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I am inclined to find that many games that I play simply have enough gameplay involved but nothing that pushes me further to play it. It may be a factor that most of my time now goes to studying but there are times when I pick up the controller. I believe that this is a very complicated matter. If we look at what kind of gameplay people are most willing to spend the majority of their gameplay, I think I would have to say it's the multiplayer types. God knows how many manhours have gone from gamers trying to improve their character or their skills in multiplayer games. But if we look at the single player ones it varies, a lot. For instance, I finished Fable in 6 hours, played it again for 8 hours while my brother spent 24 hours total on that game. That was enough for me. Then there are games like Baldur's Gate II that take up 50 hours.
Of course there are a lot of people who are willing to finish them over and over again but once was enough for me. The key ingredient is in the story and mission objectives. Any game would lose its value if the majority of who plays it gets bored halfway through and pops another disc in. So the game has to have something going for the player so he will finish it, keeping you wanting more and more, just like the series 24, they try to keep you on the edge of your seat for the next one, which is the smart thing to do. However, if it's pushed too far you'll stop liking it. So why not hold the game in your great esteem for the gameplay, wait for the next one, and play multiplayer while you can. It's hard to hit that golden middle value, the length that is exactly enough and not too much. I think that is the hardest issue for the game industry at the moment. You never know what the general public would like of the gameplay.
Thomas Gudmundsson, University of Iceland
As a gamer I want more of today's games as far as content, but as a developer I see deadlines and such. Oblivion has a different method of content in that it's not linear. You could do the content in any order (for the most part) and they don't intertwine much. I think it's kind of unfair to compare games to this, but I recently played through Dark Messiah and found myself at a loss when I reached the end. It didn't seem long enough. Be it budget, timeline, or whatnot someone needs to extend these games! It could take you days to complete a good novel, but a few hours to complete a game.
I'm currently conquering Neverwinter Nights 2 (how do I find time for all these anyway?) and it's keeping my interest for the time being. As a developer, I can see some of the reason. As I stated, Oblivion's dungeons and quests were pretty standalone. I think this made it "easier" to put those quests in, where in a linear game like Dark Messiah/NwN2, you can really only play it once (twice if you REALLY wanted to). Oblivion you can play the main story line or branch off and spend all your time doing whatever you want (which is why I think it's a little unfair to compare them.)
I'm rambling, but the gamer in me wants more, and the developer in me can see why it's not there. Is it a valid excuse? I can't say. I'd like to think that it's not. I was kind of hoping that the 360 would include an HD optical drive to help developers push content to consoles. As it stands now, most cross platform titles will push to the lowest common size and most of the BluRay disc will be for naught. It's a shame really. I wanted more from next-gen. More content, more game.
I think a short experience can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I also think that a long experience can be a good thing and a bad thing. Take a look at games like Star Fox: Command for the DS or Way of the Samurai for PS2. Both are very short games. However, both offer plenty of replay value through branching storylines. This gives the player a reason to keep playing and also engages the player more because their actions and choices directly affect the story. Even if the game is a linear one, being a short game isn't the end of the world. The problem lies in getting too long - in my opinion. Even a great gameplay mechanic can become a chore if dragged out for too long. As a developer, I find myself not having the time to finish all of these expansive epics.
Fernando De La Cruz, 1st Playable Productions
My dislike of long games is coupled with a disdain for the way games are priced. Give me Advance Wars with 10 levels for £10, then sell more levels for £5 a pack. Half-Life could have been half as long and still satisfied me. Some games are just so hard that it seems no-one will ever see their denouements (Cybercon 3, Lander). And for those cutting edge, virtual worlds; those story driven adventures into alternate realities which are going to cost £40 no matter how long they are, what I want is six hours of amazing game play. Six hours of faultless, coherent escapism. I can think of nothing worse than a game like Deus Ex. A sprawling melodrama ruined by endless inconsistencies (it aims to be a real world but, as usual, only 10% of the doors open and half of the items in the world can never be collected).
If the scope of a game was reduced dramatically but the effort and attention to detail refocused then we might start to see truly convincing game worlds. Set a game entirely in an office block, but make everything work. Every phone, vending machine, computer, drawer, trolley, everything.
Glenn Broadway, extracted from his original blog post