Link: GDC 2010, The Day Before Day 1

Two points I liked from this:

Number 1 – Your news feed is going to get crowded very soon.

If I could sum up V-con in 10 words, it would be this: Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. Yeah really. Facebook is so powerful that it’s sucking everything in, warping the game industry around it. One of Saturn’s moons has actually broken off orbit because the pull of Facebook was so strong. How can we integrate with Facebook? How can we make more money off Facebook games? How can we predict which things will be successful on Facebook?

I remember looking for Xbox Live apps on Facebook thinking that it would be cool to show all my friends the achievements I’ve unlocked. But how’s that different than any of the other entries from Mafia Wars, Farmville, or those other games my friends play that I hide?


Number 2 – Games are too long

Another ranter complained that games are too damn long. He said in his lifestyle, 2 hour movies is about right. A 5 hour game sounds good to him, maybe 10 or 15 if he really liked it. 40 hours is straight out. 80 is way out. Furthermore, 80 hour games are horrible beasts because they are so big, the contain a million ideas, each half baked. How about one idea done well, instead? …after he plays them for 5 hours and has fun and wants to be done, they tell him “No, you are on chapter 3 of 45 and you haven’t seen anything really.” He says these games should simply agree with him and say “yeah you had fun, thanks for playing.” He said we should all make games that are like 5 hours, not 80 hours.

I completely agree, by the way. My claim: I have never played a game that’s too short. Not once ever, in my entire life. I have played some that cost too much, but never one that was too short.

I’ve been hesitant to pick up Final Fantasy XIII because I’ve read that it will take 50 hours to do the main quest. I also think it’s no coincidence that great games like Portal and Shadow Complex are short games.

Part of the reason, I think, why games have become so long is because the physical distribution model didn’t make it worthwhile to do short games. They’d cost $20 or less. After all the costs of physical distribution there just wasn’t much money in it.

But now that distribution is digital, why not make shorter games? Why not take risks on inventing a new genre? That’s part of why I’m a big fan of this episodic content model that Valve’s been doing with Half-Life 2. You get a taste of the game in under 5 hours and you’re left hanging for more.

Games used to be short. If you play a Mega Man game today you can probably beat it in about an hour, considering that you still memorized all the patterns, boss weaknesses, and everything else from when you played it as a kid. What made it long was that you had to redo levels over and over again. But if you played through a Final Fantasy game today how long would it take you, even if you don’t make many mistakes? Probably about 40 hours again.