Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Where are my bite sized games?

I am a fan of many forms of entertainment. I read comics and Manga regularly, I watch movie's and as we all know play video games. There is a trend in the time this entertainment takes to enjoy from start to finish.

In the case of comics (I like the Flash) you can buy a single issue and enjoy it for about 45 minutes and then you're done. but you can buy Trade Paperbacks of those runs of comics that are good for two or three hours of entertainment.

In the case of manga you can enjoy it in monthly collection issues (Shonen Jump Magazine for instance) this again offers a collection of 'episodes' that last 45 minutes where as the magazine as a whole can last much longer. Or you can buy collected stories as TankĊbon's that last up to three hours or so for an average reader.

Television and movie's are laid out the same way, a TV show lasts usually about 45 minutes where a movie lasts two to three hours, the same with music an album rarely lasts more than an hour.

With video games its very different. A video game last's, if your lucky for about ten hours and then separate to that most offer an on-line mode that will give you potentially unlimited entertainment. What I find interesting however is that Video games have no 'bite sized' versions like pretty much every other form of entertainment that I enjoy.

Some games have been striving towards this for example LA Noire is split into 'cases' each new case being a great place to suspend play for a time, Alan Wake is split into Episodes. But when I sit down to a nights gaming there are no structured 'portions' of entertainment so my gaming can just roll on all evening long. It's not a bad thing for it to stretch out in-front of me the way it does, it lends itself to immersion.

If games where sectioned off in an episodic manor publishers could market them differently saying things like "Killzone 4 now consisting of 12 one hour episodes" they would not necessarily have to do much differently, if anything it would give them intensive for a more structured story and allow for more 'cliff hanger' moments that has served episodes of the X-files so well over the years. if this trend took off it may also allow for episodic gaming to be more popular so the next Halo or Uncharted game could be released a little faster as teh developers finish each episode.

"Tell Tale games" who brought us the superb Tales of Monkey Island Series and the Shockingly bad Strong Bad games have adopted this model with less than a mind blowing success. You get the pleasure of paying for the whole 'run' of say 5 games and receiving them a month apart each game lasting about two hours.

The business model is sound but in the case of Tell Tale games the quality does not always meet the expected level.

This business model makes the cost of DLC much easier to swallow as I doubt many of us would object to paying a few pounds for a 'special' bonus episode of Killzone. Even MMO's could adopt it making smaller single player style narratives that are separate to the main story (like Guild wars did a while back with the Bonus Mission Pack).

Not every game would be enhanced from this very modern concept, imagine loading up your favourite fantasy game to see  "Previously on Dragon Age Origins...." followed by a title sequence. but with more modern set games this would not only be acceptable to make progression more tangible.

Maybe this is why I don't develop video games for a living...


Roonast said...

Hey, I didnt realise you read Shonen Jump! ^_^ I love Bleach and I've never seen this before, so I'm gonna start picking it up! :D

Hex DSL said...

@roonast ? ? ??