Content Life

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by StGabriel, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. StGabriel

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    As I've been getting more interested in indie development I've also been trying and buying more and more indie games. One thing I've been noticing is that most indie games have a pretty short play life. That is, most indie games seem to last between 2 and 8 hours of gameplay -- and far too many are closer to the 2 hour mark. I also don't find many games like Tetris that I can play for hours on end with the same content. It's getting to where I'm much more wary with my dollars as most games don't seem very economical compared with a commercial product that might last me 40 hours.

    I was wondering why this is. I see two obvious answers (and I'm sure there are others):

    1) Indie developers don't have the resources/capital/time to develop games with 10+ hours of content.

    2) You don't need to have content past the second hour to sell the game. You just need to convince the buyer, after a half hour or hour, that they are having fun.

    I was wondering to what extent developers take this into account when developing games. Do you target a certain lifespan of the game content? Is it just as much as you can get done under budget and on schedule? To what extent do you factor in the value of the first hour of play (that which gets them to buy the game) versus subsequent hours?
     
  2. Davaris

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Messages:
    767
    Likes Received:
    0
    It sounds like you've bought the wrong games.

    Try any of SpiderWeb Software's RPGs. They go on so long that I never get to the end of the demos. The only problem with that is I get bored and stop playing them. Then there's my game at ausgamedev.com. Its in the time space you mention (10-15 hrs), but you can replay it using different character types.

    The question I ask about a game is did I have fun or was I bored? I'd rather enjoy a shorter game and have good memories, than be bored playing a longer forgetable game. As an example my all time favorite game is Fallout, which is kind of short for an RPG. Fallout 2 on the other hand was way too long and I got bored well before the end of it.

    Perhaps the devs here can recommend some longer Indie games?
     
  3. StGabriel

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah, I have been checking out Avernum 4.

    I didn't really mean to have this sound like a complaint, I'm really interested in how or if people consider content life as part of the design process. It makes sense to me that indie games will tend to have shorter lives than larger budget titles.

    I would welcome other suggestions for games of course. :)
     
  4. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    I try to aim for about 10 solid hours' entertainment out of my own titles. Looking at my magic logs I can see quite a few people enjoying them for that long :)

    Cas :)
     
  5. Nexic

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Messages:
    2,437
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's option 1 for me,

    more play time = more levels
    more levels = more enemies + more time
    more enemeis = more art + more time
    more art + more time + more time = more money

    I'm aiming to have much more content in my next game, but at the same time LESS play time (unless you count competing for highscores). I feel it's more fun that way...
     
  6. Ryan Clark

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Messages:
    656
    Likes Received:
    0
    Our game, Professor Fizzwizzle, will last weeks... I actually don't think anyone out there has finished it without cheating (looking at the solutions).

    It really just depends on the genre. Action games are so content-heavy that it's difficult for an indie to create more than 10 hours of gameplay. Both because content costs money, and because content increases download size.

    Puzzle games like ours don't have this problem.
     
  7. puggy

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2005
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    0
    Really depends on the game. I run an online game which has months and months of gameplay, ok so most players only play about 4 hours per day but the advantage is that there playing against other players so it adds competition to the game which adds a lot to the playplay. You get a relativly regular monthly payment (if you do a massive promo you could get a lot more which i'm planning in the next few months) but you do have to keep developing the game. In the next few days i'm planning on releasing a beta of a major addon to my game which i'm hoping will attract a lot more players to the game (with the correct promotion) and thus a lot more money.

    I don't have much experience with single player games but game play could be extended with addon's to the game, which you could charge for, if a player likes the game there more likly to pay for a massive expantion pack which would bring in more money from a game. I really don't think enough indies take advantage of expansion packs which is something they should really take a good look into, though it would depend on the game.
     
  8. TJM

    TJM
    Original Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Do you tell people that you're gathering information with your "magic logs" or do you just do it? How much info do you gather?
     
  9. Sharpfish

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    1,309
    Likes Received:
    0
    This reminds me, and I don't want to cause a sh*t storm or go widly off topic. I always refrain from d/l cas's new demos purely based on his well publicised use of tracking/logs.. they scare me ;)

    oh.. that and I aint installing java everytime I want to try something else (I don't leave it installed cos I run lean and NEVER have any need for it other than to try puppygames games!)

    add: So, yeah I wonder if the use of logs are clearly shown or not also, but that is for another thread.. another day. :)
     
  10. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    Indeed, already discussed, flamed, argued about, and duly ignored by yours truly. "Works for me" :) I just know how long an installation has been played for and how many times, what OS and graphics card and OpenGL drivers its got, and any exception that caused it to crash. Handy stuff really, and very harmless.

    BTW, you don't need Java to play any of my games...

    Cas :)
     
  11. Sharpfish

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    1,309
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is this a recent thing? I swear I have in the past when checking out yer demos and on your site (plugins?)

    Anyway, it's not big deal. And you are right to ignore it. If we listen to everyone's opinion 24 hours a day we'd end up stalling and over analysing everything. :)
     
  12. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    You've never ever needed a Java runtime to play them.

    now we're a bit off topic anyway I'd just like to say that it only logs once you've already allowed it to log by contacting the hiscore server. Basically on a successful attempt at registration (not actual registration success), or successful download of the hiscores, it decides you've allowed it to contact Puppygames, and logs from there on. This looks a lot less suspicious to paranoid folks. At least, no-one has ever actually complained to me.

    Cas :)
     
  13. Sharpfish

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    1,309
    Likes Received:
    0
    Being Java it was never really clear to me (I thought there had been discussion about runtimes pros and cons and mention of you - I must have dreamed it). It also shows, obviously, how long it's been since I last played one of your demos (as I mentioned in my first post on here because of the logs/java). I think it was super dudester.. a while ago.

    ..but now I am not longer misguided about the Java thing AND you have explained the log stuff more clearly I feel secure and non-burdended in checking out puppygame goodness in future. Thnks. and sorry for thread hijack! ;)
     
  14. Artinum

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    0
    Returning briefly to the topic...

    There is a problem for the indie developer in making longer life games. All that content has to come from somewhere and that takes time and imagination. How long did it take to create all those Professor Fizzwizzle levels?

    RPGs are a different kind of game. In these, content is less important - you only need the basic elements and they are then combined in pseudo-random ways. The challenge is based on your own performance. And while dungeons are all made up of basic walls/floors/etc, they are different every time. Remember that DNA is (to the best of my knowledge) constructed from just five different atoms (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and - I think - phosphorous). That's still a lot of variety.

    I'll mention one game here (well, two - there's a sequel now!) in the form of Flatspace, which has some RPG qualities to it. And a lot more than 2-8 hours lifespan.
     
  15. papillon

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,193
    Likes Received:
    0
    Not every RPG is a roguelike! Not all of them have randomly-generated dungeons!

    Just as some puzzle games have random levels and some are handcrafted, some RPG dungeons are built at runtime and some are carefully designed - Careful design allows there to be walkthrough sites and maps and such - and I really prefer these to the random style. Random is fun too, but it isn't meaningful, and becomes unsatisfying eventually. (On the other hand, more replay.)

    Even a roguelike requires a good deal of content dumped into the randomiser or people will get bored. The huge amount of monsters/spells/treasure available in the free games sets a standard. :) You can get away with far fewer monsters/spells/treasure in a scripted game.
     
  16. Artinum

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bizarrely, the very day you say this, Bytten's latest review for "Morning's Wrath" is up - which is entirely designed and has no random dungeons.

    Freaky coincidence...!
     
  17. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    Strange Adventures in Infinite Space springs to mind. Very few elements to it, really. Just juggled together randomly to create all the fun. Must have played that game about 500 times.

    Cas :)
     
  18. oNyx

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Play time is a useless metric.

    "10+ hours of content" showing each texture once for 1/60th second? (rhetorical question)

    Well, the factors which influence the perceived value (from this content centric pov) are things like... how long does it take to finish the game, replay value and repetition rate.

    As usual everyone applies different weights for this factors. Eg I really hate it if a game feels too repetitive or artificially stretched, but I'm fine if it only takes 25 minutes to finish the complete game (that is if there is a high degree of variation). A game this short can/will be played more often, because the amount of required time (and upfront commitment before it gets interesting) is very low.

    If a game needs several hours from start to finish the replay value (from my pov) equals zero. I simply wont play it ever again. I just feel like I cant justify wasting that much time. The only exception so far was Resident Evil 4 (gc), which I finished 4 times within one week.

    Oh and multiplayer changes everything (obviously).
     
  19. Sharpfish

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    1,309
    Likes Received:
    0
    lol - I haven't finished it once yet! I'm about half way through, but was too busy with "work" to play anymore yet (same goes for windwaker, killer 7 and super mario64 ds!)
     
  20. varmint

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've said the samething about commercial games (which cost alot more). I've gotten many commercial games that have less game play time. Clock Tower 3 for example I completed in 4 - 6 hours :D Probably would have being shorter if the cut scenes had play'd faster.

    And lets look at World of WarCraft. The hole game is just a repetative grinding away at try'n to level your character in some really lame "quests" if you dare to call it that. I've got a few friends that only play'd WoW for 6 hours before packing it in out of bordom. And is flying from one city to another which takes 20min really playing the game? *yawns* These style of games leave it up the the player to find something to do. (to much werk for me) Again really no game play there. And if you've play'd any other MMO, it's the same old same old.
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer