Thursday, April 30, 2009

Action-Packed Short-Form Games: An Ideal Date?

In this article, writer and game designer Sande Chen suggests that action-packed short-form games are ideal for dating and also might be a great way to get teenage girls interested in games.

At GDC 2005 and GDC 2006, as co-founders of the non-profit, Girls in Games, Inc., Michelle Sorger and I conducted the popular "Attracting Women to Game Development" roundtables, which focused on recruitment and retention of women in the game industry. One comment during a discussion about bringing games into the lives of teenage girls has intrigued me over the years: a suggestion that the industry create 2 - 3 hour narrative-based games that teenage boys and girls could enjoy together, akin to going out to the movies.

Young girls, according to research, are enthralled by video games just as much as young boys, but in their teenage years, girls' interests typically turn to issues dealing with dating and socialization. Video games just like any type of sciences or maths are commonly viewed as interests for females who are socially awkward and undesirable. Therefore, girls veer away from the very subjects that could make them employable in the video game industry years from now. For years, people have said the issue is not that young female college freshmen are not interested in computer programming, but that teenage and middle school girls are not interested in computer programming. We're wasting our efforts if we devote all our energies to the college level.

But by transporting video games into the realm of social interaction and dating, the act of playing a video game become socially acceptable to teenage girls. It becomes part of the dating ritual, like going to a club or a movie. But what sort of short-form game would be appropriate for a date? And how would that dynamic be?

Normally, when boys and girls play video games together, boys end up playing the game. This has been noted in several studies of games used in educational settings. There are many explanations for this: girls typically are not video game literate and girls' play patterns differ from boys. Noah Falstein in a GDC 2009 session noted that when girls play, one takes the steering wheel while the others crowd around and give comments. For girls, no particular person is in control whereas boys are continually jockeying for control of the controller. Moreover, girls are not comfortable playing a game without knowing exactly how everything works. As Sheri Graner Ray has often stated, even back in the arcade age, a boy was playing the game while a girl stood watching.

However, I would posit that while girls' lack of controller dominance may discourage educational theorists who would want girls to participate (and learn) from games, this is perfectly OK in a social setting. No girl wants the possibility of failure in front of boy and repeated failure only leads to frustration. As casual game developers know, the more a casual player fails at a game, the more likely she is to stop playing the game. Moreover, when considering gender play patterns, it simply follows that a boy playing the game and a girl watching is a normal situation. And a girl's lack of controller dominance does not mean that she is not enjoying the game.

Anecdotally speaking, when a couple of game designers and I went through Gears of War 2 in one sitting, I was quite happy to let the guys go through the game because I knew they could get through it faster. Yet, I felt like I was participating because at choice points, I could voice my opinion, yelling "Right, Right!" or "No, Left!" when we drove over the frozen lakes. Normally, I find it silly to yell when I watch DVDs with friends, but because this game was interactive, I could participate in that way.

I might add that I typically do not enjoy action flicks on the wide screen. I have even fallen asleep during a Vin Diesel film because of the lack of deep characterization. So, it is somewhat surprising to me that I have come to this conclusion that action-packed short-form games would be ideal date material. Simply, in my experience, no other genre of games seemed to be right for this purpose. I have played Braid with the same guys and even though I used the controller with others commenting to me, a puzzle game is simply too slow-paced and furthermore, does not deliver a satisfying shared experience at 2 - 3 hours. I have found the same to be true for RPGs, which often meander and have a slow build-up.

Scientists have said that in the science of love, increased adrenaline output is part of falling in love, which is why television matchmakers try to hook couples up by giving them exciting dates like race car driving or bungee jumping. Fast-paced action games, if at 2 - 3 hours, incite adrenaline and are spectacles to watch. The narratives, while they could be better, are straightforward and usually on rails like a movie. To top it off, if the couple had something like the Rez trance vibrator, then every time the boy blew away demon-alien hybrids, the girl would receive a happy jolt. However, that's not for first-date hijinks!

So what do you think? Should video games be part of the dating ritual?

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She writes about women's issues in the game industry at DameDev.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Environmental Continuity

In this article, programmer Nels Anderson looks at the production realities of short-form games.

While shorter games have gained prominence in the last couple of years, some veteran developers have been espousing the benefits of shorter games for far longer. Ron Gilbert wrote about the design advantages of shorter games 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, the cost of development for shorter games is rarely proportional to their reduced lengths. As almost everyone in the industry knows, production costs are not linear. The initial costs of making shorter games means the core technology and design will need to be reused to recoup costs. It’s not really feasible for any but the smallest of teams to make a single, stand-alone short game.

Portal, the critical darling of short games, was only viable because Valve had already built its core tech for Half-Life 2 and Source. Portal’s new elements were lightweight to create - the portal system was relatively simple to implement, the main mechanic was already proven in Narbacular Drop and the environmental palette was minimal and uncomplicated. This isn’t to say there is anything wrong with Valve’s approach; it’s actually a brilliant example of embracing constraints. But another studio trying to create a similar title would face far greater costs, not to mention it would lack all the advantages Portal garnered being bundled with one of the most anticipated multiplayer games in years.

Telltale has done quite well in striking a balance between reuse and new content in their first two episodic series and look to do so again with Wallace & Gromit. Spicy Horse's Grimm skewed too far to reuse of design. While each release of Grimm features a new fairy tale, made dark and malicious, the shallowness of the gameplay left me feeling like I was just playing different levels of a game that wasn't that sophisticated or compelling. The art direction and variety of content is fantastic, but the gameplay mechanics do not repeat well.

It seems that making a series of shorter games means following the television model, but I think there are a lot more opportunities here that haven't been explored. E.g. instead of having a continuity of characters and storyline, I think a very compelling design could utilize a continuity of place. Examine an area of London throughout different historical eras. Perhaps starting as a Roman outpost, then during the Norman Invasion, the Black Plague, the War of the Roses, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Queen Victoria's reign, the Blitz, etc. Practically any world city could be used- Dublin from a Viking settlement to the Irish Civil War, Osaka or Kyoto, Cairo, Vienna and countless more. It might be feasible to stylize each era different, loosening art dependencies and enriching the aesthetic of each era.

This use of continuity of place was executed in Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, with three different locales (a Cambodian temple, a French Cathedral and a Persian forbidden city) being visited by different characters hundreds of years apart. Similarly, Assassin's Creed used the Crusades-era Holy Land setting to good effect. It was the aspect of the game I found most compelling. The sequel looks to be attempting the same with a Renaissance Italy setting. This era of history, where Italy was divided into numerous merchant city-states, is an incredibly rich setting that is far fresher than another generic Arthurian-ish knights and castles setting. It still astonishes me that, outside of a few short time periods mapped to specific genres (a la the WWII shooter), historical settings are largely absent in games. Why create elaborate fantastical settings when historical setting offers so much inspiration, so many resources and an opportunity to bring the past to audiences that might not engage with it otherwise?

The unfortunate truth of game development is that costs mean most short games will have to be made serial in some fashion. But instead of immediately assuming a segmented storyline or reoccurring characters, there are many designs that can utilize core tech reuse while providing a unique experience. Continuity of place is only one; another might be experiencing a single event from overlapping perspectives of different characters. As always, good design arises from embracing constraints. Coming at the constraints of shorter games from different angles has the potential to yield some truly excellent and different games, if we are willing to look for these opportunities and seize them.

Nels Anderson is a programmer at Hothead Games. He's probably the only game developer in Vancouver (and maybe all of Canada) that was born and raised in Wyoming. He writes about games and game design at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

May 2009: Trends of Simplicity

May 2009's topic, Trends of Simplicity, was submitted by game designer Jenna Leder.

She writes:

Simplicity is an important thing. It’s a recognized mark of good design if a game can be simple and unconvoluted while still maintaining a players interest. But “simple” shouldn’t be confused with “easy”, and from class nerfing to auto-aim to the abolishment of player death, “easy” in the pursuit of “simple” is a disturbing trend that seems to have hit the industry in the last few years.

There are many admirable and legitimate reasons for this: The casual games boon, a desire to increase market share by lowering barriers to entry and increasing accessibility, shorter production cycles, etc. Bottom line, simple is good for the bottom line. But how can we reconcile the need for simplicity and ease of play required for open market share with the needs of the core player who relishes the challenges of overwhelming odds? How can we accomplish simplicity without committing the sin of the Meddlesome Grandmother Effect?
  • Are games getting easier? In what way?
  • Is the “easy” trend in gaming a response to player needs, or market pressures?
  • KISS [Keep It Simple, Stupid!] has always been a core tenet of design. If “simple” has become intertwined with “easy”, how can we divorce them from one another? Is it even possible?
  • Not every game needs to be Ninja Gaiden. When intentionally making a game easier, how can it be done without becoming the meddling grandmother?
  • How do we lower the barrier of entry to appeal to a wider audience without alienating the core audience?
  • Is it even always necessary to lower the barrier of entry? Does everything have to be dumbed down for the masses? Can some things remain the domain of the mainstream/hardcore enthusiast, where others are welcome to play if they can keep up?
  • Is it our responsibility as developers to create the games that some people want to play, or everyone can play?
  • One would never suggest a Pee-Wee softball team should play in the same league as the New York Yankees. In the pursuit of a level playing field, is it even fair to try to bring different kinds of players together?
Jenna Eden Leder is a Junior Game Designer at Slingo, Inc. She holds a BFA in Interactive Design & Game Development from the Savannah College of Art & Design, where she focused on character art and animation for games. She is a frequent contributor to industry blogs, newsletters, and White Papers, and an outspoken opponent of censorship & First Amendment infringement in games.*

*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Slingo, Inc, its affiliates, or its employees. Void where prohibited by law. For external use only. Not intended to treat or diagnose any condition. In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional help immediately. I am not a witch. So say we all.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shrink to Success (Part II)

In Part I, game designer Josh Sutphin elaborates on how "short-form" games ultimately lead to a more engaging experience for the player. In Part II, he explains why these games are attractive from a business perspective.

There are several financial benefits to short-form games as well, and these are arguably more likely to make allies of producers and publishers.

First, the average gamer is 35 years old. That means he or she is likely to be employed full-time and to have a family, or at least a spouse. This is not a person with a lot of free time. Films are an enduring entertainment medium because they run about two hours, which isn't difficult at all to fit into an otherwise busy schedule. 60-hour gaming extravaganzas are a whole different story, but a quality 2-4 hour game can be completed in a sitting or two and not feel like an endless slog. A ubiquity of 2-4 hour games would place games firmly in the same "impulse buy" space as movies and music, for the simple reason that consumers would no longer see games as a significantly greater time investment than those mediums.

However, even if such a ubiquity came to pass, games are still seen as a financial investment, due to the unconscionable $59.99 standard price point. The most common argument given by publishers at the beginning of the 360/PS3 generation for the price increase was that "next-generation" games were more difficult and, critically, more expensive to develop. While it is true that game development budgets increased significantly from the PS2/Xbox generation to the 360/PS3 generation, they are still, with the exception of a very few outliers, far below the average budget of a feature film. The key difference, as I have argued previously, is the difference in audience size. $10 DVDs sell to tens of millions of consumers and make a handy profit on $100 million dollar films. If a game sold to tens of millions of consumers, it wouldn't need to be priced at $60 to make a profit on its measly (by comparison) $20 million development budget. And if you're wondering where we find those extra customers, all you have to do is lower your price point.

But for the sake of argument, let's indulge these publishers' assertion that higher prices are necessitated specifically by higher development costs. Short-form games have dramatically lower development costs than long-form ones; notable short-form indie titles like Braid and World of Goo were done in their entirety for under $200,000. Such lower development costs should make reduced game pricing a non-issue, and as Valve's data shows, reduced game pricing is highly likely to result in dramatic increases in net revenue... and that's before we even factor in the short-form game's superior focus, consistency, and ludo-narrative coherence, and the subsequent word-of-mouth and goodwill boost it's all but guaranteed to receive!

It's no coincidence that games whose duration is nearer that of films are likely to prove more compelling in many respects than 60-hour epics. Short-form games necessarily hold sacred the all-important flow of player education, keeping engagement high by avoiding filler and redundancy. They are more tightly focused, presenting a better-integrated set of mechanics and superior ludo-narrative coherence. They are cheaper to produce, which means they can be sold at a price point that supports impulse purchases, and good data suggests that price-point will actually increase net revenue. They fit sensibly into the average gamer's schedule, all but eliminating the negative perception that games must be a significant time investment. And perhaps most importantly, they are small enough to be memorable in their entirety, rather than recalled in disparate pieces tainted by a plurality of poor experiences.

Presented with such a win-win package, why would producers and publishers not jump on board?

Josh Sutphin is the design lead at LightBox Interactive (formerly Incognito Entertainment). He also produces mods, indie games, and electronic music, and blogs on game design and politics, at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shrink to Success (Part I)

In Part I of this article, game designer Josh Sutphin elaborates on how "short-form" games ultimately lead to a more engaging experience for the player.

Shortly after the success of Portal, a movement for shorter games began to form. It hasn't gained much momentum in the mainstream, but game designers are beginning to recognize the advantages of "short-form" games, and I predict that producers and publishers will join the chorus within the next few years.

When I say "short-form" games, I'm speaking comparatively. A short-form game, for purposes of this discussion, is one which is significantly shorter than a mainstream AAA title; specifically, a game of roughly 2-4 hours in length, regardless of genre. The establishment of specific duration criteria implies that the game is at least somewhat driven by narrative, if not largely so; for example, it would be difficult -- if not impossible -- to quantify the duration of Tetris, so such non-narrative games are omitted from this discussion.

Short-form games can be uniquely compelling in ways their longer cousins can't. For starters, their shorter duration necessarily eliminates "filler" gameplay, resulting in a more-or-less uninterrupted state of player education. This is compelling because, at their core, games are learning machines. The process of play is a cycle of learning, then applying:


When new concepts are being learned -- whether they're mechanics, environments, characters, or plot situations -- player engagement rises. When known concepts are subsequently applied, or "tested", engagement may begin high, but quickly falls as the application of the concept becomes repetitive; this is "filler" gameplay. The education of new concepts introduces novelty into the game flow and helps maintain player interest over time, but filler -- too-long periods of application without learning -- breaks the game flow and ultimately bores players.

Short-form games don't have room for filler; thus, short-form games need not break the flow of education. New concepts can be educated to the degree necessary to ensure mastery, then applied for just long enough to provide validation of the new skill (and no longer!) The learn-apply cycle is compressed, resulting in greater overall player engagement:


Short-form games also tend to be more focused, in terms of both gameplay and story. Less overall content means room for fewer mechanics and fewer plot points, so short-form designers have to make the most of what they have.

, for example, has very few mechanics:
  • Fire blue portal
  • Fire orange portal
  • Pick up (and drop) objects (e.g. Weighted Companion Cube)
  • Turrets
  • Crushing pistons
  • Jump pads
  • Bouncing energy balls (with matching conduits)
By contrast, Grand Theft Auto IV:
  • Driving (cars)
  • Driving (motorcycles)
  • Helicopter piloting
  • Melee combat
  • Gun combat
  • Cover system
  • Cell phone
  • Bowling
  • Darts
  • Pool
  • Drunk-driving (and drunk-walking)
  • "Wanted" system
  • Vigilante missions
  • Internet cafes
  • Clothing customization
  • Safehouse customization
That GTA4 has a longer list of mechanics than Portal is neither surprising nor disturbing. But try ticking off, for both lists, the mechanics which were implemented poorly, and a very different picture quickly emerges. A major strength of short-form games' necessary focus is that while they contain fewer mechanics, those mechanics are generally of a more uniform, and higher, quality.

The same goes for game stories. The stories in Braid, Knytt Stories, and World of Goo are simple, digestible, and most importantly, thematically and ludo-narratively coherent. By contrast, the stories of games like Metal Gear Solid 4 are sprawling, often incomprehensible, and packed with useless information and a low proportion of memorable moments. Not that I support games uncritically aping film, but there's a useful maxim in screenwriting that applies to writing scenes: "Get in late, get out early." The idea is that by presenting only the most irreducible core of a scene you increase audience comprehension of that scene, and by extension its impact and memorability. Put another way: distracting the audience with irrelevant or redundant content not only makes that content suck; it also drags down the perception of the "good stuff".

So far, it all boils down to focus: short-form games are necessarily more focused than long-form ones, and therefore less likely to break the flow of player education or distract the player with meaningless content, leading to an ultimately more engaging experience.

Josh Sutphin is the design lead at LightBox Interactive (formerly Incognito Entertainment). He also produces mods, indie games, and electronic music, and blogs on game design and politics, at

Monday, April 13, 2009

May 2009 Poll

Hello! Please come and vote for May 2009 topic!

Yes, I know it's not April 15, but I'm seeing that I need more editorial lead time, so I'll be moving the polls to earlier in the month.

You'll see the poll on the side of the blog. Your choices are:
  • Prototyping
  • Trends of Simplicity
  • Dual Currencies
Please choose by April 20!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Big Games Are Getting Smaller and Small Games Are Getting Better

In this article, writer and designer C.J. Kershner discusses industry trends that lead to quality games with shorter play experiences.

As the video game industry grows, the production value of many mainstream games is increasing while the length, with some exceptions, is shrinking. At the same time, independent developers are producing longer games as they attract larger audiences with high quality titles and innovative gameplay. This article attempts to examine a few factors that are bringing both triple-A and independent game lengths toward parity.

Bigger Budgets

When I entered the industry in 2001, a game that cost $6m to develop was considered “big-budget”. In 2008, a producer at Rockstar estimated that Grand Theft Auto 4 cost somewhere around $100m, employed 1,000 people, and took three years to create. While certainly higher than the average title’s budget and team size, it is representative of the increasing relationship between quality and cost. These numbers probably won’t surprise anyone familiar with Hollywood bookkeeping, but GTA’s budget was nothing short of astronomical in the games industry.

As development costs continue to rise, producers – either at the studio or publisher level – are making choices about what is worth spending money on. For a triple-A title, creating a single-player campaign is one of the riskiest and most expensive components to develop. Should we hire a Hollywood screenwriter and a film composer? How much motion capture studio time do we need to schedule? How many art assets can we recycle, how many are unique, and how long do we have to polish them? How much do we have left over for marketing?

Important story scenes are trimmed and features are cut to bring the game’s scope within its budget. The result? Judging from my own notes (and excepting RPGs and sandboxes) is a highly-glossy experience that lasts between six to twelve hours, though sometimes content and objectives are re-used to pad the game’s length.

Indie budgets are increasing as well, and gamers are more concerned than ever about getting quality for their dollar. Jonathan Blow claims to have spent $180k out-of-pocket to create Braid, and 2D Boy’s recent GDC presentation placed development costs for World of Goo just south of $100k. Winners of the Independent Games Festival often develop their games into commercial releases, and with a top prize of $30k, there is a distinct movement toward turning critical successes into commercial ones as well.

New Distribution Channels

The ubiquity of broadband internet connections and near-unlimited bandwidth (at least here in the United States) has developers and publishers re-examining how they deliver their product to customers. The days of downloading Doom over a 2600 baud modem from a BBS have been replaced by venues like Steam, Greenhouse, WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade/Community, and the Playstation Network.

Downloadable games services typically cater to non-core audiences, and where there are large groups of players with time and money, the publishers aren’t far behind. With increased profits from direct downloads and embedded anti-piracy measures, EA, Capcom, and THQ have all attempted to cut themselves a slice of the casual games market. Employing smaller teams with lower budgets, their releases are often retro retreads and board game adaptations, but every once in a while one of the majors produces a short, original IP.

These outlets also offer smaller developers access to gamers that would ordinarily be out of their reach through a traditional retail approach. By nature of being self-funded, their games are usually shorter than the million dollar releases. Their length, however, is no indicator of their quality. Both Braid and Twisted Pixel’s The Maw took about four hours to complete; both were satisfying and polished to a diamond shine.

Episodic Expansions

Broadband has also brought about a change in thinking regarding the viability of episodic content. Developers like as Telltale Games and Hothead have embraced the rigorous schedule required to produce and deliver new content on a monthly or quarterly basis. I was surprised when I started Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness one evening and set the controller down six hours later.

Valve's episodes for Half-Life 2, on the other hand, are often years in the making for a few hours of entertainment. The production quality on the episodes is incredible, and each new installment brings with it new engine features like HDR lighting and cinematic physics, but they stretch the definition of “episodic” to its breaking point (it has been a year-and-a-half since the release of Episode Two).

But Valve also delivered 2008's critical darling, Portal. Its short length possibly traces back to its student project origins and its experimental gameplay. Could the puzzles or narrative have been extended another two to four hours? Many fans and reviews lamented that there wasn't more, but few accused it of being too short. A sequel is as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow; it will be interesting to see if Portal 2 is another three-hour trip through the Aperture Science Enrichment Facility or something more expansive.


In a previous article for Game Design Aspect of the Month, designer Reid Kimball wrote, “One hurdle is to convince many that quantity of play experience does not always equal value for their money.” There will always be a market for longer games – I have spent countless hours wandering the wastes of Fallout 3 and the streets of Liberty City in GTA 4 – but as the length of triple-A games continues to shrink and the polish applied to independent titles grows, it is my hope that the notion of “value” between the two will blur.

C.J. Kershner is a New York City-based writer and designer. He has written for GameSpy, Opium Magazine, and Monkeybicycle. He currently works at Kaos Studios and can be reached at this e-mail address.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

TLDF - Too Long, Didn’t Finish

In this article, game designer Reid Kimball gives reasons why the industry should consider making shorter narrative games.

Case for Short Two to Three Hour Games

Videogames can last anywhere from a few minutes to twenty - forty+ hour epics. Many of the big budget titles are between ten - twenty hours of playtime for the average player. My friends, colleagues and I frequently talk about how we do not finish our games. Every once in a while, statistics state that 50% of players for a given game never reach the end. If that is the case, doesn’t it make more sense if games are shorter? Say, two to three hours in length?

For the sake of this argument, the two to three hour games I am arguing for are narrative based, with a beginning, middle and end. Because so many people don’t finish games I believe there is high demand for shorter games, which will result in many benefits.

Impulsive Buys

To grow an industry, it must hope to attract a high number of impulse buys. Two to three hours is the length of a movie, it is an established commitment of time that many people are comfortable with. Beyond that, people must decide beforehand if their interest is high enough to justify the time sink. They will not impulsively decide to buy a game requiring a long-term commitment.

More Likely to Finish

People who start a game that is two to three hours in length are more likely to finish it I believe, because they can predict when the end will come. If a person invests one hour per evening, they can reasonably assume they will finish the game in two or three nights and plan their week around that.

For a much longer epic of a twenty-hour game, the future is much less predictable. They may have to stop playing after a week because real life gets in the way. Then upon returning to the game, all emotional investment must be rebuilt and they are lost, story and gameplay wise.

Story Flow Improved

In a longer game, story is often revealed as a reward after a player completes a segment of gameplay. If the player takes a long time to complete the segment of gameplay, the delivery of story is delayed, thus the pacing of the overall story is ruined.

With a shorter game, the story must be tight and better integrated into the gameplay. You won’t find thirty-minutes worth of cinematics in a two to three hour game. In a three hour game that accounts for 16% of the player experience! In a shorter game, story development will have to come from the gameplay. When story is tightly integrated into the gameplay, it will flow much more naturally from the player’s actions and not after the action.

Gameplay is Fresh, Less Repetitive

I’m seeing a trend develop in recent years within hardcore gaming communities complaining about repetitive gameplay in the biggest AAA titles, like Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia (2008), and the Gears of War series. I think those of us who have been gaming for 10+ years are developing a sort of “gameplay memory” and because of this, gameplay is quickly grokked and tends to feel stale or repetitive well before the end of the game.

In a shorter game, developers will need to cut out this repetitive gameplay “fat”. They will also have to fuse story and gameplay as one by being creative and taking risks. Instead of watching a cinematic of the protagonist embrace their lover for a kiss, it will be interactive. The player will control the kiss. If an advertising games studio can make a compelling game about feeding a potato chip to a girl, then surely someone can make a gameplay sequence about kissing, which has meaning for both gameplay and story.


The idea of a shorter game is not new, yet this industry is slow to change. One hurdle is to convince many that quantity of play experience does not always equal value for their money. Another hurdle will be how to price it just right, not so cheap that development costs cannot be recouped, nor too expensive to turn off customers. When the day comes a short game is released, I will be the first in line, knowing it will be a game that has better focus in its story and gameplay experience and one I am much more likely to finish.

Reid Bryant Kimball is a versatile level and game designer who has worked for Ritual Entertainment, LucasArts and now is currently with Buzz Monkey Software. He's also a game accessibility advocate and closed captioning for videogames expert, having designed the Doom3 closed captioning mod.