News, and the latest updates.
Stories from the past...
Got a item of interest? Here's the place to go.
Your opinion always counts on how we can make GameSurge
Comments on our features, by you, the viewers.
Tweaks, reviews and a handy driver index highlight our newest section
Looking to buy one of the hottest games? We have it covered.
Get a advanced look at the games of tomorrow.
Find out more about the people behind your favorite game.
Need Help? We have a very large selection of walkthroughs now up.
A special section featuring the best in artwork and
The written word, by staff and viewers.
A bi-monthly column contributed by Mark H Walker, an independant writer in the Gaming community.
Pictures from around the web.
Our current hosting plans and features.
Who we are, what we do, our policies and job positions.
The Sony PlayStation, and beyond...
The Dreamcast resource, and more. Home of the DC Technical pages.
GameGuy: The “How Long is Long Enough?” Edition
By Mark H. Walker
I loved The Matrix. It was gripping,
thought-provoking, and well acted, but I don't think I would have been so
enamored with a six-hour version. Would two more Kenau/Fishburne karate scenes
improve the product? Perhaps another spat of bullet dodging? Probably not, the
producer/writers /director knew when to leave well enough alone.
I wish software publishers would do the
Baldur's Gate put me to sleep, Septerra Core bored me, and Ground Control's
sole flaw was its 30-mission campaign. Are publisher's making games too
long? Let me kill the literary suspense right now. The answer is YES. All caps.
The game has not been made --be it RPG, strategy, shooter, or whatever-- that
can bear the weight of more than 50 hours of play. Software companies forget
that the terms “more” and “better” are not synonyms.
We all like to finish our games.
Invariably, my favorite games have been those that are not only good fun, but
finishable (sic). Fallout, Parasite Eve, Shogo, Odium
(okay, Odium wasn't really a good game), and Shadow
Watch. I finished each, didn't forfeit my life to do so, and loved every
last minute of it. On the flip side of the coin, I've played way too many games
that take a good 15-hour story, 7-level shootout, or 15-mission campaign and
double it, adding little more than several hours of tedium.
Who's to blame? Two parties: Publishers and
journalists. Unfortunately, publishers are caught up in a huge game of
"keeping up with the Joneses." For example, if real-time strategy
title "A" has 30 missions, then the real time strategy title in
development had damn well also better have 30 missions. It doesn't matter if it
only takes fifteen missions to craft a great campaign, having less missions
than the competitor looks bad on the back of the box. Please understand, many
of the folks making these decisions are not gamers, and quantifiable
measurements such as number of missions are easier for them to grasp than
quality of play.
But who (beside our entire culture) gives
publishers the idea that more is better? It's us, the gaming press. I remember
reading the Fallout reviews; almost all said the same thing: great game,
but too little of it. It took me about 30 hours to finish Fallout.
That's approximately $1.65 per gaming hour --way cheaper than the typical
movie. That's enough bang for my buck.
Neither is Tim Cain's classic the lone
gaming ranger of titles slammed for supposedly short-sheeting their customers.
Critics who liked (read --understood the subtleties of) Red Storm's Shadow
Watch nevertheless diss'd its length. To add insult to injury, most of
these comments on length come from critics who --let me whisper in your ear-- never
complete the game. It's easy to admire Wizardry 8’s 70+ hours of
play *if* you haven't trudged through it yourself.
Of course the problem isn't just too many
similar levels, too much dead-dialogue story, or a glut of look-a-like
missions. Feature creep --the inevitable addition of new
characters/creatures/weapons/cars/spells/what-have-you as a game develops grabs
even the best developers. Case in point, Diablo II ships with five
character classes. Who the heck is going to play through it with more than one?
Bottom line, publishers are dumping too
much development money into creating more, when they should be creating better.
By the same token reviewers dump too many words into evaluating length instead
Movies aren't judged on length, books
aren't judged on length, why should games be so judged? I don't know, maybe I
better ask the Matrix people.
© Mark H. Walker, LLC 2001
H. Walker is a veteran interactive entertainment journalist who has written
over 40 books including his recently released Medal of Honor and Wizardry 8
Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones
An affordable, ultra-portable headphone set.