How long is to long of a beginning?

LittenDev

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I was working on my story heavy RPG, when i realized that it takes about 15-20 minutes (depending on how long the player spends goofing off, talking to villagers, messing with a cat that hangs out by the village, gathering materials, etc) before there is any real combat (besides the pseudo tutorial battle that introduces the player to the mechanics without it being an actual fight) Or in other words the first dungeon. This time is used to set up the story, set up the characters, introduce the player to material gathering, tool usage, weapon obtaining, movement options, and quests. So i wanted to know, how long is it ok for a game to go without getting to the first dungeon? Does that number change if the content before that lets you use other mechanics? Or if it has a good story?

And... I spelled too wrong in the title...
 
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ShadowDragon

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it really depends on the game, and if it's worth it and differents from
person to person.

personally max 6min intro, other can have 15min (but it must to the point
of what is happing to drive the person in it to play the game)

other 3min, others with skipable so they can watch it or not if the story
also goes into the game for repeatable (which should be avoided).

if it's good, I dont mind, but if it's bad, I rather skip it and play the game,
if intro is good and game is bad, it scares people away as well as for
"wasting time for nothing".

so it should really fit the game and progress on that point.

but it depends from person to person how long is to long.
just make sure it will fit the game and your mostly are good.
 

bgillisp

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Answer it depends: Persona 4 you go almost 2 hours before the first dungeon (per my save file), and players put up with that.

However I also saw a game a streamer played where the intro was 40 minutes of just text, confirmed via when they finally got to save for the first time. Everyone was bored by then.
 

Beckx

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Honestly, I think it really depends on the game.
It sounds like the player can actually interact with your game world and your using this time as some sort of tutorial, which should be fine, imo.
if it's only text for 15 min or more then that's definitely too much, lol
 

Meowsticks

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Everyone already said it but I'm gonna say it again: it depends.

So long as is interesting people will put up with longer intros compared to games where its simple text with nothing else going on in the world. As long as there is forward momentum going, then it really doesn't matter. Visual Novels are a thing, people aren't going to be against text, especially in the beginning, but it needs to be making progress, the player needs to feel as if all this text has meaning or goes somewhere.
 

ATT_Turan

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I was working on my story heavy RPG, when i realized that it takes about 15-20 minutes (depending on how long the player spends goofing off, talking to villagers, messing with a cat that hangs out by the village, gathering materials, etc) before there is any real combat
I don't see why that matters at all. Unless you're making, like, an SRPG where combat is the entirety of the gameplay, there's no reason you have to be in it immediately. So long as the player is interacting with the game, and not just sitting there, it's fine.
besides the sudo tutorial battle...And... I spelled too wrong in the title...
You also misspelled "pseudo" :wink: But the weird part to me is that I don't see an edit on your post. Which means you saw it, spent keystrokes commenting on it, but didn't bother to just scroll up and change it. :rolleyes: Unless, at that point, you just thought it was funny?
Answer it depends: Persona 4 you go almost 2 hours before the first dungeon (per my save file), and players put up with that.
An excellent example of my point - I would say the Persona games are just as much about the life sim as they are the combat, so the players are both playing the game and interacting with interesting characters for that time (although, for my tastes, 4 has the least interesting by a good shot :p ).
 

slimmmeiske2

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But the weird part to me is that I don't see an edit on your post. Which means you saw it, spent keystrokes commenting on it, but didn't bother to just scroll up and change it. :rolleyes: Unless, at that point, you just thought it was funny?
That's sorta my fault. They were two seperate posts initially and I merged them together. (That's why the post didn't show it was edited)
 

PixeLockeT

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Bad writing - even 1 second is too long.
Good writing - I could literally play a game that's a novel of it. I enjoy tons of visual novels and vn-like jRPGs.

Objective quality matters most to me.

It's why I hate most mainstream stuff. Too low-IQ for my taste, and nostalgia factor doesn't work on me like it seems to do with everyone else that eats up the junk. XD Just learn how to write well, and make the intro that fits for your specific game, that flows well with your specific style. There's no hardcoded right or wrong answer.
 

Elissiaro

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If the introduction area is fun, it doesn't really matter how long it is.
If it's boring, 5 minutes can be way too long.

And if you think the lack of battles is an issue... You can always add some small optional ones... Like, that cat you mentioned lures the player into scratching its belly only to attack!
Or you can bother the chickens, and they are not happy.
Or the old, rats/slimes in the basement/sewers/attic etc.
 

LittenDev

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If the introduction area is fun, it doesn't really matter how long it is.
If it's boring, 5 minutes can be way too long.

And if you think the lack of battles is an issue... You can always add some small optional ones... Like, that cat you mentioned lures the player into scratching its belly only to attack!
Or you can bother the chickens, and they are not happy.
Or the old, rats/slimes in the basement/sewers/attic etc.
That's actually a really good idea! It will also give me a good way to introduce the idea of battles having an impact on the world itself, as in if you beat a cat within an inch of its life, once the battle is over, the cat isn't magically going to be okay, where as if you find a way to use an item, or simply immobilize the cat, the cat will be fine. This mechanic is important as there is a lot of points in the story where the value of a life, and what can change that value is brought into question. I've been trying to figure out how to introduce it to the player before the first dungeon, so thank you!
 

ephesus

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You need to initially hook your audience within 30 seconds then hook them again by the 2 minute mark or they will already be thinking about the next thing. sad but true. Obviously not a cold hard always truth but it's a smart baseline to stick to. However, when utilized properly you now have them invested at least for a little while longer. it's points that make the story. not a long line. (Yeah, storyline... go figure)

Show, don't tell. Let them discover the plot you are unravelling. Let them invest their mind. people get bored when spoken to by people they don't know. let them watch and come up with their own ideas about what they are seeing. a little mystery is intriguing. They best games generally have you confused as **** for the first act so that the second act has all the AHA moments, third act is then when it all pays off.

when the audience isn't personally involved yet (no matter how good you think your names and places are the audience is a stranger until much later than the intro. they will NOT remember multiple pronouns. so don't imply they should. its not study time. do you remember the moment you remembered the towns name was Narshe? it wasn't the first time. and Square knew it. they left everything vague on purpose and pressed you with cool words like Magitek and little else, then they hit you with that main theme. around a minute in? (attention spans have shortened since pocket computers) then after a couple minutes of mechs trenching through the snow, they throw you into a battle and give you big colorful guns and purposely say **** all to who anyone even is! They had us hooked without knowing a god damned thing and we were glued. LATER, they came back to it all and explain things in depth after the returner mission waiting 20 minutes or whatever made a big difference to peoples attention spans. the game didnt even mention Ghestahl for like an hour right? and barely as Kefkas boss. whos Kefka? dunno, some psycho arsonist clown that means his ****. espers. who knows til WAY later but they're shiny and mean their ****. the first hour of ffvi was masterfully and very deliberately paced.

don't pour a whole jar into someone's lap at once, let it spill little by little but start with the big guns. Us storytellers must reign in our excitement and best our patience. the best stories don't come together until the very end.its not for you. its for your audience. they owe you nothing. less words more passion.

ALSO, there's many exceptions to what all I just said. but those are the masters of the craft and not you. also, maybe that actually is you so you do you and don't let me hold you back!

sorry, no sleep ramble. Godspeed!

show, don't tell.

Oh, and that thing they do when they start at the end then go back to the beginning? it's so you don't get bored immediately and know that some bad ass **** is coming so you might as well stick it out either way.

Also, Chekov's gun.
 
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LittenDev

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Show, don't tell. Let them discover the plot you are unravelling. Let them invest their mind. people get bored when spoken to by people they don't know. let them watch and come up with their own ideas about what they are seeing. a little mystery is intriguing. They best games generally have you confused as **** for the first act so that the second act has all the AHA moments, third act is then when it all pays off.
It's less exposition (as in, explaining everything in the world) and more dialogue and interactions.
The beginning mostly consists of a rather unfair trial of your friend/party member after they accidentally set their and another villagers house on fire with magic. This leads to them being sentenced to the ridiculous task of getting rid of the invading army. The beginning section ends with you and the remaining party member (also a friend), sneaking out after them.
There is shown exposition, such as the general dislike of magic users throughout the kingdom, the characters views and ideals, and the bond between the main party members, but other than one mention of a cave entrance that is later used to sneak out of town, there isn't any flat out block of text explanation.
I would like to think that the dialogue is interesting, but i still worry about keeping players attention.
 

ephesus

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I feel like you have a lot to work with.

cool idea maybe:as they are sneaking towards the enemy, you slowly reveal the stages of the trial, in turn flashbacks towards to accident. but show it first from the wrong perspective, then a different one, then finally the real account. so at first maybe you even think he's a bad guy and the army is good, then you get a different view. maybe you don't find out the truth until you already see him use magic thinking he is not the hero at all? maybe his friend has his own view but still follows showing his loyalty, but this enrages the main character for not trusting that he was obviously innocent. some fight on the way could raise tension and lose the cool of an already ****ty situation. maybe almost getting them heard by enemy patrol and almost f'ing everything up. maybe one almost dies and causes an unspoken fracture in their friendship that the audience knows will have to come up later.

come up with FULL backstories for the judge and lawyers and everyone individual. if only just in your head. it will make them real and effect your writing of them and the audience will be able to tell. this is one of the best ricks for good stories. the shop clerk, backstory. the dead body? backstory. the horse with three legs and a one armed rider? well... maybe he doesn't need one. ;P
 

gstv87

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depends on the media you're working with, and how many characters you want to introduce.
sometimes it can be as simple as "character goes from point A to point B passing by all the major characters" as you would have in the opening sequence of a movie (usually 5 minutes, with the sequence itself being 30 seconds, such as a walk down a hallway), or, as complex as "there's a huge magic system that needs to be introduced before even introducing the main character, as he is a result of the intricacies of this magic system", as you would have in some early 90's movies with HUGE narration sequences that try to introduce the main character, who then goes on to introduce the movie itself, taking a good 15 minutes.
there's a scene in Silent Hill 2, that I felt was way too long when I played it, and I had a very specific feeling about it. Then I watched the commentary on that, and the devs state that they made it intentionally long, because by the time you get tired of it, you don't feel like going back, so you keep going. That's exactly what I felt.
That happens twice, one during the opening, and one before the turning point near the end. During the opening, there's not much "to go back to", so you keep going. During the end, there's a lot "to get *to* and be done with it", so you keep going.

it all comes down to *pacing*.... time is linear, and you can't witness two things at the same time.
you either focus on one character or another, and you can't present a new fact before being done with the previous one.
it begins from nothing, and it ends when all significant plot points are solidly introduced, regardless of how long it takes.

that, then relates to delivery of the actual concept: for example, a character might take longer to say the same thing using another explanation. That's *character*. If the guy is overly complex, overly cult, or speaks another language, and you convey that through the writing, then it will be longer because it needs to be, and it's perfectly justified.
You don't have facial expressions, or excessive detail to convey *character*, so you have to rely on dialogue.

if you think your game is too story-heavy, state so in the promotional material: "This is a major work of art, not a casual game"
if it's stated and people complain that it's too long, then the game is not for them.
 

Ozmahunter

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Yeah, as you can see, the only real answer to this is “it depends” but in my mind, Chrono Trigger is a great example of a great intro. Some players spend over an hour before chasing after Marle because they can explore the continent, fight in the forest, play mini-games at the faire, save up for high power equipment available at Melchior, etc. Giving the player the power to move forward or linger as they see fit is in my opinion, the most excellent form of design that caters to all players. Lots to do and learn if you’re interested but the option to bypass if you don’t care or if it’s a subsequent play through.

If most of the intro is just exposition, text and characters talking, then this could be a turn off for some players, myself included. 10-15 mins or so isn’t bad but if it’s completely uninterrupted exposition, then I’d say you’re just about on the limit of what might turn some players off. Those are my 2 cents. Hope it helps :)
 

TheGentlemanLoser

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You have 15 minutes to capture the player's attention. If you take 5 minutes on the intro, you have used a third of your time on that. So I try not to go beyond 5 minutes. But it's tricky because I read like...FREAKISH...fast (I also type stupid fast) even when what I'm reading isn't something I've written myself that I therefore subconsciously kind of know, so text that takes me five minutes to read through might take any other player 7-10 minutes, I really don't know. Of course it's been a long time since I've made an intro that was all or mostly text, I prefer visual storytelling and dynamic cutscenes.

No matter how long your intro is, avoid all of the following: opening text crawls (do as I say, not as I do), massive expository text dumps, and overwhelming the player with a barrage of new proper nouns to learn.
 

LittenDev

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You have 15 minutes to capture the player's attention. If you take 5 minutes on the intro, you have used a third of your time on that. So I try not to go beyond 5 minutes. But it's tricky because I read like...FREAKISH...fast (I also type stupid fast) even when what I'm reading isn't something I've written myself that I therefore subconsciously kind of know, so text that takes me five minutes to read through might take any other player 7-10 minutes, I really don't know. Of course it's been a long time since I've made an intro that was all or mostly text, I prefer visual storytelling and dynamic cutscenes.

No matter how long your intro is, avoid all of the following: opening text crawls (do as I say, not as I do), massive expository text dumps, and overwhelming the player with a barrage of new proper nouns to learn.
It is cutscene and dialogue based! I didn't realize so many people would interpret this as scrolling text star wars style for ten minutes!
 

TheGentlemanLoser

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I didn't! I mean including cutscenes, dialogue, what-have-you, you still want to aim for five minutes tops.
 

Cyberhawk

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Depends
Persona intros are literally text simulator for that reason.

P sure one of mine. (Its like if neo persona x super powers had a child and that child ended up being a cheery personality but with dark mysterious motives)
It introduces combat tutorial within the first 2 minutes. Then you the main character work with your soon to be team (squad), and introduces the Stance mechanic for MC. But the game sets itself up for the plot and it takes about 15 minutes (including the Social Link equivalent mechanic Bonds and the skirmish tutorial fights) to get into the actual first dungeon.
It matters as the way you set up your setting for the story you want to tell, it has to be interesting enough to keep the player invested in playing.
 

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