Everyone's Favorite Crutch

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Everyone's Favorite Crutch

Quick Time Events are an understandable shortcut for developers, but do they really have to suck quite so much?

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I enjoyed the mention of Ninja Chefs.
I propose getting the Cooking Mama people to team up with the Tenchu people.

I think you've hit the nail on the head here (if the nail in question was quick time events and why they are regarded so poorly by most).
Especially the fact that for these quick time events, instead of looking at what might well be a pretty damn fantastic cut-scene, you end up looking at a button shaped icon floating ominously in front of it. It's like if a game was to have beautiful graphics and wonderful, well designed scenic pieces, but you spent all your time looking at the mini-map rather than the world itself. Quite frankly it's a complete waste of the talents put to use in making such cut scenes.

I can think of one serie that loss its appeal: Shenmue. Shenmue 2 ended on a cliffhanger so frustating, I can take a "finish the fight" anytime.

However, with the lack of interest from audiences and the repeated used quick-time event by developers. Shenmue 3's features doesn't look promising. In fact, I'm pretty sure everyone besides fans will dismiss it. (If it comes out one day).

It's a shame. For something that was innovative at the time, now it's the most annoying thing ever besides bad control and crappy camera.

Great article.

I've always hated QTEs (one of the reasons I got into Zero Punctuation) and I can only hope that things like the VATS system (Fallout 3) mean that we wont have to deal with (as many of) them for too much longer.

Unfortunately there's always going to be lazy programmers who won't give a crap. And I'm sorry but it is laziness. I didn't like simon says when I was 4 years old and I find it even less amusing now.

My first and only exposure to QTEs was in God of War, which left me with the feeling that this was a clever little idea: fun and mostly harmless. I take it that they've replicated rapidly and metastasized to games all over the place while my attention has been elsewhere? Huh. I can see how it would be fun once (and God of War really did do it very well), but I can see how players would be getting tired of running into this particular trope everywhere they turn.

Yep, you've certainly got this right. QTEs are a developer being too lazy to actually implement any non-standard gameplay mechanics.

Imagine the terrible time we would be living in if the developers of Shadow of the Colossus had decided to just go with QTEs.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. This is precisely why I quit playing Resident Evil 4- because it went from a rather involving and fast-paced third-person shooter to an aggravating and low-rent Dragon's Lair clone. (Don't bring a controller to a knife fight, lol.) I also reserve the right to use the sentence "Successfully completing a QTE has the same payoff as not pressing the rewind button when you're watching a movie." when describing exactly why I despise QTEs.

There's a few games who get them right (the aforementioned God of War, for one). The rest of them need to take turns dying in a trash fire.

Great article, now would you kindly put it into a petition format or something like that and send it to CAPCOM? You said what I've been thinking since my first QTE!

Jesus Christ does everybody hate quick time events??

mydogisblue:
Jesus Christ does everybody hate quick time events??

Yes. Yes we do.

I like it when they're combined with gameplay like most of Marvel:Ultimate Alliance. In Ultimate Alliance, if you grab someone that's holding a weapon, you have to hit the grab button a few more times to yank it out of their hand. In Tomb Raider: Legend, when you garb a ledge with one hand, you have to hit Y before you fall. When it's put into a cut scene, it becomes less fun.

What makes Quick time events even MORE messed up is that I have both a ps3 and a 360. the X is not in the same place. So invariably I mess up a few more times than usual because they decided to be annoying. :P

Granted it's a way to make cutscenes interactive, so you don't have a Xenosaga-type-cutscene-heavy-OMG-I'm-falling-asleep-now experience.

Shamus is doing proper articles, now? Seems like I picked the right time to resume reading.

Tryss:

Granted it's a way to make cutscenes interactive, so you don't have a Xenosaga-type-cutscene-heavy-OMG-I'm-falling-asleep-now experience.

Yeah, I can actually see games where the story is more at the forefront of the experience using more QTE's than others, just to keep players interested in the cut-scene and pay attention to what's happening.

It really doesn't work well for that purpose, though, as most players won't be paying any attention to the cut-scene in anticipation of a QTE. A double-edged sword.

[holy cow, I just previewed this post... how did I just type this much?! cripes]

I'd say I'm not a big fan of QTEs either, based on what you describe. Luckily, my only real exposure to them so far was Prince of Persia: Two Thrones. I liked skipping combat that way, as I wasn't really happy with the way enemies took longer and longer to defeat in a straight-up fight as the series went on. The fact that I got a free rewind with every enemy assassinated made it far more enjoyable. Screwups? What screwups? I didn't make a mistake there, that was perfectly executed! Perfectly!

It would depend on the game, but I think an "Attitude" setting would be more interesting than quicktime events. I mostly got the idea from the various behaviors you could choose in Twinsen's Odyssey/Little Big Adventure. Basically the mood you're in when you trigger the event would be how the split-second outcome plays out.

For example, Reckless vs. Cautious.

You're in Reckless Mode moving down a hallway, when you trigger a pit trap. You fall in. If you were in Cautious Mode, you'd see the trap ahead of time, or stop just before falling in. That's kinda unfair to the Reckless person however, so you could also have an opportunity to grab the pit's edge if you hit "grab" quick enough, or maybe to wedge your weapon in something if you hit "attack". Hitting "jump" is a fail - there's no ground beneath you, bonehead. Being Reckless gets you across the pit faster (if done right); being Cautious means you have to figure something else out or make a running jump. But not all traps are pits, obviously...

Say another example - you Cautiously open a door, checking what's through it. It's a few enemy guards, who immediately attack, though they have some trouble getting through the door to get you. Or you could Recklessly just slam the door open, whereupon the screen blurs, and you automatically have your sword at a shocked guard's neck. Click attack to stab him. 1 guard down, but now you're surrounded! Funfunfun!

(For added hilarity, this could happen anytime you open doors in Reckless - like, say, entering a tavern. Or an outhouse. As long as you have no weapon drawn, you'd slug people in the face instead of stabbing them! Sure, you don't HAVE to click attack at the end of your blur, but NPCs will still be like WTF?!)

(Ok, maybe not.)

I don't think dialogue options should be limited by what Attitude you're in, as a writer just can't plan on what personalities people will ascribe to their chosen characters. But perhaps NPCs could read body language, so they might react differently - the High King isn't so pleased when a seemingly uncouth Reckless hero saunters into his throne room. The Barbarian King, on the other hand, respects you! Being ready to attack everyone around you is just sensible, unlike mousy Cautious people, who look like they're ready to run away. Pah! Naturally, he challenges the Reckless hero to a duel, on grounds of Fighting is Good. Cautious hero gets that option too if he wants a fight, but has to insult the king in some way to unlock it... or something...

Or perhaps not - just keeping it as a replacement for QTEs should presumably work just fine, even if it didn't carry over into other portions of the game like that.

I don't know how I'd organize all that, much less how it would fit into a game (I couldn't program stuff to save my life). It's all just some scattered ideas. I'm pretty sure I wandered off the topic of QTEs somewhere in there as well... eh whatever.

Tryss:

Granted it's a way to make cutscenes interactive, so you don't have a Xenosaga-type-cutscene-heavy-OMG-I'm-falling-asleep-now experience.

there are other ways to get round this though, with creativity, imagination, and understanding that you're making a game, not a feature film...

Can't believe I registered on this site to inform you.

Your math is wrong somewhere there...

"Consider that if a player can hit a quick time button with 90% accuracy, he has an 85% chance of beating an eight-event sequence. (0.98^8 = 0.85) But if another player is just a little slower and can only hit the buttons 88% of the time, then he's only got a 35% chance of success. (0.88^8 = 0.35)"

Ok, not math, but... that 90% in the first sentence should be corrected to 98%.

Just a little help. I hate quicktimes too. Cheers!
-NickB from your site

So...only quick time events that are in cutscenes. That's what people don't like? Cuz I'm not really sure what the hate is about.

I don't dislike QTEs all that much. In fact, they can be good if they're a core part of gameplay. I point to one of my favorite games for this: Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit). The game is basically one giant QTE, and you know what? It's still amazing.

Warlordship:
Can't believe I registered on this site to inform you.

Your math is wrong somewhere there...

"Consider that if a player can hit a quick time button with 90% accuracy, he has an 85% chance of beating an eight-event sequence. (0.98^8 = 0.85) But if another player is just a little slower and can only hit the buttons 88% of the time, then he's only got a 35% chance of success. (0.88^8 = 0.35)"

Ok, not math, but... that 90% in the first sentence should be corrected to 98%.

Yup. The first 90% should read 98%. The sort of mistake spell checkers can't spot. :) I'll see if I can get it changed.

Are the PS2 versions of God of War really so different from the PSP one that QTE are actually enjoyable?

I recently picked up a PSP and thought GOW: Chains of Olympus looked great. It's $40 though, and I've never played the PS2 ones so I gave the demo a shot. I'm not buying it. Those QTE's ruined the game (well, besides the pointless button mashing against grunts that hardly hurt you). If I didn't do the Simon Says, then the boss regained *all* of his health and I would have to go back to "Tap button 3 times, roll, tap button 3 times, roll" until the little circle popped up again. It felt like playing a slide show (I'd say Simon Says again, but thinking back Simon Says was actually kind of fun and required some skill). After the boss was dead I not only felt like I had accomplished nothing, but I actually felt stupid for even going through with it.

I cannot possibly imagine how, in any way shape or form, QTE's can be a good thing. I also remember them from Tomb Raider Anniversary, and it was the same story with Chains of Olympus. You're playing a cutscene, and if you fail you have to keep watching the cutscene over and over... only you can't ever enjoy it because you have to concentrate on hitting the right button at the right millisecond. Not that cutscenes are enjoyable... *ahem* but that's a different story.

Of course they won't ever go away because it's an easy way to make stupid people feel like they're playing a game without going through all the trouble to make an actual gameplay engine that would allow you to play through amazing sequences with skill and finesse and complete control.

Nice feature. I usually defend QTEs in games where they're done well (God of War, Shenmue, and to a lesser extent Force Unleashed).

But unlike most authors who usually just trash QTEs because it's become the fashionable thing to bitch about these days, you actually put some reasoned thought behind it and offered up some legitimate reasons why QTEs often suck. I had never really considered the idea that a small difference in skill could have such an impact on the outcome of the event.

I was all prepared to say that you were just on the bandwagon about QTEs that every game reviewer seems to be on lately. Last year's dirty word was "linear" and this year seems to be "quick time events", but you actually gave me some food for thought. Well done.

Actually, I HAVE been congratulated for successfully parallel parking in a really tight spot.

A car of young guys watched as I executed a precise 3-point turn and then cheered out their windows as they drove by.

But yes, I completely agree with your points about Quick Time Events. They need to DIE!

Leslee

meatloaf231:
Yep, you've certainly got this right. QTEs are a developer being too lazy to actually implement any non-standard gameplay mechanics.

Imagine the terrible time we would be living in if the developers of Shadow of the Colossus had decided to just go with QTEs.

they did... i think the people who did god of war did shadow of the colossus

The Iron Ninja:
I enjoyed the mention of Ninja Chefs.
I propose getting the Cooking Mama people to team up with the Tenchu people.

....so you're suggesting we actually attempt to breed casual with ultra casual, to create some form of game that can be won just by looking at it? (I don't have much respect for the Tenchu people. When I can make a samurai guard run into a bottomless pit he's spent his life walking around...it becomes the sort of thing you can't even laugh at how broken and shit it is, you just sort of sit back and shake your head.)

While it is here to stay, there is at least hope, and some refinement. Word is that Sony Computer Entertainment Studios Santa Monica are including multiple paths in QTE's - for example, do you want to bash in the ogres skull with its own club, messily slit its throat, or slice open its stomach and pull out its heart? (The correct answer is "fuck yes to all three." I love that series)

rekabdarb:

meatloaf231:
Yep, you've certainly got this right. QTEs are a developer being too lazy to actually implement any non-standard gameplay mechanics.

Imagine the terrible time we would be living in if the developers of Shadow of the Colossus had decided to just go with QTEs.

they did... i think the people who did god of war did shadow of the colossus

No they didn't, they just work under the same company. That's like saying Thief and Hitman were developed by the same company.

Indigo_Dingo:

rekabdarb:

meatloaf231:
Yep, you've certainly got this right. QTEs are a developer being too lazy to actually implement any non-standard gameplay mechanics.

Imagine the terrible time we would be living in if the developers of Shadow of the Colossus had decided to just go with QTEs.

they did... i think the people who did god of war did shadow of the colossus

No they didn't, they just work under the same company. That's like saying Thief and Hitman were developed by the same company.

coulda sworn David Jaffe did programming on both...

rekabdarb:

Indigo_Dingo:

rekabdarb:

meatloaf231:
Yep, you've certainly got this right. QTEs are a developer being too lazy to actually implement any non-standard gameplay mechanics.

Imagine the terrible time we would be living in if the developers of Shadow of the Colossus had decided to just go with QTEs.

they did... i think the people who did god of war did shadow of the colossus

No they didn't, they just work under the same company. That's like saying Thief and Hitman were developed by the same company.

coulda sworn David Jaffe did programming on both...

Why would David Jaffe work with a Japanese company? Not saying anything against either party, but it seems like they wouldn't have appreciated an American who had some rather unsophisticated work under his belt at the time coming in and telling them how to do their job.

Indigo_Dingo:

rekabdarb:

meatloaf231:
Yep, you've certainly got this right. QTEs are a developer being too lazy to actually implement any non-standard gameplay mechanics.

Imagine the terrible time we would be living in if the developers of Shadow of the Colossus had decided to just go with QTEs.

they did... i think the people who did god of war did shadow of the colossus

No they didn't, they just work under the same company. That's like saying Thief and Hitman were developed by the same company.

Not the best analogy because the latter would be an outright lie while the former pretty much depends on your point of view. The fact Team Ico was especially created by assembling people outside of the industry to make non-Sony games doesn't make it any easier.

Anaphyis:

Indigo_Dingo:

rekabdarb:

meatloaf231:
Yep, you've certainly got this right. QTEs are a developer being too lazy to actually implement any non-standard gameplay mechanics.

Imagine the terrible time we would be living in if the developers of Shadow of the Colossus had decided to just go with QTEs.

they did... i think the people who did god of war did shadow of the colossus

No they didn't, they just work under the same company. That's like saying Thief and Hitman were developed by the same company.

Not the best analogy because the latter would be an outright lie while the former pretty much depends on your point of view. The fact Team Ico was especially created by assembling people outside of the industry to make non-Sony games doesn't make it any easier.

.......what?

Look, the fact of the matter is that Team Ico made Shadow of the Collosus and Sony Computer Entertainment Studios made God Of War. There was never any crossover.

You know what? Fine, you are right. I said it depends on your point of view and a discussion is wasted time if you do it with someone who is treating theirs as unchallengeable fact.

Anaphyis:
You know what? Fine, you are right. I said it depends on your point of view and a discussion is wasted time if you do it with someone who is treating theirs as unchallengeable fact.

How can it be a point of view who worked on a title? Its a tangible fact, not open to interpretation. Seriously, this is not a shades of grey thing, you can actually check the credits for both titles and see that no names repeat. What other points of view are there?

Is this going to be a series? I'd love to see that happening, because this article rocks. It goes beyond simple, but creative bitching (which it does very well, too, of course) and gives some insight as to why it's used and the actual, less obvious impact it has on the gameplay. Great job! Seems it really pays off having a game developer writing articles here.

I'll say that I've enjoyed QTEs, depending on how they're implemented.

Gladius made them a core gameplay mechanic. You tactically move your troops around, and you know that if you move this unit here, you'll have to hit a particular style of sequence, so you're ready for them. Or is that button-fu really a QTE?

I was really shocked to see in my 4-year-old's v-smile game something strongly resembling a quicktime event. A bad guy shows up, and you're challenged by the screen to hit a button, any button, and that makes the bad guy go away (the character on screen congratulates you). Don't think reaction time is a factor, it sits and waits for you to hit the button..

A little bit of armchair game design I posted in another forum earlier this week, on the very topic of QTE's.

I came up with a sort of alternative to QTE's the other day. The idea is to keep the game cinematic in a way normal play doesn't allow, but also keep the player involved.

Well, I came up with the concept when imagining a new Aliens vs. Predator game, and honestly, I think one of the coolest things they could do is pit you in a knife fight against a Predator in the human campaign. However, it would be a pit pathetic if it played like any other FPS knife fight would. So I wondered about QTE's, but they are a bit meh. So then I pondered how Turok does the knife, and I think something combining that with QTE's might work.

Basically, allow the left stick to manuever the guy. Down is duck, left and right make him side step. Don't know what up would be. When the enemy attacks, give them a brief two second slow down so the player can react, but don't tell them what button to press. This way they choose what to do. If they try and side-step, they may still get hit. Or if they duck, they may get hit. Or maybe if they try and attack at the same time the enemy's weapons/arms will be locked together.

From there, well, you simply judge based on what the player presses. If the player successfully dodges, then pressing the "fire/attack" button will simply have them thrust forward with the knife (possibly blockable by the enemy). If they press the melee button, they may try and knock the foe back, opening them up further, or get them held into a lock, from which another other combination of attacks can be made (simply pressing attack to strike, perhaps multiple times, or if the enemy is in a hold perhaps press down, left or right to move them in a direction that puts them at an even greater disadvantage, etc.).

It would be hard to develop, and each scene would need a lot of custom animations and coding, but I think it would deliver an ultimately cinematic experience that gave the player more control, allowing them to determine the outcome as they might in any other part of the game.

I would love to see a system like this placed in a video game.

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