make (much of) a game with one character in one room with nothing ever new.

    Therefore the costs to develop a game have some floors.

    Your customers' willingness to invest falls off as you increase price or decrease length (perceived value). $50 for a 50 hour game seems to be an acceptable price point for many, so lets call the commercially viable curve $1/hour (all the while aware that this may not be a consistent relationship over the length of the curve, but let's go with it). So a 10 hour game would sell at $10.

    Can an AAA title be developed - including the 'floor' costs of basic programming and art - and generate per-unit revenue at this price point? Arguably, there's SOME market (essentially DLC is trying this out already - we'll sell you some more content with a small amount of new art and no new programming - for $10). But that's usually for a game that they've already sold successfully, so there's already a consumer market 'primed' to like it.

    Otherwise, buying games are a risk, like buying a book or movie. There's no way to tell if you'll like it. So gamers may be more willing to drop $10 for a 10 hour game just because the absolute risk of loss is less than the $50 for the full game.
    Right now, the paradigm is to give away 15min-1hour of content as a 'demo' (free) to allow potential consumers to test the game and see if they like it. While the content is substantially longer, there's the possibility that consumers would still see the 10-hour game for $10 as 'trying to sell the demo'.

  • What? Since when did film start being considered a long form of narrative?

  • Let's be honest here. I am NOT going to pay 50+ bucks for a game that I put away no later than 2 hours after starting it. I would definitely feel ripped off. If this is an attempt to rationalize why you do not want to produce quality anymore and still charge 50+ bucks for it, you failed. Nobody will fall for the "less is more" spiel. How am I supposed to understand that? "Oh, we shortened the game for your convenience so you can get the complete experience because we feel like you would put it away after 3

  • I go to a cinema and I buy a ticket, I get one experience of the work, and it costs me around £7 for 2 hours entertainment.

    As most AAA games cost £35 for the PC now, I expect 5x as much entertainment for that price. If I don't get 10 hours enjoyment from your AAA title game minimum, you failed to produce a good AAA title. It has nothing to do with me being impatient, it has to do with repetitive gameplay, shallow plot, broken gameplay mechanics, buggy code, and value for money.

    I wi
  • Two games for me stand out: (1) Demon Souls and (2) Ratchet & Clank (the last two killed R&C for me) all others ....
    Place in time DukeNuke, HalfLife, Unreal, Wolfenstein, RedFaction (a few others) were very good.
    Game play in any of the above mentioned games did not cause nausea, irritate me, or instantly bore me.

    I have played many games over many years. The game length is of slight consideration. The best take me three to seven days to run through an kill the big boss. I suspect I have another decade or two of gaming remaining in me. The retro-gamettes for tablets/smartphones... have never held my interest beyond a few hours.

    Good graphics and path transition continuity keep me interested (I like to look at the scenery sometimes). Start...End the path should have options (the overly obvious path hints of pointers and magic lines are for kids games only) be discernible (not blatantly flashing obvious), and require player-choice. I like character a/o avatar selection with personalization options, weapons/abilities that mature according to player-choices of skill and interest.

    At the local GameStop store the young folks said Demon Souls (DS) was very hard. I started DS on release, and I (Z21 or X21) am still playing DS (R&C was the same until the last two games). The flexibility of play is exceptional and scaring, hacking, bumping... a RedPhantoms off a deadly high point is still fun, and the chase with a back stab is fun. DS BluePhantoms always get an "S" from me, the Summoners get an "S" unless "D" they are part of a RedPhantom ambush for easy points.

    !HAVEFUN!

  • Others may not agree, but to me Portal 2 is AAA. I watched my brother playing through the single player (on PS3) and thought that the length of the game was spot on.

    We then started on the split-screen co-op (which plays really nice!). I was expecting it to last maybe 2 hours or so, over just a handful of levels. How very wrong. The game seems never ending! Every time I believe we've gotten to the end, GLADOS opens up yet another set of missions to play.

    I guess the real measure of things is this: how long is

  • I've not finished a lot of games where I just couldn't get into the characters, but if I like the characters and find the story compelling, I'll play it through, and usually do side quests as well. Every Star Ocean and Suikodan title I've purchased, I've played through to the end. I found Tales of Vesperia surprisingly delightful. I've played a couple of Final Fantasy titles to completely, but those are hit or miss and I'm no longer buying them sight unseen.

    I'll log 40+ hours in a game if I like it, and l

  • Honestly, I don't see why so many people feel the need to tell every developer that doesn't cater to their particular tastes (or do things like they do it) that they're "doing it wrong". Yes, short, cheap games are popular. I don't personally care for them myself, but I'm not going to jump all over someone for playing Plants Vs Zombies or Angry Birds because they're not playing the right type of game.

    They're playing what they like, and that's fine. Is it too much to ask for them to recognize that some

  • ... is that this guy considers 10 hours long for a game.
  • by AJH16 (940784) <aj AT gccafe DOT com> on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @10:17AM (#36823084) Homepage

    It scares me that a study like this could be so far off base. Yes, the rise of mini-games for a new type of gamer are based around short addictive fun. You know how many smartphone games I have in that variety that I've actually had to pay for... about 2 and that was because I was bored out of my mind in an airport with no internet connection. The people that play AAA titles are not the same people that play mobile. For me at least, it is all about the experience of the game. I want a long unwinding storyline that I can play through. Unless the storyline is crap or the game is unplayable, I finish almost every AAA title I start. The better ones I will play multiple times. I don't give a crap about most competitive multiplayer and hate AAA titles that only provide 3 to 4 hours of content to play through. I rarely find them to have any replay value, but games with good solid stories that can take a day or two to get through, I will regularly play through multiple times. Also, co-op capability is a huge plus.

  • by tecnico.hitos (1490201) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @10:50AM (#36823588)

    Films are a passive medium with the narrative densely packed whithin 2 hours, often less. Games depend on player interaction and a standard AAA game is expected to have 10+ hour gameplay. While movies are usually finished in one sitting, games have to stay engaging so that the player will come back as many times is needed to finish it. They are very different media.

    I would say games are more like TV series, but likening it to any non-interactive medium would be putting aside games' most important difference: the ability to act and make choices. Unfortunately, many games put this aside. While it doesn't stop the game from being engaging, it misses the point of delivering the narrative through a game. And that's not the only problem of narrative in games.

    Separating chunks of gameplay from chunks of narrative, something that is often done, it's the worst possible way to create an engaging experience. Those interested only in the gameplay will skip cutscenes or be forced to watch them. Those interested only in the narrative will force themselves through the gameplay. Only those in the middle ground will enjoy it, as long as the game is compelling overall.

  • by Plekto (1018050) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @12:18PM (#36824754)

    Reading the article, it sounded like the developers were whining because it was too much effort to make a good game. Instead, they want to churn out quick as possible drivel and make as much money as quickly as possible. The programmers certainly don't feel this way - and in most cases, have to leave massive amounts of work out of the finished product because some pinhead doesn't understand.

    GTA 3 (any of the series). How long did that take? 20+ hours. Best of the series was San Andreas, and it was 40+ hours. If you just did the missions and didn't go stealing and looting too much.
    Deus Ex. 20+ hours the first time through.
    Vampire Bloodlines: 20+ hours. Mostly because like Deus Ex, you had to sneak around a lot.
    More modern games:
    KOTOR 30+ hours. More if you do the side missions.
    Persona 3 or 4. 60+ hours, if not more. (my son has 120 hours on one of the Persona titles - ouch...)
    Final Fantasy. 50+ hours for most of them.
    Star Ocean. 50+ hours.

    I could go on and on. The biggest, most epic games that shaped the industry and that are considered classics are also very long. (btw, longest FPS I ever played was Unreal, at 55 *long* levels including the expansion pack - worth downloading on Steam) The idea that 10 hours is too long is just the project manager and marketing pinheads thinking of it as a product-of-the-month that they are selling and not as true entertainment.

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