Thursday, 16 September 2010

On Game Length

Not too long ago, there was a coordinated blog effort with developers like Jonathan Blow, 2D Boy and more commenting on the length of games. The general consensus of these posts was that games should not be judged by their length, but if the experience feels complete or not. Something that we here at Frictional Games agree on.

Now that we have released Amnesia: The Dark Descent, game length has once again come into our lives. There have been several reviews of the game that have stated that the game's length, 6 - 10 hours, was a major negative. Especially considering that the game does not have any replayability (although that is up for discussion).

This has made us a bit concerned. A major goal with our games is to have no fillers, to have a game where everything is focused on creating a certain experience. Since we do not have combat in our games, there is no way to extend length in a simple way (like filling a room with enemies). Just about every minute in our games requires lots of time and effort to implement. If we are to keep on improving the quality of our games, 6 - 10 hours is pretty much the maximum amount of gameplay time we can create.

Especially now that the first week of sales, despite overwhelmingly excellent response, were only moderate (more on that here), this makes us a bit concerned. If 6 - 10 hours for a $20 game gives it a negative mark, what if we increase the price to $30, would this drastically decrease the positive response? Even more serious, this negative feedback on the game's length has made us having discussion topics like "how do we make this section longer?". We try to push this aside and instead focus on more important topics such as "how do make this section more engaging?", but it is still nagging at the back of our heads. Focusing on game length, is something I find can have very negative effect on a game's design (discussed a bit here).

With this background information, we would like to hear your thoughts on this issue! I have set up a poll in our forum here:
http://frictionalgames.com/forum/thread-4427.html
Please take your time and register and place your vote.

Also, please tell us what you think in our forum or here on the blog!


75 comments:

  1. Instead of concentrating on how to make your games longer, how about integrating your unique world interaction style into a commercial genre. For example, I would be extremely interested in Frictional Games' take on the 1st person RPG.

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  2. People raving and screeching over how wonderful Portal was turning around and complaining about Amnesia's length strike me as hypocritical. I haven't beaten the game yet - no spoilers, PLEASE - but it's been exquisitely paced and genuinely tense so far. A short, memorable experience is preferable to a long, unremarkable one... and since when has six to ten hours been short? FPSes that cost three times more are frequently lucky to manage any better.

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  3. First off, I would not rely on the information reviewers give on a game's length.

    When a reviewer sits down to play a game, they have a certain amount of time they can spend on it, so they want to see and play as much as possible, which makes them go through the game faster than it was designed to.

    It's a completely different experience.

    I've been playing Amnesia for about 8 hours now, and I am not even nearly through it. That's all I can say now. But I agree with the things you mentioned, that I would rather a game that is short and engaging than one that is long but boring.

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  4. I agree with what Nyarathotep. What was the average time it took for us to get through Modern Warfare 2? Four hours? I beat Amnesia in around 8, and i felt it was definitely a well-paced game. And don't worry, man. The game just gets better the farther you get. :)

    As for Anonymous, I would love to see FG get into some new genres as well. Even though they seem to have perfected the horror area, I would love to see them work on something like an RPG, or some sort of murder mystery-type game.

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  5. Please, really : stick to your ideals.

    The supposed game length assumes that you play the game in one shot without wasting time.

    Personally, the gameplay is so instense, I only play it by periods of 10-20 minutes. Morever, I *take my time*, I do not rush, to appreciate the atmosphere even more.

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  6. To elaborate more, I spent a lot of time with games, such as critically acclaimed RPGs, that were supposed to be completely amazing with tons of hours of gameplay. But they frequently ended up making me do the same repetitive tasks again & again and were very frustrating.

    (Hint : WoW ;-)

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  7. I thought the length was perfect, especially given the genre. Massively long horror games don't work (in terms of horror). They CAN'T work. You become too familiar with the structure, the method of creating fear, and it just doesn't work as well. I did mention in my review that I would've liked to see a couple more of the set-piece chase scenes, but I don't necessarily mean on top of what was there. This is also more a testament to just how fantastic those few sections were, and I think one or two more could've occurred without exhausting the idea. Personal preference that, though.

    I do understand where consumers are coming from on the length vs price issue, but personally I think that's a decision FOR the consumer; is it something they want to spend their money on? For me, $20 on a 6-10 hour horror game is far more value for money than $60 for a multiplayer shooter. I'll take a lot more away from a game like Amnesia. Other people will obviously favour a shooter they can play for hundreds of hours. It's a personal choice thing, rather than an inherent positive/negative of a game, and people should be able to interpret this for themselves based on presented information. If Amnesia had been 25 hours long, I can't imagine I'd have enjoyed it anywhere near as much, and I'd be far more reticent to spend $20 on a massively long horror game that wasn't going to scare me, than this. I'm sure there are many others who'd feel the same, and just as many others who'd disagree. I would, of course, love to see a 100 hour game from Frictional, but Amnesia was not, and should not have been, that game.

    Also worth noting, because I think this IS relevant, I reviewed a copy of the game I purchased, rather than review code, so my thoughts are coming from someone who paid money for the title and has had no contact with Frictional other than playing their games.

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  8. This is one of the reasons why Frictional Games have produced so engaging and memorable games.

    Quality > Quantity

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  9. Don't listen to reviewers saying that a 20$ game is short if it lasts 6-10hours. Not all reviewers know what they are talking about.

    Also about "replay value": most reviewers have a very narrow view of what makes "replay value": to them it means things like having collectibles to find in games or having several difficulty settings, things that can't even be applied to all genres. If that's what a reviewer means by "replay value" I suggest stop caring about his opinion.

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  10. Thought:

    How much replay value does a great movie have?
    How much replay value does a great game have?

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  11. For me, it is only as you say, if the experience feels complete. However, for some people I suppose it is more important - maybe their budgets are limited and they need to get a lot of time for not a lot of money, perhaps they don't mind 80 hours of low-quality time, finding every last item in some RPG.

    I would much rather get 4-6 hours of a quality experience. Mirror's Edge was another game that got severely criticised for length, and which I loved just massively...

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  12. Well, If you ask at me, the game was long. You know I really though many times "I think the game is over soon" But two hours later I was still playing it. My playing time was somthg around 9h, and it is not a short time.
    And if you try the editors, level editor ect you will understand how much hard work is putted in this 6-10 hour lenght adventure.
    Great game, maybe the best I have played.

    Jonez

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  13. Like everyone else stated here the length was perfect and for me here is why. When games are too long and you know your "goal" as you do in a "hazy" sort of way in this game - kill the old coot, I get bored when spending hours and hours trying to get there. So if that is to be the only real goal, then I need the game to be shorter to keep me engaged.

    However I also have two ideas on how you could have made the game both longer and appear longer:

    1) Have dynamic end goals. What I mean by this is that the "goal" the player is striding towards is not really the end goal. System Shock 2 did this the best - you would be desperate to follow the voice recordings towards hopefully a survivor only to fin you were too late and then needed to head off after some other goal. This stopped me from getting bored and kept me engrossed. When there is just one big end goal I always find I am disappointed when I reach it.

    2) Re-use areas a bit more. No one wants to go back and forth through the same levels to flip a lever here and there and I appreciated the fact that puzzles were self contained and the solutions were always close by. However, you could have used clever story telling to have us head back into different areas without making us feel like you were adding a time filler. This should have been easier for you to accomplish (time wise) and could have allowed us to appreciate some areas better by having us stay there longer.

    Just my thoughts.

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  14. Include arcade-ish game modes which have no plot but use the game's mechanics. For example "hide as long as you can" (more and more searching monsters spawn/objects disappear over time) or do a room which has many overlapping ropes with objects blocking them, the ropes are above a deadly fall and you have only three crates to throw so the bridge will come down.

    "Like Portal Challenge rooms" I guess?

    Also you can try the 'the game editor will allow you to add endless hours of more gameplay!' defense. :)

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  15. I agree I would have been happy to go back to the castle areas such as the study later on, perhaps in pitch blackness. They were very atmospheric but not much happened.

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  16. WHY I CAN'T I POST!!!

    Trying again...
    You must consider that though some reviewers said that the game is too short, it didn't influence the final rating all that much, because they (reviewers) generally don't calculate an average. You must also note that some reviewers said that the length of the was perfect.

    As for your comments about changing the niche - if changing the genre will make you earn enough money to make another great horror game later - go for it. Who said that a non-horror game can't have horror elements, anyway.

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  17. You shouldn't forget that different players play different. This means, that there are players (like me) who want to enjoy games, who want to be in the ingame world as long as possible. I do this simply by (re-)reading the diaries and playing the game as it should be played (slowly and carefully). But there are also players (like some of my friends, usually those who play shooters :P), who just run through, skip diaries, don't read anything, don't watch anything, just continue the path, and stuff like that. So i'd say: game length is just an abstract number. How long a game really is depends on the player. About the price: 1:2 is a fair price-performance ratio, if you ask me.

    5 hours - 10$
    10 hours - 20$
    15 hours - 30$
    20 hours - 40$
    25 hours - 50$
    30 hours - 60§

    Something else: how about a new genre for the next game? You could do either a thriller or a drama type of game!?

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  18. I agree with you. Length makes no sense! A story makes sense. If it keeps me in, then the game is good (like Amnesia). If it is too long or too short - it makes me frustrating.

    Joining to previous comments, what about new genre? Maybe not so scaring or not scaring at all, but, for example, more constructing-like?

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  19. The only little thing I didn't like is that I saw the end coming.. On the last stage I was just running etc. I knew the game was going to end soon..

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  20. 20$ for 8-10 hours is wonderful. It's the right price for a game. 20€ is the right price for any game, imho.

    The problem is that you gave a such unique and beauty experience that is sad to finish it in only 10 hours!!!

    And afterall you gave more playtime than Kane&Lynch2 - it lasted less than yours and it's quite crappy overall (but visually can teach very much! ;) so everyone is happy it's not so long! :D

    And PLEASE NO TIME FILLER for the next game! They're dangerous... we buy your games because you give quality, remember. It's plenty of anonymous products made of time filling elements out there. But you're building yourself a name and a solid fan base that evidently looks after quality. Don't waste all these things! ;)

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  21. I much rather pay more for quality than quantity. I very much prefer a fantastic short game over a twice as long, drawn out game.

    I think Amnesia has the right length. 8 hours of gameplay for $ 20 is a steal. It's easily worth more than that.

    But I have to admit, I do like the idea of using some sections more than once and changing them slightly the second time you go back there, similar to Dead Space.

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  22. For such an intense game around 10 hours is A LOT. I have no idea who critisized the length of amnesia, but they are ridiculous. If anything the game is too long, or have too much concentrated intensity.

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  23. But yeah, I also agree with a lot of people here. I would love it if you guys tried your hand at more of a thriller/drama or maybe detective story with the fantastic mechanics you've crafted and honed through penumbra and amnesia.

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  24. Frictional Games,
    if you're willing to take the risk, then *advertise the game* on some of the more popular gaming sites (inter-video advertisement on IGN, or banners & such).

    If you've considered it, you must have waged out the risks?
    I must admit that I don't have a clue how much would this cost you, but couldn't you invest some of the initial profits into this?

    I mean, viral marketing is fine, but it has it's limits. Your sales curve reflects this - the comments will mostly run until people have finished the game, and they can persuade others during that time only (day or two!). So, as you've said, you may expect the sales curve to level out at some point. IMO, you may also expect another peak or two.

    The positive reviews won't sell the game on their own, because they just *sit there* - what's needed is for people to *hear* about the game.

    You can at least *ask* a gaming site such is IGN/Gamespot/SomeoneElse to make a feature video in the lines of "Top 10 scariest games of all time", as they have done before - Amnesia is bound to be in it!

    IMO, you should take the chance with advertisement, 'cause you've really got a good product. Maybe you can take a credit/loan or something?

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  25. I think you should take your chances to *advertise your game* on some of the more popular gaming sites. Maybe you can use some of the initial earnings? Or take a credit/loan? I mean, viral marketing is fine, but it has it's limits - as your sales curves demonstrates - especially since most people finished the game in a day or two, and thus mostly talked about it during that time.
    As for the positive reviews not generating enough interest - they can't do it on their own, because they just sit there. People need to *hear* about them.

    You people weigh the risks - but I really think that you should take your chances, because I really think you've got a mighty good game there.

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  26. I think all of the problems that you guys are facing with regards to sales has more to do with marketing with anything else, specifically the advertising component of marketing. You need to communicate to your potential audience what your game is about and why they should purchase it. I've never seen an advertisement for your game outside of what I've seen on steam. When you DO advertise, make sure to use excerpts from the fantastic reviews that Amnesia has received.
    e.g.
    "One of the scariest games in recent memory." - IGN "Profoundly terrifying atmosphere" or "incredibly terrifying" -Computergames.ro
    Gamerlimit called it "...by far the best horror game..." they've played.
    "Nightmarishly, unrelentingly scary" -Adventuregamers.com

    If Valve will allow it, when you next drop the price couple it with a miniature advertising campaign featuring quotes or ratings such as the above. If the consumer doesn't realize they're missing out on one of the most terrifying games ever released, then how will they know to purchase it? Also, realize that even though you received a large number of purchases you haven't exhausted the market and should perhaps use some of the funds you've raised to essentially have a 'second release'.

    Anyway, good luck to ya'll!

    -Jack

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  27. An idea how you could increase the length of your game:

    more characters!

    If you use more, different characters, who, of course, have different paths, but, at some points in the game (in the story), cross each others ways, then this might increase the game length and the replayability aswell (one example: Resident Evil 1 - Chris&Jill). The only question is: how does this work with your "beeing the character"-concept!?

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  28. Here's my problem with the game, and it wasn't length. The end SUCKED. I'm usually nice about this but the end sucked HARD BALLS. The length was perfect, but the end was so dull...

    The whole time me and my friend were playing through the game with our sanity matching that of our in-game sanity, we kept having crazy theories like "DUDE! I BET THIS IS ALL A DREAM", "DUDE! I BET THIS IS JUST A NIGHTMARE!", "DUDE! I BET ALL OF THIS HAPPENED YEARS AGO AND I JUST TOOK THE AMNESIA POTION BECAUSE I KNEW THAT IT HAD BEEN SO LONG I COULD NEVER HAVE A LIFE AGAIN!", or my personal favorite: "DUDE I BET THIS IS HELL AND ALEXANDER IS PROBABLY SATAN!". We had all these interesting theories that were backed up by a lot of evidence and what did we get at the end? The dullest game ending I've seen in a good while, that didn't even explain a lot of the game.

    What the hell were those rolled up things with the blue orb on top that made the screen blind me for ten minutes with some black text? Why did everyone in the flashbacks and voices seem to previously know Alexander? What killed the people that Daniel asked for help? Was it the shadow or did Alexander have them killed (and if so, how?) to make Daniel want to come to him.

    I was very annoyed at the end of the game, no twist, no fun. I had a choice to leave boringly and easily with NO resistance or challenge what-so-ever, die and let a douche escape, or kind of die, and be confused as to if I'm dead or not, all whilst hearing a guy I helped talking about giving me a chance. What a fun choice I had there, no matter which way I go, I don't have any challenge.

    The only way I could even cope with the bad ending was by trying to forget everything I played and playing again... how ironic...

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  29. The length was good, I thought.

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  30. I really dislike filler in games, so stick to your guns!

    Frankly I think 90% of games would be improved by cutting 30% out - and it sound's like it's length compares ok with many FPS games, especially at the price.

    I'd have bought it, but I bought Penumbra and I still haven't had a chance to play that yet! I suspect it's likely to be a long seller, so I hope lower initial sales don't cause you any problems. Word of mouth is very good.

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  31. Right price, right length IMHO

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  32. The just kind of proves how endemic tired and old the games reviewers and its audience are. Plus a bit hypocritical when a game like MW2 can charge $60 for only four hours of gameplay. Things arent allowed to change or be different.

    If they do not conform to their prescribed conditions then the game is bad.

    Personally if you want to increase your sales I just think you need to improve the marketing. People are less discerning than you think, its a matter of getting the right people to see it, which is of course the bloody hard part. Perhaps try looking at other horror games and how they marketted themselves. Its not over yet, plenty of time and means to boost sales.

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  33. if the sales isn't that great, maybe it's just because... Survival horror doesn't sell well these years ? If they are rare, it's for a good reason.

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  34. They complain about the length while blockbuster games are often even less longer. And when it's too long it gets boring.

    Plus, with the price of the game, it's hard to see why they complain. Better pay 10-20$ for a great game of 7-10h than 60$ for a game of 5-7h.

    If you raise the price, I think that it will have a negative impact on the sales.

    The lower the price, the more the people buy without giving second thoughts.

    Nah, you should try to make the big websites talk about your game.

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  35. but Amnesia is already at a low price. It's not the problem. Look at the survival horror we have "recently": Condemned 1, condemned 2, Alone in the dark, SIlent hill 5, Penumbra... And that's all. Why ? Because they sales bad.

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  36. Frictional Games creations are brilliantly unique, and I think they have wider appeal than the typical survival horror game. I am not generally a fan of the genre, but I loved both Penumbra and Amnesia.

    The length of Amnesia was about perfect, in my opinion. Well paced, with high quality throughout. It made for a very memorable experience.

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  37. The game length felt absolutely ideal to me, you kept up the tension perfectly and I felt that every moment counted, very rare in a game these days. My advice would be not not worry overmuch about the odd review citing playing time. Entitlement is a serious issue within the gaming community, and it occasionally bubbles through to the gaming press. You have something genuinely unique and brilliant here. I salute you all!

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  38. The length it's perfect, the price too (for me).
    For replayability, and some optional extra time, there are maybe some solutions. Like in the majority of adventure game, in Amnesia there are only one way way to go and to solve egnimes. But we can imagine to have different way to finish a level or solve something, some non explicite puzzle for found hidden place (but that mean more useless object). If when we take an other way we found a little omething (a part of story in the text, or something like that) that can push the player to play again, for find what he don't see the first time (like the 3 end make).
    But okay, it's require more developpment time...

    (sorry for my bad english)

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  39. I've always been a big fan of the horror genre, especially when the horror is more psychologically-oriented. As a result of this, as soon as I heard about Amnesia I bought it, and attempted to play it on my own. As embarrassing as it is, I could barely get into the first laboratory on my own. Soon enough, my sister and I were playing it together, for maybe an hour at a time, before we would get too worked up to continue.

    The scenery and atmosphere were amazing, and I completely freaked out every time I heard or saw one of the monsters. And while Daniel was crouching in a corner, staring at a wall for about 40 minutes, his erratic breathing and swimming vision only made me more nervous. While I was completely terrified to play, the story was so captivating that I forced myself onwards, enjoying every tense second of it.

    So for me, the length isn't really an issue - I like to get drawn into games, and take my time to explore the world and backstory. Amnesia is a pretty awesome game, and I really look forward to playing the next you guys come up with.

    If you were really fixated on lengthening the game, you could add more monster encounters - I actually would have liked to have a few more. The ones that were in the game scared the hell out of me - particularly the morgue, oh god - and I know there were a few moments where I was completely on edge waiting for something to come kill me.

    I do appreciate allowing the player to work themselves into a tizzy on their own, but I sometimes found myself eventually calming down after I'd run through an area for a bit. So if you could put a monster or something there, I know I at least would never relax for the rest of the game.

    But other than that, I wouldn't go out of your way to make a game longer. It should be as long as it takes to tell the story. Maybe you could put some hidden like backstory things throughout the game, if you're looking for replay value? I don't know. Your games are amazing, and there is more to a game than length.

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  40. I bought your game, and it's a good game.
    The only bad point for me is that the mechanics of the game is repeated

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  41. I dont think it's about the lenght, it's mostly because Amesia is a too particular game.

    1 Enemy (the other one is invisible)
    No weapons
    Graphics are OK but not awesome
    No NPC appart Agrippa (wich is inivible..the others NPC are just voices)

    This is why I guess you're not reaching the general audience (especially the "no weapons" and the "only 1 enemy", these are real killers)

    Add Weapons (which doesn't necessary mean you can't be defenseless anymore)
    More enemies (with different gameplay mechanics)
    AWESOME graphics (I know, people always say "games are not about graphics" but Awesome graphics really help selling good games to a larger audience)

    Tese are the major issues I guess, but you can also enhance some other feature like:

    Your physic system + mouse control which is absolutly genius.
    You might want to make it a more important gameplay mechanic rather than just a cool way to open Doors.
    It's great for setting up barricade (95% of people love to create these, especially if they are defenseless). But the game doesnt ask for them unfortunately.
    You then might want to add more interactivity to the physics (fire burns, water extinguishes, etc...), also you could use tools to stick stuff to walls or something. I bet there is something to do with this system but it requires some heavy brainstorm to find out what.

    Also you have this huge House/castle (alexander's mansion), but you've created it in many differents levels like any scripted Linear FPS while it could have been a real mansion where you can go everywhere you want (you can still have linearity and scripted events) - this is great for game lenght and it adds a kind of sandbox gameplay which I bet is always welcome to most of the players.
    Did you created all theses levels because of the engine restriction ? because it was kind of heavy, Want to repair the elevator ? Go tho the Guest room( level loading), back to hall (level loading), go to the study (level loading), back to hall (level loading), go to the storage (level loading), back to hall (level loading), go in the machine room (level loading) back to elevator/hall(level loading)this was the same in Penumbra and I think this system scream for a more subtle way to rely levels (you really could merge some of them and create some bigger one - like the prison which has a honoarable size if I remember well). ATM, Alexander's mansion feel completly unrealistic too me (but maybe it was intended?), you hardly can imagine how it looks like from the outside. The mansion would benefit a lot from a real architecture design, and the players always like to go outside a little.

    Just my two cents...

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  42. People cry the game is too short ? Nice joke .... 20$ for 6/10 hours with realy good game design ... Modern warfare 2 6/10 hours with battle 50$ so .. what the fuck !!!!I hate penumbra but Amnesia it "a creative tour-de-force ...a must-play game".

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  43. @anon

    1. The graphics are good enough. The atmosphere in the game is so good, nobody cares about better graphics anymore. This is also pretty difficult considering that this is a low-budget-game.

    2. This is a survival-horror game, not Modern Warfare - Lovecraft-Style. The best survival-horror games are about surviving and not about killing monsters. This feature (no weapons) makes the game more realistic and special, because around 80% of the released games are shooter (either 1st or 3rd person). Btw., you can throw objects on them anyway. I know that you can't kill them this way, but in real life you can't kill everybody and everything in your way either (i'm not talking about the "mighty" United States, where even the kids got weapons).

    3. More enemies would be good, that's right.

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  44. Yea, but Modern warfare is something more commercial than Amnesia (no shit sherlock), and also have a quite popular multi player.

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  45. Here, some market research for you:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/dgho6/apparently_amnesia_hasnt_been_selling_well_im/

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  46. "1. The graphics are good enough."

    For you and me, maybe, but not for a larger audience. I have a natural curiosity for original/unique games - but this curiosity only apply to a minority of gamers. Larger audience need more visually appealing stuff.
    I'm not saying Amnesia looks bad, it does look pretty good and got a really solid engine but the design is too simple/basic, it could be much more impressive (especially with a medieval fantastic theme).

    "2. The best survival-horror games are about surviving and not about killing monsters."
    What about Dead Space or the first AVP ? Since when killing enemies for SURVIVING isn't a good gameplay mechanic ? It depends of many aspects but if it's well done you can still put the player in a scary mood. And you can still have an invincible enemy wich is much more powerful than you so you keep the run/hide gameplay and all the great sence of fear of amnesia (awesome sound design, great use of distorsion or movements slowdown - etc)

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  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  48. I've just downloaded the demo via Steam and I must say the game's atmosphere and the story is brilliant, I have never been so scared with a game, the lightning, the sounds, evereything match perfect in the game.

    So, in my opinion, these are the things that really matters on a game, not it's duration or things like that. So please, keep doing games with this style.

    Hope you luck with your sales :-)

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  49. (This doesn't relate to any of the previous comments.)
    I just realized most people are idiots, and the only thing they can handle playing are the idiotic games on facebook. God-damn FarmVille and such. I mean, WTF?
    People talking how they are too scared to even try Amnesia? Hell, I was a kid when I first sat down and played through a survival horror game - the original Dino Crisis. It was scary as hell back then, I was soooo scared, but I couldn't stop because I felt the value of the horror genre. It's not about blood, or gore, or some perverted internal, subconscious desires - it's about making you think in a new way, about making you ask hard questions, about a new perspective on the world.
    But, yeah, most people just prefer to sit in their cozy homes, watching MTV and never questioning anything in their lives.
    And if by any chance they fragile world fell apart because of some uncontrollable force such is an earthquake, a tornado, a war, or something more close home such is a sudden lack of money - they would totally loose it, because they never bothered to think about what would they do in such a situation.
    But, I bet if they saw a commercial for Amnesia on their bellowed MTV, they would buy the game, because then it would be cool. They need someone else to do their thinking.

    ...
    Quite a rant, I know...

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  50. Maybe next game based to Mansion and with some paranormal activity? And the whole game mostly going trough the same places/rooms completing different tasks and spending the game in the one house? (with some creepy enemies later of course)
    Well just a tough what I use in my Phobia games, but It could work...

    Jonez

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  51. I think, that the game length is realted to the game type: if you make a 24-like game it's difficult to keep the game running with the same intensity over 20 hours; if you make an RPG (Baldur's Gate-like) you can go and guide the player for over 60 hours...

    In this case i think that the game is long enought, not because of the price, as except for games like Modern Warfare 2 (4 hours) it doesn't matter, but for the pathos a game like Amnesia must have, as a longer game would have diluted the intensive experience of it and making it less immersive as it is.

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  52. I just turned 30. I've been playing video games since i was probably 4-5 on the old apple IIe.

    There was a day where i longed for games that were 70, 80, even 100 or more hours. This was when i was in highschool or college. When i had time to kill.

    Now, as a working adult with very very little time to devote to games, i'm more concerned with an awesome experience than I am about how long a game is.

    In fact, i may be a minority here, but i'd rather have a great experience delivered in 6-10 hours than 30 hours because i know that chances are, i'll actually get to experience the whole package!

    Anyways. For what it's worth frictional, if i ran the world, the majority of video games would be like amnesia. I've really really really enjoyed the game thus far, and it's everything about video games that i loved, and the industry has seemed to shy away from.

    amnesia is a breath of fresh air in a sea of clickfest, twitchy games!

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  53. don't be discouraged and loose your way
    and become a spawn fest shoot em up
    your games arnt like that that's why there so original

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  54. I've tested the demo (thanks for that, it's really common and it's a pity), and I'm sorry, but I don't like this game. I'm really sorry, cause I know it's terrific for developers when a game is not appreciated. I know that well cause I made some little games, and just for friends, so I don't have to take care of the financial point of view, but it's really difficult when someone says "I don't like your game".

    I don't say that your game is a bad game, but I don't like this type of games. In my opinion, this is not a matter of length (MW2 is shorter than Amnesia and costs a lot of money), your game is really special and I think, like you said in another post, your game is too niched.

    And I agree some other comments : please ! Use your knowledge for an RPG or something like that !
    I didn't like Oblivion cause of his body awareness, really bad for me, especially in combat, but a game like oblivion like you did Amnesia ! It's a dream !

    Just a last thing as "galleryofsuicide" said : don't be discouraged and loose your way ! Hope financial problems will never come back now !

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  55. You're correct that an experience should be decided on how fulfilling it is and not how physically long it is. I'll be extremely happy if you continue on that path and don't throw unnecessary things into the mix just to lengthen it.

    The only problem I had with Amnesia was how you didn't wrap up the ending properly. Penumbra was fantastic, though. Perfect length.

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  56. I wish the game had been just a few hours longer, but that's only because I was enjoying it so much. I also thought the end of the game felt a little too tidy, which contributed to my wishing it was a bit longer. I got the 'good' ending and I didn't really feel my character deserved a good ending.

    On the other hand, I would rather a game leave me hungry for more than be too long so it loses its intensity! And I didn't feel ripped off by the length in terms of money at all. In fact, what I did when I was sad the game was over was I went on Steam and bought the Penumbra collection.

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  57. For people who didn't enjoy the ending: Did you go back and try for the other endings? There are (at least) 3 endings, all of which are quite different. You can continue from the final room as well, so it doesn't force a complete replay. I was quite dissatisfied with the first ending I got (I didn't dislike it, it just wasn't how I wanted my version of the story to end) but I loved the other two. None of them really explain every plot detail, but that's in keeping with this particular sub-genre of horror really, I would've been disappointed with some Saw-esque reveal and an in-depth explanation of every plot point.

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  58. Played the game and got all 3 endings. I agree that Mario's Time/Money chart is pretty much dead on.
    5 hours - 10$
    10 hours - 20$
    15 hours - 30$
    20 hours - 40$
    25 hours - 50$
    30 hours - 60§

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  59. Mass Effect - $80, 24hour playtime ($3.3r per hour)
    Amnesia: $20, 6 hour playtime ($3.3r per hour)
    etc

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  60. The length was fine. I agree with a majority of the comments above and I think it's a silly point to argue the quality of a game based on how long you get to play it. $20 for 9 Hours of entertainment is fine with me!

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  61. The length was fine. There are other things that didnt let me rate the game better (http://vadejuegos.elcorreo.com/noticias/2010/09/29/amnesia-the-dark-descent-143600.html but hey, for us 7 is a very good game) but the length was fine.

    As the previous comment said, 6-9 hour of a good game is fine, and much better than 30 hours of boring game

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  62. @ Ben & others who said something similar:

    You can't price a game based solely on the amount of gameplay hours. There's effort, invested time & money, artistic value, etc.

    It's like someone decided how much a painting (traditional, canvas, frame and all) should cost by taking a measurement of its sides, and then calculating the surface, multiplying this value with a predefined number.
    Like: $0.33 per cm^2...
    Yeah, right.

    That being said - Amnesia's creators have been very decent and more than generous by pricing it $20.

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  63. Marketing man. Don't you think EA selling millions of crappy games is kinda meaningful? Let's face it, most people are careless about what they buy at a degree of stupidity. Valve sold millions of Portal copies (yes it was a great game though) and how many have you sold ? Fifty thousand? A hundred thousand? You think Portal is really that much better then Amnesia? That's a choice of course but it's not ten or thirty times better then Amnesia that's for sure.

    Yeah I know that means I'm telling you to let go of being Indie developers but, you should face the truth, you won't sell more then this until you join to a big company or having a lucky day and people recognizing you after a chain of lucky events and having publicity.

    For most people you are just regular guys creating games. But when someone sees a story on Gamespot like: "Frictional Games got sued by EA due to some bla bla bla..." Let's say a copyright thing. After that you should watch the public taking side with you. They'll just go crazy about how EA is evil, how they make crappy games and also try to hit little Indie developers. You'll sell like hell.

    Don't think I'm trying to say you should try cheap tricks to sell game. No, what I'm saying is world is not fair to everyone. You need to be known to sell games. Creating great games comes on second.

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  64. @JokerG

    Valve sold many Portal copies, because everybody knew "it's from the guys who created Half Life". This means, that the old target group will (almost) always buy the next product aswell. I bet that at least 80% of the people who bought and played Penumbra (those who liked it) bought Amnesia aswell, just because it's from the same creators. Frictional Games is a "Brand" aswell. The others, who didn't like Penumbra, bought the game, because they've seen trailers or read Reviews/Previews somewhere (Marketing). I want to say with this, that you can be pretty sure, that the people who already bought one of your products will buy at least your next one too.

    And i'm also sure, that at least 80% of the people who bought Amensia, will buy their next game too. Knowing this, they can precalculate, how much they will earn just with this fix group. I think, and i'm not that bad at math, that the number of sold copies increases automatically after each new game, the only problem are the costs. They want to improve every game, which means the costs get higher too. I guess they just have to find a balance between the costs and the number of new costumers somehow.

    I mentioned this already, and some others did that too, but trying a new genre (thriller or drama might be the best), could increase their profits too.

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  65. I'm a little late to the discussion, but I'll throw in my 2 cents here. I haven't played Amnesia, but I really really want to (it's really a matter of when, not if), but I'm an avid consumer of games in general, as I think most people here are. I also have a full time job, and lots of other things that require my attention. This means that I just do NOT have the time for 40 hour RPGs anymore. I picked up Dragon Age, as an example, a while back. My girlfriend and I played through it, and I've always wanted to go back and play through it again, because they did such a good job with the different origins and what not. However, the thought of investing even more time in a story that I've already experienced once, and will remain, for the most part, the same just doesn't appeal to me.

    So in this vein, more recently, and I think in both the near and far future, I'm way more likely to pick up a shorter game, especially if it's lower cost, because I know that I'll probably be able to finish it, and move on to something else, rather than attempting it, getting half way through, and then never finishing the thing. Another recent example is Halo: Reach - the campaign was short enough I could shotgun it in a (very long) evening. And then I can play multiplayer as much or as little as I want, without feeling like I'm missing out on some of the game.

    Anyway, that's a really long winded way of saying short & cheaper is MUCH better for a lot of people than long and expensive. Please don't lengthen your games just for the sake of doing so - your current philosophy is SPOT ON.

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  66. @Mario

    Yes, you are quite right. Creating a base is very important to sell the product. Frictional Games is on the right course about this. But if that's the path they'll take they need to be patient. Very patient. Valve is an exception if you ask me. This may sound harsh but Half Life is something way bigger then both Amnesia and Penumbra.

    You are forgetting about Sierra I guess. Valve's never been an Indie developer. They started big and continued big. But Half Life wouldn't be the same deal without Sierra (or a similar company).

    In the end you can increase the player base from a game to other but that'll be slow. Also you'll need to make something a lot better every single time or you won't be increasing your sales considerably. A good partner will make things a lot easier.

    Digital distribution creates a false sense of freedom if you ask me. One may think we won't need big publishers anymore but that's wrong, people won't care about anything if you are not big enough. EA will create a crappy game with a big licence (LOTR?) and it'll sell any given day. You'll see it on every damned website on the internet, on the TV and even on streets.

    You now what they say, "There is No Such Thing as Bad Advertising" ;)

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  67. If you can put together an excellent experience and it only lasts a handful of hours, those hours are well spent and a person should be happy.

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  68. It's the experience that keeps me coming back to your games, and I would have willingly paid $30-$40 for a game like Amnesia. Don't change too much if you do!

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  69. Personally, I felt that Amnesia was about the right length. In fact I was already beginning to feel a little too comfortable in castle Brennenburg; much longer and the suspenseful effect might have been dulled.

    [SPOILERS!]

    The only thing that disappointed me somewhat was the brevity of the ending sequence. This includes the "good", "bad" and "meh" endings, and the ease of the puzzle(?) in the finale sequence leading up to it. But overall I left the game with a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for Frictional's fine handiwork. Keep making games of that quality and I for one will keep buying them.

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  70. The last thing i wanted to mention here:

    I think the length is only important, when the product becomes really expensive. Expensive is, in my opinion, everything over 50 dollars. Games that cost 50 and 60 dollars are way too expensive, considering the number of games beeing released every year. 10 Games are already 600 dollars. So, when companies want to produce games and sell them for 50 or 60 dollars, then it would be just fair to deliver us "quality" for that price. And well, the length of the game is somehow part of the quality aswell. As good as Uncharted 2 might be... if the game is finished within 10 hours, then it shouldn't cost 60 dollars. One possibility is to wait til it gets cheaper, but still. Nowadays game length is increased by achievements, stupid collectibles and stuff like that...

    The advantages of indie games are the lower prices and better quality.

    I usually don't buy as much games as i did years before. I only buy games with good stories (horror-stories are usually good stories, at least Amnesia and Penumbra are) and games that got artistic value somehow. I'll buy the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus-Collection, that is coming for the PS3 next year, just as an example. I won't waste my time and money on Modern Warfare.

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  71. 6-10 hours is about the same as any fps priced at 50€-60€ and this game was 15€!! This makes Amnesia more than worth it's money in my opinion. I mean a 90min movie on blu-ray is about 25€ for God's sake!

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  72. Just make the corridors longer

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  73. 6-10 hours is great length. Some games are singleplayer only and charge 60 bucks for the same gameplay.

    20 is a steal

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