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Why watching movies is a necessity for games

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You mean if watching movies is necessary to enter movie industry? If yes, then of course it is.

Or do you mean if watching movies is necessary to enter game industry? Well, then it depends. If you're going to make cinematic trailer of the game or work on some cutscenes, then it can be useful. 

Edited by newtechnology

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It's important if you work on the creative side of games. Games are increasingly replicating cinematic experiences as the technical limitations disappear.

When you say that your friends watch movies, are you implying that you don't ?

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I'd ask your friends about their claims. They're your friends, and they're the only ones who are sure to know what it is that they meant.

If you are making certain types of games, in particular if you are a game designer who is designing features for a high-end game, then you need to be aware of what is going on within the industry.  Since they're making the movie comparison, imagine being a life-long film maker in the black and white industry and then suddenly discovering that people had used color film for decades. Or imagine that your sales of silent movies had dropped to zero, only to look around and discover that everyone else had moved to talkies.

For all the workers this is less critical. If you are a programmer you don't need to know about all the little design tweaks other games have been making, your designers should tell you what you are supposed to implement and should provide references if they want to say "Just like they did in games X and Y or during that scene in Z". 

Also it depends quite a lot on the game.  If you're making a networked chess game you don't need to be aware of all the pop culture references.  If you're a writer for an upcoming AAA blockbuster, you better be comfortable with many cultures and each of their current trends.

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My opinion if you want to develop thought provoking cinematic and original content. Avoid the silver screen and head to your local book store. Literature is the source. Instead of replicating or tweaking the scenes in your favorite movies read the classics and find your own original vision. The inspiration you are likely to get while watching "Saving Private Ryan" is likely to result in a similar vision to other viewers. However, when reading Homers "The Odyssey" you are likely to see a unique vision and have an idiosyncratic inspiration.

I recently read Mary Shelly's Frankenstein the game idea it inspired for me would not be recognized by other readers of the text. The themes are relatable but I had a unique vision to explore the theme. This isn't impossible with film just less likely. Your brain works harder when you read. It has to create the audio and visuals...does this process sound familiar?

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I think I've noticed the influence of film in some recent game releases, the long cinema style titles in Horizon Zero Dawn (Lead programmer this, sound designer that..) and the very long 30-40min cinematic intro to Mass effect Andromeda which I ended up skipping through on youtube. Do the cutscenes add a lot to the game? Atmosphere, etc..? Hmm... well maybe.

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My opinion if you want to develop thought provoking cinematic and original content. Avoid the silver screen and head to your local book store. Literature is the source. Instead of replicating or tweaking the scenes in your favorite movies read the classics and find your own original vision. The inspiration you are likely to get while watching "Saving Private Ryan" is likely to result in a similar vision to other viewers. However, when reading Homers "The Odyssey" you are likely to see a unique vision and have an idiosyncratic inspiration.

I recently read Mary Shelly's Frankenstein the game idea it inspired for me would not be recognized by other readers of the text. The themes are relatable but I had a unique vision to explore the theme. This isn't impossible with film just less likely. Your brain works harder when you read. It has to create the audio and visuals...does this process sound familiar?

 

That's an interesting thought. I've never had that idea cross my mind before. Now I feel an urge to go read some books! I don't read as many books as I'd like...

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If I may also give my opinion I think it might depend on what you take from the movies that you watch. Like may others have said before my post with games having cinematic cutscenes then sometimes movies could help influence or give inspiration to those. Especially when it comes to technique or style. I've even read how motion caption has been shared between the movie industry and the game industry as well. 

Besides that, I personally watch movies because they help inspire me on what type of stories I think would be great transition into a video game style. This is from a game writer perspective since I am working towards becoming a game writer for video games. Sometimes when looking for inspiration I will find myself watching animated movies or even tv shows to find inspiration on what types of stories I would want to create for video games. 

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For a game like God of War III, the devs must have looked for movies with a huge sense of scale. Just in the open sequence there are so many set pieces sewn together and it really is awe-inspiring. It's not really a game that's more of a movie, just that the presentation borrows concepts of grandeur from film. 

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It's not required. Movies, games, comics, novels, et. al. require you to read books, know the makeup of stories (beginning, middle, end, climax, build up, etc.), and be good at writing if you are on the story side of it. Graphically, you can pay homage or nod to a movie by making a scene similar, but again it's not required as it can, potentially, limit your imagination by focusing on what you saw in a movie. Programming doesn't require it at all, but I do see programmers say to play a lot of games and think of them in a programming stance as to how they might have achieved the feature or effect in the game. Sound effects and music are also more about creativity based on knowing basics of music so I would say it is less about watching movies and more about listening to scores from movies and sound effects from movies then trying to emulate pieces you like before trying to modify it to your preference or preferred style.

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I'm just going to plain disagree that the source of all inspiration has to be books.  Especially if you're claiming that everything story-related derives from classic stories.  Yeh, reading is a good source for inspiration or reference, but they aren't superior to anything else.  It's just one of a whole bunch of ways to get a story across.  In that same vein, there's no need to say that movies HAVE to be the source for game visuals.  If it's your goal to simulate the cinematic experience, then sure, use movies as your reference - but games are not movies, nor do they have to be similar to them.

I keep seeing threads pop up along the lines of "if you make games you MUST also do this!  You must read books!  You must watch movies!  You must study 'the classics' of everything!"  No, you don't have to.  I instead propose that basing every new piece of media on "the classics" of everything just runs us around in circles.  We don't need to tell the same stories in the same way over and over again.  Do something else.  It's fine to be original - draw inspiration from something entirely outside of media if you want to.  Sure, maybe it means you'll end up reinventing the wheel - but maybe you'll do something nobody would have thought of at all had they constrained themselves to emulating other media.  Study those things if you really want to - and yeah, there's benefits to it, things to be learned - but it's not a requirement by any stretch.

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Lets take a look at two very successful games...you might have heard of them...

Resident Evil.  Some one at Capcom loved the old Zombie movies of George Romero,  and so you had the basic theme of the game; Zombies, classic b-movie monsters such as giant spiders and snakes thrown in for good measure.  The lack of music in some sections adds an errie atmosphere to the game - even with hilariously diabolical dialogue. But all that is only second to the game itself - an improved Alone In The Dark.  I can only assume someone had played AITD and loved the basic gist of it, but wanted to make a few adjustments.

Tetris.  Inspired by a physical, classic children's block game? I don't think it has anything to do with a film in the slightest, but in some versions theres images of really hip mushroom buildings you'll find in Russia. Dunno if those were in the original version of the game, though.  The point is, the gentleman who made the game, looked to something in the real world - not the silver screen.  Possibly more successful than Resident Evil...

So, no, an interest in film is not required to make a game.  By playing other games you get a feel for what games you enjoy playing and those you enjoy developing. You also get experience of what you absolutely hate about playing games - no matter how they are dressed up.  That said, theres certainly no harm in looking to a film to make your game cooler...

Top Gun.  After Burner.  Nuff said!  ^_^

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The answers here are a bit of a knee jerk reaction. Inspiration lies everywhere. Watching films can help you, but knowing more about cinema as opposed to less about cinema will help you more. If you know about as much as the average IMDB user, then you're not going to have a leg up on your competition. As an example, The Shawshank Redemption is not the greatest film ever made among those who know cinema, although IMDB might have you believe The Shawshank Redemption is the greatest film ever made. The reason The Shawshank Redemption ranks as number one on IMDB is because it polls the cinematically illiterate as well as the literate.

If you step outside the boundaries of the cinema you're familiar with, and really start to explore cinema, a discovery process begins. And learning begins. When learning occurs, ideas are generated. Never shrug off opportunities to let ideas form that wouldn't have formed otherwise.

In short, watching great cinema can give you a leg up over your competitors. Choose as you will.

Edited by bishop_pass
To italicize all instances of film titles

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There’s a wonderful quote from Terry Pratchett about being a good writer. 

So, instead, I give tips on how to be a professional boxer. A good diet is essential, of course, as is a daily regime of exercise. Pay attention to your footwork, it will often get you into trouble. Go down to the gym every day – every day of your life that finds you waking up capable of standing. Take every opportunity to watch a good professional fight. In fact watch as many bouts as you can, because you can even learn something from the fighters who get it wrong. Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do. And don’t forget the diet and the exercise and the roadwork.

Got it? Well, becoming a writer is basically exactly the same thing, except that it isn’t about boxing”

And being an artist/programmer/level designer/whatever is exactly the same thing except it isn’t about writing. 

If you want to create something, look at what others have created before you. Good, bad, you can still learn from it. Don’t be restricted by genre or even medium. 

So yeah, watch movies (and tv shows too). Read books (and comics!). Listen to all kinds of music. Play games (board games too); if you can study the source code, even better  

Unless you are spending more time watching than creating, immersing your self in art can only help you. 

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One thing I would say is that if you can get influences from any medium (games, movies, books, music, etc.) but I wouldn't say it was mandatory.

I do believe that looking at other creative mediums broadens your mindset about how you approach games.

Maybe you are interested in instilling a deep sense of doom and dread into your game. Maybe you love the idea of scaring gamers. So the natural course of action would be to just play games that fit that mold (Amnesia, Silent Hill, etc) but why not expand to other mediums like movies for inspiration. You never know what a movie like "The Conjuring" could teach you about building suspense and how to use jump scares in a new a different way.

All of a sudden your games have a different depth and feel even fullerl and maybe can even reach more audiences who may be looking for something "different".

There is so much to learn from every field. I would say don't burden yourself by feeling you have to watch a 100 movies just to feel like an adequate game designer. I would just encourage you to be a student of all things. Watch what makes people happy, what makes people sad, what makes them laugh, and what makes what people feel.

 

Distill that into your games and love what you do!

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I would have to say yes for a few reasons, as now the game industry has surpassed the movie industry in profits (not sure now in today time ) and are given big budgets (sometimes) to make the game epic, everything from sound to graphics, and if the game is going to mimic a movie the yes it would be beneficial to watch to get reference material and possibly cut scenes from the movie. But if not then I would have to say no, the format of your game could be completely different from any movie.

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I still say no. Other mediums are never a necessity for game development, but they can be used to draw inspiration from. As I stated before, you have to be careful though as it can have a potential pitfall depending on your creativity level. Some can watch a movie or read a book and think "I want to try that in my game!" and just do an almost verbatim translation of it while some can do it and then think of creative ways to extend the idea and make it their own. For example, compare the Metal Gear Solid cutscenes from the original Playstation and the Gamecube remake Twin Snakes, the team behind Twin Snakes were fans of the original, but were creative and came up with interesting new ways to make the scenes different, but still feel true to the original MGS where as me, a less creative guy, would have likely done an almost mirror copy of the original MGS just with better graphics. The point of my rambling is that it depends on the kind of developer you are and that you should know your strengths and weaknesses when pulling from other mediums for inspiration, but it is by no means a necessity to use them.

Edited by BHXSpecter

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7 hours ago, BHXSpecter said:

I still say no. Other mediums are never a necessity for game development, but they can be used to draw inspiration from. As I stated before, you have to be careful though as it can have a potential pitfall depending on your creativity level. Some can watch a movie or read a book and think "I want to try that in my game!" and just do an almost verbatim translation of it while some can do it and then think of creative ways to extend the idea and make it their own. For example, compare the Metal Gear Solid cutscenes from the original Playstation and the Gamecube remake Twin Snakes, the team behind Twin Snakes were fans of the original, but were creative and came up with interesting new ways to make the scenes different, but still feel true to the original MGS where as me, a less creative guy, would have likely done an almost mirror copy of the original MGS just with better graphics. The point of my rambling is that it depends on the kind of developer you are and that you should know your strengths and weaknesses when pulling from other mediums for inspiration, but it is by no means a necessity to use them.

You're right, in a sense, but it's counter productive. There's an opportunity here to share how film watching can benefit the game developer. In your example of how some can benefit, you've only touched the surface of total potential.

In my original post in this thread, I hinted at the potential. The key is to understand cinema, watch better cinema, and learn how to interpret cinema. That process, which has a learning curve, is also one which aligns to some degree with the art of filmmaking, which gets you pointed in the right direction.

Notice, in your post, that you're thinking in terms of cutscenes. Forgive me if your examples go beyond that. For all other readers here, please follow along. I made a more specific post regarding application of these ideas in this thread: I need inspiration from my fellow writers. My post is the second post in that thread. Note, however, that I did not illustrate to what aspect of a game said techniques can be applied. That thread was about writing, and I was sharing how the ideas can be applied to writing. But there are many other ways to apply what is seen and discovered in cinema. The key is, as I noted above, is to learn what you're seeing. I enumerated several examples from the post in the other thread. There are other elements that I did not mention.

So, how and where might we apply such elements? I'll say they can be applied to not only cut scenes, trailers, and writing, but to gameplay, the feel of gameplay, the tone of gameplay, the art direction of gameplay (color palettes as one example), the rhythm and timing of gameplay, the ambience of gameplay, the genres of gameplay, metaphor within gameplay, methods to get players to feel empathy for game characters, puzzles for gameplay, designed ambiguity for gameplay, out of left field elements within gameplay,  noir like elements in gameplay, etc., etc., etc.

We can get more specific, and the possibilities are endless. I think anyone might be a fool to not dig deeper. Cinema has about an 80 year head start on computer/console game development.

The problem is, I can guess most game developers (certainly there are exceptions) have a sole experience with cinema that is Hollywood centric. That's to be expected, because most here haven't the experience of exploring cinema further. Hollywood's marketing muscle drowns out everything, and appears to offer a lot. However, Hollywood only offers a small subset of what cinema can be, and it's all very much the same.

Let me bring up the kitchen analogy. You have a kitchen, and in the pantry is sugar, flour, vanilla, chocolate, food coloring, and a few other items that will let you bake cakes and cookies. Your chef only uses those items and bakes you cookies and cakes, and that's all you've ever tasted. That's Hollywood. Another chef comes into your kitchen , opens the refrigerator, and sees produce, cheeses, meats, sauces, and beer. In the wine cellar he sees wine. In the back of the pantry he finds pasta. Suddenly, he's making you lasagne, prime rib dinners, stir fried vegetables, protein drinks, salads, soups, tacos, salmon dishes, and so on. Up until now, all you've had were cookies and cakes. And now your world has opened up big time. That is the discovery of great cinema, past and present, domestic and foreign, art-house and so on. Learning starts there.

Some films coming out of Hollywood are verging into the realm of true cinema, but they aren't common. Two recent films I've seen recently have a slight art-house feel to them. They are Dunkirk and Bladerunner 2049. Of course there are others, but your best success will come from looking farther afield.

Let me move on to a specific example. Do what you want with it, but the point is to illustrate how tuning one's perception to cinema can lead to new ideas to apply. In most of Ozu's postwar films, notably his color films, he began establishing a rhythm and tempo that seemed to alternate from mild comedy to mild melancholy, scene to scene. As with his prior films, pillow shots showed between scenes, and often scenes ended with a camera angle looking straight down an empty hallway. I have written much on the meaning of Ozu's empty hallway shots, but that's not what I'm focusing on here. I could go on, because Ozu's films are loaded with wonderful and often unique aspects often not seen elsewhere. But let's focus on the alternation between mild comedy and mild melancholy. This is subtle, and many would never notice it. It could be applied to gameplay in a way, where each successive level switches from the tone of the prior level: mild comedy to mild melancholy and back to mild comedy. How one establishes a tone that has that feel is of course up to the developer. As mentioned above, the possibilities are endless, if you broaden your scope of film viewing, and learn how to watch films on a deeper level. I could write a hundred pages right here on this topic. By the way, I venture to guess most here haven't heard of Ozu, the reason being due to Hollywood's marketing drowning everything else out. For the record, directors worldwide voted one of Ozu's films the greatest film ever made. Critics worldwide voted the same film the third greatest ever made. Critics worldwide voted another Ozu film the 15th greatest film ever made.

Great cinema is out there. Go find it, learn from it, and find new ways to make games more rich.

Edited by bishop_pass

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I think it is important to keep up with current movies, and popular culture in general, if you are going to be writing story/lore for games.  The audience is young, and your references to Willma Dearing, for example, are going to fly right over their heads.  You have to keep up with their more modern stories so that you know who Rey is, because the younger audience has probably never heard of Colonel Dearing.

The danger is when you try to make your game work like a hollywood writer thought that thing worked.  They don't need to know how it works, so they don't.  You can create a lot of problems for yourself trying to make something work how hollywood says it works, because how a writer thinks something works often has nothing to do with reality.  For example, if the US and Russia followed hollywood's advice with regards to nuclear weapons the planet would have been mostly destroyed a very long time ago;-)

 

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19 hours ago, Kavik Kang said:

I think it is important to keep up with current movies, and popular culture in general, if you are going to be writing story/lore for games.  The audience is young, and your references to Willma Dearing, for example, are going to fly right over their heads.  You have to keep up with their more modern stories so that you know who Rey is, because the younger audience has probably never heard of Colonel Dearing.

Forgive me, but my curiosity gets the better of me. To whom are you addressing your post to? You mention someone is referencing Wilma Deering. I searched the whole page for the name. No mention of the character. I had to google the name to see who she was. A Buck Rogers character, apparently. The correct spelling is Wilma Deering, actually.

19 hours ago, Kavik Kang said:

I think it is important to keep up with current movies, and popular culture in general, if you are going to be writing story/lore for games.  The audience is young, and your references to Willma Dearing, for examp

 

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My post above was truncated, and I cannot edit it.

Below, is my post in full.

18 hours ago, Kavik Kang said:

I think it is important to keep up with current movies, and popular culture in general, if you are going to be writing story/lore for games.  The audience is young, and your references to Willma Dearing, for example, are going to fly right over their heads.  You have to keep up with their more modern stories so that you know who Rey is, because the younger audience has probably never heard of Colonel Dearing.

Forgive me, but my curiosity gets the better of me. To whom are you addressing your post to? You mention someone is referencing Wilma Deering. I searched the whole page for the name. No mention of the character. I had to google the name to see who she was. A Buck Rogers character, apparently. The correct spelling is Wilma Deering, actually.

With regard to your point though, in a sense, I'm glad you made it, because I'd like to share my viewpoint. One of the great sins of story development, filmmaking, and I would have to say, game development, is to let your passionate ideas be diluted and changed because of the potential audience. It's called dumbing down your material. Hollywood is one of the great sinners here. When I say Hollywood, I'm referring to the studios. Studio meddling is the act of making sure what might have been art becomes something which meets the least common denominator defining the audience. Stories don't begin that way. They end up that way for purely monetary reasons. Artistic intent is lost.

Are you familiar with auteur theory? It is the idea that a director's signature style is identifiable within a film. If you are in general familiar with the director's work, you could walk into the middle of a film by said director, and not knowing of the film before that moment, and identify the director. Obvious ones are Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino. They're rare in Hollywood precisely because of the studio driven system and Hollywood's general methods. Other great directors that hold the auteur status are Bela Tarr, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Andrei Tarkovsky, Michelangelo Antonioni, Wong Kar-wai. That's where the learning starts. Their films. And other auteurs.

18 hours ago, Kavik Kang said:

The danger is when you try to make your game work like a hollywood writer thought that thing worked.  They don't need to know how it works, so they don't.  You can create a lot of problems for yourself trying to make something work how hollywood says it works, because how a writer thinks something works often has nothing to do with reality.  For example, if the US and Russia followed hollywood's advice with regards to nuclear weapons the planet would have been mostly destroyed a very long time ago;-)

 

Nobody is really saying this. Or perhaps they are. It sounds like you're trying to take the meaning and intent of this thread to mean that developing your game like a Hollywood screenwriter might is not something to do. I'm not saying that. Yet there is some merit to it. I have described in more detail than others here how to approach game development with a better knowledge of cinema. I enumerated specific examples.

Boxes. There are a lot of boxes here, and the naysayers have placed themselves in those boxes, in this case of their own making. One must think outside the box. As an example, it appears one of the boxed methods of thinking is to apply cinematic inspiration strictly to cutscenes or trailers.

It starts with a greater scope of cinematic experience. Your eyes will open.

 

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