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Thursday, December 28, 2000
Does (Game) Length Matter?
9:47 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

3D Action Planet has cooked up an editorial point/counterpoint dealing with the subject of length in video games: specifically, are the games coming out this year too short, and is this a trend? Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force and Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 have both been accused of being 'too short,' especially by the hardcore shooter crowd, and those titles seemed to have inspired this piece.

With 'Hellchick' taking the angle that length may be integral to the story of the game, and 'Grey Loki' arguing that these games were short because they were cut during the creation process to save development time, it is a lively discussion. Here is an excerpt:

Hellchick: It seems that in recent years, action games have been getting shorter. A few games this year have been criticized for this -- Elite Force and FAKK2 come to mind. Many have complained about the short lengths of these titles, but I believe that the length of a game shouldn't be a determining factor in its quality. After all, if you're reading a book, isn't a great short book infinitely better than a bad long book?

Grey Loki: Possibly, but is a short good book better than a long mediocre book? I would rather have 24 hours' worth of decent gamplay rather than six hours of good gameplay. FAKK2 was fun to play but it was way too quick. Take a similar game, Rune. It was a decent length, and they stretched the story and game length by making you run through caves and forests, none of which really affected the story much. It was longer than FAKK2, and a better use of $40.

One important point that seems neglected by this discussion is the fact that games are taking a tremendous amount of time to develop these days, compared to "longer" titles in the past such as Quake 2. The reason? Gamers demand more detail, variety and features these days, and much more time is spent putting decorative elements and scripted behavior into a game than was previously necessary. In the Doom era, no one noticed if you covered an entire level with the same 8-bit texture; now a typical level must have dozens of well-placed 32-bit textures to not be dismissed as 'boring,' which means much more work for the level designer and texture artist. The introductory level in FAKK2 is many times more complex than entire levels of Quake, a game made only 2 generations before; thus quantity may indeed have been sacrificed for quality, in many respects. Read the rest of the editorial for more details, and be sure to post your own thoughts on the subject in our Forums.

Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force Review
Editorial on Game Length at 3DAP

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