Have you ever felt like a fight seemed so anticlimactic when it was done that it was not even worth doing? Then the length of the fight was too short.
Have you ever felt so defeated after a few wipes and you see that 2 hours have passed already and you start to think if it is really worth it? Then the length of the fight was too long.
We all have our own points where we start to think things are too short or too long. We also have four completely different thresholds for what it too short or too long when it comes to fights.
The four major fight lengths are for PvP, leveling, dungeons and raids. The following is my personal opinion of what I think are the perfect length of times for fights to make to feel comfortable. For me this is how I define comfortable. Long enough to make the fight feel as if it was a fight worth fighting and short enough to make you willing to do it again because it never felt like it dragged on.
PvP Fight Length:
When PvPing I think that two good players should be able to act and counter act each other enough to make the fight fun but not so much that it makes the fight take forever. Yes healers and your 20 minute fights, I am looking at you. My opinion of a good one on one PvP match is 1 minute. Anything longer than one minute seems like you are dragging it out and anything substantially less seems like it was not even a fight worth fighting.
The one minute number also translates nicely into arena in my opinion. A two on two fight should be two minutes. A three on three fight should be three minutes. A five on five fight should be five minutes. While my arena experience is limited to only a few hundred matches I can say that it is rare any arena match ever falls in that range. My team either sucks and gets destroyed faster or my team is better and destroys them faster. Usually when we are well matched, the matches go a little longer then the 1 minute per person that I think is best.
Leveling Fight Length:
This is something I think is wrong with the game right now. Even without heirlooms the average fight length is three globals at best. Five would seem better if not even more. I think for leveling fights should be between 10 and 20 seconds when one on one. Not the 3 second kills they are now on many characters. My disc priest is the other end of the spectrum, some fights are 40 seconds to a minute each, which feels way too long.
I understand that balancing would be hard and if they made the fights harder so DPS actually lasted more than 1 shotting many mobs it would make my disc 2 minute fights instead but leveling disc is a choice for me. Leveling should be balanced around DPS leveling and those fights should be 10 to 20 seconds each in my opinion.
Dungeon Fight Length:
I'll break this into two different things, trash and boss. Trash should be no more then 30 seconds to clear. Trash is trash and should never be time consuming. The hardest of hard trash should be 30 seconds. 20 seconds for three DPS and a tank to handle 4 or 5 mobs would be reasonable. If trash packs ever reach the one minute mark I think things are way the hell out of hand. It is trash and should never take that long.
For boss fights I would say one and a half to two minutes would be ideal. Last boss, maybe two and a half to three. No more, ever. These are dungeons, they should be long enough to be a noticeable battle but not so long that it feels like work. Anything less then one and a half minute makes the boss seem more like really annoying trash and not really a boss.
Sure, I love going into the original heroics now with a guild group that is geared and seeing how fast we can down a boss. 17 seconds might be really fun to laugh at but that is exactly what it is, a laugh. But we out gear it by a huge margin so we are not a fair assessment. My numbers are based on gear appropriate times. In this case, with everyone wearing 329 item level gear, it should take 2 minutes max. Do you recall some of the epic battles you had in randoms when everyone was 329 item level? I bet you hoped and prayed and wished the fights where only 2 minutes.
Raid Fight Length:
For me, again at appropriate gear level, I think raid boss fights should be around 4 - 5 minutes. Last boss, maybe as high as 8 minutes. Anything less makes it feel like you over gear it before you even start which is nice sometimes but does not really give that "we beat a challenge" feeling and anything more feels like you are banging your head against the wall asking "when is this guy going to freaking die already".
The longer ones become worse when you wipe. There is nothing more annoying then doing a 10 minute fight and wiping just at the end. It feels like you wasted 10 minute of your life for nothing whereas if it is a 4 minute fight and you die after 3 minutes you feel like you can just run back in there and get back at it.
I understand for most people it is different but for me I would rather wipe at the 2 minute mark 100 times than wipe at the 10 minute mark 20 times even if the time investment is the same. The two minute mark makes you feel like you failed but you are jumping right back in with both feet whereas the 10 minute mark makes you feel like you invested all that time for nothing. Again, my opinion only.
I could have went deeper with the too long and too short of things. What is too long for a rep grind? Molten core maybe. What is too short of a rep grind? Anything you can throw on a tabard for and never really work for rep. What is too long to travel between questing areas? The old 25 minute flight between darn and tanaris. What is too short? Instant portals to where ever you want to go. For the time being however, I am just voicing my opinions on fight length and those where them.
We all have our own thresholds on what we think is too long or too short, what are yours?