Jimquisition: Cutscenes Aren't A Failure State

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Tropes are not good, tropes are not bad, tropes are tools. Their effectiveness and validity depends entirely on how they are used. Of course, some tools are useful more often then others. That doesn't mean you should eliminate the less useful tool, just that you should take care to only use it when appropriate.

As much as I prefer gameplay over narrative, I've never been offended by cutscenes in an otherwise good game. They do nothing to ruin good gameplay. If a cutscene is good, it enhances the game. Never thought of that as being controversial, but ok.

People who say cutscenes are a "failure state" should be asked if Relic should have removed the cutscenes from Homeworld? Or if the finale of FF9 was really all that necessary? I'm sure dozens of other games can be listed like that, these are just the first two that come to my mind. Maybe it was the Jester theme.

Therumancer:

It all depends on how the exposition is delivered, the thing with "Half-Life" is that the gameplay did not stop, leading to an entirely differant form of storytelling, nor did the crucial plot points happen when you were not in control like "OMG, Leng just kicked my butt and there was nothing I could do about it". Boring it might be, but it didn't interrupt the general flow of the game, it was like how a person might explain something to you, and to be fair you have to make allowances for the differances in technology.

Your claim: "For example, could Valve have done the entire "Xenoblades" thing within the gameplay engine and achieved the same effect if it wanted to? Going by say the "Half Life" series, they probably could have." I said they could not have. I said nothing about plot points or anything like that. I said that the half-interactive cutscene style of Half Life 2 could not achieve the same effect. I also claimed that half life 2's cutscenes are boring, and that they were a significantly worse than normal non interactive cutscenes in terms of game flow and exposition strength. I stand by those claims, though I admit I cannot prove it because it is a subjective matter. I can only point toward the thousands of excellent cutscenes I have seen over the years that, in my opinion, are far better and preserve game flow much more effectively than Half Life 2's semi interactive cutscenes.

Differences in technology are minor. I have been experiencing excellent cutscenes since the SNES.

As for those "OMG, Leng" moments, do you mean like that part in Half Life 2 where you are railroaded by the game into getting into the pod, then you are immediately captured and your gun is taken away so you can be forced to stare at people talking while the most important parts of the plot are decided without any input from you at all?

Therumancer:

What I'm saying is more "insulting" (if you view it as insulting to anyone in paticular) to those who don't take gaming serious as a medium, by using cut scenes as a way of doing things for the storyline that they cannot find a way to acheive in the actual gameplay. Which to be fair is a criticism that can be leveled at a huge amount of the gaming industry right now, as cut scenes have become an increasing crutch, relied on more and more by developers as an easy way to handle parts of a game that would otherwise take a lot of work and creativity.

I view it as insulting as one who creates video games, albeit currently only in an amateur capacity. You are telling me that I don't take video games seriously, that I am lazy and uncreative, or that what I make are not games because I chose to use non interactive cutscenes as an artistic choice. I find that extremely insulting.

The whole point of this video was that cutscenes are an artistic choice that the developer can use to create a certain effect that cannot be achieved any other way. You cannot achieve the same effect of a non interactive cutscene with an interactive cutscene. The opposite is also true. They are both valid methods of exposition in a video game. Just because some people are using the non interactive cutscene as a crutch does not mean they are bad or invalid. Many games use them to excellent effect.

Therumancer:

Ignoring the absurdity of your claims, you ARE correct that making too much of the game dependant on text could put it into the visual novel catagory (which also exists, largely in Japan). Those distinctions do exist for a reason.

Visual novels are a genre that are created with the medium of video game. Visual novels are video games.

Cut-scenes are great to introduce chapters and end climatic battles. Each stage has a introducing scene, usually something to get you pumped up. When you finish a hard boss then you get another awesome cut-scene of your victory.

The problem with cut-scenes is in for example Final Fantasy X when I feel the cut-scenes interfere with my enjoyment of the game, since cut-scenes occur every 5 minutes, they aren't "rewarding" me for anything and they aren't setting a tone for the game-play, they are just exposition dumps. Metal Gear usually structures its cut-scenes well enough, having long exposition dumps instead of constantly interrupting me to have some exposition is much better.

DrOswald:

Zachary Amaranth:
But...But First Person perspective an silent protagonists are immersive!

By Odin's beard I hate silent protagonist. It has it's place and can be done very well, but 90% of the time silent protagonists actively detract from the game. No thing pulls me out of a game more than when a situation demands speech but no one talks. I am only able to get through Half Life 2 without raging by assuming Freeman is an actual mute. Because otherwise he is an asshole.

I just assume that he's an asshole.

Therumancer:

When it comes to a game, I tend to agree that cutscenes detract from it being considered a game or it's "art". Largely because we already HAVE a catagory for cut scenes in the form of animated movies. When you start telling your story through non-interactive scenes and movies, your effectively leaving one medium and entering another.

By that logic, films shouldn't be art, because we already have the independent media that comprise them.

piscian:
Cut scenes are merely a period instrument developers are stuck with until technology makes in game video quality meet the needs of the immersion to the story. The only exception is when a cut scene is used in some artistic purpose. In other words the developer wants to take you out of gameplay for a moment.

So they're period instruments except when they're not.

I've got to point out that "cutscenes" haven't really been used in an analogous way to dialogue cuts in silent pictures.

DrOswald:
[q

Therumancer:

What I'm saying is more "insulting" (if you view it as insulting to anyone in paticular) to those who don't take gaming serious as a medium, by using cut scenes as a way of doing things for the storyline that they cannot find a way to acheive in the actual gameplay. Which to be fair is a criticism that can be leveled at a huge amount of the gaming industry right now, as cut scenes have become an increasing crutch, relied on more and more by developers as an easy way to handle parts of a game that would otherwise take a lot of work and creativity.

I view it as insulting as one who creates video games, albeit currently only in an amateur capacity. You are telling me that I don't take video games seriously, that I am lazy and uncreative, or that what I make are not games because I chose to use non interactive cutscenes as an artistic choice. I find that extremely insulting.

The whole point of this video was that cutscenes are an artistic choice that the developer can use to create a certain effect that cannot be achieved any other way. You cannot achieve the same effect of a non interactive cutscene with an interactive cutscene. The opposite is also true. They are both valid methods of exposition in a video game. Just because some people are using the non interactive cutscene as a crutch does not mean they are bad or invalid. Many games use them to excellent effect.

Therumancer:

Ignoring the absurdity of your claims, you ARE correct that making too much of the game dependant on text could put it into the visual novel catagory (which also exists, largely in Japan). Those distinctions do exist for a reason.

Visual novels are a genre that are created with the medium of video game. Visual novels are video games.

I'll concede the point on Valve being a bad example, at least with that game.

Visual Novels are NOT a sub-genere of video games, they are a sub-genere of books (novels) that are simply working in an electronic format. "Choose Your Own Adventure" books gone electronic.

Otherwise you choosing to get insulted by something is your own business, the message you should take away from this is that to be a good game designer you should find other ways to do things. Granted, you might not want to, because cut scenes are an easy way of doing things, but that doesn't change the fact. It's sort of like how you can't draw a picture on a piece of paper and say it's a sculpture, it might be a form of art, but it's not the kind of art your dealing with. Hence the point about games with cut scenes actually being "interactive movies". What's not defensible as a game, can be defended as something else entirely, but insisting something is one kind of creation when it's not is just foolish. People who use cut scenes in games as is being discussed here, are no longer making video games. People can yell, scream, stamp their feet, and get all offended about it, but it's just the way it happens to be, and why this entire situation exists. A lot of people using cut scenes now, want the prestige of being game designers, but want to be able to do something a lot easier. It's sort of like figure skating and ice dancing (which figure skaters who are too old frequently get into as it's comparitively easier. While there are similarities there is a distinction for a reason).

I mean really, it's not a huge thing to just acknowlege what "Interactive Movies" are and label them accordingly. It doesn't mean people are going to like them any less, but it will prevent confusion as to what the creation actually is.

daxterx2005:
Did Jim get a haircut?
Looks spiffy

I agree. He looks better with shorter hair. ;D

Therumancer:

DrOswald:
[q

Therumancer:

What I'm saying is more "insulting" (if you view it as insulting to anyone in paticular) to those who don't take gaming serious as a medium, by using cut scenes as a way of doing things for the storyline that they cannot find a way to acheive in the actual gameplay. Which to be fair is a criticism that can be leveled at a huge amount of the gaming industry right now, as cut scenes have become an increasing crutch, relied on more and more by developers as an easy way to handle parts of a game that would otherwise take a lot of work and creativity.

I view it as insulting as one who creates video games, albeit currently only in an amateur capacity. You are telling me that I don't take video games seriously, that I am lazy and uncreative, or that what I make are not games because I chose to use non interactive cutscenes as an artistic choice. I find that extremely insulting.

The whole point of this video was that cutscenes are an artistic choice that the developer can use to create a certain effect that cannot be achieved any other way. You cannot achieve the same effect of a non interactive cutscene with an interactive cutscene. The opposite is also true. They are both valid methods of exposition in a video game. Just because some people are using the non interactive cutscene as a crutch does not mean they are bad or invalid. Many games use them to excellent effect.

Therumancer:

Ignoring the absurdity of your claims, you ARE correct that making too much of the game dependant on text could put it into the visual novel catagory (which also exists, largely in Japan). Those distinctions do exist for a reason.

Visual novels are a genre that are created with the medium of video game. Visual novels are video games.

I'll concede the point on Valve being a bad example, at least with that game.

Visual Novels are NOT a sub-genere of video games, they are a sub-genere of books (novels) that are simply working in an electronic format. "Choose Your Own Adventure" books gone electronic.

Otherwise you choosing to get insulted by something is your own business, the message you should take away from this is that to be a good game designer you should find other ways to do things. Granted, you might not want to, because cut scenes are an easy way of doing things, but that doesn't change the fact. It's sort of like how you can't draw a picture on a piece of paper and say it's a sculpture, it might be a form of art, but it's not the kind of art your dealing with. Hence the point about games with cut scenes actually being "interactive movies". What's not defensible as a game, can be defended as something else entirely, but insisting something is one kind of creation when it's not is just foolish. People who use cut scenes in games as is being discussed here, are no longer making video games. People can yell, scream, stamp their feet, and get all offended about it, but it's just the way it happens to be, and why this entire situation exists. A lot of people using cut scenes now, want the prestige of being game designers, but want to be able to do something a lot easier. It's sort of like figure skating and ice dancing (which figure skaters who are too old frequently get into as it's comparatively easier. While there are similarities there is a distinction for a reason).

I mean really, it's not a huge thing to just acknowledge what "Interactive Movies" are and label them accordingly. It doesn't mean people are going to like them any less, but it will prevent confusion as to what the creation actually is.

I like your sculpture analogy...but wait, if I decide to paint my sculpture doesn't that mean it isn't a sculpture any more? At least, in keeping with your own logic, that adding something to another thing changes what the thing is entirely.

I like the analogy, only because it makes your argument look totally ridiculous, as if videogames should exist in a magical void where they can't adapt elements of other mediums even almost wholesale without forfeiting the right to be called games. If I put pictures in my book is it now a comic? If I freeze a bag of oranges and start chucking them at pigeons are they no longer oranges?

And I can very well draw on a piece of paper and call it a sculpture if I damn well please. :P You're entitled to disagree with me on the nature of the piece, of course.

So long as they're skippable, put in any cutscenes you want. There's nothing so mood-killing as being forced to watch a cutscene over and over again when you've long since grown tired of it.

Zachary Amaranth:

DrOswald:

Zachary Amaranth:
But...But First Person perspective an silent protagonists are immersive!

By Odin's beard I hate silent protagonist. It has it's place and can be done very well, but 90% of the time silent protagonists actively detract from the game. No thing pulls me out of a game more than when a situation demands speech but no one talks. I am only able to get through Half Life 2 without raging by assuming Freeman is an actual mute. Because otherwise he is an asshole.

I just assume that he's an asshole.

Therumancer:

When it comes to a game, I tend to agree that cutscenes detract from it being considered a game or it's "art". Largely because we already HAVE a catagory for cut scenes in the form of animated movies. When you start telling your story through non-interactive scenes and movies, your effectively leaving one medium and entering another.

By that logic, films shouldn't be art, because we already have the independent media that comprise them.
.

Absurdist arguements contribute nothing to a discussion.

The point is that games as a form of "art" exist as something specific and distinct from other existing forms of media. When you remove the interactivity and "gaming" from a product then it ceases to fall under that catagory.

We have sub-catagories like "interactive movies" which pretty much cover what games with cut scenes are. Nobody is saying that we can't have these, or that they are inherantly bad, just that they should not be being called games, and inserted into the proper catagory.

It's sort of like seperating figure skating and ice dancers, sure they overlap, but ice dancers are generally figure skaters who either fail or get old enough where they can't perform at that level anymore (it's comparitively easier). Interactive movies might be fun, just like Ice Dancing is fun to watch, but it is a much easier thing to develop and requires less in the way of personal performance abillity on the part of the people making them. Game developers actually being very special and talented, and perhaps only being able to hold onto that title for a while before needing to move on to something easier.

I understand why a lot of people don't want that distinction to be made, but I do think it's a good idea for the medium.

As far as Gordan Freeman goes, I'll say that in games I associate more with a silent protaganist than one that speaks, because a lot of times when they open their mouth and it's clearly not what I envision the character would say or sound like, it can wreck part of the experience for me.

In absolute terms though, I'd imagine Gordan didn't have a voice simply because it would have meant hiring another voice actor, and re-doing a lot of the exposition to be two sided. What's more there is also the issue that Gordan is supposed to be a genius "Chuck Norris in Nerd Form" as Gavin's song goes... the way the game is designed allows them to kind of hide the exposition, where if Gordan spoke and more clearly needed information he likely would have already possesed in many cases it would have been fairly painful, you can overlook it the way it was done.

Your also dealing with games that are years old, things like "Mass Effect" stood out because of the way they did their voice work, and how tricky it was to make work. Whether that's a gimmick or an actual evolution is something the jury is still out on, because the reactions are fairly mixed, it remains to be seen if the industry is able to fully drive it home.

I agree with Jim on this one. It hit me while I was playing Final Fantasy IX not too long ago. It doesn't really matter that cut scenes aren't interactive, not when they look that good, are that well composed, that well integrated into the game, and are played at just the right moment to punctuate intense, emotional or otherwise important moments in the story.

That said, not all cut scenes are that well handled, there is a reason they've become a bit shunned as of late.

Therumancer:

DrOswald:
[q

Therumancer:

What I'm saying is more "insulting" (if you view it as insulting to anyone in paticular) to those who don't take gaming serious as a medium, by using cut scenes as a way of doing things for the storyline that they cannot find a way to acheive in the actual gameplay. Which to be fair is a criticism that can be leveled at a huge amount of the gaming industry right now, as cut scenes have become an increasing crutch, relied on more and more by developers as an easy way to handle parts of a game that would otherwise take a lot of work and creativity.

I view it as insulting as one who creates video games, albeit currently only in an amateur capacity. You are telling me that I don't take video games seriously, that I am lazy and uncreative, or that what I make are not games because I chose to use non interactive cutscenes as an artistic choice. I find that extremely insulting.

The whole point of this video was that cutscenes are an artistic choice that the developer can use to create a certain effect that cannot be achieved any other way. You cannot achieve the same effect of a non interactive cutscene with an interactive cutscene. The opposite is also true. They are both valid methods of exposition in a video game. Just because some people are using the non interactive cutscene as a crutch does not mean they are bad or invalid. Many games use them to excellent effect.

Therumancer:

Ignoring the absurdity of your claims, you ARE correct that making too much of the game dependant on text could put it into the visual novel catagory (which also exists, largely in Japan). Those distinctions do exist for a reason.

Visual novels are a genre that are created with the medium of video game. Visual novels are video games.

I'll concede the point on Valve being a bad example, at least with that game.

Visual Novels are NOT a sub-genere of video games, they are a sub-genere of books (novels) that are simply working in an electronic format. "Choose Your Own Adventure" books gone electronic.

Otherwise you choosing to get insulted by something is your own business, the message you should take away from this is that to be a good game designer you should find other ways to do things. Granted, you might not want to, because cut scenes are an easy way of doing things, but that doesn't change the fact. It's sort of like how you can't draw a picture on a piece of paper and say it's a sculpture, it might be a form of art, but it's not the kind of art your dealing with. Hence the point about games with cut scenes actually being "interactive movies". What's not defensible as a game, can be defended as something else entirely, but insisting something is one kind of creation when it's not is just foolish. People who use cut scenes in games as is being discussed here, are no longer making video games. People can yell, scream, stamp their feet, and get all offended about it, but it's just the way it happens to be, and why this entire situation exists. A lot of people using cut scenes now, want the prestige of being game designers, but want to be able to do something a lot easier. It's sort of like figure skating and ice dancing (which figure skaters who are too old frequently get into as it's comparitively easier. While there are similarities there is a distinction for a reason).

I mean really, it's not a huge thing to just acknowlege what "Interactive Movies" are and label them accordingly. It doesn't mean people are going to like them any less, but it will prevent confusion as to what the creation actually is.

So, just to be clear, you are going to say that any game ever that has a non interactive cutscene of any kind is not a video game? It becomes an interactive movie?

The internet made me think I was crazy for actually liking cutscenes in games. Jim has made it all better. Thanks Jim :D

GothmogII:
[

I like your sculpture analogy...but wait, if I decide to paint my sculpture doesn't that mean it isn't a sculpture any more? At least, in keeping with your own logic, that adding something to another thing changes what the thing is entirely.

I like the analogy, only because it makes your argument look totally ridiculous, as if videogames should exist in a magical void where they can't adapt elements of other mediums even almost wholesale without forfeiting the right to be called games. If I put pictures in my book is it now a comic? If I freeze a bag of oranges and start chucking them at pigeons are they no longer oranges?

And I can very well draw on a piece of paper and call it a sculpture if I damn well please. :P You're entitled to disagree with me on the nature of the piece, of course.

I think you'd be surprised at which one of us looks ridiculous, especially seeing as your again jumping into absurdist arguements to try and make a point when you have nothing else to work with.

The sculpture is a sculpture because it's a free standing object. The coat of paint doesn't change that because it's nature is still intact.

With games, the medium is defined by interactivity, being a game, when you add cut scenes to the game you are effectively removing what defines the medium entirely, as opposed to just adding something to it. The very fact that you can do some amazing things by adding interactive segments and movies together is why we have the whole "interactive movie" label.

... and your right about being able to call a drawn picture a sculpture, but that doesn't make you right. Which is what this all comes down to, you can call an interactive movie a game, but that doesn't make it a game.

Therumancer:

Zachary Amaranth:

DrOswald:

By Odin's beard I hate silent protagonist. It has it's place and can be done very well, but 90% of the time silent protagonists actively detract from the game. No thing pulls me out of a game more than when a situation demands speech but no one talks. I am only able to get through Half Life 2 without raging by assuming Freeman is an actual mute. Because otherwise he is an asshole.

I just assume that he's an asshole.

Therumancer:

When it comes to a game, I tend to agree that cutscenes detract from it being considered a game or it's "art". Largely because we already HAVE a catagory for cut scenes in the form of animated movies. When you start telling your story through non-interactive scenes and movies, your effectively leaving one medium and entering another.

By that logic, films shouldn't be art, because we already have the independent media that comprise them.
.

Absurdist arguements contribute nothing to a discussion.

The point is that games as a form of "art" exist as something specific and distinct from other existing forms of media. When you remove the interactivity and "gaming" from a product then it ceases to fall under that catagory.

We have sub-catagories like "interactive movies" which pretty much cover what games with cut scenes are. Nobody is saying that we can't have these, or that they are inherantly bad, just that they should not be being called games, and inserted into the proper catagory.

Who's talking about removing the interactivity?! For that matter...is the assumption here that if a cutscene is there, then it -must- be replacing something that could have been rendered within the context of the gameplay?

Thank you, Jim. Someone needs to stand up for cutscenes.

Personally, I love me a good cutscene. The best part? You can skip them. When replaying games, I love being able to skip the story sequences and get straight to the action. I've found most games without cutscenes almost impossible to replay.

Jimothy Sterling:
When you nee4d the protagonist to do certain things, when you want the camera to focus on something in particular, when just you want to present an awesome action sequence that the limitations of the game engine can't perform,...

then make a fucking movie instead.

GothmogII:

Therumancer:

Zachary Amaranth:

I just assume that he's an asshole.

By that logic, films shouldn't be art, because we already have the independent media that comprise them.
.

Absurdist arguements contribute nothing to a discussion.

The point is that games as a form of "art" exist as something specific and distinct from other existing forms of media. When you remove the interactivity and "gaming" from a product then it ceases to fall under that catagory.

We have sub-catagories like "interactive movies" which pretty much cover what games with cut scenes are. Nobody is saying that we can't have these, or that they are inherantly bad, just that they should not be being called games, and inserted into the proper catagory.

Who's talking about removing the interactivity?! For that matter...is the assumption here that if a cutscene is there, then it -must- be replacing something that could have been rendered within the context of the gameplay?

Yes, I am a firm believer that anything that is done in a cutscene could be rendered in game play, and if it can't then they should replace it with something that winds up in the same basic place but can be done with game play.

For example, if you want to have a scene of me fighting a giant robot that is talking smack, have it talk smack while I'm actually fighting it, don't make a cut scene of my character fighting the robot while it talks smack. If I wanted to watch that I could put on a movie.

Now to be fair, sometimes cut scenes can be used well, and cover up flaws in the abillities of the designers to actually make something they feel needs to happen gamable, when they can't think of any other ways. Sometimes the cut scenes are quite good in of themselves even. This is why you have the catagory of "Interactive Movie" the "Ice Dancers" to the "Figure Skaters" of actual game designers so to speak.

I mean sure, an "Interactive Movie" can still be a good product, just don't call it a game.

the antithesis:

Jimothy Sterling:
When you nee4d the protagonist to do certain things, when you want the camera to focus on something in particular, when just you want to present an awesome action sequence that the limitations of the game engine can't perform,...

then make a fucking movie instead.

Fucking no need because fucking cutscenes fucking exist.

Cutscenes... Cutscenes... Cutscenes... I wonder what would happen if Hideo Kojima tried to make a Valve game and vice-versa. I also found it ironic when I heard Stephen Spielberg doesn't like cutscenes, either.

I mentioned this before, and I'll say it again. I think the only problem I've really had with Epic Mickey so far was it's overabundance of cutscenes. It used a cutscene every time something seemed to move, when a door opened, a gear turned, an item appeared, a new enemy came into the game... It was really annoying. You don't need to take away control from the player to give them information. Just look at Metroid Prime.

However, I think that cutscenes do have a place. Going the Half-Life route could never open up opportunities for "Meanwhile, in the evil lair..." scenes like in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time and Sonic World Adventure. They didn't move the story along, but they were rather amusing to watch. I also like how Banjo-Kazooie only truly had cutscenes at the beginning and end of the game. Unless your game starts like Half-Life or Portal with the character going to work or waking up, you're going to need a non-interactive scene to start you off. Likewise, an end cutscene is even better. It doesn't cut the player away from the game, because there is no game left! Plus, not doing such a thing can really put a damper on any sort of closure or resolution.

It does annoy me when I see cutscenes that show something that should have been played. Take the opening of Sonic World Adventure. Now, why couldn't we play that? That would have been so much fun! It even had a "boss" and everything! Then, there's inconsistencies. Take Sonic Adventure 2 for example. You ever notice how Tails and Eggman's machines make one particular sound when they walk in cutscenes, but a completely different sound in the gameplay? I also hate it when characters do something in the cutscenes that they have been completely unable to do in the gameplay. (Silver's opening cutscene, anyone?) Then, there's always the visual inconsistencies. Often times, the characters will be in one spot and then jump somewhere entirely different in the gameplay. In Sonic Heroes, Team Rose start at the end of Casino Park in the cutscene they have for it (you can even hear the goal ring!), only to suddenly be at the beginning, once the actual gameplay starts. (Man, so many Sonic examples. Um... Let's see...)

Oh! One thing (among many) I really like about 007: NightFire is how consistent the cutscenes are with the gameplay. All of the cutscenes are in high-resolution graphics, as in, more detailed than the gameplay models. However, the areas in the cutscenes match the areas in the gameplay exactly, just in better detail. It's especially impressive in the opening cutscene for "Airfield Ambush" (PC-exclusive mission) when the cutscene shows off nearly the entire level! Just everything but the indoor areas!

Qitz:
Cutscenes are like QTEs. They're great when done with a purpose and some prior thought to the matter. When just thrown in willy nilly and distract from other features is when they become a problem.

I hate QTE's what I think when they happen is wouldnt this cut scene be great to watch if I could actually watch it without being distracted by these random button presses that dont really do anything.

What's that game where the dude in the gasmask runs in and starts spraying people with a showerhead?

Jubbert:
What's that game where the dude in the gasmask runs in and starts spraying people with a showerhead?

Clock Tower 3, a survival horror game. The dude in the gas mask is a serial killer, and the shower head is full of acid. He sprays people with acid and then throws them into a boiling tub of acid. The scene that Jim played a clip from was pretty damn gruesome, all things told. :/

Now for me, I admit Im more concerned with the reason WHY I am slaying 10 million zombies rather than the simple mechanics of slaying zombies. (thats why L4D is so disappointing to me personally. I know its supposed to be a B movie vibe, but SOME plot other than "Were trying to escape" would have been nice.

Now, as for interactive delivery vs cut scenes. I see interactive delivery being more of a fail state. Look at Left 4 dead for example. As many times as youve heard one of the chars give you an info dump did you once ever actually look at them? Or were you walking around the area looking for ammo or the next path way, the writings on the wall, hell, the ceiling. Without the focus on the speaker there is a lacking emotional context. Its hard to get emotionally invested in Francis' story on why he hates trains when your jumping up and down waiting for the next trigger to unlock so you can progress. Its development that fails to take into account how people will actually use the game.

Neither is right, but a good cut scene can easily do more than all the interactive delivery in the world. Hell, need proof? Look at either demon or dark souls. In both games you bsically get 80% of the story, in the opening cut scene and it basically gives you everything you need to know in order to move forward.

Therumancer:

GothmogII:

Therumancer:

Absurdist arguements contribute nothing to a discussion.

The point is that games as a form of "art" exist as something specific and distinct from other existing forms of media. When you remove the interactivity and "gaming" from a product then it ceases to fall under that catagory.

We have sub-catagories like "interactive movies" which pretty much cover what games with cut scenes are. Nobody is saying that we can't have these, or that they are inherantly bad, just that they should not be being called games, and inserted into the proper catagory.

Who's talking about removing the interactivity?! For that matter...is the assumption here that if a cutscene is there, then it -must- be replacing something that could have been rendered within the context of the gameplay?

Yes, I am a firm believer that anything that is done in a cutscene could be rendered in game play, and if it can't then they should replace it with something that winds up in the same basic place but can be done with game play.

For example, if you want to have a scene of me fighting a giant robot that is talking smack, have it talk smack while I'm actually fighting it, don't make a cut scene of my character fighting the robot while it talks smack. If I wanted to watch that I could put on a movie.

Now to be fair, sometimes cut scenes can be used well, and cover up flaws in the abillities of the designers to actually make something they feel needs to happen gamable, when they can't think of any other ways. Sometimes the cut scenes are quite good in of themselves even. This is why you have the catagory of "Interactive Movie" the "Ice Dancers" to the "Figure Skaters" of actual game designers so to speak.

I mean sure, an "Interactive Movie" can still be a good product, just don't call it a game.

But why single out cutscenes then? (Besides being what the topic under discussion is about.) I mean, there was a point in gaming where narrative, music or artwork more complicated than a handful of pixels didn't exist. And all of those things have been successfully incorporated into videogames despite having no bearing on the concept of the existence of a game at all.

We don't say:
WoW is not a game because it has music.
Halo is not a game because it has a story.
Team Fortress 2 is not a game because it has artwork.

Again, none of which touch directly with the framework or 'rules' of the literal definition of a game.

I guess...is a cutscene in this instance is being viewed as extraneous? But if it's extraneous, how exactly does that -change- a game to such an extent that it is no longer a game? If that is the case then we are been given an example of something for which the presence of a cutscene/s is something that informs the totality of that thing, such that if it is taken away the thing becomes meaningless, or less meaningful. But then, we are indeed talking about a piece of interactive fiction and not a game.

But taking it in percentages, does a game of which 1% or .1% is comprised of un-interactive cutscenes cease to be a game?

Also, just going back a bit, in relation to Halflife 2: What exactly is different(from a cutscene) about say the cage ride you take up to Breen's office? Or the bit at the start of EP1 I think where Gordon is piled under rubble and has to watch Dog dig him out? I mean really...that I can twist my head around? -That's- the great revolution in gaming technology that allows Halflife 2 to be a game whereas Deus Ex: HR is not? :/

Per Vejbirk:
As i see it YES YES YES! Cutsceens can be a great tool indeed. But there are situations where it is used WAY to much.. I bring as a point World of Warcraft Cataclysmen. In one of the level 80 "start" zones an under water naga infested area there are roughly 40minutes of cutsceens in a area that takes about three hours to run through. Some of them you can't skip by as your just for ten minutes walking around listning to npcs going on about the same thing for about 10minutes before your let of a boat...
In other cases Cut sceens are great... And here i bring Star Wars the old Republic as an exsample.
Its damn awsome when you walk up to a boss see alittle cutsceen before your allowed to fight him and then ending the fight with another 1minute cut sceen. As i see the major difference betwhen how WoW and SWTOR do is. The SWTOR cutsceens are used to tell the story where the WoW cata ones just feel like they are there but hold no deeper meaning.

I think it definitely depends. I agree with you on the Vashj'ir one, I think you're talking about Defending the Rift specifically? I just did that one recently and I was literally just sitting there for most of it.

I'd say for the most part they're done well though. Especially for the cutscenes after the story bosses. They're used to wind the player down after the boss, like Jim said, and they show some awesome things that if they had just done in real time wouldn't have been possible, or no one would pay attention. Also, let me just mention that the Wrath gate cutscene is my favorite moment in WoW.

The only cutscenes I don't like are one's that are too long or ones that show action scenes that would be possible in the game engine. Cutscenes are overall good though, because it's much nicer to see an important scene if it uses good camera angles and such instead of a first-person perspective.

Therumancer:

Yes, I am a firm believer that anything that is done in a cutscene could be rendered in game play, and if it can't then they should replace it with something that winds up in the same basic place but can be done with game play.

For example, if you want to have a scene of me fighting a giant robot that is talking smack, have it talk smack while I'm actually fighting it, don't make a cut scene of my character fighting the robot while it talks smack. If I wanted to watch that I could put on a movie.

Now to be fair, sometimes cut scenes can be used well, and cover up flaws in the abillities of the designers to actually make something they feel needs to happen gamable, when they can't think of any other ways. Sometimes the cut scenes are quite good in of themselves even. This is why you have the catagory of "Interactive Movie" the "Ice Dancers" to the "Figure Skaters" of actual game designers so to speak.

I mean sure, an "Interactive Movie" can still be a good product, just don't call it a game.

Sorry, I just cannot get behind this line of reasoning. You are basically saying that stuff like Facade are games, because they do not have cutscenes, but stuff like Half Life 2, Bioshock, or Deus Ex, are not games, but are instead interactive movies because they have maybe 1-2 cutscenes. Basically, every game ever (baring early ones who could not convey story and more recent experimental ones) is an interactive movie. To me, that just sounds absurd.

And how do cutscenes fundamentally change the nature of a game? The game is still interactive. It seems, to me, like saying that because film is a visual medium, the film cannot use sound or music to help convey the story, otherwise it ceases to be a film. Adding sound to a film does not stop a film from being a film. So why should adding non-interactive elements to a game stop it from being classified as a game, when it is still interactive? :/

Can anyone honestly say that this could have been done any better through gameplay? It sets the tone and defines the setting for the game in a way you couldn't do it that engine. Cinematic intros are like the text crawls at the beginning of Star Wars: not what the media is founded on, but just as important to the film as anything else.

Just like everything else, cutscenes are good if they're used in moderation and put in the right context.

Take the confrontation with Andrew Ryan in Bioshock, for example.

That cutscene is the most crucial element to clarify the main theme of this game. Namely, how extremely rare free will is. Think about how, even in a sandbox game like GTA and Minecraft, the plot, characters, environment, physics, tools etcetera are gravely reducing the amount of thing s one can do within the game's boundaries. Think about how often the human subconscious commands the writer to make another Hero's Journey. Think about all the laws, ethics, morals, restrictions, policies and rules that has to be present to prevent society from collapsing.

Think about all the choices you've made during your lifetime. Think about what made you to not choose differently. Think about how external forces has influenced you decision making. Think about what caused all those said forces to end up on those exact locations and at those exact moments. Think about what external forces your choices has caused. Think about how all your decision are destined, or at least pre-determined.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing that influences our world pops out of thin air, not even our choices. That's the main strength with cutscenes, they put a restraint on the player's interaction, just to show how little free will we have. That's what their role in an interactive medium should be.

Zachary Amaranth:

DrOswald:

Zachary Amaranth:
But...But First Person perspective an silent protagonists are immersive!

By Odin's beard I hate silent protagonist. It has it's place and can be done very well, but 90% of the time silent protagonists actively detract from the game. No thing pulls me out of a game more than when a situation demands speech but no one talks. I am only able to get through Half Life 2 without raging by assuming Freeman is an actual mute. Because otherwise he is an asshole.

I just assume that he's an asshole.

Therumancer:

When it comes to a game, I tend to agree that cutscenes detract from it being considered a game or it's "art". Largely because we already HAVE a catagory for cut scenes in the form of animated movies. When you start telling your story through non-interactive scenes and movies, your effectively leaving one medium and entering another.

By that logic, films shouldn't be art, because we already have the independent media that comprise them.

piscian:
Cut scenes are merely a period instrument developers are stuck with until technology makes in game video quality meet the needs of the immersion to the story. The only exception is when a cut scene is used in some artistic purpose. In other words the developer wants to take you out of gameplay for a moment.

So they're period instruments except when they're not.

I've got to point out that "cutscenes" haven't really been used in an analogous way to dialogue cuts in silent pictures.

Not sure what you're saying/asking/arguing, but I'll attempt to clarify. Using FFIII as an example theres a pretty good FMV that was added to give you the full scope of the way the Magic Walkers really looked that couldn't be conveyed with sprites. Just limits of the technology. Resident Evils first zombie scene is another. If they could convey these things with the ingame engine they would just can't.

I think there's been cases where a cut scene wasn't even remotely necessary and they just wanted to pull you out for a second and show you the story from another perspective. There's a game called Cryostasis which used cut scenes for dream/past sequences. Not necessary just artistic choice.

In the silent film period there was no sound so they had to cut to screens of print dialog to help tell the story. It was a necessity.

It's my opinion that cut scenes are aging. I played a game recently called "Enslaved: journey to the west". Due to the technology being there nearly the entire story was told through the main engine. A lot of motion capture was involved. The game takes place 200 years in the future so occasionally they'd hit you with these brief flashes of the past in cut scenes. So in this case the cuts scenes were purely artistic choice.

All sorts of thumbs up, Jim. I'm pleased, though unsurprised, that the best criticism of the aesthetics of video gaming comes from people wise enough to be critical of the institution of art itself. Keep up the great work!

Exactly, visuals are as much a part of gaming as a medium as the gameplay. Sacrificing the benefits of scripted, cinematic scenes just because games are mostly interactive is a terrible idea.

There ain't no party like a Jim Sterling party!

You were right on the money as almost always Jim. :)

I thought the cutscenes in Gears 3 were executed superbly. Same for the Halo games - yet they wouldn't be so good in CoD or Portal.

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