Games have to get shorter, otherwise they will waste life

Games have to get shorter, otherwise they will waste life

Games have to get shorter

The big project at work is over, the cell phone is in airplane mode, the partner and / or the children are immobilized. Finally real time to gamble again! This is what happened to me recently, when my friend was visiting her family at the weekend and there were no other tasks to do. So I had two days free of storms. What was I looking forward to: Finally, play really undisturbed again! So I throw myself on the couch on Saturday morning, scroll through my playlists and have no idea what to play.

Table of contents

1 The problem is us players 2 Side quests from Hell 3 There does the storyteller fall asleep 4 The gameplay treadmill 5 Lifetime must not be wasted Because even if I have a comparatively large amount of time, I almost exclusively jump into the big blockbusters with 50, 100 or 200 hours of play such as Assassin's Creed Valhalla or Wasteland 3, in which I can only moan loudly. But I don't have time for them and I really want something short and compact that I can finish in one or two evenings.


About the author

Games: Games have to get shorter again, otherwise they will waste your life! (4) Source: Carlo Siebenhüner Carlo Siebenhüner doesn't like it when his life is wasted. Especially when a big game becomes too long with its structure and mechanics. He sometimes finds it frightening how carelessly game developers sometimes deal with the lifetime of their players and then add the 27th collecting quest to get a long game time! If you really want to give him your opinion, then do it under his videos on the youtubechannel of (yes, he reads the comments (mostly)), or visit him on Mondays and Fridays on his Twitch channel "exploration_happiness".

The problem is we players

Sure, the trend towards longer games didn't just start yesterday. Games have been trying to outdo each other in their superlatives for many years. Even more realistic graphics, even more interactions, even better story and even longer game time. With the latter in particular, marketing appeals to the little tight-fisted in us. If game X only offers us ten hours of play, but game Y comes around the corner with 100 hours, that sounds like more at first. This makes it more valuable in our head, especially when both games are offered for the same price.

Reversing this first impression is then an additional service that is demanded of us, but which is only reluctantly performed. The first impression is the most important and it is difficult to take it off again. This does not only apply to the first meeting with the new in-laws.

The second glance at games is usually more decisive, because only then do you realize what you are dealing with. Be it the test on or the free trial weekend where you can take a look at the game. Only then do you notice how 100-hour monsters turn into boring grind machines and the 10-hour tiny ones turn into unique experiences. Long games usually make three big mistakes, which the players then make too long in the eyes of the players.

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Side quests from Hell

Open worlds in particular are the usual suspects. Every second developer now packs his ideas into a construct with an open world, whether it fits or not. Has to be stopped, after all, open worlds are the hot shit right now. But the open world is mostly used as an excuse to extend the playing time. If the actual main story is only 15 hours long, you just put it in an open world, do a little bit of side quests and suddenly you can write 50 hours on the box.

If you come to Novigrad in The Witcher, is filled with secondary tasks. One prefers to play dead. Source: Julia Barcelos (Nexus Mods) The problem with this is that the secondary tasks often become boring filling material. If I am asked to scan a planet again in Mass Effect or explore it with the Mako, I go nuts. It's not fun - on the contrary: it even degenerates into work at some point! But I don't want to blame the open worlds alone. There are also side quests or exploration and collecting tasks in linear games. With all the collecting stuff, there is usually no real added value. I can spend a lot of time in Resident Evil Village finding the Guardian Goats, and then I get an achievement for which I can then buy an artwork in the in-game shop. I look at it once and then never again.

Even if the side stories make a difference, it is often overdone. My gaze falls mainly on the big role-playing games like The Witcher 3. Don't get me wrong: I love the Witcher for its tales and it is definitely a milestone. But when I finally came to Novigrad for the first time, I felt really crushed because the game bombed me with side quests. That is of course in the nature of things. Novigrad is a huge city, so it is only logical that there are tons of quests waiting for you. But by then you have already had 20-30 hours of The Witcher 3 behind you, the quest log is already well filled and suddenly you are overwhelmed with even more tasks.

At least I felt that way with the knowledge of the full quest log, I lost interest and had to pause the game for the time being.

The storyteller falls asleep

D This is roughly how you look when you get close to the end of The Last of Us Part 2 has to go through a horde of opponents again. Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Naughty Dog och too long a game suffers not only from lengthy side quests, because the main story also gets dents. The longer the game is stretched, the more watered down the story becomes, like in The Last of Us Part 2. Again, I love the game for what it tells and what follows is a high level of criticism. Because it delivers its story in a compressed form and offers many highlights. Even so, or perhaps because of it, the last part of the game feels too long. Shortly before the final, you are chased through arenas with loads of opponents, even though you have already done that for the last 20 hours. The only difference is that there are no major loosening up of the story because the end is right in front of your nose. It is precisely at these points that you notice as a player that the developers wanted to stretch a little more playing time just before the end.

In Open Worlds, a gripping story can be staged even worse. While developers have full control in linear games and know exactly when the player gets through where, this is not the case in open worlds. It makes sense to give the player a free hand. But such specific script moments can no longer be planned. The developer cannot assume that the player is in the right place at exactly the right time. At the end of the day there are mostly scavenger hunts, in which you are chased from A to B and on the way in between you do a truckload of side quests. If you then trigger the next section of the story at some point, you scratch your head a few times why you are doing it again exactly now.

Did someone play through Skyrim just because of the main quest? Source: Zenimax

Skyrim is such a candidate. The main story fits on a beer mat and is only there to let you wander across the game world. Everyone can answer the result for themselves, because let's be honest: Who of you even finished the main story? Apart from the fact that most games with 50 hours and more, according to the achievement, trophy and success statistics, are not really played through by very few anyway, but I don't even start.

The gameplay Treadmill

On top of that there is the gameplay, with which you spend most of the time in the game, because that can quickly become annoying and drag on. Famous and notorious are the Japano role-playing games, which like to grind you into infinity, that is, let you do monotonous tasks. For the next level up you only need to cut down 500 sheep. That is just as boring as it sounds and just lengthens games unnecessarily.

Then the publishers are even worse, who even take advantage of it. Ubisoft has been offering XP boosters in its Assassin's Creed games for a few years so that you don't have to grind as long to level up. For real money in a full price single player game. That's very bold and suggests that the game is intentionally made long and tough so that you can sell boosters. Ubisoft itself denies such allegations, of course.

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Lifetime must not be wasted

This brings us to the moral of the story, which ultimately everything goes back to. Because regardless of whether it is uninteresting side quests, a main story that is too long or lame gameplay, what makes a game seem too long to us. It ultimately affects one thing: our lifetimes!

Let's hope for a golden future where our lifetimes are not so often wasted on filler material. Source: Sony games vie for our lifetime, and that is now limited. A large part of it goes to school or work, then there are family and hobbies. The time we can devote to games is short. That makes it all the more audacious when game manufacturers don't respect the lifetime of their players and waste them with stretched content. Because nothing else are the places in games that make them seem too long to us: wasted life.

Therefore, dear developers, if you are building your next game and are thinking of blowing it up again: Please keep it short pause and think carefully about whether it is worth it and whether you can absorb it with good content. Otherwise you will have hours and hours of the lifetime of your players on your conscience because you wanted to write a large number on your package.

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