: Editorial: How Big Is Too Big?

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Editorial: How Big Is Too Big?

I'm all for progression in the game industry. I always have been. I'm more interested in artistic than technical progression, but I always appreciate forward strides.

However, in looking at the sheer size of some next-generation projects, I'm starting to wonder: How big is too big? At one point do people who don't want an MMO environment start going- "You know, I just don't have time for this."

Look at a game like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. That is going to be massive. Apparently, 35 times the size of its predecessor and even much bigger than The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It certainly sounds amazing; just walking around could feel totally epic. I expect some of the most impressive immersion ever. But in all practicality, who has the time to really appreciate every facet of that production? As far as I can tell, it would be limited to people who are still in school. Anyone living in the adult world (and actually living an adult life), would have difficulty tackling such a gargantuan undertaking. It's just too huge.

I even worry about something like Grand Theft Auto V. Sure, I love me some GTA and again, a big environment could (and should) be intoxicating. But at what point does it become less immersive and borderline overwhelming? When do we finally sit back, throw our hands up and go, "all right, too effing big." This isn't about a lack of patience, either; I'm probably more willing to avoid fast travel options in such games, just because I want to fully experience the game. This is more about feeling like you can't make a dent even after playing for three hours.

Remember, it's not just the size of the world; it's what there is to do in it. In the next generation, developers will be able to deliver more activities and quests than ever before. Everything will be more realistic and dynamic. In short, there will be a lot more to do. And for me, even Skyrim was simply too expansive. So, if you're going above and beyond that, as fantastic as the experience could be, I'm afraid designers are leaving me (and potentially many others) out. What do you think?

8/2/2013 Ben Dutka

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Comments (37 posts)

Temjin001
Friday, August 02, 2013 @ 11:22:05 PM
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yah, there's many games now that just feel too big for me. I don't blame the game because their product just isn't for me. I think it's incredible such massive worlds can be created. I do think these massive worlds combined with social interaction are a recipe for too much gaming. I've seen many people, personally in my life, waste away years of their life on an obsession with those MMO types. There's this never ending virtual immersion and this forever lust for conquest and skill building that can never be satiated. It sucks seeing people do this to themselves and their children who are neglected as a result of it.

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Clamedeus
Friday, August 02, 2013 @ 11:33:43 PM
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I don't mind the size of the world you play in, but what i have a problem with is how much stuff are you able to do in that world? Is it fun, or does it get boring? Does it change the experience? How much stuff is there to do. That's the issue I have mostly.

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Underdog15
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 12:24:03 AM
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I've had to teach myself to not need to get everything done in a game. Which is hard for my completionist play style. But I just can't do it all. But I'm ok if there's so much. I've decided to look at it as there are a ton of ways to play and each person's experience can be different than the next. (Adds replay value anyways!)

What I absolutely can't stand is large worlds that just have a whole lot of nothing in between. Running aimlessly through vast nothingness turns me right off. Couldn't finish Fallout 3. Too much nothing.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 12:00:11 PM

I disagree because there were new and interesting places to discover all within walking distance of each other, now Fallout New Vegas, THAT had nothingness problems.

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fatelementality
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 12:34:44 PM

I would like to interject and state that BOTH had nothingness problems.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 1:15:11 PM

In fairness the world was destroyed by nuclear war.

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Underdog15
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 2:41:13 PM

I don't think nuclear war would completely kill all life, though. Look at Hiroshima... lots of green there.

I still don't think there was any excuse for so much bland brownness.

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Maruf
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 1:05:33 AM
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I suppose size of game should be directly proportional to how interesting the gameplay is. I started playing Skyrim and I thought I'll do all missions and level up before final battle. So I put many hours into it and I began to realize how boring that game was because of lacking cinematic experience but especially because how incredibly boring the gameplay was. The final battle was disappointingly easy. Now if Skyrim was 1/4the the size, I'd have said it a fantastic game because I wouldn't have finished the game before getting so incredible bored and come away with a very positive opinion about the game.

Obviously Witcher 3 gameplay would be much better but still, I have a real world life and I sure would like to live it up. I also listen to a lot of music and a simracer too. So where is the time? and I havn't even mentioned my work or social life which I prefer to do the old way, the telephone generation way.

Look at next gen games. Watch Dogs, Assassins Creed 4, all huge games. The Crew is going to be insanely big. Playing any one of these is going to take long enough or even more than enough. Lucky for me, I dont like GTA. But those who do are going to be in even more dilemma. Who knows how big Lords of the Fallen will be?

I'm excited for next gen(or half next gen really) but no more open worlds for now please.

Damn it. We need longer life!!

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Hand_of_Sorrow
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 1:22:22 AM
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imo, RDR seemed to be about the right size.

too big is when you get bored just from traveling from point a to point b.
and or theres not enough to do

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:58:50 AM

I got uber bored riding through deserts in that game.

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PlatformGamerNZ
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 3:50:02 AM
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i think there is a fine line between like big enough to have fun exploring and just plain over-whelming as you said. but you there does come a time when fun can become anoiying like too huge and more of a chore and thats when it gets too huge. so yes the devs do need to be careful. and make the bigness relative to the genre and average travel speed if you get wat i mean.

happy gaming =)

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 3:58:55 AM
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We just need to get over our habit of doing every single last thing there is to do in a game. Like in real life.

Once we get rid of that habit, and are able to focus on the content of a game that we *enjoy*, we will be just fine. :)

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Killa Tequilla
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 7:41:02 AM

That's no fun :(

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:37:57 AM

Aaaaand...what if we enjoy everything there is to do? ;)

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 2:00:38 PM

hehe - then you need no other game that year, Benny. ;)

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Axe99
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 7:52:51 PM

Well said Beam :). That's the way to respond, play fewer games. That said, I do have a strong appreciation for tight, 10-20 hour games like the Uncharted series, Dishonored and TLoU (not the only examples of course). A game like Skyrim I play over months and months, whereas Dishonored is wrapped up in a couple of weeks.

Interestingly, despite the size of the world, CD Projekt Red have said (I think) that the core game is 50 hours, and side quests another fifty, which in gameplay terms would put it below Skyrim for me.

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 4:03:19 AM
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Yes, a prime example of this is Final Fantasy XII. All I remember from the game is running through various landscapes and temples as the story was so spread out between these large environments it felt like forever. I think it is also partly due to the characters looking too small in scale to the environments. All the pathways were far too wide which probably made it feel even more tedious then it ever needed too.

I think it can work, if the game offers a good method for backtracking. Xenoblade pretty much lets you back track to anywhere you have visited on a map you can enter on the menu. As it was so accessible rather than having specific crystals to teleport in Final Fantasy XII it just felt very fluent - you get a new mission, you can just open the map and go to a certain point and then carry it out. So if developers can keep the plot active and make backtracking instantaneous I have no problem.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:40:11 AM

I don't really get that. FFXII never felt too big. The areas you explore were actually quite small compared to RPGs with open exploration styles.

There also didn't seem like more time between story sequences. You certainly had farther to GO but I actually prefer that, as opposed to having a short distance and only fighting monsters to level up in that small area. So the story sequences in every FF I played felt a little far apart because I liked to do a lot in between. At least in FFXII, it felt like I was actually traveling.

I did not, however, like the story. Too much politics.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:53:48 AM

I agree, XII's landscapes were needlessly stretched apart with wasted space. When you want to play and it takes 2 hours just to get to where you're going that's a problem.

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 1:48:26 PM

Oh I am all for giving breathing room to train but I remember many times playing through XII when I just got tired of the landscapes and I would just run past monsters trying to get to the next location in hope for some advancement of the story - but it would never come then I would have 5 more areas of landscapes and temples to race through.

Another Final Fantasy you would arrive at a new area and then something would happen - An event which wouldn't be directly linked to main the plot but explores one of the characters. Take VII, when you land in the Desert Prison - Barret then has his encounter with Dyne. It was not essential to the main story arch but it fleshed out Barret as a character really well.

Overall I am happy for a game to be large in scale. Just as long as it has content spread out to justify the scale.

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Underdog15
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 2:37:06 PM

I didn't think the landscapes in XII were too large. BUT... I -DID- think there were a few we had to go back and forth across a few too many times which, for me, made it sometimes feel tedious with too much pointless walking. Especially if the monsters in that area no longer offer a challenge or provide good resources. A few more dungeons needed that yellow crystal...

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___________
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 4:33:58 AM
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no such thing as too big.
as long as each part receives the attention it needs, and each part is properly segregated.
thats exactly where the witcher 2 fell apart, the side missions were so vast and distracting you easily got distracted from your main task.
when you have spend hundreds of hours in a game, and your friend has spent a fraction of that but is far further into the story than you are, you know somethings wrong!

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Draguss
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 7:35:21 AM
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The advantage of being broke most of the time. The lack of games gives me plenty of time for the really big games, even with a full time job and that 'life' thing people kept telling me I'm supposed to have.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:57:45 AM

Some games are like a virtual life.

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 2:03:13 PM

.. Cue: MMORPGs, World. A good MMORPG is indeed like living a virtual life.

I look forward to seeing you ingame buddy, when a decent sc-fi/steampunk themed mmorpg arrives. :)

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Huey
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 7:37:02 AM
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I love exploration in a game, but on the other hand I don't want it to turn into a second job.

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Darwin1967
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 9:38:39 AM
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Too big? I don't think it's about size, but rather about creating a universe in which you can immerse yourself. Skyrim attempted to do that, but in the end...the repetitive tasks and AI grew to be tedious and loathsome. Why create adoptive kids that say the same thing over and over...a spouse who can only say three phrases... why put that much work into a universe only to make it feel too stilted? I have high hopes for GTAV, we'll see if RockStar that grand dame of HUGE can bring it together to make it feel less like tedium and more like immersion. I don't mind a huge game, I don't expect to do every little task, what I do appreciate is spending 50.00 on a game that feels like 50.00 if not more...a game that 6 months from now I can pop in and start playing and discover something new...I think of these games as games that keep on giving.

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gamer4lifexxx
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:19:18 AM
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Fallout 3 was too big in my opinion, although the glitches and crashes helped in my decision not to play it anymore.. glad it was a borrowed copy, couldn't see paying for that mess of a game. Dragon Age:Origin/Awakening were too big as well.. I like games big not that big and the game needs a liner path to take for the story while having side missions to take advantage of the large world map when ever i wanna take a break from the story... as long as it's not too big of course. Traveling to other other side of a map for an hour to complete mission is boring not fun.. story missions should make you do that

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:54:31 AM

Not me man, I thought it was too small, I hope Fallout 4 is like five times bigger!

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 2:05:20 PM

100% agree with World. Fallout just *looked* big at first (and omg what a wonderful feeling that is, one giant, unexplored map), but once you've done the round you realize it's not *that* big. But the map is well laid out.

I want to enter Fallout 4 and have no-one hear from me for months.


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/3/2013 2:05:41 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 11:56:18 AM
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It's a good question and I'm not sure what the answer is, I guess if it's too big to see most of in 100 hours then it's too damn big.

Oblivion was my first Elder Scrolls game and I was instantly overwhelmed when I rented it and wound up giving up because I was convinced it would take ages to get anything done. I later bought it and tried again then became a convert. It still takes ages to do anything but when that's addicting and not tedious it's a good thing.

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JROD0823
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 12:50:04 PM

Yeah, Oblivion was my first Elder Scrolls game as well, and I sunk around 300 or so hours into that game on one character alone.

Picking out one random thing about Oblivion, I still think that its Dark Brotherhood quest line was much better thought out and more entertaining than Skyrim's, but I still enjoyed Skyrim and its quest lines for the most part.

Being able to dual wield weapons/magic was probably the only thing missing from Oblivion to make it the perfect game. :)

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PC_Max
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 12:01:14 PM
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AS for games the attraction for me has always been story and character development. That criteria, not always and there are exceptions, usually is a focus of single player campaigns.

Large worlds seem more oriented for social gaming, cooperative or just massive multiplayer. It asks for it, it demands it I think. Again, I am sure there are exceptions, like the CoD.

Destiny seems to be a good example of this.

Here I go again with Mirrors Edge... I think part of me at the time would have liked to have explored what I thought was a unique and fantastic games. Diff from all the others. That said with the recent announced sequel for next gen with a sandbox world... I can see the danger where the original game worked because of the way it was designed and built following a story and missions. In an open world..... or at least a world like the Assassins Creed games... it might work OR it could take away from what the original had.

Fallout 3 worked to a point, but it was mostly an empty world with respawning enemies in areas you returned to. But you followed the story line or multi-storylines and side quests to untimately finish the game. And if you had done everything... not much to explore.

My take overall is that open worlds... means many, many, many dlc purchases down the road for the same game and mapped areas. Maybe the odd different area not available at launch. Its a good money ploy and also solves the hassle of creating new IPs for a number of years and just build on the same game multiple times and get your money's worth from development.

Its a case of watching my wallet and seeing what an initial so called open world game gives me at launch and not just a bare minimum at a $59.99 price tag with a seasons pass or multiple dlc purchases they held back to get as much money out of me. I want value and if it means making a smaller less open world game and more linear... fine.

Starting to look like an experience with buying a car... there are hidden costs/conditions with the initial buy... and you end up paying more in the end.

We shall see.

Keep playing!

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JROD0823
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 12:38:00 PM
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Game worlds will never be large enough in my opinion.

Having said that, as game worlds continue to grow, the amount of detail within world that gives that world its atmosphere and character needs to remain rich and plentiful.

Simply having a large game world just for the sake of being able to proclaim it, while 70% of the game world is mostly empty would also be pointless, so I can see the counter-argument to my feelings on the matter. :)

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berserk
Saturday, August 03, 2013 @ 1:18:55 PM
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I care more for the width then the length .

I don t mind linear games but i prefer them when it s large enough to have stuff to do along the way .

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Harerazer
Sunday, August 04, 2013 @ 2:07:34 PM
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I can't count the amount of times I walked from one side of the map to the other in Skyrim. Size is not an issue if there is stuff to do AND it's laid out well. Having repetitive sights and textures would kill a game regardless.

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Gabriel013
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 12:57:24 PM
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I'm not sure there is such a thing for me.

I'm on my first playthrough of Skyrim at over 250 hours and I'm still going though I'm back and forth to it at this stage. I think I still have around 10-20 hours of proper gameplay left plus untold hours of running round. That said I'm taking a break from that by starting another playthrough with a different character.

As I've mentioned before most of the games I play are atleast 50 hours for a single playthrough and most are many more.

I have a full time job and at the very best I might just scrape 15 hours in the odd week to game. THAT just makes good value for money. If I can finish a game in 1 week of minimal daily play then I see it as a wasted £40 spend.

When a single game can keep me entertained and still not be complete after 3 months plus and I'm not talking rinse and repeat multiplayer then that is value for money.

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