Hmm: The End Of Long Games?

By Jim Rossignol on June 18th, 2008 at 11:30 am.


Gamasutra have posted a brief interview with one of our favourite developers-with-beard, Mr Warren Spector. In that interview he talks about the fall of the long game.

“Game costs are going to be $35-40 million, even $100 million, and the expectations are huge. You have to differentiate yourselves. One-hundred hour games are on the way out… How many of you have finished GTA? Two percent, probably. If we’re spending $100 million on a game, we want you to see the last level!”

But do you, the player, care if you don’t see the last level? Aside from the fact that GTA is a really bad example to use in this instance (given that people use it more as a playground than as a story), do we agree with Mr Spector’s statement? Games with huge play-times seem to me to be very much healthy, and staying. Perhaps if anything, as Kieron suggests, it’s actually the middle ground that is being lost. Games are either going to be very short, or endless.

What do you think, interbrain?

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88 Comments »

  1. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Milburn
    exactly you might have a half an hour content game but have to invest 20million in it, this necessitates a £30+ price point which necessitates a 10hour+ experience, you need more content to make your game work, in 90% of the markets mind I’m afraid.

  2. Deuteronomy says:

    I love how people trot Deus Ex out as the pinnacle of gaming. Well based on the unending talk about the game I just finished it last week, and yes it was quite enjoyable, had a great plot etc. But I was quite bored with picking locks and bypassing security by the end. Yes I realize I didn’t have to play as a sniper/hacker, but nonetheless once you make the choice you’re stuck with it for 25 hours. I did love how explosives were treated with respect as incredibly powerful weapons instead of the gasballs in most games.

    Deus Ex felt a bit too long, just a bit. The Witcher, on the other hand, felt way too long. I must have spent 40 hours in on a single runthrough and by the end I was trying to do a speedrun to finish it already.

  3. Ben Sones says:

    I don’t think his argument makes a lot of sense, honestly. Does the fact that most players don’t finish long games have a negative impact on the sales of long games? My guess is that it doesn’t–most players say they want longer games (even if they don’t end up finishing them), and tend to bitch about short games. The implication that he makes is basically “Why are we spending all this time and money making 80 hours of content when players will be just as happy with 10?” But I’m not convinced that they would be.

    I think epic scale in a game tends to be a selling point even to players who don’t take full advantage of it. In fact, I think the very idea that you can play through a game without seeing every last ounce of content is appealing in and of itself.

  4. Jaxtrasi says:

    Dan:

    Tomzor’s examples (“The reason scenes get edited out of films and novels is because those scenes are not integral to the plot, and are therefore better left out.”) lead me to believe that he wasn’t considering pacing.

    Films are not about one and a half hours long by the sheer coincidence that every script ever written happens to have about that much content in it.

  5. Sam says:

    Deuteronomy: Oh, I agree that Deus Ex was over long (and had The Most Horrible First Level Ever). That said, it tried to do interesting things in interesting ways, and broadly succeeded, especially compared to what most FPSs, which it tends to be compared against, were doing in the same period.

  6. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Ben Sones

    i agree but when your targeting demographics like that i.e. deus ex you don’t make money, at least with conventional methods, which is what my earlier post was about, he’s saying this type of game is failing, but i’d say it’s the way he’s going about it + don’t forget that those games are exhausting and he’s mainly talking about to my mind himself and his role in making those games is over cause they exhaust him.

  7. Turin Turambar says:

    Want to make a shorter gamer? say… 3 times shorter? Ok, go ahead.

    But don’t expect to cash the same money. I am going to pay only 3 times less than usual. I want value for my money. I even prefer to sacrifice graphic quality to get that value, if necessary.

    -Deus Ex was a long game, so what? It was awesome. 30 hours of awesome are better than 20 hours of awesome.
    -Deus Ex had a confusing first level, but really was excellent, so full of different things to do and play.
    -The Witcher was also a long game, but again, it was justified by the content, both in plot, character development and good gameplay.

    I think people who want to finish fast a game it’s because the game is boring them. So, why someone like the first ten hours of a game and doesn’t like the second ten hours? I don’t understand it. People seems to be bored by the repetition. But then the same people left a shooter because it’s boring to always shoot people over more than 10 hours, and then begin another shooter where they make the same action, shoot things, in a slightly different setting.

  8. bat_boro says:

    I just finished Gothic 3 two days ago. I played it for the past two months and saw all three ends. I guess I’m a lucky man.

  9. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Turin Turambar

    lotr is a perfect example of why more can be less, but that usually because it’s a contagious experience and no one wants to sit and watch a film for 3hours straight, as long as the quality is consistent and the content can be broken into manageable time chunks there’s no reason why more is less should be true i suppose.

  10. Iain says:

    @Jaxtrasi:

    Not *all* films are 90 minutes long. Some are shorter, and some can be far, far longer. I think you also have to factor in a few things here: the attention span and expectations of the audience, and the fact that films (and games) don’t all try to do the same thing.

    The two hour mean running time for a film has become an expectation of the cinema audience in much the same way that FPS players expect a good 10 hours and RPG players would be unhappy with anything less than 25 hours.

    But to continue with the cinema analogy, it’s very difficult to sustain the interest of an audience an action or horror film for more than 90 minutes, because all the constant awe and gore gets wearisome and boring. Whereas it’s much easier to sustain interest in a character-driven film for 3 hours if the pacing, intrigue and dialogue are handled well.

    So to cite one of your earlier examples, FEAR would have been better if it was 20 minutes long. At least in my opinion, because it got very dull very quickly as far as I was concerned. I would certainly agree that pacing is definitely an important consideration when developing a game, and that there are certainly times when less is more in terms of length, but there are gamers out there who do like long, epic games; and while people are willing to buy them, developers should make them.

    As for making such long games cheaper to make… that’s the developer’s problem, not the customer’s. If developers stop listening to what their customers want and instead tell them what they’re going to get – “you’re going to get short games, pay the same money for them and like it, Buster!” – I think you’re going to find that spiralling development budgets are the least of their problems. Customers are a fickle bunch and can go from ‘paying’ to ‘non-paying’ very quickly…

    (This post was brought to you by The Stating The Bleedin’ Obvious Society of Great Britain)

  11. Paul Moloney says:

    “Games with huge play-times seem to me to be very much healthy”

    The problem is, it’s hugely subjective. For example, I’m glad that Oblivion is such a huge game, because I loved it and was happy enough to play it for hundreds of hours. I haven’t felt the need to get to the end, so I’m not even sure where I am with the main plot. With other games, such as Portal, it’s feel like it’s over a little too soon, but is still satisfying.

    And with yet other games, while you enjoy them, they do outstay their welcome and by the end, you are just playing them in order to find out what happens.

    Realistically, I get to play games for an hour a day. So a 30 hour game would last a month for me, and I’d be happy enough to finsh a game a month. However, I imagine people who play for 4 hours or more today would find that a bit short. Who to make happy?

    P.

  12. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @iain
    aye but then you’re still getting shorter games like warren said you just aren’t paying for it and they’ll still make their money whether you steal it or not don’t worry about that.

  13. Vasara says:

    I would say that the length of a game needs to be tailored to the core design of the game. Portal had a very focused design, and I wouldn’t have made it any longer. The gameplay mechanic is simple and milking it any further would be silly.

    When a game becomes more complex, it needs a bit more time for everything to fall into place. A more intricate story and more varied environments enables a game to be longer without becoming a grind-fest. One could argue that a game could be infinitely long if it has enough variety, but then it starts to lose focus. A game that mixes Peggle and Halo would be silly and unappealing to both the Peggle and Halo players.

    Games don’t necessarily need to be shorter, they need to be interesting enough to make the player play to the end. In Crysis it was the fun physics and battles that made me play to the end, in Mass Effect I waded through the uninspired combat to see the plot unfold.

    So yeah, a game’s length is tied to the core design, so it’s pretty hard to say if long games are better than short ones or vice versa. I think it’s definately something developers should think about when making games, but deliberately making shorter games to get people to finish them is a pretty odd way to go about it.

  14. runningwthszzors says:

    It really depends on what you’re trying to convey during the single player. If the producer wants a roller coaster ride (with the great start, explosive plunge and loop de loops) then its much more difficult to craft something that’s long and meaningful at the same time. Some games can be long like Doom clones just because of the dungeon hack mentality – you get the sense of achievement when you finish a level, knowing that you’ll get a new challenge. The game may not really end if that’s the case.

    I feel like for Deus Ex, there was a schizophrenic tendency in that it wanted to do both. The story had issues once the number of “neutral” NPCs decreased and it began to become this kind of dungeon hack game. Pretty much everything after the return to NYC was like that. And while it was definitely fun, it kills the tension given by the story.

  15. Zarniwoop says:

    There are two futures for games as I see them. Or at least two possible paths a developer could take in the future.

    One is where the game is about the length of a film- Portal length, essentially. That was really the perfect length for the sort of blockbuster games that get produced nowadays. There was a plot in Portal, but it was straightforward in a sort of music video type of way- it did one thing and it did it gracefully.

    The other sort of game I can see being produced is the sort of slow-burning, procedurally-generated game that can be produced by a small team of developers such as with Subversion and Love, which costs little to produce but of which the players spend years within.

    Either way, I do think that expensive, long games are not at all the way forward here. Games can be long, but only if the costs of producing such games is severely reduced. Similarly, you could produce a far higher quality blockbuster for less money if it was only a couple or so hours long. (Which is only as long as about 70% of the people who buy it are likely to play it for anyway.)

  16. Axel says:

    The question is why it is now more expensive to produce long games then it was 10 years ago. It can not be the gameplay part. It isn’t more complex then before. The problem are the graphics.
    To create a modern graphic engine is a enormous task. As developer you should really ask yourself if it is worth to do it all over again. There are Open Source graphic engines (OGRE, Crystal Space, Irrlicht, …) that are good enough. The Ankh games use OGRE.
    You also need models and textures and here there are no alternatives to doing it inhouse. Alternatives in form of procedual content generation is not there yet (et least not for fps).

    I also think developers should throw away C and C++ as programming languages of choice. One can create Space Invaders in 40 minutes, given the right tools: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8788197863800411145&q=pyglet&ei=1F5ZSNqBNoz42gK8v4T2Dg&hl

  17. thesombrerokid says:

    @Axel

    there is no alternative to c & c++ for making games i’m afraid see the mobile phone platform for an example of what happens when you try and use a higher level language, although on pc & 360 for small indie games c# would be a better option alla audiosurf

  18. Deuteronomy says:

    Penumbra Black Plague is an AWESOME AWESOME game considering it was made by two dudes in some random northern European country and it only cost 20 bucks. And it runs on Linux/Mac/XP. OpenGL + SDL FTW.

  19. malkav11 says:

    I feel like this is such a vaguely founded discussion. Length of games is an incredibly subjective thing. I think there are some general comparisons possible – Portal from start to finish is unquestionably shorter than Baldur’s Gate II from start to finish, for example. But I’ve heard Portal pegged at being around 3 hours. I took closer to 8 to finish it the first time around and have never done the alternate levels or speed runs or any of that. Oblivion’s main quest probably would take 15 hours, but I’ve definitely spent over 120 on it up to that point and still had tons of (actual, scripted) content left to experience. In fact, in general my play tends to run long because I explore, I fuck around, and I try to do all the side content. I’m also cautious in moving forward.

    At the same time, my attention span is increasingly failing me. I got two planets into the PC version of Mass Effect, was enjoying myself tremendously (at least, with storyline content – the unexplored planets are boring)…and I haven’t played it in a week or two. Oblivion went on hiatus for months before I came back and finished the main quest. GTAIV I stalled out on pretty early in the storyline. And so on. I have huge piles of unfinished games. Yes, sometimes it’s because of annoying game design (like GTAIV), but just as often it’s because I have limited time and come across other things I want to do that are newer or just more in sync with my current mood. And so quality experiences fall by the wayside because I get distracted. I am therefore distinctly in favor of a general shortening of games. Call of Duty 4, Sam and Max (episodes), etc are about the perfect length for me. They take only a couple of days to work my way through, are engaging all the way, and then I’m on to something else. At the same time, I don’t want to pay $50-60 for a game experience of that length, because I can’t spend $50-60 three times a week. It just doesn’t work out. So if the developers want me to buy their games new and not wait a few years for them to fall into the bargain bin or rent them and beat them that way….well, actually they’re probably out of luck, with me. But they should still price accordingly. Sam and Max managed that. Call of Duty, not so much.

  20. Mickiscoole says:

    I’m an obsessive completionist, as if I’m going to play a game, I’m going to finish it and to the best of my ability – do everything. I think I have played GTA: San Andreas 100% 2-3 times.
    My Ideal game would take me 2-3 days of full playing – after a big event I would just take a few days off and just play.

  21. McCool says:

    Almost everyone here is insane, or not even trying to think about this.
    Lets remember one very important premise we have to start with when discussing this:

    (p1) Warren Spector is a very clever man and knows more about the video game industry than me.

    No, really, he does. Lets throw in the second premise, that most of you were relying purely upon:

    (p2) Warren Spector said something I completely disagree with!

    With both of these two, we stand a better chance at making some sort of conclusion. We can consider a momentary lapse of judgement: but why? Some people suggested it was due to his personal relationship with the Deus Ex fanbase. Maybe. It could be any number of things in his background that caused the otherwise clever man to say something stupid.
    Or maybe, just maybe, the problem was elsewhere. Maybe I don’t fully understand how to make a computer game! Alternitavely, maybe I misunderstood what he was saying, it’s possible; after all I have all my own preduces to deal with too.
    Personly, that is my first suspecion when someone tells me something that I automatically disagree with. I don’t really mind whatever route you take, but when you see yourself ending up at

    (c) I know more about the constraints and demands of making a video game than one of the most acclaimed game designers in the industry’s history

    a red light should start flashing somewhere. And someone should hit you on the head.

  22. Muzman says:

    I think there’s a lot to be said for how long people are willing to play a game before its mechanics become stale. But that’s because most games are predicated on their mechanics rather than anything else. Stories and such are essentially window dressing for the blasting and the pretty pictures and other gimmicks. But it’s fairly clear you can make a long game if the story is good and the content allows for exploration.
    I appreciate the budget aspect, but the cynic in me sees this push as only the games industry trying to get people to consume more games in a year. It’s probably working so far, but I reckon (as we’ve seen said here) there’s a limit to how far that will go before the average player’s consumption plateaus and we’re soon to find out just where that point is.

  23. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @McCool

    i think he is wrong though because there are people in the games industry to in love with those kinds of games and too blind to the economics that they’ll make them anyway, and they might make a profit, it’s not impossible just not safe.

    Given that though i don’t think that supports the extinction of flight sims and space sims and all the other great genres that are no more, so maybe he is right.

    although i agree with him that 100 hour blockbusters are going to get less common.

  24. Iain says:

    @Sombrero Kid:

    I should point out that I wasn’t advocating piracy with the “paying to non-paying customers” statement… What I was trying to say is that markets very rarely like being dictated to as to what they want. If a company tries to push a product that people don’t want (a good example is the OS/2 versus Windows battle), customers will generally hand the company their ass on a plate. (See also Microsoft having to extend the life of XP because people weren’t convinced by Vista)

    My point is that a lot of games companies are assuming things that people want (better graphics, shorter games) without actually looking at the trends or actually asking what people want. For example, if graphical fidelity was really so important, how do you explain that the Wii is the best selling console of this generation? Or why Sins of a Solar Empire is up there with the best selling PC games this year, despite not exactly being a looker?

    I do have a lot of sympathy for developers these days, because they have to take a huge financial risk on every title they make. They can’t afford to make games which can’t sell anymore – one sales turkey and it’s all over – but I think developers need to investigate ways of making the development cycle cheaper, while still being able to make great games.

    As stated upthread, length should be determined by what the game is trying to do. Only an idiot would try to make a 30 hour FPS these days. But an RPG that could keep you busy for 100 hours or more… assuming it’s using a sandbox model, rather than a plot-driven model, I don’t see why they still can’t be made.

  25. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Iain

    defiantly agree there, i can’t imagine playing an fps for that long now, but back in the day it was common, i remember people slating Jedi Outcast for being 10 hours long (and the game play too mind), but i think stalker is a good example of passionate devs working away for 6 years profit be damned and producing a mammoth of a game, i don’t see that going away soon, as with David lynch in the film industry the alternative developers might have to scale back their budget but they wont scale back their ambition.

  26. CrashT says:

    Warren comes from a background of novels and P&P Role Playing games, he’s a story guy; albeit in a more player-authored sense than a lot of “stories in games” proponents. He wants people to finish the games he makes because he wants them to reach the end of the story (their story).

    A lot of people simply don’t finish games, look at Valve’s stats, look at XBL achievements. If a game has cost in excess of $30 million to develop and 80% (Or whatever) of people never see the final few hours of content that’s a lot of wasted effort. It’s going to be a bigger problem for the style of shared-authorship games that Warren favours, where different players will see different content anyway. It must be hard enough trying to convince publishers to fund alternate content that some of your audience might never see let alone additional hours of content that almost nobody will ever see.

    From a personal perspective I’ve invested hours into some games and never come close to finishing them, but that’s very rare, (hell the last game I can say that with was Midwinter II on the Atari ST) most open-world games fail to hold my interest. I would much rather play a game I can finish than something like Oblivion where I abandoned it after only a few hours with the feeling that I wasn’t getting anywhere. I simply don’t find straight “open-world sand-box” gameplay to be that appealing. I want character customisation, personal choice and experession but I also want some context for my actions. If that means the overall play time is limited I can live with that. I’d much rather play Deus Ex, or System Shock 2 than Oblivion or Stalker any day.

  27. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Deus Ex & System Shock 2 were finite but huge! Warrens talking about a future with games on the scale of DX2 & shorter

  28. CrashT says:

    @ Sombrero Kid
    A couple of things.

    First; you’re reading a lot into what was a very short quote. There’s simply no way either of us can be certain whether Warren meant Deus Ex length as opposed to Final Fantasy length (Which is what it sounds like to me) or Invisible War length as opposed to Deus Ex length (Which is what is sounds like to you).

    Second; it took me roughly the same length of time to complete Invisible War as it did to complete System Shock 2. In the long run I’m much more likely to play Shock 2 again, but first time through both were very similar in length for me.

    Third; I completed Invisible War in one fairly solid chunk. I’d left Deus Ex unfinished for months because around about the Undersea Base level I started to feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I had to force myself to keep playing, and I’m very glad I did. But if Deus Ex had been a few levels shorter I’d have had a noticably more engaging time playing it.

  29. Al3xand3r says:

    Even if it was a few levels shorter it’d still be longer than what I’m sure mr Warren wants to be creating. Many of the highly regarded long games have had some un needed parts within but even removing those would still keep them as pretty long and epic games. Just as some short games have had un needed parts, for example even Portal spent perhaps a little TOO much time to teach you the basics at the start, only made worthy by the funny monologues of those sections. That doesn’t mean much to this discussion.

    Also, IW wasn’t just shorter, it was also far crappier. I’m not even sure I read much criticism about the sequel’s length, it was mostly about its quality, so I’m not sure why IW was brought into this discussion early on.

  30. The Sombrero Kid says:

    CrashT
    “I love working with Disney because I’m so tired of making games about guys in black leather carrying guns. I don’t want to make those any more,” was the statement that directly preceded the controversial one, i think it’s pretty clear he’s talking about deus ex.

    @Al3xand3r
    most of the critisism of invisible war was about it’s more focused/limiting approach and this is what he’s talking about when he’s saying a game which isn’t 100 hours long.

    i believe he’s saying a game like deus ex is which gives individually crafted choices will be forced to either become a more linear experience or a sandbox which give choice through procedural means.

    this is not a new stance from Warren Spector he’s repeated this position more than once.

  31. CrashT says:

    @ Sombrero Kid:
    He’s talking about the style very specifically not the length. This is a guy who loves cartoons, he wants to make games that aren’t about guys in trench coats with guns anymore, and I don’t blame him.

    Again, he specifically mentions GTA when talking about game length. He didn’t bring up Deus Ex, or even Invisible War. Maybe he doesn’t want games as long as Deus Ex, but maybe he does. All that can be taken from this interview is he doesn’t think games like GTA can remain financial viable as costs increase, and that makes sense. Rockstar had almost guarenteed sales of at least a million units before it was even released, few other companies have that so they can’t afford to put as much content in as a Rockstar or a Blizzard can.

  32. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @CrashT

    maybe your right but you need to take the interview in the context of who it was coming from and what he’s said on the subject before and what experiences he’s basing his knowledge on.

    It’s no secret he feels deus ex targeted a market it’s very difficult if not impossible to profit from and didn’t turn a huge profit for ion storm at least where as the example GTAIV made a stupid amount of money, they’ve returned on their investment after a few weeks on sale.

    GTAIV had no input from him and he has no experience in that genre of game, i believe he’s speaking personally despite saying “One-hundred hour games are on the way out” this statement falls down pretty quick i think when referencing GTAIV but not when talking about Deus Ex, GTAIV was used because it’s a good example of a game with arguably 100 hours of content that the vast majority of people don’t get to the end of, but it’s not a good example of a failed or failing business model which would be cause of a game being on the way out, deus ex is however.

    he’s very clearly saying, i think, that his next game isn’t going to be deus ex or even deus ex with mickey mouse in it, specifically when he says “If we’re spending $100 million on a game, we want you to see the last level” he’s not saying that about Rockstar or any other dev that’s junction point he’s talking about.

  33. CrashT says:

    Yeah fair assesments, and he has made similar comments in the past. But I don’t think Deus Ex’s length was a major factor of its overall quality. Nor do I think that Invisible War’s length was a factor in its “quality” either.

    Deus Ex’s strengths came from it’s core design not the extent of its content and in terms of that core design Warren has never said anything about radically changing it.

    He does however talk about “differentiate” themselves (Junction Point), which goes back to his previous comment about not wanting to make games about “guys in trenchcoats with guns” again.

    Junction Point’s Mission Statement is a clear indication that although he has made some concessions to commercial realities, the core design philosophy that birthed Deus Ex is intact.

    For games like that length doesn’t really matter, because you’ll almost certainly be playing it again several times, in different ways. To me that’s far more appealing than a game I might spend weeks with but will put away for good when I’ve finally finished it once.

    I still have Deus Ex installed, but I’m remiss to invest too much time it in again because when I start it I want to finish it, and I know I’m unlikely to do that given the time I have and the other games I want to play. If it had been a shorter overall experience, I would almost certainly still be actively playing it, knowing that I could take a different character through the entire game and not feel like I had to abandon it at any point.

    One hundred hours for a game in totality, sure bring it on. But one hundred hours before I even finish it the first time? I’m not interested.

    On reflection GTA was a bad choice to make an example of because it’s the kind of game that you can continually dip into over the course of months, even years. A play style I understand, even if I don’t share it.

  34. The Sombrero Kid says:

    very true actually, I reckon you’re right on that one.

    for the record i keep deus ex installed too and go back to it and finish it about once a year cause i think it’s the best thing eva! and i could bear to ask for any part of it to be cut i love it all, when i went to new york this year all i done was talk about parts from deus ex to my girlfriend, particularly the into, which i thought was a bit sad but i couldn’t help it.

    but I’m not expecting anyone to come up with the same experience again and in a lot of ways I’ve moved on from it anyway, i defiantly exited to see a well made game set in a Disney universe much like kingdom hearts except square and their games don’t generally appeal to me so i missed out on that one.

  35. Al3xand3r says:

    If Deus Ex took 2 hours to complete with any given playing style then it’d take 2 hours to complete with the rest also (faster, since you’d know the game’s inner workings) plus you’d probably see 90% of what it had to offer in your first play through anyway since they’d have to allow you to do that else make an already very short game feel even smaller.

    How can you even properly build narrative through atmosphere and different experiences and build the different factions relations if the whole game lasts a couple hours? By using cheap cut scenes that explain everything that’s happening in 60 seconds or what?

    So, yes, Deus Ex’s length was a factor in its overall quality and everyone remembers it as the epic adventure that it was for good reasons.

    I can give examples of epic games like Deus Ex, Fallout, Planescape Torment… How about you name some equally great games that were actually very, very short? I know there are some FANTASTIC short games, but we’ve been talking about this open ended not 100% linear structure of Deus Ex right now so, bring it on and I’m sure we can tear them apart for being much inferior to these examples. Narrative’s required as part of their quality so don’t go mentioning all the roguelikes you can think of which offer completely different things.

    Mind you I’m not saying we SHOULD be talking just about Deus Ex-like games since mr warren was pretty vague in his statements, but it’s what you guys have been focusing on and it’s an easy argument to counter so, yeah.

    Also can we please stop acknolweding that 100 hundred hour games are on the way out since they were never on the way in? He’s obviously exagerating to make his (stupid) point as none of the games he worked on took 100 hours and there are NO games that take 100 hours to complete unless someone deliberately avoids doing so for whatever perverted reason (Oblivion fanboys I’m looking at you).

    If he was being literal then I’d agree with him and say “yeah, don’t give us 100 hour games, Deus Ex length is just about fine for us!” so, yeah.

  36. Vivian says:

    These days Warren Spector is only qualified to comment on the state of his own poo because HIS HEAD IS SHOVED SOLIDLY UP HIS BUM.

  37. Erlam says:

    As someone who finishes every single game he ever guys, I would like longer games. Why? Paying 60 bucks for 4 hours of gameplay is, to me, a waste of money.

    Replayability, however, can often fix this problem. Stalker may not be a long game, but I would be willing to finish it many times. Deus Ex was a long game, and I’ve probably finished it a half dozen times.

    The only short game I can recall that I truly enjoyed was Portal. Other than that, almost every game I truly love will be long in time to beat. Also, what defines a longer game? Does Civilization count as long, or short? Does something like Starcraft count as long? What are multiplayer only games?

    I think the focus on short games is a bad one, because people will simply become bored of playing the cookie-cutter version of the last short game they played. Longer games are often forced to be unique, and the gameplay is all the more fun.

  38. perilisk says:

    I don’t know that games really get that much cheaper to make by cutting length. It’s not as though cutting out half of Oblivion’s areas and quests would reduced the work of testing the gameplay mechanics or coding the engine, and most of the graphical assets were reused between quests. I imagine the same is true for most games, to a greater or lesser degree. Aside from the unique bits (dialogue, VOs, cinematics — the parts that are actually pulled from the movie industry) I suspect most games are fairly front loaded in terms of cost. You develop an expensive set of tools, then you let your team of designers apply them to maximum benefit. Hell, why -not- make games as long as possible?

    Anyway, three things tend to keep me going through a long game — story pacing, OCD completionism, and exploration (of the world, or the rules). With Oblivion, it was the OCD bit (must… complete… all… quests…), but with Dwarf Fortress, I’m constantly discovering new gameplay mechanics over time. That kind of sandbox complexity might be the way forward for those of us that like to sink hours and hours into a game.