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773 Hours Later, Steve Tolin Is Finished With Dragon Quest IX

The road to 100% completion is paved with hundreds of hours on a single cartridge.

Note the amount of time spent in multiplayer, or, you know, the complete lack thereof.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies launched on July 11, 2010. The final piece of downloadable content for the monstrous portable RPG, Quest 184, was released last week, a whole year later.

Steve Tolin has been playing since the beginning, plucking away at the cartridge's every nook and cranny. The last quest finally allowed him to complete his ultimate objective of exploring every part of the game.

He had originally projected this ambitious task to take him 100 hours. As it turned out, not quite.

It took him 773 hours--just over 32 days--of game time to cross the 100% completion threshold.

"For the last couple of months I only played about a few hours each Friday to get the new quest complete," he explained to me. "Then a bit each morning once the DCVC store [an in-game online shopping network] refreshed to get the new items. So I've been staring at the game clock above 650+ hours for a while now. My sister jokes: 'Still playing those Late Night Chronicles.'"

35-year-old Tolin has been playing the Dragon Quest series since the Nintendo Power promotion where Nintendo unloaded more than 500,000 copies of the original as a benefit to subscribers, after realizing the game wasn't going to be a runaway hit.

Back then, the series was called Dragon Warrior, changed for the US because of trademark worries. It reverted back to Dragon Quest with the cel-shaded Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for PlayStation 2 in 2004. The Dragon Quest series has never achieved same sort of popularity outside Japan as its rival Final Fantasy series, but fans are just as dedicated.

"I've played everyone of the mainline games and most of the spin-offs over the years," said Tolin. "Since then [I] have Day 1 purchased each game of the series. It takes long enough between releases that it's still an event for me. I even just replayed the DS trilogy remakes. I still have all the original cartridges and discs."

Whereas other games series have chased after Western design, Dragon Quest has stayed true to its Japanese roots, even in art style.

His day job involves being the owner and creative and technical director of game developer Deep Fried Games, who developed the PSP version of Full Auto 2 for Sega and ShadowPlay, the first WiiWare release to use the MotionPlus accessory.

It took Tolin an already-impressive 62 hours to finish the mainline quest in Dragon Quest IX, which means the vast majority of the ensuing 711 hours were spent working through the side content.

"It really wasn't until about the 300-hour mark that I realized how much more content there was to play," he said.

Um, yeah.

Tolin achieved 100% before the one-year anniversary of the game's release, which means 8% of the last year of Tolin's life was wrapped up in the latest release from Yuji Hori. That's especially impressive for a non-MMO. In games like World of Warcraft, sometimes the act of playing can take a backseat to chatting and socializing.

The first marathon session was during a two-month road trip from Vancouver to Yukon and Alaska. By the time the trip was over, the in-game clock read 250 hours. During his journey, he'd update the message board NeoGAF with his progress.

At 328 hours, this is what his DS looked like:

Time spent playing: 328:21
Defeated Monster List Completion: 87%
Wardrobe Completion: 64%
Item List Completion: 88%
Alchenomicon Completion: 74%

Only 445 hours to go until 100%.

The longest break Tolin took between sessions was two weeks--but only by accident. He simply forgot to bring the cartridge with him for a trip. He claims he didn't go through withdrawal.

This is what Tolin's character looks like after 773 hours within Dragon Quest IX's world. I wonder if my hair would qualify for "legendary" status.

"It wasn't an obsession, more like a few comfortable play sessions a week," he said. "Like watching an HBO mini-series that just kept going weekly for a year. If there's DQ withdrawal it's from the time in between title releases or having the next game released in Japan and then waiting a year for localization."

By "comfortable play sessions a week," he means four-to-six hours several times per week spent in front of the glow of his DS.

I know what it's like to play for a ridiculous amount of time, having maxed out the clock to 99:99:99 in several Final Fantasy games back in the day. The last time I sank that deep into a game was Fallout 3, where the downloadable content pushed me over 80 hours. And as much as I enjoyed those many, many hours, when I confess the total time to less dedicated gamers, sometimes I get a suspicious eyebrow.

Tolin said it was never like that for him with Dragon Quest IX.

"Everyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy and complete my games," he said. "Most of my friends and peers usually come to me for game advice or recommendations. Video games are also my career so it's never 'wasted' time. I've got a lot of deep knowledge of many game series dating back pre-NES days. I've put that to use and will continue through the rest of my career."

Dragon Quest IX is not the first game he's done this with, either, as he regularly sets out to 100% games that he's especially fallen for, but he does believe he's the first one to hit 100% on this game.

"There are quite a few forum posters who stop in the post-game around 100-200 hours," said Tolin. "Since Quest 184 was released and people have seen my 100% file they have messaged me that they are going to pick the game back up to play more."

For now, however, with Dragon Quest IX behind him, Tolin goes back into waiting mode. Dragon Quest X for Wii has not yet been revealed, but details on the game are expected later this year. He's also crossing his fingers the Operational Rainfall campaign to bring The Last Story, Pandora's Tower and Xenoblade to the US is successful. He may be waiting a while.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Note the amount of time spent in multiplayer, or, you know, the complete lack thereof.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies launched on July 11, 2010. The final piece of downloadable content for the monstrous portable RPG, Quest 184, was released last week, a whole year later.

Steve Tolin has been playing since the beginning, plucking away at the cartridge's every nook and cranny. The last quest finally allowed him to complete his ultimate objective of exploring every part of the game.

He had originally projected this ambitious task to take him 100 hours. As it turned out, not quite.

It took him 773 hours--just over 32 days--of game time to cross the 100% completion threshold.

"For the last couple of months I only played about a few hours each Friday to get the new quest complete," he explained to me. "Then a bit each morning once the DCVC store [an in-game online shopping network] refreshed to get the new items. So I've been staring at the game clock above 650+ hours for a while now. My sister jokes: 'Still playing those Late Night Chronicles.'"

35-year-old Tolin has been playing the Dragon Quest series since the Nintendo Power promotion where Nintendo unloaded more than 500,000 copies of the original as a benefit to subscribers, after realizing the game wasn't going to be a runaway hit.

Back then, the series was called Dragon Warrior, changed for the US because of trademark worries. It reverted back to Dragon Quest with the cel-shaded Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for PlayStation 2 in 2004. The Dragon Quest series has never achieved same sort of popularity outside Japan as its rival Final Fantasy series, but fans are just as dedicated.

"I've played everyone of the mainline games and most of the spin-offs over the years," said Tolin. "Since then [I] have Day 1 purchased each game of the series. It takes long enough between releases that it's still an event for me. I even just replayed the DS trilogy remakes. I still have all the original cartridges and discs."

Whereas other games series have chased after Western design, Dragon Quest has stayed true to its Japanese roots, even in art style.

His day job involves being the owner and creative and technical director of game developer Deep Fried Games, who developed the PSP version of Full Auto 2 for Sega and ShadowPlay, the first WiiWare release to use the MotionPlus accessory.

It took Tolin an already-impressive 62 hours to finish the mainline quest in Dragon Quest IX, which means the vast majority of the ensuing 711 hours were spent working through the side content.

"It really wasn't until about the 300-hour mark that I realized how much more content there was to play," he said.

Um, yeah.

Tolin achieved 100% before the one-year anniversary of the game's release, which means 8% of the last year of Tolin's life was wrapped up in the latest release from Yuji Hori. That's especially impressive for a non-MMO. In games like World of Warcraft, sometimes the act of playing can take a backseat to chatting and socializing.

The first marathon session was during a two-month road trip from Vancouver to Yukon and Alaska. By the time the trip was over, the in-game clock read 250 hours. During his journey, he'd update the message board NeoGAF with his progress.

At 328 hours, this is what his DS looked like:

Time spent playing: 328:21
Defeated Monster List Completion: 87%
Wardrobe Completion: 64%
Item List Completion: 88%
Alchenomicon Completion: 74%

Only 445 hours to go until 100%.

The longest break Tolin took between sessions was two weeks--but only by accident. He simply forgot to bring the cartridge with him for a trip. He claims he didn't go through withdrawal.

This is what Tolin's character looks like after 773 hours within Dragon Quest IX's world. I wonder if my hair would qualify for "legendary" status.

"It wasn't an obsession, more like a few comfortable play sessions a week," he said. "Like watching an HBO mini-series that just kept going weekly for a year. If there's DQ withdrawal it's from the time in between title releases or having the next game released in Japan and then waiting a year for localization."

By "comfortable play sessions a week," he means four-to-six hours several times per week spent in front of the glow of his DS.

I know what it's like to play for a ridiculous amount of time, having maxed out the clock to 99:99:99 in several Final Fantasy games back in the day. The last time I sank that deep into a game was Fallout 3, where the downloadable content pushed me over 80 hours. And as much as I enjoyed those many, many hours, when I confess the total time to less dedicated gamers, sometimes I get a suspicious eyebrow.

Tolin said it was never like that for him with Dragon Quest IX.

"Everyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy and complete my games," he said. "Most of my friends and peers usually come to me for game advice or recommendations. Video games are also my career so it's never 'wasted' time. I've got a lot of deep knowledge of many game series dating back pre-NES days. I've put that to use and will continue through the rest of my career."

Dragon Quest IX is not the first game he's done this with, either, as he regularly sets out to 100% games that he's especially fallen for, but he does believe he's the first one to hit 100% on this game.

"There are quite a few forum posters who stop in the post-game around 100-200 hours," said Tolin. "Since Quest 184 was released and people have seen my 100% file they have messaged me that they are going to pick the game back up to play more."

For now, however, with Dragon Quest IX behind him, Tolin goes back into waiting mode. Dragon Quest X for Wii has not yet been revealed, but details on the game are expected later this year. He's also crossing his fingers the Operational Rainfall campaign to bring The Last Story, Pandora's Tower and Xenoblade to the US is successful. He may be waiting a while.

Posted by Morningstar

Oh my God :O

Posted by Hichael

Shiiiiit, fucking insane

Posted by VisitableElf

holyyyyyyyyyyyy shieeeeeetttt

Posted by Twisted_Scot

but was the multi-player any good?

Posted by Rongaryen

I think I'll pick that game back up and at least finish the main story line.

Posted by Marz

Madness.... but I've spent over a year of my life in hours (8000 i think)  playing Final Fantasy XI and over about 1200 playing WOW so i can't judge him.

Posted by MEATBALL

A fun story, I guess.

Posted by Rothbart

Still didn't reach 775 hours of game time, I'm not impressed. To be fair though, his character's infinity trousers are slightly impressive.

Posted by greks224

Oh, wow. Great story! I wonder how long I have ever done anything like that. What does Malcolm Gladwell say? The 10,000 hour rule?

Posted by Dunchad

That's definitely an accomplishment. Only my EverQuest /played can beat that.

Most I've spent on a singleplayer game would probably be DA:O, which Steam clocks at 135 hours - and that's thanks to multiple playthroughs.

Edited by Getz

I remember Bethesda held a contest where everyone had to submit their save files and the people with the most hours spent on one save would win. The winner had clocked in over 1,000 hours in Oblivion.

edit: Nevermind, I looked it up and it was only 700 hours My bad. Still, both of these guys are fucking nuts.

Posted by Khann
I wonder if my hair would qualify for "legendary" status.

Wow

Posted by Outrager

That's a little over 11 hours/day. If I had every video game released at my disposal I don't think I could play that much.

Online
Posted by Thoseposers

this makes me wanna go play some long ass game and beat it 100%. and i don't know if i've ever actually done that

Posted by Krampus

Damn...most I've ever put in a game is FF7 and I think it was like 70 hours.  Don't know that anything could hold my interest for longer.

Posted by Sinful

News?

Posted by Vinny_Says

I tried 100%-ing Just Cause 2....That will never happen.

Posted by Zanda

'At 328 hours, this is what his DS looked like:

Time spent playing: 328:21
Defeated Monster List Completion: 87%
Wardrobe Completion: 64%
Item List Completion: 88%
Alchenomicon Completion: 74%

Only 523 hours to go until 100%.'

Did you mean from 250? Because that doesn't really add up.
Posted by Progman9000

That's wild.  I think the most I ever dumped into a game to 100% it was Pokemon Blue way back when I had time to do such things.  And even that was only a little over 100 hours, I think.
 
Also, I really like that his multiplayer time counter reads 00:01

Posted by Video_Game_King

It took him 60 hours to complete the main quest? I'm sure I got it in about 20.

Posted by drag

So what exactly took so long? Do you have to grind for items or money to buy items from the shop, which they keep updating? Or actual new gameplay things? 

Posted by Gre

I'd like some of those infinity trousers.  I don't know what they'd do, but it sounds very exciting.

Posted by Mr_Skeleton

Infinity Trousers must be the best loot name ever.

Posted by chickdigger802

odd little article for Patrick. Would have expected a starky Alex article from the title ;P

Would love more info though. Was the content refreshing and not boring a few 100 hours in? Does the gameplay content hold up after you pretty much 'max' out your gear? etc.

Posted by TEAMHOLT

@Sinful said:

News?

Nah, just some more boring bullshit people are going to pretend is interesting so they look like they are engaging on some next-level gaming discussion. People have been putting this kind of time into games for ages, even single player games.

Giant Bomb was one of the few gaming websites that neither inundated me with news nor posted overblown editorials just to look interesting, but now we get this kind of junk a couple of times a week.

Posted by Cyrus_Saren

That's pretty insane.
Edited by railbird13
@Zanda said:

'At 328 hours, this is what his DS looked like:

Time spent playing: 328:21
Defeated Monster List Completion: 87%
Wardrobe Completion: 64%
Item List Completion: 88%
Alchenomicon Completion: 74%

Only 523 hours to go until 100%.'

Did you mean from 250? Because that doesn't really add up.
I think it should read 445 hours to go .... 773 - 328.  Looks like the 523 references the 250 hrs he put in on the trip. 
 
That's a lot of hours playing one game.  I remember in my pokemon playing days I had a friend that hit the 281 hour mark and the game timer stopped at that point .... to which he put in another 100 hours of uncounted time
Posted by Sessh

Pretty impressive. The most time I ever spent on a single file was about 200 hours in Star Ocean IV. (And still not getting 100% because I overlooked something early on.)

Posted by depecheload

@TEAMHOLT said:

@Sinful said:

News?

Nah, just some more boring bullshit people are going to pretend is interesting so they look like they are engaging on some next-level gaming discussion. People have been putting this kind of time into games for ages, even single player games.

Giant Bomb was one of the few gaming websites that neither inundated me with news nor posted overblown editorials just to look interesting, but now we get this kind of junk a couple of times a week.

You're right, how dare they give us more content! The fuckers!

No one is making you read this story you know. When you buy a magazine do you get pissed off if there's one article in it you're not interested in?

Posted by RagnarokRed
@Marz: Same here about FFXI. I wasn't sure if I should have been proud or disgusted with myself after checking me playtime and seeing it roll over to 365 days played. By 2007. That means for 3 years I spent a third of my time on FFXI ._.
Posted by phrosnite

lol

Posted by sirdesmond

That is absolutely insane. I have so much respect for the gamers that are 100%ers like this guy, but most of the time, I just can't do it myself. Super impressive though.

Also, DQIX was great.

Posted by Tesla

That's a long time with one game. I'm glad there isn't a clock that shows how much time I've put into the various iterations of Counter-Strike over the years.

Posted by figpc

I just did the math on my 9 borderlands saves and i have 27 days 11 hours and 57 minutes sunk into that game. so that is 3 minutes shy of 660 hours. i still have to do the collectible achievements for the claptrap DLC too which i intend to do in the next few weeks. i will probably end up right around 700 hours spent in that game.

Posted by Sneakybadger

@Tesla: unfortunately i had xfire. which if you add my two xfire accounts together is +1000 hours of cs:s. I stopped playing before steam community. but that large figure was a wakeup call for me.

Posted by Abendlaender

Well, who am I to judge, having spent well over 100 hours watching other people play Persona 4 and Deadly Premonition on the internet.

Posted by MikkaQ

I can't believe I ever tried to beat this game. Great fun, but you progressed so slowly, I put it hours and got nowhere in relative terms.

Posted by Tebbit

You could almost... rent out the staples centre for a night with that much... hours.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Posted by crusader8463

I like knowing that they are still making long RPG's, but the problem I have is when they take so long because many of the games aspects have really unfair time sinks rather then content. Admittedly you could argue that the time sinks are what some people come to the game for, but some times you can just see that things take a long time for no other reason then because they wanted to pad the game time. Like in a game when you have to wait for items to craft instead of it just being done when you get all the materials to make the items.
 
Anyway, seems like kind of an odd article seeing as how it was basically just "Guy plays a game for a really long time! Ain't that crazy?!?!" At least that's what I took from it. I'm sure the comments will be filled with people bragging about spending more time with games, and saying that that really isn't a lot of time to spend.

Posted by Sil3n7

I know someone who played monster hunter for 7500 hours. So, this doesn't even come close.

Posted by Tesla

@Sneakybadger: Haha! I'm guessing my number would be somewhere in that neighborhood too. This is definitely a case of ignorance is bliss.

Posted by Aquavelvaman

Good job Steve

Posted by EuanDewar

That is impressive in all the wrong ways.

Posted by JJOR64

I'm playing through the game right now and it's excellent.  I'm near the end of the main story and I think I'm around 35 hours.  If you own a DS and like RPGs, get this game.  Arguably the best Square-Enix game on DS.

Posted by Matoya
@Sil3n7 said:

I know someone who played monster hunter for 7500 hours. So, this doesn't even come close.

That means he played it for 12 hours a day, for 2 years. Every day, non stop. Hmmm
Posted by Deathpooky

Wow, I actually just picked up DQIX and started playing it this last month. I had heard that there was a lot of content and replayability in terms of jobs/equipment, but I had no idea it was that much. That's pretty amazing - both for that guy and for a freaking DS game to require that much time to get through everything.

Posted by atomic_dumpling
@thoseposers said:

this makes me wanna go play some long ass game and beat it 100%. and i don't know if i've ever actually done that

Well, once upon a time I leveled up every character, spell and weapon to the max in Secret of Mana for the SNES, so I guess that counts. It was an absolute grind-fest though, I will never attempt something like this again.
Posted by Cook66

I have more time sunk into Morrowind, not on a single save though, and it's spread over several years.

Posted by locolukah

I may be able to 100% it at 600 hours...I am very close right now at about 500 hours.

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