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Author Topic: Warren Spector: games are too long!  (Read 3442 times)
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Blackjack
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« on: June 18, 2008, 05:26:47 PM »

Saw this Gamasutra item at Blue's News today:
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=18986
Quote
As he has often done in the past, Spector commented on his frustration with some of the dominant tropes of video games. "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," he said.

"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!"
This seems like a bizarre way of looking at things. Most gamers I know love something with replay value and/or tons of gameplay time, because it feels like they're getting their $40-$60 worth. If it's something short and sweet, they'll presumably more likely rent it (consoles) or wait for it to hit the bargain bins (PC), neither of which seems like a fate someone wants for their $35-$100 million game.  icon_confused

Anyway, I thought it would probably draw some interesting feedback here.  stirthepot

I've loved some action games that drew some criticism for their relativley short play time (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and the original Call of Duty come to mind), but I think I've usually been more drawn to games with long campaigns, or to things that seemed to supply a lot of replayability.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2008, 05:30:16 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2008, 05:49:59 PM »

For me, it is like the difference between a novel and a short story. A novel lets you get away with bits and pieces there as long as the overall work is good. A short story, you don't have margin of error.

In other words, I don't mind short games at all, but there had better not be any wasted space in the thing. Portal, of course, is the prime example of this.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2008, 06:12:33 PM »

I think his point about last levels is good- generally I think the beginnings of most games are better than the endings (in sharp contrast to most other forms of media).  Why is that?  Because developers know that most people will never see the ending so why put the same level of effort into it than the section that everyone who plays your game will see?  I think the Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy developers even acknowledged that they blew off the ending for similar reasons. 

So if somewhat shorter games means more people actually play the entire game then I think good endings will get more attention from the development community. 
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Butterknife
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« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2008, 06:28:51 PM »

Perceived value is a big part of it, though.  If I expect a game to last 10 hours, I don't want to pay full price -- regardless of how fun those 10 hours are.
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Rumpy
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2008, 06:45:11 PM »

In other words, he wants people to pay more for less.  Roll Eyes It's ironic since Deus Ex was one of the longest games in recent memory. Everything these days seems bent on being short, and I think people feel cheated if they're too short. Some games like RPGs need to be long. It's all part of the accomplishment, part of the gameplay and discovering what you need to do next. Short RPGs tend to not feel epic. It's the difference between slaying a dragon and delivering a note.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2008, 06:49:07 PM by Rumpy » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2008, 06:48:05 PM »

Quote from: Rumpy on June 18, 2008, 06:45:11 PM

In other words, he wants people to pay more for less.  Roll Eyes It's ironic since Deus Ex was one of the longest games in recent memory. Everything these days seems bent on being short, and I think people feel cheated if they're too short.

Do they really, though?  For certain individuals sure.  But, in general, games do seem to be getting shorter and software sales are still booming.  So I don't think publishers and developers are getting much feedback saying they need to make games longer.

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Rumpy
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2008, 07:02:46 PM »

Yes, I think they do. If anything, the price of games have gone up while games have gotten shorter. That alone makes me consider long and hard whether I want to buy a game or not. I want something that will make me feel like what I paid was worth it. I've bought Morrowind and Oblivion in the past because they're an exception, where I felt I'd be getting my money's worth. Games here are close to $80, sometimes even $90, which is a far cry from $60 and $70 back in the early 90's. To me, I don't care so much if I see the end. I only care that I get my money's worth enjoying a game, and if it takes me a long time to even get near the end, then so be it. I think some people like a challenge, where games are a journey from beginning to end.

And there's also the factor of consolizing. Games have more and more been designed for consoles first, and PCs last. Console gamers I think tend to have short attention spans, where games are designed with smaller levels so that people can feel they can play "bite sized" game sessions. They haven't been designed with patience in mind, but for twitchy minds.
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2008, 07:22:30 PM »

Quote from: Rumpy on June 18, 2008, 07:02:46 PM

And there's also the factor of consolizing. Games have more and more been designed for consoles first, and PCs last. Console gamers I think tend to have short attention spans, where games are designed with smaller levels so that people can feel they can play "bite sized" game sessions. They haven't been designed with patience in mind, but for twitchy minds.

That is just silly.  People put hundreds of hours into console games.  Franchies like Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest have some of the longest games ever.  No one who has played through Final Fantasy 7 and leveled up enough to beat Emerald and Ruby Weapons can be said to have a short attention span.
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2008, 07:24:49 PM »

Like I said in the previous post, RPGs are the exception. It's all part of the gameplay.
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2008, 07:26:49 PM »

Warren Spector has gone the way of Howard Hughes.

Let us pause for a moment of silence.

...

Back to gaming!  Wooooo!
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2008, 07:47:22 PM »

Quote from: Rumpy on June 18, 2008, 07:24:49 PM

Like I said in the previous post, RPGs are the exception. It's all part of the gameplay.

Well I didn't read that.... icon_razz
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2008, 10:11:49 PM »

I made a similar post before saying that I would rather buy a 15 hour game that I can finish than a 40 hour game that I never will.  It doesn't bother me that they might be the same price-I rarely buy release day or new games anyways.
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2008, 10:32:13 PM »

I don't mind shorter games as long as the game isn't on a rail.  A 50 hour RPG that has a lot of replayability is worth more to me than a 100 hour rail game. 

On the other extreme, 10 hour story based games are rarely worth it, even if they are great.  If I'm going to spend $50 or more, it had better give me 20 hours at least.
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2008, 11:00:20 PM »

I can't believe this thread has gotten this far without the most obvious observation that always pops up regarding this issue: the quality of the gameplay.

A 5 hour game that 'has no fat' and is great all the way through (Portal, IMO) is better than a 50 hour game that has the same 5 hours of grinding repeated 10 times (the reason why many people don't like Diablo-esque action rpgs).  The problem with valuation of 'hours' in a game is it ignores if those are constructive hours or just repetitive filler.

Now as to everyone ignoring his first statement:
Quote
"I love working with Disney because I'm so tired of making games about guys in black leather carrying guns.
icon_lol
I guess we'll never see DE3.
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2008, 11:04:31 PM »

Yeah, I kind of agree that a lot of games are too long... I get bored... I also think that while for a while it seemed like the really good shooter/action titles were getting super short, they've kind of hit a nice middle ground lately, where it's not so short as to be over in one sitting (for me, anyway), but not so long that it just feels repetitive and dragged out for the sake of falsely extending the length of the game...  COD4, R6 Vegas, R6 Vegas 2, Crysis... longer than stuff like Max Payne a few years ago...

I'm also much more likely to go back and re-play a really well paced, reasonable length game like COD4 than I am to finish a game like GTA4... though I'll probably eventually finish that particular one...
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« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2008, 11:11:16 PM »

Quote from: Big Jake on June 18, 2008, 11:00:20 PM

I guess we'll never see DE3.

Already in development from Eidos' new Montreal studio. 
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morlac
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2008, 11:43:33 PM »

Quote from: Big Jake on June 18, 2008, 11:00:20 PM

I can't believe this thread has gotten this far without the most obvious observation that always pops up regarding this issue: the quality of the gameplay.


I guess you skipped the second post.
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« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2008, 12:39:45 AM »

Well the shortness v cost is one reason why I don't by games like CoD4 and such as I think it is a straight out rippoff.. to those that think otherwise fine but I vote with my wallet.
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« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2008, 12:59:47 AM »

Quote from: morlac on June 18, 2008, 11:43:33 PM

Quote from: Big Jake on June 18, 2008, 11:00:20 PM

I can't believe this thread has gotten this far without the most obvious observation that always pops up regarding this issue: the quality of the gameplay.


I guess you skipped the second post.

I can't blame him. Nobody reads anything I write anyway. smile

I pay for quality. I mean, I might feel shafted if the game was REALLY short, like 2 hrs short, but if I get a kick ass experience out of a game, its length usually doesn't matter to me.
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2008, 01:15:05 AM »

I don't think a game's length has anything to do with its quality (except in extreme cases, i.e. I don't think you could make an good epic RPG that's 5 hours long), but it does affect how much I'm willing to pay for it.  In general, the only games I'll pay full price for are RPGs, as that's my favorite genre and the games generally have tens of hours of playtime.  For other games, I just wait until they come down in price.  There's a place for games of all different lengths, from 2-hour long episodes of Sam & Max to 100-hour epic RPGs.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2008, 01:17:52 AM by EddieA » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2008, 01:28:11 AM »

Quote from: Big Jake on June 18, 2008, 11:00:20 PM

I can't believe this thread has gotten this far without the most obvious observation that always pops up regarding this issue: the quality of the gameplay.

A 5 hour game that 'has no fat' and is great all the way through (Portal, IMO) is better than a 50 hour game that has the same 5 hours of grinding repeated 10 times (the reason why many people don't like Diablo-esque action rpgs).  The problem with valuation of 'hours' in a game is it ignores if those are constructive hours or just repetitive filler.

while Portal is a great game in a small package, i would have been very disappointed if that's all i had gotten for my $50.  as part of the phenomenal Orange Box collection, however, it's something i really enjoyed.  in my mind, 'getting my money's worth' plays a big role in many of my game purchases.  i'll gladly pay $50 for a well done, lengthy game without hesitation...short games are a different story.  i'm much more likely to either borrow/rent a short game, or wait for a price drop, before spending my money.  i really think the key is to strike a good balance between game duration and quality of the experience.  i understand that it can be difficult to maintain quality over many hours, but a good developer should be able to give more than 4-6 hours if they put in the effort.
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morlac
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« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2008, 01:29:41 AM »

Quote from: Wilko on June 19, 2008, 12:39:45 AM

Well the shortness v cost is one reason why I don't by games like CoD4 and such as I think it is a straight out rippoff.. to those that think otherwise fine but I vote with my wallet.

The fact that it has a robust, kickass multiplayer component more than makes up for the short single player game.  It's a huge part of the game and it's not fair to ignore it.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2008, 01:31:35 AM by morlac » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2008, 02:10:46 AM »

Quote from: morlac on June 19, 2008, 01:29:41 AM

Quote from: Wilko on June 19, 2008, 12:39:45 AM

Well the shortness v cost is one reason why I don't by games like CoD4 and such as I think it is a straight out rippoff.. to those that think otherwise fine but I vote with my wallet.

The fact that it has a robust, kickass multiplayer component more than makes up for the short single player game.  It's a huge part of the game and it's not fair to ignore it.

Well I don't do multi.. I hate it so that kinda makes it hard for me to take that into account, I understand where you are coming from and see that is a factor that can make up for the short SP portion but for me if it is a short SP then it is a automatic no buy.
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« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2008, 02:49:29 AM »

Quote from: Wilko on June 19, 2008, 02:10:46 AM


Well I don't do multi.. I hate it so that kinda makes it hard for me to take that into account, I understand where you are coming from and see that is a factor that can make up for the short SP portion but for me if it is a short SP then it is a automatic no buy.

I figured as much and that would be fine as long if you were not calling the game a ripoff because of the short single player when it's not even the primary focus of the game.  Any quick review would have indicated as much as the single player was barely discussed so it's not like they were trying to hoodwink people.  Wouldn't surprise me if they just left out the single player portion next game.  Not that I agree with that as I have liked all their single player sections going back to the first but such is life.   
« Last Edit: June 19, 2008, 02:51:22 AM by morlac » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2008, 02:58:30 AM »

Can't agree with that- CoD4 got a huge amount of attention (deservedly) for it's single player campaign.  No way do they back off from that. 
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« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2008, 06:03:35 AM »

It's pretty simple, really:

Gaming = mainstream today - becoming even more mainstream every day.

Mainstream = not dedicated gamers = gaming time much less of a priority.

Generate revenue = minimise costs and maximise proft = make shorter games.

If a mainstream movie fan will pay 10-20$ for 1.5 hours of fun (DVD/Blu-ray), a mainstream gamer will HAPPILY pay 30-40$ for 5-10 hours of fun.

Spector has lost it completely, but that doesn't mean he can't state the obvious.
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« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2008, 11:19:48 AM »

With rare exceptions, I don't want to spend even 20 hours on one game anymore. I very much like my 5 to 10 hours games, regardless of price. I'd say MGS4 and Forza 2 are the only exceptions from the last year or so as far as singplayer time spent in game being over 20 hours. All my other big games have been a quick 5 to 10 hour run through singleplayer followed by a bit of devotion to the multiplayer portion, much like I had with CoD4.

I have other hobbies. I like to spend time with those too. Actually playing multiple 40 hour games in a year would be a pretty big damn impairment to that particular goal.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get back to cleaning my AR-15 so I can get going on one of those other hobbies this very afternoon.
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« Reply #27 on: June 19, 2008, 12:25:06 PM »

Quote from: Rumpy on June 18, 2008, 07:02:46 PM

Games here are close to $80, sometimes even $90, which is a far cry from $60 and $70 back in the early 90's.

I'm assuming you're referring to Canada, and that's wildly untrue, IMHO. IF you're buying collectors editions then you have yourself to blame. 55-59 is the going rate; add tax after the fact. Those dollars you're spending would have been sales taxed anyways (even if it were 2 new-release movies you bought). Some titles come out at 69bux, but if you get the game in the first couple days its out then FS/BB have deals on them that the rest of the known retail world will match with no effort.

Also, games were cheaper, but our dollar was worth less in the 90's so it was still around the same price (60-70 a pop) ... late eighties / early nineties they were in the 80-90 dollar range so we're actually spending less than where we were.
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« Reply #28 on: June 19, 2008, 12:51:58 PM »

I like getting games that I can play and finish if I want.  I hate running into a level in a game where they make it so freakin hard you ahve to save every 10 seconds and repeat it a million times to get it done; hey I know lets put a jumping puzzle in here - is that a level requirement in game designer school?
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« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2008, 02:26:42 PM »

Quote from: drifter on June 19, 2008, 12:51:58 PM

I like getting games that I can play and finish if I want.  I hate running into a level in a game where they make it so freakin hard you ahve to save every 10 seconds and repeat it a million times to get it done; hey I know lets put a jumping puzzle in here - is that a level requirement in game designer school?

Like the epilogue of CoD4?
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« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2008, 02:59:35 PM »

Quote from: Purge on June 19, 2008, 12:25:06 PM

Quote from: Rumpy on June 18, 2008, 07:02:46 PM

Games here are close to $80, sometimes even $90, which is a far cry from $60 and $70 back in the early 90's.

I'm assuming you're referring to Canada, and that's wildly untrue, IMHO.

those prices sound Australian.
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« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2008, 04:06:48 PM »

They do, but I thought Rumpy was Canadian like me and most games here are under $50 in recent memory
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« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2008, 04:59:22 PM »

Yes, Canadian. But unless they're budget titles, I've seen them way up there. For example the Starcraft Battlechest or was it the Warcraft Battlechest? I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the price: $99.99.
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« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2008, 05:42:57 PM »

Quote
I guess you skipped the second post.
Not really. Mali didn't make a very good analogy (no offense).  A novel isn't the same short story reposted 10 times in a row, the way most "contains 100 hours of gameplay!" are. 
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« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2008, 07:21:29 PM »

Quote from: Big Jake on June 19, 2008, 05:42:57 PM

Quote
I guess you skipped the second post.
Not really. Mali didn't make a very good analogy (no offense).  A novel isn't the same short story reposted 10 times in a row, the way most "contains 100 hours of gameplay!" are. 

Depends on your novel. The later Robert Jordan novels (IMO) might as well have been the same 10 short stories repeated over and over again. smile
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« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2008, 10:28:55 PM »

Ha, I find it funny about all the talk of price vs length. i bought this up before in the console forum and everyone jumped on me saying that was basically a dumb way to look at things. Glad I'm not alone though.

Games are also too expensive. Let's see how long the model of 15 hour games for 60 bucks last.
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« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2008, 10:41:39 PM »

Quote from: Malificent on June 19, 2008, 07:21:29 PM

Quote from: Big Jake on June 19, 2008, 05:42:57 PM

Quote
I guess you skipped the second post.
Not really. Mali didn't make a very good analogy (no offense).  A novel isn't the same short story reposted 10 times in a row, the way most "contains 100 hours of gameplay!" are. 

Depends on your novel. The later Robert Jordan novels (IMO) might as well have been the same 10 short stories repeated over and over again. smile

Good Point.  icon_lol
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« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2008, 10:53:28 PM »

Quote from: jersoc on June 19, 2008, 10:28:55 PM

Games are also too expensive. Let's see how long the model of 15 hour games for 60 bucks last.

Bah, as much as I would prefer games revert back to $50 they were at that level for 15 years or more- hell, console games used to cost $60 or more in the early 90s and so did some PC games.  Not much else has stayed at that level in that time.  Frankly it's amazing that prices weren't increased before this generation.  Given the booming software sales I see no reason to think that the market can't absorb this change. 
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