Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

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Blorx
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Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Blorx » Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:49 pm

Okay, I hear all the time a number of complaints about it and I just want to hear everyone's opinions.

Personally, my dream is to have a game that provides close to 400 hours in one playthrough and doesn't get old. However, that's a pretty far off dream. No one wants to write that long of a script for any genre of game and it's hard to make a game last that long and keep it interesting.

So anyways, currently, games are at $60 a pop when released, with the exception of PC and Wii games at $50, DS games now at $40, discount games, and PSP games at god knows where.

What does it take for a game to be worth your money?

RPG fans will say it needs to be lengthy. It needs to take as much time as possible. They don't want to pay $60 to play for 10 hours and have it end on them. Whether all of it is quality or only some of it is, the general consensus among RPG fans is to keep adding on length.

Adventure fans will generally say it needs to have a hard hitting story and the gameplay needs to at least be enjoyable. That's usually all they ask for.

FPS fans generally say it needs to have awesome graphics and lots of explosions. General action fans will say the same a lot of times.

Arcade fans will say it needs to be replayable.

Platformer fans will say it needs to be replayable and have a good difficulty curve.

Of course there are mixes in there, and these are stereotypes, but the point stands. What does it take for a game to be worth it?

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Post by Zhukov » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:28 pm

Uhh... it has to be interesting and entertaining?

Although, if one wanted to spilt hairs, one could probably say that anything entertaining is already interesting by definition.

Also, note that I'm using the term "entertainment" very broadly. Entertainments comes in many flavours. For example, ramming an armoured truck through a road block, five soldiers and two buildings in Red Faction Guerilla. Or slicing and dicing mythical creatures in God of War. Those scenarios are entertaining in a delightfully gleeful "oh the chaos" sort of way.
However, then there is the other end of the spectrum. For example, doing the no-I'm-not-about-to-cry-I-just-have-something-in-my-eye-rapid-blink at the end of Half-Life 2 Ep2 or during that "I remember Me" mission in Mass Effect. Even though the emotions generated are very different, I would still call these examples entertainment, just in a different flavour.

Ugh. That was a horribly convoluted explanation, but I think you get the idea.

...

Oh yes, regarding game length. Once upon a time I might have said a game needs to be at least six hours long. Then Portal happened. Only three hours long. Brilliant game. One of my all-time favourites.
By contrast, I recently played Just Cause 2 for something like 30 hours. Most of which was spent being bored out of my mind. Game abandoned. Didn't even finish the story. Soon to be forgotten.

So yeah, quality over quantity. Trite but true.

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Blorx » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:47 pm

Yeah, I get it. ^^

I'm just asking as a general consensus sort of thing. I've just noticed that with recent times, a lot of gamers either think "the hours/dollars ratio better be pretty damn close to being 1 or over 1" or "I better be able to replay this game enough times to even out the hours/dollars ratio."

However, as you said, Portal is a stunning example. A lot of people bought the Orange Box just for Portal.

Portal was 3 hours. The Orange Box cost what, $60 on the Xbox and PS3 when it was released? That's $20/hour. Even with TF2 and the Half-Life series to even it out a bit, I'm pretty sure a lot of gamers felt content with their buy.

Even now, Portal is $15 on XBLA, I think. Maybe on Steam, too. That's still $5/hour. People are still really happy with the buy.

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by TadMod » Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:37 am

I don't think price and length are a comparable measure... because length does not in any way entail quality... so yeah... XD

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Endoperez » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:53 am

Blorx wrote:Even now, Portal is $15 on XBLA, I think. Maybe on Steam, too. That's still $5/hour. People are still really happy with the buy.
Please consider this: people are not willing to pay 5$ per hour of quality gameplay. People are willing to pay 20$ or so for entertainment, e.g. a good game that's only three hours long, or a subscription. However, people are not willing to pay 2000$ for 400 hours of gameplay up front.

This means that to pay for the costs of developing 400 hours' worth of story, plot and gameplay, the developers pretty much have to generate money continuously throughout the development process. Subscriptions, advertising, whatever. However, ATM most people are not willing to pay subscription for a single-player experience. And this means that 400-hour single-player games are not economically viable.

Obviously I'm only talking about games with long stories, not games with lots of replayability. The points also explain why games 40 to 80 hours long are often riskier financially than shorter games. There are games with somewhat lengthy stories (20-30 hours) that can be bought for 45$. A game with three times the story is more expensive to produce. However, it won't sell that much more than a shorter game - there's no demographic where you could get 30-50% more buyers with a longer story. The selling price can only be increased up to about 50% (45+22 =~ 67), but the higher price affects sales negatively, so they won't be getting 50% more profits.


Story quality, as opposed to length, is pretty much down to writers, and much of that work can be done before the game production starts. That was explained well in an oldish blog post.
http://blog.wolfire.com/2009/12/Bands-and-orchestras wrote:[T]he end result can be no better than the sheet music [game design] they are working from. This is why in the music world, the orchestra [developer team] is usually completely separate from the composer [game designer/script writer]. This is also true in film -- the film studios look at many scripts from many screenwriters, then pick the best one and make it into a film.

The gaming industry is, for the most part, too new and immature to work like this yet. The designs that turn into games are not selected through an exhaustive competitive process that funnels the creativity of hundreds of designers.

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by zoidberg rules » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:41 am

personally, im a bit of a mix of all of the options, i was very disappointed with modern warfare 2, just because of how short it was, and dont say that the online play makes up for it, because i, for one am not obsessed with online play, and i only ever play spec-ops with a friend. although, the difficulty curve does seem to have just kept going since MW1, which was a good move and makes it replayable, or at least for me.

mass effect 2 was also a very slight disappointment, i saw the 2 disks and thought "great, a nice, long game, that should keep me entertained" and roughly 30 hours later, all over, bit of a shame, since it was about 10 hours shorter than my 100% playthrough on ME1. although the new DLC being released has just started bumping it up to ME1's length, and the graphics of ME2 kept me interested for a while.

in short, i want a 35-40 hour game, with plenty of replay value, cheap, or preferably free DLC (ME2), good graphics, and a strong and imersive storyline that i can get really involved with. (basically, a longer ME2)

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Armored Wolf » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:30 pm

I started reading this wall of text and stopped at the part about 400 hours of gameplay.

400 hours?! That's wayyyyyy too long, methinks. I can't imagine how any game would still be enjoyable after 400 hours, especially if it wasn't an RPG, but I imagine it would seriously feel like grinding in a RPG after 400 hours.

Although who knows, people play MMORPGs for more than 400 hours...

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Blorx » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:42 pm

Armored Wolf wrote:I started reading this wall of text and stopped at the part about 400 hours of gameplay.
Wall of text? It was all cleverly separated to NOT look like a wall of text.

Well, I now know that you could never read a book. "I started reading this mountain of text and stopped at the part about how George lived in the middle of nowhere. There's just no point."

I also know that you could never have typed an intelligent response, because:

1. You didn't read the post and don't know what I was even trying to ask.

2. You could never contribute another wall of text to the mountain.

Gah, learn 2 read. :|

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Armored Wolf » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:49 pm

All right all right, it's not actually a wall of text, bad phrasing on my part.

My opinion about 400 hours of gameplay is still my opinion.

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Endoperez » Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:08 am

Armored Wolf wrote:All right all right, it's not actually a wall of text, bad phrasing on my part.

My opinion about 400 hours of gameplay is still my opinion.
And my longish explanation about why the 400 hours of gameplay is unviable is also TL;DR, right? :P

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Endoperez » Sat Apr 10, 2010 12:33 pm

Game stories SUCK. Game plot ideas SUCK.
I borrowed some scifi books yesterday, and pretty much all of them could be used for an interesting game. The stories are just so much BETTER. They draw you in, unlike games. Just thinking about the stories I've just read, there's so many things those could be used in games.

A tower of text follows.



"End of Eternity" is about people who travel in time, and make changes in the different times - and how those changes propagate, changing the future, and thus changing lives of people hundreds of years into the future. Persons living after the change are only analogies of what they were before, because their past was also changed.
The player could be a technician making those changes. He enters time at a specific moment, at any point in tens of thousands of years. Instant explanation for varied levels! He has a time limit, but there's some margin for error. The changes can be anything - stealing an item, killing a man, making sure a man is late for a meeting, anything. It'd be like Hitman in many ways, except that killing isn't the only option, or option at all. And think of the awesomeness of returning from your trip, and seeing the changes you made propagate through time. Averting wars, creating grounds for new inventions, making sure an artist doesn't die too young. And obviously you would be able to see a place develop through the ages, cities rising to glory or crumbling in decay, and meet descendent of people you saved or analogies changed by your changes in their pasts.

Thief + Hitman + Chrono Trigger + that one Dragon Warrior game with the time-jumps. Endless variability. The missions could be anything. All the above is just extrapolations of the setting and not spoilerworthy - if you want an overarching plot or twists, there's those too.



Or the Foundation books. They could be used for the story of a strategy game. The premise of the books is "A group of intellectuals is sent to a poor, remote planet while the old Imperium is crumbling. According to pseudo-science, there's over 90% probability that during the next 1000 years, they'll face a series of difficult crises but ultimately grow to be the next galactic empire. A strategy game where your power would increase on each stage, every time starting with the planets you conquered or exerted control over during the previous stages. No more starting every mission by building the same base, over and over again!


Even the worst of the five books I read, Zen-gun by Barrington J. Bailey, had a somewhat original world with gigantic space-ships with peculiar tactics, and most importantly weird ideas about ground-based combat, horrible weapon that could destroy humankind, horrible disaster that brought fourth multidimensional beings that threaten to do horrible things for everything in this universe, scenes that would make great cinematics (about how the death will soon be destroyed, BTW), and political struggles that treaten to throw whole mankind in war with the rest of the universe, and another that threatens to throw whole humankind under the control of other beings. Oh, and it had an alternative physics the writer came up with because he thought things pushing other things is silly. :roll: It's barely over 100 pages, and I didn't find it a particularly good book. Still, it was FILLED with ideas, to the brim. Not all original, but with his own little twists. If Barrington J. Bailey was paired with a game designer, I don't know what'd come out. I expect we'd get something delightfully weird.


Speaking of delightfully weird, China Mieville. The books are not horror, at least I don't think they're meant to be, but the setting is sometimes so dark and horrible that it's terrifying. The magic, the Remade, the scientists, the races the world the robots the golems the CITY... Why don't games get that kind of detail?

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Raneman » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:24 pm

Make a sandbox game. DONE. Alternativly, make a multiplayer exclusive one and update it constantly.
I swear, I've logged so many hours into games like Dwarf Fortress and Team Fortress 2.

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Re: Acceptable game length vs quality for your money's worth

Post by Endoperez » Sun Apr 11, 2010 5:11 am

Raneman wrote:Make a sandbox game. DONE. Alternativly, make a multiplayer exclusive one and update it constantly.
I swear, I've logged so many hours into games like Dwarf Fortress and Team Fortress 2.
I haven't found a sandbox that'd keep me interested, or a MP exclusive game I pay more than occassionally.

Also roguelikes (Nethack/ADOM/TOME, Dungeon Crawl, POWDER, Desktop Dungeons, DoomRL...). Even Diablo SP can consume hours, but I'd lose interest faster in that one because it wasn't planned to be only played on Hardcore. And then there's strategy games from chess to Civilizations to Dominions 3. But I thought this was about game plots.

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