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Unread 01-14-2010, 08:12 PM   #1
Bells
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Default Are games shorter now?

I recall that a trend, not very old, got picked up around these days... games seem short.

8-6-4 hours to complete a game. Even 2 hours (i'm looking at you Transformers 2...)! With around an extra 2-3 hours for 100% completion of any Arbitrary collectible the game has.

Big games with slower gameplay pacing, or overall larger content go around 10-12-15-20 hours tops. Big RPG's go from 25 to 40 hours to completion.


But is that long? is that short? I don't know.

Before the 3d era, back in the NES / SNES days you could also beat games around 3-4 hours. It just required the reflexes and the mind of a Olympic athlete, because it was so god damn hard. But even in the early 3D era, games took what? 6-8 hours?

Go back to the early days, how much time did Panzer Dragon Orta asked of you? How about Jet Force Gemini? or Medievil? How about Spyro or Legacy of Kain? Banjo Kazooie?!

Certain games in the early 3d days would -reward- you if you completed them in a short time, like Resident Evil. Finished in 3 hours? Here, have unlimited ammo!

Then i see the new games and how people complaint about how Modern Warfare 2 is so short, and how Heavenly Sword was short. And at first i agreed to that sentiment... but now? I just keep asking myself if they were really that short.

So, what you guys take from this?
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Unread 01-14-2010, 08:20 PM   #2
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Its really hard to make a comparison like this because it depends so strongly on which games you're going to include in finding these trends. Most NES games (with few exceptions such as Final Fantasy) just didn't have the content to go on very long. While long games were out there, many games seemed to be more of an arcade style. SNES brought some much longer ones (probably because game saves became so much more commonplace) with its bigger list of RPG's and the like. But even now, if you say games can be short because they take 8-6-4 hours to complete, you really have to think about what games you're looking at. Many of the major games that have a short overall length (Smash Brothers, Halo) are multiplayer oriented. Hell, it can take as little as 2 hours to go through all 4 campaigns on L4D, but its designed around replayability. Then, when you look the other way, you have games like Fallout and Oblivion where it seems like I've sunk days and days of time into them and still only skimmed the surface of all they have to offer.

Guess what I'm trying to say is that games have kind of grown out in every direction so much that its hard to say what "games in general" are doing. People say "games in general" are getting easier, but if you want hard games they're damned sure available. If you want games that are short, they're available in mass, and if you want games that are long, there are plenty of those too. I suppose that as long as there is still a wide enough variety to meet different people's tastes and desires, it doesn't really make any difference what it seems "games in general" are doing.

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Unread 01-14-2010, 08:21 PM   #3
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My answer is one and only: Etrian Odyssey. Yeah, sure, the pacing is slow, but the game is incredibly long. Same for the second one. I wish it'd keep playtime, because I probably have some 80 hours in Etrian Odyssey and I'm nowhere close to the end of the game. Prototype took me some 20 hours to beat, I think? Mass Effect is close to that. Of course, if you want to argue about length of games, look at MMOs. I think it should take you some 1200 hours to reach the cap in Maplestory, if you're training normally.

I'd also like to mention FFTA2 as being pretty long, if you do everything you can. I remember most SNES RPGs took at most 30 hours - but now I beat Chrono Trigger DS in 18 hours just because I'm not being stupid. Final Fantasy XII is also incredibly long if you do sidequests or even try a bit with the bonus stuff - making the Tournesol, beating Yiazmat, making the Wyrmhero Blade, getting every esper.

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Unread 01-14-2010, 08:24 PM   #4
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Contra really isn't that long when compared to Army of Two. The main thing that makes it so difficult is the fact you only get ~5 lives. It's an artificial extension to the game by making you start over from the beginning. You learned how to avoid the shots and which weapon* was best.

Nowadays, with the save feature, the games seem shorter because you can always come out of the reverie of them, working to completion whenever you feel the need.

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Unread 01-14-2010, 09:00 PM   #5
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Default not counting extra time for me fucking up

I have several games that I am currently playing/re-playing that have 20+ hour play times...

Methinks it's dependent upon which titles you are comparing.
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Unread 01-14-2010, 09:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bells View Post
Big RPG's go from 25 to 40 hours to completion.
My first playthrough of Persona 4 took me 93 hours to beat.
(It was actually longer than 93 hours total, too, if you take into account the additional time I spent procuring the Alternate Endings, as well as a couple Game Overs that eradicated at least an hour's total progress.)

And Persona 4 was shorter than Persona 3. My Persona 3: FES playthrough took 115 hours.

Granted, the lengths were artificially inflated by my prototypical perfectionism in playing RPGs. In both playthroughs, I spent more time than I needed in the Velvet Room procuring stronger Personas with better abilities, and I leveled up my Persona 3: FES characters to Level 99. (I also love the Persona series' characters and voice actors so much that, even in New Game+'s, I tend to only progress through cutscenes after the VA's finish their sentences. Over the course of many hours of gameplay, I bet the time wasted adds up.)

Nonetheless, with both titles, I did not acquire anything near 100% all the items or all the Personas in the Compendiums (and with Persona 4, I beat the game and procured the True Ending nearly ten levels below LV 99.) And in my current replay (New Game+) of Persona 4, despite the advantage of access to high-level Persona fusions off the bat, it's still taken me over 45 hours just to get to early October in-game.

So my point is, long-ass games still exist. And some series have actually bucked any trend of getting shorter. Forgotten in the heaps of criticism against some of the newer MGS titles is the fact that MGS3 still includes more gameplay than MGS2, just as MGS2 included more gameplay than MGS.
(MGS4 seemed disappointing at first because the separate quests are so disjointed, and the cutscenes are so lengthy, that they mask the gameplay experience somewhat. But in terms of gameplay, MGS4 still provided substantially more than the original MGS -- despite how awesome MGS was, some people forget how damn short it ran.)

A lot of the conceived problem with the length of video games actually has more to do with the bigger issue that games in general have become easier, in part because 3D takes away some of the artificial difficulties 2D gaming imposed on us and in part because games are marketing themselves as more accessible to casual gamers. None of the old-school Mega Man games were quite as long as I've perceived them to be, but much of my perception is based on the fact that I repeatedly died a great many times before finding strategies to succeed in some levels.

And that leads me to one final point, which is that a childhood sense of nostalgic awe is an additional factor here: I'm simply better at video games and smarter at playing them than I used to be. Which is problematic because I have sincere memories of struggling mightily through games that I would now beat with comparative ease (see: just about any 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game, the series gave me fits as a kid.) For example, I used to have memories of sucking at Ristar -- I never beat it as a young'un when I owned a Genesis, and it contributed to this notion that this game was a lengthy epic and outright difficult to beat. Well, I picked it up recently and plowed through it no problem. I was, what, ten years old back then? Younger than ten? I don't even remember. But now I'm twenty-five, so the same level of challenge in a game won't have the same impact on me.

EDIT: Similarly, I was something like 13 years old when I picked up Metal Gear Solid in '98 and I had virtually no experience with the stealth combat genre of gaming. Subsequently, playthroughs of MGS in '98 took a while as I toyed around with different possible strategies and died fairly often. By the time MGS4 came around, I had played through so many MGS games so many times, it felt breezy. I often intuitively understood strategies to employ to sneak around guards. It's almost enough to deceive me into believing that MGS was a longer game -- but it wasn't. Not even close.
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Unread 01-14-2010, 10:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Megaman FTW View Post
Its really hard to make a comparison like this because it depends so strongly on which games you're going to include in finding these trends.
Quote:
Originally Posted by synkr0nized View Post
I have several games that I am currently playing/re-playing that have 20+ hour play times...

Methinks it's dependent upon which titles you are comparing.
This, as well as....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jagos View Post
The main thing that makes it so difficult is the fact you only get ~5 lives. It's an artificial extension to the game by making you start over from the beginning. You learned how to avoid the shots and which weapon* was best.
This.

The old lives system was born out of habit from arcades. Now if games feel sadistic in punishing you they're like Ninja Gaiden II and just kill you outright to send you back to your checkpoints.

But when you get to action shooters with a 5-10 hour campaign mode versus jRPGs with collection and upgrades and a 20-40 hour story campaign it's officially comparing apples and spinach.
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Unread 01-14-2010, 10:19 PM   #8
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Sometimes shorter is better for the narrative of a game. At least one reviewer said this about Uncharted 2 (I think it might have been Penny Arcade) where the game's narrative was probably strengthened by the fact that it only took ten hours to beat.

Another example I can think of is Max Payne and Max Payne 2, which are both from several years ago and both actually pretty short, especially the second or third time through. But even the first time couldn't capped out to over 10 hours for each individual game. And yet the plot and dialogue for those games was outstanding.

Shadow of the Colossus also probably only took me about 12 hours to beat the first time and any further playthrough is pretty short all-told. And yet the narrative is stronger for it (what narrative there is...)

RPGs are long by default, I don't think there are any short ones. Chrono Trigger was prettty short, as mentioned. It's really not a very long RPG and yet one of the most beloved. Recently I've played Dragon Quest VIII and Final Fantasy XII and had over a 100 hours on each. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is similar in scope. RPGs probably shouldn't even be in the running of trying to figure out if they're short, because even the shortest one is going to be at least 25 hours at a minimum.

And as mentioned before, NES games were sort of "artificially" extended by having steep learning curves. The length of the average Megaman level is, what, 4 minutes if you know where to jump and what to shoot and how to avoid dying?

I think it's just somewhat of an illusion that games are "shorter", if anything they have become more about creating a better narrative, where adding in a bunch of filler won't serve. I think it's more that all the humdrum filler content is being filtered out as the stories get more complex.
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Unread 01-14-2010, 10:24 PM   #9
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Mother 3 was also pretty short. About fifteen hours. The DS Dragon Quest remakes are pretty short too. Oh, and Mario and Luigi.

In response to the thread title. Nocturne was fifty hours, and that's still just over half the length of a Persona game, as SNAAAAAAAAAKE mentioned.
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Unread 01-14-2010, 10:40 PM   #10
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I'll tell you.

The main difference is actually the demographic.

Since the corps hire the devs, and the devs make the games, the corps money is directly linked to the tightness and direction of the dev's leash.

Since about the 80's there's been a slow shift in how the community around gaming has evolved, what once was a darkened arcade or musty basement covered with maps and dice has now turned into Xbox Live and WoW. Games got popular, people didn't get smarter or more skilled, demograph flooded with carebears and noobs, corps pulled leash, devs yelped and bashed all difficulty out of the games and the once exciting games now lie crying on the floor amongst the discarded bottles of mountain dew and dorito crumbs.

Shit happens, play multiplayer games.
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