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Short circuit - Getting to the long and the short of shrinking PC games

During the creation of aquatic masterpiece, BioShock, Irrational Studios couldn't figure out how long their game was going to be. Creepy little girls? Check. Violent oafs in diving suits? Check. The number of gameplay hours? Um...

Developers find it easy to predict the length of a shooter, as the genre's linear. But BioShock's more open nature was far more troublesome.

"When we started focus testing, there was a huge time variance from one player to another," says Bill Gardner, lead level designer on the game. "Our concerns mostly came from people who were taking too long rather than people ploughing through, so we had to find ways to guide players along without holding their hands too much. This scared the shit out of us at first."

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