Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"Long and Complex"

Seems like there's been some talk lately about long length and complexity as a negative in game design. CNN recently interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto (legendary creator of Mario and Zelda games amongst others) who bitched about it some. That sparked some more talk on the subject at some gaming site (I'd never heard of) that got linked to by shacknews. Personally, I've held this view for a long time: Long games simply aren't fun for me anymore.

I just do not have the patience to play games for very long. I might have at one time, but now there are just too many games out there that I want to play. Honestly, no matter how good a game is, after a while... I start getting antsy. I'll get 10 hours into some RPG, and then I just have to peek at a FAQ to see how far I'm into the game. Only 20%?! Fuck. I become disheartened. And that's skipping all the bullshit side quests and mini games that just make it longer. Fuck that. I'm not playing this game for 40 more hours. I may like it and all, but now it's become work. There are other good games out there waiting to be played.

And that's part of the problem I guess: I'm spoiled by all the choices out there. I buy a shitload of games, and even still I don't get every single 'good' game out there. You know how many games get 9's every month? Lots. It might sound ludicrous, but yeah, I'm saying there are too many great games being released. Especially too closely together. I might have enjoyed that 40 hour game if there wasn't another game tempting me. Instead, I have to deal with the multitude of unopened 'good' games sitting on my shelf... calling my name. It's gotten to the point that I almost hate the Holiday Game Flood because so many games I want all come out at once.

My favorite games are games that I can pick up, play for a bit, and put down. No story. No item collecting. None of that shit to get in my way of enjoying the game. Presently, that boils down to competitive gaming (fighting games, puzzle games, racing games) and portable gaming.

Competitive games are, by nature, quick gaming fixes. With no story to worry about, the only thing you focus on is the actual gameplay. That's why I love games like Street Fighter II, Bomberman and Quake III deathmatch. Every game doesn't NEED a story to be fun. Because, you know, sometimes I just don't feel like spending the time to hunt down all the fucking armors and gems in the world. And the worst offenders, man... those are the games that don't give you the 'good' ending unless you 100% it (Hello, Metroid Prime, I'm looking at you.) Fuck that. What kind of bullshit is that? 100% should give you something EXTRA, not show you the real ending.

Anyway, the other games that rock, the portable games, are meant to be digested in bite sized morsels. Games like WarioWare and Feel the Magic are great. I can even get into games like Hot Shots Golf on the PSP because it's designed so well. It has short quick golf competitions and is just perfectly suited to the needs of the pick-up-and-play portable gamer. Even RPG/Strategy games like Advance Wars and Mario & Luigi for the GBA were bearable. You can save anywhere (why can't you do that in ALL games?!?) and the missions weren't too long. Console game designers can learn a few things from portable game designers.

Getting back to the complexity issue that Miyamoto brought up… yeah, that's pretty shitty too. But for me, I wouldn't even pick up a complex game. Complexity is never fun... whether it be in a short game or long game. Overly complex games can rot on the fucking shelf. You should re-think your design if you require the gamer to use every fucking key on the keyboard and then use shift or ctrl to access even more functions. And while I'm at it, hey Unreal guys: we don't need 20 fucking guns in an FPS to make it fun OK? We don't use them all anyway. Pick a few and make them balanced and useful instead giving us 10 guns all with alternate fire. I'd much rather see a game that had marketing hype like "You'll actually want to use all 5 guns because they're useful!" instead of "Choose from 15 guns, each with alternate fire!". And to those simulation 'game' makers, your shit needs to be sold in another aisle at the store because learning how to fly a fucking Cessna isn't a game. Unless your Cessna shoots vulcan cannons and can pick up shield powerups, your shit belongs in the software productivity section, next to learning to play the guitar or some shit.

Word of the Day: prolix (adj) - tedious, long, wordy and drawn out. Ex: After reading my rant on prolix games, some assholes out ther will bitch how they're not getting they're $50 worth... to which I reply, "Trade it back it after you finish it, you cheap bastards!"

Trivia of the Day: The PS2 game Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht promises 80 hours of gameplay on the back of the case. 80 hours?! Fuck.

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