The ever-colorful Twitter feed of top Japanese game developer Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, and the upcoming Wonderful 101 for Wii U) imparted some wisdom this weekend. I believe in this wisdom as well.
Game length is over-rated. Game fun should be paramount.
Sadly, I think the padding of games is still widely accepted. Game developers and publishers fill their creations with monotonous mid-game levels. How many of the same enemy do I have to kill? Do I have to do another boring block puzzle? Did anyone think this mini-boss would be fun to fight?
Game creators seem to fear that players will blitz through a short game in a weekend and then complain or, worse, trade that short game in. So we get padded games. We get multiplayer modes to also make a game last longer, because, look, people complain, complain, complain when they plunk down $15, $30 or $60 for a game they feel didn't last long enough to merit that cost. And even it was worth it, if it's short, they might trade it in so they can buy something else.
I'll venture a guess that Kamiya would like to make games that are so fun that, no matter how much you paid for it, you'd feel good about getting it. Maybe you'd even keep it.
I may not pay for all the games I play now, since publishers often just send them to me, but even when I did, I remember feeling, at times, like the longest games were wasting too much of my time. At least the better ones could, in theory, be shaved down to something better.
One of Kamiya's past games, Okami, did feel very padded to me. Too many recycled bosses, too many retreads of the same territory. Too many knickknacks to collect. People often rave about how wonderful that game was. My reaction is always the same: it was very good, but I would have loved it twice as much if it was half as long.
I love the sentiment Kamiya Tweeted about The Wonderful 101, and if that's where his head is at today, I say, "Terrific." I hope he's not alone.