Callan hits an interesting point in the comment section over at Tesh’s musings about the value of his time.
I am in Tesh’s camp here, where my discretionary budget is at an all time high, and my time budget is at an all time low. Gamers often judge the value of a game based on how many hours it gives you, and that argument often supports ‘the reason why a subscription model works for me’. Take WoW, and remove the part of the game that annoys you the most that feels or is necessary (grinding for cash? getting locked out of an instance for a week? farming for mats? runnin the daily heroic for frosties?) figure out how much time you spend doing doing that activity every week you dislike, and realize what your sub fee is buying you.
It happens in all games. I just finished Mass Effect 2. I had great fun. I didn’t think it was too short, but there was a nagging part of it that drove me nuts. Go crazy with me after the break.
The game is based on conversation choices and blowing things up. You get to upgrade your character as they advance, and even discover new technologies to make your weapons and powers better.
Problem is, when you get those upgrades, you have to research them. And to afford to research them, you have to have different kinds of materials. There are two ways to get those materials – finding them while on missions (usally 500 to 1500 units) or flying your ship around, exploring planets, scanning them, and mining them.
Considering some upgrades cost as much as 25,000 units of given substance, if you want the upgrades then you have to mine. It isn’t as simple as clicking ‘scan planet’, etiher. you have to pinpoint an area with the mouse and click. It gives you a reading FOR THAT SPECIFIC SPOT. you move up 3 pixels, it might triple the amount you wil get. You move down 2, there might be nothing.
Planets make no sense, all 4 of the minerals needed seem to be available on all planets (you can’t fine a certain needed mineral heavy planet). A rich node might yield you 3000 units. You spend an awful lot of time mining. I should be able to click scan once, and the computer in my startship that lets me travel between systems at warp drive should tell me where all the rich nodes are on that planet.
Now, my playstyle isn’t like everyone elses. Some MAY acutally enjoy doing those tasks. So, I have 3 options.
1) don’t do the research to activate the upgrades (which has dire, game changing consequences – more on that in a second)
2) learn to love the scanning/mining mode
3) teach my 5 year old how to do it for me.
In a game that took me about 20 hours to complete (doing all side missions), almost 4 hours of that was mining/exploring. 20% of my game time was spent doing something I absolutely loathed (because I had no choice, because I wanted the upgrades, so I could blow stuff up better). Bioware did throw me a bone, as in my second play through they give you 50,000 units of EACH mineral so you don’t have to mine – as much. You still ‘have’ to. In fact, if you don’t, members of your squad will die during the Omega-4 relay run and subsequent missions. So, there is a choice. Kill off your team (which could have consequences into Mass Effect 3) or do something you may not like, all in the name of ‘stretching out the hours you get for your dollar’, aka, value.
Of course, the slap in the face is that Bioware knows this, which is why after they have made you do it once, the second time they shave off a few hours of the menial task.
Back to Callan’s point, ME2 for me would have been a much better experience if it was 16 hours long, and I didn’t have to do a task I hated just to enjoy the parts I liked more.