Epic scale games and a limited amount of time
During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!
This week: This time, I think about the different lengths of computer games and one of the most problematic challenges of playing epic scale games.
One of my biggest complains about story based computer games is that they are often beaten after about twelve hours of gameplay. According to my Steam library, I have completed Max Payne 3 in 13, Mirror’s Edge in 5, BioShock Infinite in 14 and Tomb Raider: Underworld in 13 hours. Those times, however, are not completely accurate as Steam starts to measure the time as soon as I load a game and does not recognize when I pause the game in order to do something else. Although those games were enjoyable and entertaining, it is disappointing when they are over as soon as I got used to the virtual world. In addition, it does not feel right when I am able to save the world within such a short amount of time as it does not provide me with the feeling of being part in something that is of an epic scale.
Some games, however, are different and provide me with enough content to play the game for more than 30 hours. For instance, I completed Deus Ex: Human Revolution after 36 and each game of the Mass Effect triology after more than 32 hours of gameplay. Progressing through those games provided me with a completely different experience as I started to develop a feeling for those virtual worlds. In the end, I made so many different experiences during the gameplay that it really felt as if I have achieved an important victory and that I was part of something epic. Moreover, in contrast to the very short games, those games last for about a month in real time and thus they start to become a part of my daily life.
Finally, there are also a few games that last for more than 100 hours and evolve around an epic story. Those epic games mostly are open world games that provide a main story line but allow the player to diverge from it in order to follow the story of a subplot. For instance, I finished the main story of Skyrim after more than 120 hours of gameplay. I think I could have been much faster, if I would have not explored the entire world to search for amazing places. Being able to explore and rescue such a huge virtual world rewards the players with many positive experiences and the feeling that they have made the difference and saved the life of many people.
Those epic games benefit from the fact that a player is able to travel between distant places in real time which allows them to develop a different feeling for the whole virtual world. During their journey, players can even meet inhabitants of the virtual worlds who approach them and ask for help. This provides the players with the feeling that the whole world is living and recognizing them, thus contributing to the immersion of the virtual world.
The only downside of those epic games is due to the fact that new players must develop a basic understanding of the virtual world during the initial hours of the gameplay in order to be able to understand the story of the game. This, however, can be difficult if the player takes longish breaks between the playing sessions and is not able to complete the initial hours of the gameplay within a few days. Personally, I made this experience twice as I tried to play Fallout: Las Vegas and The Witcher. After having played both games for two to three hours, I had to take a longish break and I was never able to find my way back into those virtual worlds. The next time I will try to play such an epic game, I have to make sure that I can play it for several consecutive hours in a row to develop a basic understanding of it.