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Vol. 2, Issue 6
December 17, 1999

The MailBag

Issue 2.6

Comments by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman



On those long games...

Subject: Response to "games are too long"...

Hey! I just recently finished reading Nick F.'s "games are too damn long" column and thought I'd chip in my few cents.

I'm a bit of the exception in that I'll very rarely find a game that I think was too long. On the opposite side of the coin, if I game isn't especially interesting to begin with, I usually never get around to finding out whether or not it was too long. Certain games (such as Final Fantasy VII) are actually incredibly short unless you decide to go wandering around subplots aimlessly for a few dozen hours (gold chocobos, anyone?). Which is good considering the incredible lack of any kind of driving story or character development.Final Fantasy VIII, on the other hand, seemed to be the exact opposite to me. From personal experience, it seems players either love the game (myself and some friends) or can't stand it (other friends). I managed to play through the entire game in a little over thirty hours (without summoning a single GF, courtesy of some bleem! issues) and spent the next day in a state of depression that I wouldn't ever be able to see Squall and Rinoa and Quistis again.For other games, length isn't really an issue. Does it *honestly* matter whether you got to the end in Quake? Or Quake II? Admittedly, Shub "Big Tub of Lard" Niggroth (pardon the spelling) was intimidating and we've all wanted to telefrag someone in a single-player game, but it didn't matter. There was no question of the plot in Warcraft II or Starcraft. You could play and go for the occassion plot twist if you wanted to, but most people play the games because they enjoy playing the games.

Role-playing games are a bit of a fine line in that, regardless of how long or short they are, some people will whine that they blazed through, others will argue that no-one needed the second disc at all, and there will be a precious few that wouldn't have it any other way. If you sympathize with the characters - Squall, for the chronically-depressed teenagers out there; Terra, for those that think their entire life has been for nothing; Cecil, for those who want to save the world - just as you might sympathize while reading a novel or watching a movie, the experience is amazing. If you don't - which says nothing about you one way or another - then so be it. I'm sure there is some game out there for you that will captivate you for a day straight and leave you weeping or laughing at the end.

If it's not the same as mine, all the better. Thanks for the article...

- Kyle Davis

[Wow. This turned out much longer than I had originally intended. Sorry. :) ]

For the record, I loved Quake, and was very proud of myself for finishing it. :)

Subject: Pad Happy

I couldn't agree more with your recent Pad Happy tirade against overly long games. That last game I finished was "Return to Krondor" - about twenty hours of fun. I look at the advertisements for games like "Baldur's Gate", see claims like "Over 100 hours of original gameplay" and I do the math - Two to three hours a day for over a month, just to beat the game. If I skip a day or two, or god forbid try to read a book, watch TV, or live my life, those games will take far too long to beat.

What I don't get is that long games make poor business sense.

Take Diablo 2 as an example - instead of selling a 4 CD game for $50, Blizzard could break the game into four separate products, each taking a reasonably amount of time to beat, and each costing about $25 - about the price of a hardcover novel, and they get to sell four of them.

I'm remiss to pay $50 for a game I won't have time to finish, but if each "chapter" of Diablo 2 came out every three months, not only might I finish it, I'd end up paying twice as much, which would make the game creators happier. (And we'd get the games sooner - apparantely Blizzard is done with chapters one and two of Diablo 2 - they could be making money on those two discs as I sit here.)

It's like John Carmack said when he announced Quake 3 Arena - the iD artists hate that so many folks never finish the games, because if you don't finish, you don't see the work that went into the product. If I were a game designer who sweated blood over each level, I'd make damn sure most of my customers got to that level.

---matt wecksell

That’s true, but then again, do you REALLY want a game that can be finished in 2 days? (which was how long it took me to beat Quake 3, by the way.) People play games like Ultima Online for years, I myself played on one MUD for 4 years, and I’ve been on another for 3 years now. Single player games are more appealing to the mainstream, so wouldn’t it follow that someone would try to recreate the multi-player experience...hundreds of hours of gameplay...for single player? It would be a hit, wouldn’t it?

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