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I make games, talk about them, draw comics and post sketches.

mandag den 21. november 2016

The short big game conundrum

It can be hard to find time for games. They are big, time consuming and skill demanding. Others have thought this and so short games have been popular recently. I was interested in the beginning but quickly felt they were shallow experiences that wasted the potential of games and ignored the creative heights that games have achieved since the early eighties.
But I'm not willing to throw away the idea of short games. I want short big games. Watching my favorite movies I don't feel like they are shallow despite their length and so I'm thinking games can be big in just two hours. Yet I don't watch interactive movies, I feel like that's what some creators tried to make, and it was what left me hollow. How can you make a two hour experience that's complete and satisfying, and still gives you the feeling like you could play it again, over and over? I'm not talking about a short experience with high replay value, but something that you could play just once and still feel like you did the whole thing, without it being missing in content.
If I imagine a movie taking place at a small castle or church, I would want to show it in such a way that you'd feel like it was a real place and every corner could be turned. But in a game, I'd want to let you turn every corner. To achieve the same grandeur as a movie, I think I'd need to imply depth at every level, rather than try to craft it.
There is no answer for me yet, it's a design contradiction. And furthermore, it's a mix of worlds that hard to unify: no one becomes a master at watching a movie by watching it a lot, and you're not done with a game after two hours, even if you've seen every mechanic. You find a game fun if you can repeat the same actions over and over again without being tired. A movie probably shouldn't repeat the same shot ad nauseum.
Maybe I'm searching for the counter part in the wrong place. Cooking is a series of repetitive actions that you probably can do over and over again, without being bored (if you have good tools and ingredients) yet you have seen all aspects of cutting a carrot after the first time. But you wouldn't pay someone 60 dollars to let you cook a meal once.
I keep coming back to my idea of game making being like instrument crafting. No one tries to make a two-hour-mastered guitar. Then again, guitar makers make the same instrument over and over again. Not even sequels, just the same string instrument.
Games really are sixty-hour-guitars. That's pretty unique. Sure there are some you can play forever, but why would you when there are so many new exciting guitars coming soon?

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