Time Has Come
I think size is a vastly overrated quality in videogames. Also, I’d like to think that if big and epic games were the exceptions and not the rules, the videogame industry would be a healthier one.
Smaller games would mean a shorter development time and the possibility of less expensive titles. The high price of new releases encourages software piracy and somewhat excludes videogames from mainstream consumption. Producing games would be a less risky business and therefore we could expect more experimental and original game concepts.
Another, perhaps even more important, aspect that Edge touched upon is the simple fact that most people have a limited amount of spare time left for playing videogames. Many people with little or no experience of videogames want to be able to occasionally pick up a game for a short period of entertainment. But most games cannot really be played this way – titles like Zelda and Tomb Raider II would take several years to complete! As anything but an inexperienced game player, I have not completed those games. I think that they’re good, but not good enough to invest the time necessary to complete them.
A small game, in the sense of something with a small game world or something that can be completed in a short space of time, is not necessarily a game short on playability. (But even if it is, that’s all right if the game is accordingly cheap.) Often size is just a means to overcome bad design: to increase the challenge, developers put in more, tougher enemies – and yet another level. Large game worlds often demand a lot of work on the graphical representation during development. If some of this work could instead be done to increase the complexity of a smaller game world, we could have less linear games with lastability despite their small size.
Published in EDGE magazine July 1999