The Problem with Filler in Games

Well here’s a depressing problem: AAA games, at least recently, have been resorting to inserting filler to pad out their running times, some even resorting to poor excuses such as “the data we need is in my laptop, which is in…that warehouse full of guards.” In that game, excuses are stacked on top of each other so that the campaign reaches the normal length of six to seven hours for FPS games. Some time after that, we discover that the protagonist needs a device to unlock a safe full of drug money. “And where exactly is this device?” “It’s with an old friend of mine far, far away.”

In another game, you seem to get the impression in some moments that it’s just a succession of obstacles you need to overcome and there’s only an excuse of a “story”. But in this last example, I think I really need to mention the game. It’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, and here the main mission structure is almost the same every time. You infiltrate a multi-story structure full of enemies to assassinate yet another in the ever-extending list of minions the primary antagonist has. It adds nothing to the story and serves only to pad out the game until it reaches the customary 12-15 hours of an Assassin’s Creed title.

Look, I have no problem with a little resource management because I know what chasing a deadline feels like, but using the same thing over and over again as filler is just too much. Gamers deserve more for paying $60 after what we’ve seen from the likes of Skyrim and Half-Life or even Resistance: Fall of Man. It doesn’t have to be an award-worthy story, just a story with effort and enough oomph to it for the player to care for what’s going to happen next.
It’s good that there are still developers out there that delay their games when the quality is not up to par with the standard set by other quality titles. I just wish there were a lot more short games with good stories than those repetitive, dragged-out games with by the numbers length.

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