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Starbreeze Says “Games Are Too Long”, They’re Kinda Right

Posted by on April 2, 2013 at 10:30 am
Syndicate wasn't long by any stretch of the imagination.

Syndicate wasn’t long by any stretch of the imagination.

After the commercial failure of Syndicate, a game I enjoyed, it seems fitting that Starbreeze is taking on a whole new direction with Brothers: A Tale Of Two Brothers. In an interview with PC Gamer, one you should read, Filmmaker Josef Fares, who’s working with the developer to create the game, delivers a battery of opinions about the industry (like how motion controllers like the Kinect and Move “are bullshit”), but the one that struck me was about how games are being padded for length, something I can definitely agree with.

First, the quote in question:

I think many games are too long and people focus too much attention on the time it takes to complete a game. I don’t care about time, I care about the experience. Most games re-use so much stuff it gets boring. I mean, Max Payne 3 – after one hour you’ve played it already. You just keep doing the same stuff.

Putting aside the debate of incredibly long games like RPGs that Rob and I discuss in the latest FEZ BRO SHO, padding the modern shooter for length is a sad state of affairs. Syndicate has the distinction of being the only shooter I ever beat in one sitting and while it wasn’t a marvel in the narrative department, it was a very pretty and tightly-wound ride.

Let’s take Max Payne 3, his example. Like many of its contemporaries, it has a simple gameplay loop that’s replicated over and over again. Max Payne 3 has a huge advantage in Rockstar’s exquisite level design, but by encouraging duck and cover gallery shooting over the shootdodging daredevil firefights of the previous games, the game is much less fun. Is it easy to say that the game is too long as a result? It certainly felt like it at times. It seems that at some point Rockstar wanted to create a number of expensive set pieces to include in the game, but by failing to make an exciting game, it made them so much less entertaining to shoot through.

What about, say, BioShock Infinite? I found the shooting so fluid and enjoyable that aside from a late-game trudge, I had no issues with the length of the game.

In reality, I think this is a matter of making games that are fun as opposed to being just technically impressive interactive toys. If developers focus on the former, it doesn’t really matter how long the game is, you’ll keep playing without question. If they’re focusing on the latter, they simply become, well, ‘too long’

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