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Infinisearch

immersion and cut scenes

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Part I: Do u feel cut scenes in games are a necessary evil? They provide the player with a break in action and present storyline. But at the same time they give the player a sense of having a prewritten script they must follow and might not be the players idea of good which might subtract from player experience.

Part II: With the way video cards are getting it is now feasible to have dynamic cut scenes that still look prerendered. By dynamic i mean not only rendered in real time but generated in real time or "just in time". With static plots, dynamic cut scenes can provide different ways to present the same scene the same way a director or producer contributes to a movie script. It can also make up for variation... it always bothered me when I played a game and u walk in one door the cut scene kicks in and u are on the other side of the room and when the cut scene ends you are back where you''re supposed to be. With dynamic plots it can present story/create drama where u didn''t have before all without a script. More importantly it can convey intercharacter dynamics. U might want to bring a particular character to the players attention either for future reference or in the immediate. For example in a big fight scene with lots of people its possible that you want to have the leaders of both sides lock eyes and ignore the fray and get into a one on one fight. Without the cut scene the whole thing can play out but I feel the drama created by a cutscene would be greatly beneficial to suspension of disbelief and really playing a game vs. just trying to finish a game. So the second question is do u feel dynamic cut scenes can help provide a truely immersive game? Not in a minor way either, I think it could really impact the way games would be looked at. Do u agree or disagree and why?

Part III: The main reason I bring this up is because there have been alot of threads on creating a truely immersive game through different means. Dynamic plots, Expansive worlds to explore, intelligent NPC''s, Gossip systems to make groups of NPC''s more realistic, combat systems... So I brought up this topic to foster different ways to tell a story or create dynamic''s. In ''part I'' i asked if u felt cut scenes are necessary in games, if u think no then how do u feel is the best way for presenting story/dynamics to the player? How else can a glimpse of the "bigger picture" be conveyed to the player? -potential energy is easily made kinetic-

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Interesting question. How about an intelligent camera that mimics the type of dramatic shots that you might see in a movie based on cues from the current setting and the action taking place? Keeping the camera from interfering with character control would be a challenge, but it would be a nice touch to a game. Since I assume you mean a dynamic, unscripted game, the camera directions wouldn''t simply be layed out when building the level/map. Instead you would need a subsystem that checked what characters were present in a scene, what their relations are to the hero, what the mood is (danger, fear, romance, etc.), what the object(s) of interest in the scene are, and then choose the best shot that does not interefere with the player''s ability to control the hero.

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It''s easy to avoid camera-control ''overlap''.

control you character front left right back with the cursor/mouse whatever instead of indexing it based on the camera which sometimes heavily sucks.

It''s a bit hard to get it but once you understand how to play it''s easier.

See Resident Evil.

Either FMV or relatime cutscenes are ok to me.
Just be consistent, don''t allow items that will be seen in the FMV to be sold or that will break the games IMO.
If it''s realtime, keep the player weapon and appearance (in case you can change your clothes)

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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Anyone here played "fade to black"? That had a rather good "intelligent" camera, plus there was this groovy thing where if you walked about the camera viewed you from a distance like a normal survival horror style interface, but when you drew your gun it zoomed to look just over your shoulder, making it actually possible to aim the weapon at your target. This is something those boys making AITD and resident evil and all that lot could REALLY learn from.

The primary reason I returned Alone 4 to the shop after only two days was because you simply couldn''t aim the weapons, no matter how hard you tried. I''m truly amazed the combat system made it through playtesting and into full production. Cinematics cease to be great as soon as they get you killed, in my opinion.

The other reason I returned the game was, of course, the complete lack of unarmed combat, or even knife and sword combat. This means that, unlike the previous three games, once you were out of bullets (of which you were given a generous supply of about three for a whole level), you were dead.

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I do not think cut-scenes are evil, or a cheap trick. But i do believe that excessive cut-scenes arent a good idea. Just because, if the game is better as a movie, than it should be made as a movie.

I was thinking about dynamic camera shot, in very short in-game cut-scenes for this game im designing. It would be something like when you step into some new (important) area you loose control for a just a scecond and the camera (it a 3rd person game) sweeps around to give a perspective of the area.

This would also be nice for conversaton systems. The camera angle changing depending on what you say to the character. Like you choose to threated an NPC and get violent with him, the camera would change quickly to like 4 different shots (a trick to give chaotic feel). Or something like that. Just an idea...

PHRICTION

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Oh in case I wasn't clear by cut-scene i mean any amount of time where the player loses control of the character. Either in short cut scenes like PHRICTION mentioned or longer cut scenes found in most games.

Ingenu, your last two statements are some of the reasons why i want to develop dynamic cut scenes, to remove inconsistancies. But creating player-character dynamics and player-world dynamics is the main thing i am proposing. I want the player to really hate "the bad guy", or at least hold a grudge or take it as a personal challenge to defeat the bad guy.

Whats the difference between a good book and a bad book? What makes a movie good? To me with books and movies its those that really get u to identify with characters, situations... Its getting the 'viewer' into the world presented to to them. In games I feel dynamic cut scenes can provide this sense of immersion. So I'd like to propose a theoretical framework to accomplish it.

The framework for such a system would be in the form of a set of AI Bots. An editor bot to identify when a cut scene is necessary or when it could evoke enough emotion to warrent a cut-scene as well as if to many cut scenes are taking place. It would also of course create, or retieve a script and specify what emotion or feeling the scene should evoke. A 'researher' bot which gathers pertinent information about the current state of the world that could be used as 'the paint' to create the cut scene. A director bot which is responsible for the artistic presentation of the scene. A camera man bot to handle the actual camera work. A conductor bot for musical cues and sound effects. Any comments, suggestions, ideas...

EDIT - clarity and grammar

-potential energy is easily made kinetic-

Edited by - Infinisearch on February 21, 2002 6:40:41 PM

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Interesting points, here''s my take on the situation:

1) I''m not sure they are a necessary evil. I think cutscenes if done at the correct time can be a valuable storytelling aide. Look at movies, the entire thing is a cutscene but we can still be transported along a magic ride. I know that lots of people like computer games because they are one of the few forms of non-linear entertainment out there. But I think there''s a critical weakness with computers in a free-form style of storytelling. Namely direction. It''s the tightrope balancing act that a designer faces. I rememher reading a post-mortem article on Game Developer magazine on Black&White. The designers came up with a dilemma in creating the Avatar. The more freedom they gave the avatar to do as it pleased, the less control and direction the player had. But as the player trained the creature to make it "tow the line", the avatar lost a lot of its charm.

2) I''m still a little confused about a dynamic cutscene that you describe.. I find it hard to imagine a scene that is pre-scripted, and yet the character can still act. So I can''t really recommend one way or the other what your plan is here.

3) This is what I think could create a truly immersive game...lots and lots of interactions. For example, walking into a city and seeing people walk by, cars driving in the streets, etc. Walking into the forest and seeing trees sway, squirrels climb trees, birds flying in the air, etc. To me, this is the holy grail of immersive play. Did you play Medal of Honor? I, along with many others, thought the coolest scene was Omaha Beach landing, just so you could watch all the pre-scripted actions (is this what you mean by dynamic cutscenes?). It was fun scrambling from obstacle to obstacle watching medics treat the wounded, Navy Seabees trying to blow up obstacles, cowering soldiers, or soldiers scrambling to get to that next obstacle just like you. It provided an amazing level of immersion. However, I think there''s still a long way to go.

As a side note, I''m coming up with a game idea for an RTS, but I''m trying to tell a story at the same time (something like Starcraft, but more indepth and epic...think BattleTech). I''m seriously thinking about how to incorporate cutscenes and other ingame story backdrops. Most of my time has been spent on game dynamics, game tech notes and background, but I really want to get this in there as well. I hope that in some ways the story plays out almost like

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quote:
Original post by bob_the_third
How about an intelligent camera that mimics the type of dramatic shots that you might see in a movie based on cues from the current setting and the action taking place?


Eternal Darkness on the GameCube, will have a camera like this.




It is foolish for a wise man to be silent, but wise for a fool.

Matthew
WebMaster
www.Matt-Land.com

All your Xbox base are belong to Nintendo.
All your GameDev.net base are belong to Myopic Rhino

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I agree with Dauntless, it''s just a matter of correct timing. The only problem in my opinion is when a game uses too many, too often, like in Metal Gear Solid.

If I remember correctly, when you finally got to fight Metal Gear Rex, there were 3 movies: one before the beginning of the battle, one during the battle (which you could not skip, by the way) and the last one after the battle. This ammounted to 5 minutes of gameplay (maybe less) and approximately 20 minutes of movies. It made me wonder if I was really playing a game or watching a movie. At least the voice acting was great.

On the other hand, one thing I hated about Diablo 2 was that there were too few cutscenes throughout the entire game. I couldn''t stop playing it just the see the next one, yet I felt there should have been at least a dozen. But this one is an exception.

Guto

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I''m a firm believer in in-engine (or, as some of you call them, real-time) cutscenes. For one thing, there is no interruption in the flow of the gameplay, and no shocking contrast between beautiful FMV models and craptacular in-game models.

Also, in-engine cutscenes can be much more dynamic: for each oh-so-pretty FMV you could easily have half a dozen in-engine cutscenes, because all they require is a small amount of animation data and compressed sound for voice acting/music. So instead of having a fixed story path, or perhaps two or three brances throughout the course of a game with FMVs, in-engine cutscenes allow you to have as many story branches as your script writers will tolerate.

Of course, that''s not to say that prerendered cutscenes shouldn''t be used--sometimes in-engine cutscence would simply suck because of the way the game engine worked (Diablo 2, anyone?). I just wouldn''t recommend prerendered cutscence for a game intended to be non-linear.

-OOProgrammer
virtual void life() = 0;

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Dauntless, during dynamic cut scenes the player does lose control. The dynamic part of it is when and how the cut scenes are presented as well as content in some cases. If u look in my post above yours I clarify exactly what i meant and propose.

It would be like having an in game director/producer. For example in the case of static plots, cut scenes are triggered by events. So when the event is triggered current environmental variables and game state variables are taken into account for the cut scene. Lets says after u gain possesion of some item you trigger an event when u meet up with a particular character. The event doesn''t specify where or what time of day, so by making it dynamic you can make things look very dramatic by taking the unspecified variables of the event and giving an AI freedom to make creative use of them.

With shorter cut scenes it would be more for conveying things to the player. Like PHRICTION mentioned for an in game conversation system it would allow the game to point out little things. When a NPC''s facial expression goes against what they are saying or a quick expression of suprise when u bring up a particular topic. It could also give hints as to what the player is supposed to do or what can be used to help the player in advancing in the game.

I was also thinking you can also use a cutscene to pause the action so that your game can do some other processing. A brief 5 second cut scene could give a game to catch up on processing that gets backed up during normal game play. Lets say you want really good AI in your game but during some portions of the game the processor is busy doing physics, VSD... A quick cut scene would be the perfect way to catch up on processing the "high level thoughts" of a good AI.

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Dauntless, I forgot to put this in the last post. For your RTS you could keep track of a few things. Map considerations, for example if a mountain pass is between two opposing sides whomever controls the pass and controls the flow of ground troops. Claiming the pass, or if pass were to fall or switch hands that would be considered a big event. If you have commanders, subcommanders, keep track of there stats. Think of interesting situations like a commander that won tons of small battles but failed in his first big one, or a highly decorated one that dies. Big bases falling or being built, big forces trampling its opposition or losing to a small force. When it looks like one side is about to win a battle but then all of a sudden loses... u get the picture. Just have an agent keep track of the variables and trigger a cut scene when warrented. Anyway i hope this gives u some ideas for the cut scenes in your game.

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