I just found an recent interview with Peter Molyneux, lead designer of Fable II, and one quote he said jumped out at me.
"So in Fable 2, the story lasts thirteen to fourteen hours and by the end of that story what you are like, what you look like and how the world treats you is completely up to you."
Really? Thirteen to fourteen hours? For an RPG? That's almost as bad as most campaigns for fisrst person shooters. If Fable II is touting itself as an RPG, the character development must be important to the game, hence the the distinction of role-playing. Choosing between good and evil in the first Fable was not a good example of character development and a thirteen to fourteen hour story is really depressing. If this is Peter Molyneux's views on gaming, then I will never buy a game from him, even if he does eventually develop for systems that I own. Here's some more crap from him:
"Now for me, as a designer, if I hear 'sixty or seventy hours', then in my mind that is the equivalent of giving me a book that is twenty thousand pages long. And if I said to you, here's a fantastic book, go and read that... Are you likely to finish a twenty thousand page book? No."
Personally, I love sixty to seventy hour adventures; it's not even close to a twenty thousand page book. That gives time for the story to go places, for the characters to truly grow and the length alone make the game worth purchasing, especially with games as expensive as they are now.
Also, I can't even remember the last time I heard a gamer complain that a game was too long. The only "long" reference I can think of in regards to video games is people complaining that, in World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XI, it took too long to get anything done. Long in that sense, is complaining about the needless repetition and grinding. As long as the game's story is advancing and pushing itself, I can't imagine a gamer complaining that a game is too long. Sure, less people will finish it, but just because someone doesn't finish a game doesn't mean that the gamer didn't like it. Maybe something else came up, but they still cherish the experience they had with that game. (An example for me would be Okami).
One commentor on kotaku (where I first found the story) gave a decent point as to how 13-hour RPGs, if done well, could be worth it:
"Its a 13 hr rpg that you will play through several times. I prefer this format better, specially if what he says is true and each play through will be different according to what decisions you make. " -Sweetsauce
It's a fair point but, thirteen hours feels rushed to me, no matter which forking storyline you take. Regardless, though your taking a different path, the world, environments and game engine will all be the same, so there will be a lot of unnecessary repetition. Why not make a 40-hour RPG with the same forking path choices? Is that really difficult? And why not have more than just good and evil? Hasn't that become a cliche already?
And please, don't give me the argument that the Zelda series is an action RPG and that it's just as long as Fable. There are two distinct differences between games like Zelda and games like Fable. Fable is focusing on character development. Zelda does not. Zelda is essentially an action-adventure game that has a lot less dialogue than a RPG and hence doesn't need the sixty to seventy hour time frame. Besides, Zelda games have never disappointed me in quality gameplay. So, thirteen hours is at least reasonable since I know those hours are going to be quality hours. The first Fable did not earn that trust, at least from me, so thirteen hours is more of an insult to gamers' wallets.
Tell me though, guys (and gals). Do you think a 13 hour RPG is okay? I think games under that format will slowly kill the entire genre.