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Made of Ghosts

How Long To Beat dot com

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I’ve only recently noticed this: when starting a new game i usually look it up on howlongtobeat.com first and check the average completion time. Especially if it’s an indie game, cos it’s hard to tell if something like that will last two hours or twenty hours. You can kinda tell from the price sometimes but not always. 

 

This is partly to decide whether or not I’m gonna try and complete it in one sitting - I don’t want that annoying situation of coming back for a second sesh only to discover I was five minutes away from the finish line (as recently happened with Gorogoa). But aside from that, I just like to have a rough idea of how long it’s going to take. 

 

Some games give you this information in an indirect way by having a list of levels or whatever, but a lot of games just carry on until they end and that’s that. Sometimes you’re able to infer from the story and/or pacing, but that’s a tricky situation too - something like Half-Life 2 will provide you with an ultimate goal, but then throw constant obstacles and detours in your path, so it’s never really clear how far away you are from the end. Or with Zelda you’ll know how many Special Things you have to collect - but there’s probably another set after that. (I guess a newcomer might plausibly expect OoT to end after the third spiritual stone?)

 

Is it an important element of game design to give the player a rough sense of how far through they are? Or do you not really care?

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I don't think it really matters. If I finish a game at the start of a session then God knows I've got enough unplayed games to choose from. I'll similarly check HLTB before deciding what to play next, however, although mostly because I like to break up plays of longer games with a couple of shorter games first. I've just completed TLOU2, for example, and that's was 30 hours, so once I've finished my second run I'm going to play a couple of shorter games before I get stuck into another 20 hour+ game - HLTB is useful in this regard for letting me know which games are shorter.

 

I think games are unique compared with other media in that their run-time is so variable and unclear: films are typically 90-120 minutes long, books you can see how long they are from how many pages you have left, TV series from the number of remaining episodes, but with games it's not so immediately apparent.

 

I will say that there's been many occasions where I haven't been all that taken by a game but some sort of progress indicator showing me I'm close to the end has made me power on through to complete it.

 

I was listening to a gaming podcast a few months ago (probably TCGS) where one of the listeners wrote in asking what method the presenters used to choose which game to play next from their pile, and the answer one presenter gave was 'Always play the shortest game first', which I thought was interesting, as many of the best or most critically-acclaimed games of this generation (BotW, RDR2, TLOU2, God of War, etc.) have been pretty lengthy, so if you took this approach then you'd never get round to playing the best stuff.

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Once I'm aware a game will take a minimum of 40 hours if not far longer to play through then I do become averse to starting them. The longer the game the bigger the fear. It's irrational but the thought of spending the next month or more playing the only one game scares me. I currently have Persona 5 Royal; Trails of Cold Steel; Yakuza 5; Dragon Quest XI; and Fire Emblem Three Houses sat there either on my shelf still in their shrink wrap or on the hard drive not started because they'll all take a ridiculous amount of time to play through.

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Shawn Layden (the guy wot used to run PlayStation) did an interview recently where he said that he'd like to see a return to the 12 - 15 hour game. 

 

I agree. Theres some fantastic games that I've either given up on or just plain not started because they're 50 hour marathons.

 

I use HowLongToBeat.com to see how long a game (or even it's DLC) is so I can plan my next game to play and maximise completion.

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12 minutes ago, jonamok said:

I wish every game lasted 6-12 hours.

 

I am, on the other hand, happy to have diversity when it comes to game length. For me it doesn't matter wether a game is X or Y hours long, a good game is a good game. It all depends on the game, though, as there are games that are essentially a 12-15 hour gig but padded out by design to last 25 hours or more and this is something I don't support. 

While I do use HLTB to get a rough idea of how long a game is, I'll rather ask around to check if games are riddled with filler or not. 

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I regularly check how long to beat before starting/getting a game to see if there's any chance I'll finish it.  I prefer games where the main story is no more than 10 hours-ish, preferably a bit shorter.  If I seem something that's 20 hours plus I know there's little to no chance I'll see the end due to other time commitments and my own attention span.

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I wish you could choose a games length like you can choose difficulty and it just gives you the edited highlights. 

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I always use HLTB but I also add on 50% because it will always take me longer on certain games like RPG's/Open World.

DQXI has a complete of 122 hours it took me 180! I am not too bothered about the length of games but would agree I would love to play shorter games but I really enjoy exploring Open World games and they are timesinks!

 

Currently playing The Outer Worlds.

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I use HLTB as a sort of "expectations setter". I don't like being surprised when something I'm enjoying suddenly ends, but I equally don't like it when something has 20 more acts than I expected.

 

Progress indicators on the save file, or similar, are great for me.

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I was once ridiculed for suggesting that games come with an expected runtime on the back of the box. HLTB is the next best thing. Actually, in the age of digital games, it's better.

 

I typically use it to help determine what to play next. Off the back of an epic, I usually fancy something shorter. But I have to say, I really miss the days where the next game to play was simply the game I had just bought.

 

Games that give an indication of your progress are very welcome, too, especially when they clearly separate out what's considered the main quest, and what's the sidequest fluff. Far Cry Primal reckons I'm 28.22% of the way through the game. I'm not - I'm on the final stretch of missions, but the game doesn't differentiate between main story and some random villager in the middle of the map needing an escort, so 28.22% is apparently where I am. That is not helpful.

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7 minutes ago, Fry Crayola said:

I was once ridiculed for suggesting that games come with an expected runtime on the back of the box. HLTB is the next best thing. Actually, in the age of digital games, it's better.

 

I typically use it to help determine what to play next. Off the back of an epic, I usually fancy something shorter. But I have to say, I really miss the days where the next game to play was simply the game I had just bought.

 

That has not really changed that much for me, I tend to restict myself to only having a maximum of five games & a mix of indie/retail titles.

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Yeah, I use this quite a bit. I already note down forthcoming release dates and fret about completing one thing before another thing contends for my time, so it’s pretty useful. I remember there being a bit of concern over FFVII Remake covering such a short period of the original game, but the estimate on the site pretty much matched my own experience... :) 

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10 hours ago, Made of Ghosts said:

I’ve only recently noticed this: when starting a new game i usually look it up on howlongtobeat.com first and check the average completion time. Especially if it’s an indie game, cos it’s hard to tell if something like that will last two hours or twenty hours. You can kinda tell from the price sometimes but not always. 

 

This is partly to decide whether or not I’m gonna try and complete it in one sitting - I don’t want that annoying situation of coming back for a second sesh only to discover I was five minutes away from the finish line (as recently happened with Gorogoa). But aside from that, I just like to have a rough idea of how long it’s going to take. 

 

Some games give you this information in an indirect way by having a list of levels or whatever, but a lot of games just carry on until they end and that’s that. Sometimes you’re able to infer from the story and/or pacing, but that’s a tricky situation too - something like Half-Life 2 will provide you with an ultimate goal, but then throw constant obstacles and detours in your path, so it’s never really clear how far away you are from the end. Or with Zelda you’ll know how many Special Things you have to collect - but there’s probably another set after that. (I guess a newcomer might plausibly expect OoT to end after the third spiritual stone?)

 

Is it an important element of game design to give the player a rough sense of how far through they are? Or do you not really care?

 

I dislike knowing how far I am though a game. I dislike seeing predictable patterns that tell me as well like I know I need one more slot or there’s only two space left in the list of chapters. I much prefer it to be less predictable. 

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a percentage next to a save game is the worst. IIRC I saw the credits of Assassins Creed 3 with 38% completion.

 

 

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I've used HLTB for a number of years, like others, to get a feel for game length before I embark on it, sometimes in conjunction with looking at a walkthrough to see how many chapters/levels.

 

Often I need to be in the right mood to start a game I know is going to be long (i.e 15/20+ hours), so I will on occasions look for something shorter in my library as a go-between; it's a great resource to have to help with those decisions. I think having in-game progress meters would be helpful though, if for no other reason than being able to feel like you've made progress with each gaming session. Mass Effect 2 was great at this, for example, because each mission was about an hour or so, giving you very clearly defined goals and a sense of accomplishment.

 

I find it's also useful to know how long something is, especially if I'm not feeling it after a few hours. If it's a short game (6-8 hours) then I'll possibly persevere, but if longer I may call it in and move on. I also find Steam reviews and playtime can be helpful here, too (though that obviously takes more time to find out as you need to read them).

 

Basically I think games need to stop hiding game length, like it's some big secret that can never be told.

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16 minutes ago, Soulstar said:

 

I dislike knowing how far I am though a game. I dislike seeing predictable patterns that tell me as well like I know I need one more slot or there’s only two space left in the list of chapters. I much prefer it to be less predictable. 

 

I agree with that for games with a strong narrative. If shit hits the fan around the 15 hour mark it doesn't work very well if you know the game is supposed to be at least 30 hours long, you'll simply know that you haven't reached the end of the story and a possible twist is coming up. 

For more straight forward games, though, I don't mind knowing the approx. length. 

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I've only ever used it when flagging a bit on a game to see if it's worth powering through the last couple of hours or dropping it if there's another couple of dozen.

 

I get that people like ticking things off in games, but I don't think that was also supposed to extend to how they treat the games themselves. You can just enjoy your time with something without it feeling like an obligation if you don't consume it fast enough. No one is ranking you, it's not going on your IRL stats.

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4 hours ago, teddymeow said:

Shawn Layden (the guy wot used to run PlayStation) did an interview recently where he said that he'd like to see a return to the 12 - 15 hour game. 

 

I agree. Theres some fantastic games that I've either given up on or just plain not started because they're 50 hour marathons.

 

I use HowLongToBeat.com to see how long a game (or even it's DLC) is so I can plan my next game to play and maximise completion.


I like shorter, more focused games as well, despite loving The Last of Us 2 and things like From's output, but there doesn't seem to be much of market for them. If the general audience hears it's only 12 hours they think it isn't worth their money. It's just not how Joe Public spends his gaming money anymore. But we might see more of them if subscription services get bigger and bigger I suppose.
 

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I do appreciate How Long To Beat; I've been using it for a few years and it's come in very handy.

 

I've got my entire backlog and wishlist in a spreadsheet with the HLTB columns all filled in for every game. This has previously helped me to decide what to play or buy next, but now I'm playing everything I own in release/chronological order so it's all over the place and I don't really care. :)

 

That said, however...

 

17 hours ago, gossi the dog said:

Once I'm aware a game will take a minimum of 40 hours if not far longer to play through then I do become averse to starting them. The longer the game the bigger the fear. It's irrational but the thought of spending the next month or more playing the only one game scares me.

 

Last week, I started Final Fantasy XI.

Quote

Single-Player: 90 Hours - 32155 Hours

:ph34r:

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1 hour ago, RubberJohnny said:

I get that people like ticking things off in games, but I don't think that was also supposed to extend to how they treat the games themselves. You can just enjoy your time with something without it feeling like an obligation if you don't consume it fast enough. No one is ranking you, it's not going on your IRL stats.

 

Outside the speedrunning community, I don't think too many people are using it as a target.

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