Games That Are Too Long

There's been a lot of discussion about games that are too short (Mirror's Edge and Dead Space were both dinged for their length), but what about the other end of the spectrum. What games stand out to you as being too long? Would you rather play a game that was too long than one that was too short?

I've recently been playing through Okami on the Wii, and my enjoyment of the game has decreased considerably the longer the game has gone on. The Celestial Brush is a fantastic mechanic, especially with the Wiimote, and I would love to see it in another game. The visuals are very pretty, and the world is well-designed to match them; I'm especially fond of the monster designs drawn directly from Japanese mythology. The weird combination of Zelda-style upgrades (via new brush techniques and "heart pieces") and experience points (via praise) doesn't really work for me but isn't too intrusive (although I would like a stray bead counter). All-in-all, I'd say that I'm enjoying the game ... except for the story.

It's not that the story isn't interesting so much as that it never ends. The game is clearly meant to be divided into three acts with the player exploring a different part of the world in each act, but the acts are so clumsily woven together and are so repetitive that the game's charm has evaporated. Rather than telling parts of a larger, cohesive narrative each act is structured as a complete story arc; the only problem is that there isn't any hint that this particular story is building toward the next until you've finished it and discovered that you're not yet finished. The evil has gone west, now go defeat it there. You defeated the ultimate evil? No, you didn't. It went north, now go defeat it there. You defeated the ultimate evil? No, you didn't. &c. I would have loved this game had it ended after the first act, but the fourteen some-odd hours I've played since then have felt like little more than padding. No new mechanics of consequence have been introduced since the end of the first act, and the characters I've encountered have felt like variations on characters from the first act.

I would so much rather play a game that was six hours long with a tightly written story than have that same game stretched out to twelve or twenty hours. I play for tight, exciting experiences and get tired of grind and flab.

I agree. Of course having two kids under 3 tends to limit game time. I also believe games should allow for save anywhere, stop anytime gameplay and have great logs/journals/quest markers so you can figure out what the heck is going on if you don't get back to a game for a long time.

One problem game designers have that leads to them throwing unnecessary padding is that their target demographic is high school or college aged kids with part time jobs who buy only a few games. They have a ton of free time, and not a lot of other games to fill it with, so they prefer longer games than we, uh, gamers with jobs would like. I fully agree with you on Okami, though.

Please don't hate me.

ICO. Would somebody say something!? Just talk to yourself if you have to!

It wasn't that long, it just seemed very long with the type of game it was and how little plot points there were.

farley3k wrote:

I agree. Of course having two kids under 3 tends to limit game time. I also believe games should allow for save anywhere, stop anytime gameplay and have great logs/journals/quest markers so you can figure out what the heck is going on if you don't get back to a game for a long time.

It annoys me to no end when a game doesn't have a sensible save system, and the same goes for pausing.

I was enjoying playing Sacred 2 over the holidays but there is no pause (!) so you have to walk your character back to a town in order to be safe. The normal savegame is also not save-anywhere as it returns you to a town when you load, but thankfully there is a quicksave slot that works as it should.

I'm sure this has been hashed through on GWJ somewhere before (probably many times), but on Quarter to Three when I discussed my love of save-anywhere and auto-checkpoint saves and such I got flamed to no end.

Turned out that someone who makes liberal use of saves, and who replays a portion of the game to do it better or to try a different approach, is not a "pure" gamer. The only real way to play is some form of "iron man" play, and anything else puts you at the level of a poopyhead game pirater.

No doubt a hairshirt is required as well.

Feh.

Anyway, I so appreciate the previously-rare-now-more-common games that go ahead and autosave at important points for you. Homeworld 2 (of which I'm the lone defender, it seems) was the only game I know of that went the extra mile and named the checkpoint save something intuitive so you'd know which save point to return to.

There's no such thing as a game that is too long. There are only games that are too monotonous.

shihonage wrote:

There's no such thing as a game that is too long. There are only games that are too monotonous.

Bullsh*t.

No one wants to eat steak everyday.

shihonage wrote:

There's no such thing as a game that is too long. There are only games that are too monotonous.

Quoted for overwhelming truth.

It's all about your perspective. As someone who routinely invests a hundred hours or more mashing through a jRPG over a course of a couple months, a 10 hour game seems like a drop in the bucket.

I play a lot of short games. I enjoyed the heck out of Portal, too and that took me about three hours. It's just that my threshold for "too long" is way way out there.

Now, if those three hours feel like a hundred (i.e. Devil May Cry 4), then I'm out.

shihonage wrote:

There's no such thing as a game that is too long. There are only games that are too monotonous.

I'm certainly not setting a time limit on games; where you use the phrase "too monotonous," I use the phrase "too long."

I thought Enchanted Arms was too long - and worse I discovered I'd been putting points in all the wrong stuff and didn't have even close to enough hit point to have a shot a winning the final boss battle.

I think Dragon Quest on the PS2 wins my vote for longest game ever though - it just wouldn't end. I like feeling like I got my moneys worth, but dear god, just END already!

google wrote:

Bullsh*t.

No one wants to eat steak everyday.

It's not the game's job to keep feeding you steak every day. That'd be monotonous. Like Dead Space.

shihonage wrote:

There's no such thing as a game that is too long. There are only games that are too monotonous.

That's not really true.

Given a fixed development budget, one hour of a short game is (all other things equal) going to be 'better' than one hour of a long game. More polish, more playtesting, more time to spend on design. No developer is going to produce a 50 hour long version of Uncharted with the same variety and graphical quality throughout because the development cost would be huge.

Even JRPGs suffer from it: I wish they'd cut 10 hours from the end of Baten Kaitos and spent the money polishing the rest of the game instead.

Now, if those three hours feel like a hundred (i.e. Devil May Cry 4), then I'm out.

I'm with you on that. Wow, was that game dull. Run through an area. Now run through it backwards. Now sideways, but with slightly different coloured monsters.

Zelos wrote:

No developer is going to produce a 50 hour long version of Uncharted with the same variety and graphical quality throughout because the development cost would be huge.

I wasn't talking about developers, I was talking about games. An important difference there.

Mimble wrote:

I thought Enchanted Arms was too long - and worse I discovered I'd been putting points in all the wrong stuff and didn't have even close to enough hit point to have a shot a winning the final boss battle.

Glad to hear I wasn't the only one. Although the length didn't bother me much, since I played it a bit at a time over months with my daughter.

adam.greenbrier wrote:

I would so much rather play a game that was six hours long with a tightly written story than have that same game stretched out to twelve or twenty hours. I play for tight, exciting experiences and get tired of grind and flab.

Have fun spending $50-60 for a six-hour game. I will just take my money elsewhere if a company thinks it can do that to me. A game has to have at least 15-20 hours of gameplay for it to be bought by me.

BadJuju wrote:
adam.greenbrier wrote:

I would so much rather play a game that was six hours long with a tightly written story than have that same game stretched out to twelve or twenty hours. I play for tight, exciting experiences and get tired of grind and flab.

Have fun spending $50-60 for a six-hour game. I will just take my money elsewhere if a company thinks it can do that to me. A game has to have at least 15-20 hours of gameplay for it to be bought by me.

I think most game critics agree with this logic. If a $60 game doesn't offer a reasonably long playtime (minimum 8 hours would be my estimate), it's going to get panned in reviews. That makes the metacritic average go down, which makes developers take note, which makes for longer games with more padding/fluff.

I don't know if these games are long so much as poorly paced. Okami gets really loose and kind of convoluted around the middle/second half. It picks up again at the end but I put it down for a long while too. If a game is long and compelling, it's not too long. If they can't keep it interesting for its full length then yeah, it should probably be trimmed. I don't think the length is, in and of itself, good or bad.

farley3k wrote:

I also believe games should allow for save anywhere, stop anytime gameplay and have great logs/journals/quest markers so you can figure out what the heck is going on if you don't get back to a game for a long time.

Ramen.

A game's length is irrelevant to me. If it's fun and varied enough to be enjoyable for 100 hours or more (hello Dragon Quest 8 and Final Fantasy XII!) then it's perfect to me. If it's short but packs an equally fantastic gaming experience in (hello Portal and Fable 2!) then it's also perfect to me.

Length is irrelevant. Fun is king. And that's entirely subjective.

Mimble wrote:

I think Dragon Quest on the PS2 wins my vote for longest game ever though - it just wouldn't end. I like feeling like I got my moneys worth, but dear god, just END already!

Just finished DQ8 last week. I thought I was almost done, and it ended up going for something like six more hours. That last romp around the world felt particularly unnecessary. I don't mind long games, but it got to the point where I just really wanted it to be over. At least the ending was cute and satisfying.

I'm going to throw Eternal Sonata in here too, though primarily for the enormous optional dungeon that I stupidly beat to get the "real" final boss. It didn't help that the actual ending made not a jot of sense. I'm tempted to throw in Windwaker, too, what with the whole "now you're sail all around the ocean again just to pick up some more random stuff before we let you win" thing.

Having to review games that are too long sucks even more than just playing them Between writing and working a "real" job it's tough to keep plugging away at a game that just won't end, especially if it sucks. So yeah, boo to that.

Wow
EQ
etc.....

momgamer wrote:
shihonage wrote:

There's no such thing as a game that is too long. There are only games that are too monotonous.

Quoted for overwhelming truth.

It's all about your perspective. As someone who routinely invests a hundred hours or more mashing through a jRPG over a course of a couple months, a 10 hour game seems like a drop in the bucket.

I play a lot of short games. I enjoyed the heck out of Portal, too and that took me about three hours. It's just that my threshold for "too long" is way way out there.

Now, if those three hours feel like a hundred (i.e. Devil May Cry 4), then I'm out.

Thirded. Feel really is everything. I definitely prefer longer games, but if it's well paced, then it works.

google wrote:
shihonage wrote:

There's no such thing as a game that is too long. There are only games that are too monotonous.

Bullsh*t.

No one wants to eat steak everyday.

Speak for yourself.

LobsterMobster wrote:

I don't know if these games are long so much as poorly paced. Okami gets really loose and kind of convoluted around the middle/second half. It picks up again at the end but I put it down for a long while too. If a game is long and compelling, it's not too long. If they can't keep it interesting for its full length then yeah, it should probably be trimmed. I don't think the length is, in and of itself, good or bad.

Esactly. The (North) Ryoshima Coast area should have just been deleted. As soon as the story book cut scene rolled at the end of that part I was hooked again all the way through the end.

I'd actually like to see Zelda games get re-paced. They go too long with all this find 8 pieces in 8 dungeons but for some reason the main villian does nothing about it the whole time, which makes it seem like things go too long.

As soon as I saw the thread title I thought of Okami. Wonderful game, but it went on... and on... and on. Had a wonderfully epic battle with the ultimate evil, only to find that I was barely halfway through the game.

Alternately, an otherwise great game can have portions of it that just drag on. As much as I love Half-Life 2, the waterboat section is painfully long, capped by an annoying psuedo-boss fight.

It's all about pacing. Failing that, if you want to make the main game 4-6~ hours, add extra stuff. IMO, DMC4 is a good example. (I love the DMC games though). Normal mode and * Must Die modes are two completely different games. And, the Bloody Palace is an awesome way to kill awhile.

Portal, as much as I hate to say it, is a game that doesn't have very much to it. It's short, sure there are a few challenge chambers... but I wouldn't have paid 40$ for it. Now, coming with everything else in the orange box, it works, wonderfully. But it wouldn't as a standalone.

But, there are a lot of games that the base mechanics are just so fun, you can go forever with. I.E, Fallout (1, and 2, not 3), or Final Fantasy games, or the Tales games. (Or Civ, or other 4x games).

It's a matter of perspective isn't it?

As shown in the thread already, even short games can be too long and there have been some games in my experience that have lasted very long indeed that still felt too short.
So the most obvious games that are too long are games that we just don't like or that outstay out welcome. And games that are too short are games that we want more of. Games where we're ready for the credits to roll and games that we would want to go on forever.

Pacing is obviously a part of it.
-Games that are obviously padded feel too long, that's pretty clear. No explenation or examples needed.
-Games like Okami that are structured along the traditional story three acts can feel long as the middle act is always a problem. Just check out many movie commentary tracks by film directors. it's surprising how often they always list as the biggest problem of the film around the middle that there is a big threat of the narrative loosing momentum, and the thing starts to sag.
Personally though, once I got at the end of the first act in Okami I managed to reverse my point of view. Instead of considering it the middle of one game I got to view it more like the start of the sequel that was packed on the same disc. And that seemed to work. And paid off too so that the unique nature of the game wasn't such a great loss by the end of the disc as I felt like I got a whole lot more then just one game out of it.
Resident Evil 4 though, that one did sag in the middle. Chapter 3, the first half of the castle was just dreary. Chapters 1 & 2 were things I hadn't seen quite like that or never like that in games before, Chapter 4 was delightfully mad and 5 was a weird rush of of alternating creeping horror and balls to the wall action. But chapter 3, compared to the rest of the game, was just bland grey boxes with enemies in them.
-Then there are games that are paced without regard for how they are played like Twilight Princess. That game is paced as a whole, it starts slow and then keeps accelerating all the way along to the end into a big climax. Except that games, unlike films, are, except in the rarest of occasions, played from start to finish in one go.
A reverse of this I've experienced with Persona 3 (4 isn't out here yet). It's a very long game, longer then Twilight Princess too, but it's pacing through it's structure keeps it moving at a surprising clip and it's very much built along how games are played.
-Another bad sort of pacing in games is games that wait too long to introduce new gameplay elements. Or to be more precise, the shorter challenge/reward loops that the larger arc is made up of take too long. Even if the reward is great a long challenge does demotivate a player. Shorter loops with small rewards are better then long loops with great rewards if the game doesn't want to lose the player.

Sometimes it can be the player's fault too though. Give a player too much freedom, to much side activities and if he won't push on by his own he'll feel the game is at fault. For instance, a bad habit I know of myself is that early on in RPG's I can get caught up in the grind and stat building and completely disregard the plot. Until I tire of it and then also feel tired of the game when I should've just moved on in the game.

When a game feels too long I'd rather feel they pad towards the beginning rather then the end.
Twilight Princess might be a slow start (a very slow start for those who've played a Zelda game before) but once I had finished the game it felt fantastic with the early bits mostly forgotten but certainly forgiven.
But Resident Evil 4 left a bit of a bad taste. After the big battle and noise and spectacle with the attack helicopter and everything at the end I was quite ready to go straight to the final boss but no. There's another combat sequence that's quite bland. It isn't long or much but it was the wrong thing at the wrong time and because it was way at the end it affected the feeling that you get when finishing a game. (Fortunatly enough all the stuff that got unlocked, esp. Mercenaries mode, quickly cleared that up.)

Farscry wrote:

A game's length is irrelevant to me. If it's fun and varied enough to be enjoyable for 100 hours or more (hello Dragon Quest 8 and Final Fantasy XII!) then it's perfect to me. If it's short but packs an equally fantastic gaming experience in (hello Portal and Fable 2!) then it's also perfect to me.

Length is irrelevant. Fun is king. And that's entirely subjective. ;)

QFT

I don't like games that require large time investments, but if a game is fun enough I'll invest a large amount of time in it.

Three excellent examples for me are Gungrave; Overdose, God Hand and Viewtiful Joe. None of those games were very long-- if any of them broke double-digits in the hour count I'd be shocked-- but I logged workweeks of hours into each of them. G:O in particular is one of my favorite PS2 games of all time. I played that game start to finish at least six times with one character (the game offers three). And I'm not talking play it, put it away for six months, then play it again. I'm talking press start at the closing credits and select "new game."

The games that plod on for hours tend to lose me-- even great ones. I liked Half Life 2 a whole lot, but toward the end I was really ready for that game to be done. What kept me going was the

spoiler wrote:

[color=white] modification to the gravity gun in the last level. It was finally the weapon I'd wanted it to be for the whole game.

[/color]

I haven't played Ep 1 or Ep 2 yet, but I've heard they're much shorter, and I'm glad of it.

All I require of a game is that it grab me. If it can do that, I can play it as long as I want regardless of the length. But if you're going to require me to log the equivalent of a work-week in a game just to finish the main story, then you'd better have some deep hooks.

Cbirdsong wrote:

A HUGE AMOUNT OF SPOILERS REGARDING BIOSHOCK!!!

Thanks very much, mate.