So, I wrote a game, intending to enter it into IFComp. I have only one issue - it’s way too long! I hadn’t realized how long it was until somebody who wasn’t me read it; either I read fast or I was subconsciously skimming it in my own playthroughs because I wrote it myself. So now I’m tasked with the grueling prospect of finding out how to cut an entire third of my game out, or just shrugging and going “Yep, it’s gonna be way over that two hour limit.”
So, how bad is going over the limit, anyways? Has anybody been in a similar position, or judged games that went over the limit, and how did that influence you? My game is a choice-based narrative game, with a beginning, middle, and end, so I feel more gunshy about letting it run over than I would with, say, a puzzle parser game. I mean who’d want to read half a story?
For some context, my game is a narrative choice game using ChoiceScript, based off of a medieval poem and following its general beats very closely. On average, according to a script I cooked up, a playthrough is about ~39k words. Given an average reading speed of ~250 words/minute and a ~10% thinking time discount, I estimated this at ~3 hours-ish, which is way too long! That also lines up with feedback I got. So, I think I have a few kinds of options here:
- Change the major beats and compress the story. I am not enthusiastic about this because the whole point of the game is to be close to the poem, but it depends on how “bad” going over the limit is.
- Go through an editing pass and cut/change individual words or passages. This has some difficulties - first, it might (will) change the tone of the writing - and second, it’s very time-consuming. On the other hand editing is good and there’s probably some stuff here I can do - but it’s almost certainly going to be insufficient.
- Slap a warning on the front and tell the judges “Hey, average play through is ~40k words! If you have an average reading speed you’ll probably get 2/3 of the way through.” I think this might have, uh, bad effects on the willingness of people to judge it?
- Just let it run long and whoever judges it, judges it wherever they end up. Reading speed is really variable anyways - though I’m sure more experienced/professional writers have rules of thumb here.
- Make a short version and a long version, and put that right up front as an option?