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Default In Defence of the 3 Hour Games @ Wired

March 29th, 2009, 11:01
In some places i agree with that guy, but mostly i don't. For ex, lets take a game that has an 100 hours play length. If this play time filled with endless combat, and thin storyline and repetitive quests, than this 100 hours is a waste for me. But, if it filled with interesting characters, quests, places and stories, than i happily play 100 hours. And, i am not talking about new tile sets, monsters or anything like that. Because it is not all about graphics i am talking about. Arcanum, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Morrowind does that. Same tilesets, same monsters, same combat style, but we knew that there is an interesting story in every corner, although these corners made with same tiles
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March 29th, 2009, 11:04
Another example, I found some 'debris' in a cave. When I clicked on it, nothing happened. Then I met an NPC who gave me a quest in the cave. Went back and clicked on the 'debris' and voila, suddenly there was something there to pick up!!!! Lousy and annoying design, IMO.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 29th, 2009, 19:31
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Another example, I found some 'debris' in a cave. When I clicked on it, nothing happened. Then I met an NPC who gave me a quest in the cave. Went back and clicked on the 'debris' and voila, suddenly there was something there to pick up!!!! Lousy and annoying design, IMO.
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March 29th, 2009, 19:54
@Dhruin: Again, you are going elsewhere is some example you give, is the subject are Drakensang flaws or what? For Drakensang flaws I have many complain, my main are:
- The radar automap la Oblivion, it generates ugly gameplay on many points.
- Lack of difficulty setting, seems a detail but becomes a terrible flaw by generating too many too easy fights, in fact dynamic difficulty setting is lacking (ie that you can change during the game).
- Nice effort to design fights, much more than in many CRPG, but this is destroyed a lot by the general too low difficulty, often there's a lack of effort to diversify opponents in dungeon, the effort to diversify fights design mostly go unseen because of this and often a lack of challenge.
- Lack of alternative and lack of true player choices.
- Random on isolate events, fine design for p&P, ugly for CRPG, because the repetition it involves and because of the reload temptation.

I have more and I have positive points too, but where are you going? What link with the original topic? Take an opportunity to whine about Drakensang? I don't see and need some explanation.

For the useless wandering generating more hours then links to the topic, Id like you concentrate on this so I could answer.

@Corwin: Good highlight of a flaw but what link to the topic, could you explain?

@Gokyabgu: Totally agree, it's exactly what make the original article pointless for CRPG, curiosity to discover more story, to discover more world area, to discover more advanced classes powers. And no, as I already pointed it you can't remove details like shops, inventory management, class management, some fights similarities, and much more. Or you get a novel.
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March 29th, 2009, 20:46
Hmm, I didn't really give any answer regarding the actual thread topic . I have to admit, I don't really play short computer games. The only computer games that I really like are those long, lasting CRPGs. From time to time, I dabble slightly into strategy games, but that's about it. All of these games are long, and I like them that way. I found Jade Empire somewhat too short. I think that Drakensang came up because some of the late parts of the game are a bit pointless. I didn't like the monster grinding in the grolm caves, and this could have been shortened.

With friends, I don't mind playing something like mario kart, but that's a different situation. I also play boardgames with them, and in that case, two to three hours looks about right.
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March 29th, 2009, 22:01
The link to the topic is:

- poor quest design requires considerable backtracking
- the backtracking pads the length of the game, without adding to the gameplay

In other words, Drakensang is a game that would benefit from a tighter design that reduced the length - not by cutting content but by improving the design of that content.

I've further responded to your point that the game offers freedom instead, by pointing out it offers the ability to roam free at will in return for nothing other than extra walking.

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March 30th, 2009, 00:04
Why when you go by the tree they should be already under attack and the pet already attacked? I know it's a common design we have seen in most CRPG but I don't understand why you find it so cool just because it avoid you few walks.

I mean I think that both sort of designs generate positive and negative. It's event approach design versus location approach design.

By using this sort of design for sure it's better not travel two times through the same place. It generates systematic exploration to exhaust all quests of an area. I know this quite well as quite many CRPG used that design.

Among weird consequences of this location design approach:
  • To get suddenly quest achieved that you never start,
  • Get obsolete dialogs about event already done.
  • Quest item you sell or glued in your inventory but quite weird as you don't know anything of them.
  • Quite flat event design, you can't design series of event but just parallel events, it's quite short.

I won't say that Drakensang quest design is so good but I don't feel the event approach being so bad, and the few more walks it generates a quite minor point.

In fact I see the source of the problem more coming from the oblivion like radar destroying a lot of the exploration depth. So when you travel a second time in an area there's too few to do apart the new events generated. But instead of changing the quest design I would delete the radar and have a design where you can discover new stuff at second travel.

EDIT: In fact after some events there are deeper changes like new patrols wandering alas the radar destroy most of the fun by destroying any surprise.
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March 30th, 2009, 00:08
That was my point too. Why should I have to re-visit a cave because of poor game design. What made it worse, after finishing another part of the cave, suddenly ALL the monsters repawned just so I could fight my way out again!! BAD, BAD, BAD!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 30th, 2009, 00:23
Isn't the problem more that the fights was a burden? When I read your post it's the feeling I have. It's where the design change should start for this cave, fights redesign to make them fun both time and different the second time.

I don't like random respawn but script respawn can be cool. In what cave this happen?
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March 30th, 2009, 05:14
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
I am speechless.
+1

lack of speech…

Okay, I found some speech now.

This is growing into a good discussion. I'll make a few short points/observations first: I would imagine that a 3 hour game would not be 'full price'. In fact, I know they aren't, because 3 hour games already exist in the form of DLC. As a quick aside, Corwin, what games are you paying $120 for?? I'm in Australia, Tasmania even, and I rarely pay more than $80 for a game, and never more than $100. You might want to shop around a bit more, JB often sell new release games for $80. I got Empire: Total War at JB for $80 the day before the official Australian release. I got GTA: Chinatown Wars for $50 on release day as well (that is an awesome game, btw, anyone with a DS should go out and buy it RIGHT NOW).

RPGs generally need to be longer in order for the story to have emotional punch. However, for the longer length to be really justified, it's crucial that the game engage on an emotional level, and feature memorable characters that you can come to really care about. Even if that is achieved, there is the further issue of how to fill the time out. If half of a game is walking back and forth, fighting trivial monsters, the good parts get really diluted, and I often find myself getting frustrated and wanting to get back to the good parts.

The thing is, to say it's as simple as just combining the elements of several games, or to say well they should just find a better way to fill in the extra 40 hours of content rather than simply cut the length in half by eliminating the filler - well that's a lot easier said than done. The sad nature of the industry is that a lot of the studios making these kinds of games just don't have the money to spend in order to attempt the kinds of things some are talking about. In those cases, it's far better to decide to just make a 30-40 hour RPG and make sure it's tight, and consistently enjoyable. Cut out every last corridor full of minions, I don't want a single trivial fight in my entire game. At the end of the game, I'll come away feeling a lot better about it that I will about a 90 hour 'epic' that only really had 30 hours worth of real content.

I'm at a point in my life where I don't want my games designed to occupy as much of my time as possible. I want them to maximise for 'fun' per hour, not total fun, or total time occupied. If an RPG is going to attempt to really engage on an emotional level and do something to justify an extended length, then it better make sure that the story is consistently engaging, the characters are memorable, and I want to really work on my emotions. That's going to be a game where you have to put a lot into it, as a player, but it's going to give exponentionally more back.

I think it's worth mentioning Bioshock here too, because that game was emotionally engaging, tight, there was no 'filler', and I came away from it feeling like I'd just experienced something profoundly worthwhile. From the time I first started it up, to the time I finished it for the first time, I think I spent something like 60% of my time playing it. It was that compelling. If someone could make a game like that, which was a true RPG, it would be orgasmic.
Last edited by Badesumofu; March 30th, 2009 at 05:38.
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March 30th, 2009, 05:17
Why should the trees already be under attack? I'm not saying it's a requirement - it's a just a suggestion on my part that would reduce unnecessary walking around and makes sense. Yasmin says the trees are being attacked - which just isn't true. You can wander to your heart's content and no tree gets attacked until you agree to defend them - at which point they are instantly attacked when you get within range.

That's not a big on its own - it happens all the time in RPGs. However, with my setup or something similar (say, attackers are gathering near the trees getting ready to attack) you achieve:

- a more logical setting
- less backtracking
- less linear - you can encounter the content in a different order

Again, with the current system, there is no point to free exploration. You must (in this example, anyway) complete the content is a strict, linear order. How does that improve a CRPG?

Every one of your "negatives" are examples of poor design or mistakes - all of them can be avoided with the proper care.

Ultimately, the question comes down to the backtracking, which you don't seem to mind. Have a look at the number of people complaining about the walking speed or look at reviews such as GameBanshee's to see to there are plenty of people who find it annoying.

The biggest issue in interface is the fact that the game asks you to do a lot of walking. Not a problem by itself, except that your characters walk really, really slowly, and there's nothing in the options to fix this (though an INI settings tweak is possible). On top of that, conspicuousness in their absence are a “toggle walk on/off” button and a “click on the map to walk there” feature. This all combines to not just make walking probably one of the biggest chunks of your gameplay time, much to the game's detriment, but to also force you to sit there and hold the W button while your characters slowly crawl across the map.

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March 30th, 2009, 06:13
I paid $120 for Fallout 3 Collectors Edition which was the only one on offer from my local EB. I paid the same for The Witcher CE. My deepest condolences for living in Tasmania!! Shared a flat with a Tasmanian MANY years ago and he swore NOTHING would ever get him back to that !@#$% place!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 30th, 2009, 07:04
When I was young I regulary clocked Last Ninja II at 30 minutes. At that time it was the most graphically intensive C64 game on the market. It was one of the first games that mixed combat with puzzlesolving, long before Alone in the Dark.

Since I am fond of classic gaming I often play older games. Beyond the roleplaying games and the games that never end, games usually take less than an hour to complete, unless you count the really long adventuregames like Their Longest Journey.

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March 30th, 2009, 10:06
@Badesumofu - well said! I agree with all of that. And don't listen to Corwin - Tasmania is a lovely place.

@JemyM - another good point. Modern games might be getting shorter than their peak (I don't know…late 90s?) but the really old stuff is pretty short.

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March 30th, 2009, 11:21
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
@JemyM - another good point. Modern games might be getting shorter than their peak (I don't know…late 90s?) but the really old stuff is pretty short.
A lot of that stuff comes out of folks who only knew how to write for arcades, so it would make sense it was very challenging, beatable by 'do it again' gameplay, and very short.

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March 30th, 2009, 14:41
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I like short games when it fits, but my problem is with (a) the 4-5 hour shooter (Call of Duty X) and (b) artificially long games such as Far Cry 2.
I've got the same problem. Call of Duty should have been longer. I haven't played Far Cry 2 but I heard that it's like Assassins Creed in that it pads its content with a lot of copy-and-paste. IMHO the first two Gothic games were ideal in terms of length and content.
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March 30th, 2009, 15:52
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
<snip>
Interestingly the length of the game did add to it at the end. The journey was so long that it would absorb you fully. Playing one single game 1-2 weeks, 16 hours per day, will give you a very unique emotion once it's over, an emotion I haven't felt outside the FF series, maybe except Throne of Bhaal. When you leave the game, and your companions, with the emotional end cutscene and maybe a short story about what happened afterwards, you feel like you are saying goodbye to friends, memorable friends. I actually got the same feel in the end of Gothic 3.
It's not only the length of the game, but the quality of the game story/writing. If you don't care about your companions, 500 hours of playing won't make you feel sorry to see them go.
But yes, the feeling does exist. In my case it was also a console game, but it wasn't with any of the FF games I've played… Suikoden 3 was a game I was almost sorry to play, as I knew it would only make the end of the game come sooner. I did feel sorry to let some of those characters 'go', as I did somehow grow attached to them. I can't name another game that made me feel that way.

As for the topic, I believe a good RPG should at least be 40 hours, but it could be longer, as long as we're not talking about just time-fillers:
- Random battles: This is the worst filler IMHO. Fighting 500 battles that provide no challenge at all, only to make you reach a level.
- Walking: Yes, walking (or running) to places adds to the immersion, and I'm all for immersion, but once you run to a certain destination and smelled the flowers on the way there, don't make me do it again, just let me click on the map to go back.
- No save-anywhere: This goes more for console RPGs but applies to some PC RPGs as well. Having to redo 1 hour because after 20 battles you died it's not 'gameplay'. I don't even mind if I can't save everywhere, as long as the 'save points' are well spread. Oh, and please no multi-fight boss encounters (with no save in between).

I don't like 'open world' RPGs like Fallout or Gothic, but there are other ways to add optional content other than just exploring a huge map just to see what's there. Like having additional goals for you and your companions, for example.
Last edited by wolfing; March 30th, 2009 at 16:32.
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March 30th, 2009, 17:47
If an RPG is going to be truly static, if it won't respond as I play it or only responds half-heartedly, then I would prefer that it just take me for a quick ride and be done with it.

But RPGs shouldn't be truly static. Ideally, they should provide the player with opportunities to have adventures that make sense in accordance with the roles they've chosen and the ways they develop them.

The real source of discontent, I think, is the half-way efforts at doing that which aren't very satisfying. Some of us have become jaded, not by the genre but by the shallow attempts at doing it right.

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