A question about game length

BlackRoseMii

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So, while writing for the IGMC, we've come across a question that might be interesting for a bunch of people:

How exactly can you measure the hours it will take to complete the game?

What I mean is, how much dialogue and how much gameplay would be one hour? For an average player of course, not the developer who already knows what to do.

I'd be really helpful to know what you guys think^^
 

bgillisp

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Based upon how long it has taken people to play my demo, I'd say take your time and multiply it by 2.5 or so. That should get you very close.

And I say this as my demo takes me about 2 hours and a few minutes, and I've had one person report it took them 7 hours.
 

RetroExcellent

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I don't consider side questions, optional missions and secret bosses/dungeons when I consider my play time. I only consider main story. Since a casual person may not explore or find all of the fun parts. Shame for them though.
 

Wavelength

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Hello! Haven't seen you around for a really long time! Were you able to make use of the Coliseum scripts?

The best way to figure out how long it takes a player to play through a game is to package up your game, send it to two or three friends (or other friendly souls, such as forum members who express interest) who haven't played it before, and ask them how long it took to play through it! It's a crude method, but it really is the best way.

I do agree with @bgillisp that first-time players will usually spend about 2.5x to 3x the amount of time that you (the developer) take to get through a demo/game. But because the multiplier varies by the types of activities in your game, I still recommend asking friends to playtest to get a good estimate.
 

Eni

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I would say try making some content. Run though that content intill it take YOU one hour if you rush though that content. Take the person who does not know what to do compared to you as the developer and imagen them taking 2-4 times as long to go though the exact same content.
So what takes you 1 hour to do will take everyone else atleast 2 hours unless they are super observative(Did I use the right word?), smart and lucky.
 

BlackRoseMii

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These make all sense and I will definitely do that. But I've wondered if you're already able to tell how many hours it could be with just dialogue written in a file and knowing what gameplay will come between every scene.
 

Kyuukon

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It's very hard to tell how long a game will be in the planning/writing stages. What you can do is a rough estimate and trust that judgement but that's about it. You'll get better in this area the longer you develop games.

For IGMC particularlly I'd focus on quality and not quantity. If it goes over an hour but the content justifies it then just let it flow. If you halfway see something that feels like a filler and/or don't really contribute anything to the story you can always cut it out or leave it for a sidequest or later update.

Good luck! I'm eager to try you guys game at the end of the month :3!
 

TheoAllen

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My game with straight linear path, 2.5 hours in my record. My players' playtime tends to be around 3.5 ~ 5 hours. Some even reached 7 hours, and the longest was 8 hours. I have no idea.

My friend's game demo, that he claimed could be finished in around 2 hours. His players' playtime was around 8 hours on average because it has so many optional contents.

That said, it's hard to tell the actual game length. But for sure, the more branches you put into your game potentially adds more into the gameplay length. This includes more customization features like form your own party, crafting, etc, because players will be curious about it. A straight linear game won't stretch the game playtime that much.
 

Milennin

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I think the multiplication method is pretty accurate, at least in my experience. A new player will take about 2x the time it would take me to go through it if they only play the minimum amount of content, don't get stuck much on anything, and read dialogues fairly quickly. 3x the time for most average players, who don't play at a super fast pace, but don't loiter around a lot either. 4-5x the time for the ones who read slowly and explore all the corners of the map, or get stuck on certain sections for longer than I would've expected.
 

FluffexStudios

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I would say it depends on how linear and easy to grasp the game is. If player have a clear sense of direction in your game, they will be able to go through it quickly. More places to explore and an open world will add a lot to the hours that player takes. Also, game difficulty plays a big factor too. Difficult games will often force player to grind more or cause them to die a lot, thus adding to the time it takes. For my game Stitched, I did countless of testing and the average that I took is around 2.5 hours, but based on stats average user takes around 10-13 hours.
 

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