Worth Reading: Real-Life Hadoukens, Questioning Game Length, And More

Two scoops of Worth Reading in one week? Gosh, we're lucky. What better way to celebrate than an in-depth investigation into how fighting games have infiltrated real-life fighting, a considered take on the value of game length, and lots more? You're just one click away, buddy.

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There used to be a time when I had whole summers and winters to sit and play video games for hours on end. This would explain how I was eventually able to max out the clock in Final Fantasy VII, which eventually stops keeping track of time when you've hit 99 hours, 99 minutes, and 99 seconds. To be fair, it's a reasonable time to put that CPU power elsewhere.

At that age, I could only afford a new game every once and a while. I'd scrape just enough together to buy a new overpriced SNES cartridge, but more than likely, I was heading back to Blockbuster to rent out the same damn game yet again. In short, precious few games but lots and lots of time. Those swap places with each other as we get older. I can now afford more games but have precious little time to dedicate to them, given the other demands of my life.

It makes writing about video games really weird, especially since it's impossible to know everyone else's circumstances in life. Where we're at on the spectrum greatly influences how we feel about a game's length, the topic de jour this week, thanks to review for The Order: 1886. By most accounts, The Order isn't a very good game and it's quality has nothing to do with length.

You know what, though? I still wanna play it. Come at me, Kirk!

Hey, You Should Read These

Illustration for article titled Worth Reading: Real-Life Hadoukens, Questioning Game Length, And More

Games should be the length they want to be. $60 does not imply any specific length, and it's a ridiculous metric for quality, even if it's a worthwhile metric for value proposition. Important! It's totally fine for consumers to look at a potentially five-hour experience and determine it's not worth their money, but developers shouldn't be expected to produce video games to an arbitrary length. Instead, consumers should be patient, take advantage of sales, and purchase a game when it lines up with what they're willing to pay. The games win and the players win.

"Unlike films, where the narrative progresses at a rate set by the director, video games have no fixed running time; what takes one player an hour to complete may take another player three, depending on his skill or tenacity. In this way, playing a game is closer to reading a book, where the rate of consumption is dictated by the aptitude (or interest) of its consumer. Gamemakers often err on the side of caution, stuffing their creations with as much material as possible, lest they face the accusation that the work is insubstantial—not in terms of the weight of its message or meaning but in mere terms of its bulk.

There are games whose strength is in their concision. Brevity and succinctness force creators to think more rigorously about the story, trimming away unnecessary adornments and placing greater emphasis on the game's mechanics. Papers, Please is an interactive examination of what it might have been like to work as a passport-control agent in a European Communist state in the early nineteen-eighties that lasts only a couple of hours. Its impact reverberates far longer. Portal, a near-perfect game by Valve, fully unravels its story and ideas within a delicious and memorable three hours. (Some critics complained about its length anyway.)"

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Illustration for article titled Worth Reading: Real-Life Hadoukens, Questioning Game Length, And More

I don't know a lick about UFC fighting, but found myself captivated by Jack Slack's attempts to find examples of ridiculous and over-the-top fighting game maneuvers in real-life fights. He finds more than you might think, and even found a fighter who quite literally did the hadouken stance in the middle of a fight. That doesn't sound like proper technique, but it's funny as shit.

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Illustration for article titled Worth Reading: Real-Life Hadoukens, Questioning Game Length, And More

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

  • This Is The Police seems to be applying the Papers, Please idea to police work.
  • The Realm System is yet another motion/feedback system. Is it all noise at this point?
  • NightCry didn't seem to have much hope of getting funded, but I'm happy to be wrong.
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Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

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Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Keith Stuart argued companion apps and other similar concepts are only getting started.
  • Peter Rubin investigated the early work being done to merge porn with VR.
  • Alex Wawro spoke with several developers about what it's like to build tutorials
  • Amsel put Aliens: Colonial Marines on easy mode and discovered a walking simulator.
  • Matthew Marko explored the understated emotional storytelling in Majora's Mask.
  • John Andersen remembered Shinya Nishigaki, the man behind the amazing Illbleed.
  • Brendan Keogh compared the lust for long games as a quest for buckets of content.
  • Adam Lloyd profiled the content removed from the final version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
  • Leigh Alexander dropped the mic while analyzing a recent Law & Order SVU episode.
  • Austin Walker examined Darkest Dungeon and what it has to say about mental health.
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See you next week!

You can reach the author of this post at patrick.klepek@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.

DISCUSSION

Arnheim
Arnheim

I agree, up to a point, with the idea that developers should not be required to produce a 30+ hour experience for my $60 payout.

The problem becomes—for me, as a consumer—that my sixty bucks might only pay for three, four, or five hours of entertainment. Given that I stopped going to in-theatre films charging $12 a pop for tickets -years- ago, I'm having a hard time shelling out that amount for a product that will take up space on my shelf—but never leave it.

I'm a Professor of English. I know many are sick of hearing me say that, but I reference that to provide a bit of foundation for what I say next: The Order: 1886 does -not- have a good narrative. Really. That shit is Twilight level awful, and the folks who are most likely to appreciate it are the folks who are who I was when I was sixteen—looking for conflict, begging for a chance to prove themselves, and openly hoping for a world that makes them special.

Here's the thing about fiction construction, kiddos: You are -not- fucking special. I am not special. Dan Brown is a masterclass in how to -not- be fucking special, but repeat the same story several times until no one gives a fuck (because seriously, "The Dolphin?" LOL).

Sometimes stories are bad—and this is true no matter how much you want them to be awesome.

I came to Final Fantasy in 1990, when the first game dropped in the West. I was in love. Stupidly, ridiculously in love—to the point that I asked my mother, "How many hit points do you think Dad would have in a fight," one day (my dad was military for twenty years). I was that kid.

I was also nine when I asked that insipid, foolish question.

Final Fantasy continues to be fun, twenty-five years on. It's not narratively engaging, or anything of the sort (really, only Chrono Trigger and FF VI are, from that era), but it's still fun.

Shit like The Order?

Fuck. No.

It might be pretty, but there's no story. There's no narrative to get our fingers into—unless you're the kind of dipshit who assumes that poor narrative direction and control means "possibilities," in which case you might as well grab a bag of Cheetos and slap a "fanboy" sticker on your chest.

Bad writing is bad—it's not meant to lead to something else when it deliberately leaves multiple plot threads unfinished—it's just fucking awful.

That's all.