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Cinematic Game Experience

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Hey, Gaming started with a couple of pixels which we could move a bit left or right, but ever since computers became powerfull enough developers started implementing movie-concepts, such as story, CGI-cutscenes, etc. However they never give you that cinematic experience. It's like attaching some feathers to a car and hope it'll fly. If you start thinking about it a little longer you'll realise a cinematic experience has usually little to do with the context of the script. It's rather about the camera angle & position, the soundtrack that gives you a chill thro your spine, and, (something that most people don't realize) in terms of physics, movies tend to obey the law. I'll go into all of these. Camera Angle & Position - Some of you might think this doesn't change alot to what is actually happening, the best example would be today's strategy games in which you can zoom in to the point you can look right your infantry's eyes. The way the experience that conflict won't change the outcome but it is alot more engaging. Soundtrack - This is extremely neglected in my opinion. Usually the epic scenes we see in movies are accompanied by incredible soundtracks, sadly only a few games have this and usually it's started thro a scripted event. You'd think after killing 10 zombies a bad ass soundtrack would start rolling. Physics - This is the weirdest part, by that I mean games tend to obey some and neglect others. Let's say you have to reload, todays FPS games show your character reloading the gun, however when there's a gun on the ground he simply has to run over it to collect all its ammo. It's magic. And then there's Third Person Shooters have this weird way of walking. Most of the shooting is done while strafing, I know not everything has to be realistic but try strafing yourself, you'll find out it is actually a very clumsy way of moving around And then there's the camera. Somehow you can't simply look at your left or right, your whole body has to move with it, upcoming GT5 and Forza Motorsports 3 (both race games) are correcting this matter but that still leaves an awfull lot of games that don't. What I'm trying to say is, I think that developers are missing the point. They fill their games with cutscenes and a story and voila, that's how they think a cinematic game experience should be (take a good look at the Metal Gear Solid series). Games like Gears of War & Resident Evil 5 (Camera Position & Angles), Dead Space, Peter Jackson's King Kong, God of War (Cinematic Button Sequences) show that it can be done, however I think it's only a small step. Here's a fragment of the upcoming Beyond Good & Evil 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCcX3g74nv0 This is a great example of how something can look movie-ish while still being a game (without the excessive use of cutscenes). I'd like your opinions about this subject.

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Ok that video looked extremly good, more like a movie than gameplay. I've seen a few of the things you mention in games now and it really adds to it.

Camera angle/position: I'm playing fallout 3 at the moment and there is a thing you can pick who to shoot at/body part and it does an auto shot. The game picks up on this and does a little cut scene thing. Its very good, slow down, zoom to character shooting, follow bullet to target etc.

Sound: Sometimes I'm playing a game, things start to get good and suddnly some really appropriate music starts right on que. Really fires me up :P. A ncie example I can think of is call of duty 5, mainly all the russian missions, it just makes me feel so great charging through burning cities with all this epic music and the russian guy whose with you shouting various things. Absolutly wonderful.

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There is an article regarding "making games cinematic" in the August (vol 16 no 7) issue of GameDeveloper magazine. It focuses mostly on the use of camera angels, the pros and cons of each and what not to do. The article is worth reading if this is a topic you are passionate about.

I myself have a background in video production and know exactly what you are talking about. I don't think that every developer is clueless. In fact I think many of them simply suffer from the same issue, the fact that it is an interactive game and not a movie.

As the article points out, film makers have control over all the angles, the actions and typically the actors. This means they can time things; music, explosions, emotions etc.

This is not to say game developers do not have the ability to control these elements, they simply have to deal with the unpredictable and adventurous actions of the player, or players.

Of course you could limit what the player can do, so they get the experience you want them to feel.

If the video you have linked is indeed ingame, live footage of a user playing the game they must know what they are doing. Even so, if in that video the player decided to stop, took the wrong turn or actually got hit by a bullet it would break the rhythm that makes the video appear so "cinematic."

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I think you're underestimating the markets' growth in a lot of these areas. I think in a lot of games, soundtracks are looked at very carefully. Even back to the days of Westwood and Red Alert, "Hell March" is still one of the most distinctive video game songs I can remember. Even Half-Life 2 uses music very dynamically. There usually isn't any music, but when really intense battles, an action track kicks in which really adds to the whole experience.

The whole walking over guns thing is also addressed in Crysis. You have to actually pick up the guns you want to take ammo from.

Anyways, I agree with a lot of your point, but I think it's assuming quite a bit when you say something like "developers aren't getting the point." I think a lot of developers are thinking along the same lines we all are, and are trying to innovate in order to materialize that train of thought. We ought to give them some credit for that.

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