The Short Game

So the reviews are piling in on HYPERCRONIUS only one day after release, and are largely positive! I’m honored, but the real mystery is, how can there be full reviews for a game that came out yesterday and didn’t have any kind of (in my opinion, ridiculous) industry standard of doing a beta or pre-release?

That’s because it’s only (on average) about two hours long. This was, largely, on purpose. As has become a topic of heated discussion in the gaming industry, there are many people that are dying to play a lot of short games, even episodic in nature, as compared to the 50+ hour opus that the average AAA-class RPG runs at (read this great editorial from Polygon here).

Now, as I’ve stated on Sovryn Tech and on the initial release blog post of HYPERCRONIUS, there were multiple reasons for its length. Development time is certainly one of those (the game had been delayed almost a month due to bug fixes of what existed, as I wasn’t going to let the game release with bugs). The other is relative to the below quotes from the article at Polygon:

“Hell, you’d be surprised at how many people buy games with a moderate length and never finish them. On PC over 50 percent of the people who bought the latest Wolfenstein, a game you can beat in under 15 hours, never earned the achievement for finishing the story. Only 31 percent of Dishonored players on the PC beat the game. People think game length is mandatory, but even shorter games aren’t finished by the majority of players.” 

I want everyone that buys the game to be able to get through the game. The HYPERCRONIUS universe is planned to be huge, covering more than just games (hint, hint). Now, the 2-hour length won’t always be true for every game, or even most. The second game in the series that I’m already developing is going to be significantly longer (easily in the double digits of hours, with lots more traditional RPG trappings and more interactivity, though I’m still trying to figure out how to get around the age-old RPG problem of “grinding”). So for me, it was really important that people get into the story and the universe, and to leave a lot of things points in it unanswered.

Another point to consider is this one from the same article:

“If you disagree with my love of short games, that’s fine. The industry loves a longer game, and you’ll have your pick. But I wish developers would stop being afraid of creating shorter experiences, and celebrating how short they are for the audience that adores that ‘one and done’ experience of a four hour game. Shorter games, great stories, lower prices and I’ll buy them all. How about you?”

I’m not afraid. Of much of anything. And I’m happy to help lead the charge of a new style of gaming (I’ll also be happy with future games to keep some stuff traditional). Most importantly, though, I’m happy to be the guy that finally unleashed a game with anarchist principles. And that could never be released to soon, or be made more accessible to everyone (old school and new school gamers, alike).

And like HYPERCRONIUS (please grab a copy if you haven’t yet), this blog post is a short one. But if you want to read a little more on the potential of short games, read the article “The Short Game Revolution” by the creator of the critical hit (pun) “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter”. It’s a great read and a great time for games. I love being a part of it.

Carpe lucem!