Gamelength

The Manhunt topic started an offshoot, so I thought we could discuss it here. How long should games be? Is there a minimum that you find acceptable but borderline? A maximum length?

Personally, I feel that a games should be at least 10 hours long and at most 40. And I only want to see 40 in RPGs. Even then, it is pushing it for me. An ideal length for me is between 15 and 20 hours, in ANY genre. That gives me value for my $50 while still allowing me to play through to the end before I get bored. I don’t get to do marathon gaming sessions anymore so I want my couple of hours here and there to mean something…to have substance over time spent. I understand why some people want 200 hour games, but I never get past about 50 in most games, and usually I don’t make it that far.

What do YOU look for?

20-25 in an RPG
15-20 in a FPS

I don’t play many games with “ends”, but I would say about 25 for an RPG. That’s a good two weeks of serious play.

Troy

Long enough that I feel that I got my money’s worth. If a game is short, then it better be really good. If it is, then I don’t necessarily mind that it’s short. By the same token, I don’t derive greater enjoyment from games just because they are longer. All other things being equal, I prefer longer games to short ones… but all other things are never equal, so it’s a moot point.

KOTOR clocked me for 25 hours of play time right at the finish, not sure if reloads are counted but I doubt it so add an hour or two to that time. I finished that game in three and a half days. And yes, I am insane. :)

A game that can show me exactly where the development time and money went and can match that up with however much i paid for it. Serious Sam for $20? Sure. 4 years of dev time with several million put into it for 5 hours of gameplay at $50? Up yours.

KOTOR clocked me for 25 hours of play time right at the finish, not sure if reloads are counted but I doubt it so add an hour or two to that time. I finished that game in three and a half days. And yes, I am insane. :)[/quote]

The wife is the family role-player, and she’s so busy with NWN that I doubt she’d find three solid days to finish it. Especially with her folks staying with us for Xmas. I may find the time.

Glad to hear that it is so hard to put down though. We have a pretty tight budget, so we have to make our games count.

Troy

I want my games to be good more than I want a specific length. For every long good game I played, if you were to take out the crappy, annoying, dragging parts of the game, or the parts where it lost focus somewhat, you’d probably have ended up with a better, shorter game.

I have no real requirements, but shorter games make me happy since it’s far more likely that I’ll complete them.

Edit: For example, take wind waker. With all the stupid time wasting bullshit they put in the game, it padded to somewhere around 15 hours. If they’d taken that out, I’d have liked the game more, even though it would have been much shorter because of it.

I tend to agree with Ben; if it’d good I’m generally happy with the length, within reason. I don’t think there’s ever been a good game that clocked in under 10 hours, for instance.

On the Xbox, I’m 40+ hours into Gladius and just finishing up the Southern Expanse tourney, with some more solid gameplay to go. It’s been a blast but it’s getting a tad longish–not that I’m complaining but it’s clear a 75+ hour game would exceed my patience. KOTOR clocked in at just around 40 hours as well, and it too was starting to try my patience.

I don’t time the PC games as closely (many don’t have built in counters), but Call of Duty was maybe 15 hours of actual play time for me, perhaps less. I have yet to finish Baldur’s Gate II. Shadows of Undrentide went by pretty fast; though the base NWN campaign was longer it wasn’t as interesting. And games like Battlefield 1942 multiplayer or Civi III solo have nearly infinite replay value so there really is no way to measure them.

I like games to have enough time to fully explore the situations and mechanics they employ or reveal. Once that’s done, for most closed-ended games there’s only a little more time you can squeeze out of them before things start to get repetitive.

I wrote this editorial back in 2001:

I’m finding that two years later, I spend less time gaming than I used to. As a result, I’ve seen my game completion rate go down, with a corresponding increase in appreciation for being able to finish games. More recently (in the Deux Ex: IW thread) I offer a revised opinion on game length, where I recognize that there’s value to being able to finish a game in a few weeks of real-world time. Of course, then we get into the whole debate about what constitutes an ideal game length. 15 hours? 20 hours? 20 hours and 2 minutes? What about the time differential based on genre?

I think where length is concerned, I’m going to return to my previous position that it applies on a game by game basis. Sure, that’s a bit of a cop out answer, but it seems foolish to apply the same length criteria to all games, or even all games of the same type.

Games will still continue to be deemed “too long” or “too short”, and if reviewers are able to articulate why, then I don’t have a problem with it. Merely complaining that a game “can be finished in 15 hours” is fairly uninformative.

Er, uh, now that I’ve said all that, I’ll casually mention that I like my games to clock in at between 20 and 60 hours, with a bias towards longer games. :mrgreen:

  • Alan

For their game types both KOTOR and Max Payne 2 were the perfect length for me. Both left me feeling like I’d like to see a sequel ,but I wasn’t bored out of my skull by the end like MOH, COD, Jedi Academy. If you aren’t giving me something new, don’t fill the space with something old just to make me feel better about the length.

Anyone complaining about long games is completely missing the point.

It’s not the length of the game that is the problem - it’s the quality. If there was a game that was 100 hours long and was pure bliss from start to finish, are you saying you would wish it were shorter? I see several people saying “I don’t like long games because I get bored and they get repetitive”. You shouldn’t be wishing for shorter games; you should be wishing for better games.

Hmm… I just noticed that Alan Au already made this point. Damn.

I wouldn’t dare suggest that length is a deal breaker in most cases. Yes, an excellent but short game should be appreciated for what it has accomplished. But considering that most games fall in the vast middle between amazing and trash, length should certainly be considered as we would in any other media form.

We’ve all watched good movies that dragged on too long and good movies that we wish were longer. Same with books. I see no reason why people can’t have personal expectations for gamelength. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but something worth considering.

Troy

Quality’s more important than length, but I think for $50 gamers should get at least 15 hours of gameplay. That said, I don’t mind shorter games if there’s added value in the form of multiplayer, skirmish modes against the AI, randomized starting conditions ala Civilization, or even extra scenarios.

I’ll use the original Max Payne as an example. I thought the game was too short at full price, and that’s including the ridiculous padding via the dream sequences in that game. If the game had also included a few individual levels not tied to the story, I would have been happier. I felt like playing more after I finished Max, but there was no replay value in the game’s additional play modes. A few “Max Payne’s Lost Case Files” missions or something like that would have been welcome.

In a perfect world we’d have lots of 50+ hour games that we just don’t want to ever end. But the world ain’t perfect and what we have is developers who don’t have the resources to fill 50+ hours of game content for our $50, generally. The problem isn’t quality it’s money/resources. To be enjoyable, the hours of a game have to be filled with good content. Agame with 15 hours of stellar content is a lot cheaper to make than one with 50 hours of the same quality content, generally.

I pose this question, not because I know the answer but because in fact I do not: is it fair to expect 40+ hours of top-knotch quality (across the board–graphics, story, action, mechanics, etc.) for the same price we pay for 15 hours? In other words, are the people selling $50 games that last 15 hours cheating us, or are the people making 40+ hour good games going well above and beyond, possibly due to their unique situation as a developer/publisher?

As a corrolarly, would anyone be willing to spend, say, $75 or $100 on a 100+ hour RPG as opposed to $50 for the “standard” 20-30 hour version?

There definitely is a point at which a game is too short. If you’re paying more per hour than an equivilent amount of movies at Silver City, the game is too short.

I don’t worry about games being too long. Pretty much all the great RPGs have lost my interest before the end (Fallout 1&2, Phantasy Star 1-3, Planescape Torment, Baldur’s Gate) and I don’t hold it against them. Too long is very subjective, and there’s no way a company can make a game that is the perfect length for everybody. I would rather quit a game before the end than finish it before I’m ready to stop playing.

As a corrolarly, would anyone be willing to spend, say, $75 or $100 on a 100+ hour RPG as opposed to $50 for the “standard” 20-30 hour version?

I’m sure a lot of hardcore RPG fans would, but they’d have to be convinced of the excellence before slapping down their money. You’d have your work cut out trying to convince them.

I agree wth Mark. I’d love to see all my games clock in at about 15 hours. Maybe twice that for an rpg, though I certainly wouldn’t complain about another epic 60 hour BG2 experience.

In other words, are the people selling $50 games that last 15 hours cheating us, or are the people making 40+ hour good games going well above and beyond, possibly due to their unique situation as a developer/publisher?

That’s a good point. Bioware gave us 200+ hours with BG2 which is way more than anyone has a right to expect. Of course all of their games since then have been significantly shorter (though still good length) so I wonder if its a conscious decision on their part to move away from these 100+ hour sprawling epics. It must be disappointing to developers to put all this work into the end game when most people quit before they are halfway through. I wonder how many people never made it out of Chapter 2 in BG2?

I would rather quit a game before the end than finish it before I’m ready to stop playing.

Totally disagree here. No matter how much I enjoy a game I would rather finish on a high note than from burnout.

I agree with this completely. I would have LOVED to have seen the end of BG2 (actually, BG2.5), but I just don’t have the patience to play that far. Silent Hill (the original) by comparison was a bit short (10 hours or so of gametime) but I loved the whole thing. I did wish it was a bit longer at the time, but I am still very satisfied by the experience. I had a lot of fun with BG2, but I still don’t feel satisfied by it because I didn’t finish it. There are lots of other games I didn’t finish, but many of the ones that still satisfied me were the ones that I only quit because I knew I was right at the end and didn’t feel like beating the final fight/boss/etc. Many of those final fights are tedious for reasons that have nothing to do with game length. But by then I generally know how the game will end anyway.

I am rambling now, but my point is that I am with Kevin here. I would MUCH rather be able to finish a game. Yes, the threshold on how long is too long is a bit subjective, but surely cases like BG2 fit into most people’s version of too long, while games like Square’s The Bouncer fit into most people’s version of too short. Games between 10-40 hours would probably fit into most people’s version of “appropriate”. We can debate the borderlines all we want (and there might be good reasons to do so) but there are still clear cases of games that have inappropriate lengths, in both directions.