I received an interesting link a few days ago to a dev blog. The post was entitled Why arenít video games satisfying? and it opened with Why canít video games give me a powerful, high-density experience, so that after 3 hours I am satisfied, I feel like I have had enough?
As gamers, whether players or developers, we often make these types of comparisons and they can help us understand the medium we work or play in. This post and poll isn’t going to discuss those comparisons because it’s too interesting for one simple poll but I will use the basis of the argument for a direct example.
We have become accustomed to games getting longer and that doesn’t seem to be changing. The more we pay for a game the longer we expect it to be. The development costs of making a 5-hour game is obviously not half that of a 10-hour game. Once you have the assets you can “simply” make more levels.
By making the game longer, developers can charge more and then maybe they can make a profit and the consumer feels they are getting value for money.
As many of you probably know I dislike the episode format used by Valve but in many ways it could have worked with some tweaks. If they had released a new episode every year that only had a little new content then gamers would have had something to play, something new to look at and Valve would have had a regular income (not that that was important to them).
I can’t remember how much Episode One or Two cost on release but I think it was either 19 or 29 US Dollars, although I freely admit I could be wrong. Episode Two lasted about six hours, depending on your playing style.
It came with a lot of new content, which was probably the main cause for the time between its and Episode One’s release.
At this point I find it hard to vote “yes” to the poll, but perhaps the important part of the wording is “action-packed”. Episode Two told a story, had you explore, defend, puzzle solve and generally have a good time. Whilst it may not be possible to remove all the non-action parts of the game, if your design objective was to only provide action then that may be possible.
Although, that leads onto the question is that desirable? It’s possible to make a mod that has a 1 hour playtime and is full of action but I just don’t believe gamers want that. Unlike movies, players need time to explore and find solutions to those puzzles as interludes to the action. We can’t play at full intensity all the time. We need contrasts.
I’m going off-topic a little again, sorry.
I suppose what I am trying to say is “No” I wouldn’t pay $20 for an action-packed 3 hour game because as a single player lover I want story, exploration and puzzles, as well as action.
In fact, doesn’t simple deathmatch MP games give you hours and hours of action without the need for buying a new game?
24th September 2010
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