Games are too long – give me a great one that lasts the length of a film over a good 20-hour adventure
Oh, hey there. I didn’t see you come in. Why don’t you sit down by the hearth so that we can have a little chat. A snifter of brandy, dear chap/chapette? Here you go. So, anyway, games last too lon… oh, you’ve spat your spirit in my face out of sheer shock and indignation. Cheers for that.
Your time is precious and developers need to respect it more
Look, I know this argument will make me sound like I’m tossing spoilt scraps of opinion down on the masses from atop a ginormous ivory tower. Often three times the price of your average Blu-ray, boxed games in particular represent a significant investment for consumers. Therefore it’s understandable little Jimmy wants his copy of Shout Of Service IV: The Explodening to last 30-plus hours.
But in reality, ‘longer’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’: it just means there’s more of it to get through. Let’s use Journey as a semi-willing test subject. Now hold still, wee Mysterious Robed Figure –
I’m just going to strap you to this chair for a moment.
PSN’s highest-selling game is as stone cold a 10/10 as you’ll see on PlayStation 3. And much of that is down to its length: Thatgamecompany’s masterpiece lasts the perfect duration. With nary a hint of repetition, or a single recycled idea or location, it boasts wonderfully judged pacing and a constantly persuasive sense of progression. It’s an unforgettable two-hour trip that makes for an ideal evening’s entertainment.
Journey takes about as much time to consume as your average movie, making it the perfect prospect for a time-poor parent or those with the attention span of a concussed bluebottle. Brevity can also be a tremendous help to storytelling. Shorter experiences in many cases lead to cleaner, less cluttered narratives – see Braid or Limbo, for example.
A simple tale of old fashioned revenge or rescue shouldn’t be spread thin like a wad of dough being rolled out for one of Paul Hollywood’s fancy-Dan pastries. Can you really say LA Noire’s whodunnit was better for being stretched out over 25 hours of one-note missions? Wouldn’t Bioshock Infinite’s narrative thrust have been even stronger if Irrational had dropped half of those often samey (if strong) firefights?
When I sit down to a game now, my ticker immediately sags at the thought of having to wade through dozens of identical missions/fights/jumpy bits simply so that Ninja Extreme X Studios can artificially inflate its po-faced military shooter to hit that increasingly obligatory ten to 15-hour
The PS3 titles that are good enough to soar above repetition through exemplary mechanics are strumming harps in rarefied air. The Android and iOS market is dicing up gaming into easily digestible, Smurf-sized chunks – and it’s a trend I’m firmly in favour of.
With budgets spiralling into the nosebleeds for triple-A titles, it would be a real boon to some studios if they were greenlit to make shorter games. Less game means fewer staff, cheaper overheads and a product that’s much easier to get to market.
But don’t bother with my half-arsed economics, just riddle yourself this: would you rather play an incredible one-hit adventure with a truly memorable, succinct plot and zero repeated ideas that lasts little more than 90 minutes? Or a merely decent one that repeats itself like Foghorn Leghorn but takes an entire week to finish? I thought so.