The question of game length (in terms of words) vs writer effort and branching seems to be one of the hardest to get right. I have been struggling with this myself (a branching game is nice, but so much more effort than a more railroaded approach, and writer fatigue can easily signal the death of the project). In a separate thread Jason recently commented how “the minimum word count of 20,000 for Hosted Games is total word count, not average play-through length”.
My feeling, however, (reading feedback from other authors, etc) is that the average play through must be over 20,000, or readers will complain it is “too short” (and I do understand that readers always want more anyway, and that this complaint comes about even in very long games). However, what do other people think about regarding game length? (and I know that a game can be good even if short, but here I just want to talk about length and branching for a “typical” game)
Also, at which point in the game is it nice to introduce some branching? My current feeling is that there should be a little bit of branching at the start at least (so that the reader understands that branching also exists later on?), and that if there isn’t so much branching at the end then the “inevitably ends up the same” also appears. Thoughts on this? But, how much branching is good? (I know this leads to very complicated thoughts and talk about “depends on the story”, but anyway…)