For a long time I have thrown this around in conversation, and now I’ve decided to bring it to our little corner of the blogosphere. The item up for discussion is short games. Not “Oh I hate Modern Warfare because I beat it in only four hours!” but really short games. Thirty minutes to an hour at most. In my opinion, the gaming world needs a few very brief, in depth, amazing games to claw people into gaming. You may not want more noobs in your online life, but they will allow gaming to become more mainstream and build up our favorite industry. Some would argue flash games fill this niche, and there are no doubt countless problems awaiting anyone who triest to develop such short, phenomenal games.
I’ll start you off with an example I’ve been churning in my head. This short game, or introduction game, or whatever it would be called, would represent one of my favorite genres, RTS. The story would open by describing some humble race fighting off their hostile oppressors, the normal deal. The player would be introduced to a few characters, including a hero and the fodder characters he or she would utilize later on. The story would explain the last ditch effort this race is facing, and how they must attack or defend against their mortal enemy’s main force to distract them while a covert team places a nuke or some other “friendly” doomsday weapon.
This story building would be punctuated by a short mission. All of the major quirks of an RTS wouldn’t be present. No overly scaled fights, extreme strategy, or intense speed. Just the player trying out a foreign concept for the first time. Resource gathering, if present, would be easy to establish and nearly impossible to lose. You would start with a hero unit, and only be able to make basic fighters. Only two buildings would be available; a unit creator and some type of base defense. The player themselves would chose whether to attack or defend, by building the units to attack or building a force of units and defenses to withold against a wave force. This would only take about ten minutes altogether, and losing would be hard, but not impossible. The story, of course as games do, would change depending on your choice to attack, defend, the state of your hero at the battles conclusion, or on your failure. All of the endings would be short, sweet, satisfying, and make you think about your actions and make you want to try again when you have another thirty minutes of free time.
As you went to exit the game a few recommendations would pop up, offering the player something to sate their new-found taste, if one became apparent. If not, the recommendations would not be forceful or blatant, merely helpful and interesting sidenotes on the way out. I envision a tiered system. If they liked the story, but not the gameplay, they would click on a link to view more of these short games they could experience, and perhaps players would end up finding a genre they would like. The next level would be for players that liked the story and the mechanics, showing recommendations for a good starting RTS like C&C, Warcraft, Dawn of War, or Age of Empires. The final level would be for those that didn’t like the story but absolutely loved the mechanics, and wanted to get much deeper into the RTS world. I say Starcraft, but that’s just because I’m addicted to its quality and depth.
The structure of a normal RTS would be butchered, and I doubt I would play it, but I think something like this could really show people around the world of gaming quickly and effectively. Having something like this to pull people into gaming would be great, but where exactly will it come from? As I mentioned before flash games do fulfill some of the concepts I’ve been throwing out to you. However, I don’t feel they do justice in terms of quality and vision, and the ones that do are still too long. Have you ever looked away from a flash game and realize you’ve been playing way longer than the ten minutes you originally allotted for the task? I know I have. These games need to be perfect, trophies we as gamers can flaunt to recruit people into the wonderful experience. Ideally they would be made by Valve, Blizzard, Naughty Dog, Nintendo, Epic Games, or another top notch developer. The visuals would be perfect, the storytelling phenomenal, and even the simple mechanics tested to perfection. However, big or little, the cost of making these short games would hit hard. Creating entire engines for such varied, small games would be a cost in itself, and after reading this (look for Ludwick’s) I understand they would have to be cheap to spread like wildfire.
All in all, I feel short games will be a big cost and time effort to ensure such perfection and appeal, and I know it will be worth it, if it happens.
Anyway, what do you guys think? Lemme know on our Forums