How long to make a game?

How long are typical works of amateur (by which I just mean non-commercial) IF? My game is either almost done or just getting started, and I honestly can’t tell. I don’t know how long it would take the average player to get through it, but it’s around 5000 words of I7 code. (That’s probably way to short to release, isn’t it?)

EDIT: If it matters, I haven’t coded the help system yet, and most room descriptions are very short.

My experience is that when you think you’re almost done, you’re halfway there. And when you think you’re all done and start beta testing, you’re again only halfway there.

It’s hard to say how much code is “required” before the game is ready to publish, but 5000 words does sound like there can’t be content for a very long gameplay (an average IFComp-size game with 2 hours of gameplay is by my rough estimate at around 30 000-50 000 words.) Although it’s not as much a question of the number of words, but how well the game works. The easiest way to find out is to get some testers to try it out and give feedback.

I was afraid of that, but thanks. I’m not sure I can get much more gameplay out of this concept, though… Hm. In retrospect, I should have thought my idea out more fully before I started coding. There just aren’t that many puzzles I can create using it.

Maybe it’s time to start over with a new concept?

Short games aren’t in no ways inherently inferior to longer ones. There are many well-liked games that are extremely short (for example Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die.)

I know, but those short games probably have a lot of content in them, right? Mine has all of four puzzles, three of which are ridiculously easy and one of which is much harder.

I think I fail.

Nope. By short game I mean little content, and perhaps just one puzzle.

I absolutely agree with Juhana. Make the game as long as it needs to be, and no longer.

To give an example, “Byzantine Perspective” from the last IFComp was basically one-and-a-half puzzles, and it won the XYZZY award for best individual puzzle. (Admittedly, some people said that it should have had more backstory, but those people were wrong. :wink: [Also, thank heaven for custom smilies, which solve the “How do you put an emoticon in parentheses?” problem.])

You mean shorter than my games? That’s impossible. :wink:

Shortest puzzle ever: Pick up key in office and unlock exit door.

See my demoroom_en.nx script in Node-X v1.1 distribution package.

I don’t think you can put a time on how long it takes to create a game. There are so many variables to take into consideration. But as for my own games, well…
My first game: “Ghost town”, took me a little over two years to finish, whereas my next one, “Through time” is still under way and will probably be so for one or two more years.
On the other hand, I’ve finished, Camelot, in six month, and D-Day should be ready for release in June. Both games have taken less than a year to finish.
I believe it will take an average player about 3 – 6 hours to play the last two and 12 – 14 for “Through time”

The other day I wrote eight games for Jack Welch’s TWIFcomp. Each game had a source code of 140 characters or less.

…that’s not really helpful for any other kind of game, though.

You make it as long as it needs to be, or as long as the story allows. Pick Up the Phone and Aisle is a great example of how a short game doesn’t always mean a bad game.

Actually, as a lesson in game design, I’ve picked up the ideas behind its length in an attempt to create my own version of it. :laughing:

In terms of words, the above example could easily exceed tens of thousands, as it boasts over 200 endings. However, each session only lasts a matter of seconds. :wink:

That’s the point. When discussing the appropriate length of a game one can analyze two types of length: The length of the actual playtime - which varies (!) from player to player - and/or the overall length of the entire game with all multiple endings and replayability factors considered.

A short adventure game may be played through in under 5 minutes. But if the author or game designer boosts up the replayability factor as high as possible, a short game may give players hours of playtime, providing that players replay the game multiple times.

An extreme but funny example of playtime length versus game length can be seen in the following videos:

Duke Nukem 3D Speedrun part 1 of 3
Duke Nukem 3D Speedrun part 2 of 3
Duke Nukem 3D Speedrun part 3 of 3

Here a Duke fan plays through all four episodes of Duke Nukem 3D in less than 30 minutes! :open_mouth: :mrgreen:

So one can say two things about the length of a game. First, the playtime length is always shorter than the maximum game length. Second, the playtime decreases the more the player learns about the game, its puzzles, secrets and other stuff. Then there is also the possibility of cheating when players do tricks on the game (such as creating “shortcuts” to solve long puzzles), automatically reducing the playtime on its own.

Adventure games and RPGs are more complex than first person shooters ofcourse, but this concept should apply to any type of game.