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The Long Haul

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Anonymous

Hey, all, :)

For my first post here at the forum, I would like to throw something up for discussion.

Is the 'long game' an extinct critter?

Every once in a while I get the urge to get six friends together and play a bout of Advanced Civilization. Our group takes about 12h to get through one of those, and we usually do it in one sitting, sometimes without even breaking for meals (which is usually done with a hefty dose of munchies and perhaps the odd pizza delivery...)

Grantedly, 12h is a _long_ time, but I find myself yearning for the days of old where 4, 6 and even 8h games were not all that uncommon. However, most people, of late, are turning more and more to the <1h variety, calling a 2h game a 'long' game.

The reason I chose this paricular topic is that a friend and I have been working on a space expansion game, banking heavily on exploration and trade over what looks to be a large number of turns.

Opinions on this matter, if you will?

Cheers,

J.

zaiga
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The Long Haul

I think that epic 12hr games are not commercially viable anymore (if they ever were) and that is the prime reason they are not made anymore. The amount of people that are willing to put the time and energy into such endeavours is simply very small.

Also, most German games are typically family games. You cannot play a 12hr game on a saturday evening with the kids. In a sense the Germanization of the boardgame scene has killed the epic monstergame. German games have taught gamedesigners how to put as much "game" as possible into as little time as possible, with a minimal amount of rules and components. Even modern American games such as "Age of Mythology" and "A Game of Thrones" and the French "Mare Nostrum" clock in under 3 hours.

The epic game is a dying breed, indeed.

doho123
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Joined: 07/21/2008
The Long Haul

While I agree that as a face-to-face game, the epic 12 hour struggle game is dead, but I wonder if there's somehow a way to make that style of game via email or something.

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
The Long Haul

My opinion is similar to Zaiga's -- you're probably going to have an uphill road selling a very long game. There are still people who will buy them, though; check out GMT games. I don't know if they sell "epics", but wargames do tend to be longer than German-esque games.

That said, if you and your friends enjoy the game you've designed, that's a worthy goal in and of itself. Why not just design a game that you enjoy playing? Don't hamper your creativity or enjoyment by thinking about marketability. Just design games you like to play, and if you've got something truly special, maybe you'll be able to sell it some day, but don't look at that as your primary motivation.

Good luck!

Dralius
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The Long Haul

I think it's true that todays game players tend to prefer to play several short games rather that one long one. Many games seem to shoot for the short attention span market under one hour and i have seen a few that claim to be 30 or even 15 min games like gold rush by OTB Games. The upside is if you are losing it's over quickly. The down side being that if it's a fun game it may be over to soon.

My personal preference is a game that has time to develop and even go through several phases of play. Many old war games have this feature. They also have the see the end coming from a mile away feature which is a negative in my opinion.

Many of the better games today have a nice balance with play time kept down to a level where it won't eat up an entire evening for one game and play that has depth.

Oracle
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Joined: 06/22/2010
The Long Haul

doho123 wrote:
While I agree that as a face-to-face game, the epic 12 hour struggle game is dead, but I wonder if there's somehow a way to make that style of game via email or something.

I like the Civillization 3 computer game the recent board game is based on. It can take anywhere from 5 to 100 hours to play depending on the starting conditions. There's an expansion for it that came out recently that allows multiplayer and one option is by email.

I haven't tried it multiplayer yet.

I've played the board game, and while I like the multiplayer aspect, the overall game is over simplified to make all the book keeping the comptuer does possible for the human players to do.

Jason

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Epic games

I think Epic games can work and are viable if you know your target audience. I have fond memories of playing those huge games; games like Civ, Shogun, Axis & Allies. But these memories go back to when I was in college and high school and time was something I had an abundance of.

So let's look at who has a lot of time on their hands:

1) High School (and possibly middle) school students, especially during the summer.
2) College students... Summer or otherwise. College students can always make time for gaming, even during exam week.
3) Single people on weekends.
4) Retirees

Basically you have a good possible pool of players... The hard part for the players is finding other players that have the same time luxury as they do (and also share the same preference for games). Roleplayers have this problem too, but they are able to break the massive length of the game down into manageable segments due to the inherent portability of the RPG genre. Perhaps if you could design your game in such a way as to make it portable, or at the very least, storeable, then you might have a chance at reaching this market.

-Darke

Anonymous
Re: Epic games

Hey, :)

Darkehorse wrote:
Perhaps if you could design your game in such a way as to make it portable, or at the very least, storeable, then you might have a chance at reaching this market.

Hmm... Intriguing. Yes, I'll look into that. Thanks for the suggestion.

Cheers,

J.

Anonymous
The Long Haul

I think that there is still a market out there for monster games and epics that take twelve hours. It is just a very small market. I myself tend to favour very long drawn out epics that last a few solid days rather than shorter games. I guess that a lot of it depends on the game. I'll play a long game because I like the game and want to play it for a long time. I don't enjoy long games at the expense of shorter ones though. But this is a key problem. Longer games tend to have more rules and take longer to learn, not to mention mastering strategy. I would love to play War in Europe or World in Flames someday, but they will take some serious commitment to the exclusion of all others (games and people).

That brings us to another point: commitment. You just have to set aside the time and allow yourself (or get permssion!) to sit down and play on a regular basis. One entire day a month would do me fine right now, since the last long game I played was last Christmas. Another area of commitment is space. Some games (including the two I just mentioned) require a pingpong tables worth of space to play, and need to be left there until the game is completed.

If you need additional evidence of an existing (yet small) market for monster games, check out decisiongames.com. They reproduced War in Europe a few years ago and are currently working on War in the Pacific. These games comprise about 60 sq. feet of game board maps and 3600 counters. I know a lot of people here are not into wargames, but it gives you a sense that there are people who will still buy big long games.

I have been working on a big long wargame (not traditional hex-and-counter) for about ten years, but it will probably never get past a working prototype unless I scale it back, but I just want to make it for myself and my warmongering buddies to play.

Anonymous
The Long Haul

I LOVE these long games, and I agree that the market has ADD now and won't support them in competition against faster paced games...

One other thing you could do is have a "scaleable" game... similar to Warhammer, Mage Knights, Star Fleet Battles, Battletech, etc, where players can have anywhere from 5 to 500 to 5000 or more units if they really want the challenge of keeping track of them all.

Torrent
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The Long Haul

Ack digging up forums I actually hadn't read for whatever reason.

I was reading some article somewhere (linked out through BGDF Resources page somehow) that was about psycological reward schedules. Something about getting little rewards every minute or so with bigger rewards at larger time durations. The article was talking about that humans like the little rewards, but get bored of them. The bigger rewards at longer times give them something to work for, but the regular smaller rewards keep them from getting really bored.

I wonder if your Epic game has an issue of the reward structure. By definition it would need some big rewards at the end and some fairly sizeable awards fairly often to make the average person be interested in it. I guess the people that really like the long wargames almost create their own mental rewards by playing it as opposed to getting game stimulus of X number of points or suchandsuch fancy new game entitiy to play with.

So I guess I claim that the epic game might really work if you could figure out a reward schedule that woudl keep the mind interested for that amount of time. If I find the exact article again I'll post the direct link.

Andy

Anonymous
The Long Haul

That is a brilliant insight, and totally explains how I can play Civilization III for hours on the computer... rwards such as acquiring new technology, building Wonders of the World, conquering other civilizations, even little things like finishing a road between two cities... the game is chock full of gradually better and better milestones to achieve...

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