The Vanishing of Ethan Carter's Dev Comments on The Order: 1886, Length, Metacritic & Review Scores

By Chris Harding

February 27, 2015

A lot of noise has been made over Ready at Dawn’s The Order: 1886 and it’s run time, with many people feeling that the credits starting rolling far too soon.

It’s something that’s widely discussed across the industry and isn’t an exclusive argument for the PS4 exclusive. Game lengths vary from genre to genre, that’s a fact. Most RPG’s will set you back a couple of dozen hours at least whilst the AAA Hollywood-style blockbusters will give you maybe five or six hours of single player action.

Adrain Chmielarz, the creative director of the wonderfully fascinating and dark The Vanishing of Ethan Carter recently sat down to talk to the fine folks over at Tech Raptor where he discussed everything and everything.

A few points that stand out are his views on the play time of games, even offering up his own take on the recently released The Order: 1886.

Asked if he thought a game’s length should be used as a marker to determine the quality, Chmielarz had the following to say:

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Adrian: Of course not, paintings are usually not priced according to size, games should not be judged solely on their length. I mean, Pong is a game you can play forever for free, so pack it up guys, we’re done here, nothing left to do.

More seriously, sometimes a game being long is a problem. A tight, hi-octane AAA game can be six hours long and you will find a lot of people, especially those with families and very little free time, who will find this fact a plus, not a minus.

He goes on to give his view of how a game’s price and length should be measured, even suggesting that game boxes could contain an average playthrough time along with the rating, platform and other on the box info.

There’s way too much loud noise on the subject. I just had a guy tweet me that The Order: 1886 sucks, because he would never spend $60 on a movie. No, on Cthulhu’s tentacle, the game is the length of at least four average length movies, so in reality it’s $15 or less per movie. Better?

To be clear, I do think that the customer should be informed on what they’re getting themselves into. I wouldn’t mind the average start-to-finish playthrough time being a part of a game info box in a review, along with other data like rating, platform or replayability.

It’s a nice idea and for those who don’t have the time to invest in a 40 hour game may find the play time on the box a good point of interest, though it could also work the other way around and kill off potential sales.

Speaking of sales, Chmielarz was asked whether review scores, whether they be user or critic, are an important indicator that he’s done a good job on a game.

I place the most importance on sales. After the initial week, during which a bad game may fool some people into purchase, every next week is either a confirmation you’ve done a good job or a message that that your game does not resonate with people or is plain bad. In other words, the tail of your game tells you the most about the world’s need for your product. I think the word of mouth along with individual hunger for certain type of entertainment trump anything else.

And finally, when question on what he thinks of aggregate review sites such as Metacritic, Chmielarz gives a fairly balanced answer whilst claiming that the removing of scores from some sites forces him to read the review rather than jump straight to the number at the bottom.

I’ve seen great 4.5/10 IMDB movies, and I fell asleep on some 9.2/10. The scores are fun to look at and I am certainly happy that Ethan got good scores, but the truth is that the average score does not tell me much about the product. Maybe if it’s universally 100% MC or 13% MC then it sends a certain message, but almost anything else is close to meaningless.

But to be perfectly honest, I did hear some good arguments for scoring and for aggregators. So my mind is not entirely made up on the subject yet. But I like how removing a score forces my lazy ass to actually read the damn review.


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Chris Harding

British fella who lives off of tea and coffee. Fanatical about anything gaming, even partial to a bit Snakes 'n' Ladders, a game which he takes much more seriously than anybody else does.

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