Time Well Spent

elder-scrolls-iv-oblivion-screenshot-_41I have a decent collection of games for the 360 – more than a dozen, if you count XBLA titles – but the game I’ve played far more than any other is Oblivion. At last count, I’ve put in somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 hours. I have a friend who has put in 200+ hours and he hasn’t even finished the main quest line. I think he just likes grinding in dungeons.

Now, I love the game, but I reached a point recently where I started wanting nothing more than to just beat the damn thing. That’s a bit of a herculean task when it comes to an open-world game like Oblivion. It’s not that I haven’t done my best. I’ve completed the main quest-line, as well as the quest-lines for almost all of the guilds and both the Knights of the Nine and the Shivering Isles expansion packs… but I’m not done yet because I don’t have all of the achievements.

You might scoff and say that achievements are just about the size of your e-penis, and, sure, I won’t deny that getting as many achievements as possible makes me proud of my gaming abilities. The thing is… achievements are the only real way of measuring the “doneness” of a massive game like Oblivion.

I have fond memories from my childhood of sitting down on many a Sunday morning and performing a 3.5 hour run-through of Super Mario Brothers 3. I had it down to a science. I knew where all of the warps were, and I loved knowing I could beat the game so quickly. Beating that final boss and watching the credits roll is, in my humble opinion, one of the purest pleasures available in the world of gaming.

However, in these days of high prices and abundant storage space, it seems like one of the most common criticisms leveled at new games is that they don’t have a long enough playtime. We’ve all read the horrified quotes about Resident Evil 5 saying that the game had taken years to produce and could be beaten in a shamefully short amount of time… but the reality is that RE5 is fantastic and has a playtime that hits a nice sweet spot.

Besides, if every game took 100+ hours to beat, when exactly would people find time to play them all? It’s kind of like how I’ll never understand the MMO market. If your demographic is already devoting 30 or so hours a week to World of Warcraft, how is there room for a new and unproven MMO on their calendar? As for me, I’ll never play an MMO, but I do own Fallout 3, which I haven’t cracked open in months because I didn’t want to get caught up in two 100+ hour games at the same time.

I think I’d rather have more 12-15 hour games with definite endings as opposed to ones that you can just keep on playing without end. I do like getting achievements, but I still prefer the feeling of beating a game and wrapping things up so that you can move on to the next adventure. Gotta have that closure.

How about you? Do you demand games that are massive and playable until the end of time, or do you like ones that wrap bows on their endings and call it day? Does the length of a game affect whether or not you buy and/or play it?

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Someday I will die under a pile of books, movies and music. Until then, I'll eke out my time spent in sunny Los Angeles, California by working on the Great American Blog Post.

14 thoughts on “Time Well Spent”

  1. “Do you demand games that are massive and playable until the end of time, or do you like ones that wrap bows on their endings and call it day?”

    -I demand long games, and since most games I’m used to are 6 or so hours the Half-Life series really enticed me. It’s a great game and it also has a good story to boot. Although I prefer to play open-ended games. EVE Online really hits the spot because it’s like an UBER choose-your-own adventure. ya know what I mean? And the fact that it IS possble to play without paying Real money is cool.

    “Does the length of a game affect whether or not you buy and/or play it?”

    -You bet it does. Although I do love long games I will buy the hit games like Modern Warfare or its sequel. Also, I am more partial to certain brand names *Cough* Tom Clancy *Cough*

  2. As much as I love playing games for a long period of time, I’d have to say that I do like reaching an ending after a short amount of time.
    I love playing Oblivion and Fallout 3, but lately, I’ve been playing just to travel around. I don’t really play to beat it anymore, I’ll just let it happen soon enough.
    An ideal length of a game would be like Doom 3. I just started playing it, say, a week and a half ago, and aren’t half-way there yet.
    But, I’m taking it slow, at about 2 or 3 hours a time.
    And even original platforming games, like Banjo-Kazooie, which I just started playing again.
    I don’t want many games I can beat in one days game time, but not one that’ll take me until I get married…

  3. This is why I stopped buying Madden games. They sucked too much of my time from other guys. Of course, now Call of Duty 4 does the same thing, but whatever. I like games to have an end,so I can cross them off my list and move on.

  4. I really like games that come to an end. I’m not much of an RTS or RPG guy in the first place, a lot of my gaming experience is with FPS or Third Person shooters. I love a great story. However, I’m still going back through Fallout 3, exploring every possible location, and I have found a lot of side quests I didn’t know existed, and it’s actually very rewarding.

    I’d like more true shooters with the Fallout 3 attitude. You can beat the main quest in a short time if you just play at it, but if you choose to wander off the beaten path, there is a lot of content waiting for you. Love it.

    (great post JJ)

  5. I usually like huge open games because sometimes its fun to just make a seperate file to slaughter everything in sight or to just, you know, screw around, explore and maybe still kill everything in sight? I also like Cod and Halo, but the cool thing about a lot of open games, is that you can still have fun, even without xbox live or internet or psn.

  6. Aren’t all the achievements just doing the guild and main questlines? And if so, shouldn’t you have them all, already?

  7. [quote comment=”8016″]Aren’t all the achievements just doing the guild and main questlines? And if so, shouldn’t you have them all, already?[/quote]

    Well, yes, they are, but I said “almost all the guilds”, not “all the guilds”.

    I’ve completed the main quest, Shivering Isles, Knights of the Nine (no achievements for that), Fighter’s Guild, Thieves Guild, Mages Guild, and the arena. I’m working on the Dark Brotherhood quest-line now.

    The only achievement I missed is one in the Shivering Isles quest-line where you have an either-or choice. I didn’t think to save before choosing and may or may not go back to get it.

  8. Well, I like both large, open-ended games, and short but fun games. Fallout 3 is my favorite RPG because of its deep story and massive environment. I like having new missions to complete and a whole world to explore. I’m not much of an achievement whore; I just do it to experience the game. The achievements are a nice bonus. But I also enjoy shorter games like the CoDs’ campaign modes. A lot of people criticize the shortness of, for instance, CoD4’s campaign, and yet it kept me occupied for hours on end when I wasn’t playing multiplayer because it was fun to retry the levels on harder difficulties and do the Arcade Run. The only bad part of CoD4 that the reviewers could come up with was that CoD4 had a short campaign, and it was long enough and yet still short and perfect enough to enjoy thoroughly. Plus, CoD4 had the best multiplayer I had ever played, so that kept me playing for well over a year.
    So I like balance. I’ll play Fallout 3 to death, and then max and relax with a shorter game like CoD4’s campaign and maybe some multiplayer. I don’t feel so obligated to complete games, although the ending is always nice.

  9. I have never ever bought a rpg like oblivion iv been tempted but there isnt any people to talk to like in the online games so thats detered me.

    In the last while i bought prototype and recently got an indie game pack and i completed prototype in about a week and felt real good bout it, the same thing when i completed darwinia such a fun game.

    But i have had farcry 2 for atleast half a year and i still havent gotten more then 60% through the story.

    supose it just feels good to know you smushed the biggest badass in the game

  10. Arg, hard to pick. I do like games that have unlimited fun, but I do want to move on to another game after a while.

    I’m pretty much stuck with Gmod or counter strike:sauce all the time. I do get new awesome games but when I noticed, I’m playing an RP server in Gmod. One time I almost forgot I got a new game D:

    So, for my own good, I think there should be more games with an end.

  11. The Dark Brotherhood quests were officially the best in the entire game. I love all the companions and the way I always got chills going into the hideout. And Lucien Lachance is just awesome.

  12. I need a game that hits the middle. oblivion does that for me because when you beat a quest, its an actual accomplishment, and you can tell your getting somewhere 9at least the guild quests). A game I couldnt play was GTA4. it was an awesome game, but after playing 5 or 6 hours i didnt feel like i got anywhere.

  13. [quote comment=”8025″]A game I couldnt play was GTA4. it was an awesome game, but after playing 5 or 6 hours i didnt feel like i got anywhere.[/quote]

    See, my problem with GTA IV was that I HATED the driving controls and couldn’t really get into the game because of it.

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