I Want To Play Video Games, Not Grind Through 'Content'

Earlier this week, Techland announced that its new zombie-killing adventure Dying Light will have "50+ hours of gameplay". Some might considering this good news. I don't -- at least at face value.

Why? Because 50 hours is a long time to spend in any video game, and I don't trust Techland enough as a developer to believe they know how to guide me through such a slog gracefully. I took me roughly half that time to play their last zombie game, Dead Island Riptide. I loved the first few hours, and couldn't stand the rest.

I haven't played Dying Light, so I can't say anything about its quality or how it compares to Techland's two Dead Island games. But I'm disturbed by the simple fact that the studio is promoting the length of this game as a virtue in its own right.

It isn't. Nor should it be. I would hope that the developers at Techland know this better than most at this point, seeing as both of their Dead Islands suffered from bloat more than anything issue.

The first few hours of each Dead Island game were fun because they confronted me with the interesting, disturbing challenge of trying to survive in a hostile world full of dangerous monsters. They slowly gave me the means to meet and ultimately master this challenge. But then, instead of either letting the game end while it was still fun, or continuing to propose new challenges, they put another 15 hours of mindless zombie-hacking in front of me if I wanted to see the game's story through to the finish. Rather than offer genuine and rewarding gameplay, Dead Island chose to inject itself with "content" -- hours and hours of blithe, repetitive behaviour that's ultimately as meaningless but seemingly impressive as the word "content" itself. Doing so fattened it up, size-wise. But much like real fat, it just sort...sat there, clinging to the edges of the meat, its excess ultimately ruining the proper meal.

I Want To Play Video Games, Not Grind Through 'Content'

The transformation from gameplay to content happened so seamlessly that I'm not sure all of Dead Island's players noticed it. And even if they did, they might not have cared. So many popular video games have encouraged (or forced) their players to participate in extended bouts of monotonous activity, and have done this for so long, that its earned a unique descriptor: "grinding." The fact that Techland is making a new game that looks an awful lot like Dead Island while another studio is simultaneously producing a licensed sequel to Dead Island is just one more thing that tells me the mainstream video game industry is confident there are a lot of gamers out there who like this kind of stuff.

Maybe there are, maybe there aren't. I don't work in the game industry, so I don't know. In either case, Techland isn't the first game developer to let its work transform over time in such an unpleasant way. Nor will they be the last. Similar to other weighty terms like "IP" or "replay value," "content" has come into its own as a buzzword used by companies to promote their games, and by gamers to complement them in turn. Much like the downloadable content (DLC) that undoubtedly popularised its mass-scale adoption, "content" is now something that gamers expect, even hunger for.

This worries me. As we've begun celebrate the existence of content regardless of its meaning or context, we've also started to let go of our own ability to take a step back and ask ourselves: is more "content" what I actually want? Would I rather feel like I'm playing a video game, or churning through an endless sea of ill-formed content?

Size Doesn't (Always) Matter

I Want To Play Video Games, Not Grind Through 'Content'

Shooting at the infamous "loot cave" in Destiny strikes me as a perfect example of where gameplay and content collide and coexist uncomfortably. Taken on its own terms, shooting at a hole in the earth for hours at a time doesn't sound like that much fun. If the loot cave existed outside of Destiny, players probably wouldn't waste their time shooting at it. But it didn't -- at least when it was still a part of Destiny. And that's the whole point. Things like the loot cave add time to Destiny's gameplay. As long one's Destiny time still sits well with them in the aggregate, it's very difficult to pinpoint the moments that don't.

Gamers are more than willing to criticise games they feel are too short. Saying a game is too long, on the other hand, doesn't usually go over well. Brevity is taken as a sign of one game's weakness or lack of ambition, while, erm, lengthiness is invoked as a symbol of another's creative or commercial merit. This makes sense on a basic level. Games are expensive. If you spend upwards of $US60 on a game that offers 500 hours (or more) of gameplay, you'll probably feel that you got a lot more bang for you buck than if you'd purchased one that can be beaten in 50. But can you really compare the two with such an opaque metric?

Plenty of games, like Wasteland 2or The Sims 4, require a serious time investment just to get to their best parts. I understand that. Appreciate it, even. One of my favourite things to play right now, for instance, is Diablo III -- a game that's practically synonymous with grinding in many gamers' eyes. There is a lot of repetition in Diablo. But are the countless hours I've spent collecting loot and watching little bars fill up what I love about it? Partly, maybe. Even if it is, the game's grinding succeeds because it's nested inside such a darkly beautiful fantasy world. Diablo's repetitive nature and epic length only work because they're meant to exist in service of something far more grand.

Returning to Destiny, I think that's what made its loot cave tolerable as well -- at least, while it was still around. As Kirk explained in our review, players shot at the cave because it was an effective way to get the game to keep producing the stuff they wanted: loot, armour, special items. They needed these goods to play other parts of Destiny -- the ones they actually enjoyed. The probability of reward coaxed high-level players to give more and more of their time to the game, and the cave specifically, in turn. It was a system of content production and consumption so tightly wound that it became self-sustaining. The cave failed because it succeeded so resoundingly as its own sort of content farm, and did so in a surprisingly naked way.

If there hadn't been a negative backlash to the loot cave from players and critics alike, would developer Bungie have decided to revise Destiny's loot system the way they're now trying to? Or would the game's creators and promoters just have seen all the hours people were spending inside the game add up, never stopping to consider what portion of that time was spent doing things that felt like interesting gameplay versus bland content -- sitting there, waiting to be consumed? If we had evaluated Destiny using only the rhetoric deployed in the recent Dying Light announcement, we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two.

Time is time. Spending more of it playing a video game must be better than spending less. Right?

We're Not Letting Ourselves Enjoy Good Games For Arbitrary Reasons

I Want To Play Video Games, Not Grind Through 'Content'

Confusing content in any form with actual gameplay isn't just dangerous when it forces people into uncomfortable, manipulative relationships with the games they're playing like the loot cave did, though. Trumpeting a game's size or scope as its chief value can also preclude one's ability to appreciate or enjoy a game in the first place. This is a weird problem I've run into since I started writing about The Sims 4.

I'm having a great time with the new Sims. Plenty of other gamers continue to deride it, however. As many dissatisfied fans explained to me last month, they're disappointed with the game because they think it comes up short, content-wise. Stuff deemed essential in previous Sims games was left out for no good reason.

That's fine, on one level. But as Rachel Franklin, one of The Sims 4's producers suggested when I spoke to her this week, there's also a great deal of depth to the new game that's easy to miss if you're not looking for it. Obviously, one of The Sims 4's producers standing up for her game isn't that surprising. And it's not like she can offer a completely objective critical assessment of her work -- at least as it relates to how its players feel about the game.

At the same time, however, Franklin's comments resonated with me because they reminded me of something a player had told me when we were discussing the features that many felt were missing from The Sims 4:

It makes me a little sad, but at the same time, it makes things much more manageable. I've been playing the Sims since the first release, so I was disappointed in how much stuff was not really in the game, but once you get down to it, it comes down to fun, not features. And I am having a ton of fun at the moment.

This player was upset. But once they got down to playing The Sims 4, they were able to enjoy it for what it is -- not obsess over what it isn't. That's the core difference between "fun" and "features" for me, and also what distinguishes gameplay from "content."

I'm willing to accept that I might be in the minority because I really enjoy The Sims 4. I also love Tomodachi Life, Nintendo's Sims-like 3DS game that recently came to an American audience for the first time and hasn't seemed to catch on here the same way it did in Japan. But to be a little blunt, I also have to wonder: how many people could be out there who'd take to The Sims 4 with the same enthusiasm I have, if they were just willing to give the game a chance instead of insisting that it's incomplete without toddlers, swimming pools, or whatever else it is they think it's missing? I mean, what does "complete" even mean for a game as big and weird as The Sims, anyway? The entire line of reasoning reeks of an over-reliance on content for its own sake.

The size, length, or scope of a game doesn't always matter, at least as much as we often think it does. Nor does the sheer amount of...stuff that exists in a given game. If we fixate on the wealth of features that we hope to see in a new game or a sequel, we risk ignoring the potential paucity of their actual value.

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Comments

    My fiance is a big Sims fan and I bought Sims 4 day one for her. She played it for awhile and told me there are so many features missing. Her biggest issue was the dishwasher is missing and her Sims had to stand there to wash the dishes for a long time. She gave up and went back to Sims 3.

    Anyway, I feel massive game content is good but not in terms of repetitive optional side mission. But if it is made like elder scrolls with fun story side missions. That is a different case. I spent over 70 hours on skyrim and finished the main quest then I gave it a rest. I have yet to play the DLC at all and I think skyrim's approach is great for an open world game that allow you to spend many hours in it.

    If they force the player to do the same group of sidequest 30-50 times, it gets annoying and just make it into "grinding".

    Last edited 06/10/14 10:18 am

      Let's not forget games that throw collect 1000,000 collectibles.... Arkham City for example..

      Last edited 06/10/14 10:01 pm

        Yeah. Arkham City felt like they went overboard with the collectables. Arkham Asylum felt a lot better in that respect: there was still quite a lot, but they each one felt somewhat unique. Even when you found the maps or could see the collectable, it wasn't always obvious how to get it. They'd also reward you for revisiting areas after acquiring new gadgets.

        In contrast, they reused a number of the collectable puzzles in Arkham City, or made the repeated use of a particular puzzle type more obvious.

          Arkham City went overboard with everything. They just shoved too much in, I missed the tightness of Asylum's design. Knight is looking even worse (in this specific regard, it still looks awesome).

          The electricity gun made me grumpy. It had no reason to exist. Its use didn't count as a "puzzle" because there were a couple of very specific objects you would use it on over and over again, and it really didn't add anything to combat except a slightly longer distance stun.

        Couldn't agree more! I enjoyed the collectables in asylum but after that it was just (literally) MORE of the same... Barely anything new at all, just more...

    This is why I feel like people complaining that a game is 'too short' are usually just attached to how much fun they were having, and that's testament to good game design. I'm not advocating for shorter games, but there's an argument to be made that quality always beats quantity, and if an experience feels short it shows that you want more of it and that it was the quality that kept you hooked. That said, yeah, sometimes developers simply overestimate how long their game will take, so there's that.

      In my eyes, a shooter can be *awesome* at six to seven hours and not feel too short it can feel perfect (COD4 aka MW1, still the best COD campaign). Or, a shooter can feel short, disjointed and unfairly short (MW2/MW3). Then you can have games that are a tedious slog AND short (HOMEFRONT, finished that puppy in 3 1/2 hours once).

      Alternatively you can indeed have long games that are a grind and pure boredom (Dragon age II) or you can have long games that are a genuine pleasure (Dragon Age, Skyrim). Game design is definitely the one thing here that is the 'definer' on wether time spent ingame is well spent or a pure waste. However that being said, I would argue that any 2 - 3 hour campaign in a game, no matter how good, is too damn short in general for a major release. To me, that actually just reeks of lazy design on the part of the devs, or should at least be released as a budget title as Homefront showed us that despite having a great concept, the campaign being too short, the multiplayer being rubbish (yes, game design there) led to a feeling of being less value for money and ultimately ripped off.

      But you are right, game design does indeed play the ultimate part.

      Last edited 06/10/14 10:31 am

        a perfect example for FPS would be Stalker, when you first play it it can take a week to complete, but once you know the ins and outs it can be completed in less than 12 hrs but even in that time it doesnt feel like a massive chore.

        Compared to bioshock infinate i could really feel the massive amount of padding that was thrown into the game and in the end for me it felt like a massive chore to get to the end

          FYI I took my time on homefront, stopping to smell the flowers as it were. There's stories of people finishing it in 1 hr 45 minutes :O

            I took my time to smell the flowers and I was still finished in 5 hours.

          Agree about Bioshock Infinite - It's such a shame because the art design and story were absolutely flawless.. But it does indeed become just an endless slog of people attacking you and you needing to hit one button here, do one thing there, some more attack you.. over and over..

        However, There are exceptions to any rule. Games like Journey wouldn't have the lasting impact if it was 5-6 hours slog. The whole game can be done in around 3 hours with all the exploration of hidden nooks and crannies.

      That is such a silly point of view for lack of better wording.

      It's about value for money spent, no game no matter how good is worth the $60-$80 price tag for under 10 hours of content in my book (this will vary depending on spare cash and simple spending principles for most) and Quality is not always greater than Quantity. Shit you could probably count on one hand the amount of people who COULDN'T buy a tv series (or 4 for the same $$) and not enjoy that 5x more content at almost every single juncture more than that 6-8 hours of said video game.

      Now not everything works that way, some people are rich and so the cost is no factor but to the proverbial 99% it is. Value for money is a real issue with real merit.

      As other have also pointed out people who cry about wanting longer games dont want an addition 20 hours of wank content like watchdogs missions, they want GOOD non padded content and I'm honestly sick of even reading people using bad developers who abuse padding as the reason long games suck, because thats just that game sucking.

      There are plenty of games that are long and get it right, Skyrim, monster hunter, some RPG's (most usually are padded beyond belief) and it never helps when some PR bullshitter comes out and says our game runs 50 hours and what they really mean is 10 hours of real content and 40 hours of collecting random objects or the worst kind of content imaginable.

        I'm not sure comparing with other mediums makes short games look that bad really.

        Watching a new release film at the cinema is going to set up back ~ $20-25 at the big chains (depending on 3D and other options). On average this is going to be about 2 hours of entertainment, so lets say it is around $10/hour.

        The latest series of Game of Thrones is available on Bluray for $60. That gives you 10 episodes of around an hour each, so about $6/hour. Some other series with longer seasons are probably better value in "dollars per hour", but people seem to enjoy GoT anyway so perhaps an hour of it is worth more than an hour of something else? It's also worth noting that the episodes aren't new at this point, and some people are willing to pay Foxtel substantially more to see them earlier.

        If you judged your new release game on cinema entertainment value, then anything more than 6-8 hours is a bargain. If you judge it by GoT boxset value, then you'd expect around 10-12 hours.

        You are definitely getting a lot more entertainment time for your money with a game like Skyrim, but shorter games are not necessarily worse value than what you'd expect from other mediums.

          A great, short game will be worth more to you than a mediocre long one. Some of my favourite games of all time were just a few hours long.

          Comparing video games with DVDs or going to the movies is a legitimate comparison, but you need to make sure you're comparing on an equivalent basis. Maybe you're comparing a game with a favourite TV series, but the TV series becomes much less interesting the second time you watch it. Similarly, some games are pretty much dead after one playthrough; others reward repeated visits.

          It's a lot harder to find a TV series that you'll enjoy watching repeatedly than a game which similarly rewards repeated play.

        but value for money spent is still completely subject to the enjoyment received. I'd be quite happy if my 2 hours of Journey was $80, but I'd be regretting paying $15 for 20 hours of Destiny.

    I think the problem developers and consumers are so focused around the "hours played" part of their game that they fail to miss "enjoyment" from a lot of the games. The biggest offender is the games that add needless padding solely to get you playing longer.

    Interesting article, but the writer seems a little confused by their own feelings about everything. It's really saying a lot of nothing about something. Not to be critical, it was still an interesting read.

    I agree that touting a massive time sink as a selling feature, is not indicative of the quality of gameplay and features. This has been my main grip with open world games. They sell you on how big a world is, but fill with with repetitive gameplay and sometimes emptiness (no ambient creatures/life/immersion). There is a reason for developers/publishers to use this as a selling feature of course, because there is a market for it. There are people that get outraged by a 4-8 experience, even if it was one of the best they've had. This connection with game-time to monetary value, is ridiculous, but it's just a small part of the industry. It's the same story with review scores.

    The biggest thing that can overcome this, is like the article suggests, if the game is fun. Take Shadows of Mordor for example, it has a lot of repetitive elements, but I'm having so much fun completing everything time and time again, because the gameplay is fun. The game is just plain fun, but fun is again, an individual thing.

    This is obviously my view on it, and it will differ from player to player - the real problem is, the players that can't think for themselves and want other people to make their playing decisions for them. They are usually the ones that complain that they have been deceived, or overcharged for an experience.

    Extra content isn't worth it if it isn't fun. It's why I don't think I can enjoy Destiny. Especially when that content was already stripped when the lead writer left. I actually started playing Dead Island at one point and I had this overwhelming feeling of dread that constantly kicking zombies on the ground would last for 20 more hours and I just couldn't bear the thought of doing it.

    As I get old and have less time for gaming this rings true for me.
    A 10 hour game with a strong story is around the right length for me and often what I'll play. I won't pay 80 bucks for it but that is a different kettle of fish.
    Trying to work out a games worth based on how long you play is the worst possible measure, everything is always going to lose out the f2p games like warframe as they have a huge amount of playtime for no cost. But warframe is far from the most enjoyable game in my library (although it is fun)

    I think how you value games is a maturity thing. When you are young and free you put the value on the game, I spent $60 bucks on this how long will it entertain me for. The more 'content' in the game the better as the hourly cost of the game reduces the more time you get out of it.
    As you get older you put the value on your time. I am investing this number of hours into the game, how much enjoyment do I get for that. So the longer the game goes the better it needs to be. 3 hours of grinding that I didn't enjoy at all cost me and is wasted time. Make that 10 hours and the cost of those 10 hours of time not enjoying myself is worth much more that $60

    Bioware have been doing the same thing with pretty much all their games, including their latest, the upcoming Dragon Age Inquisition. It didn't make me any less compelled to purchase their games, and for many - it's an added incentive. You can't deny the marketing behind that.

    Ok so, I've been waiting for an article exactly like this because this has been on my mind for a couple of years now......hear me out because what I'm about to say, you may or may not relate to.

    I feel that there are faaaaarrr too many games on the market.....tell me if I'm wrong. Ok, nobody expects to play every game out there. I'd like to find the interesting ones that I know aren't going to take me years to finish or go on forever, or at least if they do, then give me something worth while to do. Do not give me a linear game that puts useless gimmicks to take up my time (Dead space 3 gun crafting...), if it's only supposed to give me a good story and a start and finish, give me a bunch of weapons and let me have a blast.

    Three of the best games that took me under 8 hours to play which have stuck in my memory and have been the best gaming experiences I've had are: Brothers the tale of two sons (Took about 3 hours), The walking dead (teltale games) and Portal, of course there are a lot more but those immediately spring to mind.

    As for open world games, I think the trick here is to be very selective...."Time investment" as the article puts it, is the exact reason I've hidden over half of my games on steam. You're almost always guaranteed to invest over 40 hours in open world games and that's a minimum for some. I never finished Fallout new vegas, Kingdoms of amalur or GTA4 (the list goes on) because after a while I didn't actually enjoy the content, that's just my opinion.

    I've got a heap of open world games that I do consider to be done really well and that I find worthy to invest time in, Skyrim being one and I could play Minecraft forever and there are a lot of games coming which I can see worth putting time into like Witcher 3 and Dragon age inquisition.

    Now, to get rid of the crutch that is Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2....but sooo addictive.

      I feel like there's too many games. Especially too many "me-too" Call fo Duty dudebro shooters. When you're trying to pickup all of the recent titles people are clamoring for you start to feel drained. It's why I don't think I can enjoy CoD anymore. Also why I'm still annoyed I played Just Cause 2. People kept saying it was the gamers game, but when I played it I was bored out of my mind of the most part. Especially when I had to get all achievements.

      Doesn't help when a lot of them are shipped ahead of schedule before Chistmas.

      I never finished Fallout new vegas, Kingdoms of amalur or GTA4 (the list goes on) because after a while I didn't actually enjoy the content, that's just my opinion.

      The good thing about those games is that you can put a lot of time into them, only enjoying the parts that appeal to you, and still have wasted many hours doing so. If you spend 40 hours playing one of these games, but only played the content that you knew you would enjoy, how can it be a bad thing?

      I did everything in Kingdoms of Amalur because I found many of the side-quests more interesting over the main quest. I did everything in GTA5 because they appealed to me and never went on shooting sprees because those don't. If Dark Souls went on for another 30 hours, I think I would have loved it.

        I still think about finishing Kingdoms of Amalur, I've reinstalled it 3 times to try and feel exhausted just looking at the map, I think I have one or two big areas to do. ....heck, right now im thinking " Hmmm..might finish it.."

        I'm looking forward to GTA5 on pc, that is something I will play and invest time in and while you're mentioning Dark Souls, I definately agree with you there. I spent 100 or so hours on it but yes, another 30 would have held my attention.

      Definitely too many games. I've essentially stopped buying new releases. I have way too many slightly older titles to catch up on, and by the time I've finished one game the "new release" only costs me about $5.00.

      Of course, this only works for me because I don't play any multi-player games.

      Which is why too much padding in games becomes an even bigger issue, because if a game bores me I'll just ditch it for something else. And if a game bored me there's absolutely no chance that I'll be recommending it to anyone else, whereas if I'm left wanting more it's quite likely that I'll tell friends about it.

        This is kinda me too, the other advantage is that by the time you buy the game later, it's all patched up by then too, which is an added bonus in my books.
        Too many games I feel are, like mentioned here or another article, release now; patch later. There's many a story of big, sometimes game-breaking bugs on release. But most eventually get patched up, so getting it later avoids that hassle too.

    I still think content is important. One of my primary complaints with Destiny, and why I'm not playing it as obsessively today as I was a couple weeks ago, is that I ran out of content in the first couple days. There's loads of gameplay, which is basically playing through recycled content endlessly. It gets old, man. It gets old.

      Yup. I got to level 27 in a week, I wasn't playing obsessively either. I don tknow how much longer I can do the same missions over and over.

      I really feel that the game got gutted to shove what would have been story content into dlc packs and what was left of the campaign got cut up into segments that have no meaning so that they could repurpous missions as strikes etc.

      The gameplay is good, but really limited. There are only really 3 things you do/ ways to interact with the invironment: scan, kill or collect small amounts of loot. And the end game is a pointless drag IMHO.

      And let's not mention the 'everyone wins... Eventually, regardles of skill, meaning pointless and not rewarding' stingy loot and grind system. I mean, when you get to where I am you have no choice but to grind the same missions over and over for the tiny chance of getting a decent drop that you can dismantle for a tiny chance of getting the materials you need. And it's not even challenging, just drawn out.

      Sorry for the rant, but honestly, the game was supposed to be sustained for years but it got old within a week (if I weren't playing with friends Idk how long I would have lasted), and I don't see the replay potential. If I keep it, what will I come back to in a few years? A Lacklustre, stripped story? Unbalanced multiplayer? Grinding? Eh.

      Last edited 06/10/14 12:14 pm

        And this is part of the problem, everyone has a different idea of long and short. For example I've been playing Destiny since launch and I've just hit level 21 (no idea how you managed to hit Level 27 that quickly!). I've enjoyed 95% of what I've played but gaining Light is grind which doesn't interest me much. But I feel I got my $79 dollars worth of fun and I'm looking forward to the DLC.

          Wow. I know I leveled up fast playing with higher level friends, but everyone I know got to level 20 after just finishing the story, which took 2-3days, with light multiplayer and strikes inbetween. I gues your really taking it slow, which is ok.

          Personally though I only take my time playing through games when the story is really great. (in the same time as I've gotten almost everything I can out of destiny, just have to do vault of glass still, I've only gotten half way through wolfenstein)

          I can't justify the dlc either. Most of it seems to be on disk dlc and it's almost the price ofthe whole game for a handful of strikes.

          Edit: Also, I never said I didn't feel like I got my moneys worth. But I feel that I got Just that because so much has clearly been hacked out because it was 'good enough' to sell without the rest and they figured they can sell the rest later. And that's not where I want gaming to go.

          Last edited 06/10/14 1:31 pm

          no idea how you managed to hit Level 27 that quickly!

          It's a thousand little differences between how we play. Yes, I played it a lot, but I also play pretty fast and efficient. I run and gun without too much trouble so I move through the content pretty quickly. I move in straight lines and attack objectives with precision. I rarely stop moving forward or dwell on anything. For instance in an MMORPG I'm not going to slam my head against a wall trying to get a quest reward that I'll outgrow before I reach level cap.
          I'm also pretty good at recognising the best patterns when it comes to rewards. When I pick bounties I group them together and plan out how I'm going to attack them, usually doing three or four at a time. If I see something I know will take a while, like say 50 headshots in the Crucible, I know to grab that one as soon as I start on the Crucible bounties because odds are I'll have to carry it over to the next day. It's a pretty basic thing most people do, but doing it well versus doing it really well shaves off 10 minutes travel time here and there which adds up fast.
          Where you might reach the Crucible/Vanguard Mark cap each week by playing the game natrually I automatically attack daily/weekly/monthly caps with a schedule. I'm always aware of when those periods reset. I know that if I do my bounties most days I'll hit the Crucible Mark cap so I'm comfortable just playing Crucible for bounties every day and then if for whatever reason I'm not at the cap by Sunday I'll just throw in some extra time before reset.

          It makes it sound like I'm playing the game like a job rather than enjoying myself, but all that stuff happens naturally while I'm enjoying the game. In MMORPGs it gets a little out of control and I blast through content as though it were a hurdle to jump over rather than the meat of the game, but that's more to do with how the content is designed.

            Wow! I think we're at opposite ends of the spectrum about how to we play this game :) I hit level 18/19 by the end of the story, and I think I'd put in about 20 hours by that point (I only get to play a few hours every other day). I reckon I've now put in another 7 or 8 hours and hit level 21. I just tend to play Strikes and the daily Heroic missions now, but they can sometimes take me an hour to complete! (I'm not great at games in general unless it's a racer!)

        I really feel that the game got gutted to shove what would have been story content into dlc packs and what was left of the campaign got cut up into segments that have no meaning so that they could repurpous missions as strikes etc.

        This is a bit of a misconception with how content is handled for persistant world online games. Destiny lacks content, no question about that and they should probably be handing out the DLC for free as an apology, but the DLC isn't stripped from the story. It's like saying the half spoon full of ice cream was cut from your main course of a sausage the size of a AAA battery and three peas.
        They make the content in advance like this so they can control the release schedule and keep players entertained long term (at this rate I would have burned through all the planned DLC already). This sounds sucky but it's to ensure the game has steady content releases rather than having a four month drought followed by a month of way too much to do.
        It's also a smart idea when launching this sort of game to have two or three major content updates loaded and ready to go. Destiny has been relatively smooth, but most MMORPGs get stuck choosing between fixing the issues that arise at launch and making new content. They end up either ignoring the problems to get new content out and keep players paying/playing, or they fix the problems and leave the players without new content.

        I'm not saying all this to defend the game, just to explain why this method is good (as long as it's coupled with good content in healthy doses). When it comes to Destiny content it isn't stripped down it's just bad. I'm loving the game but it's like a great game using placeholder content. It's not like buying the DLC is suddenly going to make the Moon more than just a loosely connected string of Hive and Fallen enemies with next to zero narrative.

          Story is written in preproduction, it is correct to say it was likely fragmented and apportioned according to their timescale of a persistent release. Doesn't excuse a threadbare narrative.

          The dlc locations are on disk and there have been reports from bungee staff about the story fragmentation. I think therefore, logicaly under these circumstances, my explanation makes sense, while not necessarily the case I think there is a high probibility that it is correct.

          Last edited 06/10/14 3:23 pm

      The interesting thing is how long people stuck with Destiny even though can see 99% of it in two days and then the final 1% when you gear up for raiding, and that final 1% isn't must see cliffhanger content. I'm running Bounties which are the very definition of padding content and having a lot of fun. I was grinding public events on the weekend and really enjoyed myself (with the exception of the 'kill the escaping target that regenerates shields instantly and doesn't stop running towards the extraction point' events).

      I just hope that Bungie/Activision understand that they kept players playing a two day long game for three weeks due to great core gameplay and not all the treadmill content. Confusing the ability to keep a small part of the playerbase on the treadmill with keeping the audience satisfied results in MMORPGs pandering to the meta crowd far too often. It'd be such a shame if a game like Destiny were reduced to min-maxing.

    ...just one more thing that tells me the mainstream video game industry is confident there are a lot of gamers out there who like this kind of stuff.Maybe there are, maybe there aren’t. I don’t work in the game industry, so I don’t know.It is troublesome that you use this language and are unsure of the answer. If you feel this is an issue worthy of an article then is it not important to do research? The statistics are out there. Although the question can be answered anecdotally just by the popularity of MMOs in general along with games like The Sims and Destiny.

    I don't hate the entire piece and some parts reflect the thoughts some of us have about many of these games and 'content' offered, but things like this show it's no better than any long-winded opinion someone might post on a forum. At least a little research is expected from a published article where some insightful conclusions might be derived.

    Last edited 06/10/14 12:15 pm

    I usually end up liking short indie titles over long triple A's because most games wear themselves thin after 10 - 20 hours and I don't really want to stick with one game for that amount of time unless it is something very good.

    I love games that are crazy long if done well, like the JRPGs from the SNES/PSX era, but I also love games that have short campaigns and are extremely replayable, like MGS games or roguelikes like FTL/BoI. But if they're long they have to have really good storylines or some other hook to make you keep exploring and if they're replayed they have to have tons of options and be really fun.

    I think a great example of both being used are the GTA games.

    Fallout 3 and Skyrim understood how to make a game huge but fun and rewarding. The problem is few devs take notice and just pad out the games, which ruins the overall experience. Was collecting 75 pieces of wood really necessary, AC IV? It was even a problem in the NES era when players were forced to complete the EXACT same game over again in Ghost and Goblins.

    It's hilarious to me how a lot of people will spend countless hours enjoying a game... Then the moment it stops being fun they turn around and talk about how shit it was.

    Ex-MMO players I've noticed are really big on talking about how awful their MMO of choice was after quitting... And then most of them go on rambling about how much 'better' they are as people than those that still play, but that's a whole other story.

    "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."

    This article needs a "TL:DR".

      So... You just want to read articles and not have to grind through their 'content'?

        Towards the end there I was thinking "I'm not enjoying this" but I'd sunk so much time into it, I felt like I HAD to finish it.

    I feel the sign of a good game is your satisfied with the stories conclusion but you want more gameplay.

    As to Destiny, it's weird I am loving the mechanics of the game, although I have finished the relatively short campaign.

    This all so depends.

    I like games where you can go off from the main story and have fun on your own. I have played Blackflag for something like 30-40 hours and not even 50% of the way through the story.

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