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MagnetiCat

How do you design with game length in mind when it comes to adventure games?

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Hello everybody!

I have watched with great pleasure all the DFA videos, and one thing that has always intrigued me is hearing experienced adventure game designers talking about how they had to meet certain requirements when it comes to game length when they were working on titles like Monkey Island, Full Throttle (yeah, it was shorter but I loved it), Grim Fandango, and so on.

So, a question for Tim,Ron, or anyone in here who has experience with designing and releasing an adventure game. How were you able to "plan" and "test" the length of your adventure games? Did you count the puzzles, looked at the puzzle dependency chart, or just did a lot of play testing? But in the latter case, does this mean you always needed new testers that did not have experience with the game before? Or did it all come just from your experience and intuition?

Thanks!

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Hello everybody!

I have watched with great pleasure all the DFA videos, and one thing that has always intrigued me is hearing experienced adventure game designers talking about how they had to meet certain requirements when it comes to game length when they were working on titles like Monkey Island, Full Throttle (yeah, it was shorter but I loved it), Grim Fandango, and so on.

So, a question for Tim,Ron, or anyone in here who has experience with designing and releasing an adventure game. How were you able to "plan" and "test" the length of your adventure games? Did you count the puzzles, looked at the puzzle dependency chart, or just did a lot of play testing? But in the latter case, does this mean you always needed new testers that did not have experience with the game before? Or did it all come just from your experience and intuition?

Thanks!

What makes you think that they planned a specific playtime length or that it even matters. Their games varied radically in length (Full Throttle and Grim Fandango for example), and I think it kind of just depends on the story and the resources they have available.

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Hello everybody!

I have watched with great pleasure all the DFA videos, and one thing that has always intrigued me is hearing experienced adventure game designers talking about how they had to meet certain requirements when it comes to game length when they were working on titles like Monkey Island, Full Throttle (yeah, it was shorter but I loved it), Grim Fandango, and so on.

So, a question for Tim,Ron, or anyone in here who has experience with designing and releasing an adventure game. How were you able to "plan" and "test" the length of your adventure games? Did you count the puzzles, looked at the puzzle dependency chart, or just did a lot of play testing? But in the latter case, does this mean you always needed new testers that did not have experience with the game before? Or did it all come just from your experience and intuition?

Thanks!

What makes you think that they planned a specific playtime length or that it even matters. Their games varied radically in length (Full Throttle and Grim Fandango for example), and I think it kind of just depends on the story and the resources they have available.

Thanks for the reply.

Tim mentioned this in both DFA videos. He mentioned that they were always aiming/asked to aim for 40 hours of gameplay, which was the standard back then. Full Throttle was heavily criticized, and I remember it myself, for being too short in comparison

Edit:fixed typo

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What makes you think that they planned a specific playtime length or that it even matters. Their games varied radically in length (Full Throttle and Grim Fandango for example), and I think it kind of just depends on the story and the resources they have available.

Most anything creative that will occur over time is designed with length in mind. It's actually very important to the overall design. It affects pacing and interest level at various points. You also have to know roughly how much time something will take place over to know how much detail to put in.

For instance in written fiction you can slow pacing by increasing the amount of description or detail in a scene. If you do that at the wrong time in a 400 page book then you'll probably lose some readers.

Likewise in game development it's extremely important to have a time length in mind. You can't develop attachment to three different companions very much in a ten hour game. You can probably do it in a forty hour game. It doesn't mean you have to sit there and say the game is three hours and if it ends up being four then you throw it out, but the length of any creative work has a huge effect on how the work lays out.

A forty hour game demands more variety, an ebb and flow in pacing, a far larger amount of elements, and so on than a ten hour game. There's no way you could design a game without having a length of play in mind. Some things that would be awesome in three hours get really dull after ten, and, as mentioned before, it affects everything that gets put into the game and the organization of it.

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Tim also described game design as moving around lots of colored dots as they fall slowly on paper. If, at any point during the process he decides the game is too long, he removes a few dots, if too short, he adds a few.

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