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Patrol1985

Acceptable level length in FPS games

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One of many advantages of Doom is the fact one can load a map, be done with it in about 20 minutes (I'm talking about IWADs), close the game and move on with the day.

Right now I'm playing Serious Sam 3. Don't get me wrong, the game is GREAT, certainly the best of the series and with surprisingly innovative ideas for a shooter of this particular sub-genre (arena shooters, where plain fighting is more important than puzzle solving or level design).

However, one thing bugs me - the length of levels. Save for the first one, none of them can really be completed quickly. They're big and since fighting is often obligatory to unlock a further part of a level, one can't really run through them Doom / Quake style. This in turn means that trying to beat a level in one go often means you have to have a full hour available on your hands. Besides, hardly any single level can keep me entertained for a whole hour without getting at least slightly boring.

So my question is - how long should an FPS level be in your opinion? Perhaps you like long levels? Or do you prefer them the way I do - about 20 minutes max?

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In my opinion length doesn't matter as long as the level stays interesting and the game has a save feature.

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I've played enjoyable levels lasting from 30 seconds all the way up to 4 hours. 20 minutes does seem to be the most reasonable length, being roughly the amount of time an uninterrupted play session should last.

IMHO, the delimitation between levels isn't as important as the developers' ability to pace the game, mark clear checkpoints and rest places. These days I'd rather have level streaming and smooth transitions over abrupt tally counters and loading screens. Either way I try not to sweat it and save+exit whenever I feel like it (but I can empathize with you, there's certainly that compulsive feel of wanting to beat a level, the whole level, no matter how arbitrary the distinction might be).

You can skip most fights in SS3, here's a speedrun of the entire game in 44:41. While he is using the lowest difficulty which does make unavoidable fights much easier, you can see those mandatory parts are few and far between.

Of course, Sam is no Doomguy when it comes to running speed, so you're probably going to die a lot trying this on higher difficulties. But *technically*, there's nothing stopping you. ;)

I don't think Serious Sam would work with 20 minute levels on normal play. Much of the appeal of the games is the big scale, the hordes... fights lasting minutes. You'd end up with 3 or 4 rooms per map.

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You should try playing a selected co-operative wad with your preferred source port. Then you will see how all the merriment occurs.

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I remember one of the Painkiller games I played had very short levels just enemy spawn rooms. Yet it felt so long, dull and circle strafing because it was like 5 minutes to kill everything and then move to the next room.

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I like both short and long levels. Short levels are great if you just want a few minutes of gaming but still want to complete something. Long levels are great if you have quite a bit of time to spare and really want to get involved in a map.

Games where one map flows into the other without clear stages make the option of short duration playing less attractive to me (though that doesn't necessarily mean a bad game). The drawn out Serious Sam scripted arena fighting with no way to shortcut things also makes this kind of play difficult. However, I don't really like that kind of play anyway and, IMO, it was far too over done in the SS games. For me it sapped too much of the fun out of the games for me to want to replay them too often.

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Waffenak said:

Level lenght is good when I dont get bored

Pretty much this. I can enjoy both short and long levels. I can say, anyhow long, as long as they have an end, and anyhow short, as long as they're worth it.

It depends on my mood (sometimes I just don't feel like I want to play a long map, sometimes I do), and another important factor is whether the map keeps to entertain me well. At least that well that I won't decide to interrupt or quit. (In my opinion, using the word "bore" seems a bit exaggerated when talking about games, specially if the games/maps are action or atmospheric based.)

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I don't have an ideal time limit, as long as the level is well done, but I do prefer it if completing it quickly is an option and it isn't filled with artificial time lengtheners that stop the pacing.

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RUSH said:

In my opinion length doesn't matter as long as the level stays interesting and the game has a save feature.


Exactly, I dont care if a level was 2 hours long, if it where interesting then I would want to keep going on.

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