Dragon Age & Game Longevity

Back in High School and College, I used to measure a game's worth based on the amount of time spent playing it. If it took me at least 60 hours for me to reach the end, then I fully felt like I got my money's worth. I felt cheated if I bought a game only to beat it a mere 10 hours later. With games running up a bill of $50 or $60, it was too much to spend on something that would only keep my attention for no more than a week.

But, things change...

Games have changed

Back in the day, the only games that made me feel something were those that had enough time to build character. RPGs and Adventure games took me on a long journey. I met new characters, and helped them sort out their lives. Which in turn, let my own character learn more about themselves. Given the amount of time spent with the characters, I grew attached to them and the story started to mean something to me. I cared about what happens for more than just curiosity sake. I want my characters to succeed, fall in love, and overcome their heart ships.

Other games, like 1st person shooters and action games, didn't have the capacity for passion. It was more about the fun you had playing the game. Which is perfectly fine, of course. But for me, most games feel incredibly empty if they aren't engaging me on an emotional level.

I don't find that's the case anymore. The game industry has matured to the point where a game nearly fails if it doesn't connect to the player on an emotional level. It's boring if the characters an empty shells and have no humanity. Having an interesting story with engaged characters is as pivotal to success as making sure the game works to begin with.

Games like Uncharted 2, Batman Arkham Asylum, Brutal Legend, Shadow of the Colossus, Fatal Frame, Bioshock, Dead Space are all ones that will take someone no longer than 10 or 15 hours to complete. You can easily complete the game throughout the course of a weekend. And within that time is an incredibly rich experience. Just as rich as any Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy.

In fact, I find these games much more engaging because they won't take up longer than a weekend.

I have changed

I graduated college 3 years ago, and have worked almost every day since. My weekday is spent thoughtfully thinking about elegant solutions to complex and interesting problems. It's spent building applications and maintaining them. I don't have time to think about some game that I'm in the middle of playing. It really ends up being a distraction.

In my spare time, I do more than just game. I sell things on eBay. I hang out with friends. I try and fail to meet girls. I listen to music. I go to clubs. I go to other events on the weekends and sometimes during the week. I meet people for dinner. I read, though not often. I shop for games, and sometimes other things. And plenty of other crap. And usually afterward, I write about the more interesting things. Plus, there are other games to play.

Finishing a game within a weekend gives me the perfect opportunity to completely devote myself to it. I usually won't have any distractions at all, unless I meet up with some friends at a bar on Saturday night. Once I wake up on Sunday, I can sit in front of the TV all day and think about nothing else.

Without any real distractions, I get more out of the game. I experience it all from start to finish. And then I usually reflect by writing something about it. (Unless the game really didn't mean anything, afterall). A free weekend is perfectly suited for a game, but if it starts spilling into the week it starts eating into time I can, should, or want to do something else.

Dragon Age

Dragon Age has been the first game I've played in a while that exceeds 20 hours, and it's really annoying. I've only been able to play the game in 10 hour chunks here and there, and it's almost been a month since I started. Many of my friends have actually finished the game well before me. It really feels like it's been dragging on and on. Though, the game does splinter off in different directions that aren't very well connected, so it's hard to hold on to all the story at once.

In the beginning, I was gun-ho! about playing the game through a second time, but there's no way I'd find the time. I might take a look at some of the other Origin stories, but I think they'll feel empty to me.

Dragon Age is all about the character I made and have spent these 45 hours with. She may not say a word of dialog throughout the game, but she has actually changed. Or rather, I have changed the character I portray.

My Story

(I went the path of the Female Human Nobel or Warrior Princess named Rikki.)

After my kingdom had been destroyed and my family slain by Howe, I was a mean, sad little girl. I was rude to others, and even killed those who were unfortunate because I didn't care. I thought it was funny with the little power I had over them.

But then I met Lelianna. Someone who deep down used to do what I was doing, but was now I devote religious person. I didn't care much for the religion, but it made sense to actually act with the grace and nobility that ran through my blood. I took Lelianna as an example, and throughout the course of our adventures came quite close.

Alistair, Morrigan, Lelianna, and I went across the land of Fereldan and continued our quest to unite the land. I learned all about my friend's pasts. Lelianna and I fell in love I suppose. Once we ended this blight, we would disappear together. We would travel the world and see everything there is to see.

We discovered Alistair's little secret. He was incredibly reluctant, but he's actually King Calyn's brother and first in line for the Throne of Fereldan. I could hardly believe it, but Alistair did nothing but whine about it. He and I talked about a bit and I think I talked some sense into him. We talked a lot, and he's actually pretty funny.

Once we reunited our lands, it was time to face that fucker Loghain. But to truly unite Fereldan, we'd need a King. Alistair would have to take the throne. We faced Loghain and totally overthrew him. It was now my decision between Alistair and Loghain's daughter. OOOoOhhHHHhhhh.. but what is this? I can use my persuasion, marry Alistair right now, and become Queen! Hell yeah!

Not soon after I made my decision, Alistair really assumed the role as King. He truly became a great man, and the best character in the whole game. I'm sorry about having lead on Lelianna, but Alistair had validated my decision and my future is with him.

And now I'm heading into the final battle to defeat the Archdemon and save the world from this Blight. After a full month of preparing, this will finally be over.




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