Rampant Games - Are RPGs Too Long?
In an editorial on his blog, Jay Barnson asks this very question and comes up with a few solutions also.
The quote about his solutions:
#1 – Shorten the game. I do love myself some big ol’ meaty epics, so I don’t want all RPGs to do this, but just as all other media can be made or broken by the quality of the editing, so can games. We need RPGs that can be finished in a week or two (or maybe a single caffeine-fueled weekend).
#2 – Improve the game mechanics to keep things compelling through the end. Maybe the reward structure is too regular, or too irregular. Maybe the challenges are too repetitive, or require such similar decisions on the part of the player that they feel repetitive.
#3 – Punch up the narrative to fix the middle. Note that this may often mean changing the beginning or ending (which in game development can be pretty hard). Maybe it’s flowing at too even of a pace for too long. Things need to be changed up. A reversal needs to happen somewhere in there. Maybe a subplot just isn’t working very well and needs to be removed or changed. Whatever. The story needs fixing.
#4 – Do what Bethesda does and allow the player to go for the end-game at the time of his choosing.
#5 – Break into pieces, as multiple games, episodes, or expansions. Treat each of them as a stand-alone story that simply have a larger arc running between them.
Source: RPG Codex