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Mantle

Speaking of cut-scenes

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Do you believe that cut scenes in games these days are important? What do you feel precisely? What ratio of cut-scenes to gameplay do you think ideal? Me, personally, I love cut-scenes, especially the way Hideo Kojima does Metal Gear. I never miss a scene and I watch them through with detail. I do hear people complain about cut-scenes, but Id like to hear what you guys think. Later.

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i like sprite based cut-scenes however i dont really like fmv since eighter
A it looks worse that if they just used regular game sprites
B looks like they put 50 time more effort into it than the game itself

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Quote:
Original post by Mantle
I do hear people complain about cut-scenes, but Id like to hear what you guys think.


I will complain about a cutscene that I can't skip. Especially if it's a really long one (like those found in Final Fantasy X). If I can skip it, I have no complaints.

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Cut-scenes are an imperitave part of some genres. They seem to have become a staple in most RPGs. It really depends on the content and situation of each.

For instance, the cutscenes in MGS as you mentioned are great. They move the story and push the plot, and reveal through in depth (and LONG) conversations information to the player that would otherwise be a tedious amount of button pressing through the conversations.

However, now think FFX. Though most of the cut-scenes were done pretty well, on more than a few occasions the players is faced with a cut-scene, two or three steps (litterally walking!) of gameplay, and into another cut-scene. I think these instances could be better managed as either one cut-scene, or none. Its all in the presentation of such.

In an FPS, the cutscenes usually just shows the player's character model doing things that in fact the player should have been able to do, ie. delivering the final blow to an enemy, jumping out of the window, etc. To break gameplay just to cut to a short FMV in this genre/instance, IMHO, is useless..

Its all in the presentation.

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The in-game cut scene ala Half-Life is a cool FPS approach to the problem. I can't complain about how the "scene" played out. RPGs could take the hint from the "integrated" approach as if one is playing a role in a RPG, shouldn't the player be allowed to conduct the role?

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I absolutely hate cut-scenes, and I'm sorry to see they seem to be finding a permanent home in RPG's (console ones anyway). Cut-scenes always seem to me like really low-budget movies. If I wanted to watch something non-interactive, I'd watch a movie. If I want to play a game, I want to play it, not sit back while it tells me a (usually) crappy story. Video games are uniquely interactive, and it bothers me when game designers remove interactivity from their games.

I guess the best way to appeal to fans and non-fans is to just make them skippable.

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Cut-Scenes should definitly be skipable no matter what their implemented in, with the possible exception of ingame FPS scenes like Halflife. I remember playing Legend of Kyrandia 3, every conversation was a long-winded cutscene in itself and there was no way to skip it whatsoever, it bothered me so much i just couldn't bring myself to play it through past the beginning.

Now i do like cut-scene's, and its alright to have one at the beginning, and the end of a game (halflife 2 had the equivalent of such, although you could look around, yay...). But using to many cut-scenes like after the end of each level or several times a level is to many, as gameplay should remain relatively uninterrupted.

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In the project my team is working on (a 3rd person shooter) I am thinking about having 20 to 40 minutes of gameplay then have a 2 to 5 minute cut scene (skipable) and just repeat the formula. Some will be full fledged FMV while others will run off the engine models, etc. I've got about 3 hours of dialogue, but the game is estimated to be a 15 to 20 hour game. I think its a nice balance.

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Naturally, it depends on the type of game and the feel that the designer is looking for. I'd rather see a decent cutscene of my character riding an elevator to the top of the Space Needle than actually sit there doing nothing for the forty seconds that the express elevator would take. On the other hand, I don't want to see a cutscene start, put down the controller and wonder if I have enough time to go to the bathroom before the game starts again.

I loved the interactive cutscenes of Resident Evil 4. You could skip most of them, but every so oftern you'd have to hit some buttons to avoid an attack or jump over a gap. It was brilliant, thrilling and not too repetitive. The knife-fight with Krauser brought fond memories of games like Dragon's Lair II and Space Ace.

Alternatively, Halo 2 had "cutscenes" that typically lasted about twelve seconds, were skippable, and often as not left you in control. If you've played the level before, you can run right past the guy who's giving you directions and get on with the killing. Never a dull moment.

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(this is mostly wiha rpg in mind)
If I was doing it I would
1) limiate the number of cut scenes and save them for someting important to the plot

2)avoid having tons of short ones,(if i need to tell the player that a temple is old then il just have a guy that says it but doesnt freeze up the game)

3)all cut-scenes are skippable

4)you can have a specil menu to select and re-watch old cut-secens(for when you forgot something and found out it siginficant to the plot now)

5)the cut-scenes will have a time seek bar at the bottom(just like a media player so you can go strait to a important part)

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One important consideration is WHEN cutscenes are skippable. Sometimes, especially in an RPG, a piece of information presented in a cutscene is absolutly vital to the completion of a puzzle. In this case, the cutscene must not be skippable (the first time), and the information must be assecible some other way later (I remember playing an RPG once where the usual course of action was to skip the cutscene, then read the journal entry it generated.)

Halo2 did do this very well. Cutscenes were short, and could be skipped the second time you saw them. If you want an example of bad cutscenes, play through golden sun. Twenty minutes of animations of sprite's heads bobbing!

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Cutscenes to me are a nice bonus but I'm never going to make a purchasing decision based on their absence. I WILL make a snap judgement *against* the game if that's all I see on the back of the box because then I think the company's trying to snow me.

Like ICC, I like to be able to skip boring transitions. However, I'd settle for even a fade in/out or even something similar. I cite Freelancer as the mother of all that is unholy when it comes to constant transition cutscenes (let's see... one for jumping, one for every landing, one for every friggin' docking session, one for...)

I like a cutscene as a rare reward. Becoming the messiah in Morrowind had a nice cutscene, for example, after going through a lot of trouble.

If you put info in a cutscene I need I'd like it summarized in a mission briefing / note / journal, whatever because I might save the game and get back to it days later.

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I utterly and completely hate cutscenes. Games are supposed to be interactive, and cutscenes are not. When I play rpgs, I usually have an idea what the main character — my character — is like. Then a cutscene starts and the character acts in a completely different way from what I would have had in mind. The game starts to dictate what kind of character I should have, instead of allowing me to use my imagination and make a choice. Cutscenes also hinder replayability, as the hyped "50h of gameplay" actually turns out to be 1h of gameplay, 49h of cutscenes. Games are not movies.

Making cutscenes skippable is only a mere workaround for the problem, and not a particulary good one. It is not a solution to the problem. After all, usually cutscenes have implications beyond just the entertainment value. First of all, if you skip a cutscene, you might find yourself in a place completely different from the one you were in when the cutscene started. Some cutscenes end in an annoying way that you need to start blasting away bad guys, and that requires not only reflexes, but if you skipped the cutscene, you need quite phenomenal precognition skills as well. In addition, as Deyja already pointed out, just making them skippable won't work, if vital information is presented in them.

If you really want to put cutscenes in your game (which is not an "evil act" per se, as people do like them), please, please consider the following points (in addition to the points given by Kaze earlier on):

6) In addition to making the cutscenes skippable, add an option to that special cutscene menu to automatically skip all cutscenes. This way those who absolutely don't want to see them don't have to keep skipping all the time.

7) Don't put vital information into the cutscenes only. Put it in the journal, if you have one, or use some other in-game way of telling the same information. You could even make it so that if you don't want a journal or whatever, skipping the cutscene will give you a short textual description of what happened.

8) Put cutscenes only in places where there are natural stops in the game (e.g. Diablo II has cutscenes between the different acts, so it doesn't break up the gameplay). With natural stop I mean that even if there were no cutscene, there would be a stop anyway (e.g. because of loading a new level etc.).

8.a) Avoid relocating the player's character/party/whatever during the cutscene. It is distracting to find your character doing quantum-mechanical tunneling every time you skip a cutscene.

8.b) Don't end the cutscenes so that immediate player action is required. If you skip the cutscene, you simply can't anticipate what's going to happen.

9) Do not, and I emphasize, do not think that all players consider cutscenes a reward. Getting to watch a cutscene after killing the ultimate big bad guy and nothing else is a major disappointment for those who don't like cutscenes.

10) Always remember that playing the game is much more fun than watching the game. If you want to tell a non-interactive story, make a movie/animation/whatever.

By taking these points into account you actually might come up with something that both cutscene-lovers and cutscene-haters might live with. Hopefully.

Now, I have to admit that I like the "cutscenes" at the end of Fallout I/II. I'm referring to the part where you actually find out what kind of implications your adventures had on the world (e.g. if you solve the Modoc vs. Ghost Farm quest appropriately, the game will tell you how Modoc flourished ever after etc.). The moral of this paragraph is that the main flaw in most cutscenes (in addition to induce unnecessary breaks into gameplay) is that they start to dictate how the player should think and how he should form his main character. The Fallout outcome-scenes are neat, because they actually show how the main character's actions had some effect on the game world, but don't really make any assumptions on the character itself — they are based on facts regarding the game world state at the end of the game. Still I would prefer some in-game way of telling these things to me.

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I think short cutscenes that add atmosphere are great. Ninja Gaiden does this very well - for example, walk into a room and the FMV cuts in showing your character. You hear a sound off camera, then movement in the background. Your character looks around when suddenly the walls come alive and you are thrown back into the game to fight off the new monsters.

Lame description, but you get the idea. The point is this sort of thing can be demonstrated much better with controlled direction than relying on the player looking in the right direction at the right time (as with most FPS's).

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Cut scenes are important, as the do the following:
-Provide information
-Provide a reward for having done something (Very important)
-Set mood/atmosphere

Obviously it depends on the type of game you are making; there's really no point in adding cut-scenes to pure multi-player fps (other than maybe an intro or ending) as there's no real "Story". Adventure games on the other hand, could not exist without cutscenes.

Make sure that the cut-scene doesn't distract the player from the game. It can do this in several ways:
- The cut-scene can be so radically different from the interactive gameplay that it snaps the player out of his trance
- The cut-scene is boring, either because it is too long, or because it isn't "Exciting". Having a cutscene that's 5 minutes of pure dialoge probably isn't a good idea, see if you can't convey that information some other way.
- It's repetative. As mentioned above, using the same video for every take-off and landing isn't a good idea. Show it ONCE (or on very special occasions, such as when jumping through space takes you to a new chapter or major plot point). The rest of the time, you can IMPLY what's happening. Also, if you're gonna show it more than once, see if you can make different versions of it.

Finally, (I know it's been mentioned before) MAKE IT SKIPPABLE!!!
Yes, there might be some important information presented, but I wouldn't worry about it because either the player will be watching because it's something new, or the player will have seen it already, and have gotten the information from the last time.

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