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Monday, February 11, 2002

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Does Game Length Matter?
6:00 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

The Adrenaline Vault has posted an article by Gavin Carter concerning the trend to increasing development time and decreasing gameplay that pervades today's computer games. He examines some of the probable causes of the problem and showcases two contrasting philosophies of game development:

Are the better titles shorter, yet provide a more compact experience, with something new waiting around every corner, or is some filler content good to throw in if it lengthens the experience? Two examples illustrating these opposing viewpoints are Raven's Elite Force and Verant's Everquest. Elite Force followed the first paradigm, packing a lot of content and surprises into fairly small levels. Everquest follows the second paradigm, mainly to provide enough space for thousands of participants to play at once. Interesting locations are often spaced far apart, requiring long runs across open fields or repetitive forests to reach.
Carter's suggestions for increasing the replay value of a game include expanding single-player class choice, level editors, multiplayer features, and ranking systems. The article closes on an upbeat note:
If you haven't noticed, short games are the bane of my existence. I hate having to wait years for a game to release, only to have it keep me occupied for little more than a week. Though it appears developers are starting to take steps away from this, plenty more effort could be expended. Expanding games benefits everyone. Consumers are happier and, thus, buy more products. A little thought and planning during development go a long way toward quality titles with a good balance of length and features.

Adrenaline Vault: Awaiting Gaming's Growth Spurt
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

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