“It’s possible that length and quality are weakly correlated,”
September 30, 2017 7:28 PM   Subscribe

How long does it take to beat your favourite games? “...the brainchild of Minnesota IT technician Randy Gleason. Gleason started HLTB in 2011, when his game backlog grew long enough that the lack of length information frustrated him. “I’d be going through a game and be like, ‘God, how long is this going to take me?’” Gleason says. “A lot of times it was just looking at my Steam game list and [thinking], I’ve got like three or four hours to burn here — what can I get through? What can I knock off my list?”” [via: The Ringer]
posted by Fizz (28 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
The amount of time (and quarters) I spent learning Pac Man would put any modern gamer to utter shame with my devotion to my task.
posted by hippybear at 7:36 PM on September 30 [3 favorites]


How long does it take to beat my favorite game? It is System Shock 2 and it scares me so much that I have spent 18 years and five weeks trying to finish it, and I still haven't. Does this make me a statistical outlier?
posted by seasparrow at 7:38 PM on September 30 [12 favorites]


The standard time for a first ascension in nethack is normally measured in decades...
posted by jim in austin at 8:12 PM on September 30 [11 favorites]


Seems like if you actually liked the game you wouldn't care how long it took to finish.
posted by dilaudid at 8:19 PM on September 30 [3 favorites]


Hey I like Princess Bride but I'm not going to enjoy just watching the iocane scene on repeat 100 times.
posted by traveler_ at 8:47 PM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Even if you thoroughly enjoy the game all the way through, the amount of content available may affect the price point at which you consider it worthwhile. I remember more than a couple of games that the concept was great, the world building was enthralling, and the mechanics solid, but $60 for 10 hours of story when that $60 could also buy 80 hours of another enjoyable story can affect how you view your purchase.
posted by Lykosidae at 9:15 PM on September 30 [4 favorites]


when that $60 could also buy 80 hours of another enjoyable story can affect how you view your purchase.

Ah, life before kids.
posted by benzenedream at 9:27 PM on September 30 [13 favorites]


Ah, life before kids.

Yes! For me the length-quality correlation is now moderately strong and negative. I'll gladly shell out $20 for something like Oxenfree, which has a cool vibe, great characters, and a story arc that wraps up in a few hours.

It's an extra bonus if, like Oxenfree, a game is something that my wife also enjoys, so that time spent playing is also time spent hanging out with her.

My weeks used to be filled with hours and hours and hours....
posted by gurple at 10:08 PM on September 30 [3 favorites]


761 hours on Terraria and I don't think I've ever "beat" it. 2.99$ on steam sale.

But then again I paid full price for NeiR Automata and haven't started it yet soooo
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:20 PM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Oh god I just checked my hours on Kerbal Space Program. How do I still have a job
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:22 PM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Honestly I think Portal, and then Minecraft, broke the obsession with play length. Portal was a premium-priced game (packaged with a multiplayer game and Half-Life back when getting new Half-Life was possible) that was 3 hours, a perfect length for those three hours, and absolutely worth playing. Minecraft didn't have an end, or even really goals. It was also absolutely worth playing. Caring about game length is still a thing, but these days 'short' can be as positive as 'long' because 'short' often means 'focused and respects your time'.

One thing I'd love to do is put a 'game length' slider in a game, that can be set anywhere from 10 minutes to 200 hours. 10 minutes cuts out basically everything but the tutorial, the single best room of the game, and the ending, where 200 hours subs in a ton of collectibles and procedurally generated rooms and quests and other time-wasting bullshit.
posted by Merus at 10:28 PM on September 30 [8 favorites]


The games I like the best I play for hundreds of hours. The games I like enough to finish once, probably somewhere between 5 - 10 hours on average. Although I also enjoy the shorter indie story-oriented adventure/puzzle games that have become popular (again) recently.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:36 PM on September 30


I played through INSIDE this weekend. It takes about three hours, you can do it in one sitting. It doesn't suffer from being short though, it's about the perfect length to tell it's story. It's by the same people who made Limbo, and it's more of the same.

The graphics are very stylised and artsy. It's mostly shades of grey and shadows, the first time your character steps into the light you realise they're wearing a bright red shirt and it pops right out.

Some of the puzzles are based on good timing, which is frustrating when you miss your cue for the tenth time and have to start over. But that's my only complaint. I'd recommend this if you can't comment to an 80 hour epic.

i love the shoggoth at the end
posted by adept256 at 11:21 PM on September 30 [7 favorites]


Steam helpfully tracks the number of hours you spend playing games. Last week, I ticked over to five digits for Civ IV, and I still haven't sniffed a win at deity. So there's that.
posted by Mayor West at 3:26 AM on October 1 [2 favorites]


Just measuring time from start to finish is not a good metric. One of the games I most certainly lost more time with was Streets of Rage 2, and some 15 years ago or so I've finished the game every morning for an whole summer. Playing like a sadist who liked to tease punks before cracking their skull on the pavement meant something like 2 hours every day, for about 60 days or so. This excluding how many times I've played it after getting the actual cartridge etc. The game only lasts between one to two hours, but it's two hours I've repeated to exhaustion. On the other hand, a game like Okami is fantastic, but because it's padded so heavily by the end, I'm not ever going to replay that. The first 20 hours or so are fantastic, but after that I just wanted it to end. I could be playing something else, like, dunno, SoR2.
So, technically, Okami is a longer game than SoR2, but I've spent far more (and better) time with it.

the amount of content available may affect the price point at which you consider it worthwhile
At a time, I was working on a formula that calculated a "bang for buck" score based on price, metacritic score, average length and how long it has been on the market. It produced a decent way to price used games, particularly games that were decent enough but lacked content or replayability, although unfortunately I never had the chance to put it to actual use other than sometimes check it against my own purchases.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:14 AM on October 1


If you're looking for length information, gamefaqs has player populated data for most games where they say how long they played the games for, it's normalized enough that you can get a good sense, and as expected RPGs on the site are usual past 60+ hours and more arcade stuff are less than 10.
posted by numaner at 8:58 AM on October 1


On the other hand, a game like Okami is fantastic, but because it's padded so heavily by the end, I'm not ever going to replay that.

Haha... ha... *eyes my 10+ replays of Okami, including 3 completionist runs, nervously*

That's a good point, though. Especially with the growing popularity of choice based games. The Wolf Among Us may take only 10 hours to beat, but after your first run you have to do another run for each of the major story choices, and then a True Asshole Run, and then a Silent Run, and then...
posted by brook horse at 11:22 AM on October 1


This is not one of my most popular viewpoints, but this holds true for journalism and fiction as well.

In both media, people correlate "length" with "care of creation," when at least half the time, it could just as well suggest "lack of editing."
posted by jeffehobbs at 3:19 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


The last two games I played were $30 apiece and took me about 10 hours each (slightly longer than average), and in both cases it felt just right. Any longer would have been dragging them out. I'm playing Pyre now which was $20 (it's on sale on Steam for $15 this weekend), and it's described as 10 (Main Story) to 18 (Completionist), and I'm not very good at it so it'll probably take me a good bit longer. But it's a hell of a lot of fun so that's just fine and dandy with me.

I didn't play much last year so I might have missed some goodies, but it seems to me that 2017 is shaping up to be a particularly good year for good games.
posted by homunculus at 3:31 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I’ve got like three or four hours to burn here — what can I get through? What can I knock off my list?

I get that people find themselves with little time but this still seems weird to me. There are lots of games where you can't get through the game, or even very much of the game, in three or four hours, but where you *can* have a coherent and enjoyable experience in it, and then come back a few days or a week later for another coherent chunk of the story.

To me, "I have three or four hours a week to spend" just screams RPG.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:09 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


That makes sense. I put just shy of 200 hours into Witcher 3 (with all the dlc). Which I knocked out in a few months prior to getting married. After I did, and being disappointed with ME: Andomeda, I wanted an RPG so I got DA: Inquisition (again, with all the dlc). And that took me most of a year to finish, generally playing it in quest/story chunks a hamdful of hours at a time. I think I got around 140 hours out of that.

(This is not a diss on my wife. I adore my wife. But RPG style gaming--always my favorite anyway--works out better for me now that my gaming time is divided into chunks instead of the constant attention getting decent at a FPS takes).
posted by Cyrano at 5:51 PM on October 1


jim in austin: "The standard time for a first ascension in nethack is normally measured in decades..."

3 and counting.
posted by Mitheral at 6:49 AM on October 2


Question tangentially related to games & timing: I recently got the DLC for Fallout New Vegas, which I completed a while ago. I'm not sure how to play the DLC: Am I supposed to replay FNV from the beginning with them integrated as added quests, or are they discrete games I play independent of the main FNV narrative, or do I load my last save point before completion, play the DLC, and then finish the game?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:16 AM on October 5




I'm not sure that really answers the question.

If you want to experience the DLC as intended, a restart is probably ideal. Or, reload from a midpoint save if you have one. A save just before completion has probably settled a lot of questlines that may interact with DLC quests. There are lots of potential qualifiers, but that'd be the safest move.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:43 PM on October 5


If they are anything like Fallout 3 expansions, they all take place in a different setting and characters (other than Broken Steel, which continues the story). Players gets radio messages to go someplace, and then travel to the dlc location. Absolutely no impact from having done everything but the final mission.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:49 AM on October 6


Am I supposed to replay FNV from the beginning with them integrated as added quests, or are they discrete games I play independent of the main FNV narrative, or do I load my last save point before completion, play the DLC, and then finish the game?

Either. The DLCs aren't new questlines in the Mojave and AFAIK none of the mainline story quests respond to anything you've done in the DLCs, and IIRC there are only a few minor dialogue changes in the DLCs to respond to anything you did in the Mojave. To start one, you go to a place and do a thing and it pops up a dialogue suggesting a minimum level and telling you any restrictions and requirements. I might lightly recommend doing them in the order (Old World Blues and Honest Hearts in whatever order), then Dead Money, and finally Lonesome Road because of what you learn about characters who figure in DM and LR during OWB.

DM is the only one that does the "all your gear is gone, start from nothing" thing.

Old World Blues: set in a special area, you have to finish the story quests there before you can return to the Mojave, after you've returned you can go back and forth as you desire.

Honest Hearts: set in a special area, you have to finish the story quests there before you can return to the Mojave, I can't remember whether you can go back to Zion after you've returned to the Mojave but frankly there is less reason to.

Dead Money: set in a special area, you have to finish the story quests there before you can return to the Mojave, after you've returned to the Mojave you can never go back to the special area.

Lonesome Road: set in a special area, there are never any restrictions on travel between that area and the Mojave.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:29 AM on October 6


SPOILERS

IIRC there are only a few minor dialogue changes in the DLCs to respond to anything you did in the Mojave

Like, if you've killed Caesar, I think you can tell Joshua Graham in HH that you did and he says something about it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:31 AM on October 6


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